A family outing

Two 'funny' - not typical - family outings to amuse... Last night my beloved and I had our Chiropractor appointments. Our doctor has these really nice recliner type chairs that massage up and down the back - with heat! (Man! If only I could get the insurance company to pay for one of those!) Afterwards, my routine differs from my beloved's. I am placed on a "rack" wearing some ankle brackets that have a 'reverse hook' on them. I then step up on a foot rest and move the table into a horizontal position. From there I then put the table into a steep incline with my feet up in the air. It sounds wierd, but does it ever feel nice! I also then do some 'half' push ups. This is the "McKenzie Method" of working the back into proper alignment, and it does not work for everybody, but it sure is a nice alternative to more invasive methods (when they are not needed). Then there are some alignments that take place for my back and neck. I mean, I feel like a whole new man. And the kids had some great questions. "Daddy, why are you putting those boots on?" LOL Then this morning, in preperation for upcoming vacations to Busch Gardens and Disney World (No, not at the same time) I had to get all new military ID cards for me and the family. It's an experience to work through a military process with my family who, for all intents and purposes, are really not much more than civilians. After all, I am only a part time soldier. "How much longer? was an oft asked question. But in the end, the kids were all very pleased to have their very own ID card. :) A side, and unrelated, note: While I was running this morning I was listening to a recent sermon from one of my old Pastors, Kenneth Maresco. It is titled, "The Pursuit and Practice of Fellowship", and is based off of 1 John 1:5-7. Now, my HTML, or blogging skills, are not really all that great, but I would encourage any one who may stumble upon this little blog of mine, to click on the link here: Kenneth's Sermon on Fellowship. The sermon was dated 06.24.2007. I would have preferred to do something like I've seen in other blogs where the audio/video would be accessable directly from here... but I have not learned how to do that yet... I am going to be re-listening to this sermon myself, as well as requesting some of the hand out material. It really spoke to me and where I find myself currently. Verse for today: 1 John 1:5-10, ESV This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.


Its over for another year

Well VBS is over. We capped off the week with a pool party for the entire Church last night. It started off with me being a little nervous. For sometime I was geared up, helping my beloved prepare for her role as the Pre-School ministry team leader. Little things, like running to Sam's for bottled water, or like last Sunday, painting and modeling an old grill up to look like "Rusty the Robot" (Unforunately I did not get any pictures). Other than helping as needed in the Pre School area I had only planned on shadowing DS2 to help him with the competitive and transition times. Last Sunday, as I am putting the finishing touches on 'Rusty' I am approached by the VBS team lead and asked if I would consider leading the 5th grade group - this is only four hours before the first meeting mind you. I did what most any other father and church member would do in that situation... I said yes, without any real clue how I was going to pull it off. Note: I'd never led a small group for kids before... I took the teaching material home and read over it to get as ready as I could. When I showed up Sunday night I was met by another last minute volunteer. We shared notes, and we opted on alternating nights doing the teaching. Since he had had a lot more experience (teaching in previous VBS weeks, as well as AWANA's) he took the first night. This 'left' me with two nights of teaching - Monday, and Wednesday. It was a lot of fun, and the time went by pretty quickly. DS1 was the most happy with the situation as he had just 'graduated' from the 5th grade so he was among the kids I was working with. I'm not sure how much, or what kind of, an impact I had on these kids, but it was a lot of fun. Still, I am glad it's over. A whole week of pretty much a non-stop schedule can wear a fella down. But the good news is, I am considering trying to teach a little when AWANA's starts up again in September. Verse for today: Luke 11:9-13, ESV And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for [4] a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”


Some good answers, to some hard questions...

Today was just crazy, so I never had enough times to get my act together for my own blog entry. I did read a good entry from another blog that I have just found, Semper Reformunda. No matter your theological position (reformed, charismatic, Catholic, etc.) I think these questions, and the answers posed to them, are very good reading. So, without further ado I present the link to "Good Answer, Good Answer, I like the way you think". May the Lord give each of you a pleasant and grace filled weekend. Verse for today: Acts 2:22-28, ESV “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’


Put one foot in front of the other...

