Thursday, July 29, 2010


When our daughters were young they often liked to play “church”. It was interesting how they concluded which role each of them would hold. I don’t recall there ever being any prayers said to guide them in their determinations. Instead, the decisions were made according to perceived abilities.

Susan, the oldest was selected to be the organist because she was the most capable pianist. Julie, the middle one was selected to be the pastor because she had a good, LOUD singing voice. And ... because you can’t play “church” without an audience, that role was thrust upon Laura, the youngest.

Julie’s personality made it natural for her to dictate to the others how things were going to run in their “church”. However, Laura was never easily persuaded. In fact, Laura often complained that she always had the “unimportant” job and that she didn’t like having to always do what Julie and Susan decided!

Julie would demand, “I’m the pastor and it’s my job to make decisions!” Susan would assert, “That’s the song that I know how to play. SO…that’s the one we’re gonna sing!” In her frustration with never having any say, Laura would retort, “Why do I always have to be the audience?”

As a result of sitting in a “church” pew every Sunday listening to their daddy preach, the girls had several liturgies memorized. However, because it was the one they heard most often, #158 was typically their service of choice!

When our girls get together now as adults, they reminisce and laugh about their childhood “church” services. Sometimes Gary & I fear that our sides are going to split from laughing so hard listening to their stories. Yet, when I think about the narrow view that they were given for all those years of God’s Kingdom and the family life of His citizens, my heart breaks!

All too often the fellowship of God’s people “play church” in similar stifling ways:
• Decisions are made without prayer!
• The “pastor” runs the show!
• The seminary graduate is the only one qualified to teach!
• The only folks capable of sharing God’s love through music are those “trained for the job”!
• Repetitious services having little to no presence of the Spirit’s power in them!
• And the concept that there should even be an “audience” in the Church at all!

Oh, the devastating affect this approach has on God’s Kingdom! Rather than “everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation” (1 Cor. 15:26), the “audience” is oppressed from lack of participation. Sadly, unlike Laura, offering little if anything of themselves, the majority feels unneeded or has expectations to be bottle-fed. While the “pastor” and musicians are puffed up over their “important roles,” the fellowship gradually becomes dehydrated from lack of Living Water and weak due to lack of exercise. And we wonder why “the church” is lifeless!


Thursday, July 22, 2010


It breaks my heart every time I hear someone conclude that they feel as though they have messed-up so badly that Jesus could never forgive them. Psalm 103:3 says, “He forgives all your sins”! There are no exceptions! Jesus will never turn away a truly repentant heart. Psalm 103:4 goes on to say that Jesus “redeems your life from the pit.” It doesn’t matter how far you have fallen! Too often people believe that they have to “get their life straight” before they can turn to Jesus. The reality is He loves you just as you are! He will give you the strength to get your life in order. He just wants you to come home!

I’d like to share with you the lyrics of a song that I love to sing, especially when the Lord places it on my heart that there is someone in the audience who is ready to hear it.

*Adapted from the lyrics of Cherry Keaggy & Charlie Peacock

Is your heart empty; no hope or clue?
Listen to me brother, what I’m sayin’ to you
Jesus is Savior and He is a friend
And He’ll never forsake you. He’ll be there ‘til the end

And He will love you so completely
And He will heal you every wound and scar
He will receive you just for the askin’, Uh-huh
He will love you just are you are

You say that you’ve fallen far, far away
You remember the Father but forgotten how to pray
There is forgiveness. No need to run
The Father is waiting. Won’t you go ahead and come?

And He will love you so completely
And He will heal you every wound and scar
He will receive you just for the askin’, Uh-huh
He will love you just are you are

Come on home. You have been away too long
Come one home to the place where you belong
Come on home. He won’t ask you where you’ve gone.
It won’t matter just as long as you come on home.

And He will love you so completely
And He will heal you every wound and scar
He will receive you just for the askin’, Uh-huh
He will love you just are you are

Won’t you go ahead and come?
Won’t you go ahead and come?
Won’t you go ahead and come?

