Saturday, January 29, 2011

Obituary Of An Old Friend

Are we using our God-given Common Sense?

One of our New Years resolutions was to choose a specific section of the house and thoroughly clean and organize it.  As a homeschool family we have collected lots of craft projects & books and saved everything we ever made.  Hence the cleaning and organizing.  Time to weed through everything and see what needs to stay and what doesn't and find a spot for the things that are staying =}We are currently trying to clean and organize our library. Since both my sister and I are now graduated we thought it might be time to put some of the K-6th grade school books away.  Not all of our school books are ready to go back into boxes as we still enjoy refering back to them, but some of them we are ready to let go and save for our own kids.  The extra room we now have is being filled rapidly by books we (specifically my wonderful mom) have saved/collected till we were old enough to enjoy them.  For example, we have lots of political, economic, theological, doctrinal and other fascinating books that I am finally starting to appreciate :] 
Our family computer is in the library and it is currently surrounded by old articles, brochures, books, homeschool magazines and lots of other memorable items that we are trying to organize and this was where I was sitting as I thought about what to submit for my next post.  I sat here with fingers twitching and saw this article sitting next to the computer.  It is titled "Obituary Of An Old Friend."  This article was printed in a brochure called "Scoopified" in an Autumn 2007 issue. (Not sure why we have it or where it came from.)  I read it and found something I wanted to share with you.  Hopefully it will encourage us to revive our "Old Friend" in our nation.

"Obituary Of An Old Friend

We are mourning the loss of a beloved old friend who recently passed away.  His name was Common Sense.  Common Sense lived a long life but died in the United States from a vicious contagious disease.

He selflessly devoted his life to service in schools, hospitals, homes and factories, helping folks get the jobs done without fanfare and foolishness.  For decades, petty rules, frivolous lawsuits, and ludicrous verdicts had no power over Common Sense.

He was credited with cultivating such valued lessons as to know when to come in out from the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, and that life isn't always fair.  Common Sense lived by a simple and sound financial policy: Don't spend more than you earn.  Common Sense also lived by other time-tested strategies like: The adults are in charge and not the kids and it's okay to come in second or third.

A veteran of the Great Depression and the Technological Revolution, Common Sense survived cultural and educational trends such as body peircing, "whole language" and "new math".  But his health declined when he became infected with the "I'm not responsible for my own actions", and "It's alright if it feels good" viruses.  He watched in pain as good people became ruled by self-seeking lawyers.  His health rapidly deteriorated when schools endlessly implemented zero-tolerance policies.  Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate, and a teacher fired for repremanding an unruly student only worsened his condition.

It declined further when schools had to get parental consent to administer aspirin to a student, but could not inform the parents and get their permission when their children were given mind altering drugs or birth control pills; and when universities turned into cesspools of debauchery and socialist propaganda.

Common Sense lost his will to live when criminals received better treatment then their victims, the Ten Commandments became contraband, and priests molested young boys.  When a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee is hot, and was awareded a huge settlement; and when the president sold security related technology to a hostile nation, Common Sense fell into a coma.

As the end neared, Common Sense drifted in and out of consciousness, but was kept informed of new questionable regulations such as thought control and partial birth abortion.  Finally, when another president, claiming to steadfastly protect the country from terrorists atrocities, yet simultaneously allowing the same villains to invade the country through borders and ports of entry that are - as if by design - inexplicably easily  violated; being fully aware of what the grave consequences of such contempt by the chieft executive for the nation's security can be, Common Sense died of sudden cardiac arrest.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Love; his daughter, Responsibility; and his sons, Diligence and Reason.  He is survived by three stepbrothers, Deception, Greed and Ignorance.  Not many attended his funeral because so few noticed he was gone."

Common Sense is a rarity nowadays and is something to be prized.  It is not something that is being taught to the upcoming generation and it is something that is critical if our country is to survive.  Common Sense is usually very obvious, but in todays society with our warped media, schools and other indoctrination outlets, it is sometimes not even mentioned because "It doesn't feel good or seem right or is not tolerant."

