Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Step Back In Time


I just have to share this awesome photo that Lisa Lyons, missionary to the US Military in Japan and the Japanese people, shot recently.



This is of Bill Lyons, Lisa's husband.

I love the vintage look and feel of the picture.  Don't you??

You can find the Lyons' adventures on Facebook.

The Lyons are a wonderful couple, with a heart for missions, and have worked hard to learn the Japanese language and customs, as well as preach the gospel to anyone they can there (and here).  Brother Lyons is an awesome preacher, and Lisa is sweet as sugar, and they've raised up a great group of kids along the way.

Be sure to check them out on their Facebook page and follow them, pray for them, and support them along their journey!




Wednesday, June 19, 2013

About The Hymn: His Eye Is On The Sparrow


As I was going about my laundry duties this morning, I was thinking of the song I wrote about last night...."His Eye Is On The Sparrow".

A quick search on Wikipedia comes up with the inspiration behind this beloved song:

The theme of the song is inspired by the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew in the Bible: "Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Matthew 6:26) and "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows" (Matthew 10:29-31).
Civilla Martin, who wrote the lyrics, said this about her inspiration to write the song based in the scriptures outlined above,
Early in the spring of 1905, my husband and I were sojourning in Elmira, New York. We contracted a deep friendship for a couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle—true saints of God. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for nigh twenty years. Her husband was an incurable cripple who had to propel himself to and from his business in a wheel chair. Despite their afflictions, they lived happy Christian lives, bringing inspiration and comfort to all who knew them. One day while we were visiting with the Doolittles, my husband commented on their bright hopefulness and asked them for the secret of it. Mrs. Doolittle's reply was simple: "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me." The beauty of this simple expression of boundless faith gripped the hearts and fired the imagination of Dr. Martin and me. The hymn "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" was the outcome of that experience.
—Civilla Martin


And the lyrics to this lovely hymn:

  1. Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
    Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
    When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
    • Refrain:
      I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
      For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
  2. “Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
    And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
    Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
  3. Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
    When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
    I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

From the Timeless Truths website

Isn't it wonderful how God sees us in our times of happiness and trials, how He cares for us always, when we're lovable and not quite so lovable in His eyes?  

He sees us as we are, He sees our hearts, our feelings, and He loves us always!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled




"His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me."

Those words from the hymn give me such peace.

God watches, He sees me, no matter how alone I feel, no matter how small I feel in this old world.  He knows my heart's ache, the pain that comes in the midst of our special needs world.

His eye is on me.

Today, I learned of a plan from my son's biological, noncustodial father and stepmom to hospitalize in a psychiatric unit my biological son.  Fortunately for the parties involved, it did not occur, especially because as the biological parent, I was not notified.  Of course I did fax and email all those who are in my son's psychiatric team, as they were not notified either.

Such is the life when there are two separate homes for a child.  One home where the child lives full time, goes to school, church, has activities, special services per the local organizations that specialize in working with Autism, MR, and Special Needs children in general; one home where he has all attention to himself and doesn't have to share with a stepbrother or sister, where he has full access to video games and multiple tv's, where he has much say over things, doesn't have to follow a stringent school/activity/etc routine.  Transitions are hard for the child caught between the two.  Rules are different, expectations are different, parenting styles are different.

Here, in our home, we have a fairly structured system.  Even though not all the rules and routines are written out, we've practiced them over and over, and with prompts, we try to maintain them.  Sure, there's deviations when necessary, but we have a pretty overall decent schedule.  We are predictable.  Beginning soon, we add more people to our schedule, with in home attendants who work to help my son in social skills, how to behave in public, how to work on expressing feelings with words instead of hitting someone, and so on.  More added to our schedule.  More activities.

Of course with the addition of more people in our home, more pressure comes with.  I'm grateful for the organizations who are able to help in the ways they are.  It is not easy to find help for an 11 year old, especially in the days of short funds and those funds growing shorter.  Not so many people understand the world of autism and MR and related disorders and can handle working with a child like ours.  Even less understand trying to raise three with autism disorders in the same home.