I am not really sure, but I think I am at least partially insane. Why would I say this, and can someone who is partially insane really recognize it? And if they can, are they really insane? Way back when, when I was just starting High School, I decided I was going to join track team. Not the boring 100m dash, or hurdles type of track. No sir. I went straight out for the Cross Country team! Why would a relatively poor kid, with no real back ground in running - let alone long distance running - just decide one day to go out for the Cross Country team? I must be crazy. Well, due to various reasons with my home life I did not really make it on a team until my tenth grade. And, once again, I went out without even practicing before hand. The first day we ran twelve (12) miles! In the August heat of Washington DC area. I remember I didn't make it the whole distance, but I didn't quit either. Then, we ran twelve sets of hills. Hills that were about a hundred meters long. Once those were completed we ran twelve sets of wind sprints. The sprints were accomplished by running around the quarter mile oval around the football field, and on each straight away you ran all out. When you reached the corners you slowed to a jog. I was not really all that good. My best time - ever - was 20:03 for our home course. For those of you who actually know about this sport, that is not a really good time. Most of the winners were coming in around the 15:00 range. My only goal was really just to break the 20:00 'barrier', but alas it was never to happen. I did this for two seasons and I did not complete either season - dispite my team going to the state championships both years. I just did not feal that it would be appropriate for me to go when I never placed above 6th on my team (there were only six of us) and they only ever needed five to compete. Those two years served me well when I later joined the National Guard. Maybe too well. During the first week of basic training, when the drill Sergeants are all yelling at you and they are still trying to asses your fitness levels, they had us perform a complete Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), and based on how well you ran the two-mile course determined weither you were placed in the slow, medium, or fast group. I made the fast group by only four seconds! That meant we always ran faster, and farther than the other two groups because, well, we were the fast group. I also had a brain cramp during the second week of basic. One of the four road guards in our group hurt his knee. For some reason I said, "I'll take your vest. When you heal up you can take it back". Guess what... he never took it back! For eleven weeks I ran in the fast group, and for eleven weeks I was essentially running wind sprints. You see, as a road guard you have to sprint ahead to an intersection, help stop on coming traffic, and then sprint back into formation! At the end of basic I ran two miles in 12:39. My best time ever (up to that point). Why am I bringing all this up? Well, recently I decided (after having my colesterol checked) that I need to get into better shape. So, I've started running again. I love to run when I am in shape. I love the burning sensation of my body trying to get enough air while I am jogging, the sensation of electricity running through my muscles. The chance to just clear my head and get away from things. But I am not in shape right now... so... I just hurt. LOL But, I'll get there. Verse for today: Hebrews 12:1-2, 12-13, ESV Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.


And in other news...

... Training camp opens up this Friday for the Carolina Panthers. A new season is always exciting because nothing has happened yet. For twelve seasons now the Panthers have not put together two consecutive winning seasons. They've gone 8-8, but that is not 9-7. I have been happy with Coach John Fox at the helm. Without a doubt he has been the most successful head coach the Panthers have had. I think the fans (usually spurred on by the media) are too short sighted. There are 32 teams in the NFL. Of those teams only 12 make it to the playoffs. That will leave 20 teams sitting home the first week of the post season. Even with parity in the leage it is unreasonable to think a team is going to make it every three years, and with parity it is unreasonable to expect a team to make it every year. What the Patriots have done is nothing short of amazing in my opinion. Under coach fox the Panthers have been 7-9, 11-5, 7-9, 11-5, and 8-8. This whole rumor thing about Coach Cower coming out of retirement is silly. I mean, what does he have left to prove anyway? He's already been successful? The whole reason he retired was so that he could spend more time with his family. Why would he walk back into football again? If he did I would expect a similar result that we had under Coach Siefert (whom I still highly respect as a successful Head Coach). As fans, let's just sit back, enjoy football again. The NFC South looks to be a volitile as ever. The New Orleans Saints have not done anything to make me think last year was any kind of fluke. Often people point to the lack of consistancy in the teams record, but with a fairly new coach (who has done pretty well so far), and an offense that has confidence, I say look out until it is proven otherwise. This is the team Carolina needs to keep an eye on most. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers should not be counted out either. Last year they took a major hit to their morale when Chris Simms went down (and no, I am not bragging that it was the Panthers that did it to him), and they are going to look to prove a point. But I am not sure he is their QB to take them to the post season. That is only my opinion. And the Panthers have 'owned' this team in recent years... the winds of change can blow at any time. The team that I think is going to have the biggest questions mark is the Atlanta Falcons. It's easy to jump on the bandwagon and write this team off this season, but in a way the tribulations they are facing right now could be happeining at an opportune time. With Micheal Vick not coming to camp this Thursday it allows the team to focus on those who are there. It also helps remove some of teh distraction. I will be following the legal woes of #7, but I think the Falcons should not be counted out - at least not yet. I will reserve my opinion on this team until 23 September when my Panthers make the trip to Atlanta and they meet on the gridiron. Other than the NFC South, which should always be Carolina's main focus, the games I am most looking forward to are: 28-October - The Indianapolis Colts are coming to Charlotte. Say what you want about the Colts, but they are the defending Super Bowl Champions, and they are until someone else knocks them out. 9-December - The Jacksonville Jaguars will be hosting the Panthers. I want the Panthers to beat this team in the regular season so bad I can taste it. :) I could look it up, but I am pretty sure the Jags lead the series. Winning the first ever game that the Panthers played - the hall of fame game in the summer of '95 - is a sweet memory, but it does not mean anything in regards to the regular season. 22-December - The Dallas Cowboys come to Charlotte. I know the Panthers play well against this team in the post season, but the Cowboys really take charge during the regular season. Besides, this is the only primetime game I will get to see of the Panthers. A family at church are also Carolina Panthers fans, and they had a good idea. We can go to our local Buffalo Wild Wings and catch the games. Of course, my beloved was less than enthusiastic... but I might try and catch a game or two anyway... Verse for today: Psalm 125, ESV Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore. For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong. Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts! But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the Lord will lead away with evildoers! Peace be upon Israel!


