MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

Are We Having Fun Yet?

January 31st, 2007 Viewed 1672 times, 1 so far today

jumpingman.jpgChances are good we’ve all known or worked with an adult who hasn’t quite “grown up” yet. The Real World orbits around this oblivious person who sells out for entertainment’s sake, until the black hole of a mid-life crisis forces them to take stock of their life.

And is it any wonder? In this “we just want to have fun” culture, anything that smacks of responsibility is avoided if at all possible. Kids fool their time away in college, graduating somehow with degrees they don’t use…failing at their relationships, expecting great things from everyone around them but never quite measuring up themselves.

This phenomenon really rears its ugly head at the workplace. Employees fritter away their employer’s time flirting with their cell phones, the internet and each other. If they put as much effort into the job as they do into the convincing lies they feed their boss concerning their sick days, just imagine the production rate. A job that used to require two hard workers now requires nine mediocre ones.

All the kidsandcomputers.jpgtime we hear, “Good help is hard to find.”

Could this be a result of an overindulgent childhood? A childhood so enjoyable that the responsibilities of adulthood seem dull and unappealing?

And what does the Bible have to say about it? Stay tuned as we explore some of the effects of our overindulgent society on children.

5 Ways to Keep Your Blogging Buddies Happy

January 30th, 2007 Viewed 3081 times, 1 so far today

Five ways according to Mary, who admits that this perspective is based solely upon her experience as a blog commenter, not any hard and fast rules based on the growth of comments over at Home-steeped Hope. :dizzy:
1. Include YOU in your posts

It’s okay if you aren’t the main dish of your blog posts, you only have to refer to yourself or your child or your spouse a tiny bit in the beginning of the post to snag my interest, to make you more credible…more HUMAN. Then I’ll read to the end because you’re real and I feel I can possibly identify with you. Or maybe I’m just nosy.

If your blog niche doesn’t allow for this humanity to shine through in your posts, then when you visit my blog be sure to let it shine in your comments. (Oh, you have a daughter? Three of them? Cool. Me too.) It’s a connection, one I’ll probably follow up on by clicking your link.

2. Not too much YOU in your posts

Like I said, I’m intrigued by your personal experiences and learnings, but not in a “dear-diary-this-is-what-I-did-today” sort of way…unless you’re my best friend, family or live an amazing existence!

That said, I believe there is a lot to be learned by reading about how different people do different things, so there is a fine line between this and #1

3. Keep the conversation going in comments by replying to commentors

Am I talking to a brick wall here? Helloooo? I feel ignored when you don’t reply to my comment. (Comments other than “Great post!” that is)

There is community in ongoing comment dialogue. Not getting any comments? Check out: Ten Reasons Readers Don’t Leave Comments by Liz Strauss

4. Please! Your blog takes forever to download!

Blog Bloke calls it Hacking Your Blog to Death

It may have great content, but I’m not going to visit very often if I have to go fix a latte while I wait for your site to finish blowing its bells and whistles…

Same thing for your comment filters, I don’t mind entering a code once, but when it takes three times, it gets old. And if your blog host doesn’t allow me to comment unless I’m a member, such as Xanga and some Blogger blogs, I probably won’t be back. I’m a hands on/talking kind of gal.

5. Daily updates are addicting

I like starting my day at MInTheGap because there is always something new to chew on. Sometimes, maybe I shouldn’t admit this, I check here before going to my own blog. I really enjoy MIn’s mix of culture shocks and Biblical devos that are applicable to my life.

So, Blogging Buddies, what are your observations? Got any pet peeves or tips of the trade to share? I, for one, am very interested!

Pleading Guilty

January 30th, 2007 Viewed 1813 times

judgegavel.jpgMany instances are given in Leviticus 5:1-5 pertaining to instructions against sin and the subsequent guilt. I find the continual reference to guilt to be worth a second look. Though these Old Testament passages pertain to Mosaic Law, awesome truths often await our discovery.