With the pressures of each child acting in ways according to their diagnosis, with the oncoming puberty in all three of them (hide me!), and every day life in general, sometimes the pressure cooker nears it's overflow.  It gets tough, the pressure increases, with finances tightening more and more, with behaviors, quirks, needs that must be prioritized, personalities that conflict, and so on.  That's just the kids and us, not including yet any of the people who are to come to our home up to six days a week.

What do you do with mounting pressure?  What happens when the spout opens and the steam rushes out the top of the lid?  What happens when you think the cooker just can't handle any more pressure?

You stop, you pray, you ask for guidance.

You ask the One who created you to guide you, to relieve the mounting pressure, to give you peace, even in the midst of a pressure cooker storm.

You sing, "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me," like I do. :)

Then you breathe, and go back to the cooker and watch what God does. :)

He cares for the sparrow, and He cares for you!


Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Little One's First Meeting With Death



These past two weeks have been a hard one for my son.

He has loved spending time with his biological dad, going to ball games with him, going fishing at a family member's farm pond, doing fun things with cousins he's grown up with, etc.  Each summer I make sure he gets to spend extended time with dad and stepmom and enjoy activities with them that he normally doesn't get to do during the school season simply due to time.

This time, he has experienced death.

While he and his dad, stepmom, cousin, aunt, uncle, and adoptive grandparents (technically uncle's parents, but they've adopted Mr. Kevin as their grandson), were at his cousin's (same age, grown up together) baseball game, Grandpa had a massive heart attack in the stands.  He did not survive the 10 minute trip to the hospital, and passed while enroute.  The family there took it hard, naturally.

Mr. Kevin has as well.

At 11, this is the first person Mr. Kevin remembers losing.  He has lost pets due to age or oncoming traffic, and he mourns for them years after their passing.  There are days he'll start crying and tell me he misses his Pepper (beagle that passed away 3 years ago) or his Sissy (dad and stepmom's little poodle mix that lived 16 years) or Fuzz (the neighborhood cat that adopted us, moved in with us during the blizzard of '10 and took over the bed and a few laps, and went missing a year ago).  His different diagnosis affect how he responds to grief.  The autism and MR limit how he is able to communicate his grief, frustration, feelings.  Instead of crying, he may lash out and hit.  Instead of saying "I'm sad", he may melt down.

During the time between the death and funeral, he repeatedly asked "what happened".  Both sides of the family lines have tried to answer as best as we can, at the level where he would comprehend the best.  He seems comforted most with hearing that Grandpa is taking care of his Pepper in heaven.  We all know that is not true bible doctrine, but for a grieving 11 year old boy who is functioning around 7 to 8 years old or so, it helps.  He is comforted with thoughts of heaven, with Jesus being there.  As far as he's concerned, Jesus has his dogs and cats and is taking care of them for him until he gets to go to heaven too.

Seriously, what do you say to a child like Kevin?

He is still grieving, he misses Grandpa.  He has shown it through tears, through meltdowns, through silence.  Where words fail, hugs make up the difference.

His heart hurts, but we remind him Jesus is there.  Jesus loves hin and  heals hurting hearts like his.

And like yours.


 






Saturday, June 15, 2013

Praising Through Pain







Pain...  Oh how we are all familiar with pain...  Physical pain besets us from a task, emotional pain that wreaks havoc on our thought and prayer life.

I personally have daily pain, physically, from beginnings of diabetic neuropathy.  We don't know just how long I've been amongst the diabetic population, but we caught it 4 years ago or so at a level of 498 on the meter.  It could have been much longer than 4 years, for as often as I voluntarily see a physician (due to finances mainly).  In any event, at 35, the neuropathy has started.

For now, it is minor,  managed mostly with over the counter medications, but in time will need prescription medications if they are available.  It is nerve damage, irrepairable, but can be slowed to a crawl.  For me, it consists of lessening use of my hands, due to the nerves in the carpal tunnel regularly swelling and reducing, leaving my fingers sometimes near useless.  Both feet grow painful and as if on pins and needles with no stimuli to cause it (not sitting funny, not cutting off circulation, simply standing or sitting doing everyday tasks).  My eyes grow more blurred as the diabetes works its way to the optic nerves.  We believe it has also started affecting the otic (ear) area, with lessened hearing (just ask anyone in the family, I must turn up radios and television quite high in order to hear at what was once a quiet level).  I ask my family often to repeat things, to "stop mumbling", to speak up.  It drives them nuts.

