Monday, August 30, 2010

Pleased Homeschooling Mama

I don't see homeschooling as some kind of answer to badness of schools. I think that the home is the proper base for the exploration of the world which we call learning or education. Home would be the best base no matter how good the schools were. The proper relationship of the schools to home is the relationship of the library to home, or the skating rink to home. It is a supplementary resource.
~ John Holt

Just in case you were wondering, other things in my life did go on during the fast, it was just that I was far more focused on it and the purpose for it. Because of that I did not do much homeschooling in the later half, and that worked out perfectly for I was considering taking a break after my daughter took the standardized test we are required to do this year. I really don't follow any standard curriculum, but I have kept my eye on what is standard for each grade in our state, just so I knew where they stood. From that I have told people that the Princess is mostly doing fourth grade work.

In my state, I must test every three years starting with the third grade. Now even though the Princess was doing mostly fourth grade work, actually spanning three grades, she is third grade age, which is how most interpret the law. Since the law does not specify which tests, we can choose. I chose the California Achievement Test (CAT) through Seaton.

I am thankful that I used Spectrum Test Prep for third grade because we had not covered the terms "complete subject" or "complete predicate" in our studies. My dear Princess has been sentence diagramming and knew what a (simple) subject and a (simple) predicate are. She can also identify nouns, verbs (helping, state of being, and action), adjectives, articles, conjunctions, prepositions (has a list memorized), direct objects, and sometimes she even gets adverbs especially if they end with "ly", but none of theses were asked on the test prep questions nor on the CAT itself! I realized that she is far, far ahead in grammar compared to the national standard.

So, I had to explain to her, when we were in the test prep stage, that a complete subject would be everything on the left of the vertical line that cuts between the subject and the verb, and everything on the right of that line would be considered the complete this point, anyway. There were such questions on the CAT. Still she filled in the little circle with her #2 pencil next to her answers on the test wrong initially. I sat stoned-faced, without any expression whatsoever, not wanting to give her any clues at all. The CAT is a timed test and I think she was more worried about getting through all the answers in the time allotted. When she realized that she answered on the questions in a section in less than half the time, she would relax and look over the test questions again, often catching her own mistakes as she did on that very topic. But, when the results came back, it still showed she missed them, maybe because she did not erase the wrong mark well enough...? It was the only area she got an average percentage of 54. Most the sections were in the high 90's and...

Her overall was 96!

Yes, I am very pleased. She did very well.

However, I also just have to say this and I apologize in advance if someone reads this and thinks I am being presumptuous, but I am basing my opinion not only on what my daughter knows and knowing how little I felt we covered in the last year, but what I had to know when I was in third grade, which was...oh, mm, nearly 42 years ago, and this test would have been for a mid-term second grader in my era, except for some of the higher end math. The Princess could have taken this test over a year ago and still scored in the high 80's at least, even with the math we had not yet covered. I am sorry to say it, but it is the truth. If this is the standard in our public schools now...we have lost so, so much! The worst part is each new generation does not realize how much has been lost in our education standards from one generation to the next. It is terribly sad.

~ My Lord, thank you leading me to homeschool and this reminder that even when I think I am not doing enough, it is far better for my daughter in so many ways, besides the academics. ~

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Taking That Leap of Faith

Professor Henry Jones speaking about the search of the Holy Grail to his son, Indiana Jones: When we get to Alexandretta, we will face three challenges. First: "The Breath of God. Only the penitent man will pass." Second: "The Word of God. Only in the footsteps of God will he proceed." Third: "The Path of God. Only in the leap from the lion's head will he prove his worth." ~Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Have we received that Holy Grail, that answer we wanted about our church? Should things go back to normal in our lives now? The 40-day fast has been completed, which meant for some people that they could choose to continue without some of the things they gave up or go back to the way it was. Of course, there is no question that I would begin eating again, except that today is Wednesday, which is my regular fasting day. (I have to say that the weirdest part was the feel of having food in my mouth again. It felt almost foreign, but I suppose one would have to do a long fast to truly understand that.)

