Friday, March 28, 2008

Clarence Ribbit

Last night while Gracey took her nightly bathroom break, I peaked out the door and thought I saw something moving in the grass! Bryan was by the water hose and I told him to catch it. He was the cutest little thing ever. If I could have been brave enough I would have kissed him, but I guess I already have my prince anyway. As we do with all little creatures to be silly, we named him, he is officially Clarence Ribbit Fazetou Brigham. He was spotted several months ago by someone else and this is the first time we've seen him. I guess he lives under our back house (Phase two we call it because it is a work in progress = Fazetou). I was so happy to see him. And he is more than welcome to eat any bugs around here!

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Who started it? A brief History.

Charles Taze Russell of Pennsylvania founded the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1870’s. For 60 years, until 1931, people who followed this religion were called Russellites. After Russell died, Joseph Franklin Rutherford became president and during a convention on October 9, 1931, the name Jehovah’s Witnesses was adopted. It based the name on Isaiah 43:10 that says “‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord.”

After Rutherford died in 1942, Nathan Homer Knorr took over presidency and published the New World translation of the Bible which, with its many inaccuracies, is the version of the Bible whish Jehovah Witnesses use and from which they derive most of their heretical teachings. The population of these believers increased under Knorr. He died in 1977 and was replaced by Fredrick Franz, until he died in 1992, and now Milton G. Henschel is president to this day. There are over 8 million Jehovah Witnesses today.

You may have heard of their popular magazine created by Russell, in which they promote this religion called Watchtower. It is the most influential way to perpetuate this teaching.

The steps of Jehovah Witnesses to win others to their faith.

1. Put Jehovah’s Witnesses literature into the hands of a prospective convert.
2. Revisit the person to establish further personal contact.
3. Introduce the person to the study of Jehovah’s Witness books.
4. Encourage the person to attend teaching meetings at the kingdom hall.
5. Encourage the person to attend a service at the kingdom hall.
6. Encourage the person to become active in “publishing” –giving out Jehovah’s Witness tracts.
7. Encourage the person to become baptized by the immersion in a kingdom hall.

Unusual practices:
1. Blood transfusions are refused.
2. The cross should not be used as a symbol.
3. The refuse to vote in political elections, salute the flag or sing the Star Spangled Banner.
4. They do not celebrate Christmas or birthdays.
5. They refuse to serve in the armed forces.

Most Jehovah’s Witnesses are expected to spend 5 hours per week at training sessions held in the kingdom hall, as well as do door to door visiting in selected areas, which often accumulates to 100 hours per month.

What’s the problem?

There is a host of false beliefs! Here are some of their attitudes toward basic Christian beliefs:

The trinity is denied
Personality of the Holy Spirit is denied
The two natures of Christ, as God and human is denied
Forgiveness of sins through faith is Christ is denied
Christ’s bodily resurrection is denied
Second coming of Jesus is distorted
Infallibility of the Bible is distorted
Final judgment is distorted
Eternal life in heaven is distorted

Jehovah’s Witnesses also teach and believe that there is no salvation outside their own ranks.

The Second Coming.

Much of the Jehovah’s Witnesses teaching revolves around their view of the second coming. They have often predicted the date when this would happen: 1874, 1914, 1925, 1975 are the four dates which were predicted for Jesus’ return.

God’s word says, “No one knows about the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mt. 24:36).

What do they believe about Jesus?

The most serious heresies held by Jehovah’s Witnesses concern their beliefs about Jesus:

They believe Jesus was a perfect man, but not that he is God. They admit that he is “a god” but not “the God.” They teach that Jesus “was and always will be beneath Jehovah” and that “Christ and God are not coequal.” They also deny Jesus’ resurrection was a bodily resurrection.

3 Ways to teach the truth to a Jehovah’s Witnesses.

1. Jesus was God. “I and the Father are one.” (Jn. 10:30) Also: Jn. 1:1; 14:10; 17:5, Acts 2:36; 1 Jn. 5:20.

Reflect on the attributes of Christ that show he is God:

Jesus Christ knows all things: Jn. 1:48; 2:25; 6:64; 14:30.
Jesus is all-powerful: Mt. 28:18; Mk. 4:39, Hebrews 1:3.
Jesus is sinless: Jn. 8:58
Jesus never changes: Hebrews 13:8

As only God could posses these attributes, Christ must be God.

2. Jesus was both man and God. “For Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” (Col. 2:9) Also: Jn. 1:1; Rom. 1:3-4; 9:5; Gal. 4:4; Lk. 2:7.

3. Jesus and his bodily resurrection. The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus was raised from the dead. See Jn. 20:19-29; Jn. 2:20-21.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

My Husband, My Warrior

My husband Bryan has to be one of the most wonderful funny people I know. He is always doing things to make me smile and help me not take life too seriously. The other day I was frustrated and he decided to be my warrior. The next minute I saw him he was dressed ready for combat. I just stood there laughing, and smiling, I gave him a huge hug and told him I love him.

Progress

I love my morning glories. They are so beautiful already and they are still very small. I was so excited when I saw the fist signs of them peaking out through the soil. It is fun to grow plants. I believe it is actually healing as well. When I got out of my nearly 3 month hospital stay (with my life changed forever) my counselor told me to plant something and watch it grow. It seemed such a small silly thing at the time, but the healing it provide to help my mind focus on watching the small plants thrive, was deep and needed. Again I am able to see the wonder of seeds, plants, and growth years later. It demonstrates God's beauty that nature and plants would be a part of what I see as a piece of heaven. It all began with a garden. I wonder if even this small piece of beauty is only a mere fraction of what we will see! I am sure it is.




Do you believe talking to plants helps them grow? I talk to them a little I guess, but it is more my prayers and excitement seeing them come alive then it is me actually talking to them.

What do you think?





Mormonism/ The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS)

What started it?

