Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

Saturday, October 30, 2010

How do you look at celebrating Halloween?

Have you ever noticed that we're not all the same?

There really can be things that two people of Faith feel differently regarding.

The apostle Paul addressed this whole issue in
1 Corinthians 8:4-15. Specifically, in this passage Paul is referring to meal offered to idols. In that time people sacrificed animals to specific idols and people could later purchase that meat to use for eating. Some Believers felt it was wrong to eat that meat because they felt like it would be worshiping those idols. Other Believers thought that since they were not eating the meat for the purpose of anything other than food, it was fine to go ahead and eat it. Paul tells the Believers that of course the meat means nothing and pointed out in the end of verse 8 that:

"We don’t lose anything if we don’t eat it, and we don’t gain anything if we do."

Then Paul goes on to say that we need to be careful as people of Faith to look out not only for ourselves, but also for others. If a Believer, by eating that meat that was sacrificed to idols, would cause another Believer to stumble, even though there was really nothing wrong with doing it, than it should be avoided. In verse 9 Paul says:

"But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble."

I find similarities in this situation to many of the current festive celebrations that we have today that had pagan roots - such as Halloween.

Although Halloween's origins were pagan, just like the meat sacrificed to idols, that is not what I see being celebrated by most Americans today. For most of us, Halloween is about young children getting to wear fun costumes and get candy. I do not see celebrating Halloween as harmful to my faith. But I know some very wonderful Christian brothers and sisters that do.

In an attempt to address this issue in the same kind of spirit that Paul describes in the 1 Corinthians 8:4-15 passage, many Christian churches try to provide alternate, fun, child centered activities close to the day of Halloween. You'll see an abundance of things titled "Harvest Festival", "Fall Fun Days", etc. at this time of year at many Christian churches. The church that I attended when I used to live in a large, urban, area used to have a huge fall carnival on Halloween night every year. Children could dress up if they chose, and there were lots of fun booths that were manned by volunteers. I volunteered at that carnival, and my sons attended it, most of the years I lived in that area and it was a lot of fun. Hundreds of local people enjoyed the fun and safety for their little ones.

What about you, do you think it's OK for Christians to celebrate Halloween? Why or Why not?

Friday, October 29, 2010

It's here again

I've never liked Daylight Savings Time.

So I'm not looking forward to the change this Saturday night.

At the risk of exposing my truly grumpy self I'll explain my thought process:
Mornings are not that great any way (I'm so NOT a morning person), so who cares if they're dark. You're either lucky and get to sleep, or you have to get up and do stuff any way; since we are blessed to have electricity, it's no problem turning on lights. But to lose that hour of light in the afternoon, now that's a real loss. It makes it feel like the day is over by the time you get home from work. It makes it way less appealing to get out for a walk or bike ride or whatever other get-some-exercise-outdoors kind of thing you like to do.

Since I have this thought process going on anyway I found this article on Yahoo news entitled Extending daylight could boost health, help planet somewhat gratifying. So why don't we just leave the clocks alone. However, since the rest of my state will be setting back the clock this Saturday night, I've got to as well so I can be in sync.

How about you, do you like Daylight Savings time? Why?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What's God put in your spirit?

Over at Kingdom Bloggers this week we've been talking about God's paths for each of us and how He has miraculously worked in our lives.

I'd be interested to know, weather you'd like to share here or over there, What's God put in your spirit? Where's your passion?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Have you ever noticed?

I want it to be that Christians are the best. I want it to be that Christians are the most kind, loving, approachable, and quality performing people.

During my life I've been blessed to meet some awesome Christians; Believers in whom you can feel Christ's presence from the moment you meet them. But I find that it just isn't always that way.

I started a new job two weeks ago. I work for a small subsidiary of a large company. In this subsidiary there are 5 people who have the same job as me, and another person who used to have this job and now is the quality manager for this job. Two of the 7 of us are very openly, one might even say blatantly, Christian.

Unfortunately, these are the 2 least appealing people out of the 7 of us.

One of the "blatant Christians" is rather loud in speech, organized and into delegating (which can both be good things in the correct context), and somewhat self obsessed. She spends quite a bit of time talking about her life, church, Bible studies, and her mission work (hence the reference to blatant Christian). She does not come across as particularly interested in others. She used to run the 3 sites that I now run and, I have no knowledge as to how she did her job, but I can tell you what happened when I brought the staff from the 3 sites together for a meeting. During the beginning of that meeting I had each staff present tell me their name, what site they worked at, and how long they'd worked for this company. Then, when I spent a few moments explaining who I am as a supervisor and what they can expect from me, they cheered. They cheered when I said that 2 words that can describe me are consistency and respect. Their reaction leads me to think that this woman was not perceived by them to be fair or respectful.

The other "blatant Christian" is odd. He's one of those individuals who does not seem to have learned those basic social skills that the rest of us take for granted. He also talks a lot about his faith and wanting to minister/be a minister. He has a reputation for bringing in Bible verses.

To be candid, I do not find myself drawn to either of these people.

Interestingly enough, I find myself very drawn to the quality manager. She's happy, friendly, laughs a lot, and is totally about the clients. Our clients are developmentally disabled adults and she has an excellent rapport with these people. I'm not getting the vibe from the time I've spent with this woman that she's a Christian. But here she is, the most appealing and caring person out of the group.

Is it just me, or is there something wrong with this picture?

On the good side, this definitely brings me to prayer. I pray for these 2 blatant Christians and pray that I would be a good sister in the Lord to them. I pray for myself. I pray that I would be open to the Holy Spirit and be aware of the people around me. That each and every day God would use me in this work place. I also pray that I'd do my job with excellence.

