Monday, October 26, 2015

The 'Seeker' Friendly Church

I've noticed, since I have become a born-again Christian -which was in the late '80's, that the church is constantly morphing the way it does 'church.' I find that the church is always trying to invent a new style or look, newer programs, newer buildings, to simply get the lost to come through it's doors-thus the 'seeker' friendly church. It's all quite confusing to me. This world is always changing. You're always needing to upgrade this or upgrade that, but I believe church doesn't need all of that. Church is simple. It always has been. Church is where we go to know and find Jesus. Why are we trying to make it more than that?

I understand the heart idea behind the seeker church philosophy, but after attending a seeker church service I have been embolden to share my feelings. This may surprise some, but I'm not altogether in favor of a seeker church style. I've come up with two main and basic reasons for feeling as I do.

1. My testimony in a nutshell: I loved Jesus all of my childhood and in my teen years as a Catholic, but still felt lost and confused. As much as I loved God and went to church every Sunday there were times I felt maybe God wasn't listening, or maybe I'm supposed to 'do' this world on my own. I really did feel lost. At age eighteen I tried a new church-not Catholic, on the bequest of my mother. When I entered the church doors there was music, with a full band, people were happy, singing, even dancing! When the music became quieter, there were people raising their hands, speaking in a foreign tongue and even something called prophecy! I was curious of it all, but not afraid. I could see they wanted more of Jesus, just like I wanted more of Him. I didn't run out the door, I stayed. I stayed because I wanted more. The pastor preached. My heart felt on fire. Questions my soul was longing to hear were being answered. Things were becoming clear. I prayed the sinners prayer that very day. I now sing, dance, speak in a foreign tongue, have words of knowledge, visions, and prophesy.

My soul longed for EVERYTHING God has to offer and as I walked into the church it unashamedly offered it to me. If I didn't want more of God I wouldn't have walked through it's doors in the first place, but I did and I received it all!

What the seeker churches are doing are pretending we are something we are not-Christians filled with Holy Spirit and on fire for God! We suppress Holy Spirit and God and even hide Jesus to welcome the stranger- the lost. Why? They are coming into the church to find Him! Are we afraid that if they meet the real Jesus, the real Holy Spirit, the real God, the Father of Heaven they will run out? I'm not. When they meet Him as I did, they will run to Him and ask for even more!

Didn't Jesus speak the truth? Did He not boldly preach no matter who was sitting in the crowd? Did He change His message because He was afraid of loosing the pharisees? No! He offered truth, they rejected it. Did He change His hair-do? His clothes? Act younger and cooler to impress and draw a crowd? No. Did he choose handsome, well dressed modern men to be His disciples? No. He didn't have to. His words were and are life giving, life breathing. People who really desire to know Him and be changed don't care about all the new sparkly, fashionable things. They have lived a life filled with the fake and the showy things of this world and now their hearts want the truth. We as Christians need to give it to them, not hide it.

I remember walking into my old church for the first time and seeing the cross of Jesus up on the heart rested. A few months later the renovation started, when it was done, the cross was gone. Why? I was told that the cross was offensive to many new comers. My response, Yes! It is! It reminds us of our sin and how very much we need a Savior! I love the cross. I love that Jesus died for me. He died to set me free from so much darkness and pain. He died so I could have forgiveness and hope. Take the cross away and what have you got? Only an imperfect preacher standing on a stage-I want both-the preacher and the cross!

Bottom line- If we, the church, are seeking the seekers, don't we want to give them what they are seeking for?  The 'seekers' want JESUS and we have Him! Let's give the seekers what they really want- Jesus, not a church that looks like the world devoid of Jesus. If that is what we are offering then, well, in that case they can go back to the bars and clubs and be very comfortable in their lost lives and allow the bartenders to handle their hurts.

2. The second reason I disagree with the whole idea of a 'seeker' friendly church is that those that are already in the church are being asked to sit still and wait for a seeker to come along and be saved. All the while the committed church members aren't allowed to grow, dance, raise their hands, or prophesy in fear we will scare off or drive away the new comer/seeker. I can't say that is altogether fair -Can you? And don't get me wrong, I am not wanting a crazy church service. Jesus was radical, not chaotic. I pray these pastors who are leading their church in a 'seeker' friendly style will trust the Holy Spirit in their parishioners to be lead by the Holy Spirit.