Mormon churches teach that the true church ceased to exist until Joseph Smith on April 6, 180, restored it.

Smith claims an angel called Moroni told him about a box that was hidden in the Hill Cumorah near Palmyra. He supposedly found the box and took three years to translate the writings in it on two golden tablets. It is commonly known today as the Book Of Mormon and was published in 1830. But the angel then took the two golden plates away so no one else ever has seen them.

The first church of the Mormons had six members. Smith became their “seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ.”

The Influence of this church.

There are 9 million Mormon’s in the world; over 50% of them live in the USA.

In the USA the Mormon Church has an investment portfolio of bonds and stocks worth more than 1 billion dollars.

The Mormons control more than 100 businesses, which generate more than 4 hundred million dollars a year.

The Mormon Church owns property in all of the states of America and has become the nation’s largest private landowner.

Mormon’s stress the importance of revelation. The books of Mormons use to compile their beliefs are: the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants that Joseph Smith gave them, as well as the Pearl of Great Price (sayings attributed to Moses and Abraham).

Attributes of Mormon’s

The Mormon’s do not drink alcohol, tea or coffee, or smoke.

More people visit the Salt Lake Temple Square per year than people visit the Grand Canyon.

The Mormon’s have compiled a list of more than 2 billion people who have died and store it in a record in a vault in Salt Lake City. The list is now available on the internet.

Mormons claim that for every Mormon who leaves the church for a Christian Church forty people leave Christian Churches to become Mormons.

God says, “Their zeal is not based on knowledge.” Rom. 10:2

What is the problem?

According to Mark Waters here are 5 ways Mormonism differs from the truth in the Bible:

1. Belief about humanity. Mormons teach that men and women can become gods and goddesses and that others will worship those who achieve this godhood.

God’s word says, “This is what the Lord says- Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty; I am the fist and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.” Is. 44:6

2. Belief about God the Father. The Mormon’s teach that God the Father was once a man who later became a God. They say that he still has a physical body made of flesh and bone: “The Father has a body of flesh and bones and tangible as man’s…As man is, God once was; as God is, man may be.” Doctrine and Covenants

God’s word says, “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Ps. 90:2

3. Belief about God the Son. Mormons teach that Jesus Christ is our elder brother and that he, himself, progressed to godhood like we can. They teach that Jesus Christ was born as a result of God the Father having sexual intercourse with Mary: “When the Virgin Mary conceived the Child Jesus…He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is his Father? He is the first of the human family.” Journal of Discourses

God’s word says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Jn. 1:1,14

Mormons also teach that Jesus was a polygamous: “We say it was Jesus Christ who was married at Cana of Galilee.” Journal of Discourses

4. Belief about God the Holy Spirit. The Book of Mormon teaches that the Holy Spirit is a spirit in the form of a man.

5. Baptism on behalf of the dead. Mormons teach salvation for the dead by proxy water baptism. They baptize each other in place of the non-Mormons who are now dead. As a result of this they believe in the afterlife, the newly baptized person will enter into a higher level of Mormon heaven. Not only this, but they also believed it was necessary for perfection. They derive this teaching from 1 Cor. 15:29 that says, “Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are no raised at all, why are the people baptized for them?”

Paul is not saying that he practiced baptism for the dead. He simply mentions this irregular type of baptism but nowhere suggests that Christians should follow the practice. In fact what I see is that Paul mentions it out of pity for those who think this works. If Jesus never resurrected, than we would all be in serious trouble.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Buddhism

Who started it?

Siddhartha Gautama, 563-483 B.C. founded Buddhism. He was born in southern Nepal and was son to the king. A sage had warned his father that his son would become an ascetic or a universal monarch, so the prince was never allowed to leave the palace. But he escaped and became a beggar searching for peace.

After this it is said that Gautama fell into a deep sleep by a fig tree, a bodhi or bo tree also known as the tree of wisdom. It was here he claimed to have reached the highest place of God-consciousnesses, Nirvana. For 40 years after this event, he taught about the truths he supposedly learned. He became known as the “Buddha” which is translated into “The Enlightened One.”

Foundational Beliefs.

The understanding of suffering acts as the foundation for what he taught. There were four in all:

1. The truth of suffering in that everyone must suffer.
2. The cause of suffering is selfish craving.
3. Cravings can be overcome and after that you will achieve the state of nirvana where all suffering ultimately ends.
4. The way to end craving is an eightfold path.

To end craving is accomplished by this eightfold path:
1. Right understanding
2. Right intention
3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
6. Right effort
7. Right concentration
8. Right ecstasy

In Christianity, to reach the ultimate is to perfectly love, praise and serve God- to be like Him and to know Him. In Buddhism, to reach the ultimate is to reach Nirvana.

They are believers and lovers of tolerance and achieving peace at all cost.

What is Nirvana?

Nirvana is the end of consciousness, which basically is emptiness. Also known by Zen Buddhists as samori, “a state of bliss in which there is no sense of time and where all thought ceases.” (p. 24)
In my little cheat book it gives a great example of how this is taught:

A man who wanted to become a Zen master asked to be taught Zen. The Zen master did not speak but started to pour a cup of tea for his visitor. He poured the tea into a cup that was already full. The tea overflowed, ran across the table and dripped on to the rice-mat on the floor. The Zen master kept pouring out the tea until the pot was empty. He finally spoke, “You are like this cup. You are full. How can I pour Zen into you? Empty yourself and come back.”

God’s word says, “Be filled with the Spirit.” Eph. 5:18

What does God say?

Buddhism suggests there is not supreme being, no sin, and no savior. According to them the world keeps going through natural power and there is no need for the existence of a personal creator. They even deny the existence of a personal God. The closest they come is Buddha- the Enlightened One, the Shower-of-the-Way. They also don’t believe is sin, because there is no sin against a Supreme Being. No wrong.

God says we do sin against God and so are in need of a Savior. Jesus!
“…give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21).

