Saturday, October 31, 2015

Five months in on Six-month smiles braces

My teeth and mouth are quite different now, which is good, but the experience has been frustrating because of almost weekly breaks in the brackets, especially the lower ones.  They, and the wires, are broken now, but I can't get to the dentist til Wednesday.  GRRRR.  Would I do it again?  Thankfully, we can't redo the past  It is nice to have straight front teeth.

Land Girls

Hubby and I started watching the BBC program Land Girls on NetFlix, which lends itself to binge watching.  The show is the television equivalent of potato chips.  You can't watch just one, but it is as intellectually satisfying as chips are nutritional.  It's quite the soap opera, with cliff hangers, one-dimensional characters (especially the villains), artificial conflict, and problems and characters that go away when the plot no longer needs them.  The Americans are the particular bad guys, despite the historical proof that the Americans were pretty good to the British locals.  The story between the lord of the manor and the land girl with an Italian background was about stupid.  But I do like the scenery and periodness (although their clothes look way too good considering what the Brits had been through by then and the land girls hardly ever actually work), and I like some of the characters.

A friend's mother, they found out later in life, was a land girl in England during the War.  It is interesting how my parents' generation rarely told us baby boomers the full extent of what they have lived through.  Far more interesting than movies, I would say.  My friend didn't know about her mother-in-law until they were attending a WWII re-enactment a few years back in Pennsylvania and the mother, about 90, announced it, and she was surrounded by re-enactors in their outfits who were listening to her stories. 

I was able to combine a trip to Washington, D.C, for a conference this week with a trip to Annapolis to see my brother and his wife and daughter.  We reminisced about essentially the same thing:  our mother's exploits that she never talked about until late in life.  She was in her seventies before she told me she worked in an armaments plant.  My brother told a story about her losing a young friend as a child who was burned up in a corn field that caught fire.  She never talked about her stepfather, who went to prison for killing his girlfriend (while still married to my grandmother).  There was more. 

These people are quickly dying off, and we must get them on tape.  I have some of my mother and grandmother on film, but not enough, not as much as I like.

Back to the TV show.  I am half-way through the second season, and will probably watch the rest just because I like to finish what I started.  But Foyle's War is a much better depiction of the era. 

Are you kidding me?

I am no fan of Trump, but when a supposed moderator asks him in a supposedly real debate (i.e., public forum) if he is a cartoon villain character idea of a president . . .

Shame on you, CNBC.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Ein Feste Berg

Today is celebrated as Reformation Day in some churches, and of course "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" will be sung, hopefully with an organ with all the stops pulled out.  To reflect on this (and because I am not in church this morning due to traveling), I will write a reflection/paraphrase of this great song, not because it is needed, but because it helps me and perhaps someone else see the deep doctrine of it.

 A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Our God is a mighty fortress, a never-failing defense.
He is our helper through the flood of sin and death that seems to prevail in this world.
Because Satan still seeks to do evil to us;
His craft, power, and hate used against us are great, 
and no human has the power that Satan does.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

If we trust in our own strength, all our attempts to fight Satan and sin will end in failure,
unless the Son of Man and Son of God is on our side to fight for us.
Do you not know who this person is?  It is Jesus Christ, whose name is also
The Lord of Hosts, a name He has had since eternity past and will always have.
He must win the battle because no one else can.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

Because God has willed from the foundation of the earth that His truth will triumph in His church, 
It does not ultimately matter how threatening the myriad demons of earth and hell are and what they plan.
We do not need to tremble in fear of Satan, despite his rage.  We, hidden in Christ, can endure Him and His tools, knowing that his doom is sure.  One small word, if the right one, is enough to send Satan running.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

The word that destroys Satan exist on earth but not because of the powers of kings and princes of earth.
The Lord Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gifts that will lead us to be conquerors.  
Eventually, material possessions and even family, sadly, will fade away, as well as this earthly, mortal life.  Satanic and earthly powers may kill the body, but all things of God--His truth, His kingdom, will abide forever. 

