And Let It Begin with Me

I was planning on writing a post about breed bans (I am 100% against them), but this morning at church, as usual, my mind was changed.

Apparently, pastors and churches are of the opinion that America will not see another big revival because they feel we’re too close to the second coming for it to happen.

How DARE they limit God?!

How DARE they decide that people no longer need to hear the gospel or have another opportunity to be saved?!

How DARE they ignore the part about only God knows when the rapture will be?!

Last time I checked, the job of Christians is to bring glory to God and to tell the world of the good news of the hope of salvation.

After September 11, 2001, many people in this country bent their knees and put their faith in God. Just because it may take something horrendous such as the deaths of over three thousand people in the first attack on US soil since December 7, 1941, to bring about a revival does not mean that revivals can or will not happen in this country again.

The excuse that surely we must be close to the rapture and second coming is just that: an excuse for laziness in the church. It’s an excuse for people to stay in their comfort zone or their bubble where they don’t risk being mocked or persecuted in some form for their beliefs and willingness to share those beliefs.

Here’s the thing: God is watching. If you have put your faith in Him and the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus but are not doing your job and in fact are living according to what the world wants you to do (usually, that’s the opposite of God), then you will be in trouble when you get to heaven regardless of it is following your death or the rapture.

I personally would rather see and hear of another revival in America because Christians are doing their job as Christians than because we suffered another massive tragedy. Have you considered that maybe we have so many shootings and hurricanes and fires because that is how people are coming to God?

President Trump this past week said that the attack on Christian-Judeo morals and values has come to an end. I cheered when I read that. I know many Christians working in the secular workplace who have kept their mouths shut as their co-workers actually asked how to get to heaven or what does salvation mean because they (the Christians) were worried about getting made fun of or losing their jobs because they knew the answer. I know of Christians who got tired of being mocked and left the narrow path to blend in with the world. I know of Christians who have wandered so incredibly far from God that I shudder thinking of what it will take to bring them back to Him…because they saw the world profiting and appearing to have more fun than their Christian circle. All of them will have to answer for those choices. Maybe now that we have a president who has said that our morals and beliefs are not to be attacked, now that we can legally fight back, Christians will finally come out from under the rock they’ve been hiding and do their job. Maybe now, they will end this nonsense about “oh, America will never see another revival” and instead say, as the old song goes, “Lord, send a revival, and let it begin with me.”

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Children of Fire

Children of Fire

*high pitch beeping*
“____________ Fire and Rescue, request for your department. (address) for a structure fire.”
“____________ Rescue, request for your squad. (address) for male not breathing. CPR in progress.” 

The sounds of my childhood. Actually, I’ve been hearing those sounds – the beeping, the voice – since before I was born since both my parents were on our fire department.

Those calls or something similar would come over the pager, and my daddy would jump to answer. Before he left, every time, he would hear my mum; my sister; my brother; and I say, “Be careful. Have fun. I love you.”

His response, depending on how far out the door he was, usually was “yup” or “love you too” or “oh always.”

My mama is an old ER nurse from the days when nurses were actually allowed to put patient care first in their work. Supper conversation usually started with the question, “so did anyone come in for something stupid?” or “did anybody lose a finger?”

Let’s add to that. I wasn’t just raised by a firefighter/EMT and an RN/EMT; I was raised by two strong, Bible-believing Christians. My brother, sister, and I have all claimed Christ Jesus as our Saviour. We do not fear death. Process of dying? No, not looking forward to that part, but death itself is gaining an eternity in heaven.

Death. Trauma. Accidents. All were common discussion in my family. All of us have known that every time that pager goes off, especially for a fire, something could go wrong. Anytime you have a bonfire or get in a car, the rest of the family might hear those tones drop about the same time they get that sinking feeling that something in the family is wrong.

I have never in my entire life told either of my parents or my siblings that I hate them. To my knowledge, neither of my siblings have ever said such a thing. Because, God forbid, that could have been the last thing we ever said to that loved one.

Sure, we might hate the actions of that person. We might hate the feelings we experience that person has invoked in us, but we don’t hate that person.

