Wednesday, May 20, 2015

May 2015

Easter Sunday

I'm more than a little late this month. :) Oh well.

April was a busy month for us.

Easter was very nice. Anthony was a little disappointed because he was unable to sing in the Easter choir at church due to a throat infection. He is much better now but it had the potential to turn serious at one point. 

It was both of our birthdays, so we celebrated pretty big this year. In honor of both our birthdays, Valentines Day, & our anniversary, we took a short trip to Disney World. We only stayed three days but we were more exhausted from those three days than we were when we went for eight. We tracked our steps while we were there as well and found out we were averaging between 12-14 miles per day. For someone who gets in probably less than two miles (maybe three if I go for a walk), that is quite a workout. 

Anthony trying Beijing Strawberries
Spring is when Epcot hosts it's Flower and Garden Festival. They have started adding food booths at this festival as well, now. So we got the best of both worlds this year: the beautiful flowers and the tasty food. :) The best thing we had, by far, were what they called Beijing Strawberries. Man, they were good! It was three gigantic strawberries on a skewer, encapsulated in a hardened sugar/syrup shell, and sprinkled with sesame seeds. I didn't really think it sounded good but it was AMAZING! We sat down to eat it and we were getting several stares and a few people asked us where we got them. We should have gotten paid a commission fee for as many people as we sent to the booth. Ha!

It rained two of the three days we were there. Hard, torrential rains.
Waiting in the rain to ride Splash Mountain
But, it kept everything fairly cool, so we didn't complain. The first day we got to Florida, we check in at our hotel and then headed to the park. We had a fast pass to ride Splash Mountain. We were about to step into the next boat when they shut the ride down due to the storm passing over. Luckily, I had insisted on bringing our ponchos that day so we stayed much dryer than most of the rest of the people in line. We waited there for over an hour and then just decided to leave our ponchos on for the ride. Ha. 

We love Disney but we made some decisions on this trip:
  1. We will only visit Disney every five years or so. That way there are a decent amount of changes between visits and we will really appreciate the trips more.
  2. We will save up in order to pay extra to stay at Coronado Springs. Pop Century is fine, its a bed & that's really all you need. But, it is still pretty expensive and if you are going to stay on property and pay that much money, it feels like more of a vacation staying at a place where you will always get a seat on the bus and will never have to wait for a second bus to show up. Coronado Springs just has such fewer people at it. Granted, it is the only conference center at Disney World (that I know of) so you may want to make sure you go when there isn't a major conference going on because I'm sure it really gets crowded.
  3. Unless we have grandparents or other help, we will never take children under eight. Our minds may actually change once we have kids but for now, they would have to be some very mature kids to convince me to take them. ;)
I may make a few posts about Disney, tips, and recommendations later but for now, here are a few more pics from our trip. Enjoy. :)
Leaving the Haunted Mansion 
Magic Kingdom's Wishes firework show
Outside Be Our Guest restaurant. You can see
Beast's castle in the upper left hand corner of the pic. 
Riding Expedition Everest
Anthony in front of Spaceship Earth. Goofy & Pluto topiaries gardening. 
These crazy ladies were driving around handing out maps & talking to people.
Anthony trying a cronut
Captain Hook
"Never smile at a crocodile..."
Macaron Guimauve a la Fraise
(Strawberry Marshmallow Macaron)
Beijing Strawberries
Lightening McQueen
Sunset outside our hotel room.
Exhausted but happy to be back home.
Being inspired by all the flowers & gardens, I turned my awesome
Spaceship Earth mug into a succulent garden.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Slow Leak

A few weeks ago, I had printed off some recipes and had separated them into categories on the carpet in our living room. The next day, I picked them up and noticed they felt like they had been in a damp environment. Not wet, just kind of soft feeling. I felt the carpet where they had been sitting & it felt damp. I moved a book case and the carpet under it was soaked and mold had starting growing. I knew instantly we had a big problem. 

We called a plumber who had to cut into our wall to find the leak. He originally thought it was a leak in the slab which would have been very expensive to fix. Luckily, the leak was higher up and he was able to fix it. It was still pretty expensive but better than he originally thought. He said we had a fairly decent amount of water damage and suggested we call a water restoration company. Thankfully, God was protecting us once again and the man from the company told us "I am not in the business of robbing people. My fees start at $800 and you don't have $800 worth of damage here." He then instructed us how to clean up the mess ourselves.