Notice two things as you read the following passage from Leviticus. First, there are many mentions of two kinds of sin: known and unknown. Second, really think about the aspect of guilt. Haven’t we all confessed sin and continued to feel guilty? Years later? As a child, I would sometimes confess the same things over and over, feeling that I must not have “done it right”.

Guilt is the lingering effect of sin, but that’s our humanness, not God’s perfect plan. Romans 8:31-39 reassures us that God is the one who justifies, that no one can bring a charge against us, His Son intercedes on our behalf, and nothing shall separate us from His love. Yet guilt does its best to pull us down.

From Leviticus 5:1-5,

“Now if a person sins, after he hears public adjuration to testify, when he is a witness, whether he has seen or otherwise known, if he does not tell it, then he will bear his guilt.

Or if a person touches any unclean thing, whether a carcass of an unclean beast, or the carcass of unclean cattle, or a carcass of unclean swarming things, though it is hidden from him, and he is unclean, then he will be guilty.

Or if he touches human uncleanness, of whatever sort his uncleanness may be with which he becomes unclean, and it is hidden from him, and then he comes to know it, he will be guilty.

Or if a person swears thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, in whatever matter a man may speak thoughtlessly with an oath, and it is hidden from him, and then he comes to know it, he will be guilty in one of these.

So it shall be when he becomes guilty in one of these, that he shall confess that in which he has sinned.”

So we see that God even provides for the fact that sometimes we sin unknowingly. But when we are aware of sin, we must confess it. The confession of sin deals with both sin and guilt. Being cleansed, in the 1 John 1:9 sense, means the guilt fades away. God even foreshadowed the necessity of dealing with guilt later in Leviticus 16:5-22 when He required a double sacrifice from His Old Testament people.

In this sin offering, two male goats were required. Aaron, the priest, cast lots as to which one would be the sin offering and which one would be the “scapegoat”…or guilt offering. The lot would fall, the priest would slaughter the one goat, and then verses 21-22 describe how Aaron laid his hands on the live goat and proceeded to:

“…confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel, and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness.

And the goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.” (emphasis mine)

goats.jpgThis scapegoat was provided to carry their burden of guilt…forever in the wilderness. We serve a just and compassionate God. A merciful and gracious God. He provided for the Israelites, and He provides for us. We can cast all our cares on Him, for He cares for us.

There’s a story that’s made its rounds through the email circuits about a mother who had her son pound many nails into a board. She told him the nails represented every time he sinned against someone. She then had him remove the nails one by one. The nails could be removed but the holes could not. They remained as lasting scars, reminders of the hurt.

Don’t let those holes drain your vision and faith, Christian. Let Jesus fill them up for you and restore you to wholeness. After all, He bears the real scars of your sin, and He’ll bear them for you into eternity.

Mary at Home-steeped Hope wants this post to be dedicated to her father, whose teaching on this subject is the basis for these thoughts.

Peter Days

January 29th, 2007 Viewed 1402 times

Are we hesitating like Peter who, though he wanted to walk on water, kept taking his eyes off Jesus?

Well, you might argue, at least he got out of the boat. Belongroad1.jpging willing and stepping out in faith…that’s half the battle.

God had great plans for Peter, as He has for all His people. Peter’s story is a great illustration of how we can fumble the ball time and again, repent, learn and grow from our mistakes, and in the end, come out glorious.

Look at the brilliant foreshadowing of God’s plan for Peter…we see it first during Peter’s second encounter with Jesus, when Jesus miraculously filled Peter’s nets with fish. Someday, Peter and the other apostles would be reaping similarly in men. And second, Jesus tells Peter in Matthew:13-19,

“You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.”

But he had a lot to learn first. Don’t we all?

Peter was always willing and enthusiastic, but had a few lessons to learn about follow through God-style.