God gave us minds and He wants us to use them.  By ignoring the obvious is not using our God-given common sense.  Often times common sense goes hand in hand with God's commands. For example, as was mentioned above, parents are (and should be) in charge.  God has given them the responsibility to take care of their children, train them up "in the way they should go" and discipline them when necessary.  Just as God does with us.

Common Sense needs to be taught in this wonderful country of ours.  It needs to be revived and be a part of our everyday lives!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Worship: Part 2

Why should we worship God?

1. He made us.
       John 1:1 "All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made."
God created us.  We owe Him our lives simply because He made us.
2. He bought us.
      1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." KJV
He sent His Son to pay the price for our sins.  Unless we accept Christ's free gift of salvation we are on our way to hell.  The penalty for sin is death. Period.  God sent his son to pay our debt of sin and has offered us the free gift of salvation.  We "are bought with a price."

1 Peter 1:18-19 "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." NIV
He was perfect, without any sin, and yet He loved us enough to pay our death penalty for sin.

3. He watches over us:
Isaiah 41:10 "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."

Isaiah 43:1, 2 " But now saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by name; thou art mine.  When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."

God repeats it so often, "Fear not."  He is always with us and already knows how we will respond, what is going to happen and how it will effect our lives.  He is always watching over us.

4. He is Good:
2 Chronicles 7:3b "For He is good; for His mercy endureth forever."

John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep."

Webster Dictionary defines the word "good" as ~ "Suitable for a purpose, having excellent qualities, reliable, admirable, of unquestioned standing."
God is perfect.  He is unquestionably good.  If we look around us and count the blessings He has given us, we will see that He is good.

5. His mercy is everlasting:
Lamentations 3:22,23 " It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. The are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."

We do not deserve His mercy.  I know for myself, that I sin several times a day and sometimes it is the same sin over and over and over and yet He continues to have mercy on me and forgive me every time. 

Psalm 136:2 "O give thanks unto the God of gods: for His mercy endureth forever." 

If you read all of Psalm 136 you will find that every single verse says "for his mercy endureth forever."  No matter what we go through or what we do, His mercy will endure forever.

6. His truth endures to all generations:
I could write down Bible verse after Bible verse for this one :]  All His truths endure to all generations.  Truths about creation and our world, truths about history, truths about salvation, forgiveness, mercy, and so much more.  Everything that is found in the Word of God has been proven true through all the generations!

7. He doesn't change:
Mark 13:31 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."NIV

Malachai 3:6a "I the Lord do not change."NIV

James 1:17 " Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."NIV

God never changes, He is always the same.  Always loving, forgiving, merciful, holy, just, perfect, righteous, longsuffering, and so much more.

So, why should we worship God?  We have every reason to.  He created us, bought us and watches over us.  He is good, His mercy is everlasting, His truth endures forever and He doesn't change. 

"I beseech you therefore bretheren by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." ~ Romans 12:1KJV

He has done and is doing so much for us.  It is totally reasonable to serve Him with our lives, hearts and minds.  Part of that service is worship.  

Do we worship God?  Do we worship Him with heartfelt praise and honor?  Do we truly worship Jesus our Creator and Savior?  I know I need to enter into His presence with a mind that is more focused on Him and not on myself. 

This past Sunday I tried to live out what I talked about in my last post.  Going to church with a heart prepared, filling my mind with Godly things on the way to church, singing the hymns while truly thinking about what I was singing and listening to the Pastor's message with an open heart.  I realized there are several habits I will have to break and that I will only be able to change them with God's help.  It is possible however and well worth it.  Our worship service on Sunday should be a time of focusing on God and truly worshipping Him. 

Thanks goes to my Pastor who was willing to give me his notes from his message and for his willingness to teach what the Lord lays on his heart even if it sometimes seems confrontational. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Worship: Part One

Psalm 100 ~

 "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pastures. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."

Last Sunday evening our Pastor spoke on the topic of Worship.  How do we worship?  He asked us what we thought worship was and what it entailed.  He gave us the Webster's defintion of worship and then waited for us to answer.  

Webster's Dictionary ~ a prayer, church service or other rite showing reverence for a deity. Intense love or admiration of any kind.