My prayer is that you would find rest and peace in the assurance of His unconditional love! Just come home!


Thursday, July 15, 2010


Fragrances, phosphates, chlorines and petroleums in most laundry detergents have adverse effects on the environment and on our health. Even for careful label readers, choosing non-toxic products can be tricky.

According to Investigator/Professor Anne C. Steinemann, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Public Affairs, University of Washington, laundry detergent companies are not required to disclose all chemicals including those classified as toxic or hazardous under federal law! Consequently, labels often read something like this: “Ingredients include surfactants (anionic and nonionic) and enzymes.”

My understanding is that Seventh Generation is one of few companies which produces truly safe products. Although, I’ve never used it, they offer a laundry detergent that is non-toxic, hypo-allergenic, free of chlorine, phosphates and petroleum-based ingredients, as well as artificial fragrances and dyes. A 50 oz bottle for 32 loads can be purchased for as low as $10.56 = $.33/load.

However, not only is it important to be good stewards of our bodies and the world in which we live, spending wisely is no less important. Thirty-three cents per load may not sound like much until you discover that…

you can make non-toxic liquid detergent
I’m not kidding!


1/3 bar Fels Naptha (1/3 bar Zote or 1 bar of Ivory will work)
½ cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (not baking soda)
½ cup 20 Mule Team Borax powder
*Note: All these are typically in the Laundry section

• Grate soap and place in sauce pan
• Add 6 cups water
• Heat until soap melts
• Add soda & borax
• Stir until dissolved
• Remove from heat
• Pour 4 cups hot water into a 2 gallon bucket
• Add soap mixture & stir.
• Add one gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir
• Allow to set for 24 hours
• Stir mixture – (Consistency - egg drop soup)

Use ½ cup of laundry gel per load. As a pre-soak, add ½ cup to enough water that just covers items needing treatment and soak over-night before laundering as usual.

Soap residue is what causes laundry dinginess and color loss. Its abrasiveness also shortens the life of our clothing. Vinegar is not only inexpensive; it’s amazing for many things, including laundry! Vinegar removes this residue! I purchased a laundry softener ball and fill it with ½ cup of vinegar. When placed on top of the clothes in the washing machine, this ball will dispense the vinegar during the rinse cycle. Since using this, I’ve noticed a difference in the brightness of our clothes!

Give it a try! It’s very easy, lots of fun and it works as well, if not better than any commercial product I’ve ever tried.

If you have questions, feel free to contact me. I’ll be glad to help!


Thursday, July 8, 2010


I have obviously “stirred up a hornets nest” with my last article regarding America’s national anthem. I would like to share some responses that I have offered to others which may or may not be helpful for you in understanding my heart.

It seems that the most stimulating point in my previous article was the suggestion that, as followers of Jesus, we are never to respond with violence. Please know that I do not approach this subject with an insensitive heart. I have three older brothers who fought in Viet Nam. As a little girl, they were my heroes! My only child will be leaving for Afghanistan in a few days. If I were going to kill others to protect anyone, my mothering heart would likely be more tempted to murder in order to protect my son than anyone on this earth! Yet, I have to keep coming back to, not what my sinful nature wants to do, but what would a follower of Jesus do?

I can’t rationalize this in my mind or I will always come back to, “Surely God would want me to protect my son!” I must come back to, “What does God’s Word say?”

Yes, God commanded OT Israel to go into battle. They were God’s chosen people and God held them accountable to keep true religion alive and pure. All other countries were and are not God’s chosen people. Citizens of God’s New Testament Nation are scattered all over the world and they have been given no command to wage war of any kind against anyone. In fact, Jesus has given His people a new command, “Love your enemies” (Matt 5:43). Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:17-21

I don’t think we can get around this!