3 of their many gods are called the 3 Jewels: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Gautama tells his followers to go to these god’s for refuge.

God says: “In you O Lord, I have taken refuge…Be my rock of refuge…you are my strong refuge.” (Ps. 71:1,3,7)

Also “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gently and humble in heart, and you will find rest in your souls” (Mt. 11:28,29).

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hinduism

There is no specific founder of Hinduism. Hinduism is more a belief system than a religion. To me it seems very attractive. All the beautiful gods and clothing to wear are shiny and bright and sparkly. Their women always look so beautiful! But a very deep falsehood breads in this belief system. It goes against so many of the things Jesus and God are and what they show us through their words and in our lives and freeing truth.

Hinduism began in India about 3,5000 to 4,000 years ago. There are over 8 million Hindus in the world. Most live in southern Asia, especially India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

There are 33 main deities according to the Veda, (Which means wisdom); the 4 Vedas consist of prayer and hymns.

The Hindu pantheon has been explained in this way:
“Truth is one; wise men call it by different names.” Veda

Hindus defend accusation of being pantheistic by saying that they believe that One God has 33 different facets.

The idea that there are 330,000,000 deities is said to rise from a mistranslation. But from the way Hindus pray, offer food and money to the gods at the altar in their homes and in their temples, it appears that millions of Hindu deities are believed to exist. Nearly every Hindu home has a shrine that fills a complete room or the corner of a room.
Hindu gods are meant to bring peace and to ward off evil spirits. (pg.18).

Among the most important Hindu gods are:
Brahman, the eternal trimutri or Three-In-One God
Brahma, the Creator
Vishnu, the Preserver
Shiva, the Destroyer

Other Beliefs and Facts

Be submission toward FATE for you are a part of Brahman
Karma is the total of an individual’s acts in this life which determine his destiny in his next life on earth (After reincarnation happens) Law of Karma: from good must come good and from evil must come evil.

The final stage of Nirvana is where the soul arrives after it’s free from all its rebirths. It is a blissful spiritual state in which the individual is freed from all desire.

What is the problem?
Wow…there is a lot to feel sad about as I am learning this belief.

Firstly they believe the cow is the most sacred of animals…

Hindus believe that the supreme god lives in all creatures, both human and animals. From this they reason that all life is sacred.

They think that the cow is the most sacred animal since it gives so much. In return for just eating grass and grain it gives milk, while leather is made from its hides.

Their words say “Worship to thee, springing to life, and worship to thee when born! Worship O Cow, to the tail hair, and to thy hooves, and to thy form! The Cow is Heaven, the Cow is Earth, the Cow is Vishnu Lord of Life…He who hath given a Cow unto Brahmans winneth all the worlds…Both Gods and mortal men depend for life and being upon the Cow…She hath become this universe; all that the sun surveys is she.”

The Hindu way of Salvation:

Belief in Caste System
Hinduism believes that the caste system, a social hierarchy that governs marriages and all other major social actions, should be maintained. The four systems are:

1. The Brahmins: The elite linked with the priesthood.
2. The Kshstriyas: The military class and ruling class.
3. The Vaisyas: The farmer’s and businessmen.
4. The Sudra: The peasants.

At the bottom are untouchables who are reduced to doing more menial tasks, like burying the dead.

Hindus believes salvation is to be achieved in one of the following 3 ways:
1. Through Knowledge
2. Through Devotion
3. Through Good Deeds
Salvation is attainted through an unending cycle of birth death and rebirth.

But God words say! “ All…are justified by his [God’s] grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24).

Hindus are encouraged to pray to images. This is meant to be a way of finding help in worship.

“The supreme Personality of Godhead said: those who fix their minds on my personal form and are always engaged in worshipping Me with great and transcendental faith are considered by Me to be the most perfect.” (Bhagavad-Gita 12.ii.)

The Bible states: “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them” (Exodus 20:3-5).

Reincarnation.

As a result of victorious living a soul can reach a high state through rebirths.
A simple way of understanding the Hindu belief in reincarnation is to think of it as “re-entering the flesh.” When a person dies, he or she comes back as another person or as an animal. In this way the soul learns many lessons.

Eventually it can reach a stage called mukti when reincarnation ceases.

The Bible leaves no room for belief in reincarnation: “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Germination!

Germination has begun
Little sprouts have now sprung
Growth is in bloom
Spring springs forth
My plants are rising
Upward they go
Grow little morning glories, Grow!!!


Islam/Muslims

I have a very helpful book called World Religions Made Easy by Mark Water. For the sake of getting my facts right, I will stick mainly to this “Cheat Sheet” in exploring other religions.

What are the Core Beliefs of Muslims?
The origin of Islamic faith is dated to the prophet Muhammad who lived in the 7th century. Muslims regard Muhammad as their final prophet, but by no means their first prophet (p. 14).

“Islam,” meaning submission, is the fastest growing religion in the world.
Over 6 million Muslims live in the USA.

The 5 Pillars of Islam

1. Profession of faith: “There is no other God but God and Muhammad is his prophet.”
2. Worship: Worship is to be observed 5 times each day.
3. Alms-giving: Over 2% of one’s wealth is to be paid to the poor.
4. Fasting: Fasting is to be observed during the month of Ramadan.
5. Pilgrimage: a pilgrimage, or Hajj, is to be made to Mecca.

What’s the Problem?
Unlike Christ who was sinless, Muhammad claimed that God said to him: “I have taken away your sins that have bent your back.”

There is a basic difference between the teaching of the Bible and the teaching of the Qur’an about the character of God.

“Some Islamic teachers say that there are 99 names for God in the Qur’an. However, “God is love” is not one of them. Muslims believe that God is too high and mighty to relate to mere humans. Even in paradise Muslims do not expect to discover that God is a God of love."