For now, I try to keep it from progressing much.  In time, it will grow more degenerating, but for now, it is manageable.  It is nothing much, despite the annoyance it causes.  I still continue to use my hands, to sew, to cook and clean, to tend what needs tending.  Life continues on.

Jesus Himself knew pain well.  He came down to earth, took on a body like ours, in order that He would be able to feel how we felt, know pain, hurt, hunger, anger.  He became as one of us, and in doing so He understands our pain.  He went above and beyond, taking a beating no mere human could survive.  He hung on a wooden cross suspended by nails, with a crown in inches long thorns gouged into His head.  He had the ultimate of pain, both physical, and emotional, when the Father had to turn His back away from Jesus, when He took our punishment.

So, when I pray, asking for reprieve from the daily annoyance I call pain, He knows.  My own is nothing compared to what He willingly took for me, for you, for all man.  But He cares anyway.  Whether He takes it away for the moment, the hour, the day, is up to Him.  Either way, I rejoice that I can call upon the One who understands.

When you have pain, do you ask the One who knows what it feels like to hurt, to come to your aid?  Don't be ashamed, as Jesus Himself said: "Come to me, all ye who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  It may not be immediate pain relief, but He will provide a balm to your soul.  He will give you rest.

Praise Him, through pain, through healing....

Praise Him!






Monday, June 10, 2013

Blessings in Poverty....

Have you been at a point where you look at your bank account and then at your pantry and wonder how you're going to feed your family for the week/month?  Or the day?

We've been at that point lately.  Our income is limited, so we budget and make the best of what is available. Tithe is first, then the bills, then necessities and food.  We try to keep the bills down, like conserving electricity, water, and gas when at all possible.   We trimmed away all the extras but the internet (which I use for my Etsy shop, communication, reading the news, and is part of our landline phone package, as we seldom us a cell phone).  We try.

Then the utility companies got wind and upped their fees.  Now the bills run higher than if we hadn't conserved in the first place.

In the midst of it, we've prayed hard about decisions to make.  We had to stare reality in the face--we really do live in "poverty".

I always thought of poverty as barefoot and dirty, tattered clothing, filthy homes, stringy hair, dumpster diving for food, begging for daily needs from anyone who'd supply it.  I saw poverty as a product of laziness in those adults who were in it.   In my pride, I swore I'd never be in poverty, I'd never be so far down that I'd look like people I'd seen growing up, who were in abject poverty, who had the stringy hair, filthy faces and bodies, tattered and torn clothing that hadn't seen a bit of soap and water in a long while, smelled as if they hadn't had baths in  many days, homes full of roaches and other bugs and vermin, etc.

I was wrong.

Poverty standards according to our government equals richness in other countries, basically most countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America.  What we personally have for income for one month's time is about the same as 2 YEARS worth of income in Cuba, 4 YEARS of income in many African countries.

What I see around me now, as an adult who lives with her family below the "standard for poverty", is a much different scenario.

My family is clean, not barefoot nor dirty.  No one has tattered and filthy clothing, as I mend holes and patch small places, and then wash each piece we own by hand to make sure they are clean.  No one has stringy hair in our home.  There's enough soap and fresh smelling sprays that no one needs smell rotten in our home.  We do not dumpster dive for food or household needs.   Our home has an occasional bug visitor, and immediate actions are taken to rid them from our presence.  Vermin are met with 2 inside cats who love live toys and many neighborhood outside cats who are just as pleased with live toys that crunch.  Our house is clean, slightly cluttered from "stuff", but clean.  And there is no laziness.

God has provided what we need, requiring lots of work.

It reminds me of the Waltons, living in the Depression era, living on next to nothing, working hard to make each penny stretch, working hard to keep the family together, and having pride in not letting the home and family go to squalor.  It brings to mind how Olivia and Grandma Esther worked hard to tend the family, not working outside the home but working long tiring days at home, and how John and Grandpa worked hard to bring in a meager bit here and there to provide, hunted and tended the garden, and taught the family that money wasn't everything.