And I, when I came to you, brothers, [1] did not come proclaiming to you the testimony [2] of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5, esv)

Whatever message we have, has to come from God. No matter our audience, our message has to come from God. Wether we are evangalists, preachers, teachers, preschool workers, college professors, professionals, ameatuers, artists, whatever we are... our message must be based on Christ, and Him crucified. If we try and 'soften' that message it gets weakened. If we ignore that message where is the power of the gospel? There have been times when I will be visiting a church and I will see the Pastor preaching, but I am unable to find a Bible, open or otherwise, among the congregation. There may be an outline, and there may even be verses referred to in it, but the words are either skimmed over or not read at all. A sermon, not anchored somewhere in the Word of God is merely a good moral lesson. This is my opinion, and I know it may not be a popular point of view, but I see a church within America that is merely existing. Again, this is a broad, generalization, and does not apply to each and every church within America. Our youth hear the message are are not challanged, in time they grow bored and wander away to see what else there is to see... and not just the youth get this way. Our God is big enough that we could preach something new about Him every day and never grow out of things to teach. When the Holy Spirit is drawing someone they will get it. Their flesh may cringe, but their mind will be engaged. Now, it is probably obvious that I feel very strongly about the gospel, about the message proclaimed from the pulpit. But I also want to say that the most scholarly lesson preached that is not drawn from the Holy Spirit - both content and package - cannot talk to anything more than a person's intellect or emotions. Before any of us can 'preach' the gospel - either to ourselves or to others - we need to seek first the Spirit of God, and ask that He would pour It out upon us - wether we are the teacher, or the audience. Verse for today: 2 Timothy 3:12-17, ESV Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom [1] you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God [2] may be competent, equipped for every good work.


Pounding stone with bare hands

Have you ever tried to tear down a stone wall with you bare hands? Either figuratively, or literally. Hands get raw, bloodied even. Muscles grow tired and ache, and - if you are not careful - bones can get broken. There are things that are going on in my life that I am just tired of beating myself up on the stonewall in front of me. I've decided to just stop fighting it and allow myself to rest. I am praying that God would work either a change in the situation, a change in me, or to show me that I need to just move in a new direction. Verse for today: Job 9:27-32, ESV If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint,I will put off my sad face, and be of good cheer, I become afraid of all my suffering, for I know you will not hold me innocent. I shall be condemned; why then do I labor in vain? If I wash myself with snow and cleanse my hands with lye, yet you will plunge me into a pit, and my own clothes will abhor me. For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him, that we should come to trial together.


What is the balance?

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a time for everything under the sun. A "blogging friend" was kind enough to drop by and visit my blog - despite a schedule even more crazy than mine. I think I am not communicating effectively - at least not through my blog. I know I mostly blog for myself, to help me work out thoughts, etc. - but this is a public forum, and God has used feedback (in the form of comments from visitors) in my life. I have no 'self righteous' belief that God uses only one way to reach people. After all, the human race is not a group of identical siblings or robots. I was not trying to say that the conference, or "seeker" oriented services were a waste of time, or something to that affect. What I was trying to say is that I feel that they could be so much more than they are. Advertising is all about building up a product so that those seeing the ad will have a desire to go out and aquire said product. The better a job the company does in marketing its products, the better it is going to sell. Even bad advertising garners some interest and rememberance of a product. Does anyone remember that "rat-looking" thing that Quizno's used some time back? Man that thing freeked me out, and really did not make me want to go to their shops. But, now, even years later, I still remember those ads and the "products" it was selling. God can, and does, use all things in the lives of those who seek Him and are called according to His purpose. What I am trying to say is I feel the gospel should be proclaimed boldly. Grace needs to be proclaimed boldly. We should not shy away from describing sin and its affects. I have seen many instances of 'baby' Christians who hear the 'watered down' gospel. They see their need for a Saviour, the see the need for redemption. but they never move beyond that. The result is Christians who do not see a need to serve in their local church. They do see the need to grow. Then over time, the impression is "I've heard all this before". We all go to the same church (speaking within the weekly context, and the group that goes to a particular church body) week in, and week out. We are all at different points in our walk with Christ. But if all we do is tend to those who are just starting along the path, or for those who have yet to even realize that they are not on the right one... at what point do those who are further along get fed? At what point do they grow into mature believers who can then reach behind and help those who stumble or are having trouble taking the next step? And make no mistake... just as a dear pastor once shared (quoting George Orwell) with his congregation, "sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.” The most obvious base need of man is their need for a Savior. Let it never be declared that we took the easy road, but that we declared the ultimate message. That of the lord Jesus Christ, and what He accomplished on the cross for us. Verse for today: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, ESV And I, when I came to you, brothers, [1] did not come proclaiming to you the testimony [2] of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.


On the road to recovery - maybe...

Yesterday was a crazy busy day. When I left work I had to take DS#2 to his riding therapy. When that was done I set up the charcoal grill and rotated the tires on the van - the very activity that wrenched my back out a few months back, then I went to a friends house to help him move a small stand-up type piano. The good news is that ny back did not go out on me. Maybe it's because I was extra careful, but I'd like to think that it is also a little stronger. One thing that is occuring is the muscles in my back are pretty tight. I wish I knew how to stretch those muscles and not movce my spine in a way that is... not helpful. My mind is thinking about how we also struggle with issues in our spiritual lives that are similar. How do we deal with sin iin our lives, both past and present and yet we cannot seem to get past our relucatance to either accept or move past. I include myself in that statement. Verse for today: Romans 6:1-4, ESV What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.