Allah expects us to love him before he loves us. “Say (O Muhammad, to mankind); If you love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you.” “If ye love Allah…Allah will love you.” Qur’an 2:195; 3:31

But the apostle John wrote: “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:9,10. (p.16)

The Qur’an teaches that Jesus was a prophet, born of Mary, but did not die. Muslims believe that someone died in Jesus’ place, as they think that death would have been a sign of failure.

But the apostle John, an eyewitness of Jesus’ death wrote: “For Christ died for sins once and for all.” 1 Peter 3:18

Many Muslims do not mind being thought of as fanatical or fundamentalist so long as they can help to achieve their stated aim-global domination.

Islam teaches that God is far removed from humanity. The very best a Muslim can achieve is to know God’s will. He will never be able to know God himself. God may be everywhere but a personal relationship with him is out of the question. A Muslim theologian once said: “God reveals only his will not himself. He remains forever hidden.” (p.17.)

Jesus said: “I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” John 10:14

Jesus also said: “If you really knew me, you would know my father as well.” John 14:7

Friday, March 21, 2008

Introducing..."Honey Nut Buggies!"

Our sweet adorable funny niece decided a couple of weeks ago that Honey Nut Cheerios's is no longer available. Seeing the cute little Bug on the box, she immediately began calling them "Buggies." My sister says she is obsessed with "Buggies." She wants them night and day and in between! I thought it was so cute to hear her call them that. The other day Bryan brought home a box and I had a brilliant idea! We need to go ahead and re-do the box for the new and improved name. I think you will like what I did. Ilona's face on the box makes it the funniest thing ever!!! Cyndi and RJ love it too. It will be sold on shelves soon! A different box but same great taste!


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Exploring Judaism

First I would like to apologize to Ann and BDJ and make a very important correction. Unlike all the other beliefs I will try to learn about, I would not consider Judaism or Jewish beliefs an enemy. In fact Judaism is the foundation of my belief as a Christian. God called the Jews then the Gentiles.

Also, on a different note, when I wrote about an "enemy" on my previous post, I simply was making the statement that it is good for us as Christians to know the lies we are dealing with in order to love and share the love of Jesus with them. If we don't know what makes our religion true, then how can we be a light? I only used the example in that post to demonstrate the importance of knowing what lies we are fighting against not to label anyone as an enemy.

Judaism is the primary faith of the Jewish culture and the foundation of Christianity.

What are the Core Beliefs of Judaism?
Judaism is monotheistic believing in one God. They are God’s chosen people (Genesis 12:1-3) and study His words fervently. The purpose of life is summed up in one thing: in living your life in Love for God and obeying His commands. Jews study and obey the Old Testament teaching such as the Decalogue, Torah and Mishnah.

Facts About Judaism


The GREEN section in this circle graph is the statistics of Judaism population in a worldwide context. They represent 13.33%
Spiritual Leader is a Rabbi
Place of worship they go to is in a Synagogue or Temple
Founder was Abraham 1300 BC (?)
The Lord had said to Abraham, ‘Leave you country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I Will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I Will make you name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:1-3

Judaism says we are to obey the law and atone for sin. Even ritualistic actions have been brought into this religion proving legalism and focus on tradition rather than what God has done through Jesus' death. In Matthew 15:1-7 Jesus talks to the Jews about the tradition of washing their hands. Washing hands before a meal was not Old Testament Law, but rabbinic tradition.
The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat?”
Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of tradition?…You nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.”

God has a plan for the Jews. So what’s the problem? They love God and want to obey Him? Isn’t this good?

What's the problem?
The fact is yes, what they believe is true and good, but what they chose to leave out, contains the amazing truth of Jesus setting them free. If you look in the Bible you will see so many references to Jews and the special place God has for them in His heart. The problem is that they do not believe Jesus our Messiah, has already come. Instead they still wait to have the scripture fulfilled:
For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government shall be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Is. 9:6)
This is an OT scripture that they still wait to be accomplished. They don’t believe Jesus was this verse’s completion when in fact He is.

This religion refuses to believe John’s witness that “Jesus is the Son of God” and has come already (Jn. 20:31). Judaism says the OT Laws of sacrifice and ritual is vital because Jesus has not come yet. It is in the older books that we can truly know the discipline of how to be loving and godly. They ignore the teaching of Jesus, and more than this, they do not acknowledge that Jesus’ death replaced our enslavement to Old Testament Law. We are not slaves to the law anymore! Jesus’ sacrifice stopped this. But most Jews do not believe this. They carry on tradition and action of compliance to the OT scripture. To them Jesus may have been a prophet, but the Messiah that is talked about in the OT has not come yet, so they wait. Not only do they deny Christ’s Deity, they resort back to obeying old laws in the Old Testament that we are no longer under. Jesus talks about this saying: “You diligently study that scriptures because you think that by them you posses eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have eternal life.” (Jn. 5:39,40). They believe keeping all these laws and commandments make them godly and achieve heaven, rather than Jesus. And the only way to heaven is through the son.
Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6). Clearly Jesus’ love and ultimate sacrifice replaces any “working to salvation.” Instead, we now have an amazing Savior who extinguishes OT testament Law of sacrifice with His own sacrifice at the cross. We are adopted as children. Salvation is not earned by keeping laws of being good. It is a gift freely given by the One true God, Jesus Christ if we are willing to accept it and change our hearts.

What do I do now?
As I think about Judaism, I feel sad and frustrated. My Jesus did so much to demonstrate love to all and for them to have scripture in their hands and not see the beauty of what Christ did and the signs in the OT proving Jesus as the Messiah, is very aggravating. It is not surprising that most people don’t even care and chose to believe in other god’s and things here on earth to make them “happy.” But it is so much more hurtful to me since they have the truth right before them; yet decide to ignore it. It is like they are soooo close! If the Jews are the chosen people then why are they like this? (please see my comments under this post for a great explaination). They are so close to being free in Jesus, yet it seems like there is a blind covering over their eyes. So what do I do about it now that I know these things?

