Monday, January 11, 2010

Facebook

I love FB- it has helped me to reconnect to a bunch of friends and connect to a few new ones. Right now I have 415 friends. I have friends from my home town, college days and ministry friends. I also have friends who have kids with vision/health problems like my Sam. It's so neat to be able to connect with these folks by FB:)

On the left of everyone's FB page is a section called friends, it tells how many you have and shows a random selection of six of them. Right now on my Fb page I have some heros...One is a mother of multiples, the next is a youth pastor who just lost her baby girl, the next one is a mom to 10 international adopted kids as well as 4 biological and is a breast cancer survivor. The next picture is an Assembly of God missionary/teacher who is awesome. He just lost his mom in a car accident. The next is a pastor who has his 2 beautiful adopted daughters from China as his picture.. WOW what stories these folks have to tell of the faithfulness of God!! I love looking at my friend's pictures. Sometimes I whisper a prayer for them, sometimes I laugh (LOL) and think of a crazy story about them....It's great to connect with people.

For the first time I learned of a friend's death on FB. A man my age who I'd gone to SEC with years ago. Friends were able to write things on his wall and thank him for being their friend. Without FB, I wouldn't have reconnected with him. He lived in another state and we'd lost touch. As it was, I actually had a "chat" with him on FB a few months ago and I could tell he was still faithful to God.

I've also had a SEC reunion at my church last August that happened following our church bi-annual meeting. Lots of our friends were still down in Florida and were able to come and see each other. This weekend I'm meeting with a group of Lakeland friends to go out to eat with a friend from up north who is coming down to Florida for a visit. That wouldn't have happened without FB.

Last week while we were in Palm Beach we reconnected with a couple who pastored in my town while I was growing up, again without FB it wouldn't have happened!

So I think Fb and the other ways folks connect, Twitter, MySpace, IM, texting are great ways to stay in touch!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Reflections...

Sometimes I wonder about myself. Everything is so complicated to me. I have to take everything apart and examine it. there are MANY times when I wish I was a simpler person. I'm not saying I'm some huge intellect and so much smarter than everyone else...I just have to anazlye EVERYTHING! Especially if it's a spiritual matter. Being raised in a very legalistic setting always made me ask "WHY?" whether it was to a family member, a Sunday school teacher or just in my head.

I have many friends who have never wrestled with spiritual issues like I have. They are able to accept things without questions or doubts...I can't even imagine! I wrestle constantly. Not about sin issues, to me that's pretty cut and dried (except for the lottery...DON'T ASK!) I don't really struggle with whether God is real or not. I believe He is real. What I struggle with is more how involved He is in our day to day lives and doctrinal issues. Being raised Pentecostal all my life, I can tell you some crazy stories....I could write a book about odd people and things that I've experienced and seen. What I find I have to do is to separate man and man's ways/thoughts from God.

It always scares me when someone is so dogmatic that they think if it's not the exact way they believe, then you are wrong. I'm not really talking about major doctrinal stuff or what we'd called "the essentials of salvation". In our denomination we had what we call the 16 fundamental truths.... I highlighted the four that are designated as our 'core values" or what makes the Assembly of God unique

Our Beliefs


Our 16 Fundamental Truths


1. We Believe .... The Scriptures are inspired by God and declare His design and plan for mankind.

2. We Believe .... There is only One True God-revealed in three persons ... Father, Son,and Holy Spirit ( commonly known as the Trinity ).

3. We Believe .... In the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. As God's son Jesus was both human and Divine.

4. We Believe .... though originally good , Man Willingly Feel to Sin - ushering evil and death,both physical and spiritual, into the world.

5. We Believe .... Every Person Can Have Restored Fellowship with God Through 'Salvation'(accepting Christ's offer of forgiveness for sin).

6. We Believe .... and practice two ordinances-(1) Water Baptism by immersion after repenting of one's sins and receiving Christ's gift of salvation, and (2) Holy Communion (the Lord's supper) as a symbolic remembrance of Christ's suffering and death for our salvation.

7. We Believe .... the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a Special Experience Following Salvation that empowers believers for witnessing and effective service, just as it did in New Testament times.

