I Love My Country

Ignore the hair.

I know. TOTALLY lame.

But whatever.

I do.

And if our proudly displaying the American Flag offends you?

You have three options:

1. Don’t look.

2. Get over it.

3. Move.

Hey. I’m an American and I’m proud of that fact. I’m sick and tired of people kowtowing to political correctness.

Americans are awesome.

Deal with it.

(This snarky moment was brought to you by: a good old-fashioned dose of patriotism spurred on by Memorial Day and the upcoming 4th of July celebration. Oh my gosh, guys, it’ll be the 4th of July in just FIVE weeks?!? What the …)


Pergola Wrap-Up

So how was your Memorial Day weekend?

Kevin and I (and when I say Kevin and ME, I’m really saying Kevin) worked on the pergola. I painted all of the smaller boards and my handyman husband worked his tail end off and put it all together.

I’m thinking it’s looking pretty good! It offers a bit more shade with those extra strips of wood, but we’re thinking about buying a pergola shade (it fits under the pergola and it’s retractable – you can pull it out for shade, or roll it up to let the sun in).

The problem is? They’re freaking expensive! As in, think $5,000 expensive!!

I KNOW! I nearly had a heart attack when Kevin told me. So, um, we may not be buying a retractable pergola shade after all because DUDE, we could buy Jazz a NICE used car for that amount.

That’s crazy.

At any rate, the thing is done and Kevin couldn’t be more relieved. He’s pretty sick of this project and I can’t say I blame the man. Now we’re on the hunt for some patio furniture, which so far doesn’t look like it’s going to be cheap, either.

What is up with the overly-priced patio furniture and accessories? We’ll sit on lawn chairs before I fork over $400 FOR ONE CHAIR.

Did I mention that’s crazy?

I had a gal comment on Twitter about how she was enjoying my updates on the pergola. Though Kevin is extremely clever, he actually learned how to build one from YouTube. Well, and his dad. They built their pergola a few years back so he was able to give him some advice, but Kevin also watched some YouTube videos as well and … you know, isn’t this the coolest time we live in? I mean, in the past, you would have to go to the library (*gasp* walk away from the computer? The HORROR) and look up this information, but now you can simply go to YouTube and find virtually any how-to video on virtually anything.

This Internet thing is so cool, yeah? (I know. I’m like 100 apparently).

Anyway – our pergola is done. (‘Cept I have to paint the bases but *pfft* details, details).

Pergola - 5-30-11

I made a silly little video. Please excuse our roughness. The day was hot, the wind was blowing and my eyes were watering all day, hence the “did you just smoke crack” look you see.

I also had my hair trimmed up over this weekend and I have pixie bangs. *sigh* Yeah. Not sexy. But hey, at least my hair grows really fast and it’s summer, and it’s cooler than having long hair on my neck and I’m done with the excuses.

Thanks for bearing with us. I’m sure you’re just as glad as we are that this dang project is done.

Don’t answer that.

(P.S. I had never even heard of the word “pergola” before this project. So I learned something new. At my age. Go figure).

Abundant Life

Teaching: Body Builders

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:

Ephesians 1:22 and 23
(22) And God placed all things under his (Jesus Christ’s) feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,
(23) which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

When God deliberated about the perfect metaphor for Jesus’ relationship with his followers, He had unlimited options at His disposal. He wisely rejected “captain/deckhands,” “plantation owner/slaves,” and “dictator/refugees.” Since God is both loving and wise, He chose to call Christians collectively the “Body of Christ,” with Jesus Christ as the “Head.” God selected this distinctive metaphor, knowing that each of us has a body and can therefore relate to this image (for those of you without a body, well…that’s just creepy). The body metaphor communicates clearly: 1) how important each of us is to the Lord Jesus Christ, and 2) how important each of us should be to one another.

The metaphor of Christians being members of the Body of Christ demonstrates just how vital each of us is to the Lord himself. Jesus’ heart toward his Body is vividly expressed in his first dealing with Saul (also called Paul), on the way to Damascus:

Acts 9:4 and 5
(4) He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
(5) Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.

Jesus didn’t say, “You are persecuting my disciples,” or “my people.” Jesus said twice, “You are persecuting me!” When Christians are afflicted, Jesus Christ takes it personally. He also takes it personally when his people treat each other kindly. In Matthew 25:40 he stated, “‘…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Jesus cares about how every member of his Body is treated.

Jesus is the definitive “body” builder, intimately involved with building and developing every member, or part, of his Body. A true bodybuilder is more than just a man with a gargantuan physique and python-swallowing biceps. To achieve perfection throughout his whole body, he works specifically and tirelessly with each body part to reach its maximum potential. He would not be content with an unbalanced physique, where one arm can’t fit through the door but the other could be used as dental floss. Interestingly, the head (in our case, Jesus) does not need to be built up, but instead directs the building up of all other members.

