Monday, October 01, 2007

fourth and goal... intercepted for a touchdown return

the above-named scenario produces two very precise outcomes, each totally different from the other. I'm sure you can imagine: utter elation (obviously it is your team that just ran for the touchdown) or utter despair (your team ALMOST had the touchdown which is probably worse than having no hope of a touchdown at all. ... Whether we have witnessed this in person or seen it on TV, almost everyone can relate to this severe dichotomy of emotions.

Such has been my own experience. Friday ended the fourth week of school, and on Friday, despite a shaky Monday, I came home feeling pretty good-- Finally, I had gotten then hang of the way things were going to be... I'm getting to know the kids, I'm getting in a routine, etc. Touchdown.

Today, my team-teacher skipped out on my 2nd class which sucked b/c these kids are really difficult, and any disruption of the routine is a bad thing. So a kid tried to test the waters and the principal had to be called. Turns out, the teacher decided this morning that he needed to get his car fixed without telling anyone. piss. So then my 3rd class was hellacious during their lab, then in my 4th class, I found out that the team teacher I've had with me in this class since the beginning of the year is no longer going to be with me-- not entirely bad because she was no good-- and that I would have a different lady for half the class only-- this is really bad because THIS teacher is the absolute worst ever-- she mumbles, has bad posture, and perpetually looks like her aunt just died. Interception.

Tonight, I sat down to grade some papers and check my email, at which time I figured out I will have to attend 6 two-hour classes for new teachers in the months of October and November. 4:00-6:00pm. these classes are ones I could probably teach, definitely not going to be beneficial. Touchdown (other team)

Obviously, I have left out a good deal of details, but... you get the point....

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

hanging out ... how does one decide?

Because of some recent conversations with various people and musings of my own, I dug into the Gospels for some answers to a question I have discussed over and over: How does one decide with whom to spend leisure time? We are given clear directives in Scripture that it is important to maintain close fellowship with fellow Believers, but what about keeping company with non-believers? Upon examination of the circumstances and reasons Jesus found for "hanging out with the wrong crowd," it is up to the individual to decide whether or not to befriend and fraternize with those who do not share one's same Faith.

Luke 19:5-10 "Zacchaeus... I must stay at your house today..." (says Jesus) All the people [muttered]: "He has gone to be the guest of a sinner." (At some point in their visit, Zacchaeus makes it clear to Jesus that he has repented of his swindling and will repay those whom he has cheated with interest.) Jesus said: "Today Salvation has come to this house... For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost."

Luke 5:27-32 After [Jesus had healed a cripple, he] went out and saw a tax collector named Levi (Matthew)... "Follow me," Jesus said... and Levi got up and left everything and followed Him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees complained to his disciples: "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" Jesus answered them: "It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."

As illustrated in Luke 14:1-14, Jesus is once again invited to dinner at the home of a Pharisee. This is another opportunity to glorify himself and the Father and at the same time teach a lesson to the dinner party by presenting a parable. Continuing in versus 15-23 of the same chapter, Jesus further illustrates Salvation by describing a rich man who invites his friends to a feast; the friends refuse the offer, so the man goes into the countryside and invites any and all who will come to his table to come.

In John 4:1-26, Jesus requests a Samaritan woman to draw him a drink of water from the well, despite the stigma of a man talking with a woman, and in particular this woman who has "known" many men. The verse illustrates how Jesus reveals to this woman knowledge of her sin (and yet he is still talking to her) and a charge to leave this shameful life and tell others about Him. In verse 39, John recalls: "Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman's testimony."

Now that we have seen Scriptural evidence of Jesus' unlikely choices of company on more than one occasion, let us further examine those things that qualify Jesus to put himself into the company of the "wrong crowd" as well as His motivations for doing so:

1. The Son of God- perfect and sinless, though tempted in every way
2. Close company of devoted friends who supported him (the 12 apostles)
3. A strong relationship with God the Father, illustrated by: a) clear and continuous communication with the Father and b) a strong knowledge of the Scriptures
4. A clear understanding of His purpose on earth (Salvation for the lost)
5. Control of his own situation and his own decisions.