Talking about what is good

The past few posts have not really been all that helpful. Well, maybe they have been, but it feels like they have been slightly negative in tone. That really was not my intention. It's just I want so much more for the body of Christ, for my 'brothers' and 'sisters'. I want more for myself. Especially when it comes to my relationship with Christ. I am not really sure what else to say today. May the Lord be with you... Verse for today: Philippians 4:4-9, ESV Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.


Beth Moore and the 'Women of Faith' conferences

This past weekend my beloved was able to go to a 'Women of Faith' conference. She went up a day earlier for a 'pre-conference' with Beth Moore. This was the second time my beloved was able to see Beth Moore and she loves going to her conferences, but she is not all that keen with the Women of Faith conferences. On Friday the worship was interactive, and while Beth was speaking the lights remained up. My beloved is not one who is an "out of the box" worship singer. That is she needs to really focus on the music and focus on herself (in regards to singing) in order to really engage with it. But she really enjoyed the time of worship. The musicians were not over powering, and the lyrics were 'posted' for all to see. Whil Beth Moore was speaking the lights remained up. While she was speaking my beloved was able to read the scripture references and take notes. She was able to be 'interactive' with the speaker and thus she was able to get more out of it. In contrast, on Saturday, my beloved felt removed from the teaching and singing. The music was over powering, hard to follow along with, and it felt like it was more for the audience to sit and listen as opposed to participate in. As the speakers rotated up on stage the lights remained down, and it was very hard to read along scripture references, let alone take notes. My beloved told me, "... it felt very 'showy'. Like they were there more to entertain than to teach." In the end she was disappointed with the main conference, but once again walked away from the Beth Moore segment like she had actually learned something. I think the reason I am posting about this today, is that it sort of goes along with my entry from yesterday. We, as children of God, should not have to be entertained to draw us to sit at the Savior's feet. We should be drawn in to sit and listen, to learn. To interact and take what is being shown to us and make it a part of our soul. Part of my 'theology' - if you will - is charismatic. That is, I believe we are to interact with our Savior on an emotional level. But, I am also - at least partially - 'reformed' in my 'theology'. That is we need to test everything against the Word of God. The enemy of our souls is a master deciever. Our emotions are finiky and easily manipulated. The gifts of the Spirit (which I also believe are for the children of God today) can be imitated or faked. But just because the enemy can decieve us through these does not mean God does not still use it. But it does mean we need to be constantly on-guard. I think a guiding theme for me relationship with God is becoming similar to what those who are experts at discovering counterfit currency. Study the original. Study it so much that it becomes so familiar that when the false is present it something feels off. Even if it cannot be immediately determined. We need to constantly seek out our Heavenly Father, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. We need to seek to be in fellowship with God so much so, that when the enemy asks us, "Dis God really say?" we can reply with confidence, "thus says the Lord...". Please do not misunderstand me. I am not trying to say that the 'Women of Faith' conferences are a waste of time, or that they are somehow performing a dis-service to the body of Christ. What I am saying is that we should not seek these things out to be nurished. The Word of God, no matter how it is presented, can be fruitful and meaningful. I just want to encourage my fellow brothers and sisters to not remain at such a level, but to seek and grow beyond. Verse for today: Matthew 4:1-11, ESV Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up,lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.


Gerber's vs. a Cheesburger

A thing has been "eating" away at me for some time. Why is it that churches (and I am speaking in a very broad stroke of generalization) feel the need to water down the message of the Gospel? I often hear of the Sunday services being "seeker friendly". That is, great care is taken so as to not offend any visitors that may not have made a decision for Christ. But I say that this is a dis-service. Not only to the "seekers", but to the faithful regular attenders.
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:18-25, ESV)
The American church is on the verge of becoming spiritual innefective. When we. in effect, take it easy, we water down the message. The only essential message - that of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we only talk about it not being good to gossip, or how to pray effectively, or doing good, where is the message about Christ? Where is the why we should (or should not) do these things? To many there is 'assumed' - or implied - message of this underlying theme. But if we are not proclaiming Christ, and Him crucified, it becomes meaningless. Do not the Scientologists preach 'good' things? What about the Mormans, or many other cults? What about Confusionism , or the Hindu religion? Islam also preaches that their followers are to do good things unto others. But what is it that sets Christianity - Bible believing, born again, Christianity, apart from all the others?!? It is Christ! And why is it Christ? Because HE accomplished it. He fulfilled the law! He died so that we might live! There is nothing that we can do to achieve salvation (even our turning to Him was because He revealed Himself to us). I mean, after our salvation we are to walk in our faith with Him in performing "works", but it is not the works that justify us before an almighty God. And it is He who was crucified - ONCE - and then it was "finished" (John 19:30). I am not talking "Fire and Brimstone" - but we cannot talk all "Peaches and Creme" either. We need to be frank, and loving. We need to talk about sin, and grace. We need to talk about heaven and hell. These are very real things, and unless the "seeker" hears these things, it is impossible to make an "informed" decision. But I feel an almost greater dis-service is done to the one who walks in the doors believing everything is 'hunky dorry' in their own lives. They (I include myself) are fed the equivilant of spiritual 'milk', and there is power in that...
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God [2] may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV)
The gospel, the Lord Christ, has so much more to offer. There is "meat" and vegitables. There are delights and depths that need to be plumbed from the pulpit. When things are set aside for the "beliver" services, or even deligated to the small groups (if your church uses such things) then a good portion of the congregation is missed. For example, many people have difficulty attending "off day" meetings, either for work or family schedules. As for me, the "rubber meets the road" in a small group (defined as a few families, or individuals that meet for further fellowship and study). This is a context for members of the church to practice what is preached from the pulpit, perhaps a time to study further and work through the material. Well, I could ramble on and on - but this post has already taken up a considerable amount of time. I pray that my concerns have been adequetly expressed. Verse for today: Romans 1:16-23, ESV For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, [5] as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” [6] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.