Jesus appeared to one member, the Apostle Paul, and became his personal trainer in building the Body of Christ. As Paul began to understand the significance of this body, he, like his Lord, took it very personally; so much so, that he labored fervently as a “body” builder himself. He worked diligently, “warning every man, and teaching every man” (Col. 1:28 – KJV), so that he could “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” He explained, “To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me” (Col. 1:28 and 29). This man fought the urge to hit the snooze button and turn on his bed like the hinges of a door. Bodybuilding is never easy, but sometimes you just have to throw the covers back, put one foot in front of the other, and show up at the gym.

Ephesians 5:29 and 30
(29) After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church–
(30) for we are members of his body.

Paul understood that if Jesus loved him so much, then Jesus would also love other Christians as intimately. Therefore, he prayed for the Lord and God, “who loved us,” to encourage and strengthen the saints (2 Thess. 2:16 and 17). Having been trained by Jesus, however, Paul didn’t just pray like this and then roll over in his hammock and go back to sleep. He loved Jesus’ saints by getting involved in helping them grow, just as Jesus does.

1 Thessalonians 2:8, 11 and 12
(8) We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.
(11) For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children,
(12) encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Like a father, Paul loved and cared deeply for each individual believer. Paul was not just a spiritual professor, pontificating platitudes from the pulpit; he was personally involved in building every member of Jesus’ body. Notably, Paul didn’t just work this way himself; he also encouraged others to get involved in his mission. He sent Timothy to the Thessalonians with the purpose of strengthening and encouraging them in their faith (1 Thess. 3:2).

Paul truly understood the metaphor of the Body of Christ with each and every believer as a member in particular. [1] He knew that it was not just his responsibility to build the Body of Christ, but that each believer has an important role in the growth of the body, just as every part of our physical body plays a crucial role.

Years ago we didn’t have plastic grocery bags with convenient handles. Instead, we had brown paper “sacks” that, crammed full of food, were a bit more cumbersome. When you arrived home, you carried them from underneath, and then you would witness the masterful body in all of its glory…

With two fingers twisting the doorknob, you’d wedge your knee in to keep the door from slamming shut (too slow and you had to start all over, often with a poorer attitude). As your knee would open the door, you’d have to pivot your hips to twist your shoulder in to keep it open. Sometimes the chin would take over for the shoulder so you could balance the bags on your hips, twist your biscuits into the space, and finally proceed to the kitchen.

In other words, the members of your body would work instinctively together to accomplish what your head wanted done, all without dropping the eggs on your porch. Not that the groceries aren’t important, but each of us is essential in accomplishing what the Head of the Body, Jesus Christ, wants done.

Ephesians 4:16
From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Throughout the Church Epistles, Paul exhorts each of us to use our gifts toward Jesus Christ’s goals. We begin by recognizing that as Jesus has reached out and received us, so we should reach out and receive one another (Rom. 15:7). Then, we use our gifts and callings to love and serve each other, just as Jesus would do.

Romans 12:4-6a
(4) Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,
(5) so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
(6a) We have different gifts, according to the grace given us…

We, the authors, used to understand this section to mean, “IF you have one of these gifts, then use it.” But that’s not what it says; we are all members, and we all have these gifts of God’s grace! Furthermore, we are to use them primarily to build each other! Each of us, like Paul, needs to recognize the Lord’s love for us and then use our gifts to build each other.

1 Peter 4:8 and 10
(8) Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
(10) Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

As the Body cannot survive without its Head, Jesus, we also need each other in order to reach our maximum potential. The literal members of Jesus’ body (his hands, legs, etc.) obviously went wherever Jesus’ head went; he didn’t teach at Jerusalem leaving a knee in Galilee, a toe in Jericho, or his sternum in Capernaum. Similarly, Jesus, as the figurative Head of the Body of believers, would never think of leaving any of us out. The head cannot say to any other part of the body, “I don’t need you!” (1 Cor.12:21).

When we truly understand the unconditional love that Jesus has for each of us, we can strengthen and encourage each other to serve his Body with our gifts. Thankfully, you don’t have to wear a Speedo™, drink raw eggs, and bench press a truck in order to build someone up. Jesus has already given us our gifts as the equipment that we need to build each other and grow up into him together, spiritually perfect and mature. See you at the gym!

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 to inform and bless you. God granted you the gift of free will – take it or leave it).

More from Write From Karen


Cowboy Bud’s Astute Conclusion

A cowboy named Bud was overseeing his herd in a remote pasture when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced toward him out of a cloud of dust

The driver, a young man in an Armani suit, Gucci shoes , RayBan sunglasses and YSL tie, leaned out the window and asked the cowboy, “If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, Will you give me a calf?”

