The New Church Lady

Weightier Matters

GOD’S ECONOMY

I’m facilitating a new women’s Bible group. We are doing the Tony Evans study titled Kingdom Woman. In the opening video of this series, Evans goes into great detail about the value of each woman to God, no matter what they have been through in life, using the analogy of a $100 bill – no matter if you wrinkle it, stomp it into the ground, spit on it or tear it in half, it is still a $100 bill. 

Many women are hungry to hear, know and understand their place in God’s heart and plan. Evans outlines that the woman was first God’s and then God took her to man to be a his wife, and that she is always subject to Him first and to her husband only so long as he follows God.  

It is true that in mankind’s history, and in many cultures still, men have oppressed women and used their God-given authority to “lord it over” at the least and physically, mentally or emotionally abuse them at the worst.

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REGRETS, I’VE HAD A FEW

On Saturday, February 3, 2018, family and friends gathered for the memorial service of my brother, Toney John Schmidt. Only 50 years old, he succumbed to a more than four-year battle with cancer of the brain. Toney wanted two songs played at his funeral – “I Can Only Imagine,” (Casting Crowns) and “I Did It My Way” (an old Frank Sinatra version with Toney signing along). The latter seems unusual unless you knew Toney.

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FLEA THANKFULNESS

In the book The Hiding Place, one of the most weirdly Christian moments is when Betsie Ten Boom, in the midst of the horror of a work camp during World War II, starving, weak, suffering daily abuse and torment and being eaten alive by fleas in their barracks says, essentially, “thank you, God, for the fleas.”* Her sister, Corey, who is telling the story is incredulous. I am pretty sure, under those circumstances, I would have figured Betsie has finally succumbed to the trauma and lost her mind.

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PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN

The Wizard of Oz is a classic movie that I have been watching since as far back as I can remember. As a child, I very much wanted the Wizard to be real and impressive and the answer to all the needs of the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow and Dorothy and I was disappointed when Toto discovered that all the Wizard’s power was nothing but smoke and mirrors, posturing and braggadocio.  They trusted him and he let them down. 

Recently, I was talking to one of my sons about the church he grew up in and the feelings he had about the possibility that some of the leadership was corrupt. It’s never easy to see someone you put on a pedestal turn out to be faulty, let alone corrupt. And it is so much more disappointing if you are talking about spiritual leadership.

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MAMA SAID THERE’D BE DAYS LIKE THIS

“Mama said there’d be days like this.” So goes a pop song from 1961. But I do not believe my mother actually gave me any warning about the day I had recently. The details must remain private for the sake of others involved. But trust me when I say that it was one of the worst days of my life, came at an already very stressful time and it shook me to my core. At the time, it seemed too much to bear.

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STRONG AND SILENT

While I do not celebrate the New Year, I typically use this as time to start a new daily devotional book and a new prayer journal. And, for the last couple of years, I have selected one particular thing to work on for the coming year. 

This past year, it was my mouth (recall my blog about this time last year, titled “The Year of the Rooster.”). The year before it was pride. I asked God to guide and grow me in these areas and He did. It was both tough and personally revealing to focus on a characteristic or behavior that I wanted to improve upon. I would not say I am done working on either one. However, it is time to pick the 2018 focus.

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MOVING MOUNTAINS

Matthew 17:20 [NIV] He replied, "Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

Are there any others out there besides me who wonder if they could ever have THAT much faith? I don’t know about you, but the idea of moving even pebbles by faith seems beyond my means!

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CATARACTS 

About a year ago, my husband, Wes, had cataracts removed from both eyes. He had the cataracts removed and the new lens implants done on each eye about a week apart, because he pushed the doctor to do it as quickly as possible. I’ve never seen anyone so excited to get surgery. He was excited because he knew what that would mean – no more glasses for driving or watching TV or doing chores around the house. He does need readers, but mostly he is eyeglass free.

God has a few things to say about how well we humans see things. And, while He isn’t above imposing literal blindness to make a point, as He did with Saul (Acts 9:3-9), He very much expects His children to strive to see with increasing clarity as we grow in understanding. 

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A CONSUMING FIRE

There are wildfires in California again. The Santa Ana winds are helping to intensify and spread these raging wildfires. At the time I began writing this blog, according to an article at CNN.com, the fires had collectively scorched nearly 200,000 acres over a one-week period and destroyed 792 structures. That is a consuming fire!

What consumes you? If you have a new baby, based on my experience with three children, that new baby consumes your time and energy. He/she must be feed, changed and cared for in so may ways throughout every day.

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A LESSON FROM JANEWAY

If you are not a fan of Star Trek Voyager, let me apologize in advance for being such a space geek and ask that you hang in there, past a little gushing about Captain Janeway (played by Kate Mulgrew), to the lesson for Christian women in one of my favorite episodes. 

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IF THIS CUP CAN PASS

The most moving prayer in the Bible, in my opinion, is this one, spoken by Jesus on the night He was betrayed:

Luke 22:41-42 [NIV] He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."