8. We Believe .... The initial Physical Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is 'Speaking in Tongues,' as experienced on the Day of Pentecost and referenced throughout Acts and the Epistles.

9. We Believe .... Sanctification Initially Occurs at Salvation and is not only a declaration that a believer is holy, but also a progressive lifelong process of separating from evil as believers continually draw closer to God and become more Chrislike.

10. We Believe .... The Church has a Mission to seek and save all who are lost in sin. We believe ' the Church' is the Body of Christ and consists of the people who, though out time, have accepted God's offer of redemption (regardless of religious denomination ) through the sacrificial death of His Son Jesus Christ.

11. We Believe .... A Divinely Called and Scriturally Ordained Leadership Ministry Serves the Church.The Bible teaches us each of us under leadership must commit ourselves to reach others for Christ, to worship Him with other believers , and to build up or edify the body of believers- the Church.

12. We Believe .... Divine Healing of the Sick is a privilege for Christians Today and is provided for in Christ's atonement ( His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins ).

13. We Believe .... in The Blessed Hope - When Jesus Raptures His Church Prior to His Return to Earth ( the second coming ). At this future moment in time all believers who died will rise from their graves and will meet
the Lord in the air , and Christians who are alive will be caught up with them , to be with the Lord forever.

14. We Believe .... in The Millennial Reign of Christ when Jesus returns with His Saints at His second coming and begins His benevolent rule over earth for 1,000 years. This will bring the salvation of national Israel and the establishment of universal peace .

15. We Believe .... A Final judgement Will Take Place for those who have rejected Christ. They will be judged for their sin and consigned to eternal punishment in a punishing lake of fire.

16. We Believe .... and look forward to the perfect New Heaven and a New Earth that Christ is preparing for all people , of all time, who have accepted Him. We will live and dwell with Him there forever following His millennial reign on Earth.' And so shall we forever be with the Lord!'

I personally struggle with #12-Divine Healing being provided for in the Atonement. I believe that through Jesus' death, there can be physical healing and I'm glad about the wording, that it is provided for not that it is a given. There are so many folks who feel like if they say the right formula or do enough works, God will HAVE to heal them. I could go on a long discourse here but basically I feel that if you take the whole Bible in context, it is easy to see that not everyone gets healed, there is a "sickness unto death". so many times in my theological circle healing is something that is always expected rather than "God your will be done" Of course our will would be for someone to always be healed. I hate to see someone suffer or families be parted by death, it breaks my heart. But God knows our days and if we trust Him, can we be any safer?

So anyhow other than my ongoing discourse on healing, I can accept these basic Christian doctrines... (And my husband is so thankful...)


I struggle more with how I'm expected to act/react to things. I have a hard time showing emotions in public. I've never been one of thoses"free" worshippers , never felt comfortable praying out loud in front of folks, never gone off in tongues in front of people. In other words, I'm very odd for a pentcostal preacher's wife. I don't have a problem with othr people feeling free unless they get werid but I'm just not like that. So I wonder at times, am I wrong for being like this? Does God want me to go against my personality? I heard someone say once time that if you're a person who doesn't yell at football games, why should you yell at church but if you can yell at football gaemes you should be able to yell at church...well I can promise you I've never yelled at a football game. That is just not me....

I can freely share my faith with someone, I'm actually pretty bold about that. But I don't like praying out loud for a person. If someone tells me their problem, I'll tell them I'll pray for them and I will-but in private...

I never can pop out "christian jargon" You know, "How are you? I'm blessed and highly favored by the Lord" Just recently a lady said something along those lines to me and expected me to respond, well I did but not in the ways she expected me to. I told her I didn't talk like that. Then she acted dumb and asked what I meant so I told her..let's just say I'm probably not high on her list of perfect pastor's wives:)

And then when I hear people preaching, I look for TRUTH in it. Not emotionalism, not Christian jargon but real truth. and it really bothers me when someone is fake and works on the congregation's emotions. Recently I was in a service and there was some of that. I turned off immediately. The preacher made a remark like "You may not like what I'm preaching" well I didn't, it was NOTHING based on the Bible just the speaker's opinions. But I was probably one of the few in the service that felt that way. So am I out of focus or does the whole Pentecostal/Charmatic movement need to become more sound and more truthful? I don't like when I feel like or actually know that someone is probably "stretching the truth" in sharing a story to make a point. I also dislike when I feel someone is preaching their opinion-not scripture and they make such a strong case for what they are saying, it sounds "spiritual" but it's not based on scripture.