I know many of our classmates in school and church have told their parents they hate them. They didn’t truly hate them, but the powerful words of “hate” and “love” are thrown around so carelessly in this world, that they didn’t even think about the consequences of that phrase. This morning, the preacher said something along the lines that it was pretty common for him to hear any of daughters say, “I hate you.” I could not stop thinking about that the rest of the message. All I could think about was every time I’ve stayed up listening to the pager to make sure my daddy and the other men got back to the station and signed off the air. Or every time they switched to a fireground channel, leaving me pacing around my bedroom waiting to hear them switch back to the county channel I could hear.

I started wondering how we impart that caution or thoughtfulness that, as far as I know, every Child of a Firefighter (EMT) has with their words. I’m not saying we say the right thing all the time. I regret a lot of what I’ve said. I’ve left my parents house angry at one or both of my parents. I’ve hung up on my sister and my brother because all we were doing was angering each other. Every time though, I’ve sent a text or called them to say that I love them. Every. Single. Time. They write back they love me too.

Johnny Cash has that famous song I Walk the Line. I’ve seen wives and mothers of firefighters and cops have adopted parts of that song to put on shirts and cars and even coffee mugs. It’s a shame that not everyone has that sense of cherish every moment, never let them leave without knowing they are loved obligation that families of emergency workers and military families have.

It doesn’t matter that I’m on the department right there with them. My daddy and my men are mine, so I walk that line. Because I’ve walked that line my entire life, I will never tell someone that I hate them.

 

Old Soul Raised Right

The door is open letting a breeze blow into the house. Birds are singing. Alabama, Alan Jackson, and others are singing in the background of the sound of dishes being washed while coffee cake bakes in the oven.

I’ve been told before I have an old soul in a young body. I think I was just raised right – simple, appreciative, well-mannered.

As I mixed that coffee cake, I chuckled to myself. I was using my grandma’s KitchenAid mixer, Tupperware measuring utensils while other Tupperware pieces dried in the dish rack, and the recipe used is from my copy of the “big red cookbook” from which many recipes of my childhood came as my mama followed and tweaked the recipes in her copy of that cookbook given to her by her mama.

I should be used to it by now, but I am still shocked when I hear my friends say they don’t cook or when they say their girlfriends or ex-girls never baked for them. Most Saturdays, after chores were finished, the kitchen became mine as I baked cookies or cakes or some other (usually) tasty treat for my family! I was raised by a mama who loves to cook for anyone and everyone! I have that same mindset. It makes me happy to cook for family and friends and co-workers and people I’ve never met.

It truly makes me sad to hear that my age group and those younger than I no longer take pride in their ability to throw a meal together for unexpected company or no longer have a cake or bread on stand-by. Ice tea in the fridge? Nope.

(Sidenote: I’m excited to be getting a new Tupperware pitcher! It will probably be tea-stained by the end of the summer!)

I don’t know if I’m just an old soul in a young body and not up to modern behaviour or if people these days just aren’t raising their kids right – with manners and preparedness -, but as I listen to the ballads of Brad Paisley and smell the cinnamon in the coffee cake heating up, I’m content.

 

Sunday School

This morning, while getting ready for church, I wrote a – in my opinion – brilliant post in my head about slavery. I was super pumped to type it out here.

At church, while watching a video about the sanctity of life, I started writing a post, again in my head, about individual world-views. I was excited about.

After church, ran into my parents in town for lunch where we started discussing Sunday school.

Background: I grew up in a church that was quite sizable. Children’s Sunday school was divided by school grade and age. Youth group was youth group, 7th-12th grade. College and Career was essentially everyone out of high school into their late 20s/early 30s. After that, I’m not entirely sure on all the different classes. I know there was a class titled “Homebuilders.” You picked which class you wanted to attend. (You could pick right out of high school, maybe in senior high too, but most chose to go with age we transitioned from kid to adult.)

Back to today: The question was brought up: do churches need or should have a college and career aged Sunday school class? Why can’t the young adults join the older adults in a group Sunday school?

My thoughts: Yes. Here’s why.