  • he repeatedly relied on and underestimated the weakness of his flesh (Luke 22:33, Luke 22:50-51)
  • he allowed sin and stress to distance him from his Saviour (Luke 22:54)

It’s usually through our weaknesses that Christ is glorified. Look how many times in the OT he used the weak to confound the strong (David and Goliath; Esther, Mordacai and Haman). Only by relying on Him in our weakest moments do we truly appreciate His strength. But we get our eyes off Him so easily and onto our seemingly hopeless circumstances. Then there’s the way we sometimes act as if we know better than God. If you study Peter, you’ll see him do this many times. But I digress.

In Luke 22:31-32, Jesus tells Peter that Satan has demanded permission to sift him as wheat. In verse 33, Peter responds adamantly,

“Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.”

Really? This is when Jesus has to break it to him that before the cock crows, Peter will deny Him three times. But the awesome part of this passage is what Jesus said in verse 32,

“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”

crashingwaves.jpgOkay, Peter is converted, this we know. Jesus means: when all is said and done, and Peter’s faith is stronger, then he can strengthen other people. Survivors of miscarriage and infertility can minister hope to those in similar situations. Survivors of drug/alcohol addiction, of sexual abuse, of personal losses, can identify with the pain and hurt and healing and their testimony has impact!

The other beautiful thing about verse 32, is that Jesus is our intercessor. You may feel alone (like Elijah), but even if no one on earth is praying for you, you can trust that Jesus is. Jesus prayed for Peter’s faith even before Peter failed Him. He knows our future and prays specifics for us. Who else can do that?

John 17:9, “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.”

The second mistake Peter makes is distancing himself from Jesus. It begins when he cuts off the ear of the servant of the high priest, during Jesus’ arrest. He allows his impetuousness to overrule what Jesus would have wanted. Then he follows Jesus from afar. There’s that distance, and it got him in trouble. Not only did he distance himself, he planted himself with Jesus’ accusers:

Luke 22:54-55, “Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off. And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.”

His sins are piling up on him, despite himself. When his denials are complete he locks eyes with Jesus and runs outside to weep. What a lesson.

But restoration came to Peter. He was the first apostle that Jesus sought once resurrected (Luke 24:34). Interestingly, Jesus called him Simon (his original name, not Peter, his God-given name). Finally, at the Sea of Galilee, in John 21, Jesus grills Peter three times as to whether or not he loves him. (Three times for the three denials?) Then Jesus commissions Peter to feed His sheep.

And suddenly Peter takes off. He preaches at the Day of Pentecost and three thousand are saved, he heals the lame man, he’s miraculously delivered from prison despite being chained to two guards and under the watch of four squads of soldiers, he authors New Testament books… These are only a few Biblical glimpses into the man of faith that Peter became. Wow, he’s almost flip-flopped from the man he was before Christ’s resurrection.

He’s learned to let the Rock deal with the crashing waves of life. Oh the ripple effect our faith-walk has on those walking on sinking sands…

The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the power that strengthened Peter and can get you and me through whatever we’re commissioned to do for Christ’s sake.

That is power, the power of the blood.

Elijah Days

January 28th, 2007 Viewed 1412 times, 2 so far today

longroad.jpgHow far will we go for His glory? Are we willing to be obedient, even if it seems we’re the only one taking a stand?

Elijah lived in dangerous times. One of history’s most villainous couples ruled the land–Ahab and Jezebel. Prophets of Jehovah were persecuted–rounded up and slain–unless they made their escapes to the hills, where they hid in caves.

Elijah’s stories appeal to us because like us, he was just a man wanting to do God’s will, but feeling alone in his culture. This one-man-mission was willing to risk everything to do God’s will. So that God could be glorified.

His first clash with Ahab came when he appeared to announce that until he prayed otherwise, there would be no rain or dew upon the land. Vengeance of God upon those who had declared war against Him.

