Monday Stuff

Have I Mentioned …

1. I now have a new way to cook a turkey thanks to my sister-in-law. Are you ready for this?

Upside down. I KNOW! How radical is this?! But here’s what she discovered – cooking the turkey with breast side down forces all of the juices to pool at the breasts and makes them juicy and tender. In addition, the legs and wings just fall off, so that eliminates the whole carving ritual. (Unless you LIKE the whole carving ritual, which, if so, forget I said anything).

You can find the recipe here.

And yes, we’re going to try this in the next several weeks because HELLO?! December is turkey month! (Well, not officially, but it is if I say it is! *grin*)

2. RSS Readers, there’s a new Christmas theme at my blog, if you’re interested. Just a little fun and whimsy for the holidays. I’m currently working on a new design for the upcoming year – that one will go live January 1st (which is also my blog anniversary! FIVE years! w00t!)

3. I ordered the Barlow Girl Christmas album. I ADORE these girls (Christian rock group) and I can’t wait to hear them sing some Christmas songs. I’ll post a few of them for the “Christmas Song a Day” thing I’m starting tomorrow!

Here’s a cute little video about how the girls kept having all sorts of problems while trying to record their next album. Think Satan was trying to prevent them from moving forward?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "Barlow Girl", posted with vodpod


(RSS readers, you’ll have to click over to see the video. Sorry!)

I’m glad to see, he was not successful.

Here’s one of my favorite songs by them – actually, it’s one of my all-time top 10 songs EVER.

Never Alone

4. By the way, you knew I was giving a copy of the Pioneer Woman’s Cookbook away, right? ‘Kay, just checking.

5. Did you guys see the Burka Barbie and the Sugar-Daddy Ken? Wow, just wow.

And we wonder why our kids grow up to be disturbed. CLUE!

6. A very short, eye-opening story on abortion.

It makes you think.

7. I was very excited to read this:

Carina Press is now accepting submissions for our digital publishing line.

Our mission is to connect readers with authors who write the stories they want to read. We will be introducing the bestsellers of tomorrow.

Carina Press will feature books from talented authors in all genres of romance, erotica, science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, women’s fiction, and more. If the book of your heart fits into a niche that has very little shelf space in a traditional bookstore, Carina Press is eager to read and potentially publish your story.

This sounds like something RIGHT up my alley. I plan on submitting something to them sometime in 2010.

Please hold me to that.

8. Will you be signing the Manhattan Declaration?

In essence, it’s a pledge to stop compromising Christian values, curb political correctness (because it’s killing our country) and to get back to core Christian values that helped build our great country.

Personally, I don’t feel it’s necessary to formally sign something like this. I’ve already made the commitment to publicly denounce the political crap that is taking place in our country right now.

The lines have been crossed, people have pushed us too far – enough is enough.

Life

Another Turkey Gets Eaten

There’s really not much to say about Thanksgiving, we got together, we ate too much, we laughed too much and then we went home. 😀

Thanksgiving2

We have a family deal – we get together with Kevin’s family for Thanksgiving and then reserve Christmas for my family. It really works out well for us because that way, we’re not doing the holiday shuffle.

If you have more than one family, either biologically or by marriage, then you know ALL about the family shuffle.

We all take turns hosting Thanksgiving dinner. We do this to save my mother-in-law’s sanity and she’s worked so hard for us for so many years, that she deserves to take it easy and just ENJOY the holiday for a change. (Not that she really sits around, she brings the pies every year – this year, she made 15 pies for 19 people!!)

We gathered at my sister-in-law’s house. Kellie has a beautiful home and an outstanding sense of home decor and I thoroughly enjoy going over to her house just to see what sort of new and interesting thing she’s done to her house this go-around.

She tried a new painting technique on her music room walls – she painted them one color, and then using a darker, coordinating color, she used a trash bag to “texture” the walls. They look absolutely stunning and if you stand back, the walls look like leather. It’s really quite unique.

Thanksgiving4 We spent the first several hours just playing catch up with everyone. My other sister-in-law and her husband just returned from a trip to Jamaica, so they had quite a few stories to share with us.

My nephew showed up from Texas with his new girlfriend (who’s cute as a button and oh so sweet!) and we spent more time catching up on our very busy niece and nephews’ lives.

My brother-in-law was the official photographer this year and took this picture of me and Kevin:

Thanksgiving5

I think it might be one of the best ones we’ve had done together. (In fact, I liked it so much I used it for my Facebook profile picture and put it in my sidebar). He used a fancy-smancy flash, the kind that actually attaches and you can angle up so that there is less face glare, and when we got home, we realized that we had a similar flash from my old Olympus camera that actually fits our Canon Rebel! Now I’m really looking forward to taking holiday photos! (And would you believe that the batteries in that detached flash actually STILL work after about 18 years of being dormant?!)