I will pray for God to help me love these people and not brew annoyance or frustration at them in my spirit. They are God's chosen people! I will remember God has a plan for the Jews. I will also not generalize that all Jews are Judaism believers. I know from hearing Bryan talk about this group of people that there are Judaic Christians or Believers. It feels different to be defending God’s truth to people who already know about Him, possibly even better than I.

*Again, My purpose in writing this is to help me learn so I may be a light for God in the world and begin with this with knowledge and proceed with love.

Knowledge of Importance

I have been overwhelmed with the desire to explore different religions and how and why they are not valid in comparison to the truth of Jesus.

I explained to Bryan last night that if anyone were in the armed services planning an attack on enemy territory, the first order of business would be to gain knowledge of the adversary. No one would logically immediately jump in the plane, fly over there, and attack. The key to a successful surprise assault is to know the enemy and know them well.

Christians ought to know what makes our Savior truth up against popular growing religions. How would we explain to a Mormon or an Islamic person that Jesus is the only way, truth, and life? I asked myself these questions the other day and honestly I did not know the answers and this bothers me. I don’t believe obsession is useful either. In reality, it would be damaging for a Christian to focus so much on proving other religions wrong, that we forget that it is not people we are fighting against, it is the power of Satan and his lies. And it is love that I am trying to show, not hate. Yet again, it is not tolerance and acceptance. There is a balance and it always starts with Jesus and Him inspecting our heart for motives.

Maybe this topic feels vital because Christianity may not be the leading religion sooner than later. And while I am here on earth I will be faced with opposition from people who chose to believe in lies.

So I am going to answer these questions as I probe various religions:

1. What are the core beliefs of this religion?
2. Facts about this religion.
3. What make it inaccurate against Jesus?

Everyday I anticipate writing about a different religion according to these questions. I am excited to work through this and learn.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Life with Lupus

I talked to a sweet lady that volunteers with Gracey and I in the PET therapy program. She too went through Chemotherapy. We were discussing how much treatments weakened our bodies. Even with 16 years of remission, she said she has never been the same energy-wise since. She has to rest often and gets tired easily. It felt validating to know that I am not the only one inhibited and feeling past my years. In the area of energy I am not able to be who I was before I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus. It doesn’t matter how much I exercise or train. I don’t work that way anymore, I will simply have more pain, weakness, and eventually get really sick with a flare. Pressing my body to a difficult point of excursion would mean devastating pain and weakness rather than more energy and building of muscle. I feel frustrated often by how easily I become tired. 2 hours of activity is my average before I have to rest or before I feel too tired to go on. About 50% of the time, I push myself beyond this point. Most people would never even guess this when they look at me. I battle this more than you would think…it is the whole “I look fine so I can’t be sick.” I even second guess myself sometimes and have to make myself rest. I feel like I miss out on things that I should be able to do. Woman my age are chasing around kids, shopping, spending time with their husbands, involved in regular exercise, traveling, and go to groups like bible studies and craft groups. I rarely plan anything consistent week by week. By dinnertime I am done with no energy left. But I don’t want to complain and to be honest I feel like I do very well with not complaining. I sometimes want to forget about Lupus and what it does. I don’t want to always be saying, “This is not fair.” That caused me to be a very angry person in the past, and I don’t want to be like that again. I was told today that Chemo ages someone 10 years. So in reality I would be 37 after considering the Chemo. Then throw in Lupus and kidney failure that ages me like 20 years more. So honestly I feel older than my mother. And this is not opinion. My body is just not as strong. I have been unwilling to admit this for so long because I have never been viewed as a weak person. I have been the “strong one” for so long. I had passion and zeal for life and justice. My sister growing up said I would be the next American Gladiator. When I was in college I could run at 5 am and make it to all my classes and hang out until 11 pm and then take care of my duties as assistant dorm director and sleep for 4 hours and start it all over again without missing a beat. I had to rediscover who I was after leaving the hospital. And it doesn’t matter if you are what is inside, one’s body and the allowance it gives you to experience life is hard to change when it happens so fast. I feel like the old Olivia is dead. Now my strength must come from within. This is what I have been working on (actually God has LOL) for the last 5 years. And although I am greatly limited physically, I desire to be stretched and grown like never before. Bryan and I will be going to Israel in a month for 2 weeks. I ask you to pray with me that I will be challenged through this trip. It is my first big trip since I have been sick and finished treatments. I am looking forward to it, yet I am a little apprehensive about getting sick or being too weak to enjoy things. We have paced our itinerary wisely to give me plenty of opportunity to rest, but traveling in itself has a wearing affect on me. I know some amazing people that face trials of limitations everyday. I want to be the one that doesn’t give up even when I feel like I have no control. Perhaps our “control” is merely a fa├žade anyway. I believe this illness blesses me with relinquishing power to God. I don’t know who I would have been without this in my life. But I know even after writing all this that I would not change what it has taught me about faith, hope, and love.

PS. Believe I am fine, sometimes I just need to get it all out and I feel a lot better. Actually in the middle of me writing this my sweet husband called and I talked and cried with him.

"Butterfly Attack"

A True Story of Courage and Love
by David L. Kuzminski

Walking down a path through some woods in Georgia , I saw a water puddle ahead on the path.
I angled my direction to go around it on the part of the path that wasn't covered by water and mud. As I reached the puddle, I was suddenly attacked!

Yet I did nothing for the attack was so unpredictable and from a source so totally unexpected.

I was startled as well as unhurt, despite having been struck four or five times already. I backed up a foot and my attacker stopped attacking me. Instead of attacking more, he hovered in the air on graceful
butterfly wings in front of me. Had I been hurt I wouldn't have found it amusing, but I was unhurt, it was funny, and I was laughing. After all, I was being attacked by a butterfly!

Having stopped laughing, I took a step forward. My attacker rushed me again.

He rammed me in the chest with his head and body, striking me over and over again with all his might, still to no avail.