I just bought a great book by Margret Redgister, a former missionary to South America called "No Place for Plastic Christians " or something like that...I've just devoured it. It's funny but it's also very self searching. As a missionary she really had to understand what was cultural Chrisitaniy and what was real Christianity.

I think that's what I'm trying to discern...what is cultural and what is what God really expects. If I act a certain way, I may please man but does it necessarily please God? There is nothing wrong with boundaries, or disciplines (like going to church regularly-paying tithes) but when is the line crossed. Maybe no one but me cares about all of this, but I have so many different feelings about these matters.

Songs, I even have a problem with some songs and I will not sing them. If I feel a song is scripturally wrong, I'm not gonna sing it. I feel uncomfortable with some of the newer Christian worship songs which almost sound like love songs. "I'm so in love with Jesus". Ok I'm sorry but the term "in love " means to me a romantic relationship and I do NOT have that kind of relationship with God!! I know the Bible does have some scripture that says we are the bride of Christ(NT), and that God is our husband (OT)and then you've got the Song of Solomon...but for me...I just can't even go there...It's just weird to me. Since Christianity has gotten by for 2,000 years with no songs like that, I think I'm not gonna go to hell for not singing songs that I could sing to my boyfriend...Does anyone else out there relate to me????? Do any of you guys remember back in the 80's the newest Christian phrase ws "Make Love to Jesus"? Ok that totally grossed me out. I went to a church where the minister would use that term occasionally. Other than that he was a normal guy but I thought that was so disrespectful and stupid...And I feel the same about these songs, they are disrespectful to the God of this universe to bring the relationship down to human level like that.

So these are the thougths that roll around in my head. I actually personally am very comfortable with who I am before God, it's who I am before people that is hard for me. I feel judged and found lacking by others at times. Oh I've been in church all my life I could hop up with the best of them, spout off a few "Glory's" and play act but I feel a bigger responsibility to God to be real. But then the flip side as a leader, in a Pentcostal church, should I not be more outgoing? I actually talked with a pastor's wife recently that I really respect about this. She seems ike she has a good balence in her life and she encouraged me to be more open in my responses so that I'd encourage others to be open too. I rarely ask for advice but I felt very drawn to her to discuss this with her and I felt safe with her. I have a lot of trust issues...(obviously this blog helps me to get my feelings out-I think I'm being more honest than ever the more I blog. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing...You don't have to read it fi you don't want to....)

Sometimes, I am just overwhelmed by the presence of God and the thought that the very Creator of this universe loves me and provided a way of escape for me. I'm overwhelmed by the goodness of God's presence in my life and how He walks with me and sustains me. I can look back and almost literally see the hand of God holding me as I've gone through the struggles of life. The night we were told that Sam was blind, the day I ws told that he had brain damage...his 30 minute seizure when I thougth he was gonna die...those memories are cloaked with the presence of God. I can so clearly remember God speaking to my heart about my future when I was a teenager in Perry, standing by my mailbox. I can remember hearing God's voice in my heart telling me I'd have a son named Samuel and he'd change my life. I see how God has directed my life's journey....and I never want to cheapen who God is. I don't take all that lightly, it's very real and precious to me.

I've seen alot of legalisms when it come to worship or how someone praises God. I can remember being in a relationship with a guy during Bible college, and it was not the most godly relationship but he focused on how I worshipped. I told him point blank, I thought God was more concerned where he put his hands on me after church, than whether I was raising mine in church!!! Honey that's LEGALISM!

So many times I feel that the Pentecostals/Charmatics cheapen who God is! One time on FB I saw a STATUS that a minister had written "Attempt something supernatural today" I don't usually read all the comments under people's status' but the one that was right under his status read something along the lines of "I started speaking in tongues when my dogs were fighting and they stopped" I have to admit, I saw RED! I went off on the lady about how stupid and sacrilegious that statement was, to play around with the power of God. I really felt that her statement cheapen the things of God. We Pentecostal/Charismatic would do well to take a lesson from how the Jewish people reverence God and the things of God, they may be extremists on one side, but we are on the other!! I ended up getting in to a lenghty discourse with her and with the minister.

