Thursday, December 21, 2006

October 1986 -- The List (Part Nine)

This is the key to this whole story, and I almost forgot to put it in!

If you have been following the story of my courtship and marriage, you may remember the list I compiled, mentioned in this post. This was a list of characteristics I wanted in a husband. I made the list the summer before Tom and I got together, put it away in a box, and eventually forgot about it.

Once Tom and I set the date for our marriage, I began to sort all my stuff, packing what I needed to ship to Georgia (where Tom had already gone to prepare a home for us), and packing what I didn't need to leave with my parents. As I was sorting through one box, I came across the list. I read through it and was absolutely astounded that God had given me every single characteristic I asked for, in Tom! Even the frivolous ones that my dad said shouldn't matter. I wish I had that list now. I have no idea what happened to it, but here are the ones I can remember (I think originally there were seven):

1. He must be a Christian.
2. He must be a Calvinistic Baptist.
3. He must be a pastor.
4. He must have brown, curly hair.
5. He must have blue eyes.

Now, a word about Number Three:

Tom really didn't know about being a pastor. He was a bit reluctant to seriously consider this as a career choice, so I was taking this by faith.

You may remember that God had made it plain to Tom that He wanted Tom to do a certain thing, and Tom said no. It was at this point that Tom says the lights went out and he was plunged into spiritual darkness until he said yes and obeyed the Lord. What was it God wanted Tom to do? I know you're curious, and since it has everything to do with this story, I'll tell you.

God wanted Tom to go to Georgia and attend what was then Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church. (It is now Peachtree Baptist Church.) They have a college and seminary there, and we planned for Tom to start classes there. By this time, Tom had no problem attending Mt. Pisgah, but he continued to wrestle with the idea of taking classes. Since he had run his own bookstore, he had read a lot, and was mostly self-taught in matters of theology. We began to realize that Tom had practically all the book learning he needed; what he lacked was practice, and experience with a biblically functioning local church.

In Georgia, we learned how a local church should function. (To this day we hold Peachtree Baptist up as an example of how a church should function, and recommend their college/seminary to every young person who asks our opinion--and to some who don't ;) .) We spent five years there, during which time Tom preached in the jails, in the nursing home, and in chapel services at the Christian day school. He also taught high school math and science in the school, and learned definitely that teaching math and science was NOT what he was to do. Sometimes he also taught the adult Sunday school class.

By the time we left Georgia, we had developed a burden for church planting, and were ready to head for Canada to work with Native Peoples. The Lord had a round-about way of getting us to Canada, however. First we went to Ohio to work with Tom's home church. That did not go well, so we moved to Texas. From there we were sent to New York state, where we tried to start a church. This door did not open up for us, though we tried to keep at it, praying all the while for God to give us direction. In answer, God used a can of beer in a Walmart parking lot to lead us to the church where we now are, in Canada. (We are not specifically working with Native Peoples, but there is a reservation nearby, for which we are praying.)

On September 3, 2000, Tom preached his first sermon as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, thus fulfilling Number Three on my list.

"The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad" (Psalm 126:3).

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Our mystery Christmas visitor strikes again

Every year since we've been in Canada, a mysterious somebody has left us a gift. The card is never signed except for some expressions of love and appreciation. There is always candy for the children (conveniently packaged so that Tom and I get some, too ;) ), and a generous collection of $20s.

This morning when I opened the door to let the cat out, there was the bag on the front porch. Same goodies, same handwriting on the card. May God bless the giver, who has learned that "it is better to give than to receive," and who probably doesn't even want our thanks. They have our thanks anyway.

I love to be an anonymous giver. It is really fun to give somebody something, without them knowing where it came from. If you've never done it yourself, I suggest you try it. It's a lot of fun for both parties, but I think the giver has the most fun.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pictures of us, 20 years ago (Part Eight)

This is Tom and me in my grandma's apartment, probably sometime in July, 1986. My dad was candidating at a church nearby, and we went along for the ride. At that church there was a little girl named Abby, who called us "the twenty-year-old woman and the thirty-year-old man."

We were married Thanks- giving Day, 1986, at home. My parents were scheduled to move over Christmas that same year, so we were not able to have a church wedding. I didn't really care; a marriage is more important than a wedding, anyway.

Pictured with us are (left to right) my Grandma Rudisill (Dad's mom), my Grandma Caulk (Mom's mom), and Tom's mother, Marie. By coincidence they all wore blue dresses, which looked really nice.

I'd like to know who started this custom, and why! Here we bow to tradition, and feed each other cake. However, we did NOT smear it on each other, like my brother did at his wedding.

My mom made the cakes. We also had turkey casserole and cranberry salad, since it was Thanksgiving. I don't remember if we had pumpkin pie, but we did get a couple of pecan pies as a gift from a lady in my church.

Notice Tom's suit jacket. It's the same one he wore for his high school graduation pictures, 10 years before our wedding! I made my dress, and my mom made my veil.

Hopefully I'll have more pictures soon, along with a post about my thoughts on courtship, dating, and matchmaking. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The beginning

Today is the start of one MAJOR project. Can't tell what it is yet, but will let you know all about it when it's done. I would have marked the calendar, but all the 2006 calendars are about to be thrown away. I will give you a hint: it has to do with clutter. No, I did NOT just now give it away. You will have to check back later to see what this is all about.

"Cleanliness is next to godliness" is NOT a quote from the Bible, but I wonder if you can find a verse that sort of means that, and in more ways than one.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Daddy, dip your finger in the water

I hesitated somewhat to post this, but decided to go ahead. This is a sad and sobering post. It is also a request for prayer.

Today my husband will bury another of his brothers. This brother died in his sins. Oh Lord! When will the plague of death be stayed for this family? How long before You turn from Your fierce anger and save members of Tom's family? O Lord, in wrath remember mercy! There are five brothers left, along with their families. Please pray that God will have mercy. Pray for Holy Spirit conviction of sin. Out of all Tom's large family, he is the only one who is saved. He has already lost his father, his only sister and another brother to the judgment of God. We believe his mother is with the Lord, and possibly his step-dad.

Tom's step-dad was raised in a Presbyterian home, with a godly mother who took him faithfully to church every Sunday. I don't know why or how, but he turned away from all that. Tom was about ten or so when Pop married Tom's mother. He was totally antagonistic toward anything to do with religion in any way. After Tom was converted, he refused to allow Tom to read the Bible to him, or to pray with him. Just before he died we think God had mercy and saved him. Tom read to him from the book of John and prayed with him as he lay on his deathbed, and for the first time he wanted to hear the Scriptures read. Later a Christian nurse told how she had talked with him about the Lord, and had prayed with him. She said he also prayed that God would save him. That is our hope.

However, Pop died without ever saying anything to his children about the Lord. The title for this post is a line from a song I once heard on the radio. The song tells the story of a man who is sleeping, and dreams that his child is calling for a drink of water. As he goes to give his child a drink, he realizes that his child is calling to him from the place of torment, asking his father to dip his finger in some water to cool his tongue. I first heard that song during the week that Pop lay dying of cancer. I couldn't help but think of all the knowledge this man had about the Lord and the way of salvation, that he deliberately withheld from his children.

Pray for Tom today, and in the weeks to come, but especially today, that he might be able to speak to his family of the hope that lies within him. Oh, that God would have mercy on this family!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

August 1986 -- "We were like them that dream" (Part Seven)

The Announcement was made one night during the August conference at Maranatha. My dad stood on a chair in the fellowship hall after the service, raised his hands, and in a loud voice said, "May I have your attention please?"

Normally, when my dad says that, everyone gets quiet and waits for some important announcement. Then, when everyone's looking at him, my dad will say, "Thank you. I just love attention." And then he will get off the chair and go back to whatever he was doing before. You have to know my dad. He is never annoying or egotistical. Things like that usually only make him more lovable.

This time, though, he said, "Someone else wants your attention." He then looked at us, expecting Tom to explain. Tom was not really prepared for this, but he managed to make The Announcement. We got a lot of applause, congrats, hugs, well-wishes, that kind of thing. And a bit of ribbing and teasing, too.

Later, though, some people suggested to my mom that wasn't this a bit sudden? Didn't we need time to get to know each other better? My mom just quietly referred them to Isaac and Rebekah, who had never even seen each other until the day they married. Rebekah Walker's dad, Pat Horner, puts it this way:

Short thoughts on courtship and long does "courtship" last?

Taken from the biblical account of Isaac and Rebekah--

1. Help her get off the camel.

2. Say I do.

3. Take her into the tent.

Is it the Lord's will for me to be with this person? If the answer is yes, then marry them already!!!

Our thoughts, exactly. Tom observed that we had a lifetime to "get to know each other." We knew enough to get married on; the rest would come later.

