Worship at Church or Home?

I know the preferable answer is both. Meet with other believers at church and also live out your faith at home.

But what happens when a family doesn’t have a church? What if they’re in transition? What if they’re ill? (There could be a thousand what if’s.)

So the question de jour: Is it better to go to church once a week and do nothing else–OR– not go to church and pray with your spouse every morning, study your Bible during the day, teach your children from the Bible throughout the week, and fellowship online with other believers?

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The Christian Modifier

I haven’t had many deep, introspective thoughts in quite some time. (Does this mean I’m getting better?)

Something’s been brewing though. I’d like to give it a shot, ease back into things.

This thought is about the word “Christian” as a modifier.

Christian writer
Christian music
Christian books
Christian artist
Christian horror (Egads! What’s that?!)

Modifier= A word, phrase, or clause that limits or qualifies the sense of another word or word group.

And so it has come to pass that I’ve figured out why I don’t like it as a modifier. It limits. Limits imply rules. Rules imply a maker of rules–and here’s where I have problems. I can handle, say, speed limits. Seat belt laws. Things that, for all intent and purpose, are for the common good of society.

But where does that fit in when we’re talking about this idea of “Christian fiction?” Heather Goodman said,

In an interview I posted yesterday (or was it the day before?), we decided that what people mean by “Christian novel” is it’s written by Christians, marketed by Christians, and bought by Christians, which means it may or may not have anything to do with the themes or theology in the book below a surface level.”

Heather also added that she didn’t like labels and surprised me by posting a Willie Nelson quote and video. “

“Labels were invented to sell the music. You had to know what to call it to sell it. So they called the blues the blues, and the jazz the jazz, and the bluegrass, gospel. But some music encompasses it all. So what do you call that? And that’s pretty much what I like to play.”–Willie Nelson

They’re saying the same thing. My take: labels exist for people who need rules. People who want to be kept. Kept what? I don’t know. For people who read “Christian” fiction, maybe they need to be kept safe. At least their version of safe. Because it can’t fully reconcile itself to Jesus.

Christian radio stations around here tout themselves as “family friendly” and “safe for the whole family.”

Since when is Jesus safe?

Strongtower. Yes. But, safe?

And check it out. Head on over to Blue Letter Bible and search the terms Jesus safe.

Sorry! The search criteria that you entered, Jesus safe, does not yield any results…

I wonder, then. How are authors limiting their fiction by subjecting themselves to modifiers that are inadequate? And yes, I’m fully aware that some people are comfortable within limitations. And some people are meant to break free.

Which are you?

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Spiritual Battle?

In the past five years, I’ve found that many of my spiritual battles have been pretty obvious if I pay attention. When I was just getting back into faith, trying the Bible on for size, and stretching my believing muscles, I was typically hit with financial difficulties like this one. Phil’s been with me for all of the battles, but I’m speaking for myself in the lessons because I think we are all tested and tried in unique ways and even though we were going through what appeared to be the same situation we were each struggling with different pieces of the same puzzle.

The financial woes I experienced looked like a different animal to Phil–maybe a self-esteem or a pride issue. (not saying that’s the case, just trying to explain how a problem can be one thing for me and another for him.)

When I learned to trust God for all things involving money–which is a hard lesson and I’m not nearly as mature as I’d like to be–the battles started involving electronics. I remember I’d made the decision to write and my computer crashed and then the laptop crashed. My mom (graciously) gave me an old one of hers and it didn’t have Microsoft Word on it. I posted a question on a message board asking if there was an open source version of Word and a wonderful man sent me his old copy of the program. (I’d mention his name, but I didn’t ask permission and I don’t know if he wants the public glory. I’d love to give it to him, but he’s a rather humble man and he sent it because he’d just prayed asking God to show him someone in need of the program) I was floored.

Soon after, our cat knocked over the Beta fish bowl onto the laptop and fried it. I thought I blogged about that but I can’t find it.

Those are just a few of the examples. Other things include cell phones losing signal at important moments, power going out for no reason, etc…

So that brings us to the topic d’jour. Seems that things have escalated a bit. Now the battles are financial and electronic.

I can’t lie. I totally stressed out yesterday over the latest event. However, I did something I don’t normally do. I prayed. Yes, I pray regularly, especially when people I know are in need. I’m a great intercessory pray-er. When things go wrong in my life, though, the first thing I do is blame myself. Then I get down on myself for being a complete and total idiot. Then I get depressed. Then I vow to never let something like that happen again (as if I have control!)

Yesterday, though, I grabbed some pretty scrapbook paper and made myself a Praying In Color journal that I could keep in my purse. And I prayed–in color. I found out about it while surfing the web a few months back and it has done wonders for my prayer life.

I took a picture of the one I did last night. Just because.

EDIT TO ADD: Did you happen to notice the date I put on that prayer in the photo? Wow. I got out my journal to draw one for today and saw that. What the…?

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I Hate Being Sick

I barely made it out of bed at all yesterday.

My fever: 102.2

My fever dream: The short story I’m working on for the Indiana Horror Writers anthology was printed out on a table. I saw a huge, god-like semi-colon in the air above it. A big freaking semi-colon. I said (to the semi-colon, mind you) “What are you doing there?” It said, “Two parts are not supposed to be together, but I make it so”

The best part of the day:

Zane: “Are you feeling okay, Mommy?”

Me: “No, I feel horrible.”

Zane: “I can pray for you.”

Me: Start crying

Zane: Puts my head on his chest and prays that Mommy feel better.

Today: No fever. Oh the faith of a child.

Duma Key by Stephen King

I’m reading it now.

I’m only 34 pages in and have already seen fit to journal some quotations about being an artist.

Like this one:

“Remember that the truth is in the details. No matter how you see the world or what style it imposes on your work as an artist, the truth is in the details. Of course, the devil’s there too–everyone says so–but maybe truth and the devil are words for the same thing. It could be, you know.”

Interesting.

Made me think of the Garden, the fall, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, God shutting off the Garden of Eden so we wouldn’t eat from the Tree of Life because he was afraid we’d do it and become immortal in that state and how he had a plan for redemption, so that we could share in eternal life, but good eternal life.

Also thinking about how people have “dumbed down” God and his word.