After dinner, we played the annual board games and I laughed so much I actually gave myself a headache. We played Scattergories and Luck of the Draw. I did great at Scattergories, but WOW, I really stink at drawing. But it didn’t matter because we were all pretty bad (save for my brother-in-law, who’s an artist by trade. Poop head).

It was a fun day full of warm laughter, genuine fellowship, and scrumptious food.

Thanksgiving-family

Next year will be our turn to host Thanksgiving dinner – and I’m already planning, if you can believe that. 🙂

I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving! Remember, there’s SO MUCH to be thankful for if we just train ourselves to recognize the little things and remember that family is everything.

Abundant Life, Reflections

Reflections: Power of Prayer

From time to time, I’ll be recording thoughts and events from my childhood. These memories are prompted from the Reflections from a Mother’s Heart – Your Life Story in Your Own Words. I plan on filling this book out one of these days to pass onto my children. I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds the lives of our parents fascinating. It’s weird to think of my parents as children and it’s really fun to hear stories about their past, how they met, etc. If my children read about my past, perhaps they will understand me just a little better.

___________________________________

What kind of prayer did you say before you went to sleep? Who taught you how to pray it?

“Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord will keep me safe. If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

That was the prayer I used every night for years before I went to bed. For a while, I did kneel at the side of my bed, but I don’t remember doing that very long though I’m sure I did up until I was in about the third or fourth grade.

Mom taught me how to pray. First that prayer and then later, when I felt I was too old for such a kiddie prayer, to “talk” to God. There wasn’t a formula; I just remember her talking about God as if he was an old friend and how she trusted him. From that point on, I “talked” to God and didn’t really have a set prayer or pattern in how I prayed. I don’t have a set prayer today but there is a certain pattern that I follow. I pray for Kevin and his job situation, I pray for the kids and whatever is going on in their lives. I pray for our country and for strength to maintain our Christian faith, I pray for my extended family and finally for myself. I always end my prayers with “In Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.”

It wasn’t until some years later that I learned the power of prayer. I’ve always been suspicious of “religion” and never felt comfortable with any teaching methods. All I knew was that I was a Christian, I believed in God and his son, and in the Bible. I distrusted preachers and their motives.

When my husband came along, he taught me A LOT about the Bible. He introduced me to classes that he had taken that really opened my eyes and taught me how to read, interpret, and understand the Bible. We took classes together and I knew it was right because it FELT right. It all sounded so logical and I finally UNDERSTOOD how all of the information fit together. I finally understood why people believed what they did, though I still feel impatient with people who are willing to accept someone’s word that something is “right” without taking the time to check it out for themselves. The Bible is a giant jigsaw puzzle; it takes time to put together and all of the pieces are not readily available (it’s sometimes necessary to understand the language that was used in those days and how it’s interpreted in today’s language as well as the culture of that time period) but it all fits together – there are NO contradictions. And contrary to popular belief, the Bible was MEANT for us to understand – it’s not a mystery, but a secret. Mysteries imply that they will never be solved. Secrets will be revealed, when the time is right.

I speak in tongues. In essence, speaking in tongues is a private language between you and God — you are not meant to understand it, others will likely not understand it (though there were times when the disciplines in the Bible spoke in tongues and others understood them), but God will. He will understand.

I speak in tongues privately. I have not, nor will likely ever, speak in tongues in front of people unless I am willing to interpret for others to hear. Speaking in tongues is a chance to empty my soul and heart to God and I feel incredibly peaceful after my “conversation.”

God wishes Christians to speak in tongues — it’s part of prayer and it edifies and blesses a Christian believer.

Prayer is a crucial part of our Christian walk.

Abundant Life

Teaching: Why Prayer Matters

Every Sunday I provide videos and valuable links to the Truth or Tradition teachings. We’ve been following the Truth or Tradition teachings for many years now and they have truly blessed our family. We have found peace and happiness through our beliefs and we walk confidently for God. My hope, by passing on this information to you, is that what you find here, or on the Truth or Tradition website, will guide you to a better, more blessed and abundant life.

If you would like to read my views on religion and how we got started with the ministry, you can read this.