It takes lots of work, planning, preparation, work, to make meals from scratch.  One must make loaves of bread, timing the hours of rising and baking, working with the dough through hand kneading.  Meats, when available, must be cooked thoroughly, with flavors from home grown seasonings when available, store bought when necessary.  Dairy items are purchased as needed, when on sale, preserved in the freezer if possible for use later, sometimes purchased directly from the grower, other times from a local  larger dairy that provides their own milk/meat/ice creams.  Vegetables are purchased on sale fresh, or for the least cost per pound frozen and stored.  Preserving is a necessity, whether by canning or freezing, to make the budget stretch and provide for later months.  Fruits are a luxury, purchased in season when on sale, and preserved, eaten fresh, or added to pies and breads for a flavorful addition to a meal.  Sweets are another luxury, made from scratch with ingredients on hand, with a bit from the sourdough pot kept constantly going to help in the need for leavening.       Grains and dry beans are incorporated into many meals, which take hours to rinse and prepare.  Drinks are water, occasionally kool-aid, home brewed teas in the teapot (Arizona and Lipton in the glass bottles are a rare sight).

Housework is done using elbow grease instead of many different gadgets.  Dishes are done by hand, using inexpensive detergents or homemade soaps.  Floors are swept with an old straw broom and mopped using a simple mop and bucket, rather than a high end steamer.  Bathrooms are cleaned with simple cleaners, some homemade, and a window left slightly open to allow for air flow to deter mold.  Carpets are vacuumed using a simple vacuum with bags, which can be used and reused if need be, and simple filters that can be washed and dried for longer usage.  Dusting is simply an old rag with a few drops of oil and lemon juice, just enough to moisten.  Mirrors are simply wiped with vinegar and a coffee filter.  Air fresheners are homemade, blended with scented fabric softeners for a rose scent, or made from potpourri oils and water for a lighter fragrance.  During the spring months, the windows are left open and the scent of honeysuckle drifts through.

Laundry is accomplished using a vintage washboard and elbow grease.  I've posted my adventures on this in previous postings.  During the spring and summer season, my board moves to the clothes line area to be within a very short distance of one another.  Yes, it is work to wash each individual piece, each heavy towel, each pair of jeans, each sock, to make sure each piece is clean.  It is work to wash, then rinse and wring by hand each piece, then haul them by bucket to the line, hang them, take them down, haul them back into the house, sort, fold, and put away.  The alternative is spending hundreds of dollars at a laundrymat, using money not available.  During the winter months, it is the same, using the washboard, simply inside my home where it is warmer, and hauling the items out to the line.  It may take a day or two to dry, but they always dry, even when well below freezing temperatures.  Soap for our adventure is made on my stove, using stock pots to derive the liquid mix, and stored in 5 gallon buckets.

Lawn care is tended by ourselves.  A gas sipping push mower when funds allow for gas, a reel mower when funds are too tight for gas.  No need for a rider, nor a lawn service, as there are many hands at home to help.  A garden is a must, and with many hands can be tended to, weeded, watered, and harvested lovingly for nourishing foods to preserve and/or eat fresh.  Plan for a spring and fall garden to maximize the availability of foods for the family, plant perennial herbs for year after year of yummy additions, and grow what your family loves.

Clothing is another labor, which I take on in sewing for myself, stepdaughter, and mend on other clothes as needed.  Some things I just can't do, but I do what I can.  Sewing clothing, at least what we wear, takes hours.  Modest clothing doesn't usually come together within minutes, as there are layers, capes, longer skirts, tiers, gathers, etc.  I make many of my stepdaughter's hair accessories as well, with a special treat of store purchased hair bands with frillies when possible.  When a coat was needed for her, I hand stitched and quilted a calf length coat in order to save the 100's of dollars it would take to get the same type already made.  I keep old clothing as the children out grow, and as my own and hubby's get faded with time and washings over the years, and reuse them for cleaning rags at the worst, patchwork pieces and rosette appliques at best.  We don't shop high end, but clearance racks for the boys and hubby, thrift stores, and only pay full price if absolutely there is no other way around it.