For a second time, I retreated a step while my attacker relented in his attack. Yet again, I tried moving forward. My attacker charged me again. I was rammed in the chest over and over again. I wasn't sure what to do, other than to retreat a third time. After all, it's just not everyday that one is attacked by a
butterfly. This time, though, I stepped back several paces to look the situation over. My attacker moved back as well to land on the ground. That's when I discovered why my attacker was charging me only moments earlier. He had a mate and she was dying. She was beside the puddle where he landed. Sitting close beside her, he opened and closed his wings as if to fan her. I could only admire the love and courage of that butterfly in his concern for his mate. He had taken it upon himself to attack me for his mate's sake, even though she was clearly dying and I was so large. He did so just to give her those
extra few precious moments of life, should I have been careless enough to step on her.

Now I knew why and what he was fighting for. There was really only one option left for me. I carefully made my way around the puddle to the other side of the path, though it was only inches wide and
extremely muddy. His courage in attacking something thousands of times larger and heavier than himself just for his mate's safety justified it. I couldn't do anything other than reward him by walking on the more difficult side of the puddle. He had truly earned those moments to be with her, undisturbed. left them in peace for those last few moments, cleaning the mud from my boots when I later reached my car.

Since then, I've always tried to remember the courage of that butterfly whenever I see huge obstacles facing me. I use that butterfly's courage as an inspiration and to remind myself that good things are worth fighting for.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Olivia the Storm Chaser

You know those crazy people in tin foiled vans driving around chasing storms and tornado's? I could easily be one of them! I love thunderstorms and bad weather. I often think, and I am sure some of you will say I am crazy, that the reason I feel sad sometimes is because the lack of rain around here! Usually gloomy weather suggests unhappiness, but for me rain, thunder, and lightening help break up the monotony of sunshine. I love the smell of approaching storms. And also how the air almost instantly cools enough that windows can be open and fresh air circulates the house (a very rare occasion in Texas). The sound of rain on the roof and carport melodically soothes my heart. It is almost like a symphony of rhythmic sounds just for me!

Right now in Texas is tornado season and we are located in tornado alley. We usually get some terrible storms. But unlike Massachusetts, where I grew up, rain comes and goes almost as fast as a blink of the eye. Bad weather can start up and fade away without much warning. In small cities, like where we live, bad weather is a source of obsession for our newscasters. All programming on TV stops to follow progress of the storm. The wind velocity and hail capability is tracked as well as any indication of favorable tornado funnels. It can get a little annoying at times, but they do a good job at allowing people adequate warning for weather that could damage property or lives.

Bryan and I have an emergency plan. We know where we will go if there are any tornado's around. I hope we will never have to use it. But right now I am perfectly content on baking my banana bread (Thanks Casja!) and listening to the pitter-patter of rain outside…until tomorrow when we have all that sunshine again! (He-he!)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Growing Toward Heaven

Bryan and I did something very special yesterday. We planted a garden. I love Morning Glories and it is the perfect time to plant them. Bryan and I made this trellis for the vines to grow on. On each side there is a Bible Verse. The left says Psalm 103 "Praise the Lord Oh my souls, all my inmost being Praise His Holy Name." The middle says inspiring words like "Love, Hope, and Peace." The right side is Proverbs 3:5,6 "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight." There is a beam across the whole all 3 sections and this has my favorite words on it saying, "Growing toward heaven and remembering our Angels." What a great reminder of heaven and all we have waiting there for us. I can't wait to see some beautiful flowers!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Little Reminders


The other day I came home to a very sweet surprise. Bryan taped little pieces of paper all over the house with different words on them. Some said “strength, courage, creativity, peace, vision.” In all there were 32 in our home all over the place where I would see them. He left a note on the door saying “Here are some things I love about you…can you find all 32?” I can’t begin to tell you how much I needed a reminder that day. I had been feeling really down and sad earlier when I talked to him on the phone. Maybe it wasn’t so much that I believe these words are true about me all the time, but they are attributes I desire to express. Perhaps they represent goals and purpose the Lord has given me in my journey.

I am so glad that I have Bryan to remind me who I am even when I don’t act like all these things. He believes they are who I am even when I have bad days and can’t see them in myself. I believe we should all have people in our lives like this. Maybe it will be us who reminds others what their potential is even when they are not positive characteristics. These small taped pieces of paper brought me more strength than I could have imagined. Bryan is a faithful man and in him as well he gives me strength to keep going.

Sometimes I don’t see all the reminders God gives me. They are all around showing us who He transformed us to be in Jesus. They are there for everyone. He gives words like “Forgiven, Hope, Faith, Cleansed, Loved, Wanted, and Beauty.”

Friday, March 14, 2008

6 Questions

This is a mulitple choice small Quiz. If you read my blog at all, you might be able to answer all six correctly. I am really liking making my own polls. I wont go crazy and post one everyday. I rather write, but nothing really is coming to my mind. So, I thought this might be fun.





Clean Christian Comedy

I just needed to laugh today, find something to not take life too seriously, and this was pretty funny.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Motivating Factors

Bryan asked me the other day how I saw the world rank these three primary motivating factors in life: happiness (joy), power (recognition), and meaning. He has been reading “Man’s Search for Meaning” and the second half of the book is dedicated to explaining Logotherapy. They debate the issue of “What prompts humankind to keep going in life?” If you were to ask someone, “What would give you assurance out of all these three things,” what would be the most popular response?

I feel people pursue happiness as the most significant of all three. As long as we are happy, we are whole. Isn’t that what the world says to us? Our media, songs, movies, and culture, all point to “What new thing will make you happy.”

Satisfaction also comes for most in power and recognition. I rank this reason as number two. I believe God puts it in our hearts to want to matter. We desire to make a difference and be known. But when we feel like we should be the most important thing, we lose touch with God’s beautiful control.