Bud looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers, “Sure, Why not?”

The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it to his Cingular RAZR V3 cell phone , and surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo.

The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg , Germany .

Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses an MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with email on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response.

Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer, turns to the cowboy and says, “You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves.”

“That’s right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves,” says Bud.

He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on with amusement as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.

Then Bud says to the young man, “Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?”

The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, “Okay, why not?”

“You’re an aide in the Obama Administration”, says Bud.

“Wow! That’s correct,” says the yuppie, “but how did you guess that?”

“No guessing required.” answered the cowboy. “You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked. You used millions of dollars worth of equipment trying to show me how much smarter than me you are; and you don’t know a thing about how working people make a living — or about cows, for that matter. This is a herd of sheep. …

Now give me back my dog.”



Pergola, Graduation, Uniforms, Fungus

This has been a busy and emotional week.

I spent all day last Monday (that’s not an exaggeration – ALL DAY), painting the boards for our new pergola. Then Kevin and Dude put it all together.

Pergola - Patio

We LOVE it!! It really turned out nice. We’ve been shopping for patio furniture but have been a bit discouraged with the price tags. We went to Outdoor Home and looked around and they have some GORGEOUS stuff, but, BUT, I’m having a really hard time justifying spending $400 + on one chair.


Um, no.

So we went to Lowe’s. And the prices there weren’t much better. So now we’re thinking we’ll just put some folding chairs and a card table out there and call it a patio.

Okay. Maybe not. But we’re definitely going to hold off on buying any sort of furniture until A. there’s a sale, and/or B. it’s off season and the prices just naturally come down because OMG, I can’t spend $2,000 on furniture we won’t even want, or get, to use but once in a while.

UPDATE: Kevin went out yesterday (before the severe storms blew through here – and while we’re on that subject, can I please request some prayers for the poor folks in Joplin, Missouri?? Joplin is a mere 75 miles west of Springfield and EEK, too close to home, ya’ll!!) and angled off the ends. As usual, he did an excellent job and it looks fabulous, darling. Now I need to paint the bases and do a few touch ups and we SHOULD be done with the pergola. Next? Landscaping.

Tuesday was graduation day. I’ve already written about that and won’t go through that again, but I swear, I have been an emotional zombie ever since. It’s just so WEIRD to have Dude home now. I don’t have to drag his butt out of bed every day (well, I still have to drag his butt out because if I didn’t he would sleep all day and um, NO, that ain’t happening while he’s still living at home), but at least it’s not as stressful as it was when he needed to get up, around and awake enough to drive him and his brother to school every day.

I’m finding myself floundering a bit because I feel like my role in my household has changed – again. I know I’m still Dude’s mother, I mean, duh, but I’m having to consciously remind myself that the boy is 18 1/2 years old, is now a high school graduate, and though we’ve given him free reign to relax and enjoy a few months off before looking for a job (let the nagging begin August 1st), I’m having a hard time ALLOWING him to enjoy this time. I think I’ve just been on autopilot for so many years, the end goal being graduation, that now that we’ve reached that goal, I feel … confused.

Exactly what is my role now?

It’s so weird because just when I force myself to emotionally step back from the mothering gig, Dude will go and ask me a question, seeking my advice about something (which HELLO, is weird in and of itself anyway), and I will suddenly be transported to the mom who had a tight rein on this boy’s life and was used to being in control.

But then in the very next instant, he’s taking his cousin back home to Willard (which is about 30 minutes away) and I’m emotionally forced to swallow my mothering instincts, smile and wave as he takes off like it’s no big deal.

My emotions have been all over the board here lately and I’m feeling a bit dizzy. I know I’ll find my equilibrium at some point, but for now, I feel like a child’s top that is slowing down and on the verge of toppling over.

It’s disorienting.

I shudder to think how I will feel when Jazz reaches this point in just two short years.

Dude’s reception was really fun.

I was expecting the weather to be rainy, but it actually ended up being a perfect day. The sun came out, the temps were pleasant and there was a slight breeze.

I found out, late Friday afternoon, that Jazz wanted to go to a leadership seminar on Saturday. Well. He had to go to this seminar if he wanted to try out for a leadership role in band, which he did, so I spent Saturday morning putting the finishing touches on the house, getting cleaned up, taking Jazz to his seminar, and then the rest of the morning running errands – Wal-Mart, picking up the cake, and picking up the taco bar we had Qdoba cater.

I got all of this stuff home but didn’t have time to set it up before picking Jazz up, so Kevin had to finish up for me while I went to get him. He actually didn’t leave until 12:15 and we didn’t get back to the house until 12:30 and by then, everyone had arrived and were nearly finished eating.