  1. If all the adults are sitting in the same area being taught the same lesson, how is that any different than the main church service? Especially in smaller churches?
  2. Sunday school classes typically have more interaction when smaller. A quieter person might be able to work up the courage to give their thoughts on a topic or passage of Scripture when there are only their peers in the room but remain silent when faced with talking in front of “older” Christians are adults they’ve grown up listening to in church.
  3. Graduating high school can be overwhelming to a teenager; why have that stress or overwhelming feeling at church too? A college and/or career class allows that teenager to transition from high school to adulthood a bit easier. They can learn with their peers facing the same struggles or those who have recently gone through the same struggles – budgeting, relationships, new co-workers – how to handle those specific challenges Biblically in comparison to sitting through a lesson on how to handle disciplining young children according to the Bible and trying to focus on that instead of their new trials.
  4. Sunday school does not take the place of morning worship service, evening worship service, or Wednesday night prayer meeting. Those are all still combined – all ages – when the younger adults fellowship with other believers across the range of ages.
  5. New members or those visiting a church for the first time might feel more at ease with their own age group, be less concerned about what that senior saint is thinking about them, and actually focus on the lesson.

I realize the college group could hold Bible studies apart from church, but, in my experience, those studies are sporadically attended by this age group due to work and school schedules.

These are just the reasons I could think of today for why churches shouldn’t dismiss the idea of a college/career group. I’m sure I will think of more over the next few days. Feel free to comment your thoughts on the subject!

The God of Fire

If you never have an imaginary conversation or attempted to plan a conversation with someone in your head, you are lying to yourself. Tonight, my conversation was with someone I love dearly who is now unfortunately brainwashed by a treehugger and with the idiotic treehugger/brainwasher.

At some point, this conversation turned to the world being destroyed by fire by God after the rapture and tribulations and the rest of the prophecies in Revelations. The idiot, in my imaginary conversation, asked how I can I follow a God Who will allow the world to be destroyed. I answered with He is the just God who has had literally billions of His children, throughout history, suffer unimaginable pain and death for their attempts at warning people of the upcoming judgment. The idiot then asked how would I be able to stand seeing the world be destroyed.

I, being me, responded that since I will be seated on the stoop of my personalized mansion, safe from the power of destruction of the fire, I don’t anticipate mourning the destruction of a cursed world. I also pointed out that as a pyro and a firefighter, I love fire. I love watching the beauty of the dancing flames and listening to sound of the fire consuming the fuel.

That got me thinking away from the treehuggers about how appropriate it was that God, the Creator of the universe, will destroy the universe – cursed but still beautiful – with something as beautiful as fire. Fire is the element that with restraint is beautiful and beneficial. Fire is also the element that, when unleashed, is powerful beyond belief and can continue to consume everything that stands in defiance of that power. From there, how appropriate that God appeared as a pillar of fire to guide the Israelites through the wilderness.

He created this universe out of NOTHING. I’m redoing my house right, slowly, so very slowly, but surely. I can have a perfect design in my head, but only based on what I have with which to work. I can draw out my dream house, but only based on what I’ve already seen. Architects can design a new house, but they have to be within codes and regulations based on what has already been done. God designed the world with no previous worlds (that we’ve been told), and it is beautiful even while cursed! Clearly, He has a respect, knowledge, and love of beauty – including in fire.

He also appeared before them as the element that can consume forests and towns and civilizations – as we were reminded recently with Gatlinburg, Tennessee – before it stops or is stopped. The power of fire is uncontested world-wide. Israel was overtaken by fires and aided by other countries who realized the amount of destruction – and the threat to them – of those fires. What better element would the just, powerful, and holy God choose than the purifying fire? Oh yes, fire purifies.

It is truly sad the amount of death in Tennessee right now – people, woods, and animals. However, that area will come back to be even more beautiful and full of life after the impurities have been burned away. Farmers burn away left-over crops and weeds to clean and enrich the soil for a better harvest. We are told a couple different times in the Bible that Christians are being purified through trials the same way fire purifies. The holy God cannot allow sin in His kingdom. When He creates the new world, it will be after the impurities of this world have been burned away.

Yes, I realize God appears as wind or rather a gentle breeze in Biblical accounts as well, but this line of thought focused on the fire and the different characteristics of God we can see through fire.