In the very first post of this series, I quoted Psalm 126. The first verse says, "When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream." In a later post, I noted the spiritual depression Tom went through, which was a direct result of his saying NO to God. He says that when he said NO, all the lights went out. After he said YES, all the lights came back on, and the very first blessing God gave him was me (see Proverbs 18:22). After years of praying for a wife, God granted his request as Tom yielded to His will. God had turned the captivity back in Tom's life, opening up a whole new life of blessing.

For me, the "captivity" was singleness. A fellow college student had told me that before God would give me a husband, I would have to be willing to be single, perhaps for life. But I just couldn't accept that. I was definitely NOT willing to be single the rest of my life! I struggled a lot then with what God might require of me. I had to learn the truth of Psalm 37:4, "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." I did not need to resign myself to a life of singleness in order to be "rewarded" with marriage. I only needed to have the Lord as my soul's delight. My primary focus had to be on Him, not on marriage. Once I stopped trying to "find someone" and learned to wait on God's timing, He gave me Tom.

to be continued. . .

Monday, December 11, 2006

July 1986 -- "You'd better take good care of her!" (Part Six)

For those of you who have been following this story, I apologize for taking so long to come back to it. My two oldest sons have taken over my computer. For you who are new, I suggest clicking "My courtship and marriage" on the sidebar to get the beginning of this story.

I came home from my aunt's house 100 per cent positive that my being with Tom was of the Lord, and I was ready to follow Tom's lead in how this "relationship" progressed. I put "relationship" in quotes partly because I don't really like that word (it implies more than friendship, but not necessarily long-term commitment). Also, words like "relationship" and "courtship" were not common buzzwords then. I didn't like calling Tom my "boyfriend" either, since that also did not suggest long-term commitment. So I just didn't bother with labels; instead, I concentrated on making sure I was ready for marriage, in case that's where this led (and I was pretty certain it would).

I started working at the camp, volunteering my time. I was able to be at all the camp services, and fellowship with people I'd known half my life. Since Tom was on vacation at the time, he came to stay at the camp, and we spent a lot of time together. It was at this time, I think, that I learned that Tom and I had played ping-pong the year before. I was shocked. I had absolutely no memory of it at all. They said I beat him soundly, and kept asking if Tom had gotten any practice since then, in order to beat me this year. Even Tom was teasing me about it! Apparently I was so adamantly opposed to the very idea of having anything to do with him that I completely blocked it out of my memory.

We became engaged one night during the second week of July, 1986. We were sitting on a bridge in the little village up from the camp, talking about this and that. Tom was silent for a few minutes, and I asked him what he was thinking. He said he was wondering if it was too premature to ask me to marry him! I told him I was willing, but he would have to ask my dad. We decided not to say anything to anyone until then. Meanwhile, we continued to get to know each other through conversation, studying Ephesians, and watching each other interact with others in different situations.

Tom and I met with my parents the next week, I think. The four of us sat together on the floor of my parents' large bedroom and talked things through. Tom had a lot of questions to answer, and we had details to work out. I think we talked for well over an hour. When we were finished, and had my parents' blessing, we went downstairs to tell my grandmother. She hugged us both, and with tears of happiness in her eyes, she wagged her finger at Tom and said,

"You'd better take good care of her!"

to be continued. . .

Sunday, December 10, 2006

From the Pastor's Desk--"One-Legged Missionary"

From today's bulletin:

A one-legged school teacher from Scotland came to J. Hudson Taylor to offer himself for service in China.

"With only one leg, why do you think of going as a missionary?" asked Taylor.

"I do not see those with two legs going," replied George Scott.

He was accepted.

This afternoon I did some internet research about George Scott. I came up with this interesting fact: Mr. Scott's first Chinese evangelist was paralyzed.

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Friday, December 08, 2006

A must-see video

My brother-in-Christ, Rand, just put this video on his blog. Now I'm putting it on mine. If you are an average North American teenager, watch this video. If you are the parent of an average North American teenager, watch this video with your teen. It is almost an hour long, so make sure you have time to watch this, giving it the attention it deserves.

Paul Washer preaching at a youth conference in Alabama, in 2002.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

From the Pastor's Desk--True Revival

from today's bulletin. . .

We hear much about revival these days, but the heart of revival is the Lordship of Christ. A mere emotional upheaval, a spurt of religious excitement, is not revival. When Christians become convicted of rebellion against the rule of Christ in their lives, confess their sins, renounce self, take the cross and let Jesus have the first and last word in everything, that is revival, by whatever name you call it.


Thursday, November 30, 2006

A crazy day

Another "Life at our house" post. This is a copy of what I wrote in an e-mail card to a few people today. It is short and terse because they would only let me have 500 characters. (Sometimes I feel like I actually have 500 characters living in this house! :) )

Cats belong outside. Cleaned up two dumps in my room. Kittens are outside. Sarah says they have worms. Josiah called the shelter. John went on a potty strike. Made my bed w/ clean sheets; John wet it. Timmy not happy. Laundry, laundry, laundry. [Insert name of a friend] called to say she has lice. Checked everyone's heads. All clean so far. Need to scrub floors. Never got school done today. My devotions this morning: This is the day which the LORD hath made: let us be glad and rejoice in it. Psalm 118:25

Previously, Sarah had adopted a stray pregnant cat. BIG time mistake. After blessing us with four kittens, she and they infested us with fleas. Then the kittens proved they had worms. Josiah did research and found that fleas are worm carriers, perpetuating their life cycle. The whole cat family was taken to the shelter; mama last week and kittens today. Practically the girls' whole bedroom was infested, and had to be thoroughly cleaned and fumigated. All the bedding, all Sarah's clothes (she found out the kittens had slept in her dresser drawers), all had to be washed and dried in the dryer to be sure the eggs were killed. I lost count of how many times we gave the kittens flea baths. And they would NOT use the litter box! We put them in; they ate the litter. Then made messes all over the house.

I had a sinking feeling when we found out about the lice. AND a feeling of HUGE relief to find we didn't have any!!!! I have had enough extra laundry for a while. Tomorrow we are going to scrub all the floors. All this is why the first thing I did when we got this house was to rip out all the carpet.

All the children have gone to bed. I am going to sit and crochet in peace so my mind can relax before I go to bed myself.

Really, I can laugh about this. A little. Maybe a chuckle or two. A sense of humor, after all, is mandatory at this house.



June 1986 -- First date and its aftermath (Part Five)

I was eating supper with my parents one Wednesday evening when the phone rang. Somehow I knew who it was, and thought it would be better if I answered it. I really can't remember much of the conversation (which lasted maybe ten minutes), but I distinctly remember the exchange between my parents:

Dad: "Who's she talking to?"

Mom: "I think it's Tom."

Dad: "What's he calling her for?"

What Mom's answer was, I can't remember. Tom asked me out for that Friday night, and we agreed not to tell Mr. Bill what we were doing, just to get back for all his pestering! That Friday we went to Dairy Queen. I got an Oreo blizzard, and he got a raspberry shake. I found out later that he's not really all that wild about ice cream, but we were pretty limited on restaurant choices since we didn't want a full meal.

Two things stand out in my memory:

1. I wanted to verify his age and tell him mine without actually coming right out and saying, "I'm 20. How old are you?" By this time I didn't care, but I wondered if he would.

2. While waiting in line for our order, I saw a woman who was part of the faculty at my high school. She said hi and glanced significantly at Tom. I said hi, but did not introduce Tom. I felt this was rather rude of me, but I didn't know what to say about him. He wasn't exactly my boyfriend, but if I said, "This is my friend, Tom," she would probably assume he was my boyfriend. So I just didn't say anything.

That night, I went to bed thinking, "I just went out with the man who will be my husband."

The next morning I listened to a tape with a song called, "Except the Lord build the house." Suddenly I wasn't so sure, and thought I had better make sure this thing was of the Lord. My mom had planned to have Tom over with Mr. Bill's family, for Sunday dinner. I really didn't know what to do or how to act. I started feeling pressured, and needed time and space to think.

My brother and his wife-to-be were in for a visit, so that took some of the attention off me. In church that morning, I managed to avoid Tom by surrounding myself with all my "little sisters"--a small group of young girls in our church who looked to me as sort of a mentor. I sat with them during the service, and spent extra time talking with them afterward.

At home it was harder. I decided the best course of action was to make myself undesirable and unavailable. I changed into an old pair of jeans, an old plaid shirt, and went barefoot. When our guests arrived, I took the kids down to the creek that ran through the woods behind our house. I was trying to get away from Tom, but he followed us! I was a bit irritated by this, and refused to speak to him for the rest of the afternoon.

After our guests left, my brother says to me, "Well, I guess that's over," referring to my "friendship" with Tom. That wasn't what I had in mind! I suddenly saw how rude I had been, so I asked my parents if I could call him, and arrange to talk to him before the evening service.