Here are the some of the answers:
"Expression of praise"
 "Having a humble heart that realizes who we are and who God is" 
"Glorification of God" 
 "Preperation of our heart before entering worship"
"Thanksgiving to God"
"A time to learn more about our God"
....and there were many more.

He started asking us other questions and then expounded on them.  Questions that made me think. 
Do I worship God in our worship service?  Where are my thoughts? What is my reason for being at church?  Do I prepare my heart before church? - We take time to prepare ourselves physically for church, do I take time to spiritually prepare myself for church?  Does my worship please other people or God?  Do I come prepared to worship or do I expect my pastor and music director to get me into "worship mode"?  When I sing the hymns am I truly worshipping God or just singing without thinking?.......

I was convicted.  When I wake up on Sunday mornings my immediate thoughts are to get the barn chores done, to get a shower, figure out what I should wear and then how should I style my hair.... where is my focus? Me, me, me. 

When we go back to Genesis 2:3 and look to see why we have a day of worship we find that God sanctified the seventh day and blessed it.  He sanctified it.  What does sanctified mean? According to Webster's Dictionary it means "make sacred or free of sin".

Are my thoughts sacred and free of sin Sunday mornings?  Not as often as they should be...Although we should care about what we wear and how we look (God desires us to be modest, neat & clean), how often am I fustrated with how my hair is looking than how my heart is looking?  If I leave our house thinking about me, then I am not thinking about God.  It is the one day of the week that God has set aside as our day to rest and focus on Him.  Our Sunday morning worship service is a time where a group of believers gather together to worship their Heavenly Father. As I walk into our church my thoughts should be on God. What He has been doing in my life, how much I have to thank Him for and how much I still need to learn. 
As soon as I wake up in the morning my first thoughts should be "Thank you God, thank you for a day to honor and worship you.  A day to gather with others and sing praises to your name.  A day to spend in study of your Holy Word.  A day to glorify you in our thanksgiving."

"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." ~ Revelation 4:11

"O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.  Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;" ~ Psalm 107:1-2

I need to spend time Sunday morning before I start the day and again before heading to church, in prayer. Asking for forgiveness of things that I have forgotten about or pushed to the side.  Thanking Him for all that He has done and giving him my heart.  All of these should be done every day, but on Sunday especially as it is a day that we are to spend in worship. 
My thoughts need to be focused on Him and not on myself or the circumstances that surround me.  Sacred thoughts of God and His holiness, righteousness, forgiveness & mercy.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Apologia Academy!

Apologia Academy!

       As a current semester of school is finishing and a new one starting, I thought it would be appropriate to give a little advertisement to the best    ( I think) online academy around! 

Many of you may be familiar with the Apologia science curriculum but may not be aware that they started an online academy in the fall of 2009.  The Academy offers both science courses as well as Bible and Worldview classes. 
I took my first class with the academy in their very first semester of fall 2009..... it was an awesome experience!   I took  the "Introduction to Apologetics" class and was hooked :)   At the time I had been out of school for a year ( having graduated in '08 ) and was looking for a way to continue my education.   I wasn't sure where the Lord was leading me and what it was He wanted me to focus my energies on ( am I sure now? :]) but I knew I wanted to take some classes and what could be better than starting with a Bible class?   My mom showed me the list of classes in the Apologia catalog and "Introduction to Apologetics" caught my eye.   What was "apologetics"?   I hadn't heard that word before, was it something way over my head?

Here is a copy of what was written in the catalog:

Intro to Apologetics: A Survey of Evidence - Semester 1
This course is a survey of the evidence for the central truths of Christianity – the existence of God, the deity and resurrection of Christ and the authority and truth of the Bible. Defense of the Christian faith is a Biblical command. Christians must be prepared to explain what they believe and why they believe it, with gentleness and respect. There are 'proofs' given by God, which are throughout the Bible. This course will focus on those 'proofs' and argue that Christianity is superior to all other worldviews because it is the most reasonable. The evidence for truth, God, and the Bible will be examined in logical order and in a simple, non-technical, engaging style.  [1]

"Defense of the Christian faith is a Biblical command."  "proofs given by God,....throughout the Bible."  "superior to all other worldviews because it is the most reasonable." These few sentences caught my eye.  There were real answers to the questions that I couldn't answer when talking to my family members?  God-given proofs in the Bible?  And then the big one, it is the most reasonable?  
Wow, that would be awesome to be able to "defend" my faith with reasonable answers!   Having some of the answers to questions that always get asked when witnessing would really be nice! 