Let’s get started:

How the Devil Derailed Prayer

For many Christians, prayer is not as important as it should be. Many Christians only pray before meals, before bed (when they are children), or in emergency situations. The concept of “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17 – ESV) [1] is not a part of the lives of most Christians. How did the average Christian lifestyle drift so far from what the Bible says to do? The short answer is that most Christians are taught that everything that happens is God’s will, or “God is in control,” and that even Satan (if the Christian believes in Satan), has to ask God’s permission before he can act.

We all hate meaningless work, and that includes meaningless prayer. Good, solid, powerful, focused prayer takes a lot of work, a lot of time and mental energy. No one wants to make that effort if his or her prayer does not really make a difference. Unfortunately, that is what the teaching that “God is in control” does; it teaches that our prayers really do not make much, if any difference.

If everything that happens is God’s will, then God’s will gets done whether or not anyone prays. If prayer does not change anything, then what purpose does it serve? We have been told it demonstrates a person’s humility and obedience to God’s command to pray. Also, it has been used as a punishment for sinning (such as in the Roman Catholic Church when prayers are assigned as a penance for sin). Also, it has been said to be therapeutic because confession and prayer are “good for the soul.” It has also been taught that we pray to help align our own thinking with what God is doing, and to humbly accept the will of God.

It was Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430 A.D.) who discussed and defended the doctrine of “predestination” with such vigor it became an intrinsic part of Church doctrine. The doctrine of predestination played a large part in devaluing the importance of prayer in the everyday life of Christians. It has even been considered heresy that prayer could be effective for salvation. This is why even today there are no “altar calls” for salvation in the Roman Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church, or other denominations that believe a person cannot choose to be saved because God made that choice for him ages ago. [2]

Augustine did teach that prayer was valuable and acknowledged that it was a person asking God for His favor. However, his words do not create much motivation to pray. To Augustine, and to the millions of people who follow his teachings, prayer was just asking for things that God already knew He was going to do. According to that theology, prayer does not change anything in heaven or on earth.

The doctrine that “everything that happens is God’s will” is held by many thousands of sincere, God-loving Christians. It has been around for more than 1500 years as a foundational doctrine of many Christian denominations, but it produces bad fruit. For example, the exemplary Christian, Watchman Nee, writes: “Prayer does not alter that which God has determined. It never changes anything; it merely achieves what He has already foreordained.” [3] Not surprisingly, Nee, who acknowledges that prayer does seem to change things, in timing if not in essence, also wrote: “God’s people must pray before God Himself will rise up and work.” [4]

Nee’s two statements are contradictory. If people must pray to get God to work, then prayer does change things. On the other hand, if prayer changes nothing, then God’s going to work when His people pray is just coincidence. Watchman Nee is a wonderful and influential Christian. Imagine how much more helpful his teaching about prayer could be, if instead of being forced by his theology to say that prayer never changes anything, he could aggressively proclaim that prayer changes things dramatically, because it does!

The Bible says that prayer makes a difference; it changes things. Scripture never teaches that prayer is just a ritual, or just affects the one who does the praying. It is true that there is no verse that says, “Prayer changes things.” Nevertheless, this is the clear teaching of Scripture. We are supposed to learn from the examples in the Bible as well as its statements of fact. The many examples of people who prayed and received answers clearly teaches us that prayer makes a huge difference in what happens on earth. Furthermore, Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you…” (Matt. 7:7a), and “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Matt. 21:22). If we have to ask for something before it can be done, then we play a significant role in getting God’s work done on earth.

God is not in control of what happens on Earth

We assert that God is not “in control” of what happens on planet Earth. Many things that occur are not His will. He wants all people to be saved, but most will not. He wants people to live godly lives, but most will not. God does not want the crime, corruption, and disasters that occur around us to happen, yet they do. Why? Because God is not “in control.” Jesus knew that God’s will often did not happen here on earth, so in “The Lord’s Prayer,” he prayed to his Father and said, “…your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10b). That would be an absurd request if Jesus knew God’s will was in fact always being done on earth.

God is not “in control” of everything that happens on earth now, but that does not mean that He is not involved, or will not take control in the future. Jesus Christ will come down from heaven with the armies of heaven, fight the Battle of Armageddon, and conquer the earth (Rev. 19:11-21). When Jesus Christ rules the earth in the future, the will of God will be done on earth, and the things that make life so difficult now will not occur. If God was in control of things on earth both now and in the future, then why would we expect our next life would be any better than this one?