Church service is a tricky thing-I get it, on one hand you want all to feel welcome, and yet on the other hand you want those who have different gifts from Holy Spirit to use them. There has to be a better compromise then shutting down the Holy Spirit completely for the possibility that you may have one lost soul walk through your door. All I can really say is that I am saddened that the Church has become ashamed of the Holy Spirit. If we really love Holy Spirit we would not be afraid of Him when He shows up. We would be excited, even anticipating His arrival and glad to see a lost soul see and meet Him too.

Friday, October 23, 2015

'Moonstruck' Eggs!

A traditional, Italian breakfast for me,
past down to me from my parents is
"Moonstruck" Eggs.
My parents were making this breakfast before they
ever saw the movie 'Moonstruck,' but didn't have a
name for it- so they now call it 'Moonstuck Eggs.'

Simple to make and so delicious!

The bread shown here is from Panera.
It is their Honey Wheat.

How to Make Moonstruck Eggs:
                                1-Slice the loaf of bread about a 1/4 or 1/2 inch thick.
                                2- Carefully cut out a hole in the center of each piece of bread.
                                3. Butter the pan generously.
                                4. Lightly toast each side before cracking an egg in each.
                                5. Then crack open an egg for each slice of bread and drop it in
                                        the middle of the bread.
                                6. Allow egg to cook for 2 minutes and flip!

It is simple and delicious!
My six children love it!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Afraid of God? or Fear of God?

Recently, as I was walking into a church group meeting, I walked up to my friend (who also happened to be the speaker) and began chatting. As conversation began to weaken, I simply asked, more rhetorically than not, "Ready to speak?" Her response not only shocked me, but is what is fueling this article. She said, "No, I am never ready. This is the last thing I want to do." I laughed, thinking she was joking. When I realized she was not, I then asked, "Then why do you do it?" Her answer came very confidently, "I am afraid of being eaten by a whale!" The music began, to announce the beginning of the meeting, and I stumbled away.

"I'm afraid of begin eaten by a whale" refers to Jonah the prophet in the Old Testament of the Bible. Jonah not only disobeyed God, but decided to travel as far as he could from the real destination God had intended for him to go. While running away from God, by journeying on a ship, a storm came, he was thrown overboard and a giant fish or whale swallowed him up. Jonah sat in the belly of the whale, stinky as that must have been, and cried out to God. Being inside of a whale just so happens to be the very thing that he needed to get him right with God. He prayed for forgiveness and was duly dumped upon the shores of the city where he was originally to go! My friend essentially was communicating to me that she is a speaker in church because God has asked her to, not because this was some life long dream, and rather than disobey and be potentially swallowed up by God, she speaks.

The title of this article is, "Afraid of God? or Fear of God?" I believe they are two very different questions. To be afraid is, as Webster's Dictionary defines it, is to be "filled with fear or apprehension, filled with concern or regret over an unwanted situation." Fear, concern, apprehension are all words to describe a lack of trust. I was greatly afraid of my biological father, or differently worded, I had a great lack of trust towards my father. My father was a man who I will liken to a ticking time bomb. I never knew what or when he would explode. He was completely untrustworthy-thus I was afraid of him.

Okay, so are we to be afraid of God? Afraid that if we disobey God, He will swallow us up? No! One-hundred percent, NO! We are not to be afraid of God. God, in the story of Jonah, used a whale to basically transport Jonah where he needed to go. Why? I have several thoughts: 1) to remind Jonah that He is God. I think Jonah had a bit of pride and was confused between what is justice and what is mercy. He forgot who God is. Jonah thought he could simply say no to God, after pledging that he would be God's spokesman to a lost world, and run away. Jonah needed to be reminded that God is in heaven, He sees us, and you cannot just run away from Him. God found him on the that ship. He further showed Jonah or reminded him, who it is that controls the storms and the fish of the sea! Pretty powerful God, don't you think! 2) God knew Jonah's heart. He knew he would eventually come around, ask for forgiveness and go to Nineveh- his original destination. So, God provided a whale (another type of ship) to take him there. God could have sent another boat at just the right time to travel Jonah back to Nineveh, but I think, Jonah needed further nudging- and God knew that being swallowed by the whale would do the trick and it did. And 3) and perhaps the most important reason, God loved Jonah. God wanted a relationship with Jonah. As a father he didn't want Jonah running away from Him, He wanted Jonah to see the good in His plan. His plan was the salvation of hundreds of people through Jonah. God wanted Jonah to remember His heart. A heart full of love for Jonah and a lost world.