For three and a half years, Elijah went from one refuge to another, till eventually, God led him back to Ahab. This time, he challenged Ahab and his prophets of Baal and Ashtaroth to a duel of sorts. Two separate altars. Two sacrifices. Two oxen offered. One God would light the fires that day, and it wasn’t Baal.

Elijah prayed the following from 1 Kings 18:36-37,

“Let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.” (emphasis mine)

God provided the fire and the people rejoiced, shouting, “The Lord, He is God.” Elijah had the 450 prophets of Baal slain, and prayed for rain. The drought was over. But the fight continued.

Discouraged and at times, angry, Elijah had his moments of defeat. At one of his lowest, loneliest points, he said in 1 Kings 19:13-14,

“I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”

Yet God answered him saying 7,000 still believed (1 Kings 19:18). He wasn’t a lone believer in an evil land, but he sure felt like it.

Where were all the other believers? Hiding in caves? Wherever they were, they were silent when Elijah needed encouragement and support. On the other hand, at least they hadn’t bowed to Baal.

So Elijah had God. I love what God did for Elijah. He provided rest and food for his man, and said,

“Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” (1 Kings 19:5-7)

The journey will at times be too great for us. Along with the peaks will come the valleys. God may ask hard things of His people, be we can rest assured He’ll be helping us each step of the way.

Keep your eyes off your circumstances, off the odds, and on the Savior. His mercy and grace await.

Daddy’s Little Girl

January 27th, 2007 Viewed 2862 times

baby.jpg“Daddy,” she asked me, one sparkling snowy day

“How do you grow your girls?”

I grinned and chucked her ‘neath her chin

She ducked and tossed blond curls

~~~

Had she really been an infant, hands fisted in my chest

Late nights in the rocker so mom could get her rest?

Rosebud lips part open, nostrils perfect ohs

Hard to believe she’d grow so fast, that many years ago