I feel, though, that this humbling of ourselves before the Lord is just the first of our challenges laid before us. In my home, we still have no TV service. We don't seem to be missing it, particularly me, which has been a surprise. The Princess seems fine without it also. We do watch a DVD now and then. However, I am enjoying the quiet of my home and my mind. We have not even been listening to music or the radio much at all in the car or at home. In the past, quiet sometimes has made me feel lonely, but this time it brings me peace and encourages me to talk to my Lord more. I even talk on the phone less than I used to do.

I don't want to go back to business as usual before this fast; something from it should leave a lasting brand on my spirit...on my lifestyle....but, more importantly, in practicing my faith. I think it will do the same for many individuals...I hope so, at least. I want to go forward on the path to the Word of God, in His Footsteps.

My husband and I might be going against the grain when it comes to the direction of the church body in general, I think. We have decided to double our tithe for the next three months and it will be a sacrifice for us, particularly with Christmas coming, but this is what we feel led to do. We also are going to become very active and supportive of our one and only outreach ministry, Angel Food. We are going to act on what we have been led to do. We feel the fast was only the beginning to help our church begin to understand what God is calling us to do. Like a food fast, every now and then there should be genuine discomfort, real sacrifice, one is willing to make in humbling himself before the Lord.

Decisions about the direction of the church may be made on what is seen, but I have never felt comfortable with church "business" being ran as a "business." There are times the Lord will lead us to do the practical thing and, as long as it is His leading, I am all for it, but we must also be ready and willing to recognize when we are to do the impractical thing, which is based solely on safety net save for God Himself.

I keep thinking of that moment when Indiana Jones takes the leap of faith when it looks impossible. You must...believe!

~ My Lord, please bring all in the church to acceptance, recognition, and agreement with Your will, whatever it may be. Help us be willing to sacrifice accordingly. Help us all to take a leap of faith. ~

Monday, August 23, 2010

Spiritual Posion Ivy

I was pulling out poison ivy in the woodsy areas of our property over a month ago. I never used to get much more than a couple of dots or a light rash, but still I am careful using plastic on my arms when wrestling with the stuff. I did not get any reaction at all that time. About three weeks later I did some more, but apparently I was not as careful and more apparently, I have a greater reaction to it than I used to have! YIKES!

Wednesday night at our prayer meeting, I felt the Lord tell me to ask everyone to pray over me. The rash on my neck was the worst of it all, very swollen and raw. The swelling was gone in just two days and now it is just a bit pink and with dry skin. Now this is miraculous because I am probably the slowest of healers on the planet...I am kidding, of course...well, not completely. Anyway, I was just amazed! The rash on my arms was better also. I thought it was going to all heal quickly, but then, for reasons unknown, the arm rashes worsened and I began finding new patches in various areas of my body. Yes, I have washed my body and all my clothes, but I think I might have been getting new irritations from my bed sheets, so they were washed also.

Today my arms are swollen and feel on fire much of the time. Yes, I am pretty miserable, but I believe that all things have a purpose, something from which I can or should learn. I have not been disappointed; through our talks, God has related this outbreak of poison ivy to outbreaks of a spiritual poison ivy: gossip.

Gossip needn't be false to be evil - there's a lot of truth that shouldn't be passed around. ~Frank A. Clark

Most gossip is not vicious and some is not even ill-willed. People talk and write about other people all the time. It is part of our human condition. It is how history is recorded. It is human nature. It is inescapable. If it were not so, there would not even be personal blogs, for whom gets written about the most but members of our own families?

The question then is when does conversation turn to gossip? When is there impropriety in talking about another person? Where is that boundary? I don't know that I have all the answers on this one and I am sure that one could Google and find a check list as to what qualifies as gossip, but I am refraining from looking one up and just writing what the Lord has placed on my heart this day.

Gossip is not always what is said, although if something is told that was to remain in confidence, it would qualify. Gossip is not always about what how much is said, although one should know when something should be left unsaid. Gossip is not always about how it is said, although when anyone starts talking with a side look about someone else or hiding their mouth, you know that is going to be gossip--yes, you do, even if you are the one doing it!

Whenever someone has that body language of passing gossip, regardless of what she says, I am more upset about the fact she is gossiping than about the whatever and whoever. I do not like being a part to it, but worse, it tells me about the spiritual state of that person--probably something she would not want me to share with others. Ironic, isn't that?