In living below the "poverty line", it has become a blessing rather than the curse the world would have it to be.  We must communicate effectively, as we do not use the smart phones and other hand held gadgets popular amongst the crowds, even the ones who haunt the welfare offices and food banks.  We must speak to each other face to face before leaving home, lay out plans of where we will be, how long we think we'll be there, especially on longer trips.  We must communicate on finances, as one false move and there are excess fees to render.  We must continue to give back to God first, no matter what.  We must learn to live within the means, to make do with what we have and be content.  We don't have to have the latest gadgets, movie channels, satellite and cable, video games, internet phones, and other gadgets in order to be content.

We have to rely on Jesus and find our contentment in Him.

God has provided for us when we've had nothing in the bank.  He has given us food when there is next to nothing in the pantry but dry beans and rice.  He has given us a bit of gas when we've had to go to appointments for the children and were sitting on E.  He has provided for vehicle repairs that were drastically needed that were emergencies despite careful routine maintenance.

He has taught us to be content in where we are, to make best use of what He provides, and to raise our children to be content where they are regardless of what the world tells them they must have.  Our children have learned that using imagination provides fun, that creating their own games and races and interacting with others provides more enjoyment than staring at a screen and using only thumbs to do an activity.  They do not beg us for the latest toys and games, they know it will not happen unless they save their own money earned by doing extra chores or earning good grades in school.  They appreciate the small gifts we give them as funds allow, the homemade gifts at Christmas, the little things that they receive throughout the year.

Poverty doesn't have to mean poor.  It is a standard set by the government, but not by God. The Lord does not care how much money we have, He wants our hearts, our service, our love.  If we have give the Lord those, we are rich indeed.

There are blessings in poverty, once you look beyond the money.


Moving The Landmarks Part 5: Church Discipline

Discipline--yuck!

What adult likes to have discipline, especially in a place we voluntarily go?  I know it doesn't rank up on my top 10 list of favorites.

But...church discipline is biblical.  We may not like it.  We most likely don't see it in the majority of churches, but it is biblical.

Discipline in the church brings about a touchy subject.  It brings to light wrong doings (sin) and treats the sin in accordance to scripture.  The Bible outlines various problems that happened in the early church and what was recommended to deal with the issues.  I'm sure there were many hard feelings, but sin usually brings about hard feelings and broken hearts.

The book of I Corinthians brings to light many sins inside the church.  Paul wrote this epistle to the church at Corinth, who was in the midst of debauchery of all kinds.  The outside influences had infiltrated the church.

At the time Paul visited Corinth, it had been sacked and rebuilt by the Romans by 46 B.C.  In 51 A.D. when Paul stopped in, it was a thriving metropolis and the capital city of Achaia.

"Religiously, the city had every type of cult its pluralistic society could bring to it...The moral depravity of Corinth, legendary even in the ancient paan world, vividly reflected the spiritual need of the city, which was known as a seaman's paradise and moral cesspool.  'Easy' women roamed the streets, and the atmosphere was polluted with the alluring aura of sin." (1)

Compare that description to our world now.  We have sin around us, brought into our homes, and brought willingly into our churches.  The ways of the world, fornication, adultery, incest, pride, theft, idolatry all worked their way into the church of Corinth, as it does now.  Those who lead the flock sometimes lose their ministries due to sexual scandals, others scandalize the church with thefts of the treasury, bringing in false doctrines, false prophets, you name it.  One would think reading I Corinthians was like reading about today's church.

Paul starts addressing thesin in the church at I Corinthians 3, chastising the church for not growing, but staying as babes and choosing to avoid meat of the Word.

"And I, brethren could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. (2) I have fed you with milk and not with meat for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.  (3)  For ye are yet carnal for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" (I Corinthians 3:1-3)

Many of the churches today keep with the babe range, not growing in doctrine, in knowledge of Jesus, but instead feed only on sweetness and fluff.  Ask you everyday average Christians sitting in the pew what they believe and most likely you'll get a blank stare of a deer in the headlights look.  They don't know what they believe due to not feeding on the Word at home as well as not hearing solid doctrine at church from the pastor.

Without learning doctrines of the bible, feeding on the meat of Scriptures, babes stay babes.  They keep one foot (or both) in the world, continue on with the worldly activities and infiltrate those sins to the church.  When those sins rear their ugly heads, what is the protocol?

Paul addresses the sins in I Corinthians 5.