We know that God, our loving Father, did not remove that cup and allowed His only begotten Son to suffer and die. Instead, the Father looked on as He was beaten and mocked, crucified and ridiculed, gasped for breath and forgave His persecutors. 

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WHAT LIES BENEATH

Today, I read a fascinating article in the LA Times about the Great Pyramid of Giza. (I’ve pasted a link to the article at the bottom of this blog). Quoting from the article: An international team of scientists has discovered a large hidden cavity within Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza, and they did it by looking for muons — particles sent to Earth by cosmic rays from space. The mysterious cavity, described Thursday (Nov. 1, 2017) in the journal Nature, is at least 30 meters long. And though the researchers aren’t sure whether it’s straight or inclined, whether it’s one large space or a series of smaller ones, the discovery has already triggered interest among archaeologists as to the purpose of the void.

The pyramids of Giza are thousands of years old. Scientists have be trying to learn more about them for centuries, with mixed success. Quoting the LA Times article again: Other research teams have searched for hidden “chambers” by measuring tiny variations in the pyramid’s gravity or by using ground-penetrating radar. The results of those efforts have been inconclusive.

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HEY SIRI, NAVIGATE TO…

In Joshua 14:10 [KJV], quoting Joshua, we find this: And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while [the children of] Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I [am] this day fourscore and five years old.

Ever see one of those Family Circle cartoons in the Sunday newspaper, where Billy wanders the neighborhood - a dashed line showing a crazy, disorganized path? Or perhaps you’ve seen this cartoon:

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WEEDING

Weeding – I hate it.  Always have. In fact, I have had a pretty strange and often comical relationship with weeds. There was the time my mother told me to transplant young strawberry plants and I lovingly, carefully (but inadvertently) transplanted weeds instead. There was the time I was looking to save money on hedges around my home and dug up some wild bushes along my fence line. I did at least actually transplant the bushes I wanted, but I also, apparently, failed to notice the poison ivy it was intertwined with. That cost me weeks of suffering while I was 8 months pregnant. 

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A PEACE OF HIM 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” So said Jesus in John 14:27.

What is peace? It can be simply a reprieve from outright war or actual harmony among individuals. However, probably the best definition of the word that is translated “peace” in John 14:27 is “the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ.” This is the peace – this tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation – that we are assured, I believe, in the promise Jesus gave His disciples. 

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A STICK AND A STING

“A stick and a sting” – that is what the doctors and nurses at my dermatologist’s office say before giving me a shot of numbing agent. I’ve been through it many times. They are very apologetic, but there is no need. Yes, it hurts a little and very briefly to get that shot. However, a “stick and a sting” is a small price to pay to be pain free through the rest of what the doctor needs to do – cutting out the basal cell cancer, cauterizing the wound and stitching me back up.  I do not want to feel that. So, the brief stick and sting is welcomed

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THE MAESTRO AND THE PRAISE LEADER

Wes and I were recently blessed to be able to attend two local concerts. The first one was the Gaithers, a Southern Gospel vocal group named for the founder, Bill Gaither, performing at LeTourneau University in Longview. The other was Yo-Yo Ma, the world famous cellist, performing with the East Texas Symphony Orchestra at the University of Texas at Tyler. And the experiences couldn’t have been any different!

What they had in common: great music and great performances by musicians well trained in their craft and devoted to presenting quality work. However, the performances asked quite different things from their audiences.

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SWALLOWED UP

I’m listening to a self-help book about creativity on tape titled Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (who also wrote Eat, Pray, Love). In it, Gilbert discusses a book that she failed to write, the concept for which began when she learned about an incident that occurred in the 60’s or 70’s in Brazil. 

Gilbert recounted how, the Brazilian government decided to build a road through the rainforest. The project was mismanaged in many ways, but did finally get under way – at least until the rainy season hit. Work on the highway had to be abandoned until the rainy season ended, at which time the workers returned to find that the entire highway and all their equipment (some so big that the tires were more than six feet tall) were swallowed up by the jungle and the mud. 

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THE DEBT CEILING

Debt is in the news. Here in the USA, Congress is once again facing the need to raise the national debt ceiling. Like my parents before me, I wonder what my children and grandchildren will get saddled with trying to live their lives under that type of ever-increasing debt. And then there is the oppressive college debt most graduates labor under. Post high school education is practically a requirement to survive in the work-a-day world these days, yet, I know so many young people who could end up not paying off college debt until they are nearing retirement. These things are enough to give this mother of three a panic attack.

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PAUL AND SNAPCHAT FILTERS

Have you ever tried Snapchat filters? I’m not on Snapchat, but I have a similar app that my son put on my phone when I last visited him in China. It is called Faceu. Through this app, as with Snapchat filters, I can give myself a pig face or bunny ears or a crown of flowers. I can add a photo frame or change the color tone to “sunshine” or “berry” or make it black and white. It’s a fun way to create silly pictures.

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