Just a Quick Thought on the Senatorial Election in Massachusetts

I think it’s pretty interesting to see that Massachusetts elected a Republican senator yesterday. And he beat Martha Coakley to take the seat that Ted Kennedy held. Scott Brown is the first Republican they’ve elected for that office since 1972. Hmm.

All I can say is the Republicans better not think for one minute that this means people are not happy with Democrats and for that reason, they will now vote for Republicans. A lot of folks are not happy with either party. A lame duck president in this case would be good. If we had a Republican majority and a Republican President who were not listening to the citizens, I’d still want a lame duck!

What they need to understand in Washington is not that we prefer either one of those two parties. We want people who have liberty and freedom in mind. We want Senators, Representatives and a President who understand the Constitution. I prefer Libertarian candidates but will vote for others if they measure up. This fall I’ll take it race by race when I look at the ballot. I will not vote for any candidate who does not have my understanding of freedom, civil liberties, a government that is bound by the Constitution, and a foreign policy that doesn’t look like we are trying to run the world. There is no such thing as “the lesser of two evils.”

Plants, Hummingbird, and Frozen Pipes

The South froze. Leaves on some plants that stay green all year are dark green and drooping. One of our cactus plants looks OK, another looks iffy, and the third…Well, yesterday it was about 8 ft. tall, and today it’s about 7 ft. tall. The paddles are all flopped over. We may have lost the satsuma tree, but won’t know for sure till this is over. We tried to insulate the bottom of the trunk. We piled up dirt, leaves, newspaper, more dirt, more leaves and wrapped the whole tree in a blanket but it still might not make it. It’s a young tree with a thin trunk. The county ag man told us to put dirt if we had it, and leaves if not,  around it and make sure it covers the graft near the bottom of the trunk. He also said that some fruit trees aren’t going to make it through these temps in the 20s. He looked really funny when I told him that other than that tree, and bringing in a few potted plants, whatever makes it makes it, and whatever doesn’t, just won’t. We’ll see how that works out.

The Buff-bellied hummingbird is still here. His food was frozen this morning so I fixed up some more for him. It was about time to change it anyway. In winter, it should be changed about every six days. Since we will hit 20 F. again tonight I’ll have to bring the feeder in when it gets dark and put it back out at daybreak tomorrow so he will have some breakfast that he can drink. Instead of one cup of water and 1/4 cup of sugar, I’m using one cup of water and 1/3 cup of sugar and then about a spoon more of sugar. I want him to have extra calories to help him keep warm. I sure wonder where he’s sleeping at night? My husband wanted to let him in the house yesterday evening, but couldn’t figure out how to manage that. Plus, we’d have to hide him from the cat. We start thinking crazy in the South when it gets cold, don’t we?

Some of our pipes froze, but later thawed out. However, my neighbor was outside working on some things in his yard and he came over and told me I had a busted pipe while ago. We looked and it’s broken just above the ground. It’s at the outside edge of the house, so it won’t be hard to fix. Don’t know what will happen when we turn the water back on though because there is another pipe that was still frozen when my neighbor turned the water off for me. Husband will be home from work early today. Hope he’s ready to go to the hardware store.

We have a couple more nights of this. The weather man says it will be up around 60 degrees next week. We never get a chance to adjust to the weather before it changes again. Another thing the weather man said is that this is not the last of the really cold weather we can expect this year. A friend of mine says even Al Gore is shivering right now. That makes me smile.

Thinking While Listening to a Sermon

I listened to a sermon online (video streamed live) this morning that had me wondering if the folks in the congregation were really paying attention. Did they see any problems? I sure did.

Before the sermon, the pastor’s wife came up to the front to say a bit about the Bible.  (When she was walking up to the platform, her husband said she was a “foxy angel” which made me wonder what he was thinking about, and what he wanted the other men to be thinking about. It was a distracting comment at the very least.) She said reading the Bible every day is very important, and told the congregation she wanted the whole church to read a particular one together this year, and told them where they could get one and what it would cost. The reading schedule will be online for those who may go off on a trip and forget to bring it with them. OK. So, she established that it’s important that everyone read their Bibles, and some of them will be reading together.

Then came the sermon. The pastor preached from notes on an electronic gadget that he carried around as he paced the floor in front of his plexiglass pulpit. The idea is to be more friendly-not him up there and the people down here. That’s what happens when we forget that it’s not the preacher who is being elevated and shown respect by the higher platform and the pulpit. Those things are to call attention to the importance of the Word of God, which is to be taught from during a sermon. But, if the pastor isn’t going to even read scripture, why not have a plexiglass pulpit, and don’t stand behind it but walk and talk instead?

This guy was getting his instructions for the church-he called it marching orders-from Israel about to enter the Promised Land. I guess if you’ve been there, you see where this is headed. If the church does what they ought to be doing, they will have the Victorious Life, the Promised Land, right here and now and in its fullness. The Kingdom will have arrived in its totality by their correct actions. I think since it’s a new year, this is a new opportunity to overcome whatever is holding everyone back. That seems to be what he was saying.