Later, I found out that Tom had taken the hint, and decided not to push it with me. He thought I didn't want to have anything to do with him anymore, and was quite a bit disappointed and hurt. So when I called him, I unconsciously gave him back his hope, and he agreed to talk.

We went for a walk, and talked things over. I apologized for giving him the cold shoulder, explaining that I felt pressured into something I wasn't ready for, and felt things were happening too fast. He replied that there would be no pressure, that he just wanted to get to know me as friends. At that, my heart sort of sank, and I realized that I wanted to be more than friends.

Oh, how fickle we females can be! I didn't want to even consider him at first. Then I liked him, and wondered if he would like me. Then I "knew" he was the man for me, for life. Then I didn't want to be anywhere near him. Then I only wanted to be friends, but when he said friends was fine, I suddenly wanted more! I was all mixed up, and didn't know what to do, or say, or think. So it was with a sense of relief that I went away for a week to visit my aunt's family.

to be continued. . .

Monday, November 27, 2006

June 1986 -- The conspiracy (Part Four)

Despite Tom's longing for a wife, he wasn't seriously looking for one. He'd been turned down too many times and just didn't want to risk it anymore. A lot of people looking on resented Mr. Bill's intrusion on our private lives. They said it wasn't his business, but I believe the hand of God was in this. Neither one of us would have done a thing to get this romance going without Mr. Bill nudging us along. So the conspiracy began.

Mr. Bill began talking to Tom about my virtues, but Tom was a bit hesitant. He knew I was much younger, and really didn't think I'd go for him. On that work day at the camp, he was looking me over in a wistful, I'll-never-get-her sort of way, and I was looking him over in a wistful, he'll-never-be-interested-in-me sort of way. Mr. Bill and his wife were looking at us both and plotting ways to get us together. Here are some of the ways they did that:

**They took me to see Tom's bookstore in Ohio. I got the grand tour, including the basement apartment Tom used to live in, and the upstairs apartment where he lived at that time. Mr. Bill's wife remarked that she had never seen the apartment so clean before. I thought the place was terribly dusty, and that the man needed a wife. Tom watched me work a little puzzle he'd been working on for months--one of those puzzles where you have to arrange small objects that are enclosed in a clear plastic box, by moving the box around to slide the objects into place. I solved it in a matter of minutes, put the thing down, and moved on. He was stunned.

**They took me to Tom's church, where he was to teach the adult Sunday school class for one Sunday morning. But first, they took us both to the store to buy Tom's first tie. He'd always worn jeans and flannel shirts to church before, but they told him he'd need a dress shirt and tie to teach the class. He didn't have one, so Mr. Bill's wife and I picked one out for him. After church that day, we went to dinner at the pastor's house. I was sitting out on the porch talking to the pastor's two kids when Tom came out and sat down on the other side of the door from me. In a few minutes, both kids sort of disappeared, leaving Tom and me alone. I am convinced their parents somehow had a part in this, since they were just as eager as Mr. Bill and his wife to see us get together. We found out later that while we were awkwardly trying to make conversation, the four of them were inside discussing us.

**They took us to dinner at a steak house restaurant. They also arranged the seating so that Tom and I sat next to each other. When Tom shook the steak sauce bottle before using it, the lid flew off and he shook steak sauce all over me! Poor Tom was badly embarrassed, but I just laughed it off. Of course, Mr. Bill and his family thought it was hilarious.

Through these and other similar outings, Mr. Bill helped us get to know each other. But he couldn't keep nudging us forever! So he says to me, "If Tom asked you out, would you go with him?" I answered that I would, but that Tom would have to do the asking. I was not going to initiate things myself. So then the following phone conversation took place between Mr. Bill and Tom:

"Why don't you ask Cathy out?"

"I don't think she'd go with me."

"I think she would. Just ask her."

"Oh, I don't know."

"You're going to have to ask her yourself, though. She's an old-fashioned kind of girl, and isn't going to ask you herself."

"Well, maybe I will. I'll think about it."

"Do you have her phone number?"

"Probably. I'll see."

"Here it is. Write it down."

So Tom wrote it down. But it took him a few days to get his courage up.

to be continued. . .

Saturday, November 25, 2006

May, 1986 (Part Three)

I realize that this is a holiday weekend in the States, so if you haven't been here since Wednesday, you'll want to scroll down a bit to get to the beginning of this story. Or click on "My courtship and marriage" in the sidebar.

In May, 1986, some major things were settled in my life. First, God convicted me about not being baptized. My pastor in Indiana (where I was attending college) was willing to do this, but I knew I needed to take care of this in my home church. You can read about that in my testimony.

The second major thing is more relevant to this story: God finally gave me the peace and assurance that I was to quit college. I had been waiting for this for a long time. He made it clear to me that I was to go home, live with my parents, and wait till He brought to me the man He wanted me to marry. I could almost feel a weight being lifted off my shoulders as I packed my bags and went home. Such a relief! Now to break the news to my dad.

Actually, my dad took it well. (My mom often says that if I tell him something, he listens. I guess that's one of the benefits of being the baby in the family. ;) ) He really didn't have a big problem with my staying home and working with them in the ministry. He was seriously considering moving and taking the pastorate of another church, and was glad that I was willing to go along.

Word got out that I was not going back to college, and one morning I had visitors. Remember those friends Tom would visit, the ones who were caretakers of the camp? Well there they were. And they didn't waste time with small talk. They were a couple on a mission. As I poured water for them to drink, Mr. Bill started in:

"We heard you were quitting college."

"Yes," I answered.

"We want to know why. People are saying things, but we thought we'd get it straight from you."

Well, I appreciated that. Nothing beats gossip like going to the source. I told them that God wanted me to stay home and wait till He brought me the man He wanted me to marry.

"Well, we've got one for you."

Right away I knew who they were talking about--Tom. I smiled, shook my head, and said, "No, thanks. I don't think so."

Mr. Bill wasn't ready to give up yet. He said, "We're having a workday at the camp this Saturday. Tom will be there. Why don't you come and just look him over, and see what happens?"

Great, I thought. I had already planned to be there. Now the day would be ruined by these two people trying to set something up for us. I just knew they'd be watching us. ARRGGG!

The day came, and I managed to stay far enough away from the men so that I didn't even see Tom. Until lunch time. Mr. Bill's wife sent me out to tell the men lunch was ready. I walked into the area where they were working, and the first person I saw was Tom. Our eyes met as I told them lunch was ready. Then I tried to go back to being my normal self, but it was too late. Something had changed, and nothing would ever be the same. I was looking at a completely different Tom Newton than the one I had seen the year before.

He had grown a beard, he had a pleasant face, and I noticed his eyes were blue. I was hooked.

to be continued. . .

Friday, November 24, 2006

Name change

After several months of deliberation, I have decided to come out from hiding behind a screen name. From henceforth and forevermore, I will now be known in the blogworld as I am in the real world by my real name: Cathy.

"Pearl" came from my middle name, Margaret, which means "pearl." I chose to use an alias when I first started blogging because at that time I only knew two people who blogged, and that's what they did. I thought that's what all bloggers did. As time went on, however, I found that more of the bloggers that I knew used their real names. So I've decided that's what I'll do, also. I feel more honest that way, especially since I have been using my husband's and children's real names. I hate to have everyone think that Pastor Tom Newton of Calvary Baptist Church in Ontario is married to someone named "Pearl" when my real name is Cathy!


Summer, 1985 (Part Two)

I had just come home for the summer, after my first full year of college. I had learned by sad, sorry experience that there are guys who just want to use you, who don't know what "commitment" means, who just want a good time, and who dump you for no other reason than that they are done with you and want to move on. I was through "looking." I had never heard of the courtship ideals that are currently sweeping through today's youth culture, but I knew there had to be a better way.

I never really wanted to go to college. All the focus of my childhood dreams and aspirations centered on my longing to be a stay-at-home wife and mother. Those desires only intensified during my college years. I was in training for a career in teaching, when all I really wanted was to be the mistress of my own home, serving God along side a man whose one desire would be to serve God in full-time ministry. During my first three semesters of college, I tried--and was burned by--the dating scene. I decided that college, for me, was no place to find a husband. Granted, many good marriages have had their beginnings in some college or university, but that wasn't the way mine was going to start.

So one Sunday afternoon, there I sat on the floor of my bedroom, making a list of all the characteristics I was looking for in a husband. When I was finished, I put the spiral-bound steno pad away in a box and went for a walk. To this day I think I could tell you which hill I was climbing as I prayed, "Lord, I'm through looking for a husband. You bring to me the one You want me to have."

I continued to walk and pray until I reached the grounds of Camp Maranatha, the church camp in western Pennsylvania where I had spent all my summers from the time I was eleven years old, either as a camper or a kitchen worker. I loved that place! It was seven miles from my house, but I walked or rode my bike there often. On this particular Sunday afternoon, I walked into the caretakers' house to visit. The family living there were members of our church. They were from Ohio, and had a friend from Ohio visiting with them that afternoon. I walked into their living room, and the first person I saw was this friend of their's, named Tom Newton. Immediately, my first thought was, "No, Lord. Not him."