Talk about awkward! Hostess is late to her own party.

But it was all good and you know, when you have kids, and they want to get involved in extra-curricular activities, you sort of have to roll with the punches.

Kevin did a great job setting everything out. He had moved quite a few chairs out to our new patio, which thankfully, we were able to enjoy because of the unexpectedly nice weather, only, I had a “Class of 2011” balloon loosely tied to one of the chairs because I had planned on tying that balloon to our mailbox, but when Kevin took the chair the balloon was tied to outside, *POOF*. It came untied and blew away.


It never fails – something always has to go wrong when you host a party. It’s like an unwritten law or something. He felt really bad about it and though I was annoyed, I didn’t fly off the handle (Hello! Emotional maturity!) and meh, it was just a balloon.

I think Dude had a really good time. His best friends were there and all of the family showed up, and we all had a really good time catching up, laughing and stuffing our faces. Hosting parties always overwhelms me a bit because I don’t want anyone to feel left out or awkward, so I spend a lot of my time making the rounds. I hope no one thought I was ignoring them or being weird, but it’s hard dividing your time between all of the guests.

My youngest nephews were there. My brother and his wife drove down and I hadn’t seen the little boys in, oh gosh, a year I think? There was one moment, when it was me, both of my sisters-in-law, my niece, my mom and my dad were sitting around talking, when my brother walks in with my youngest nephew and he stands in the middle of the room, as proud of as a peacock, and exclaims in a very loud voice, “I go poop!!” We all died laughing and began clapping because who can’t relate to that moment?? It was really cute and his facial expression was priceless.

Even though I had put on the invitations that the party was going to be from noon to 2:00, everyone stuck around until nearly 4:00. We were totally FINE with this as it made us feel like everyone was enjoying themselves and didn’t want to leave. I never want people to feel obligated to stick around one of our parties if they don’t want to, so I tend to make the invitations pretty informal to begin with. So the fact that everyone chose to stay was really nice for me and Kevin.

Kevin had put pictures of Dude growing up in a slideshow and it was fun to look back on his little boy days. We’ll have to chop the show in half and upload the two parts to YouTube so you can guys can watch it. It was really fun to point out various locations as we watched the slideshow. We’ve been to a lot of places! And it warms my heart to think that the boys will be able to look back on their childhoods and talk about all the cool family vacations we’ve taken together.

My mom made the cutest chocolate mortar hats:

Chocolate Mortar Hats

I won’t even tell you how many I ate. (But if you guessed all but two, then you’d be, erhm, really close. NOT all in one day. Okay, maybe all in one day. I TOLD YOU I HAD A PROBLEM WITH JUNK FOOD!!)

Dude’s cake turned out really good. I went through the same cake lady I used to go to when I threw birthday parties for the boys when they were little. To my utmost surprise, she remembered me!! (Or at least, she acted like she remembered me. Maybe she was just being nice. Oh well).

Graduation Cake

It was a really fun reception. I think Dude had a good time and it was really nice that everyone was able to come.

And that’s it. Dude has graduated. He’s out of school. And we’re all trying to adjust to a new normal.

We had a parent band meeting this past Tuesday night. We’ve already been through this meeting twice before (8th grade, then 9th grade), so we knew what to expect. But what we were really waiting for was to hear what the show would be for next year and to see the new band uniforms.

I believe the school has used the same uniforms for the past ten years. They were looking rough and a little frayed around the edges. Still, they were pretty cool.


If not a little space-suit-ish.

But the new ones … WOW. Love them!! In fact, I like them better, but Kevin said he likes the old ones more. Anyway. I don’t have a picture to show you now, but when he gets his uniform assigned to him in September, then we’ll take the traditional “pose by the tree” shot.

The show also sounds good – though it will be interesting to see how it comes together. It has something to do with directions … and that’s all I can tell you. 🙂

We had to take Jazz to the walk-in clinic last night. He’s been having some trouble with his toes. He had been wearing leather-top sneakers and apparently, the suckers rubbed a sore stop just under each big toe toenail. This area swelled up and was quite tender for a while. He squeezed the pus out and they looked better for a while, but then his toenails started turning yellowish and they looked like they were infected with fungus. He used toenail fungus stuff for a while, but that didn’t seem to do any good and yesterday, he came to me after school to show me they were bleeding.

We threw in the white towel and took him to the clinic.

The doctor said they are definitely infected and prescribed some antibiotic. We’re also soaking his feet in Epsom Salt twice a day. In the meantime, we have to call a podiatrist because she said considering both toes were in the same shape, it would be better if a foot doctor took a look at them. They’re supposed to be calling us today with a referral so … I’m sure I’ll have more information when we find out what the next step is.