1. Salvation for all mankind-- including undesirable individuals (e.g. Prostitutes, tax collectors)
2. Conveyance of God's truth and principles to all who were willing and able to listen
3. Glorification of Himself and therefore also God the Father

Having examined the above qualifications and purposes behind Jesus' often odd choices of company, let us examine ourselves with regard to our ability to fraternize with people whose beliefs and principles may be different if not entirely contradictory to our own:

1. Am I running the race set before me to press on to receive the prize set forth by Christ Jesus the author and perfecter of my faith?
2. Do I have at least a couple close friends who are strong believers, willing to hold me accountable and lift me up in prayer?
3. Am I walking out a strong relationship with God reinforced with frequent and detailed study of Scripture reinforced with continuous and purposeful prayer?
4. Do I have a clear understanding of my purpose here on earth? (and no, I do not believe this requires a career choice, life partner selected, etc)
5. Am I in control of my life, and do I make decisions without being unduly influenced by others?

1. Salvation for my fellow man: When keeping the company of nonbelievers, am I careful to "shine as the stars in the universe" as I "hold out the Word of Life" to all I encounter?
2. Does my life demonstrate by its Fruits that I am actively applying God's principles and guidance to my everyday life?
3. Do I strive in all my actions and words to glorify the Savior?

Obviously anyone can answer all of the above questions "Yes! of course," but the final question to ask is: Am I examining my heart and motivations honestly?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


This past weekend my brother in law became the husband of a girl (or woman or whatever) I've known since we were very small children. I was actually pretty sick all weekend long-- the kind of sick where food doesn't taste good and all you're really interested in is laying low as much as possible. That definitely was no good considering how long we've all been looking forward to this wedding. But on to the "thoughts" part of the entry...

This wedding was the third in a row for Roger and me and certainly the most anticipated event to-date this year. Weddings are such an excellent time to reflect on oneself as well as on the lives of those standing before the altar, and reflect I did. A lot of that reflection was actually put on the table for me, as the pastor who performed the ceremony was the same one who married Roger and me nearly two years ago. The past two years have flown by and Roger and I have accomplished a lot in those two years, but have also enjoyed quite a lot. I can't believe I've been a "Smug Married" (in the words of Bridget Jones) for so long! I was reminded this past Saturday that the one you choose as your lifemate should be your first and only real love, should be your first and only intimate lover, and should be your forever best friend. Roger has been all of those things to me, and I cannot actually put into proper words the gratitude I have for that. I was reminded continuously through the ceremony of the a wonderfulness of the man of God I have married.

more to come...

Monday, April 30, 2007

God our enabler

"Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you:
A prophet to the nations-- that's what I had in mind for you."

But I said, "Hold it, Master God! Look at me.
I don't know anything, I'm only a boy."

God told me, "Don't say, 'I'm only a boy.' I'll tell you where to go and you'll go there..."

This comes from the first chapter in Jeremiah and this is the Message paraphrase of a passage I find very comforting. It isn't that I take the passage so personally as to believe that God conveys in his message to Jeremiah that we will all become his 'prophets to the nations' but I do believe that the intent in God's rebuke conveys to all his Followers. God is saying "Why protest my plan? I'm giving you a command. Follow it. Why question what I have so clearly laid before you? It may not be the easiest job on earth, but rest assured, I will enable you along the way."

I like the Old Testament. Some people shy away from it but I enjoy it immensely, mostly because the language is so poetic and because the terms are laid out so discreetly. God speaks broadly to His people through his direct lessons to his prophets. In this passage, Jeremiah is being told of God's plan for him. He not only knows that there IS a plan-- he is told WHAT that plan is. God doesn't always spell things out so clearly; he does, however, open up ways and means and make clear paths that will and won't fit within His plan. .... to be continued...