So these are my thoughts...just curous am I the only one who thinks like this???

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Trips


I've been reading lots of blogs lately and I think mine must be boring! I never get any comments no matter how controversial I am! I'm gonna have to blog more and be more interesting I guess:)

Good trip to Palm Beach all is well with Sam's eyes for now. We found a good hotel Hampton Inn and Suites near the hospital. We like Hamptons. We also went out to Cracker Barrel with James and Lola Brewer. They pastored in Perry when I was a little girl. It was so neat to see them again! On the way home we stopped at Lake Okeechobee- OMG was it cold!!!! The wind was blowing so hard, I could hardly breathe. We then ate a the Golden Corral in Okeechobee. Sam ate a whole chicken leg:)

So tomorrow I'm off to a Pastor's Wives Retreat. I'm sure it will be fun but I hate leaving my kids. If I'm somewheres without them I feel lost and unsure of myself. Ok I can't believe I just admitted that but I'm so used to be a mom....I'm not big on women's events...Women are kinda scary! I'm so much better with guys than women! However the Assemblies of God don't let the women go to the men's conferences:) In a group of women, I always feel like I'm not cool (unless there are my close friends) No one makes me feel that way, it's just how I am. Now I fine with men, I can talk...but with ladies...it's different! Is that weird or what? I think with women, I never feel cute or cool enough. Plus I'm very opinionated and around "church women" well, let's just say ...I am a bit different than they are. I guess my life experience have truly set me apart. The paperwork asked who did I want to share a room with...I can't imagine sharing a room with someone-this is like going to camp for me although it's at a resort. I'm not a room sharing kinda of person!!! But I did ask for someone who is not very spiritual and who likes the room COLD! I think our district women's rep will laugh at my request. She is the ONLY reason I'm going. I like Marsha and she is not too spiritual (I mean that in a good way- Marsha if your read this!) So hopefully it will be fun, they do have a lots of services planned but I'm hoping they aren't like church services...Lord knows I go to church enough...I want a radical kind of retreat...just relaxing!! I've threatened to take my murder mysteries and plead a headache but knowing me I'll get a real one!

Anyhow I'm looking forward and dreading it at the same time...what a weirdo I am!

Is this the worse picture ever taken of me or what????

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sam's caringbridge site

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/samclanton


Come read about Sam and our journey with him!

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year New Decade....

2010...

WOW can't believe we are starting a new decade! I remember New Year's Eve 1999. We had a big Y2K party at Dan and Charlene's home. Some of my closest SEC friends were there along with my bro in law and family...All the children were so young, I'm not even sure if anyone was yet school age. We watched the ball drop and waited for the lights to go off:) I video taped that moment as we began a new century. There was a beautiful song playing in the background as I scanned all the kids, especially my Steve, and I wondered what the new century would bring to us, to them. Now 10 years into it, all those children are now teenagers and some new ones have been added. Dan and Charlene have moved to New York to start a church and our life has changed rather dramatically too! Life changes....

Last night Jon and I actually went to bed at 11pm! We just couldn't stay up any longer since we had gotten up early that morning. I didn't even hear the fireworks at midnight cause I was sawing logs:) We did do some fireworks earlier and almost scared our dogs to death. Our big outside Lab was so upset we let her sleep in the laundry room since we were afraid that if any neighbors shot off fireworks she might run out into the woods.

Yesterday I was thinking how this coming decade will change out lives. By 2020, Steve will be 24 years old and hopefully graduated from college, who knows he may be married...Shad and Sam will be 16 years old...It's sad to think of them growing up and moving on...

The future is scary...wow the worries can overwhelm at times...what will happen globally with the economics, terrorism, politically....Personally the future is scary also...worries about Sam's health and how to parent an older child with disabilities (I just hope by 2020 Sam will quit trying to take his clothes off in public:O ) worries about our other two boys, health safety...

I'm glad we can depend on God to get us through WHATEVER the future holds whether it is good or bad...I used to be more optimistic about life and the future. Now I'm more realistic but I know through it all God is in control!