(1) It is reported commonly [that there is] fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.

(2)  And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.


(3)  For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, [concerning] him that hath so done this deed,


(4)  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,


(5)  To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.


(6)  Your glorying [is] not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?


(7) Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:


(8)  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened [bread] of sincerity and truth.


(9)  I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:


(10)  Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.


(11)  But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.


(12)  For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?


(13)  But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.


In I Corinthians 5:1, the man had married his stepmother--his father's wife, and committed not only adultery but incest.  The church at Corinth was quite proud of their liberality, and had no issue with this situation.  


"Discipline in the early church was perhaps administered in the following manner:  The congregation was called together, with the apostle presiding if available, and the person accused was arraigned before them.  After the evidence had been heard, and the accused had given a defense of himself, the judgement of the congregation was pronounced." (1)


In verse 5, "Several observations must be made concerning this difficult passage.  It involved excommunication from the church (verse 2).  It involved the chastisement of the man.  The reference seems to be the destruction of the physical appetites that prompted this gross immorality.  Paul has the ultimate restoration of the offender in view, that the spirit may be saved.  This last purpose shows that the phrase destruction of the flesh cannot mean that the person could be brought to death.  God does not want him killed; He wants him restored." (1)


Most folks have heard, "a little leaven leaveneth the entire loaf".  This is true.  Once a little bit of yeast or other leavening agent enters the recipe, it cannot be removed.  Instead, it grows, releasing gasses to make the bread rise.  This is the same with sin.  Once sin is allowed into the body of Christ, it is near impossible to get out.  It never truly leaves, there is always a stain.  


In our modern churches, discipline is often put to the wayside.  We don't want to hurt feelings, don't want to chase off members (especially if they tithe), don't want to rock the boat--much like Corinth.  We most often revel in the liberal "tolerance" of allowing anything and everything in the name of "love".  


In a churches I know of, a man and woman lived together, one separated from their spouse but not divorced, the other already divorced.  Rather than encouraged to right the wrong, they were encouraged to participate in services, sing in the choir, one was given an office in the church.  The spouse of the separated party brought their own new "live in friend" to the church as well, with total tolerance and inclusion from the pastor and congregation.  Another person is allowed to teach Sunday School to the youngest of the children, but is never ever in a service any other time the doors are open.  Another teacher lives in sin but is allowed to continue teaching and sing in the choir.  Openly homosexual couples are allowed to act as married husband/wife without a hint of opposition.  The younger people, teens and such, allowed to destroy the church's property without rebuke, allowed to curse at teachers, tear up the rooms, steal, all without any accountability.  


Other examples of lack of discipline in the church--The First Baptist Church of Hammond, made famous by Jack Hyles, with Jack Shaap as pastor, who had extra marital affairs and wasn't disciplined for years while it happened, just as others within the church were let to do as they pleased. 


 " A church that doesn’t discipline immorality commits a great sin and gives God’s enemies much ammunition against the cause of Christ, and that is exactly what First Baptist is guilty of. They can say that they disciplined Jack Schaap’s adultery. Good. 


What about Jack Hyles’ sin? And yes, it was proven that he committed ministry-disqualifying sins.

What about Dave Hyles’ sin? It was common knowledge at First Baptist that he was a serial fornicator when he was at First Baptist working with his dad and even before that when he was a teen. Common knowledge. 

What about the sin of First Baptist deacons who committed immorality? 

What about the sin of the preacher graduates of Hyles Anderson, with Dave Hyles at the forefront, who went to communities across the nation and even to other parts of the world in the name of Jesus Christ and the gospel and who abused the sacred trust of their office by committing grave sin with women and children in their own flocks? 

We are not talking about one or two men. We’re not talking about five or ten, even. We’re talking about dozens. We’re talking about an absolute plague for fornicating preachers with close ties to First Baptist Church of Hammond and its college.

We have documented some of these frightful cases in the book 
The Hyles Effect

In fact, you can see mug shots of some of these men in the January 2013 edition of the
Chicago Magazine in the report “Let Us Prey,” but the nine men mentioned in that shocking report form only the tip of the iceberg. 

