Thursday, October 30, 2008

Eternity Houses and Text Messages

Our church took 35 people to Conway last night to tour the "Eternity House". Our reservations were for 8:30 PM which would have put us home about 10:00. Unfortunately, the tour was running late, and we arrived home at 11:30 pm.
Late hours for a school night.
Parents were not happy I'm sure.

I've been to these Heaven/Hell houses where the tourists entered directly into Hellish scenes and then toured Heaven and Heavenly scenes. But this one was slightly different.
This tour took us physically from one room to another, each time building the characters and their relationships with one another. Some of the actors, of course, were portraying Christians, some were not. Some were searching for meaning in their lives,..some were hardened.

The disturbing scene for Ralph, Abby and I was when they drew us into a huge car wreck scene. We entered into a room, complete with crashed and upside down cars, police lights and sirens, bodies on the pavement covered with white sheets and screaming (I mean screaming) survivors and family members.

In my life:
I try to be (and appear) well-adjusted.
I try to be in control.
I try to not dwell on details that torment.
I laugh, therefore it's easy for people assume the pain is gone. The truth would strike them dumb.
I ask God nearly every day to keep my mind safe from thoughts that easily get out of control.
But scenes like the one we walked into at the Eternity House can easily and rapidly bring me to my emotional limits.
Blessedly,..recovery comes quicker these days than they used to.

The results of the tour was that we all were reminded of the single most important question of our entire lives:
"Where will I spend Eternity?"

On the ride back home, I received a text message from one of my older kids in the group. It said simply,..."I am thinking I've lost my way. I need you to help me find my way back to God".

I've never considered doing an entire counseling session via text message, but I'm telling ya, works! My little ol fingers kept my telephone keypad lit up with responses for his thoughts and searching questions. However,...I'm not a good "text-er". Really S L O W.
Poor guy. He was a patient reader.

Thoughtful night.
Late night.
Painful night.
Technological nightmare (for me!)
Redemptive night.
Good night.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hoxie, Houston and Small Churches

Dear readers,
I have a theological question for you.
I asked my Pastor and some friends this morning and the discussion got very lively.

Is a small church doing something wrong if it is not growing in numbers?

No matter the location.
Here in the Southern U.S. or maybe in the jungles of the Congo.

This all started yesterday when I went to another Band competition with Abby.
The "Fabulous Falcon Marching Band" won FOURTEEN (14!) trophies.

At this competition, there was a itty bitty school called " Hoxie" which had about 15-20 performers/musicians. I missed their performance but I heard that they were wonderful!

Then there was a rich school from Germantown, TN called "Houston High School" with 224 performers/musicians. This band, you shoulda seen it! They had synthesisers, electric guitars, scaffolds, smoke machines and an adult "pit crew" who had to set up the field before their arrival. They put on a show which rivals the older university bands I've seen.
(By the way,...the Fabulous Falcon Marching Band won more trophies that Houston)
(stop it Becky. Stop. You're bragging)

If I was a kid from Hoxie, it would be hard to not compare my band program to Houston High's.

Back to the church question.
Is a small church doing something wrong if it is not growing?

(I don't know if my thinking wears other people out, but it sure does me.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Matthew 25

I've been sent to Matthew 25 during the last couple of days.
Actually Beth Moore sent me to Luke in our Bible study, but as it often happens, set of passages sends me on a quest for others.

Here's Matt 25 in a nutshell:

**It starts with the story of 10 bridesmaids waiting for the groom. Some of them were ready and wise, some of them were fools and made no preparation for him. Of all things,...a bride who does not prepare for the biggest moment of her life.

**Then,..immediately we are taken into the story of a master who takes a trip out of the country and leaves his servants in charge of his affairs while he is gone. He told them,
"I'm coming back so I want you to take care of business until I return".
When he returned, he demanded an account of the servants. Some were rewarded for being obedient and faithful, but the ones who were lazy and foolish got stripped of their possessions and,...oh no,...cursed by the Master.

**Next is another story that I love. It's about judgement day when God separates the sheep from the goats.
He rewards His "sheep" because they did all kinds of things for HIM while they were on Earth. They were surprised.
They didn't recall the incidents at all.
He then cursed the ones (goats) who withheld the basics of life's comforts from HIM. Food, shelter, companionship,..etc.
Those people were aghast that He accused them of this! They were outraged.
"When did we not do this!!" They couldn't recall the opportunities that they obviously had missed.
I vividly remember once watching a movie which depicted Jesus speaking the very words of this sheep/goat story. As He discussed the sheep and their actions, His eyes were brimming full of joy and pride. But when Jesus began to discuss the goats,..His voice dropped to whisper.
He was not angry,..He was heartbroken.
The goats were doomed.
Lost to Him forever.