My Testimony

I have been writting this up for a few days. I am not polished in writting, but this is what I came up with. There seems that I could write so much more, but where to put it, how to express it... For those who stumble across this entry, I pray that it is an example of what God can do. It is not really an expression of what I have done, rather it is a weak expression of what Christ has done in me. When I was very young I remember walking past this huge stone church in Philadelphia. It was covered in these dark grey stones, and for a kid, the place seemed like a man made mountain. When I finally walked inside it was very dark. My memory draws up images of, not doom and gloom, but not warm and welcoming either. A few years later, while I was living with my father in New York City, there was a Catholic church on the corner. This church was covered in white stone. I don’t remember ever looking up to see the roof, etc. though. But my father never took me to church, never encouraged anything even close to going. And to this day the only time I can remember him stepping into a church was to attend my wedding. Growing up I would be taken to church for one reason or another. To be honest I cannot remember the occasions. The first time going, that I remember something about the experience, other than being bored, was the summer I went to go live with some cousins. The year before my mother, brother, and I had to move from our apartment – they were being turned into condos and we could not afford it. We moved into a guy’s house who was taking a job in Saudi Arabia for three years. It was perfect, that is until his ex-wife decided she wanted to have it. Distraught my mother OD’ed on some sleeping pills and ended up in the hospital. We lost everything except what my brother and I had packed into our suitcases. We lived with my father for a time, but when he told my mother the only way he would keep us is if my mother forfeited her right to custody she had to take us back. Eight weeks later (which later caused all kinds of problems with my school records) we moved in with my Aunt and Uncle. At the end of that school year my Aunt and Uncle (who never had the experience of having kids around) told my mother we were no longer able to stay with them. With no place to go, my mother arranged for my brother and me to live with our cousins while she got settled. My ‘Uncle’ (really my cousin, but old enough to be my dad – thus the title) was the Baptist Pastor of a local church in a very, very small town in West Virginia. I remember the first Sunday we were there we had to sit in the front row, and I fell asleep! The rest of that summer was the best summer of my childhood. But I never really took the church seriously. I mean, my cousins had pornographic magazines (not my first exposure, but a defining one), and they all cussed and the boys did the chewing tobacco thing. I left to head back to live with my mother just in time to move from one city to another in order to get enrolled in a High School. The next experience I remember was being taken to another small church with the mother of the guy my mom was now living with. I can’t remember the denomination, but they had communion. I remember going forward (looking back I have no idea why I did this, probably so as to not be embarrassed by not going), and they used real wine. I didn’t like it, and on the way out the Pastor (dressed in black with the white collar) asked me what I thought of the service. I told him, “it was nice, but the wine tasted horrible”. The old lady was flabbergasted. She never invited to take me back. Fast forward about fourteen months. We are living in yet another new place (our 3rd since the summer with my cousins), it is Christmas time. One of my cousins had been murdered. My Christmas vacation that year was spent traveling back to that small town to attend my cousin’s funeral. I was pretty numb. I don’t really remember what I thought, but I do remember just trying to do anything I could to comfort my ‘Uncle’. The one memory that is still pretty vivid is me sitting at my ‘Uncle’s’ feet, talking to the friends I had made while I was visiting, while he just played with my hair. I went back home kind of numb. But I remember praying to God, asking Him to “forward a message” to my cousin. For the next few years I remember an occasional time when someone was trying to evangelize on a street corner, handing out tracks. I remember taking them, but not really reading them all that much. I kept a few, but for the most part I just went on with my life. The summer after my cousin was murdered we moved back in with a family that had helped us out a year earlier, but when my mother had gotten one of her sisters to pay for yet another apartment I had had enough. I made arrangements with the woman in who’s house we were currently living and I stayed. I dropped out of High School halfway through the twelfth grade. I was over a year behind in English (partly because of only living with my Father for eight weeks), and when all of the tools that I had been signed for at an auto-mechanic vo-tech school I was going to were stolen, it was more than I (or my mother) could afford. I just stopped showing up. For the next two years I moved from job to job. Mostly working for friends, but the one sure thing was the family that had taken me in. Even though I barely kept up with my rent, they allowed me to stay. Finally in 1986 potential employers were seeing the pattern of me leaving jobs (usually after only three months) it was getting tough to find work. That was when I joined the National Guard. It was a life changing event in my life. For the next three years I still moved from job to job, but I could always count on the Guard paycheck. And I was motivated. My nickname had become “high speed, low drag”. I made Sergeant (E5) in just under three years – but in order to do that I had had to go to night school and complete my High School diploma. With my sights on college I re-enlisted for six years so that I could keep getting the paychecks and also draw on some (very limited) college benefits. This was the summer of 1989, and God had been kicking up the ‘dust’ (so to speak) for some time. For about a year before this point I remember having a desire to go to church. Even though I cannot remember (now) being witnessed to, or evangelized, I do remember pulling out my old King James and trying to read it. But it did not make sense. I know many people draw comfort from the KJ, but it might as well have been Japanese. I could not make heads or tails of it. So, I thought, “I need to get me to church. They know what it says. They can help me understand it”. I remember literally walking/driving around looking for a church. “This one looks nice,” that sort of thing. But I never would go in to one. Not on my own. During this time I was also studying Tae Kwon Do. With working only part time I was going to the Dojo three or four times a week. The instructor worked with me one on one and I was getting ready to test for my green belt. While we sat there I over heard a couple talk to another young woman. They were telling her that they needed to reschedule the Bible study as they were going on vacation. “What?, Could I get in on this?” I was pretty excited, but still not really sure what I was doing. It was crazy, but this couple was very nice. It