We ended up having to purchase a new book shelf, patch the wall, and we will have to replace a section of the carpet pad and shampoo the carpet when we are done with everything. All in all, a little hole in a small pipe that has been slowly dripping for at least a year is going to end up costing us quite a bit of money and effort that we would have preferred spending in other ways.

That concept had me thinking today. Here we have a house, with lots of pipes, wires, wood, brick, concrete, etc and our whole life was turned upside down for a tiny little hole in one small pipe. This small, drip over the span of at least a year, ended up causing so much damage. 

I've been relistening to the Strange Fire Conference hosted by Grace Community Church in California in 2013. This conference addressed some of the false teachings that have slipped into the church, have been tolerated, accepted, and finally practiced by much of the church today. It had me thinking about how a small leak of bad theology has grown into a full movement and has infiltrated most of what claims to be "Christianity."

Galatians 5:9 says, "A little leaven leavens the whole lump." A little false teaching can bring down an entire church and even a whole denomination and eventually taint the reputation of the universal church to where what most "Christians" claim to be the Gospel is actually no gospel at all. 

Justin Peters says that many false teachers today do teach quite a bit of truth, but there is just enough false teaching that it becomes deadly. He compares it to putting a tiny drop of strychnine in a glass of water. The contents of the glass may be 99% healthy, beneficial water but that tiny fraction of poison will kill whoever drinks from it. 

We must address false teachings when we hear them. Even if they don't seem like a big deal or like something most Christians would fall for. We cannot let even one small drip, one small grain of yeast to exist in the church. We must root it all out. 

The best way to do this is to not neglect daily reading the Word of God.

This was part of Jesus' prayer to the Father for all those whom would become Children of God:
"I have given them Your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate Myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth." (John 17:14-19)
This leak also got me to thinking of the Christian life. How much "damage" can a small leak of good theology, of Truth, do to the enemy, to the false religions of the world. The small, constant, dripping of one voice can begin to eat away at a big conglomeration. A small leak is typically silent and can go on unnoticed for a long time, it usually isn't noticed until substantial damage has taken place.

Yes, the loud voices, "the burst main lines," are needed in the church today. Those who make dramatic differences in the world today. Missionaries, preachers, debaters, authors, speakers, etc. But it is the sheep within the church, the ordinary man, the layman, the "silent slow leak" that really causes a whole change in trajectory of a group, church, city, state, country, world. 

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 says we should "aspire to live quietly" in order that we will "walk properly before outsiders." Teaching a correct view of God and worldview leads to people being saved and equipping them to go out and do the same. A group of a thousand protesters usually does little than just upset those who are on the other side of whatever movement the protesters are upset about. I'm not saying their isn't a place for protesting but much more is done by the changing of the worldview of the masses. 

We must pray for our leaders, political and spiritual. We must pray for each other as well. Not merely prayers of addressing felt needs (health, family, finances, etc) but prayers for wisdom, discernment, to be protected from falling into sin, to remain faithful to God, and, above all else, to bring glory to God's name. 

If you need help knowing what and how to pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ, check out the openings and closings of the epistles. These are letters from the Apostles to the churches. They often open with how they thank God for them in certain ways and then close telling the church how they will pray for them in specific ways and then tell the church how they can pray for writers in specific ways.

"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now." (Philippines 1:3-5)
"We always thank God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you," (Colossians 1:3)
"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
"We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing." (2 Thessalonians 1:3)
"Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one...May the Lord direct your heads to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ." (2 Thessalonians 3:1-3, 5)
"Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all." (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
We must also pray for a real revival in the church, not a manufactured, emotional high type revive, but a true drawing close to God.
"We cannot organize revival, but we can set ourselves to catch the wind of heaven." ~ G Campbell Morgan
"We must set our hearts to treasure the God who describes Himself in Scripture, never again be satisfied with His absence. It is His name which is at stake. It is also our everlasting joy to have Him near." ~ John Snyder (Behold Your God, p. 263)
"Regardless of the spiritual and moral decline, it is never so dark that God, the Eternal Light, cannot expel the darkness." ~ John Snyder (Behold Your God, p. 262)
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you." (James 4:7-10)