Sadly, most never even get to discover true meaning and purpose in life. Wouldn’t this propel anyone through all the ups and downs? Happiness and power are fleeting. They come and go wavering like the oceans tides. They can never possibly produce the affect meaning can have on the human soul. And, even in this, someone who has meaning that does not even include God, but maybe their family, I believe could still survive longer then someone who solely exists on happiness and power.

I would really love to know what you think!?

So you vote:




Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Late Night Encounter

Disclaimer: Unfortunately the events in what I am about to describe to you is in no way an exaggeration. The following is an accurate account of true reactions, expressions, and emotions from the night of March 10, 2008. Please be aware of its content, as it may not be suitable for children, those who are faint of heart, have high blood pressure, hate scary situations, sneeze a lot, feel compelled to support insects that should die, have overly long toe nails, and lastly those who feel that late night surprises are optimal. If these don’t describe you, than please read on.

Last night we had a very late unwelcome visitor. Bryan innocently slept beside me while I read a book. I felt a tickle on my leg and thought to myself, “Wow, wouldn’t that be so awful if there were a bug in my pants?” I squirmed a little just thinking about such a horrific situation. It wasn’t but 3 seconds later that I noticed a moving shadow in my right peripheral vision. And to my horror, beside me on the wall, crawled the largest cockroach I have truly ever seen.

What happened after this, if truth be told, is a little blurry in my memory. Bits and pieces have slowly returned to me enough to write them now. I know if it were physically possible, I would have jumped out of bed and climbed up Bryan’s body and stood on his head out of harms way. But what I did was a little easier for me, I screamed a lot. And when I mean a lot, I mean like for 20 minutes straight and enough that my throat felt soar. Upon the initial outburst of terror, Bryan leapt out of bed with such alarmed enthusiasm I was instantly validated I would be taken seriously…“My life was in urgent jeopardy and I needed a rescuer!” Who said men can’t translate emotions on their own? He needed no handbook for this one. Good job “B.”

I bravely pointed at the now scurrying creature trying to make it behind my nightstand. Bryan’s super powers turned from “off” to “on.” He was up and out of bed within seconds spraying and killing this creature that I am convinced is Satan incarnate. Bryan asked for a tissue, yet frozen with fright, I was unable to move from my crouched position by Gracey on Bryan’s side of the bed (it seemed safer at the moment). He noticed my stationary requirement and went to the tissue box, confiscated the roach, and threw it away. And, if only this were the end of the ordeal for him. I explained through screams that there was no way I was sleeping if the entire bedroom, top to bottom, wasn’t checked. He tried unsuccessfully to calm me. He was very sweet and realized that I truly was upset. He examined the bedroom and the entire house as well, even though midnight was approaching and he had to get up in 4 hours to work. He looked and sprayed everywhere. Finally I felt a little better, which calculates to an approximate 2% increase.

I hate cockroaches (and spiders) more than anything. We have had a problem in our new house with them. Which stinks because the only other time in Texas that I have ever seen one was when I was a sophomore in college. They are so disgusting, dirty, gross, evil, nasty, yucky, creepy, brown, doo doo looking insects. I wont even tell you of the stories I have of them when we first moved in but only that apparently our house was the nightclub for these bugs. It abruptly ended, however, with many-a-casualty. What bothers me most about “the encounter” was that it was so close to me! I have always felt a little safe at night because I never saw one in our bedroom. So much for my security.

I guess the key to living in this house is to have to BUG man come routinely. Which to me would be every week, but realistically every 3 months. He’s coming tomorrow by the way. I bet he really enjoys people like me. I wont ever be so happy to have him here than I will be tomorrow. I can’t wait!

God creates evil bugs, but he also created the Bug Man. And for this I will forever be thankful.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Yes, Obama, More Questions about “Faith”

Bryan and I have been reading “The Other Side of Love” by Gary Chapman. It speaks about anger explaining that this emotion is not negative. In fact our resentment reflects the reality of injustice God places in our hearts to react against. Chapman writes:

“Human anger is designed of God to motivate us to take constructive action in the face of wrongdoing or when facing injustice.” (pg. 25)

This blog is my “constructive” way of dealing with a very frustrating matter, Obama.

In Friday March 7th’s “Spiritual Life” section of Abilene Reporter News the top article is “No More Questions About Faith.” Obama’s photo centers the paper as he gaily shakes people’s hands and soaks in all the glory of his admirers. Bryan alarmed a warning to me as I picked it up and began to read. “It will make you upset,” he said. I guess I figured I would take my chances.

Let me pause briefly before I get into the depths of my aggravation. It is truly amazing how God works in marriage. Bryan’s heart as a man draws fierce to solve injustice in beautiful ways that I would never automatically notice. He has written a blog about this as well, and I encourage you to read it. But as I read the exact same article, I observed a different aspect of injustice. Put us together and I don’t think Obama or the United Church of Christ would have a chance. But more than this article, I love being a team with Bryan. And the more and more we practice being a team, God shows and grows me through Bryan’s wisdom. God is very true saying “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

The United Church of Christ claims to be a Christian based religion. They pride themselves on “welcoming believers of all races, ages, and sexual orientation.” It has also been debated the congregation Obama attends promotes racism in flaunting its “Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian” attitude. If this congregation truly advertises this attribute, it is racism against anyone else that is not black (I am using black because this is how the article defines this race). Although these issues should cause unease, something deeper reflects this outcome of the quotes above.

The single most absurd part about the entire article is that there is NO comment about God or Jesus. In fact, as I will show below with excerpts from the article, this religion’s purpose is to promote the church itself. This sadly is not an opinion of mine. It is clearly proven in the article. Here are several quotes:

“Some church officials consider him (Obama) a walking billboard for a denominational advertising campaign.”

Our responsibility as Christians is not being a “billboard” for our denomination or for a church…our billboard ought to point to Christ. He is the Way the Truth and the Life. No church or denomination can give us heaven. Only a relationship with Jesus assures us eternity with Him.