Understanding the spiritual situation that exists today helps us to understand the value of prayer and why God says over and over again that we should pray. There is a state of war that exists in the universe today, with God, Jesus Christ, good angels, and Christians on one side, and the Devil, demons, and evil people on the other. [5] The evil that occurs on the face of the earth today is not just “good” that somehow looks like evil. Some theologians try to convince us that when someone is murdered, raped, or killed, it is the will of God and therefore, somehow ultimately good, no matter how “evil” it seems to us. Yet, Jesus taught us that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:24). If God is the cause of sickness and death, then when Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons, and raised the dead, he was undoing God’s work, and God’s kingdom would fall apart.

A World at War

God originally created the world under His control. Then, in an act of amazing love and trust, God gave the rulership of the earth to mankind (Gen. 1:28). For a short time Adam and Eve ruled the earth according to God’s will, and it was a blessed place. When the Devil deceived Eve (1 Tim. 2:14), and Adam and Eve sinned, somehow (the Bible does not make clear exactly how) the rulership of the world was transferred to the Devil. That is why the Devil is called, “…the god of this world…” (2 Cor. 4:4 – KJV), “…the prince [archon = ruler] of this world…” (John 12:31), and “…the ruler of the kingdom of the air…” (Eph. 2:2). The Devil rules the world, so he was able to offer it to Jesus (Luke 4:5-7). It is also why 1 John 5:19 says the Devil controls the world: “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” [6] The world has taken on the characteristics of the Devil, becoming a very dark and difficult place to live.

The earth is now a war zone between the forces of good and evil, and each side wins some battles. Every time a person gets healed or saved, it is a victory for God. Every time a person gets harmed or killed, or what is worse, dies unsaved, it is a victory for the Devil. God is trying to help and bless people who live on the earth. However, He is righteous and just, and will not simply step in and take control of what He had entrusted to others. Our prayers open a door for God to work in our lives.

The Bible is full of the imagery of war. God Himself is called “the Lord of hosts” many times, and the word “hosts” means “armies.” [7] But if everything that happens is God’s will, why does God need an army? Who is He fighting? The simple truth is that God needs an army because the world is at war. Theologically, the book of Job has been used to trump the huge number of verses that show God fighting the Devil. Theologians use the first two chapters of Job to teach that, although the Devil is the agent doing the evil, he must have God’s permission to act. However, if that is correct, then all God would have to do to stop evil would be to say, “No!” to the Devil. Furthermore, the “God controls the Devil” theology does not answer all the clear verses about God at war. [8] For example, Acts 10:38 (ESV) says Jesus healed those who were “oppressed by the devil.” But if God had to give permission for people to be oppressed, it would have been easier for God to stop granting permission to the Devil, than for Jesus and his disciples to expend so much effort to get people healed.

Scripture says, “The Lord is a man of war…” (Exod. 15:3 – ESV) because there is a war, a real, genuine, “win some and lose some” war, going on between God and the Devil. God does not win every battle. [9] Many verses depict God at war for His people. Psalm 18 is a Psalm that has comforted many people through the years. It tells of a person who was in distress and called out to God for help. God “heard my voice” (v. 6) and responded. First, He got angry (v. 7); so very angry that “Smoke rose from his nostrils…” (v. 8). Then God “…parted the heavens and came down…” (v. 9), and “…shot his arrows and scattered the enemies…” (v. 14) and “…rescued me from my powerful enemy…” (v. 17).

Praise God that we have a God who will fight for us, but if what is happening on earth is God’s will, Psalm 18, and many others like it, make no sense. If everything on earth was God’s will, the poor man in Psalm 18 would cry out to God about his suffering, and we can imagine God calling back and saying, “I know what is going on. Quit complaining. What you are going through is my will and for your own good.” Psalm 18 only makes sense if what was happening on earth was not God’s will, if the “enemies” were real, and if God was able to intervene when the person prayed to Him for help.

Psalm 18 gives us a glimpse of the importance of prayer. The world is controlled by the Devil, but God is able to act when we ask Him. The whole process of deliverance in Psalm 18 started when the person called out to God for help. The word “pray” means, “ask,” and if we want God’s consistent help in our lives we have to ask Him for it. We ask (pray), for His help.

The well-known Christian, Brother Andrew, author of the best-selling book, God’s Smuggler, saw prayer change things so dramatically that he wrote the book, And God Changed His Mind. [10] Brother Andrew’s book is a step forward from the idea that God’s will is eternally fixed and always done and that, therefore prayer does not really change anything. He asserts that, in the end, God’s will is always done, but he teaches that our prayers can get God to change His mind:

“…God’s plans for us are not chiseled in concrete. Only His character and nature are unchanging; His decisions are not!…when we see things happening in the world that appear to be ‘acts of God,’ and we disagree with what God seems to be doing (or allowing), we can ask Him to change His mind.”