took over a month before I saw them again. Finally, in August of 1989, they invited me to go to church with them. Since I did not own a car yet they were kind enough to pick me up. Now, I am not really sure how to describe my first impression of this church. We pulled up to a High School (what, no ‘church’?) and walked in. The auditorium was packed. The next thing I noticed was that it was hot! This was a steamy August morning in the suburbs of Washington DC. We took our seats, well it was more like we found where we would sit and I was introduced to (what seemed like) half the congregation. Finally, promptly, at 10 o’clock the worship team began to play and call the congregation to worship (what!?!, no organ? Guitars? Drums?). I don’t remember singing all that much. I spent a lot of time looking around. There were people singing loud! People with their arms held above their heads, hands open, their eyes shut. At least once, someone from the crowd had a “word” – they shared a piece of scripture that had come to mind during the worship, and even though it seemed to break the flow of the singing, no one seemed to mind. This went on for about forty five minutes. Clapping, singing, and from what I could tell these people were emotionally involved in the singing to God. There were a few administrative things to share (such and such car had its lights on; please see such-and-such part of the bulletin, etc.). Then it was time for the Pastor to speak. A baldheaded man, in slacks and a short sleeve polo, stepped up to the podium. For over an hour CJ Mahaney spoke, and I didn’t seem to mind. After the service there was a visitors reception (held in what felt like a far too small classroom), where one of the Pastors came to introduce himself and walk among the visitors, answering questions, etc. I don’t remember if I ever spoke to him, but I know I filled out a ‘visitor’s information’ thingie. I found myself wanting to know more. I went home that day and I remember waiting around for the phone to ring. I really had no idea how long it would take for someone to call me, but that’s what I did. I waited, and waited. Finally, around 6 o’clock I decided to just head out with some friends, and of course that’s when the phone rang. It was the a man who was a part of the ‘visitation team’ (a group of people who volunteered to go to visitor’s homes to talk, but only if that is what they wanted). He explained that his car had broken down and that he and his partner would not be able to make it that day. Would I be around later in the week? We set up an appointment for later in the week. I think it was Thursday when we were to meet. Anyway, I receive a phone call (it was the same guy) explaining that his partner would not be able to make and if I wanted he could still come out (I later found out that he almost cancelled, but he felt prompted to carry through with the meeting). He arrived late (around 9 PM), and my house was in full effect. There was clutter everywhere, dinner plates still on the table, it was just not what you could consider a “Home and Gardens” setting if you know what I mean. I have no idea how long we talked, but I remember him walking me through a “Real Purpose of Life” tract. When it came time for him to ask me questions (i.e are you a good person, do I deserve to go to Heaven, that sort of thing) I distinctly remember two sets of answers coming to mind each time. I was amazed. It was like blinders, or some new part of my brain, had been opened. I prayed a ‘sinner’s’ prayer that very night. The next Sunday I sat with this man, along with several of his friends, at church and it felt like I belonged. Like I was home. I then missed the next two Sundays because I had to go away for my National Guard Annual Training. I remember the clouds, the mountains, the air... it all felt different. (Of course that could also be because I was in Honduras ;) ). I don’t know how to describe it. My ‘journey’ to God was over a very long period of time. In hindsight I see His hand moving, but there is so much more. I cannot explain the man I am today. No one else in my family believes in Christ. At least not in anyway more than He was a good man/teacher. My mother’s family, with the exception of my Uncle, all believes there are multiple paths to God. My Father is openly hostile to the church. My step mother is not much more encouraging than that. My sister is a die hard feminist and if I was to describe her theological position, it would probably most resemble New Age. My brother, the one in whom I shared practically every experience with growing up, is a practicing wiccan priest. In the final year of my mother’s life, I believe she began to see the truth. She really worked hard to clean up her life, she even went to church regularly. By this time I was pretty much estranged from her. For example, I yelled at her before I left for basic training, “If you kill yourself while I am away I will not come home for the funeral!” I am not proud of this. I only mention it because it gives an insight to my life. By God’s grace I was able to make it to her bedside for the last 24 hours of her coherent life. She was able to see her grandsons (my daughter was born eleven months after she passed away) one last time. I was able to talk with her (well, it was me talking as she had an oxygen mask on the whole time). When my brother’s second wife came she spoke of something-or-other to do with what she and my brother believed. When she left I asked my mother if she knew that there was a difference between what they were telling her, and what I was telling her. She nodded weakly. I asked her if she wanted me to read from the Bible, and again she nodded. I read from Romans. That was the last interaction I had with her. (This part took place in the year 2000.) This testimony sounds like I was seeking after God when I finally responded to His call. But in truth it was Him who placed this desire on my heart. At this time in my life I was still heavily involved with pornography. I sought out occultic things. I owned several tarot decks, which I used. I professed to follow a Norse diety. Although I did not drink, smoke, or do drugs, I cursed “like a sailor”. I had a violent temper, and if there was something I did not like I made sure everyone knew it – and if that meant I felt I was wronged I would just walk away from whatever it was. I did not allow anyone, or anything “own” me. Later on Fitz (the man who came to visit my house that day) told me that they had been praying for an example of God's grace. For God to 'arrest' someone so completely the only explination would be His grace. He told me that God used me to answer that prayer. I would like to say that all of my old sins just dropped away once I prayed for my Lord Jesus Christ to enter my heart, and my life. But the truth is, I still struggle with my desires. But God has been gracious. I have new strength to resist and succed, where as before I didn't even bother. But I do know I changed that day, and when I walked into that congregation that August Sunday morning I felt like I was home. Verse for today: Romans 5:1-11, ESV Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we [1] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith [2] into this grace in which we stand, and we [3] rejoice [4] in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.