It isn’t that we sit back and do nothing as members of Jesus’ nation. I’m not suggesting pacifism. Yes, Jesus warns of coming battles, but His Word tells us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world and spiritual forces of evil in the spiritual realm. The weapons used by Jesus’ followers are not to be weapons of this world. Instead, we are called to stand firm in the full armor of God:

• belt of truth
• breastplate of righteousness
• sandals of peace
• shield of faith
• helmet of salvation
SWORD of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
• And prayer.
(Ephesians 6:10-18)

It is our sinful nature which desires to talk around and attempt to rationalize all of this. I do it too! Yet, if we are truly seeking to be followers of Jesus, we must remember,

“My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,
declares the Lord.”

Therefore, we must
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him
He will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5

One of Jesus’ disciples, in “self-defense”, cut off the ear of one who came to arrest Jesus. We must listen carefully to Jesus’ response to his actions, "Put your sword back in its place! For all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think that I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matt 26:52 – 53).

As followers of Jesus, we also have legions of angels at our disposal if we would only call upon Our Father. Instead, we often lack trust and/or desire to be the god of our own lives and the "savior" for others.


**Note: If any of my readers are interested in studying this further, in addition to God’s Word, I strongly recommend “God & Country” or Christ’s Kingdom? by Jon Zens and Cliff Bjork - and “The Myth of a Christian Nation” by Greg Boyd.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


America is once again gearing-up for celebrating its independence. I’ve recently received several notes regarding a retired Marine who spontaneously stood at a “Tea Party” to proudly sing the fourth stanza of the Star Spangled Banner. It is often pointed out that after hearing this emotion-driven verse, one can hardly refute that early America was a nation which placed its trust in God.

While I’m certainly not “anti-American,” I do want to discourage drawing uninformed conclusions regarding the implications of this song. To do so, all the lyrics must be considered.

The Star Spangled Banner
By Francis Scott Key 1814

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

• Verse one - Rockets and bombs are strongly picturesque of weapons used in the bloody warfare of this world and are hardly like that which God calls His children to use, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.” Instead, we are to depend upon “divine power” (2 Cor. 10:4).
• Verse two - Unlike the “Foe’s haughty host,” which America so proudly warred against, the enemies that God’s children confront are “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).
• Verse three – We can assume that these “foul footsteps” were washed away by blood which included countless brothers in Christ! God declares that He will contend with those who shed the blood of His people (Is. 49:25-26, Rev. 16:1-7). God is not a “Power” that seeks to slaughter hirelings and slaves. He is the fortress, stronghold, deliverer and shield for those who take refuge in Him. (Ps. 144:2). For them, the grave has no power!
• Verse four – God would never concur with the idolatrous pride and ruthless greed involved in worldly warfare as being a “just cause”! He would never receive praise for nor accept arrogant rejoicing over the spilled blood of His family members! God scoffs at such declarations of “trust” in Him (Ps. 2:4, 59:8)!

Can we rightly contend that this anthem honors the One who gave us a new command to love our brothers and our enemies? Can American Christians justify murdering “foreign” siblings so that they can enjoy “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”? (John. 15:12, Luke. 6:27)

Singing praises to God for "victory and peace" obtained through merciless bloodshed is blasphemous of Jesus and what He accomplished! Jesus redeemed brothers and sisters out of every nation (Rev. 5:9). The idea that one nation is of God and another evil is idolatrous! “…all nations ... are regarded by him as worthless” (Is. 40:17)!

Since the Church is God’s only preserved nation, Christians must recognize the tremendous confusion created by mingling (and virtually equating) civil freedom and gospel freedom. Such intermingling too often results in justifying lethal force in order to accomplish a religious end.
In 1 Peter 2:21-23, we are told that Jesus left an example which we are “called” to follow, “When they abused him, he did not retaliate, when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

Mentioning God in a national anthem is certainly no evidence of a Christian foundation. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father…” (Matt. 7:21) which is demonstrated by our willingness to “lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John. 3:16).

To be honest, in light of God’s Word, I have a real hard time joining in the singing of this militaristic piece.