The last thing we can see through the account of God being the pillar of fire guiding the Israelites: mercy. They were wandering because of their sin. That fire could have been used to consume the entire nation, but God restrained from doing that because while they were wandering as consequence for their sin, they were wandering because God showed mercy and allowed them to live to wander rather than choosing a different people to be His.

Three Types of People

This morning, as I used my all-natural laundry detergent and fumed about yet another chain store wanting to enter my little town, I decided there are three clear types of people in this world.

The first: my oh so favorite (please sense the sarcasm) treehuggers. These treehuggers essentially believe that the world is better without humans to preserve the world. It doesn’t matter if a tree is dead and about to fall on the home that has been in a family for generations and poses a risk to the little ones playing in the yard. They still think the tree should not be cut down and be allowed to fall as if it were still in an uninhabited area.

The second: I don’t actually have a good name for these people, as of now. This group is filled with people who live in the concrete jungle and think that the entire world should be paved over with asphalt, cement, concrete, etc. These are the people that seem to think that every village, township, town, city should have a McDonalds and Dollar General. They are the anti-treehuggers. It is important to note that while all in this group are city-boys, not all city-boys are in this group.

The third: the naturalists. This is the group of which I consider myself a part – the happy medium between the first and second. Naturalists are happy with how things are now – distinction between the country and the city. Naturalists typically live in the country because they don’t like the crowded, nature-deprived city, but they recognize the necessity of the cities to house a continuously growing population. Naturalists don’t go protesting every time a tree is going to be cut down, but they do believe and love national, state, and local parks. Naturalists don’t like the government interfering with how we keep our houses warm (the EPA should be disbanded), but they also prefer natural, biodegradable products around their house to do what they can to help preserver the environment. Naturalists are pro-hunting, but dislike hunting purely for sport (Dances with Wolves has a scene of thousands of slaughtered buffalo, killed for sport rather than meat and warmth, that has haunted me for over a decade.).

Naturalists can live in the city. You’ll find them in parks or taking weekend outings to local lakes or hiking grounds. They’ll be pushing for recycling in their building or homeowner’s association.

Naturalists are the most likable of the three groups. Treehuggers cannot go a day without telling you you’re wrong about everything when it comes to the environment. They tell you how you’re contributing to global warming that day. That second group cannot go a day without telling you that yeah, the fields of wheat waiting for harvesting set against a background of gold, flaming, and auburn trees with a dusty blue fall sky above all are beautiful, but think of how much nicer it would look as a parking lot for the new plaza of stores they want to build there. Yeah, our grandparents used to climb trees and run play by the creek, but it’s much safer for them on a small playground.

Because of the feuds between the treehuggers and the concreters (not the best title, but it’s still pretty accurate), everybody thinks the choice is one extreme or the other other. Everyone forgets that there is the third option. When you live half an hour from a city with every grocery, clothing, craft, auto, home-project store you could need, you don’t need a dollar general in your town just to have a dollar general in your town. You don’t need to feel guilty about cutting down a dead tree. Just plant another tree or grind that one into mulch for your flower beds or chop for a bonfire or woodburner.

Roommates with Benefits

Before I go into how I came across this post, what my personal beliefs on the subject are, or break down the post with what I think about it, allow me to summarize:

The post which I will be reviewing was written, in my opinion, by a spoiled brat whose parents greatly failed her as parents, and has either a guilty conscience or likes to think of herself as a rebel or wild child.

Now. The history behind this post:

Several of my friends and acquaintances have shared a post via Facebook written by some girl about living with her boyfriend before marriage. I was intrigued after about the third time it appeared on my feed, so I opened and was quite disgusted about the entire post.

Time for my favorite part: the break down.

It starts with what could actually be a valid point: the girl writing it claims to be an adult when people ask her about what her parents think about her living with her boyfriend. On the other hand, even as an adult, you should still respect the counsel of your parents and not just assume that, because they do not scold you as a child, they are happy with your decision. My parents let me screw up if I choose to go against their counsel or advice.