Someone might say that these men were not members of First Baptist at the time of their sin and weren’t therefore under its authority, but they were known to be graduates of First Baptist’s school and followers of First Baptist’s renowned pastor. They proudly used the name of Jack Hyles and First Baptist of Hammond wherever they went. 

When has First Baptist made public pronouncements against these men?

Instead, Jack Hyles repeatedly helped to move these men to other communities and to keep them in the ministry, and oftentimes, like in the case of his own son Dave, they repeated their sin in the new community with terrible moral and spiritual consequences. The consequence of these sins by Hyles Anderson graduates continues to this day. 

First Baptist Church of Hammond supported Hyles in putting these foxes into various unsuspecting henhouses and did nothing to reprove this great sin. "(2)


Another example would be of Annanias and Sapphira, found in Acts 5:1-11.  Both lied to those in authority in the church, namely the Apostles.  God dealt directly with discipline for them. 

"But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things."  (3)

When the church doesn't deal with the sins against Him, in His house, leads to destruction of not only the person in sin, but the congregation over time that allows it to continue.  The building may stand, the people may still attend, but God can't be where deliberate sin is.  He won't be in a place where people gather to worship but openly flaunt sins in His face.  If the Pastor, elders, and/or deacons won't take responsibility for the flock, weed out the sins that are open in the church, the church will suffer.  Those within the church will suffer.
  

In the meantime, many pastors continue to move the landmark of discipline away from the mark set by Paul and the early churches, moving on to a tolerant, liberal way of "church".



Bibliography
All scripture in KJV, some from Blue Letter Bible
(1) KJV Study Bible, Thomas Nelson, Liberty University
(2) The Way of Life, David Cloud, "The Sin of First Baptist Church of Hammond"
(3) Acts 5-11 KJV from Bible Gateway




Monday, June 3, 2013

Moving the Landmarks Series Part 4: Music in Worship

I'll admit doing this part has been a toe stepper for me.  This one wasn't an easy one to research and write.  We all have strong opinions on music, it's not easy to sit down and really take a look at what God says, as it may just contradict with what we feel.  But...God's Word comes before feelings....



Music.

OOOOOoh boy this is one part that can sure cause a ruckus.

Music can bring together sweet fellowship or cause a church to split.  It can bring a sweet savor to the Lord, or be spewn from His lips.  It is a form of worship, a form of entertainment, and is not a neutral area by any means. 


Music has been used in worship for centuries.  The very first mention of music in the bible was not worship related (or at least not worship to God), but began the use of instruments.

"And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ." (Genesis 4:21)

The first mention of music in the form of worship comes in Exodus 15:1-21.

"Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously:  the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. (2) The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation:  he is my God, and I will prepare him a habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.  (3)The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his  name. (4) Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea.  (5)  The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. (6) Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power; thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.  (7) And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee; thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble. (8) And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as a heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea. (9) The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.  (10) Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.  (11)  Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods?  Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? (12) Thou stretchedst ou thy right hand, the earth swallowed them. (13) Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.  (14) The people shall hear, and be afraid; sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina.  (15) Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. (16) Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased. (17) Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.  (18) The Lord shall reign for ever and ever. (19) For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea. (20) And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. (21) And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea."

The above scripture shows how Moses, Miriam, and others worshipped God after the parting of the Red Sea.  Notice in Moses' song how the words glorify God, repeat the good things God had done for the Hebrews, and goes over the many virtues and attributes of God. 

It's all about HIM!

King David was well known for creating and singing the Psalms, as well as inventing musical instruments to go along side the Psalms. 

"And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of musi9c of the Lord, which David the king had made to praise the Lord, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood." (II Chronicles 7:6)

"King David chose the Levites to supply musicians for the Holy Temple.  Out of the 30,000 who were employed at this time, the impressive number of 4,000 was selected for the musical service.

Years later, when King Solomon had finished all work for the temple and brought in all the things David his father  had dedicated, the priest and the congregation of Israel assembled before the ark, and the musical service was begun by the Levites. (I Chronicles 25:6-7; II Chronicles 5:12-14).  When the king and the people offered their sacrifices, the Levites began to play, 'and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood.'( II Chronicles 7:61)" (1)

Continue to notice how the music and singing was pointed upward, to God, rather than horizontal toward men.  The music and singing was not done for entertainment purposes, but to glorify God and worship Him. 