“…the UCC (United Church of Christ) is happy with the attention”

It feels like the UCC delights in attention toward itself. Again, all attention should be on Jesus, not churches, not buildings, not denominations. Wouldn’t it be great if this said, “The UCC is happy with the attention this brings to Jesus Christ, who ultimately is the true and only role model for everyone?” If only, but it does not. Again it points to the church rather than Christ.

“Obama’s campaign has given the United Church of Christ a wonderful opportunity to tell our story.”

Why does the United Church of Christ’s story matter? Isn’t it Jesus’ story that is of importance? This should be a major sign that God is not the focus, rather it is themselves.

“Since 2004, the denomination has aggressively advertised on the radio and television.”

The denomination has been advertised. Not God’s love and freedom. Not Jesus, not forgiveness, not grace or faith, but the denomination in itself.

“’This is free publicity for the most part.’”

More words of distorted promotion. Obama serves the UCC to publicize their church, not Christ.

“…what excites many of us (UCC leaders) is seeing a candidate who is promoting progressive values based on Christian faith.”

If you research Obama’s values, they are progressive yet tainted. I believe there is absolute truth, God’s truth. We should not let this truth be affected by the changed and ongoing progressively sinful world. We are called to love all people, but we are not to accept sin as though God says it is ok.

“The hope is that the interest eventually will fill more seats on Sundays.”

If there were any result of a reference to our church in the paper, I would hope it would be that people would know God is real and loves them, NOT that it would simply fill seats on Sunday. Focus should not be on how many seats are taken, yet how many hearts are touched by God.

“The Rev. Paul Sadler…., expects his church will benefit from having Obama as a role model.”

Earlier in the article it spoke about how the United Church of Christ was devastated when it went from 2 million members in 1965 to 1.2 million members in 2006. I can’t tell you exactly why this happened, but I am sure there is a reason that would include how the church operates and what it focuses on. If a church seeks to benefit itself, it loses focus on Jesus. And as soon as this happens, I believe it is very dangerous.

Our lives and our churches must reveal God’s love, not endorse the church. There is NOTHING is these quotes (or the article for that matter) that speaks of their relationship with Jesus. These quotes don’t point to Jesus; they direct people to glorify the church rather than our Savior.

This is why there is corruption in Obama and the church’s view of truth as stated in the beginning quotes about racism and acceptance of all orientations. If you are not following Jesus or actively trying to point others to Him, not yourself, than real truth will slowly and surely become perverted. No wonder there is great diversion from God’s Word. What an example this is to me, Jesus needs to be the focus. Shame on anyone who uses Christ for his or her own benefit!

We must be very careful. God warns us about people who will distort truth. I believe this is an example of this that we must take precaution against.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

2 Timothy 4:3&4

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The View Finder: On Creativeness (March 2008)

One of the most amazing things about photography, and art in general, is the ability to create. You can adventure with imagination as long and as far as you want. It is an endless world to explore and discover. There are no boundaries. In a time that seems prone to destruction, there is joy in being able to produce a photo that captures our hearts desire to create beauty. Simply look at a child. He or she desires recognition after drawing a picture. They acted creatively and know it must be something special. They may have not produced perfect circles, but they can teach us to be students of development, reaching towards goals even when the outcome is not precise. We must never cease to be students, learning and being content when we are able to clearly show ourselves. There is a huge sense of accomplishment when you get a piece just right. You’ve the idea in your head, sought to capture it and make it come to life, and succeeded with a print in front of you. There is sense of relief when this happens. We have created something original. We too, are a reflection of an imprint. It is in the hearts of men to create, for it is simply a mere reflection of our Creator.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Terry Fator with a Talent that will make you smile.

If you only have time for one, be sure you click on the second one below with the turtle, it is my favorite!









Thursday, March 06, 2008

"Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep"

I have three pictures of my daughter Natalie and it will be something I regret for the rest of my life. I keep them safe in her box, but I wish I had more, an album of all her features...her toes, her tiny hands, her face. I wish...I wish...

About a month ago I came upon a link to a group of volunteer photographers that donate their time to photograph babies. The extraordinary part about these people is that the situations they document is what would normally be the happiest day of someones life, yet something went wrong, the baby will not survive, or will only live for minutes, or even like our Natalie, knowing she is already in heaven and will be delivered still. There is no cost at all for the family, and the photographers give them a CD/DVD of the photos to have forever.

As a photographer, when I explored their website, I knew I needed to apply, and days later I received an e-mail back that they reviewed my website and I was to be accepted as a part of this amazing group.

I am required to train using their site, yet I know deep down inside of me that I already know what to do. I already know why this is so amazing. It is because I have felt sad about my daughters lack of memories. I didn't know it was alright to take tons of photos. It felt strange at the time, but now years later I crave her face and wish someone with a sensitive heart donated their time to capture her beauty. I want to make sure this never happens to anyone again. And please, if you are a friend or family member of someone who will go through this, please suggest this to them. It may feel weird, but in the end when weeks go by, it will mean the most to them that they allowed someone to validate their child's life.

Yesterday morning on the "Today Show" they highlighted our group. If you have time I suggest watching this segment explaining how amazing something like this truly is. I have also provided the link to the web site below.

What is in a photograph?

It says you were here.
It says you were mine.
It says "I love you, and I will see you again."

Click Here for the Today Show Segment
Click Here for the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Website

Monday, March 03, 2008

Home is a Who, not a Where

© 2008 Inspired by Grace
All rights reserved Olivia M. Brigham

A huge world shrinks
The sky drapes downward
Snow makes the world seem smaller
It attracts the eye to the near
Distance is irrelevant
Yet time seems still
What matters becomes a simple pattern
A message from someone amongst the white
They are your footprints on the ground
And it’s your secret way of saying,
“I am finally home”

Saturday, March 01, 2008