Thought for October 25

I am traveling today to a conference, and it will be combined with seeing family.  Enough said on this point.  But on the short flight to where I have a layover, I sat in front of a quintessential Southern woman.  I say that ironically, because there is no such thing, but she was loud, brassy, cursed a bit, and got along great with her seatmates.  I know she annoyed the other passengers on the packed-in flight, but other than the constant use of God's "name in vain," I found her amusing.  I learned all about her life, her boyfriend, her ex-husband, her job, her trip, her child.  So did the rest of the flight, I think.  She was sort of like Paula Deen in looks, voice, and personality (which shows I am not a fan).

It occurred to me that God never called anyone to be a curmudgeon, which is easy to be at times.   

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Some political thoughts

I am wading in and might get in trouble, but here goes.

Joe Biden said he would not run for president today, and it was one of his finer moments.  For a man who has made a career out of goofy and embarrassing gaffes, he is coming across with gravitas since his son passed away.  I respect him more now.  We are at least spared the possibility of his running against Donald Trump.

Then we find out today that the plurality of Republicans think Donald Trump will win the GOP nomination.  What is going on?  How can this narcissistic, egoistic, buffoonish,  sexist loud mouth have convinced that many conservatives that he should be their candidate for the leader of the free world?  Who are these people?  Can they not see this guy's propensity to spout off without knowledge, his inability to accept responsibility, and his crassness?

Being against the "political class" is no excuse for stupidity.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

It's that time again . . .

Apparently some professor somewhere assigned a paper on group dynamics in Twelve Angry Men."  This blog is getting bombarded with hits for that article.  I hope these professors use Turnitin!

If you come here, please buy my books:

My books are good.  Sorry, it's just true.  They are better than a lot of stuff out there.  

This afternoon I went to the Goodlet Family Fall Festival in Rock Spring, GA.  Many thanks to Chris Jemison who got the local authors together, to the Goodlet family for doing this festival, which supports breast cancer research, and all the helpers. 

One Holy Apostolic Church

One holy apostolic church

The church has historically had creeds or confessions that they repeat.  Baptists early on decided not to use them in their churches because, from what I understand, they seemed too much like state churches and they wanted to be people of the book rather than what they saw as manmade creeds.  However, Baptists have always been conscious of them and used them for doctrinal bases.  The two basic ones are the Apostles Creed, which is dated to 390 A.D.  We said this at First Pres but I had skipped “catholic” church and my husband skipped “descended into hell” because some Baptists don’t believe that (it’s complicated—he descended into Hades, not hell as it is now). 

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate,,was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

Nicene Creed 325.  More associated with Catholics but doesn’t have any in it we would disagree with except in the last paragraph.  It is more specific.
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.
Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
I think the value of reading and knowing these creeds is that it connects us with the church 1900 years ago, and that is the point of this lesson.  We tend to think of the church as the group of people we see on Sunday, that are co-members with us at Brainerd, and that is the church but not the whole church.  Just like my hand is my body it is not the whole body, and I think every time we come together we should be mindful and remember the church in other parts of the world and the historical church. 

This has to do with unity.  Unity is not the same as uniformity.  From the very beginning the church struggled with diversity.  As soon as the first Gentile became a Christian without being a Jewish convert, they had to deal with diversity.  At first, the apostles had to get it into their head that a Gentile could come directly to Christ without the Jewish laws, circumcision, etc.  We don’t have a problem with that today, of course, since we are primarily Gentiles anyway, but we do have a problem with accepting worship with people different from us.  I remember when I went to New City Fellowship.  It’s a great church but because it is more diverse they didn’t start on time.  I didn’t like that because I am so white. 
Diversity deals with  race, background (slaves), gender, etc. We still do, although I think we are trying harder than in my past.  I have often heard the phrase, “The most segregated hour of the week is 11:00 a.m on Sunday.”  I think that misses the point somewhat, because the very fact that people all over the world gather on Sunday mornings to worship shows something, that we are a universal church, not a racial one.  Should we have more black and Latino people in our churches?  Of course, but, why don’t we?   
We also have freedom to be diverse in cultural ways.  The diversity of human experience and how it is shown in the church is a testimony to God’s creativity. 
The unity that the church has is unity of purpose, unity of doctrine, unity of brotherhood (which is a reality, not something we have to create by human methods), unity of future, unity of Lordship. 