Moving on to the New Testament era, Ephesians and Colossians speaks of singing and speaking in psalms. 

"Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." (Ephesians 5:19)

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."  (Colossians 3:16)


Move forward a few more years, and we get to the music of the church today.  Some churches have stayed by the landmark of their music in worship, with the psalms and hymns singing towards the Lord.  Others have moved away from the psalms and hymns, moving toward the ways of the world.  Some churches stay with the simple hymns and psalms found in the old hymnals and the bible itself set to a melody.  Others have chosen to play hard rock, rap, use vain repeats in the lyrics, and entertain each other. 

"Congregational singing, next to Bible Teaching, is the best feature of a religious service, the most effective way to preach the Gospel.  A singing church is always well attended.  People love it.  A singing church and a teaching pulpit...It was the public singing of Luther's hymns that bore his preaching over central Europe, and shook the world into the Reformation.  It was singing that made the great Welsh revival.  Was there ever a revival without it?  The very best way now to rejuvenate dead churches would be to sing them into life. Its death of singing is the greatest lack in the average Sunday Morning Church Service.  There ought to be ten times as much as there is...Sing the same hymns often.  Only as they are sung often can the people become familiar with them.  It is the hymns that we know that are the ones we love.  And we never tire of the hymns that we love.  Never.  Sing the old hymns.  Sing them over and over.  A church that would do this would not have to beg people to come to church...  A congregation should be taught to memorize the hymns they sing most often, at least some of the verses.  They will sing better, and feel deeper the spirit and power of what they sing.  It will give power to the service.  Train children to sing hymns, and to memorize them.  It is the best religious education.  It will develop their spiritual growth, and tend to tie them to the church for life." (2) 

Music sways emotions.  There's no denying that.  When a congregation sings the old hymns and psalms, there is a mood of reverence and worship, singing praises and biblical doctrinal songs to the Lord.  Change the hymns and psalms and doctrinal songs to something more contemporary, such as singing "I will sing of your love forever" 18 times in a row, and the mood changes.    One pastor in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area went so far as to play AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" for their Resurrection Sunday service!  If you are familiar at all with AC/DC, the song glorifies going to hell.  Is this what God would want for His church--glorifying going to hell?

There is nothing wrong with enjoying contemporary music.  There is nothing wrong with entertainment.  Music comes in all types of styles, from blue grass gospel, southern, swing, jazz, contemporary, Latino, you name it.  We can glorify the Lord with our music, keeping the heart in worship going upward rather than horizontal for entertaining.  There IS a line that must be drawn when it comes to worship and music, where it separates the reverencing psalms and hymns from the heart from the entertaining, the house bands, the rock concerts on stage inside the church.  Worship goes up to the Lord.  Entertainment feeds the flesh, draws the crowds in to the church, and goes horizontal-man to man-instead of upward to Him.  One could do a bluegrass gospel concert on the same platform as a big name contemporary band, and neither one would be giving worship upward if the goal is entertaining the crowd instead of giving glory to God.  The same works on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night when we meet to worship--regardless of the style we sing, if it's feeding our flesh and not showing reverence to God, it's not what God wants. 

We need to be more reverent in how we worship our Lord.  He doesn't want the top 40 songs off the radio entertaining and rocking out the church to attract in the world.  He doesn't want HIS church acting like the world.  He wants us to abide by His Word, regardless of our feelings.  If it means we must set aside our own desires and submit to His Word, then so be it. 

Many of the churches now don't bother to use the hymnals.  In times past, each family purchased their own and took it to worship services each week.  There are a few churches left that use the hymnals, and they are a blessing.  So many people today don't even know what a hymn is, have never heard them, have not had opportunity to hear the upward praises, the passion, the doctrinal lessons, all within the songs.  They never grow old, just as God's word never grows old.  Maybe that's why the bible tells us to sing hymns and psalms.  They never wax old. 

Has your church moved the landmark in music during worship? 





Bibliography
Scripture from KJV
(1)  Compact Bible Dictionary:  Regency:  Zondervan 1967
(2)  Halley's Bible Handbook, Zondervan, 1927, 1965.