I’m thinking he will probably have to lose both nails. They are looking pretty nasty and Jazz says they feel loose, so, it might be for the best. I’ve lost a fingernail and a toenail before and it’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s just hard skin under the nail and it eventually grows back.


*sigh* Looks like Jazz won’t be wearing flip-flops or sandals this summer.

*UPDATE: The clinic just called – they made an appointment for Jazz at The Foot Doctors. I had no idea we even had a facility dedicated to just feet. It’s next Tuesday, at lunch, so I’ll have to take Jazz out of school, but it’s the last week and they won’t be doing anything, anyway. Will post more when I know more …

UPDATE 2: My bad. The appointment is next Thursday, after lunch, and Jazz will be taking finals. So I’ll have to reschedule.

In My Opinion

In My Opinion – May 25

A weekly vlog of me answering questions. I’m doing this primarily to leave a bit of myself behind for my children. Thanks for bearing with me as I make a fool out of myself. 😀

Here are the questions for this week:

1. If you could be invisible for the day, what would you do?

2. What household project have you been putting off?

3. Did you watch the royal wedding and what were your thoughts?

And here is my video response to these questions:

Next week’s questions…

1. If you could use a voodoo doll to hurt anyone you chose, would you?

2. What’s something that people do in traffic that really bothers you?

3. Are you a leader or a follower and how do you know?

Abundant Life

Audio Teaching: Understanding Healing in its Biblical Context

by John Schoenheit
In light of the vast amount of sickness in the world today, everyone realizes how wonderful it is to be healthy, but for many people physical healing continues to be a misunderstood subject, with much confusion about who gets healed and why.

This teaching focuses on three areas of the biblical culture that relate to healing: (1) the prevailing patron-client social relationship in the New Testament; (2) the idiom that helps explain 1 Peter 2:24 (“by his wounds you have been healed”); (3) the “Lord’s Supper,” (aka the “communion” service), which is sometimes thought to be a kind of healing ceremony. Understanding these things helps us better understand how those in the biblical culture related to healing, and how we too can best take advantage of God’s goodness in this category.

Click the arrow to listen.

Transcription | Related Topics

Check out Truth or Tradition teachings on:



Wanting to Vlog More Snippets from My Life

I love to vlog. I mean, it’s a little uncomfortable at first, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.

The problem is, of course, figuring out just WHAT to vlog about. I’ve started the Wednesday “In My Opinion” nonsense questions just to give me something to work with, but it’s when I see videos like this one that I know that I truly suck at vlogging. LOL.

I’m going to try and video tape more portions of my life. Just little snippets of things I’d like to remember and pass on to future generations.

Here’s such a snippet. It was after the horrific storms passed through on Sunday (the same storm front that produced a tornado and decimated Joplin Missouri) and we saw the BRIGHTEST rainbow I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Kevin is the one who saw it first and then me, Dude and Jazz all came out onto the porch to take a look. You can hear Jazz giving me a hard time in the background and my maniacal laughter in response.

Yeah, that pretty much sums up my relationships with my boys. HA!

Here’s a still shot. I edited the yellow out so you could see the rainbow, but the night was as yellow as you see in the above video.


It’s almost a slap in the face when you see something so beautiful after something so ugly.


Pray for Joplin and Ways You Can Help the Tornado Victims

In case you haven’t heard, Joplin, Missouri, which is about 70 miles west of Springfield Missouri, where I live, was decimated by an EF4 (experts upgraded) EF5 tornado Sunday evening.

They’re saying that about 30% of the city was wiped out and the latest body count is 118 123. (That number just jumped one more since I began writing this post. SO SAD!!) Numbers keep jumping. 😦

You can see pictures of the disaster in this slideshow.

They’re also saying that it’s “the deadliest single U.S. tornado since modern record-keeping began more than 60 years ago.” We’re no strangers tornadoes down here in The Ozarks. We’ve had several rip through this area over the past decades, but what I think is especially shocking about what happened to Joplin is that so many people died. And many more are missing. There is a Facebook page calling for help in locating a young man, 18 to be exact. He was driving home from his high school graduation with his dad when he was sucked out of the sunroof of their SUV. He suffered a head trauma and was taken to the hospital, but now his family can’t locate him.

There is another Facebook page plea looking for the 15-month old boy shown in the profile picture.

I’m crying as I type this. I CAN NOT imagine the horror of not being able to locate a loved one, let alone a BABY, after a tragedy like this. That would truly be a living nightmare.

People in Joplin are having to paint the house number and the name of the street on the wreckage because everything is so badly destroyed that people can’t tell what streets are what.

And that reminds me of a story I heard on the radio as I was coming home from dropping Jazz off at school this morning. It made me cry.