These are familiar parables and most of us know them by heart.
However,..they remind me that of the severe consequences for being,...
a felon?
a pervert?
not in these stories.
The grave consequences are for the ones who are lazy and uninvolved.

I am reminded that I don't have to be a missionary in a far away place.
I have no commandments in scripture to organize new ministries.
I have been commanded to carry on the work of Jesus in a hurting messed -up world.
Not a suggestion, but a commandment.

Is the commandment unreasonable? Is it too big of a task?
No way.
Hurting people are all around us.
He did not say we had to heal people and solve all social problems,..He just expects us to Love Him by Loving others.
Starting today.
Gotta go.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Email, PowerPoint and The Bible

I can check my work email from home.
No big deal really. A lot of people can do that.
I've done it for years.
A year or two ago, all Baptist employees were asked to stop using the old system of getting into their work email and use a new system which was more "secure".
I resisted. (I know. You aren't surprised.)

I've had computer trouble lately and had to finally do what our computer services has asked me to do for a long time.
I was forced to go to our home site, download the correct software and for the first time, begin to use my new "secure" way to access my work email.

Heavens to Betsy and glory be, would not believe the stuff they added to my computer! I now have access to the most recent and best PowerPoint software I have ever seen! It's the stuff that would have cost me a big wad of money had I tried to purchase (which I almost did just the other day).
It's got dozens and dozens of bells and whistles and I can't wait to learn to use one or two of them!

Here's something I want to know:
Why didn't those teck-ey guys tell me that this was an added feature of my new "secure" email?
Maybe they did and it was in "code", know,...phrases like 'added features' or 'bonus tools'.

Makes me wonder how much I am missing in the scripture.
I spent an hour tonight listening to Beth Moore and I am convinced there are about 79 trillion things that are waiting to be downloaded into my head and my heart.
Great life-changing truths are between those leather covers, just waiting on my discovery.

I've a renewed desire to learn.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Falcon Marching Band

Blogger's block: When you can't bring your thoughts together where they make a bit of sense.

Actually,..I have a lot of thoughts, but I'm seldom a deep thinker. Listen friend,..if I were to put my thoughts and ideas on here as they cross my mind, you would back away from your computer screen saying, "Yep. I knew it. Here's proof. She's nuts."

This weekend was taken up, and I mean flat taken all up! with the NORTH PULASKI FALCONS HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND. (That's how we like to hear it on the PA system. Loud and enthusiastic). Of course, our band achieved perfection in all of their scores. Their performances are beautiful and amazing to watch.

I recall that special night of Abby's first band concert. I sat in the auditorium expecting to be emotionally moved as I was when I first heard Jae and Casey's first choir performances. (Those two concerts moved me to tears. Young voices singing: Pia Jesu'.....Pia Jesu'.....)

Back to the band.
When Abby's band director stepped onto the podium, the choir and audience alike became hushed and still.
She lifted her baton and the students instantly and with precision lifted their instruments to the correct position.
I, and the rest of the audience, seemed to hold our breath in anticipation.
The director swept her hands up and the auditorium was filled with what sounded like a hundred and twenty car horns honking a familiar sounding rhythm.

No kidding.
But that was four years ago.
Today, they are a lean mean competing machine which strikes fear in other high school bands on competition day.

My admiration is deep for Karen Dismuke, the director. You ought to see this phenomenal woman with her students. She's the kind of teacher who we all love to hear about in stories and on TV. She's the whole package,..funny, talented, firm, inspirational, soft and so on.

But hats off as well to Mrs. Koehler who led these students through their horn honking phase. It's no wonder she works along side of Mrs. D. at the competitions! It's the fruit of her hard work in that band room at middle school.

I'm proud of the students too. They are now part of something which is much larger than themselves.
They have students who are:
"Load Masters"-tons of equipment, instruments and a huge trailer.
"Bus Captains" - it takes 3 school buses to take them everywhere.
"Section Leaders" - it's a big band. Small groups can provide motivation/communication.
I've witnessed older students take care of the younger.
Not a lot of popularity issues.
I'm sure the high school "drama" is there,..but not on the level I've seen in other student groups.
Spending the day at War Memorial stadium filled with 2000 musically talented teenagers, 100 or so of whom I love,.....
now that's what I call a good day.
I'll talk to you soon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Homecoming Queen and Her Subjects

This story is about a beautiful girl, but also speaks to the beauty of her classmates!

Friday, October 10, 2008

God Doesn't Read My Blog

Once a couple of years ago, Casey and Ralph were eating at a restaurant and three men sitting at a nearby table began to ogle her. She was very uncomfortable and Ralph was very irritated.
They exited the resturant, returning to the truck for the trip back to school when Casey had to go back into the restaurant to retrieve something she had forgotten.