Thank God for Brother Andrew’s book, but it leaves us with some very important questions: “Why should we have to ask God to change His mind? Why would He do harm in the first place?” If someone has cancer, and we pray for the person’s healing and God “changes His mind,” and heals the person, we are left wondering why a good and righteous God would give the person cancer in the first place.

The only satisfying and Scriptural answer to why there is evil, and why prayer actually works and is vital to Christian life, is that the world is at war. Our prayers give God permission to work in a world that is now controlled by the Devil. How can we give God permission to act on earth? When we become saved, we legally become God’s property, paid for by the death of Christ (1 Cor. 6:19 and 20, 7:23). God can act on behalf of His property, and when we pray, we sanction His intervention. [11]

We may never understand why some prayers seem to work and others do not. However, the answer is not that God does not care about us, or that somehow He is doing what seems evil to us but is actually good. God only gives us a tiny glimpse of the spiritual realm and the spiritual battle, but if we take what we see at face value, we see that often prayer is speaking into existence the legal permission for God to act in our lives.

Read more about the importance of free will, speaking in tongues, and how to get your prayer life back on track here.

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about God’s wonderful message, please visit the Truth or Tradition website. You can also keep track of the ministry through their Facebook page, their YouTube Channel, or follow them on Twitter.

Thanks for reading.

(Comments have been turned off. The information is here, it’s up to you to accept, or deny, it).

More from Write From Karen

random stuff, Saturday Stuff

Simon’s Cat: Hot Spot

This totally seems appropriate given I’m on the verge of crossing that NaNoWriMo 50,000 word line. I have to be honest here, if my cat did this to my manuscript and destroyed all of my hard work I’d …….

Wait. What am I saying? I would NEVER write out my story on paper; just the mere thought of actually writing makes my head explode. Never mind, this scenario would never happen to me. Whew!

Lucky cat. 😀

You can find out more about the author of this animation,Simon Tofield, at his website.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, what is your word count?! You only have 48 hours to GIT ‘R DONE!

random stuff

Twas the Month Before Christmas, Not a Christian was Praying

*Twas the month before Christmas*

*When all through our land,*

*Not a Christian was praying*

*Nor taking a stand.*

*See the PC Police had taken away,*

*The reason for Christmas – no one could say.*

*The children were told by their schools not to sing,*

*About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.*

*It might hurt people’s feelings, the teachers would say*

* December 25th is just a ‘Holiday’.*

*Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit*

*Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!*

*CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod*

*Something was changing, something quite odd! *

*Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa*

*In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.*

*As Targets were hanging their trees upside down*

* At Lowe’s the word Christmas – was no where to be found.*

*At K-Mart and Staples and Penny’s and Sears*

*You won’t hear the word Christmas; it won’t touch your ears.*

*Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty*

*Are words that were used to intimidate me.*

*Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen*

*On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!*

*At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter*

*To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.*

*And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith*

* Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace*

*The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded*

*The reason for the season, stopped before it started.*

*So as you celebrate ‘Winter Break’ under your ‘Dream Tree’*

*Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.*

*Choose your words carefully, choose what you say*

*Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holiday!*

Please, all Christians join together and wish everyone you meet MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Christ is The Reason for the Christ-mas Season!

random stuff, VideoPlay

Video: You Think I’m Crazy?

I very well could be.

But here’s the thing – I’m stressed. What with NaNoWriMo [STILL BEHIND], work and having to deal with family for Thanksgiving, I’m feeling the pinch. And whenever I feel the pinch, I get up and dance because it helps blow off steam.

Go on. Give it a try. I can’t be the only one BRAVE enough to get out of my chair and dance ………………. can I?!?

Cool song, right? It’s Jem and it’s called “Crazy.” You can buy her entire album (which ROCKS) here.

And me? I’m done. I got my workout in for the day. Now pass the Advil, won’t you?

Oy.

(Sorry about the graininess. I recorded it on the compact setting and HELLO, I only make a fool of myself once a day, I’m not about to go back and record it again. It’s probably a good thing though, this way, you can’t really see my dance expressions – which were priceless, I might add. Oh well, use your imagination. *grin*

And by the way? You totally CAN NOT criticize my dancing unless you’re willing to SHOW me you can do better. If you’re not willing to tape yourself dancing? Then hush. 😀 )

UPDATE: I see the video is blocked in some countries, probably due to using Jem’s song, or maybe it’s my crazy hip action – who knows. Sorry about that. But don’t worry, you’re not missing much, trust me.