And so... I signed up.  (It also helped that I had loved the Apologia science courses I had taken in High School and already had a favorable impression.)

Classes started in September and I was blown away.  I couldn't wait for the next class.  Once a week my amazing teacher would present to us ways to defend our faith and showed facts that supported our faith.  It was my favorite day of the week!!  The books I read were brimming over with incredible examples of God's amazing precision when He created our universe and world.  Scientific facts that had been tested numerous times and could not be refuted were supporting a designed universe and world.  Speaking of "design", my class learned about the Teleological Argument:
                                    1. Every design had a designer.
                                    2. The universe has a highly complex design.
                                    3. Therefore, the universe had a designer. [2]

Duh! Why couldn't I think of logical, and very obvious reasons like the above argument when talking with friends and family? 
What about the Cosmological Argument:
                                   1. Everything that had a beginning had a cause.
                                   2. The universe had a beginning.
                                   3. Therefore the universe had a cause. [3]
(Why does the Sound of Music lyrics always run through my head when I think about this argument? ~ "..nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could..."
Again, another very logical and scientifically proven argument that would help me defend my faith and my Lord and Savior.
And much, much, more.  I learned so much in that first class.  As I look back, I can see God's hand at work with His perfect timing. 
Am I now familiar with "apologetics"?  Well,.... the word derives from the Greek word apologia, which means in so many words "reasonably defend". Therefore, apologetics means reasonably defending our faith.  Am I now familiar enough with the facts to answer all the questions?  NO, I scratched a very tiny corner of the huge world of apologetics!  There is so much more!   However, it did give me a little bit more confidence when I would talk to my family and friends.  It is very reasonable to believe in God the Creator and Savior of our world! He has given us an amazing universe and world that displays his handiwork. 

Of course, when I finished the first semester I had to take to the "Advanced Apologetics: Creation vs. Evolution" class that was just as incredible and then this past semester I took "Intro. to Worldviews: Contemporary Worldview vs. the Christian Worldview."  I'm not sure which class I have enjoyed or learned the most from!  Each class was unique.  My teacher Mr. Blythe (who is also the Director of the Academy and a terrific teacher :]) teaches all of the Bible classes except for this past semesters philosophy class!  He chose some amazing books to go along with the classes that have truly changed my life.

I can not recommend Apologia Academy enough!  Please go and check it out!  If you are planning on attending college, these classes will more than adequately prepare you. If you are staying home and desire to further your education you certaintly will!  If you are married, but desire to learn about apologetics, it is well worth it.  If you are a Christian and desire to defend your faith reasonably you will learn truths that will make you shout for joy that God chose you to be one of His children!

If you would like to listen to a sample of some of the classes you can go to . Just click the "Free Webinars" button in the column on the right and it will give you a list of the 17 free webinars that Apologia gave this past summer!  Each class gives you an option to download or stream it to your computer.  
Hint: -"I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist" is a sneak peek to the "Intro. to Apologetics" class.

Please, Please, Please check it out and consider taking a class! It is well worth it.  I had not realized until I started taking classes that God actually commands us to prepare ourselves for the questions we are asked in 1 Peter 3:15 "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear."KJV

I felt the Lord leading me to share with you this wonderful academy and the classes it offers!  May God bless you and your day!

    2. I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist pg. 95
    3. I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist pg. 75

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Another Year Is Dawning

Another Year Is Dawning...

Another year is dawning,
Dear Master, let it be,
In working, or in waiting,
Another year with Thee.

Another year of mercies,
Of faithfulness and grace;
Another year of gladness
In the shining of Thy face.

Another year of progress,
Another year of praise,
Another year of proving
Thy presence all the days.

Another year of service,
Of witness of Thy love,
Another year of training
For holier work above.

Another year is dawning,
Dear Master, let it be
On earth, or else in heaven
Another year for Thee.
--Francis Ridley Havergal (1874)