She hurriedly returned to the truck flushed and alarmed because one of the men had said something very inappropriate to her in front of the rest of the customers.
She told her daddy what the man had done.

Ralph calmly exited the truck, entered the restaurant and approached the table where the three men sat. He loudly (but calmly. Really.) informed them all that his daughter had the right to be in this restaurant without being harassed.

One of the men sheepishly said "I didn't say nuthin.", which Ralph yelled "Then I'm not talking to you!" as he turned his glare towards the one who had issued the verbal insult to Casey.

He left after informing them a couple of more times that none of them had better ever speak a word to his daughter again.

Casey recalls that very short moment in her life with clarity. She has always known her daddy would be there for her in times of danger, but as she watched him intercede in her behalf she "knew" a side of him that she had never seen before.

The way I know God now is vastly (let me repeat,...vastly) different from the way I knew Him before my loss.
Did He change?
Of course not.

But like Casey felt loved and protected by Ralph that day, I learned that hearing about God's protection and experiencing it are two different things.

I have been the recipient of my Lord's indescribable comfort when I was in danger.
I would have preferred to be shielded from pain,..but I guess that's not always an option for us.
He makes the pain bearable and then promises us that He will also redeem it.
I'm looking forward to the whole redemption thing.
I guess that will have to all happen in Heaven, 'cause I'm worldly, selfish and carnal enough to prefer Jae's life to the things I've learned.

Is that heresy?
Do I really mean that?
Maybe not.

I love God with everything I am.
In fact,..I think about Him so much that I sometimes feel like a Christian "fanatic".

Thank goodness He knows my thoughts.
Thank goodness He doesn't have to read about my thoughts here.
He doesn't get offended when I can't explain His ways.
He loves me.

Psalm 34:18 says "If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there."
(The Message)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

God's Is Always For Me

God is ALWAYS operating in my best interest?

I've been studying this week about how He never (never ever never) puts us in a situation which we can not "win".

So if I am defeated, did I choose it?

I tend to gauge my success on the circumstances that I find myself in.
Meaning,..when things are good, God is pleased with me and blessing me.
If that's true, then the natural assumption is that when things are rough, I am being punished or disciplined.

I've been reminded this week that God does not just tolerate me.
He adores me as if I am His only beloved child.
My affection for my girls is indescribable. I am always rooting for them. I would never on my worst day, wish pain or failure into their lives.

How much more does God love me?

OK I'll agree.
He always operates for my best interest.
It's settled then.

But here's the rub:
(not settled after all :)
The methods He has used to bring me closer to Him are too painful.
I may cry for a deeper walk with God, but I am terrified of the classroom.
Save me from the lessons!

How about Jae?
Was He all out FOR her that afternoon?
Was that His plan all along for the ending of her life?

How long,O Lord, must I wrestle with my thoughts? (Psalms something)

John 13:7 says "Some of the stuff that's happening in your life, you just can't know about. However, I'll show you all about it when you get to Heaven." (NBV New Becky version)

God's always for me.
wrestle wrestle
God's always for me.
wrestle wrestle
God's always for me.
wrestle wrestle

Saturday, October 4, 2008

October Inventory

A song which recently captured my attention
is Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir's rendition of "I will lift up my eyes to the hills". If I were ever given a wish from the "Make a wish" foundation, just might be to sing with that group of brothers and sisters.

A thought for this day
is from Beth Moore. She says:
"I'd like to suggest that an entire chain reaction begins with our eyes and ultimately affects our heart, souls and minds. Where we look---where we genuinely fasten our gaze---amid continual life challenges has a tremendous impact on how we feel".
(Now I know why I feel so good when I pass Shipley Donuts)

My current project is
Getting my in-laws house across the street ready to live in. These sweet family members of mine are way to old to have to "start over". Every project associated with the move completely overwhelms them. They have gone back to Mississippi for two weeks and I hope to have their house very livable by the time they get back here,..their new home.

I am presently studying
Beth Moore's "Stepping Up" bible study. There are approximately 18 ladies in my church group doing this with me and I have to tell ya,...this study is unbelievable. It is about the Psalms of Ascents" which covers chapters 120-135 of Psalms.

I am frustrated with
my lack of wheels. We're trying to keep our Mazda going in spite of it's mileage (165,000). It's in the shop with "issues".

I am procrastinating
cleaning my house.

I am glad
that Casey's home. She wanted to be with us for Jae's birthday.
I'm also glad that Jae's birthday is over. It was a hard and heavy day for my little heart.

I have been encouraged
by having so many of my friends and family join me in this blog adventure. Never did I ever anticipate it being such a fun way to fellowship!

Friday, October 3, 2008

No Words Today