Tom Newton grew up in Ohio, in what he calls a totally pagan home. (I've told him he can't call it that anymore, since paganism today refers to a form of neo-witchcraft.) His was a family that not only knew not God, but were totally antagonistic toward even the idea of ever knowing God. The Newton name was well known in that area -- the whole lot of them were blasphemous drunkards and proud of it. Tom's chief goal in life was to be a rock star, so off he went to the WonderWorld of Los Angeles with dreams of making it big. He and his best friend aspired to be none other than the next Black Sabbath, with all their fame, fortune, and immorality.

You can read Tom's testimony here. God put a stop to all that, saved Tom out of all that muck and mire, set his feet upon the Rock of Christ, and established his goings. Now he was back in Ohio, co-owner of a Christian book store called "The Old-Time Gospel Bookstore," single, and longing for a wife. But there was something wrong here. God called upon him to do a certain thing which he determined never to do. Like Jonah of old, he turned from God and went in the opposite direction. He departed from the faith and wrote himself off as an infidel who had committed the unpardonable sin. Plunged into deep spiritual depression, he went through life hopelessly, wanting to die, yet being afraid to die.

You can't live that way very long without it showing on your countenance. Tom did not look good at all. This is what I somehow sensed when I saw him on my friends' couch that Sunday afternoon, and this is why I wanted nothing to do with him. Besides, he was too old--29, and I was 19.

So when I said, "No, Lord. Not him," I think He said, "Just you wait. I'm not finished with him yet. You go away for another year, and leave him to Me." Of course, God didn't say that out loud. I don't think I would have listened if He had. There were too many other fish in the sea.

Anyway, I went back to college that fall, and Tom went back to whatever. But he kept coming back to his friends' house, and attending my church, where my dad was the pastor. I was plodding impatiently along in college in Tennessee and later Indiana while my mom had Tom and his friends over for Sunday dinners. While I was struggling with pretending to be a good student when all I wanted was to get away from schooling altogether, my dad was patiently working with Tom, slowly bringing him out of his depression, never dreaming that he was counseling the man who would one day be the father of nine of his grandchildren.

More in the next post.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

20 years (Part One of My courtship and marriage)

Psalm 126
A Song of degrees.
When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion,
we were like them that dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
and our tongue with singing:
then said they among the heathen,
The LORD hath done great things for them.
The LORD hath done great things for us;
whereof we are glad.
Turn again our captivity, O LORD,
as the streams in the south.
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
He that goeth forth and weepeth,
bearing precious seed,
shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
bringing his sheaves with him.

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. It is also my wedding anniversary. Tom and I were married on Thanksgiving Day, 1986. Since then we have completely ignored the actually date (which was November 27) and celebrated our anniversary on Thanksgiving Day. It is truly a day to give thanks to God for his unspeakable grace in our lives.

The Psalm above was read at our wedding. The week we were engaged, Pastor David Dickerson preached from this psalm at Maranatha, a Christian camp in western Pennsylvania where Tom and I met. Since then that Psalm has meant a lot to us. I'll explain why in the next post, when I tell you about events leading up to our courtship.

I'll also try to have some pictures from twenty years ago, as soon as I can find the box the photo albums are packed in. I had the children looking for it yesterday, but no one could find it. I was going to look for it myself today, but Tom just informed me that I am to pack my overnight bags; we are leaving as soon as he gets the van ready. I have no idea where we are going.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

More blog changes

I am still playing around with betablogger. I have applied labels to all my posts, so that now you can read them by category. I hope this is helpful. The list of categories is on the sidebar.


Oh, be careful, little mouth, what you say

". . .not false accusers. . ." (Titus 2:3).

One of the earliest Sunday school songs I can remember from my childhood has a verse that goes like this:

Oh, be careful, little mouth, what you say,
Oh, be careful, little mouth, what you say,
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love,
So be careful, little mouth, what you say.

(Other verses talk about what our ears hear, what our minds think, what our hands do, what our eyes see, where our feet go, and what our hearts love.)

Later, when we children were older and talked on the phone a lot, my mother posted these questions next to the phone:

Is it kind?
Is it true?
Is it necessary?

The phrase "false accusers" in Titus 2:3 comes from the Greek word diabolos, the name given to Satan. In fact, almost every time this word is used in the Greek New Testament, it is translated devil. Only three times is this word used to describe humans. Ladies, you're not going to like this, but two out of three times, this word is used to describe female humans. The third time is found in 2 Timothy 3:3 in a list that generally describes the human race during the "perilous times" of the "last days." Look that up some time and study it out. It is a sobering passage.

Right now let's look at the two times diabolos is used to describe women--or rather, what godly women should not be.

Titus 2:3, the verse that lists the characteristics of godly older women, says that we are not to be false accusers.

1 Timothy 3:11, the verse that lists the characteristics of deacons' wives, says that they are not to be slanderers.

False accusers, slanderers. Or as one pastor put it, "full of the devil." Why such strong terminology? Have you ever been in a church where the women gossiped? I have. It is not a pretty sight. I wonder if any sin of the church, especially among the ladies, grieves the Holy Spirit more. And guess when Christian women gossip the most? When sharing prayer requests. It generally goes like this:

"Pray for so-and-so. Did you know she. . .?"

"*Gasp* No! When did that happen?"

"Well, remember when. . .?"

And on it goes. Or they gossip when they're praying. If you listen carefully, you can tell the difference between when someone is really praying and when they are actually informing the listeners of a particular turn of events.

So how do we gain the victory over this sin? I just read the most triumphant passage. Here it is, with the literal meanings of certain Greek words in brackets:

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent [artfully malicious person], called the Devil [false accuser], and Satan [the accuser], which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser [complainant at law] of our brethren is cast down, which accused [brought charges against] them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
(Revelation 12:7-11).

Does that not just bring a thrill to your soul? I read that, and I just wanted to shout! I mean, here's this battle going on in heaven. It starts out as a court case with Satan bringing charges against us day and night. He just never stops accusing us of this, that, and the other thing. Finally it all comes to a head and a war breaks out. But Satan and all his demons cannot prevail. Michael and his angels win, and the Enemy is cast out, and I can just imagine all heaven bursting out with cheers of "GLORY TO GOD!!!!" The pandemonium when the home team wins the World Series would not even come close. You would have to magnify that by about a billion times.

So how'd they do it? What were their weapons? What was their tactic?

1. By the blood of the Lamb. When we lived in the South, an oft-repeated phrase in prayer was "I plead the blood of Christ." You know in your heart that what Satan is accusing you of just might be true. You DID commit that sin. You KNOW you're guilty. BUT it's under the blood. "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). So when Satan accuses us before the Father, He says there's no sin there. All He sees is the blood of His Son.

2. By the word of their testimony. Because the Lamb shed His blood for us, we are worshippers of Him. He helps us to remain faithful to Him, thus making Satan's accusations meaningless. "Yes, I did commit that sin. But Christ shed His blood for me, and now I'm following Him, and Him alone."

3. And they loved not their lives unto the death. They loved the praise of God more than their own lives, more than the glory of man. Read John 12:43, Matthew 10:32-39, and Mark 8:34-37.

So how does this apply to overcoming gossip?

1. Plead the blood. Ask Christ to cleanse you of the sin of gossip. Remember the work that He did for you on the cross. Would you trample that work and grieve the Lover of your soul by continuing in this sin? Further, if you are continuing in this sin, might that not be a sign that He has not saved you? Read 1 John 2:4-6.

2. Abide in Christ. The word Christian means "follower of Christ." Has Christ led you to gossip or to love? Read John 13:34-35; Proverbs 10:12; and 1 Peter 4:8.

3. Apply the J-O-Y rule: Put Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Matthew 22:37-39).


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Changes and additions

I upgraded to beta blogger, and am having fun with this new, easier way of doing things. The picture for my profile will probably change now and then. I couldn't find where my son Josiah put my picture on my computer. I'm hoping to put it there eventually, and also have some of my children now and then. Currently I have a huge cherry tree there. Yes, cherry tree. The kind they make furniture with. One of my sons took that picture when we went on a hike in the Gateneau mountains in Quebec.

The first addition is a young girl named Christy. She has a blog called Long Journey, which has made good reading so far. She reminds me of Esther Ellis, and is another encouragement to me.

The second addition is a young girl named Bethany. She must have moved to Texas sometime after we left, because I did not have the pleasure of meeting her family. Nevertheless, I have enjoyed reading her blog and getting to know her that way. Her blog is called Psalm 37-4.