The Battery Guidon

While I continue to work on my testimony I thought I would post a situation that happened over my last drill weekend. We had several members of our unit return from an overseas mission recently, and this past drill weekend was their first since returning. With so many people returning I was able to deligate the Guidon responsibility to one young soldier. It was a pretty laid back weekend with the tempo of activity being very low. Without being specific the soldier allowed himself, and the Guidon, to get soiled. He also made a mess in another soldiers tent (the one he was sleeping in). Our Guidon is not all that spectacular to look at, but it has a history within our unit. Needless to say, being the interim First Sergeant and acting battery commander, I had to take action. We were away from our homestation so cleaning it up was not an immediate option. In the interim this soldier performed several sets of push-ups and flutter kicks. It was his assigned responsibility to take care of this flag, and not only did he not protect it, but he was the instrument of its damage. Once we returned to home station he was instructed to handwash the Guidon (I also gave him the opportunity to handwash his uniform). Once he was done he was instructed to facilitate the drying of the flag by running it around the motorpool (ten laps). It was pretty hot, so I ensured another soldier watched him, and when he was done that he drank water. At the end of the day I asked the soldiers present if anyone had any problem with how the disciplinary actions were taken. The only concern brought up was the running around the compound. I also took the soldier aside and spoke with him. I made sure he understood that it was nothing personal. I realize that I am speaking to a wide diversity, or at least exposing myself, audience. And I don't expect everyone to understand. But this is a serious thing in my 'world'. Not just the Guidon, but in establishing the fact of who it is that is in charge. I often worry about what others think of me. Too much in my own opinion. But I struggle with doing what needs to be done (at least as I understand it), and worry about what others think. But in situations of Leadership I believe that it is very important to establish the chain of command. "Mold without breaking" is my primary concern. Anyway, before I get off rambling... that is a glimpse of a recent weekend. An insight into what a Guidon is check out this link: A Guide to the Guidon. Verse for today: Colossians 1:15-20, ESV He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by [6] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.


I am in training today and I can't seem to take more than five minutes to get my thoughts together for a really good post today. I am wondering if anyone else is having trouble using Titles for their blog entries. Looking forward to getting something up tomorrow. Verse for today: Psalm 46:4-7 , ESV There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah


My appoligies.... I totally dropped the ball about letting you all know how the meeting went with the couple who recommended "The Secret" to us. Well, to recap... some friends were all excited about this motivational movie they had seen. How it totally changed their way of thinking, etc. They then loaned it to us (after, we later found out, loaning it to at least two other couples in the church - including one of the Pastors). But for one reason or another my beloved and I took our time to get around to it. We finally got around to watching it last Monday night... and we were... to put it nicely, distrubed. Very 'New Age-ish'. It talks a lot about the how thoughts supposedly send out 'radio-like' waves out into the universe and how they ultimately bring about the things in our lives. Good, bad, whatever. So, for example, if you think positively about getting that new promotion at work - you will get it. If all you think about is debt and the bills, well... that is all you will get. There is so much I want to say, but I don't think I could articulate my thoughts right now. Bottom line, I encourage all Bible believing Christians to avoid this video. Well, on Tuesday, we had this couple over. I was very nervous on how to bring my concerns up to them. They are fairly 'young' Christians, and they were so very excited about the video. I visited several of the blogs of people I consider well grounded in their faith, and asked them to pray for me. Which I believe they all did, because it seemed to go well. :) They arrived and I was still getting my thoughts and notes together. I was not quite ready when my beloved jumped in with both feet (she is known for doing that actually ;) ). We talked rapidly (by that I mean, back and forth - not yelling, arguing, or in turmoil - just thoughts going back and forth regularaly. i.e. not us lecturing). Looking back almost a week later this is how I might summarize it. They told us that while they agree it is not Christian in view, there are good things to be taken out of it. They didn't really elaberate on that though. Meanwhile my beloved and I shared that we felt this 'teaching' was dangerous, and although we agree that thinking positively about things - in light of our relationship with the only being we can 100% trust - that it is dangerous ground. I had wanted to use the example of how bank tellers and the Secret Service do not spend countless hours studying fake and counterfit dollar bills. Instead they spend countless hours studying the authentic currency. They become so familiar with what the original is supposed to look like that when a fake one comes along they just 'see' it. That is the same thing we are supposed to do as Christians. We need to study God, study his Word, spend time with Him in prayer, seek Him daily/hourly/moment-by-moment - so that when the false teachings come along we too will 'see' it. But I failed to do so - that night. I guess I was distracted by them telling us that one thing the video did for them was it drew them to their Bible daily. For that, I am glad they saw the video. Just like the Bible says, "we know that for those who love God all things work together for good... [7]" (Romans 8:28, esv). Verse for today: Romans 8:26-30, ESV Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because [6] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, [7] for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.