This man, hearing that a tornado was heading straight for his ex-wife’s house, who had custody of their little girl, broke speed limits to drive to her house to make sure they were okay. He said he drove as close as he was able before being forced to abandon his car and run the rest of the way because there was so much debris and downed power lines that he couldn’t drive on the streets. When he arrived, he said he had trouble locating the house because the entire area was simply gone – he had had to ask people in the area if he was even on the right street because all of the landmarks had disappeared. (Even the trees were debarked and none of them had limbs or leaves, they were simply broken trunks).

When he finally located her house, he said that the only thing left standing was the bathroom and there were pillows in the tub, but he didn’t find his ex-wife or daughter. The roof had collapsed onto the bathroom, which is what apparently saved them from being blown away. The mattress off the bed in the master bedroom, which was next to the bathroom was finally located two blocks away and stuck in a tree.

One of their cars were missing, so the man didn’t know if they had tried to drive off and if so, did they make it, or if the car simply got blown away. (If you look at the pictures, you’ll notice that several cars are totaled – they were tossed around like matchbox cars).

Since the cell phone towers were down, there wasn’t cell phone service, so he spent nearly four hours rummaging through the debris of his ex-wife’s house fearful of what he would find. He finally went over to his ex-wife’s parents’ house and found his ex-wife and his daughter there, safe and sound. He said it was the most terrifying four hours of his entire life.

Again. I can only imagine!! And I hope to NEVER experience that terror first hand.

Rescue workers are still rummaging through the debris looking for more bodies. The count seems to increase a little more with each passing day.

It’s truly heartbreaking.

You can watch five videos from the tornado here. Hearing people screaming and crying will give you goosebumps.

I’ve spent the last two days watching, reading and praying for the people in Joplin. I’m also pleased to see that Springfield has been moving full-speed ahead with programs to help the people in need.

Here’s how you can help, if you feel so inclined:

First and foremost, if you want to physically drive to Joplin and help, PLEASE call this number before doing so: 1-800-427-4628, they will tell you where you’re needed and you’ll know where to go before you arrive as opposed to just showing up and not knowing where to go or what to do.

If you want to donate something, here is a list of the top-ten things most needed:

1. Water (individual & gallons)
2. Blankets & Pillows
3. Clothing (All Ages & Sizes)
4. Non-Perishable Ready To Eat Canned Foods
5. Snack Foods
6. Shampoo & Soap
7. Toilet Paper
8. Diapers
9. Baby Formula
10. First Aid Kits & Basic Medical Supplies

You can also find additional suggestions here

Many of our local schools are hosting programs that you can contribute to.

If you live outside of Joplin, but are in the area, here is a list of outlining towns and what they’re doing to help out.

I know when terrible things happen like this, people are hurt, confused and angry and tend to blame God. Please, PLEASE understand that our God is a kind and loving God and would NEVER hurt us like this. God is NOT the instigator behind evil things like this happening but rather it’s Satan’s fault. Let’s put the blame where it belongs, please. Don’t blame God for tragedies.

Also, I got to thinking about what WE would do if anything this horrific was coming straight toward us and Kevin and I have decided that we would likely leave our house and huddle in our huge storm drain. It’s not the ideal solution, but staying in our house would likely kill us. He suggested the crawl space at first, it’s a huge crawl space, about four feet high, and though it might be a good place to hide, what if the house completely collapses on top of us?? We would be buried alive. *shudder* Since we don’t have a basement and our two bathrooms have windows, our only other options would be a closet or the hallway and neither really gives me any sense of safety.

We wouldn’t run to the storm drain unless we knew FOR CERTAIN that it was heading right toward us and there was no escape. The problem with the storm drain, obviously, is the water. If we get heavy rains, we will likely be hanging on for dear life to avoid being swept by the current, but I still think it’s a safer option than staying in the house.

Especially after seeing what happens to houses that are unfortunate enough to be in the path of an EF4 tornado.

I made a silly little video to give you an idea what I’m talking about. I felt self-conscious out there talking into my camera, wondering if my neighbors think I’m (even more) crazy. I also made a wise crack about my hot pink t-shirt. I’m not a hot pink sort of gal. Not that there’s anything wrong with hot pink – it’s just not a color I wear very often and only when I have a tan. You know, I don’t even know why I mentioned the color of my shirt. Stupid, stupid …

Anyway. This whole disaster has really affected me and it’s been hard to think of little else.

Let’s pray:

Dear God,

Please help the people in Joplin. Please guide them and help them find the courage they need to survive this tragedy. I pray that the families who are missing loved ones find them, safe and sound, and I pray they are able to rebuild their lives. Please protect them and bless them, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Abundant Life

Teaching: God’s Holy and Royal Priests

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:

When God started the Christian Church, He did something different from what He had done since Adam and Eve left Eden: He gave every single believer a job to do in the Church and He spiritually equipped each one with the ability to do that job. This was a monumental break from the way He set up worship in the Old Testament.