Now, what does it mean to have a 'Fear of God? Isaiah 6 shows us:

"... I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory."
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

I love this Scripture for many reasons. First, we see God on His throne in Heaven in all His Majesty. We are reminded that HE is on the throne, He is King, and He is so holy. Second, we get to see how holy God is by Isaiah's response in seeing God. "I am ruined! I am a man of unclean lips!" In the presence of the holy, perfect, pure God, Isaiah recognizes his sin and his need for the Savior. He repents. Third, God has the answer- purify Isaiah. He cleanses Isaiah and forgives him of his sin. Only God can cleanse us and wipe away our sin.

So, was Isaiah afraid of God or did he have a healthy fear of God. I believe Isaiah had a right fear of God. He recognized how holy and perfect God is and how unholy he himself was. But what is also really important to see is how did God handled Isaiah's sin? He cleansed him because Isaiah was humble. God saw Isaiah's sin- He didn't have him swallowed up- He healed him. Why? Because God is our loving God. He created us and is our perfect Father of love. He is always calling to us..."Come."

"Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) 

So, to my sweet friend who is afraid of God-don't be. If God asks us to do something, and you don't want to,  remember He is God. He knew before He asked you that you didn't want to obey. Talk with Him. Share your heart, and your fears and have Him cleanse you and prepare you for the task, like He did for Isaiah. bottom line: God wants a relationship with you. Don't be afraid of Him- that only gets you blindly obeying, living in fear, and not getting to know the One you serve. Above all else, remember He is gentle and loving and beckons you to come!

Friday, October 2, 2015

How to Menu Plan

The wonderful thing about menu planning is that you can use this with a one or two or three week menu plan- you do not need to do a whole month of planning. I can menu plan and shop for the whole month in one weekend because I have two refrigerators and a deep freeze to store all the food. You may not.

1.   So the first step is to gather recipes. No rush here, you have a month to find the recipes you need for the next month. I use  as one of my go-to places for recipes. You can go to the site with a recipe in mind, ie. spaghetti carbonara or search by ingredient! It's a wonderful help. I also LOVE the library as a resource! I can take out four or five books at a time, photocopy some recipes and give the books back. (I have no need or place to store a bunch of cook books. Of course you can hold a recipe swap day with friends, ask family etc. 

2.     You will need a two –pocket folder, clear plastic cover sheets and a huge binder to store all your recipes! YOU are creating your very own personalized cook book! No recipe is in my recipe binder that my family does not like. If I try a new recipe, and the family gives it the thumbs down, I take it right out of my cook book binder and throw it away! 

3.      BEGIN PLANNING! You will need a CALENDAR! A calendar that is ONLY for menu planning meals.
My weekly schedule:

Monday- cook new recipe or family favorite

Tuesday –cook new recipe or family favorite

Wednesday-cook new recipe or family favorite

Thursday-left over night 
(I heat up the meals from Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday. Each family member gets a plate and chooses what they would like to have. I do this so I can have a night off and to get rid of left overs. I was tired of all the wasted food in the back of the fridge!).

Friday – pizza. (I used to buy pizza every Friday night, but then hubby asked if I would make it to save the budget. I now make different kinds of pizza on Friday!)

Saturday- kids cook. (My hubby and I have our date night every Saturday night, so the kids cook for themselves!)

Sunday-breakfast meal. 
I will cook eggs, pancakes, french toast, waffles, whatever they want for dinner, so long as it is a breakfast meal!

I share my menu plan ideas with you so you can see that I am not finding seven new recipes a week x four weeks = twenty-eight meals! I am only cooking three meals a week x four weeks = a total of twelve new or old recipes a month.

4.      Make your shopping list. Go over your recipes and make sure you put down everything you need to complete each meal- so you won’t forget anything. I used to shop with NO LIST! I would go aisle by aisle and just buy stuff. I’d think, Okay we’ll have tacos- I hadn’t checked before I left if I had meat, salsa, sour cream, taco mix already at home- so I would often OVER BUY and fill my cabinets with more of the things I already had! Before you shop look in your cabinets and make sure you are using up everything in the house before buying more!

5.      Now that all the recipes are chosen and the shopping list is made place all the recipes you will need for the month in your two pocket folder. It is much smaller and anyone can find the recipe!

I hope that helps and if you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at!

This is the second article in a two part series. If you would like to read the first article entitled,
"Why I Menu Plan" click on the link =)

I have written other articles on Menu Planning:
Mommyhood-The Menu Plan for the Month
More Help in Planning a Month's Worth of Recipes!