Gossip is more about attitude than content, however gossip is also quite simply that thing that should be left unsaid regarding another person, usually a mutual acquaintance.

Another thing, the person gossiping does so with the intention of causing others to side with her judgment about the person whom is being discussed and that may not be about disparaging a person's reputation at all. However, it could still be gossip if I end up knowing more about a person that would not be obvious, before that person herself provided me with the information. Now when someone lives in the public eye some things are just going to be known about a person whether she meant for it to be public or not, however that does not give us the right to pry beyond what is public; even public figures should have a right to a private life.

The bad part about gossip is that once it is out there, it cannot be recalled. Whether truth or fiction, it spreads like wildfire outside of the initiator's control and crops back up unexpectedly just like my poison ivy rashes. The poison ivy plant has no intention of being out to get me, but it does damage, just as gossip will...even when done with "good intentions."

The very services that connect us on the Internet, are also services that can be used for gossiping. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard about entire families squabbling on Facebook walls or former friends trashing each other on MySpace or just a picture posted that causes others to question that person's character, quite publicly...for all the world to see. Fair game and, oh, such juicing material for gossiping!

For Christians, it is a not that difficult to know whether what we are about to pass along is gossip or not. We should just ask ourselves if it is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, has excellence, and is worthy of praise for these are the things on which we are to dwell as suggested in Philippians 4:8. I can promise you that poison ivy is not there, but even poison ivy has a purpose in God's creation in teaching us about how such an innocent thing can cause so much pain when we just brush up against it.

~ My Lord, I appreciate the reminder of how gossip is like poison ivy and how terribly uncomfortable it is to have poison ivy rashes, so if You feel these rashes have served their purpose, could You please now relieve me of them? ~

Friday, August 20, 2010

It is Done, But Not Over

Waiting for God means power to do nothing save under command. This is not lack of power to do anything. Waiting for God needs strength rather than weakness. It is power to do nothing. It is the strength that holds strength in check. It is the strength that prevents the blundering activity which is entirely false and will make true activity impossible when the definite command comes. ~G. Campbell Morgan

Today is the last day of my fast. It has been an interesting and trying spiritual experience for me personally and for our church body...and even for some friends who joined us in prayer and fasting. I have seen some hearts change in my church, some dramatically almost over night, as is common with the surrendering, and some are working through it.

However, last Wednesday during our last prayer meeting of the fast, the evidence about that which I had concerns had already manifested. There is an urgency to make a decision about what we must do and I understand it because quite frankly we are just plain out of money to support our monthly expenses for the church. There may be no reason left to question whether or not to use the monies from the building fund. One board member said that he had received messages from half of the other board members about selling the property and either rent a school on Sunday morning, as they used to do, or a store front.

Honestly, I do not care if we sell or not or where we worship, I only want to do as God wills, and that is not what God has shown me as I just shared in my last post: Four More Makes Forty. Could I have been wrong? Yes. I wonder often when I see visions if those things are just made up in my mind, but when I ask the Lord...well, I am certain. Yet, if what I saw is God's plan, why is there not consensus? After all this prayer and seeking, why has no one else received the same least there is no one of which I know who has spoken out other than my husband.

Breaking it down, selling means that we would no longer have a mortgage payment and we would have some equity, even though we still have to make mortgage payments until it sells. There are three things against us on selling. One is that no commercial properties have sold in our county for two years...absolutely none! Two, we are next to a car salvage yard, which makes it less appealing. Three, the price of properties have sharply declined in our area and we probably would not get as much equity out of the sale as we would like. Yet, if it is God's will that we sell, then it will sell.

Then there is the question of where to meet. There has been talk about in homes and the suggestion to split up our church into four geographical groups but some of our members have difficulty with steps as many homes have here. Renting another place would would be nearly as much as our mortgage payment or a school which would be about the larger portion of our mortgage payment with set up and tear down for Sunday morning services and other meetings in homes. This church began with services in a school that way and it was hard work. Yet, if any of these ideas are God's will, this will also be resolved.