I do not feel adequate to speak on this subject, the holiness of God and how it is to be reflected in the everyday lives of the church.  Humans are so dishonest and hypocritical about holiness.  I am learning about this everyday, how I see others are a middle class white woman does rather than how God does.  Holiness is so perfect and absolute that it is easy to just dismiss it and say, “We will be holy in heaven, so let’s just do the best we can here and not worry about holiness.”  Or we see it as piousness, fakeness, a certain lifestyle, not doing certain things.  Human beings are experts in trying to make the outside look good when the inside is a mess.
Holiness is reflecting God’s nature, and it’s through the Holy Spirit’s power, nothing we can do on our own.  He has already made us able to do so.  Holiness is also about “whole-ness.”  Sin fragments us personally and separates us from others. 
The holiness of God we should be concerned about is internally aligning our purposes with his.  My favorite verse on holiness is I John 3.

APOSTOLIC.  Jesus did not write any books.  He did not dictate any books or writing.  He gave that job to his apostles, the sent ones:  Matthew, John, Peter, Paul, and those they taught and entrusted in the years after his death.  One way we know a book is real scripture, or CANONICAL, is that it was written in the age of the apostles (before they all died, about 90 A.D.).  These fake gospels that are New Age were written in 200 A.D. or later (the ones that say Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had children). 
So, in historical Christianity the apostles play a huge role.  When I went to Europe, I noticed that the artwork in older churches was based on the apostles, not Mary.  The worship of Mary came around 1100 A.D., but before that the artwork shows the 12 apostles.
Today when we hear the apostolic church, the term is a little confusing.  In fact, I was surprised it was even used in this lesson, but it’s a teaching moment for us.  Some Pentecostal groups use the name apostolic because they want to emphasize that they use the spiritual gifts of healing and tongues and handling snakes, like they believe the original apostles do.  Catholic and Orthodox churches use the term because they believe that the leaders of the church come down from apostolic succession.  For example, the Pope is a direct descendant of Peter, the first pope, in terms of “laying on of hands.” Evangelicals use the term to mean that we preach and teach the same doctrine.  It doesn’t have to do with spiritual gifts (in fact, we tend to say those gifts in the books of Acts have gone away) or with laying on of hands consecutively (which would be impossible to prove historically for 1900 years).

Jude:  contend for the faith once delivered to the saint.  What is the faith, and how do we contend for it?  Here it is the whole counsel of God, the doctrines.  But contend?  What does it mean and how do we do that?
This is an intellectual more than practical lesson, so what are the takeaways.
1.     God sees his church in the big picture as well as us as individuals.  Two thousand years and millions upon millions of believers.  We have a great heritage.
2.     That is comforting.  We are not alone.  We have a great cloud of witnesses in the Heavens watching us run the race.  (Hebrews 12:2). 
3.     Unity with each other in this church is not something we have to make happen.  It’s just something we have to live, overlooking minute and unimportant differences that we make into insurmountable ones. 
4.     Holiness is not impossible.  But it is more than just not doing certain things.  It is reflecting God’s nature, and that is more than just abstaining. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Lyrics for Today

Nothing is wasted.
Nothing is wasted.
In the hands of our Redeemer,
Nothing is wasted.

I have this song in my head.  In my first novel, I had the line, "Everything matters."  We think some things are wasted and that some things don't matter, but it is only our perspective.  Even more, no one is wasted, Everyone matters.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Lesson outline on the Body of Christ

Discussion Point I.  Video, “I am a Christian But.  . . “  What do you think of this?  What positive things are being said?  What not-so-positive things?
 In my mind, these young people do not understand the body of Christ. 
Our passage today is I Corinthians 12:12-30 (12-20, 21-26, 27-30).  I will add Psalm 139 to the mix

You have probably heard several sermons or read these passages many times before.  The issue is not so much what they mean but what do they mean for us personally and what are we going to do about them?  What one thing right now can we do differently to make the truth of “the body of Christ” meaningful and real in our lives, and what can we do long-term?

Discussion Point II:  List all the parts of the body (organs, limbs, etc.) you can in the time allotted.

Question 1:   Which part of the body could be eliminated and it have no effect on the rest of the body?
Question 2:  Which part of the body could be eliminated and keep living and thriving on its 

The people of Paul’s time reading this letter did not know about cells, dendrites, neurons, etc. but they did know basic anatomy and what happened when one part of the body disappeared or failed.  

 Psalm 139:14-18.