Friday, April 27, 2007


"Aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither."
--C.S. Lewis

Set your eyes on things above, not on earthly things...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Edwards versus modern thought

If there really be a hell of such dreadful and never-ending torments, as is generally supposed, of which multitudes are in great danger... then why is it not proper for those who have the care of souls to take great pains to make men sensible of it? If I am in danger of going to hell, I should be glad to know as much as possible I can of the dreadfulness of it. If I am very prone to neglect due care to avoid it, he does me the best kindness, who does most to represent to me the truth of the case, that sets forth my misery and danger in the liveliest manner.
-- Jonathan Edwards

We didn't think it was going to look like this. We were praying for God to move, and our assumption was, when God moves we'll see more people saved and more people healed, and there would be the excitement that that would generate. We didn't think he would come and throw a massive party.
--John Arnott

These two men present starkly different models of evangelism. Edwards demonstrates in countless sermons a sense of the dreadful nature of hell and the dire need human beings have for the saving grace of God through Jesus' blood. Edwards' use of words to direct his audience toward a spectacular realization of human depravity requires no "drumming up" of emotions, no mood music, no ushers or volunteers waiting to urge people forward in an altar call. Rather, Edwards merely pointed sinful souls away from certain doom and unto sweet freedom and salvation. The quote from Edwards above can be summed up in this way: "The person who clearly shows a sinner the depravity of his own soul and the certain damnation that awaits has done him a great service in pointing him away from death and toward the Light."

Arnott believes that effective evangelism can be accomplished through inviting non believers to a huge party-- what better way to be attracted to God than through a wild party?? The problem with this idea is that excitement fades quickly in the face of reality. Arnott and others like him believe that evangelism and encouragment Believers can be accomplished by basking (or partying) in the "fire" and excitement of God. I contend that a young Christian can only ride the waves of excitement in his new faith for so long. A Christian at any age needs to be fed and equipped through teaching of God's word-- the Bible should make more than a cameo appearance during any given church service. By steering away from emotion and using reasonable presentation of the tragic fate of mankind, Edwards leaves a much longer-lasting impression, one based in cold-hard, biblical facts. A God-party is weak at best in its attempts to build up Believers for anything other than an emotional high because it often relies on worship songs and testimonies of other humans to accomplish the same purpose as the Word.

It could be argued that Edwards uses a bit of a scare tactic in his presentation of hell to non-believers; I contend however that a bit of a scare is not a bad thing. I do believe however that the "party" approach utilized by some modern churches is a bad thing-- it fails to leave a lasting impact. A person who relies on "experiences" of God will falter when experiences no longer bolster his faith-- at best, the Believer who receives dose after dose of party will stagnate; at worst, he will flail and fall. Edwards, scare-tactic or no, equips believers to grow in faith and spurs non-believers toward becoming believers. Edwards appealed to the mental faculties of his audience through effective reading of the Word. Abbot and Co appeal to the emotions their audience through various levels of emotional manipulation. In my opinion, only Edwards' model holds potential for lasting and effective exhortation of saints and sinners alike.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Romans 12 from the Message

I realize that the Message is a paraphrase, but here is how it words one of my favorite passages:

So here is what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday ordinary life-- your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life-- and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit in without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you and quickly respond to it. Unline the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I particularly like the part in which the author has pointed out that God brings out the best in us. However, it is our job to embrace this truth and ALLOW him to take charge. As the NIV put it: "This is your spiritual act of worship." We must lead a life worthy of His name, regardless of circumstance, even in the mundane aspects of life so that we may always be "holy and pleasing to God."