Still, I felt that our "wait" for that answer for which everyone was hoping would not just happen at the end of the fast. I feared that this anxiousness would bring people to make decisions based on realities they see instead of on faith in what they cannot see. That His will shall be done is not in doubt here. I know He can and will close doors until the only one before us is the one He would have us choose. The only thing that concerns me is the process, how long it will take and how painful it will be to get there. The sacrifice this fast symbolized may only have just begun....

I am reminded right now about when my husband lost his job nearly three years ago now. It was one of the most frightening times of my life. He looked so hard, but he just could not find anything. We had severance pay that barely covered our expenses, but it was running out. I prayed and fasted, and fasted and prayed for those months. I asked the Lord if I should try to find a job and the answer was "no" that my husband would have a job before the severance pay ran out. I tried at a few places hiring anyway, but I also did not get anything. All this time, some Christians, mentors of mine, suggested that I should continue to look, even though I told them I was certain that God was telling me not to waste my time and to focus on homeschooling, as I was meant to do. I finally chose to trust in what I believed God was telling me. In the back of my mind, I knew they were advising me the same way I would advise someone in my situation, but had they really prayed so that they would be giving me God's advice? The most difficult part for me was realizing they had no message from the Lord specifically about me finding a job.

In the end, all we could do is wait, pray, and fast, while my husband kept putting in his resumes everywhere. The week we received his last severance check, he also got a phone call for a job he had not even applied. At the interview, he was immediately hired by the company and the very person the Lord had told me would hire him right after he was "let go." I learned something about waiting and God's timing and having faith in the unseen regardless of the things we see. However, it is a very difficult thing to do, probably the hardest thing I have ever learned and I cannot say that it would be easy the next time...that would be this time actually.

Lately, the Lord has been nudging, prodding, and even pushing me out of my comfort zone in ways I cannot begin to completely explain right now and I truly am quite uncomfortable! During the last week of this fast, I experienced the most difficult time physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I even wrestled with God about things He was asking me to do--Imagine the cheek!--while I could barely contain myself from not sharing the information at the same time.

The thing about visions is that people may make decisions based on them instead of hearing God for themselves and what if I am wrong? This is the fate of an entire church, although small, with so much potential, that can take a major set back if we do not take the right steps. Yet, if they cannot hear God on this matter...? I can understand why God has had to make use of prophets. In some ways, I wish someone would just tell us what we are supposed to do...but, on the other hand, I would rather be spared of being that person.

~ My Lord, I understand why I felt nervous about the ending of this fast now. Please, my Lord, please, let Your plan be known and let there be agreement with it. Please keep us from spending time and funds on that which is unnecessary to that plan. Please, make us all hear you. If we are to yet wait, my Lord, then let us do so with faith and not be anxious, but be busy in doing Your work as we wait for the unseen to become seen. ~

Monday, August 16, 2010

Four More Makes Forty

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. ~Ephesians 5:15-17

It is difficult to believe in just four days we will have completed our commitment to fast for forty days. Oddly, I am actually nervous about it. (More nervous than than when I sang yesterday, which went pretty well, considering that I have not sang in front of people for sixteen years.) I don't think I have ever been nervous as the end of a fast approached before, but then I don't think any of my fasts ever was in anticipation of whether the church would continue and how it would do so.

Yesterday, during our special prayer time before services, I had a vision, but I was to remain quiet about it at the time. I saw one of the same visions I had before that I wrote about at 40 Days of Fasting with a giant hand plunging a gigantic pole into the ground down to solid rock on our church property. This time there was more: a veil opened up as one would open curtains and I saw that from the pole being plunged there was a rippling effect and the church building and property began changing, being built upon with many cars in the parking lot, but only after the veil had been opened.

Now I wondered if this was not my own imagination as the church board met the day before and it was discussed to look into building another larger room onto the house to be our new sanctuary giving us twice the space to seat people as we have now. We might have enough in the building fund to do that...BUT...our extra money that has been there to help make monthly expenses is now gone and the money coming in is only half of what we need each month, which could mean dipping into the building fund. Double tithing has been suggested and the pastor going part-time also. We still have some hard times and hard decisions to make.