Worship Before the Law
The origins of how people began to properly worship God after Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden are not specifically known. Nevertheless, there are pieces of the puzzle that we can fit together by carefully reading and properly translating the Bible. For example, we can piece together that God started blood sacrifice and substitution for sin when He made garments of animal skin for Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:21). [1] We can also see from the worship offered by Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, and others before the Law, that God had rules concerning the proper way, and times, to worship Him. [2]

Before the Law, the head of the family acted as the priest for the family and the patriarch of the family clan acted as the priest for the family clan. Thus, Job purified his children, and made sacrifices for them (Job 1:5), and Noah (Gen. 8:20), Abraham (Gen. 12:7, 8; 13:18), Isaac (Gen. 26:25), and Jacob (Gen. 31:54; 35:1-4), led their families in sacrifice to God. [3] That the patriarch sacrificed animals for himself and his family is often not as clear in English as it is in the Hebrew text. For example, while most English versions say that Abraham “built an altar” to Yahweh (Gen. 13:18), we usually get a mental picture of a simple pile of stones upon which Abraham then worshipped. Why we have this nice looking mental picture is understandable, since many Churches have “altars” and they are usually very nice looking structures. However, the Hebrew word translated “altar” is mizbeach, and it means “place of slaughter.” [4] In his brilliant translation of Genesis through Deuteronomy, Everett Fox never uses “altar,” but instead uses the phrase “slaughter site.” [5] The “altars” of biblical times were smelly, blood-covered, fly-infested places that no one wanted close to his tent, and which graphically reminded any worshipper of the messy and deadly-serious consequences of sin.

While worship in sparsely populated areas was led by the patriarch of the family clan, worship in the cities was taking a different turn, one that more closely resembled what God would later establish under the Mosaic Law—a temple building and priests to lead the worship. The “priest and temple” system of worship resulted in the people having less and less to do in a worship service, and even that they were cut off from direct access to God (or the gods). Thus, for example, by the time Jacob and his family got to Egypt, which was long before God gave Moses the revelation for the Tent of Meeting (called the “Tabernacle” in the KJV), there was a very specialized and exclusive class of priests who ministered to the various Egyptian gods. The “regular Egyptian” was relegated to being little more than a spectator who brought donations, or who participated in a limited way in carefully regulated services.

Worship Under the Mosaic Law
After the Exodus (about 1,450 B.C.), God gave Moses the revelation about the Tent of Meeting, which included regulations about priests leading the worship services. God commanded that only Aaron and his descendents were to be priests and serve Him directly. Presiding over the priests, both in the Mosaic Law and in most pagan religions, was a High Priest, who could act as priest to the other priests and to the nation as a whole. The Law also made provisions for the men from the tribe of Levi (the “Levites”) to help the priests by doing lesser acts of service in the Tent of Meeting. [6]

Thus, under the Law, the heads of families were no longer allowed to act as priests to God. In fact, the Old Testament was crystal clear about what would happen if a “regular” person, a non-priest or Levite, even went close to the Tent of Meeting—he would be put to death.

Numbers 1:50, 51 and 53 (Abridged)
(50a)…appoint the Levites to be in charge of the tabernacle of the Testimony—over all its furnishings and everything belonging to it…they are to take care of it and encamp around it.
(51b) Anyone else who goes near it shall be put to death.
(53b) The Levites are to be responsible for the care of the tabernacle of the Testimony.”

Even the Levites, however, could not do the specific jobs that God gave to the priests, such as offer the sacrifices. Even for Levites, the penalty for trying to do the work of a priest was death.

Numbers 3:10
Appoint Aaron and his sons to serve as priests; anyone else who approaches the sanctuary must be put to death.

God made it very clear in the Law of Moses that there were only certain people who were qualified to serve him as priests and workers. The “regular Israelite” could bring an offering and watch certain parts of the worship service (be a spectator), but they could not directly participate in the work of the Tent of Meeting or Temple. Thus in both pagan religions, and in God’s revelation about how to properly worship Him, the separation between the priests and the worshippers was clearly defined.

Over time the two general categories of “priests” and “people” became so deeply entrenched in people’s minds that it seems very few people even questioned it. Of course the different religions varied somewhat as to who the priests were and what they did, and also in how the priests were chosen from among the people. The Mosaic Law, for example, dictated that a priest had to be a descendant of Aaron, the first High Priest (Exod. 29:44; 30:30; Num. 3:10).