It’s hard to look at this and not be scrambled with it because it was scrambled to begin with, so please cut me a bit of slack here. I’m going to try to take a few points he made and tell you what I think.

He said the cross is the main message. He also said they are to be a church that is all about the presence of God because that is what changes people. I don’t recall the Apostle Paul traveling around spreading the gospel of the presence of God. He talked about Christ crucified, buried and resurrected. So…if the cross is the main message…?

He told them if the devil tries to make them look back at their sin, this is what to do. He told them to all get out their cell phones. He picked his up (told them he has an iPhone, and if they don’t, he’s sorry) and he said go to today’s date on the calendar. He told them to put “Starting Now” on  today’s date. That way when the devil tries to harass them about previous sin, or they are bothered by memories of sin, they can go look at their cell phone and see what they wrote on January 3. If the cross is the main message, then why not handle this situation in light of that? If the devil points his bony finger at me, I can point to what the Word Who became flesh did on the cross. Not at some words I wrote on my cell phone calendar. The devil can’t argue with history made by Jesus, whereas he can go round and round with us. I can do the same-look at the cross-no more beating up myself.

One time he said a scripture was in a certain book, chapter and verse, didn’t have time to read it, look it up yourself later. It was two verses. I thought,  “Didn’t his wife just say the Bible is important, but what he has to say is more important than two verses of what God has to say?” Then later, he referenced 5 verses in another book, which he also didn’t read. Later, he actually read ONE verse in Hebrews. Then, he said this verse is talking about salvation, but he’s going to apply it in a practical way. Where is the reverence for what GOD has to say in His word? He took it and made it into something else about new ways of living. It’s all by a person’s own efforts. And who said salvation isn’t practical?

He talked about cutting off sin, as was symbolically done by circumcision. He named sins and said we need to cut off this and we need to cut off that. Where is the work of the Holy Spirit? He’s the one who sanctifies us and gives us the grace to be changed.

At one point, I didn’t know what on earth he was talking about. He said there is a difference in failing forward and failing backward. We ought to fail forward, he says. To fail backward is not to try any more. He asked if they had ever done something and had it blow up in their faces, and then back off and say they aren’t going to do that again. He said that was to fail backward. He said it ought to be a learning experience, but still sounded like whatever blew up should be attempted again. And I never knew what sort of thing he was referring to.

OH-and another thing. He said they are to be prophetic. How do you do that? You listen to the Holy Spirit and never do anything that the Spirit doesn’t plainly tell you to do. When you do that you go from success to success. I forgot the word he used, but I think that’s what he meant. He explained that being prophetic means going into the restaurant and seeing someone and knowing their need and meeting that need. I think he means-because I’ve been there-that if someone needs to be healed of something, the Holy Spirit will tell the Christian, who is then supposed to go up to the person, tell them they have such-and-such ailment, and tell them to be healed in Jesus’ name or pray for them to be healed.  This turns the church into a bunch of apostles. The Bible doesn’t teach this, and I don’t know of a single time in history that the church has ‘risen to such heights’, which I know is how that is viewed. Rising higher, always higher. Not realizing that Jesus was the One who was lifted up on the cross. No one gets any higher than that and no message is more practical than the cross.

Well, there was more, but I’m going to stop right here.  I’ll just say this: I had years of this type of thing. I also had years of Jesus as Life Coach and Jesus as Therapist. Weeks and months and years of ‘How To’ sermons. How to have a happy marriage, raise kids, manage money, win at life, etc. This is all law and no gospel. Over time, I became more and more dissatisfied. I began to wonder when I would ever hear a sermon on the cross. The cross is law and grace together. I hope fellow Christians-or even the pastor-at this church will become dissatisfied and want the Word of God and the presence of God to be truly handled with reverence and care. I hope they will begin to wonder when they will hear a sermon on the cross.

Goldfinches are Here

I live about 20-25 miles inland in Southeast Texas and we are seeing the first goldfinches at our feeders today. We have a friend a bit north of us who has been seeing them the past several days. She saw them in the trees for a few days before they decided to come down and eat her bird groceries.

We did some bird watching from our windows this morning. Here is what we saw: 2 Yellow-rumped warblers, Orange-crowned warbler, a Red-bellied woodpecker, 2 Northern Yellow-shafted flickers. All those guys and gals were in trees. At the feeders we had a White-throated sparrow (he was on the ground near the feeders; he generally won’t get up on them, but with birds, never say never), lots of House sparrows, Carolina chickadees, Tufted-titmice, Cardinals, Mourning doves, and our rarely-seen-in-these-parts Buff-bellied humming bird. This morning the humming bird sat on a branch outside the kitchen window and talked to us in his little staccato bird language. It was a different pitch than Morse code, but that’s what it reminded me of. My friend videoed him and we hope it picked up the sound. As cold as it was, we had the window raised.

I just love being able to see all these fine birds while looking out my windows as I watch the frost melt and enjoy my hot coffee. I hope you are having some good birding experiences, too.