I have been praying that God will raise up godly young people who will sell out to Him and seek to change their world by obeying Him and letting their light so shine (Matthew 5:16). These two girls are trying to do just that. I hope you will join me in praying for them and other young people you know. This world seems to get darker and darker. They are not going to have it easy in the years to come. May God give them grace to go boldly forth in the power of His might.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

For my friend who is struggling

Here is a song that has helped me many times.

Until That Final Day

My flesh is tired of seeking God,
But on my knees I'll stay.
I want to be a pleasing child,
Until that final day.

My mind is full of many thoughts
That clutter and confuse.
But standing firm, I will prevail,
In faith that I'll be used.

Amen! I'm asking once again.
Won't you help me my friend, Lord Jesus.
Holy Lord Spirit, set us free,
From chains we cannot see,
Come release us.

I wrestle not with flesh and blood,
My fight is with the one,
Who lost the keys of hell and death,
To God's most precious son.

One sleepless night of anguished prayer,
I triumphed over sin.
One battle in the Holy war,
God's promised me to win.

Amen! I'm asking once again.
Won't you help me my friend, Lord Jesus.
Holy Lord Spirit, set us free,
From chains we cannot see,
Come release us.

My flesh is tired of seeking God,
But on my knees I'll stay.
I want to be a pleasing child,
Until that final day.
--Keith Green

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Troubling times

I don't usually use this blog to comment on specific news items that reflect the state of affairs in our world today. I generally leave that to my brother-in-Christ, Rand. Somehow it seems to me more of a "man" thing to do. However, this time I am going to say something, and apply it to how we as godly women need to be ever watchful. First, a couple of passages to keep in mind:

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, . . .having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3:1, 2, 5-7 It was hard to know where to jump in here. You would do well to read this passage in its context; in fact, you would do even better to study the entire book of 2 Timothy.).

"And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few" (Acts 17:10-12 This is probably one of my most favourite passages.).

In the first passage, "silly women" refers to foolish women who are under the burden of sin, but lack the spiritual maturity to deal with it properly. Their consciences are bothered, and, as one commentator puts it, "a bad conscience leads easily to shipwreck of faith" because they more readily follow anyone who makes them feel better.

However, the second passage clearly states that we MUST examine the Scriptures to make sure that we are being told the truth. As women, "weaker vessels" (1 Peter 3:7), we are prone to fall prey more easily to seducing spirits. Remember that Eve was deceived--and that Satan knew full well what he was doing in choosing to coming to Eve, not Adam.

I can't stress enough the importance of women being students of the Word of God. We MUST study the Word diligently, daily, lest we be deceived.

Not long ago, I began an exchange of words on a popular forum. This exchange did not last long, as I soon realized that I was dealing with highly opinionated people who delighted in expounding their views purely for the enjoyment they got from arguing. However, in the process of this exchange, I uncovered a disturbing state of affairs.

The discussion revolved around the role of women in the church--should they teach, or not? If they teach, what should they teach, and to whom? And should they use the Bible when they teach? Is there a place for women's Bible study? If so, who should teach it?

Here is what I found disturbing: several women adamantly opposed women's Bible studies of any kind. They asserted that if women did get together for this purpose, the study should be taught by the men of the church, preferably the pastor, as women have no business teaching the Word, even to other women. They said that older women should teach younger women practical homemaking skills such as sewing and child care. My response was to go to Titus 2:3-5 and show that this passage is mostly about teaching right attitudes, not skills, and that Pastor Titus was exhorted to have the older women teach this, not to teach it himself. I asked, "How can we teach holiness and proper heart attitudes without going to the Scriptures?" In response, I was challenged to "try it and find out."

These are the kind of women who would be easily seduced into believing all sorts of false doctrine. And the pastors who insist on teaching the women's Bible studies are just the sort of men who would do the seducing.

This whole post is the result of my doing a little bit of research into the background of Dr. Leith Anderson, who was chosen to temporarily replace Ted Haggard as interim president of the NAE. That research led me to this and this, which is just the insidious sort of evil that would appeal to silly women, but which Dr. Anderson endorses, and this and this, which expose it for the New Age practice that it is.

Sisters, beware! These are signs of the times. The church is apostasizing before our very eyes. You that are reading this in the United States, be very wary of "Christian" conservatives who have a political agenda. Don't be fooled by their lies.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

This gets personal

Pride. It crops up everywhere, sneaking up on me, taking me by surprise. Just when I think I have a handle on things, here comes pride to knock me flat.

There came a point in time this summer when I determined to pray and fast for a particular purpose. Fasting is supposed to be a secret thing, and, to some extent, so is prayer. As a nursing mother, I can't fast completely, so I decided to fast all foods containing any sort of refined sugar or yeast. That meant no breads or sweet stuffs. I didn't make a big announcement about this, except that my family knew about it. I didn't want to make a big deal out of it, I just wanted to be able to fast in some way.

When you go off sugar, however, something happens to you physically. You lose weight, for one thing. You also begin to feel better, you get healthier, you have more energy, and you even have some improvement in your attitude and overall outlook on life. This last benefit is especially enhanced by increased time spent in prayer. None of this physical stuff goes unnoticed, which kind of brings your fast out into the open.

People noticed that I had lost weight, and that I looked better. You can't lose 30 pounds or so in 3 months and keep that a secret! I hadn't counted on that. And there was no red flag anywhere warning me that this was a test of my humility. All I knew was that I was suddenly wide awake at 4:30 every morning, able to pray and read my Bible, and I was enjoying getting closer to God. I was getting consistent with it, too. It wasn't hit-and-miss any more, some days praying, some days not. This was an every day thing that I hadn't really been able to achieve before.

But gradually there came a change in my thinking. Instead of looking at, say, a brownie, and thinking, "No, I'm fasting to pray for [insert reason]," I would look at the brownie and think, "No, I'm really excited about this weight loss thing that I've never been able to accomplish before. And, oh, yeah. There is that business of praying for [insert original reason]."

I also had grandiose dreams of God moving in revival in response to my prayer and fasting. I mean, we read about these people who prayed all night, fasted regularly, etc., and then God moved in revival. Why couldn't I be one of those spiritual prayer warriors that people would read about 100 years from now?

Why didn't I think of 1 Corinthians 10:12 then?

It wasn't long before I recognized the pride creeping in. Then it was like I was caught in a trap. I figured I'd better stop drawing attention to myself, so I didn't tell anyone what was happening. Well, then, how do I ask for help? Because I really didn't know how to handle this. It was hard to even pray about it. The fast had become a mockery, and I eventually gave it up. I casually mentioned to people that I wasn't abstaining from sugar anymore, but was just taking it in moderation. Hah! If you were the proverbial fly on the wall in my house, you'd know almost right away that the sin of gluttony afflicts me.

Before long I wasn't praying anymore. It was just too hard to get out of bed in the morning. Oh, I wanted to pray, it was just too hard. Then I didn't want to pray. But yet I did want to pray! You know how it is, ". . .the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" (Galatians 5:17). In this sort of battle, you know who wins? The one you listen to most. I was listening to the flesh.

We know a pastor in Texas who has his sermons on Sermon Audio. Last Sunday I was home sick, and decided to listen to some of his sermons. Later I e-mailed him. He e-mailed back, saying he was glad to hear from me, that he'd been thinking about us, and wondered how we were doing. You see, my husband has had this passion for revival for a long time. Every where we've lived, other people have seen this passion and been affected by it in some way. This pastor in Texas is one of those people. He says that he thinks God is beginning to work in their midst down there, and wonders if it is the beginning of a true revival from God. And, like others, when he thought of revival, he thought of my husband. So he asked what God was doing here in our little part of Canada.

I began to e-mail him back, telling some of what's been going on here. I soon began to weep. I suddenly remembered what this summer had been all about. How could I have given it up so easily? How could I have grieved my Lord this way? Oh, the grace that was shed upon Peter! Oh, the same grace that has been shed upon me!

"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not. . ." (Luke 22:31-32).

"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41).

"He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. . ." (John 21:17).

"It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Why am I sharing all this with you? For a couple of reasons.

First, there are people I care about deeply who read this blog--family members, friends who live far away, people in our mission works in Ottawa and Quebec City. I wanted all you guys to know what the Lord has been doing in my life, and to ask you to keep praying for me.

The second reason is that I am really tired of being put on a pedestal just because I have nine children who are all homeschooled. I am flesh and blood. I fail many more times than I would ever want to admit. Stop being awed by me. Be awed by God.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

The insidious nature of pride

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:12-13).

The word insidious comes from a Latin word insidiae which means "ambush." The idea is that a certain thing is gradually and subtilly harmful. It sneaks up on you and takes you by surprise. Thus pride is addressed in 1 Corinthians 10:12. You think you're doing okay? You think you're standing firm? Look out! You're just about to fall. The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about pride:

"When pride cometh, then cometh shame; but with the lowly is wisdom" (11:12).

"Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (16:18).

"A man's pride shall bring him low; but he that is of a lowly spirit shall obtain honor" (29:23).

But 1 Corinthians 10:13 reminds us that there is a way of escape, if only we will avail ourselves of it. Again, the verses in Proverbs tell us what that escape is--a lowly spirit. Here are some other verses:

". . .he giveth grace to the lowly" (Proverbs 3:34).

"But he giveth more grace. Wherefore the scripture saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble" (James 4:6).

". . .God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time" (1 Peter 5:5-6).

More on this in the next post.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Who are you?

You lurk around on the internet, hitting here and there, looking at all sorts of who knows what. Every now and then you hit my blog. Maybe you did a google search. Maybe you linked from another site. Maybe you heard about me from a friend or family member.

I have a program that lets me see where in the world you might be--Malaysia, the Philippines, the UK, Holland, Germany, Japan, Korea, China, South Africa, the United States (I can tell which state), Canada (I can tell which province), to name some off the top of my memory.

I can also tell, if you did a search, what your key words were. My all-time favourite key words used so far by you, the lurker, are: "best time to do laundry in Ontario"!

Now, this is entirely voluntary, but if you'd like to, please say hi.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

God controls our whims

I just had to share this little tidbit. I am a spur-of-the-moment kind of person, doing things on a whim, just for fun. Sometimes we get to laugh at how God uses my whims to work His blessings in our lives. For instance, we are in Canada as a direct result of my trying to run over a beer can in a Wal-Mart parking lot one day. But that's not the story I wanted to share today.

A couple of weeks ago, I was cruising the internet while nursing Timothy. I got on a site that has all sorts of interesting, useful (but expensive) gardening, kitchen and woodworking things to sell. Just for fun, because I knew my children would enjoy this, I ordered all three of their free catalogs. The package of catalogs was too big to fit in our little mailbox, so we got a package notice. Tom came out to the garden one day last week and asked me what package I was expecting. By that time I had forgotten all about my whim, and had no idea what package I could be getting. He drove over to the post office to pick it up.

On the way out there, he saw a van for sale, a nice blue Chevrolet mini-van. A QUIET mini-van. One that works without needing a lot of repair. Cheap. With good gas mileage. It even looks nice. We bought it. Not on a whim (Tom doesn't do things on a whim), but because we needed it.

We have another mini-van given to us by a friend in Maryland seven years ago. It is sitting in our driveway, waiting to be repaired. Tom is going to fix it before winter. Meanwhile, we have been driving around in this big, ugly, noisy, gas-guzzling monster of a full-size van. We have to shout in it, to be heard by the children in the back seat. It needs more repairs on it than Tom wants to do, to make it ready for winter. He thinks he can sell it for what he paid for the blue van we just got.

We have been talking about getting another mini-van, and driving our big family around in two vans. This would give the children more leg room, and also give us more seating for giving people rides to church and for having the children's friends over.

Here's how God used my whim: this mini-van was on a road we never travel unless we are going to the post office to pick up a package.

"And now you know. . .the rest of the story."

Digging, digging, digging

She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms (Proverbs 31:16-17).

I just realized it has been almost a month since my last post. Sorry about that. I have been digging the garden to have it ready for spring planting, and I go to bed incredibly tired. I am gradually getting used to the work, but at first I just ached all over from using muscles I didn't know I had. I have been digging by hand (meaning with a shovel, not a tiller), paying three of my younger children a quarter a bucket (5-gallon size) to pull rocks out. We are almost done, then we will get a load or two of horse manure from the horse farm behind us, dig that in, and let it rot over winter. I am in a hurry to get this done before the ground freezes. We've been blessed with warmer than usual weather lately, but we've also had a lot of rain. (On rainy days there's enough to do inside to keep a person busy for the next 30 years.)

I never saw such a rocky piece of ground in my life. When we get finished, I'll take a picture of the rock pile we're making and post it. Every day that we are able to dig, we haul an average of six wheelbarrow loads out of the garden. Anybody have any ideas on what useful things can be done with rocks? They are mostly round, so if I was going to build anything (like a fence or a fireplace) I'd have to use cement.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Defiled by the world

Today we made our semi-annual trek to Ottawa's second-hand Value Village shops. We pulled into the first store and the first thing I noticed was the big word COSTUMES in large bold capital letters on a banner spread across one fourth of the store front.

"Oh, yeah," I thought, "halloween is coming up." Duh, but I'd forgotten all about it. After all, it's a non-event in our house.

When I saw the sign, I almost wanted to forget about shopping. I've been to Value Village in the fall, and they don't have very many cute fairy, princess, ladybug, or pumpkin costumes. I don't think they even have many super hero costumes. I could be wrong, since I don't browse through the costumes. But what generally stands out all over the store, every where you look, are costumes, nick-nacks, decorations, and what-have-you with the one central theme of the dark side of halloween (is there a "light" side?): skulls, freakish monsters with red eyes, anything gory, all hideous.

I steeled myself with the determination to ignore all that for the sake of getting clothes. After all, we drove an hour to get there; we needed to make the trip worthwhile. So we got all nine children out of the van (okay, most of them got themselves out) and entered the store, cautioning the children to beware of the Gimmies. (If you don't know what Gimmies are, you probably don't have children.)

I was looking through the girls' dresses when I suddenly had the urge to get out. Fast. Loud heavy metal chaotic wickedness was blasting through the whole store. I have never shopped so fast in my life. I pulled about a dozen jumpers and dresses off the rack and was steering the cart and two little girls toward the fitting rooms when my husband came over and said, "We need to leave. Now." Instead of trying on all the clothes, I simply held them up to my daughters, discarded the ones I felt were too short, and headed toward the check-out.

Once out of the store, I thought, whew, that's done. Now on to the next store. Oldest daughter went to that one with friends, and said it was better and more organized. Got in the store and was greeted with the same in-your-face-and-ears wickedness. At least, this time it wasn't so loud. Walking out after we were done, I told the children that at least it was cheaper than buying fabric and taking the time to sew.

But was it really cheaper? Did we really need to subject ourselves and our children to the sights and sounds of wickedness just to save a few bucks? Was this trip so worth it financially as to offset the spiritual offense? Should we tolerate wickedness for the sake of our wallets?

I am beginning to think that perhaps next spring I will shop the local quiet fabric shops and take the time to sew. Time spent sewing with my daughters should not be thought of as "wasted" time. There was a time when women mostly sewed their own clothes, teaching skills to their daughters, all the while conversing together. Often neighboring women would get together to visit over their sewing. Christian women set up "Dorcas Societies" (see Acts 9:36-42) to sew for missionaries, war victims, and the poor. Often these sewing meetings included Bible study and prayer.

I think I'd much rather spend a week sewing and fellowshipping with my girls than spend a few hours immersing myself and my family in wickedness while looking through racks of clothes at some store.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Lord, I believe--HELP!

And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief. . . (Mar 6:5-6).

. . . .if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief (Mark 9:22-24).

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not (Jeremiah 33:3).

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God CAN do great and mighty things. But I had to confess with tears this morning that I am not always so sure he will. Is my unbelief hindering His willingness? O, that I might say with the leper, "Lord, if thou wilt thou canst. . ." and hear the Beloved Saviour say, "I will. . ."!


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sunday morning thoughts

". . .that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness. . ." Titus 2:3

I will unashamedly admit to being stuck on this one clause. Those who have been following this blog knowing that I am going through Titus 2:3-5 point by point will probably wonder if I am ever going to get past this one point! In one way I hope I never do, because if we women miss this one point, we may as well give the rest of it up. This one point will determine our obedience in all other areas of our roles as wives, mothers, women.

This morning our brother from Beauport, Quebec, preached for us. Having heard him preach before, I was looking forward to this, because the Lord always uses his preaching in my life. The only thing I never liked about his preaching was that his sermons always seemed too short. Not today! He preached as long as my husband does--and my husband learned to preach in the South, where many Baptist preachers are known for their long-winded sermons!

Brother Marcel's sermon was such a blessing to all of us. You see, for the last two months God has been blessing their little fellowship in Beauport. I believe they are seeing the very beginnings of a great work of God as they spend more and more of their time on their knees. (When was the last time you were in a Sunday service that lasted 10+ hours, non-stop? They have had that blessing every Sunday for 8 or 9 weeks.) I wish I could convey his heart to you. God has taught him so much in the last two months. As he says, our church's family camp in July marked a turning point in his life, and he will never be the same.

I won't be, either. My turning point goes back a month further than that, to June 18. That was the day God began teaching me more about prayer and its importance in my life as a Christian. Since then God has made me a more joyfully submissive wife, a more cheerful mother, and a more prayerful Christian. This morning, Brother Marcel encouraged me to pray more. For years I have made excuses about the busyness of motherhood being the reason why I couldn't spend concentrated time in prayer. But now I know that my failures as a wife and mother are a direct result of NOT spending concentrated time in prayer.