What about you, do you ever find yourself disappointed with the Christians that you meet?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sometimes our minds just need cracking open

This morning I made some time to read for fun. The book I had been on the waiting list for from the library came in at long last, and I was excited to finally be able to sit down and start reading. This book, Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle, was recommended to me by Deborah Ann over at Heavenly Humor. While reading, I came across this quote from Denise Levertove that particularly stirred me:

"It's when we face for a moment the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know the taint in our own selves, that awe cracks the mind's shell and enters the heart."

Have you ever had that kind of experience? Have you ever seen another human being do something wretched only to realize that you weren't exempt, that some bit of that same poison existed in you as well? Did that awareness crack open your mind and enter your heart? What affect did that have?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Did "The plan" turn out differently than you expected?

I never cease to be amazed at the relevance of the Bible. Each time I read a particular portion of it, I see different things. The Holy Spirit is always faithful to make the written Word real to my heart, and to help me see ways I can apply the words to my current life situations.

As I'm continuing to slowly make my way through Genesis, today I read Genesis 47. This passage is about when Joseph's family (Jacob and his other sons and their families) accepted Joseph's invitation and came to Egypt and settled in Goshen. As I was reading this passage I was wondering how Jacob felt.

I'm sure he was grateful that he and his sons and their families could all come to Egypt where they could be safe from the famine. I'll bet he was ecstatic to be with his son Joseph again. But I can't help but think he was far from being pleased about being in Egypt. Genesis 43:32 provides a glimpse into the racial prejudice that was common in Egypt; the Egyptians found the Hebrews so detestable that they would not even eat at the same table . Then there's the fact that God had cut covenant with Jacob's grandfather Abraham and had promised to make his decendents a mighty nation, yet here Jacob and his family were in Eygpt, far away from their promised land. I wonder if he was confused about why God was doing things that way?

I was captivated by Genesis 47:27 as I read it this morning:

Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number.

As I read those words today it was as if the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart the fact that God can cause His children to prosper in the midst of terrible circumstances far from their Canaan. I was encouraged to see that God blessed the Israelites in Egypt because He sent them there to fulfill His good purposes; I thought about how, once His purposes were accomplished, God provoked circumstances to move them.

This was especially encouraging to me today because of some situations I'm currently encountering. Not long ago, over on Kingdom Bloggers, I posted about some of my struggles with regard to my job and career. After being out of work for close to 18 months, I went ahead and accepted a job that is a "step down" from what I've done for the past 11 years, makes 58% less than I was making, and that is an hour (in decent traffic) commute from my home. To be candid, I'm struggling with this situation on an emotional level.

I wish I could tell you that I knew, that I knew, that I knew that it was God's will that I accept this job. But, due to my own intense emotions regarding the entire situation, I found it difficult to hear God's voice. So I prayed for as long as possible, and then "gave it my best shot". I think God wanted me to accept the job. Now that I am working there, I know that God wants me to give my absolute best each and every day and to be faithful right where I am at.

I don't really know why God would want me to go backwards in my career and to deal with all this, but I know that God has plans for my life. I am confident in the fact that He will use every situation to bring about good in my life.

I was encouraged by those words in Genesis 47:27 this morning, that God can cause me to prosper right where I am.

What about you, has God spoken anything to your heart recently through His word? Has God has put you someplace that doesn't seem to be part of the plan that you expected?

Are mentally ill people "worth" our compassion?

Over at Kingdom Bloggers this week we're talking about compassion.

In my post today I share a bit about compassion. Then I end with a question that I'd adore to hear your feedback regarding, weather you'd care to answer them here, or over there:

What have your encounters with mentally ill people been like?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Is it too simplistic of me to think that you should back up accusations with facts?

Here in California there's been a new Democratic ad running on TV that basically accuses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce of using foreign funds to secretly back Republican congressional candidates. The following two comments are actually said in the ads:

"It appears they're even taking secret foreign money to influence our elections,"

"It's incredible, Republicans benefiting from secret foreign money."

To me this ad seems to echo President Obama's comments last week:

"Just this week, we learned that one of the largest groups paying for these ad regularly takes in money from foreign corporations. So groups that receive foreign money are spending huge sums to influence American elections. And they won’t tell you where the money for the ads come from."

White House adviser, David Axelrod, appeared on CBS "Face the Nation" and was questioned by correspondent Bob Schieffe regarding these allegations. Scheiffe asserted that when the New York Times investigated the foreign financial contributions to the US Chamber of Commerce, they found the amount of money to be a nominal part of their entire operating expenses for campaign ads. When Scheiffe asked Axelrod if he could offer any evidence to demonstrate that these contributions are significant, Axelrod responded:

"Well, do you have any evidence that it's not, Bob?"

Is it just me, or is it irresponsible journalism to be making these type of insinuations without collaborating evidence to back them up?

Chamber officials have been reported as stating that, out of the chamber's $200 million annual budget, it receives $100,000 from American business interests abroad. It is reported that the money from American interests abroad is used to help finance the chamber's international programs; that none of this money is used for U.S. political activities.

The senior chamber vice president, Tom Collamore, said in a written statement that the Democratic charges show the party trying to change the subject and said the ad is "ridiculous and false."

Collamore also said: "The U.S. Chamber will continue to support candidates from both political parties who support a pro-jobs, pro-growth agenda".

Have you seen these ads? If so, what's your take on them?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Why do you blog?

Over at Kingdom Bloggers this week we're talking about why we blog.

If you like, you can read why I blog in my post over there.

But what about you, why do you blog?
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