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.
Make level paths for your feet
and take only ways that are firm.
Do not swerve to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil. (Proverbs 4:25-27)

I had this verse on my mind last night as I was drifting off to sleep-- I have a lot on my mind when I am drifting off to sleep and fortunately all that occupied my mind last night was this and a couple other verses. Interestingly enough, I woke up this morning (spring break-- hooray) and went to the "A Slice of Infinity" page which I read via RSS feed on I really appreciate this particular verse because as was described in the editoral on "A Slice of Infinity," our tendency is to veer a little toward some extreme or another. Either we are too liberal or too legalistic. A balanced approach to Christianity is a difficult thing to achieve, much less maintain.

Where are my eyes now? How is my vision? Am I on the proper course?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Emperor's New Clothes

"Imagine finding out that the one thing you have desperately attempted to keep veiled in secrecy was not actually veiled at all. The thought bears the unsettling sense of finding yourself unclothed before a crowded room. Would you feel foolish? Would you run and hide? Or would you insist the veil was still there? Andersen ends with a glimpse into the mind of the king: "[The words of the child] made a deep impression upon the emperor, for it seemed to him that they were right. But he thought to himself regardless, 'Now I must bear up to the end.'" Idols are not easy to own up to; how much more so, when what we idolized was never even there.

I believe, however, that there can be another response--besides denial or shame--to the startling realization that we stand unveiled before family, friends, or God Himself. We can find ourselves enveloped in gratitude, clothed by meekness. The masks we were so certain were necessary, the act we put on to appease the crowd, the lies we told to protect ourselves were maybe not quite as necessary as we thought. Could you take off the costume you thought you were wearing if you realized you were only wearing it for yourself?

Perhaps Paul's instruction to "put off falsehood" is sometimes a call to "put off" what is not even there. The call of Christ is no different. He calls us unto himself and requires that we give him everything, but we must come without costume or pretense. We must come as much ready to be honest with ourselves as with him. In the journey through Lent, we walk again with Christ toward the Cross, and like the disciples on the road to Emmaus our eyes are opened. It is as if Jesus himself is a mirror and we are inspecting our new clothes. But he will take from our shoulders our robes of self-importance and false security. He will tear from our grasp our garments of self-pity and shame. Then he will clothe us with garments of salvation and array us in robes of righteousness, and he will remind us that we are his bride."
--Jill Carratini, RZIM

This is an excerpt from an RSS feed published by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. I love the simplicity and the challenge of Hans Christian Anderson's fable of the Emperor's New Clothes. The story has always amazed me-- what pride and arrogance wrapped around foolishness and self-doubt. Yet isn't that the very problem that faces every single one of us at some time or another. Vulnerability is a frightening state; yet it is a requirement if one is to receive the full benefit of Who God is.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

On the way home...

... this car hears my confessions. I think tonight I'll take the long way...

I absolutely love old Dashboard. I also enjoy driving. I like Dashboard because it's such fun and sad at the same time... totally sing-along-able. I wish I had a solo act like Chris Carrabba. and I would purposefully NOT sell out and become a pop icon.

I like driving because it is for me, relaxing. I enjoy finding my way around new places, discovering a cool road, and getting around without a map. There's this road in lincolnton I like-- its near my old church but I can't remember the name. it runs beside an old mill and through an old-growth wood. old growth trees are so grand and the dark leaves of summer are incredibly refreshing.

i think a perfect drive would be down a leafy green road with some chris carrabba breaking my speakers.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sympathy versus Compassion

I have come to grips recently with the fact that I am not and do not want to be a sympathetic person. That is to say: Sympathy is not one of my attributes and I like it that way. That is NOT to say that I lack compassion: I consider compassion to be of of the most important features of myself in regards to my personality and my profession.

Sympathy is an emotional response to ones surroundings-- good, bad, or positive-- and generally the sympathetic party shares in the emotions of others. Compassion relates specifically to the realization of the needs of others but does not necessarily imply an emotional connection. In reality, these two words come from similar roots and meanings but have taken on the subtle differences in terms of our everyday use.