After church service, we picked up a rental car, for my husband would be starting his drive to Orlando later on. I was so tired and hoping to take a nap, but instead my husband and I talked some before he left—we have had such wonderful talks during this fast. I thought I would still have just enough time for a short nap and then to get pets and child fed just before going to evening service, but God had other plans: I was to pray.

So, pray I did, and the tiredness left me. (Isn't God wonderful like that!)

During my talk with my Lord, the symbolism in the vision then became quite clear to me and I felt I was to share this with my pastor after service, which I did. I cannot share it here as it would not be proper. It is an internal, private matter involving individuals, but I would ask you to pray for my church, as many of you have been, because there is some sort of demonic involvement, which is the veil that must be pulled back. This spiritual warfare was confirmed to me by an outside, uninvolved source unfamiliar with the history of our church also.

Spiritual warfare is not my gift, not sure I even want that one, but the reality is that all Christians should experience it and when I say "should" I mean if you have not, you are either not sensitive to spiritual matters or the powers working against my Lord do not find you doing anything worth them trying to interfere. Both conditions say something about a person not being where God would have him be in his relationship with Him. Of course, there are times the Lord is protecting us so we do not experience such things, but even Jesus had brushes with the forces against God!

I once encountered a serious spiritual problem in a newly purchased church and school property when I was a member of another church in another state. Some people, including me, felt ill while in the sanctuary. I was called to fast, pray, and walk the property three times around each day for five days. The problem was resolved completely. With that experience in mind, I asked the Lord if I was to do something like that this time. No, not I...the church body was the answer, but what we were to do was not given to me.

Last night, I gave this information to the pastor, to whom I believe the Lord will give the solution, and asked him to pray about it as well. So, my dear friends, it seems the Lord is now speaking and directing us again, not that our wait is completely over, but that He has some things for us to do...I hope we will do them as needed and it will be pleasing to Him. If you are willing, please continue to pray that all in my church hear the Lord clearly and act according to what He would have us do.

I thank you all for caring so much about this.

~ My Lord, this is Your church to do as You will. I think we just want to be sure we are in Your will and that means it needs to be clearly known to all of us. Please, my Lord, make Your will known and make us willing to sacrifice whatever You require to fulfill Your will. ~

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Today is...

Love is the only gold. ~Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Today is... just one more day to love our God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind, and love our neighbor as ourselves!

Today is... my 23rd anniversary. (Obviously, we will not be eating out to celebrate.)

Today is... the 34th day of our church's 40-day fast. (Just six more days!)

Today is... the Princess' allowance day.

Today is... the day that my husband and I are finally installing the new front door with the lovely leaded glass window (after it has been leaning against a support in our garage for unknown years).

Today is... the day of the church board meeting so my husband will be gone all morning.

Today is... the day I will probably have do some house cleaning and laundry.

Today is... the day before my husband will be leaving to work in Orlando for a day or two.

Today is... the day I realized I have a rash on my neck, probably from the poison ivy I have been cutting back carefully (perhaps not carefully enough). I rarely get it and when I do it is usually just a small blister here and there—except for my neck for some reason, where it becomes a very red rash.

Today is... the day I need to really practice the song I was preparing to sing for tomorrow's church service, although I am not sure it will be ready for tomorrow right now, and now I have that lovely rash too!

Today is... the day I would just rather spend the entire day in prayer in the peace and quiet of my "private prayer corner" of my bedroom.

Above all this, today is... Your day, my Lord, what would You have me (us) do with it to serve and glorify you?

~ My Lord, thank you for my husband, my daughter, my family, my church, my friends, my very life. Thank you for Your Love that provides all that I will ever need. ~

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Prayed Out

Empty me of the selfishness inside
Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride
And any foolish thing my heart holds to
Lord empty me of me so I can be filled with you.
~Chris Sligh

Have you ever felt that you have prayed about so many things and so intensely that you just cannot think of what to pray about anymore? It is not like there are so many things I cannot find to pray about—I mean really, one could pray all day and night all one's life and still have things to pray about! (I think that is what God would like to see us all do too.) The reality is that it is not about having prayed about everything and now I am just done; no, it is more that I feel poured out, spent, emptied.