Tennis Widower

I am sure most people have heard the term "Football Widow", or at least the term " Widow". Now, I am a fan of American Football (i.e. not the soccer variety), but I am pretty tame about it. I am content to watch/listen (to) it in the background while doing other things. Occasionally I will set aside some time to actually sit down in front of the tube to see a complete game - especially if it is a rare occasion when the Carolina Panthers are playing and the game is being televised in my area. But I think I have run into a whole new twist to this situation. I am what could be called, a Tennis Widower. My beloved loves Tennis. Just before I left for my two week Annual Training the French Open was being played. The finals took place the first weekend I was away. Well, I get home and the Monday of my 'home coming' Wimbledon began. (The Australian Open takes place in early January, and the US Open takes place later this summer - around Labor Day.) So for two weeks before I left, and now for two weeks since I've been home - the house has been completely disheveled. That is not to say that I exect my beloved to take care of it all. I do indeed help out. But that has meant later nights than usual cleaning up from dinner, making sure the kids get their bath/shower, folding laundry, etc. I am also not saying that my beloved just shuts down for these 'Majors' either. It's just that she does not function at full capacity so to speak. :) All of this I don't mind. I enjoy tennis. There are some really good matches to watch, etc. but the kick in the seat of my pants happened this morning. I had the opportunity to essentially take half the weekend off from my National Guard drill (long story, but I would have been able to not show up until 1300 tomorrow, and then get off NLT 0900 Sunday), but I would obviously not get paid for the half I was not their (totally expected and understandable). But when I explained the loss of income to my beloved she told me (in essence), well the women's finals, and the men's semi-finals are tomorrow. It's not like we were going to be doing anything else. ! 8 Wow. So it came down to me making the decision. Lately money has been pretty tight, and we are coming up on vacation time so... I opted to just drive the extra miles and drill for the entire time period. I do not want anyone to read into this more than it really is. If I asked my beloved to skip the finals, she would. We would go off and do whatever it is I would like to do. All the while she would make sure the video recorder was running so she could watch it later. ;) Verse for today:
Psalm 28:6-7, ESV Blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.


I am a little afraid

A good friend of my Beloved has been going on and on about a video that has changed her life. How it just revolutionized her entire way of thinking. What was this revolutionary video? "The Secret" Because this woman insisted that this was so 'awesome' we needed to watch it, so last night my beloved and I sat down to watch it. If for nothing else we wanted to be able to talk with this friend about it. Pros, cons, whatever. I need to say that after watching this video we are very concerned for our friend and her family. I did not have a notepad handy, and I was just too... well, for lack of a better word, scared... to take notes. I may try and do that in the future though. Right now I just want to know how I can witness to this friend, who is a fairly new Christian. To be honest we turned it off after 30 minutes. What concerns me is that, just like any lie the enemy tries to propigate, there are enough threads of truth to draw you in. In the garden the enemy started with, "Did God actually say,... ". There is a lot to be said about the 'power of positive thinking', but it is presented in such a way that we - mankind - become the power to make good things happen. I am in prayer over this. This couple is coming over tonight for dinner (arranged before we watched the video) and I really want to be able to present the truth in such a way as to not discourage their pursuit of growth in Christ. One article I have found that will be a good help is found here: "Did Jesus know 'The Secret'?" by Robert Velarde Verse for today: Romans 1:19-25, ESV For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.


What an awesome weekend

It really was a beautiful weekend. What incredible weather. Saturday we packed the kids up and took them to the pool for a couple of hours. Not much else went on that day. Nice and relaxing. Yesterday, after church, out of the blue my beloved asks if I would be interested in heading out to a park or something. Sure, why not! Highs in the upper 70's, no rain, nice breaze. And just like that we packed up the cooler, and headed out to Cacapon State Park in WV. What a beautiful place. It was a National Park built during the depression by the conservation corps. It has a swimming lake, rental boats, a nice playground, and some excellent views of the valleys and some hiking trails (the latter two we did not take advantage of this trip). But it is reasonably close - an easy day trip. On our way home we were pretty hungry, not having packed any meals for the trip. The family we went with really wanted Mexican, but neither of us wanted to wait until we got back home. We stopped at a little resteraunt on our way back through Berkeley Springs, WV called Mi Ranchito. Wow, what a wonderful find! Excellent salsa, excellent fajitas! Just excellent food all around. And I was able to feed my family of five for right around $40 - including tip & and a half a carafe of Sangria. It was jsut a nice weekend all around. Note: I've not forgotten my promise. I will be working on my testimony and getting it posted. :) Verse for today: Psalm 8:1-4, ESV Lord, our Lord,how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?