I take some shame and some pride all at the same time in the fact that I, unlike most females, am extremely brain-oriented, very literal, and most of the time very much less emotionally driven than my female counterparts (90% of them anyway). I have figured out that this lack of sympathy, lack of of "girliness" in fact, has made it difficult to relate to girls in general-- this is bad. However, this same lack of "girliness" allows me to be skeptical and logical about almost all aspects of my life-- this is good.

In a recent conversation with my brother in law, we discussed Counterfeit Revival, an informative exposE on the "revivals" of the late 1990's that sprang up in North America. I have not read the book but am eager to do so; my eagerness stems from the depth to which my own home church fell into the mire that surrounded the so-called 'revival' in a Brownsville church. I never joined into this fully-- dancing and invigorated worship, I could do and actually enjoyed. I have to say that mind in its naive ignorance did not throw up enough red flags at the time--how could I accept some of this "movement" and totally reject others? Either the entire thing lines up with Scripture or it does not--logical, yes? Looking back now, I reel at the mess I could have fallen into and thank God I was protected. I believe there were two mechanisms God used for my spiritual protection: 1) My parents who, from the time I was a small child, instilled Scripture knowledge and logic into my small soul; 2) my lack of girl-like sympathy and my science-oriented brain. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to a chance to read this book, but in the meantime, this is certain: All things should be tested and verified with Scripture-- multiple passages within proper context. Logic is a valuable tool. Sympathy has its place in the hearts and personalities of individuals; however, I am thankful for a more logical alternative: Compassion....

Compassion allows me to watch a terror-stricken kid be told by administrators and parents that "things have got to change," and turn around and lay out a step-by-step plan by which we as teachers can help the kid get things back on track. Compassion allows me to see a need and define a solution; it is ok with me that I do not feel sorry for the individual in distress-- I'd rather not, to be honest. Compassion allows me to leave my work behind every afternoon. Compassion causes me to appreciate deep discussions with Brothers (in law) and discuss a past that is difficult to understand without feeling sorry for myself or wishing I could change things. Compassion helps me see past the euphoria of a Salvation experience to the next logical steps-- discipleship and Scripture reading-- my relationship with Christ is not emotional really at all. I am thankful for compassion. I pray God would help me to use it in a way that glorifies him and for the purposes of His kingdom.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Here we go

We are one month and 8 days from when we will have to tell the apartment landlord that we will not renew our lease on June 18 (we have to give 60-days notice). Roger's been accepted to school... but that's about all we know.

Back up!

Sometime this past September, Roger and I came to the definite realization that he needed to pursue a job other than what he's doing now, and after much discussion and prayer (and prodding from me), we decided that he should go back to school at Liberty U for a masters in theology (or similar). At the time, this venture seemed miles away but nonetheless, we knew it's what we wanted to pursue.

Roger studied his head off for the GRE which he took on January 12 and did extremely well. Immediately, he applied for the school and a month later, found out he was in for sure. He then began working on getting a job with the school since LU employees receive free schooling (to compensate for the less-than-grand paychecks). Roger's application has been approved.

I had an interview at a Job Fair for Lynchburg City Schools back on February 24 and now, 2 full weeks later, no details have emerged. Since I have no clue as to the status of my application-- maybe they didnt like me and I won't get an offer; maybe they DID like me and I'll eventually get an offer... or who knows. I have applied to a couple different school systems and am in the process of having various people at my current school write me recommendation letters. I'm even considering just applying for "a" job at LU-- just to have something in hand.

And this is March.

Did I mention we want to buy a house? We may not get to right away but we would LOVE to be able to move right into a free-standing single-family home. We have to have jobs before we can get a mortgage. We want to get a house but we have to take care of some things first.

And this is March.

So what we are currently doing is sitting on our hands and praying like mad that God will see it within His will to provide us with jobs so we can get a mortgage loan and make an offer and buy a house and move in a house... oh and did I mention we wanted to close on the house in early May because late May through early June are booked solid with weddings and the like?

And this is March.