For the last three days I have gone into prayer without knowing for what to pray, just feeling lost and crying about everything and nothing. I know that when a person reaches brokenness is when my Lord does His greatest work within the person. I know that without any doubt in my mind and I have experienced it. Yet, even though I did not do a water-only fast, even though I have had some energy by drinking juices, teas, and raw milk, even though I cut back on my activities, even though I am heartened and blessed by my dear friend Ganeida for her joining our fast for my church...I am so tired, drained, and perhaps just plain weary.

My physical energy is only a part of my struggle and yet I cannot just lie around all day for today is my errand day with piano lessons for the Princess. No, the real struggle is letting it go spiritually. I feel that there is just not much left of me and I am hanging on to a small branch in a rushing river trying to save myself instead of just letting go and giving myself into the hands of my Lord.

You would think after fasting for 32 days that the last few would be a breeze and I know I can do it, that I am committed to do it, and yet what is left of me to do it? My strength at this point must come from the Lord. Have I been fighting against Him? Why is it so hard to let go? Perhaps it takes a fast this long to finally break down that part of ourselves that hinders us from being where God needs, wants, and is waiting for us with nurturing arms to be. If that is so, then I am willing to be broken...completely broken.

Only eight more days of fasting and seemed like such a long time yet to go when I began to write this post and now I am wondering: Will it be enough for me and for my church?

~ My Lord, even now I do not know what to say to You. I feel ashamed for the person I have been and absolutely unworthy to even ask anything from You. Yet, here am I, my Lord, asking that You will do with me as You will. Empty me, my Lord, and fill me with You. ~

Monday, August 9, 2010

Waiting on You, Lord

While I'm Waiting
by John Waller

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord

This song is speaking so much to me right now. We have only eleven days left on our 40 days of fasting for our church. So far, the only message we have been given is to wait...and our answer may not come during the fast, so we may have to wait until after it before the Lord provides that answer we seek. In the meantime, we wait.

I have seen some profound changes in a few people and the Lord has revealed to me that they and some others came to the surrendering I wrote about in a previous blog, which I am delighted to see, because I feel that is why we must wait. God is waiting on us to be prepared for His purpose.

While we wait, we are not just waiting. We are growing spiritually. We are seeking the Lord, trying to hear Him, yearning to know His will, wishing to serve Him, and desiring to please Him. We may feel that we try to do this all the time, but there is never the intensity of purpose as when we are fasting. We are surrendering ourselves, our will, our desires, and all to the Lord, willing to change, modify, and even let go of our own desires for His.

And, you know, this is the part that most people fear: They fear that God is going to ask them to do something that is difficult and that they will secretly hate doing it. In all the years of my life, God has only enriched my life. He has, actually He has encouraged me to do all the things I really love to do, all that I had the talent and gifts to do, because He gave me those desires and talents to me, so obviously He wanted me to use them all and I have not used them all yet; there is still more to do. Many things only last for a season, and there is something else to be done, but I have the satisfaction of having done them and more to look forward to doing yet.

Yes, some things were difficult and will be difficult, but they also brought me joy and I believe will bring me joy. That is the God I serve. One who loves me and created me to do His work, not all His work, but the work I have been prepared to do. There were times that I knew what I was supposed to do, but things did not fall into place when I thought they would or should. That is when I had to wait...but waiting on the Lord is never just about waiting. He is given me time to prepare. Even when I think I am ready, He is patient with me until I realize that I really was not ready and how wise He was to make me wait.

What does this mean for my church? We have eleven days...only eleven more days of fasting, but that does not mean we will be done waiting. God has perfect timing and knows when we will be truly ready. In the meantime, we must serve Him, we must worship, we must not faint, we must keep on while we wait.

~ My Lord, I see changes in some people and it is so wonderful, but I also see others still struggling and it is so difficult to watch. I know this waiting is necessary and is good. I am concerned that people might be looking for the answer at the end of the fast and You may not give it then. I am concerned about the possible disappointment, particularly when this is the first fast many of them have ever done, but, my Lord, we are your children and You know what we need and when. I trust You fully to provide accordingly to Your will and timing, for it will be perfect. ~

Monday, August 2, 2010

What If...

