Monday, December 31, 2007

Ring Out the Old

When I was a teenager living in California, our church would have a Watch Night Service beginning about 8 pm on December 31st. All ages of people, from little kids to the elderly, would show up for this event. We'd have a potluck of desserts, play games, and visit. If I remember right, those with really young children would leave by ten, but the rest of us would stay the course. Around 11:30 we'd gather in the sanctuary for a time of worship. We'd keep one eye on the back of the room, where the big clock hung on the wall. The clock that was supposed to guide the pastor's sermons on Sunday mornings. Our voices would join together in singing the old hymns like "I Surrender All" or "I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go." On the tick of midnight we'd take turns praying out loud, committing our lives to the Lord's service in the new year.

As a Christian teen, I loved that special night. I always felt a sense of excitement about the coming year, and yearned to grow closer to God as I went through it. I wanted my life to count for something and to be a witness to others. I was willing for God to mold me however He best saw fit.

And you know what? He answered all those prayers. I stayed close to the Lord and went on to become a pastor's wife as well as a missionary. I continue to yearn to grow closer to God with each passing year. I carry with me an awareness that I'm a witness as I'm out and about in my community. Pastor Brown is in glory now, but I hope he knows how much I looked forward to ending the old year with my church family.

Do churches even have Watch Night Services anymore? I haven't been involved in one for decades. But I just talked to my husband, who is on a piano tuning trip to Nevada, and he was going to a Watch Night Service in a little Baptist church in Hawthorne. So obviously some places are keeping the tradition alive. It might be a good thing to reinstate here in Oregon. Who knows? There might be a young person (or old) who could really benefit from that yearly recommittment to their faith.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


With a title like that, you probably think I'm writing about Christmas. Wrong!

When I joined ShoutLife about three weeks ago, an evil virus took over my computer and then wiggled its way into my heart. It was so stealthy, that for a week or so I didn't even realize I'd been attacked. I went through my daily routine without a problem. As soon as I woke up each morning, I would hurry to turn my computer on and see which new people were reaching out to me, asking me to be their friends and share in their lives. Each day was met with a sense of anticipation as I wondered what the words on the screen would say to me.

Last week, the insidious virus reached my heart and stopped me cold. There was no cure for it. No cure other than repentance. You see, I had allowed the excitement about these strangers reaching out to me to be the most important thing of my morning. There was a sense of approval and worth brought about by seeing how many people had contacted me.

And that's when God spoke. The Great Physician pointed out that I had let this cut in to my daily appointment with Him. Instead of anticipating my time with Him each morning, reading His prescription for my life and getting my approval and feelings of worth from Him, I was pushing Him aside, anxious to get my fix from the computer.

I listened when He spoke. I read directives He'd given me in the past: Seek first the kingdom of God; I will fill you with My love every morning.

That's when I made the committment to meet with the Lord each day before turning on my computer. Nothing is more important than spending quality time aligning myself with His words that bring life and hope. Words that tell me I am loved. That tell me I'm worth more than I'll ever know.

His mercies are new every morning. Now that's something to anticipate!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Stop Yelling at Me!

I must have been born with a sensitive spirit, even though I'm the oldest of five. I always hated to be yelled at. Now, you have to understand that I really wasn't yelled at. My parents could simply raise their voice to get my attention, and I would feel they were yelling. A loud snap of their fingers had the same effect--instant obedience. When I got engaged to John, we came to an agreement that we would never yell at each other. We even go so far as to try to be in the same room when we talk to each other, so that there's no sound of discord in the house.

So, what's a nice girl like me doing on a place called ShoutLife?! I resisted it for months, this Christian version of MySpace. But Christina kept telling me I needed to power up and join this awesome group of people. She also warned me to wait until a week when I had few commitments, as it would be very time-consuming when I first joined.

She was so right! I don't have it within me to push one little button and "accept all" the people who have written asking to be my friend. No, I have to respond personally to each one. I go to their profile page and see what we have in common before writing to them. That helps me see each of them as an individual, rather than just a name. I like doing it this way and have met some great people, but it's taking more hours than I dreamed possible.

In closing, I want to give a big shoutout to all my friends, both old and new. Shoutout? Did I really say that?