~~~

She danced through life in dresses, piggy tails and pearls

Fathers are especially blessed when God gives them little girls

“Baked your favorite cookies,” she’d giggle on the phone

At my side when possible, best part of coming home

~~~

Today she’s much the same as then, same curls, same quirks, same smile

I pull her close and kiss her hair, and make it last awhile

Growing girls up right takes patience, prayer and joy

And Lord willing, other parents out there are raising the perfect boy

I couldn’t resist writing this for MInTheGap and his wife the minute I heard their news. Congratulations on the birth of your very first baby girl…Mary from Home-steeped Hope

#3 Has Arrived!!!

January 26th, 2007 Viewed 3070 times

At 8:50 pm (the time I set this post to) I became the proud father of my third child– but what a story it is to tell.

Some ladies from our church had been arranging to have a surprise baby shower for my wife for about three weeks– and they just happened to choose tonight as the night. I was in on it to some degree, but as the day approached, I was uncertain if we would actually make that date.

On Monday of this past week, my wife went into for an ultrasound to check the baby’s progress and it was measuring ahead of schedule. On Wednesday, her regularly scheduled doctor’s appointment, the baby had weird heart beats– fast then slow– so we went over to the hospital to have her monitored. The doctor told my wife that if the baby seemed stressed they would take her that evening. She was also told that labor had begun– but not active labor. When things looked fine at the hospital, it was back home.

Last night was a rough night. Almost every hour we were up with contractions, but it was only about once an hour. This morning she talked to me about possibly calling the doctor and having them look at her or induce her– she had to be farther along in labor. It was at this point that I asked her if she was good at acting surprised– I needed to let her know that something was planned so she could decide what to do. After all, I knew that they had arranged for 20+ women to be at the shower, and it was tonight– surely she could wait!

She got into the hospital at 1:00 pm and they checked– no progress from Wednesday (though I had fun teasing the same nurse). So, we went home, and I let the ladies know that the shower would still be on for tonight. The organizer wondered if my wife was still feeling up to it– so I had her call. My wife still wanted to do it at 4:00 pm.

When I got home at 5:15 pm, she was in our room in pain. Active labor had begun, but it wasn’t every 5 minutes yet. We ate, and she got ready for the shower.

7:15 pm – her ride shows up, but she’s having trouble walking. She leaves, and that’s where the fun begins. Shortly after leaving my house there’s a bumpy road. And that road was too much– the friend that was taking her (part of the surprise plan) took her over to the hospital and called me.

7:30 pm – I get told that she’s 8 cm — pretty far along– and I should get over there. I call the women at the shower and tell them to send my mom over to my house to get our other kids. Only it’s taking a long time for her to get here. After a second call from the hospital I decided to get the kids dressed and head out the door. I find my mom and swap cars on the way to the hospital.

7:45 pm – I arrive at the hospital, we start talking about the possibility of an epidural. She gets hooked up to an IV.

8:30 pm – She needs to push– no epidural, no meds.

8:50 pm – She gives birth to a 8 lb 9.5 oz baby girl and has no complications, no problems, no ripping…

We owe it all to God– because despite her not showing up at the shower, 27 ladies did. They carried on with the shower, but! they were praying for my wife and baby. It was because of those prayers that all went better than it ever did– Praise God!

Thank you also for your prayers and support– I’m going to get some rest and enjoy the new addition to the family.

Ashley Harder Gives Life Amid Scandal

January 26th, 2007 Viewed 8281 times, 1 so far today

Ashley Harder

You all know what I think of the Miss America / Miss Universe pageants. I think that they glorify the wrong things– focusing on externals when they should be looking at internals. I think that women that compete in them can come from good backgrounds, but it’s hard to tell whether they are honest about what they believe. On the whole, they are probably sweet ladies with misplaced thoughts about the whole thing, but whether it’s their new found fame or just the culture in general, they are impacted in harmful ways by the attention on their bodies.

Smilies

January 26th, 2007 Viewed 1294 times, 1 so far today
:alien:
alien
:angel:
angel
:angry:
angry
:blink:
blink
:blush:
blush
:cheerful:
cheerful
😎
cool
:cwy:
cwy
:devil:
devil
:dizzy:
dizzy
:ermm:
ermm
:face:
face
:getlost:
getlost
:biggrin:
biggrin
:happy:
happy
:heart:
heart
:kissing:
kissing
😆
lol
:ninja:
ninja
:pinch:
pinch
:pouty:
pouty
🙁
sad
:shocked:
shocked
:sick:
sick
:sideways:
sideways
:silly:
silly
:sleeping:
sleeping
🙂
smile
:tongue:
tongue
:unsure:
unsure
:w00t:
w00t
:wassat:
wassat
:whistle:
whistle
😉
wink
:wub:
wub

A short time ago Mary was asking Stephen how he made the smilies he did on the site. I didn’t know what she was talking about, but after some research I found this this site and it tells how to use the default smilies.

After looking around a little bit, however, I found the smilies at right, and decided to implement them. You should see both the smile that you can make! To make them, place colons ( : ) around the word. So, for “whistle” type : whistle : without the spaces.

The old 🙂 s don’t work so I’ll have to run some code to convert the old smilies to the new format if we decide to keep it.

So let me know what you think about the new smilies– will you use them, do you like the old ones better?

Update: I’ve made : ) and some other familiar ones work. If you see any icons you’d like to have a different expression, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

Church Under Attack

January 25th, 2007 Viewed 1400 times

Cross

Does it seem to you that the press has to take occasional shots at Christianity? Two articles that I read recently want to poke fun, malign or otherwise discredit those that believe in God or attend church.

The first is something that I read in an old Wall Street Journal. (You can find the whole text on this blog.) The gist of the article talks about how our brains are wired in such a way that we may believe that there is a God (regardless if there is one– is the implication). The reason? That our brains are wired to want to find the best out of something, to look for the option that makes sense and that we believe.

MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.