I will not waste time looking back at what could have been if I'd prayed more then. I am going to go forward and see what God will do with me as I pray more now.

Do you long for revival? Do you even understand what real revival is? Brother Marcel mentioned a website that has impacted him a lot. It is A Revival Resource Center. I have just begun to read through it, but here is one of the many convicting quotes I found:

“The men that will change the colleges and seminaries here represented are the men that will spend the most time alone with God…It takes time for the fires to burn. It takes time for God to draw near and for us to know that He is there. It takes time to assimilate His truth. You ask me, How much time? I do not know. I know it means time enough to forget time.” - John R. Mott

I think I can adapt that to my situation this way:

The women who will change their families, churches and communities are the women who will spend the most time alone with God. It takes time for God to draw near and for us to know that He is there. It takes time to assimilate His truth. You ask me, Where can I find this time? I do not know where you will find it. I know that I have found it in all the precious minutes of the day that I have wasted in meaningless, frivolous activity that, in the end, will only amount to so much wood, hay, and stubble.


Monday, September 11, 2006

How holy do you want to be?

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:15-16

In last night's sermon, my husband made this heart-revealing statement:

"We are as holy as we want to be."

For months (a couple years?) he has been taking us through the book of Hebrews, verse by verse. It has been a fantastic study. For the last 3-4 weeks we have been studying Hebrews 11:20-21 and the life of Jacob. Jacob is a prime example of the Christian's war between the flesh and the spirit. On the one hand, we see the old man, named Jacob, acting in the flesh and walking by sight. On the other hand, we see the new man, named Israel, acting in the spirit and walking by faith. We never see an in-between man, named Jacob-Israel, walking by faith and by sight at the same time. Such a thing is impossible.

As Christians, we have the power to walk by faith and not by sight. We can choose (an unbeliever cannot choose) to walk either in the flesh or in the spirit. Since the choice lies with us, we are indeed as holy as we want to be at any given moment during any given day.

O that we would want to be as holy as He Who made us at any given moment during any given day! Would we see revival then?


P.S. Read and meditate on this to learn how to tap into the source of our power and strength

Friday, September 08, 2006

New sheep on the blogspot block

My husband never calls our children "kids." I have adopted his reasoning: kids come from goats, which in Scripture signify those who will never be saved. Thus my twist on the common saying, "new kid on the block."

The new blogger is The Mosaic Antinomian. I think he wants to remain anonymous, but if you know me, you know him. And if you know him, you will most likely recognize him from his profile and his blog. He tells me that "mosaic" in his screen name is an adjective meaning "of Moses." This was a big help to me in understanding why he chose that name.

I've added his link to my sidebar. Visit him when you can.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

From the Pastor's Desk--Counting the Cost

I am starting a new category of posts. "From the Pastor's Desk" is a weekly feature of our church bulletin, and I've decided to copy them here. I don't know where my husband gets these selections; most of them are anonymous. Here's the one for today:

Counting the Cost

Let's ask ourselves this question: "Am I concerned about the sacrifices I may be called upon to make in serving Christ?"

Two young men were talking about this very thing. One of them said, "I cannot tell you all that the Lord Jesus is to me, or what He has done for me. I do wish you would enlist in His army."

"I'm thinking about it," answered the other youn man, "but it means giving up several things--in fact, I am counting the cost."

A Christian officer, just passing, heard the last remark, and laying his hand on the shoulder of the young soldier said, "Young man, you talk of counting the cost of following Christ, but have you ever counted the cost of not following Him?"

Thursday, August 24, 2006

It's all about your mood

". . .in behaviour reverent. . ." (from Titus 2:3, literal translation).

Yesterday I started a word study on the whole Titus 2 passage. I'm thinking about doing word studies on all the New Testament passages specifically geared toward women, and then moving on to Proverbs 31:10-31. This is going to be interesting, but it's going to take a long time to go through one phrase at a time! Bear with me, though; I think we'll learn a lot this way.

"In" is a preposition. If you need an explanation, consult your nearest grammar book.

"Behaviour" is a noun. It is translated from the Greek word katastema, which (and here's where things get interesting) is only found in this verse.

"Reverent" is a predicate adjective, meaning that it describes the noun "behaviour," but also implies action. It is translated from the Greek word hieroprepes, another Greek word found only in this verse.

Why is it significant that these words are found only in this verse, and, therefore, only applied to women? I think I understood the reason as soon as I looked deeper at the meanings of these two Greek words.

Katastema has a deeper meaning than just behaviour. Our English word behaviour implies outward action--everything you do or say. Katastema goes deeper than that. It means "personal appearance, mien, deportment." We'll get to personal appearance and deportment later. The subject of this post is mien.

mien [meen] noun
somebody's general air: somebody's facial expression or general appearance, bearing, or posture, taken as an indication of his or her mood or character

(from Microsoft® Encarta® 2006. © 1993-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.)

According to Encarta, mien is probably a shortened form of 16th century demeine, from which we get our word demeanor.

On reading this definition, the word mood caught my attention, and I immediately sensed why katastema was only used in connection with women. After all, the other half of the population is not ruled by mood nearly as much as we women are. We are such emotional creatures! And, oh, the hormonal problems we have! I don't need to go into detail. You all know what I'm talking about! And in all this we are supposed to be reverent?!? Oh, if only I'd understood this years ago! Think how much grief my longsuffering husband could have been spared!

So what about hormonal problems? After all, hormones DO exist. They are not just a convenient excuse for snarky behaviour--hormones are real, and sometimes they do get out of whack. I've been post-partum nine times, I have a teenage daughter, I have lived with a menopausal mother, and I have seen friends and/or their teenage daughters go whacko once a month. I've gone whacko myself more than a few times. You could probably tell your own stories.

According to what I learned here, even in this we are to be reverent.

I'm going to suggest several things to help you with your hormones. These are all things I've tried, more or less, and I know they work. I intend to do these things even more in the future, because I want Christ to be glorified in my life in ALL things. There is never an excuse for sin.

1. First and foremost, use this time for increased prayer. Christ made both you and your hormones. He understands how they work better than you do. When you sense your mood changing, run to Him. Shut your door and pray. God will give you grace. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13). The way to escape our sour moods is to cling to Christ in prayer.

2. Have you carefully examined your diet? A couple months ago I stopped eating anything with refined sugar or corn syrup in it, and I have seen an incredible difference in my overall health. Refined foods of any kind are not healthy. Look at what you're eating and make plans to eat a more natural, healthy diet. I could write a whole post about this, and why meat from animals raised on pasture is MUCH better for you than meat from animals raised on grain in feed lots. You can research that for yourself.

3. How much exercise do you get? I don't mean going to the gym and working out. I mean getting outside in the fresh air and riding your bike, taking a walk, working in your garden, hanging up your laundry, playing with your children, hiking through the woods or up a mountain, swimming, exploring nature with your children. Regular amounts of this kind of exercise will do wonders for your mind and body, and will foster great relations with your family when you do these things together.

4. Red raspberry leaf tea is wonderful for everything that ails a woman. I like so much to have a hot cup of this in the morning that I plan to buy it in bulk. I was first introduced to this when I was expecting my fourth child and began seeing a traditional lay midwife who has a lot of herbal knowledge. She started me off on a quest in search of medicinal herbs for my whole family. My oldest daughter is interested in this now, and we are going to work together constructing an herbal garden for food and medicine next growing season. I strongly encourage you to research this, too. It will be well worth your time.

5. Pray. I know I said this before, but if you do everything else and miss this one, you will not gain victory over your moods. You must pray, pray, pray. ". . .neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).

Joyfully, prayerfully,


Friday, August 18, 2006

A very large petition--please pray with us

It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law. Psalm 119:126

This verse stuck out to me recently in my readings through the Psalms. I immediately thought of the gay pride movement, particularly in our city. These people are hideously wicked, and are flaunting their wickedness in the face of all that is good and decent in our society. They are thumbing their noses at God, daring Him to come down and judge them for their sin. They have passed laws here in Canada legalizing gay "marriage" and have just about made it a hate crime to preach against their chosen lifestyle. Two years ago they had a festival in one of our local parks--they chose the most prominent one, the one most of the city uses for all kinds of family-centered recreation. It was the first year for them to do this, and was a sort of "coming out" for the whole group. They raised their flag in triumph and "prayed," thanking the god of their own imaginations that they had won a victory. They saw my husband out there with his gospel signs and his Bible and his tracts and they mocked. They boasted that the fire of God’s judgment had not come down and consumed them.