God chose to use the body as a metaphor or explanation point for the church for several reasons.  In fact, I do not really think of it as a metaphor, because a metaphor always breaks down.  (If I say, “She is jewel” about someone I work with whom I really like and is indispensable to the office, like my friend Donna Hendrix, I only mean she is like a jewel in being valuable and precious.  I don’t mean she is hard, could be put in jewelry, could be bought and sold, etc.)  However, with the body of Christ, we really are his body: 
·      He cares for us like he would a physical body.
·      We are the physical presence of Christ on earth while he is in heaven.
·      We suffer together as he does and rejoice together as he does.
·      He is the head and we are dependent on him fully.
·      The Holy Spirit is the “life force” and keeps us alive and united.
·      We need each other and no one part of the body is indispensable.
·      The physical aspect of our lives is important (we are not all spirit).
·      It is not good to be alone.  We do not really thrive and grow spiritually (or otherwise) away from people.  To think so is to buy a lie.  (Genesis 2:18).  We have idealized aloneness. 
·      Other? 

What other organizations and groups have you participated in? 
As a body, the church is different from any other group.  How? 
Why is “body life” not attractive to us?
o   Sense that time is wasted with other people
o   Rejection, which has very little to do with the rejectee and everything to do with the rejecter.  John 6:60-69.
o   Not our style 
o   Not sure what we contribute
o   Just plain messy
o   Too much other stuff
1.     Our church needs a re-igniting of this idea of body life.  Are we a social club or a night club?  Neither. 
2.   We ourselves need each other.  My story:  A woman I avoid.  She needs the church.  Time to God is the eternal now.   I need the church. 

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Maybe Someone Will Pay Attention Now

Someone posted on Facebook a meme that said, "The bravest person in America is the second person shot in Roseburg, Oregon, for saying he/she was a Christian."

I don't know if that is supposed to be funny.  I think the first person was just as brave.  The enormity of this tragedy is unfathomable.  We used to talk about these things happening in Soviet Russia during the Cold War.  Now they happen in our country.

We jump to the "too many guns" argument (of course there are too many guns, but we have a right to them, and Americans do everything excessively) and the "mental illness" argument.  We assume the shooter/killer was mentally ill.  Maybe he subscribed to a world view that made himself the center of the universe, the god whom he denied.  Maybe he planned this to accomplish a goal that seemed perfectly sane given his world view.  What makes a person mentally ill if he/she follows the logical dictates of his/her world view, his/her erroneous belief system?

This is the second shooting in a few months that targeted Christians.  Maybe the media will get it now. 

Gray Areas

I am going to make a bold statement here and say that all this talk of gray areas in the Christian life is nonsense.  It's not a Biblical concept.  Read the New Testament, people.  Dark and light; enemies of God or friends of God; sin or righteousness.  No gray area. 

Oh, but what about?  You say.  What about them?  If they are right, do them.  If they are wrong, don't.  What makes a thing gray?  Sometimes it's a cultural matter:  what a person in one culture would consider sin a person in another culture wouldn't.  Well, what does the Word say about it?  Sometimes it's an individual matter--"I don't feel comfortable doing something" or "I don't want to offend anyone doing something."  Well, if you only keep from doing something to keep from offending someone, what injury comes from their offense? 

The devil is in the details.  Let's take tattoos.  I don't get them, but are they wrong?  They either are or aren't.  If they are wrong, we need repentance.  If they aren't, go for it.  Maybe we all need one.

Ok, this is my attempt at irony a la "A Modest Proposal."  There just aren't as many gray areas as we like to think.  Too much of this discussion is based on personal preference rather than a study of the Word. 


I greatly appreciate the musicians of Brainerd Baptist Church.  The hours they spend, especially in the orchestra, to accompany our worship, are well spent.  Today we sang this song from Casting Crowns:

Just to know You and
To make You known
We lift Your name on High
Shine like the sun make darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more
Than ordinary lives
It's time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive

This is a good anthem, as long as we remember that we were made to thrive for God's glory, not our own self-fulfillment.

One thing deeply missing in worship is corporate prayer.  Prayer is not for the ADD-afflicted, so it gets short shrift in modern worship.  

Text of my presentation at Southern States Communication Conference on Open Educational Resources

On April 8 I spoke at SSCA on the subject of Open Educational Resources.  Here is the text of my remarks. The University System of Geo...