The church is never a place, but always a people; never a fold but always a flock; never a sacred building but always a believing assembly. The church is you who pray, not where you pray. A structure of brick or marble can no more be the church than your clothes of serge or satin can be you. There is in this world nothing sacred but man, no sanctuary of man but the soul. ~John Havlik, People-Centered Evangelism

Our church sign in the light of the rising sun.

My husband and I talked last night about the fast. (Although I am sure my readers are getting bored with the subject, it is foremost on my mind each hour of my day.) He had some feelings to sort out and I was rather surprised that I had some rather strong opinions that came out of me as well. Is it the leading of the Holy Spirit? I hope so.

We are a very small church meeting in a small house. The one-car garage has been enclosed, there is a room used for the church office, and there is one room upstairs divided in two by partitions. Our sanctuary is made of the dining and living room combined, after the wall between them was torn down. Other than that, there is the kitchen and two bathrooms. Now there has been the suggestion that we could go to home churching, but, you know, I just kept thinking for some months before the financial crunch that we are a church meeting in a to the facilities, but not a home church in structure.

Now, that is where my part of the conversation came out so strongly, which I am hoping is from the Lord. As a church body, we seem to have this impression that in order to serve our church members as well as be prepared to grow that we must be able to offer as many groups as we can according to ages and we must absolutely offer a nursery. Now if we were truly meeting in someone's home, this would just not be feasible, but as if we must compete with large churches or keep some decorum, we are doing this, yet we could be burning out the few people we have.

Also, we are not fostering families well. I suppose that everyone needs a break from their children, I understand this since I homeschool, but I do not believe that church should be that place. I mean, people sit with their children to see a 90-minute movie at the theater, but they would rather not sit with them in church? As a homeschooling family, my daughter and I have devotions daily (most of the time), but if I were to ask any one of the families in my church if they did or do have daily devotions with their children or spouses, I am pretty sure the answer would be disappointing...and yet everyone can tell you about their favorite TV show or what someone else wrote on Facebook.

So, there is this: What if we let go of this ideology and stop we trying to be like a bigger church? We are a very small church. What if we restructure the church so that it can be what it is and do that very well? What if we just become a family church, where we encourage families to worship together at the church and at home? If one of the younger children is getting too restless, instead of having him separated from the church family the minute he gets in the door, wouldn't it be nice if people just offered to help out as they feel led to do so as needed? What if we keep our children in the service so they can see their parents and other adults worshiping, giving testimonies, praying, crying, and laughing, so they can learn by example how to worship? What if we could have a children's sermonette relating to the sermon and then the children would understand more, perhaps listen better during the sermon.

Then, I was thinking of Mr. Syler. He came two Sundays ago, but he could not stay long enough to hear the Princess play the song she had prepared...and he really adores her. If you could see the way his eyes light up when he sees her! Unfortunately, he just cannot sit up but for a few minutes, but he can recline. I mentioned that maybe we could bring in a recliner for him and I heard back that we do not have the space. My husband and I have a small wing back recliner we could loan to the church to keep in the office that might take up the space of four seats, when Mr. Syler comes, and we have more than four seats vacant on each Sunday at this point anyway. If I walked into a church that catered like that to the oldest member, who most likely will not be walking this earth much longer, I would fall in love with it immediately! There must be other people out there that feel the same way...there just must be!

I just feel this desire, this deep seated need, to do things differently than every other church is doing them...not for the sake of being different, but because we are different. I feel we need to minister to each other and use what we have more wisely. It may be a small building, but it is not used much at all really. I think the addition of our Wednesday night prayer time has brought us all closer and perhaps people are going to see everything from a different perspective during and after the fast. In the meantime, I will keep praying and seeking my Lord. I am hoping I am speaking out from what He has laid on my heart and it is not just my own will getting in the way. I sincerely hope that.

~ My Lord, my Lord. Tears of sorrow come so frequently now. My heart is breaking for those, who cannot let go, who cannot just surrender to You completely. Even I am now waiting while You are silent. I do not feel forsaken, yet I feel unsure. Are these "what if's" just the outpouring of my own heart, or do they come from You? ~