Oh! Here’s the part that led me to say that the girl’s parents greatly failed her! She didn’t realize she had to pay bills, that her paychecks could not be spent on cute outfits and purses.

You’re laughing, right? Because, I about died laughing when I read that section. She got a puppy and didn’t realize the poor thing would need more than 4 cups (no, she probably should not have gotten a dog) of food a day. She didn’t realize that food did not magically appear in the fridge or that cars need fuel. (Seriously, did she not have a tv at the very least?!) If she was so sheltered that she did not realize what the real world was like, her parents failed in preparing her to live on her own as an adult which could have done nothing good for her relationship.

The next part had me rolling my eyes at first, and then I realized that there may be more to the story than what she was willing to tell. I have had a few angry tears roll down my face in the spring and summer brought on by little things like not taking out the garbage on time leading to oh my gosh I have to pay the garbage bill soon. If it truly was because she realized she’s not a kid and now has to face responsibilities, then she deserves the eye-rolling.

To say that you cannot get close to or know somebody simply because you’re not living with them says so, so much about you! You are so unimaginative or uncaring that unless somebody is actually in your lap (or bed), you won’t get to know their likes and dislikes, pet-peeves, won’t be able to recognize when something is wrong with them – physically or emotionally – and the list continues. The late night pizza runs and making a fort in the living room (or outside or camping) sound like fun date nights, not something that you can do only if you’re living with somebody. That’s the majority of her rant – listing ways she’s gotten to know her boyfriend because they live together….even though the majority of what she lists are things anyone who is dating someone can find out….or working with someone on shifts 36-48 hours/week. (It got to where I could tell which of my coworkers was sick or getting sick because of how their breathing changed when we had down-time. I could tell you with my eyes closed which guy had entered the room based on footsteps.)

Then, she gives an example of her friend who spent approximately $50,000 on a wedding. It amuses me that so many people try the whole “try it before you buy it” argument as to why they’re living together before marriage and try to say that it leads to lower divorce rates when divorce rates were so much lower in the past when it was culturally unacceptable and worthy of a shotgun wedding to sleep together before marriage, let alone live together before marriage. There’s picture floating around Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. where a young couple asked an older couple who had been married for over 50 years how they managed to make it so long. The older couple responded with something along the lines of “we were raised in a time where if something wasn’t working, you didn’t just throw it out. You fixed it.” That is so much better than “try it before you buy it.” Marriage is work. It’s not all lovey-dovey like Hallmark movies and chick-flicks. If you don’t realize that, or you haven’t been warned about that, then you should NOT be getting married. You need to sit down and talk about things not just assume you can live the exact same way as you did as a child with your parents.

Why is it different to go through hard times when you’re just living with someone rather than when you have vowed to spend your entire life with someone? Is it because if it gets too hard, you can run away easier than if you were married and things got hard?

Now she brings God into the matter, or in her words, “the big guy” which is so incredibly disrespectful! She actually had mentioned sin earlier in the post, but I chose to save that until we got to this part. Humans are the ones who think different sins have different consequences. Humans are the ones who think murdering someone is worse than adultery is worse than fornication. According to God, through Paul, in the book of Romans, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). To God, there is no difference: sin is sin is sin. Having a roommate or housemate in and of itself is not bad. Having a roommate with “benefits” is sexual impurity which, according to God so many times in the Bible, is a sin.

Living with someone does not equal you loving them or showing everyone you love them. Vowing to spend the rest of your life with that someone shows everyone you love them.

She closes with trying to justify what she’s doing by saying she’s happy so nothing else matters. She loves him more because she lives with him and knows so very much about him, and all I can think is “you’re going to get bored.” What’s left to find out when you get married if you’ve been living with them for so long? You might as well just have a courthouse wedding with just your parents if you make so light of marriage. Save yourself $50,000. (I was choking as I wrote that insanely high number. That’s a house! Or two cars!)

You probably have figured out through reading this post that I am not an advocate of living together/sleeping together before marriage. If I were to have a male living in my house, he would be in the spare room, which currently does not have a bed, but sleeping bags are a wonderful thing. My concern would be the appearance of sin, but if a buddy needs a place to crash, I’m not going to turn him away.