What they don’t realize is that we are praying the very opposite. "There is no fear of God before their eyes," (Romans 3:18), but we are praying for that to change. We are praying that God will open their eyes to the hideousness of their sin and fill them with a holy fear. We are praying specifically for the leader by name, asking God to deal in mercy with his soul, that he might see the wickedness of his heart and be afraid. We are praying that he would humble himself and seek the face of the Lord and be saved. We are praying that God would defeat the purposes of the whole group by saving His lost sheep from among them.

Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear. Isaiah 59:1

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that cometh to God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25

. . . .Sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunks, slanderers, and robbers will not inherit the kingdom of God. That is what some of you were! But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (International Standard Version)

Over the next couple of weeks the brethren of our fellowship will again be attending the gay pride festivals. Men from our "daughter" church will be out in Ottawa today, and my husband will be out in our city on September 2nd. Please pray for their safety, but more importantly, pray for God to bless His Word with power that the fear of God will once again be before their eyes.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Hide the Word

T w h I h i m h, t I m n s a t. P 119:11

Okay, you're going to look at that and say, "What???"

No, it's not some secret code. It's a method of Scripture memorization that I learned when we lived in Texas some years ago. You take the first letter of each word, and all the punctuation, and write them down. Then you use that to help you remember the verse. At the church we attended in Texas, they used to hand out cards that had the whole verse on one side, and just the first letters on the other side. The above verse is actually this:

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Psalm 119:11

In doing this study on Titus 2:3-5, I have gotten stuck on this one phrase pertaining to the older women:

. . .that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness. . ."

My one recurring thought has been, Am I holy? The more I examine myself in the light of Scripture, the more I have to say, no, I am not. So what do I do about this?

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy (1 Peter 1:16).

Notice the first admonition: "gird up the loins of your mind." This is where temptation and sin have their start, and where character is formed. "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. . ." (Proverbs 23:7). So the first step toward holiness is to think as God thinks. And that means spending time in His Word, hiding it in my heart, and meditating on it. "But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night" (Psalm 1:2).

A couple of years ago, I used the memorization method described above to memorize the book of Philippians. I've forgotten some of it, so I'm going back over it again. It is such a rich book, and I'll be referring to it in future posts.

Hiding the Word,


Friday, August 11, 2006

Large Petitions With Thee Bring

A Prayer, by John Newton

Come, my soul, thy suit prepare:
Jesus loves to answer pray'r;
He himself has bid thee pray,
Therefore will not say thee nay.

Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring;
For his grace and pow'r are such,
None can ever ask too much.

With my burden I begin:
Lord, remove this load of sin;
Let thy blood, for sinners spilt,
Set my conscience free from guilt.

Lord, I come to thee for rest,
Take possession of my breast;
There thy blood-bo't right maintain,
And without a rival reign.

While I am a pilgrim here,
Let thy love my spirit cheer;
As my Guide, my Guard, my Friend,
Lead me to my journey's end.

Show me what I have to do,
Ev'ry hour my strength renew:
Let me live a life of faith,
Let me die thy people's death.

Sing to the tune of "Take My Life and Let It Be," repeating the last line of each verse.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Something that gives me hope

And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none (Ezekiel 22:30).

I realize that I am not progressing very fast on this Titus 2 study. Because my family comes first, I try to only write once a week--on a quiet Sunday afternoon when everyone is resting. However, during the week things tend to come up, prompting me to write about something other than that which I previously planned. This is such a time.

Yesterday my husband and four oldest children went to New York. Actually, they left Friday morning to go down to Mount Vision, a little place near Cooperstown, NY. There they attended a youth conference with the theme of "Standing in the Gap." My husband was asked to preach one of the messages, so our whole church youth group went. From what I hear, it was fantastic.

This conference was organized by three of the pastor's children: Nate, Jonathan, and Esther Ellis. (Their dad has a blog, too, but this post is about young persons ;) ) This in itself spoke to my heart, that three young persons organized a Bible conference for the encouragement and edification of other young persons. I've only actually met Nate and their dad. They came up for my husband's ordination a few months ago, and Nate spoke at our youth snow camp. But I've heard how the Lord dealt with Jonathan, who was once a rebellious preacher's kid.

And today I took a look at Esther's blog. Here's a quote (and remember, we're talking here about someone who still has "teen" at the end of her age):

I'm just so excited about what the Lord has been doing in my own life. Physical and non-physical things that I thought I would never let go of, just all the sudden became meaningless. God convicted me to throw away a lot of things in my life. But He's reminding me I can't stop there and think that is good enough. And for some reason, He keeps bringing Enoch into my mind. Its such a good reminder..let me tell you. Its very liberating when you get rid of things.

I can echo that, but I'll save that for another post when we get back to Titus 2. For now, however, let me just say that when I see a young woman like Esther striving to go "whole hog" for God, THAT encourages me. It makes me look at my own children in a whole new light.

When I see three young persons organize a youth conference, and hear four other young persons (my own) interrupt each other to tell me all about it literally from the moment they step inside the door late on a Saturday night (actually one started talking as soon as she stepped onto the porch, but we'll let her remain nameless), THAT encourages me.

When I hear a certain young man in our church pray for God to use him in the salvation of his friends, THAT encourages me.

When I heard what God did for Jonathan Ellis (and I hope he posts his testimony soon!), THAT encourages me.

When I heard Nate Ellis join other men in prayer as they laid hands on my husband at his ordination service, THAT encouraged me. It even encouraged me when I heard that Nate wouldn't let our young persons sit on nice comfortable couches when he preached to them at snow camp last March, because I knew he wanted them to hear the Word without falling asleep.

I know that a lot happened at that youth conference that I have only begun to hear about. Other young persons were there that I don't know, who also want to go for God. They want to be the ones who stand in the gap. They want God to use them in mighty ways. THAT encourages me.

When I see God working in our youth, I know there's hope for the rest of us. Some of the greatest revivals started with young persons. God grant that again, NOW, in 2006.

Standing in the gap,


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A book review

"The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness. . ." --Titus 2:3

I had intended to write a post that included a quote from one of my favourite books on mothers raising daughters. But when I checked the copyright info, I found that, unless I wrote to the publisher, I could only quote from the book if I was doing so as part of a review. Well, why not write a review, then? I really like the book. My oldest daughter and I read through it, and it became a turning point in our relationship, drawing us closer together. I loaned it to one of my best friends, and she said she wanted to buy a copy for each of her daughters.

The book is entitled Raising Maidens of Virtue: A Study of Feminine Loveliness for Mothers and Daughters by Stacy McDonald. There are 19 chapters, each ending with a list of questions that really make you think. The questions often include Scripture references to look up and examine. The subject material is pointed, and often made me cringe as I examined myself in the light of God's word.

Sarah and I used this book in Sunday school, when she was the only student in my class. It is designed for mothers and daughters to read through together. (It could also work well in any older-woman-teaching-teenager situation, especially if the teenager does not have a godly mother of her own.) I gave Sarah her own copy, and we read the chapters separately during the week. Then on Sunday morning we read through the questions together, taking turns reading the Scriptures aloud. My daughter is a rather private person, and it used to be like pulling hen's teeth to draw her out. As we worked our way through this book, however, she began to open up to me more. I got to know her a whole lot better, and I think she might say the same about me.

Sarah had been resenting the fact that she is a girl. She heard lists of do's and don'ts that restrict a woman, lists that were often unnecessary, unbiblical, and that represented distorted ideas about the role of women in the home and in the church. One of the blessings that came from reading this book is that it helped her to accept her femininity as a gift from God. A whole new world was opened up to her as she began to look at all she can do and be for God.

So what was the quote I referred to earlier, and why did I think it important with regards to being "in behaviour as becometh holiness"? Raising Maidens of Virtue was written to help mothers raise godly daughters in a very ungodly society. Mrs. McDonald addresses a problem that is sadly all too common in the average western church today. In the chapter "Tinkling Feet" she describes "Mandy," a fictional teen who represents the average teen girl of today. How is the average Christian girl going to be a godly influence on "Mandy," when there is no real difference between the two girls? Mrs. McDonald writes:

The problem is that we have mimicked the world for so long--copying their fashions, borrowing their educational and social philosophies, conforming to their dating format, and adopting their dialect--that we do not even realize we have lost our Christian identity. We've been wearing the costume and speaking the language of the world for so long that we don't even recognize ourselves anymore. . . .

If we Christian women do not show Mandy what biblical beauty, femininity, and modesty look like, how is she to know? But then again, how are we to know? Who is going to show us? We ourselves have forgotten.

If we visit most any church youth group, we will see young ladies who speak, walk, dress, talk, and flirt exactly like the daughters of the heathen. This has happened as a result of our conformity to the world--and the Church doesn't even realize it. Instead, Christians must be conformed to the image of Christ, and it is imperative that our uniqueness be evident to the world. . . .

It has been said that imitation is the highest form of flattery. We tend to imitate those of whom we think highly--those we decide we would like to be like. So if we imitate the world, what are we communicating?

What, indeed?