The Christian Church—A Royal Priesthood
On the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, God started a brand new program for His worshippers. On Pentecost He created “the Body of Christ” as a spiritual entity and started the Christian Church, something that had never existed before. God made many significant changes in the way He related to people and in the way they related to Him. For one thing, He did away with the physical Temple, and the collective body of believers became the new Temple.

1 Corinthians 3:16 (New Living Testament)
Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? [7]

Not only was the collective Body of believers the Temple, God also made each believer a priest.

1 Peter 2:9
But you [plural: all of you] are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare [the verb is plural] the praises of him who called you [plural: all of you] out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Whereas 1 Peter 2:9 refers to us as a “royal priesthood,” 1 Peter 2:5 calls believers a “holy priesthood.” In the Christian Church, each believer is a priest, and Jesus Christ is our High Priest (Heb. 2:17; 3:1; 4:14, 15). We are all to pray for each other (Col. 4:3, 4; 1 Thess. 5:25; Heb. 13:18). We are to allow others to confess their sins to us (James 5:16). We are all to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, and continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God along with other “spiritual sacrifices” (Rom. 12:1; Heb. 13:15; 1 Pet. 2:5). Furthermore, each believer is to do the work of the ministry, which is clearly stated in a proper translation of Ephesians 4:12 (we will deal with the translation question later in the article).

Ephesians 4:11 and 12
(11) It was he [Jesus] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,
(12) to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

It is clear in verse 12 above that “God’s people” are to do the works of service that God requires. The New Testament Epistles make it clear that Jesus Christ is the High Priest and the only mediator between God and mankind, and that each believer has direct and personal access to God and can serve Him directly. This doctrine is known as “the priesthood of the believer,” and was taught in the 1300’s by the Lollards, who were followers of John Wycliffe (c. 1320s to 1384). Wycliffe disagreed with the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, and was the first person to translate the Bible into English. The concept of “the priesthood of the believer” became an important part of the Protestant Reformation. It clearly separated the Protestants from the Roman Catholics, whose priests are separate from the people and are supposedly specially empowered by God to perform sacraments such as changing wine to the blood of Christ in the communion service.

The First Century Church and the Priesthood of the Believer
We do not have many records from the first century Church, so it is not clear how smoothly the Church transitioned from the “Priests and People” model of worship that had existed for many centuries, to the new “Every Believer is a Priest” model of worship. We can tell from Acts and the New Testament Epistles that apostles such as Paul and Peter were aggressively promoting that each believer was to serve God directly. The epistle of 1 Corinthians not only points out that each member of the Church has an important function, but that members who seem less important are actually very important (1 Cor. 12:18-26).

Many early Christians quickly adopted the new teaching and started to meet in small groups in houses instead of in the Temple (Acts 2:46; 5:42; 12:12; 18:7; 20:20; 28:30; Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15). In fact, meeting in homes was one of the earmarks of the early Church. Although it is true that many of them met in homes because they could not build large churches, the “house church” model of the early Church produced strong, involved Christians, and effectively moved people away from the “spectator” model of worship.

In the small groups that met in houses, everyone could get involved and strengthen themselves by publically praying, manifesting holy spirit, and ministering to others. Sometimes everyone was so anxious to get involved that it produced a sort of confused pandemonium in the meeting, so Paul counseled the Corinthians to keep the meeting orderly.

1 Corinthians 14:26
What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.

While confusion in the meeting is not good, it is understandable. These early Christians knew too well what it meant to not be allowed to participate in the worship and be forced by Law to be a spectator. When God opened the door for them to participate in the meeting, they were a little over-excited about it. But it seems certain that God would rather have that than what He has in many fellowships today—believers who seem only too happy to relegate their priesthood back to the few leaders and remain silent even though there is time for everyone to pray, manifest the gift of holy spirit, or share something. Jesus Christ gave ministries, ways of serving, to each Christian. No one was left out. Each holy, royal, Christian “priest” can, and is supposed to, serve God and fellow believers by way of the individual gift he or she has been given.

1 Peter 4:10
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

Each believer is to actively participate in the worship of God, and to help them to grow in the faith are men and women whom Christ gifted with what we of Spirit & Truth Fellowship International refer to as “equipping ministries.” Our term “equipping ministries” comes from Ephesians 4:11 and 12, which says that apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are to “equip” the believers (ESV; NAB; NET; NRSV; RSV. cp. NASB).

Old Habits Die Hard—Old Testament Ideas in the New Testament Church
There is a saying that “Old habits die hard,” and that certainly was the case when it came to how Christianity was practiced by the fourth century. Sadly, the pattern of the strict separation between the priests and the people once again became the norm in the Christian Church. Apparently after the original apostles died, the people who were called by the Lord as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers stopped “equipping” the believers for works of service and took over the works of service themselves, leaving the people to once again be spectators of the service.

Read the rest of the article 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.

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