Dec 20, 2003


Erin and Phillip's wedding was this afternoon. It was beautiful. Beautiful and perfect. Erin was radient. And Phillip was by far the sweetest groom ever! During the last song, which was called "The Prayer," he and Erin stood at the alter facing each other, and he whispered a prayer in her ear. If it wasn't for Ashlee (the flower girl) goofing off in the background, it would have been a really emotional moment for all of us! Anyway, it was very sweet. The reception afterward was very fun, also. It's cool that most of us who were there are friends, so we all had a great time hanging out and partying. Anyway, that's about all the news for today. Work was LONG, being the last Saturday before Christmas and all. I'm sure next week will be out of control! But then after it's over, it's off to New York we go!!!! I am SO excited!

9 days...

The morning road air was like a new dress. That made her feel the apron tied around her waist. She untied it and flung it on a low bush beside the road and walked on, picking flowers and making a bouquet. After that she came to where Joe Starks was waiting for her with a hired rig. He was very solemn and helped her to the seat beside him. With him on it, it sat like some high, ruling chair. From now on until death she was going to have flower dust and springtime sprinkled over everything. A bee for her bloom. Her old thoughts were going to come in handy now, but new words would have to be made and said to fit them.

"Green Cove Springs," he told the driver. So they were married there before sundown, just like Joe had said. With new clothes of silk and wool.

They sat on the boarding house porch and saw the sun plunge into the same crack in the earth from which the night emerged.

-Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Dec 19, 2003

another quote or two...

There is a basin in the mind where words float around on thought and thought on sound and sight. Then there is a depth of thought untouched by words, and deeper still a gulf of formless feelings untouched by thought.
-Zora Neale Hurston

We always believe our first love is our last, and our last love our first.
-curtesy of Amber Jolly's profile
a great quote...

It was a spring afternoon in West Florida. Janie had spent most of the day under a blossoming pear tree in the back-yard. She had been spending every minute that she could steal from her chores under that tree for the last three days. That was to say, ever since the first tiny bloom had opened. It had called her to come and gaze on a mystery. From barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds; from the leaf-buds to snowy virginity of bloom. It stirred her tremendously. How? Why? It was like a flute song forgotten in another existence and remembered again. What? How? Why? This singing she heard that had nothing to do with her ears. The rose of the world was breathing out smell. It followed her through all her waking moments and caressed her in her sleep. It connected itself with other vaguely felt matters that had struck her outside observation and buried themselves in her flesh. Now they emerged and quested about her consciousness.

She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation. Then Janie felt a pain remorseless sweet that left her limp and languid.

After a while she got up from where she was and went over the little garden field entire. She was seeking confirmation of the voice and vision, and everywhere she found and ackknowledged answers. A personal answer for all other creations except herself. She felt an answer seeking her, but where? When? How? She found herself at the kitchen door and stumbled inside. In the air of the room where flies tumbling and singing, marrying and giving in marriage. When she reached the narrow hallway she was reminded that her grandmother was home with a sick headache. She was lying across the bed asleep so Janie tipped on out of the front door. Oh to be a pear tree--
any tree in bloom! With kissing bees singing of the begining of the world! She was sixteen. She had glossy leaves and bursting buds and she wanted to struggle with life but it seemed to elude her. Where were the singing bees for her? Nothing on the place nor in her grandma's house answered her. She searched as much of the world as she could from the top of the front steps and then went on down to the front gate and leaned over to gaze up and down the road. Looking, waiting, breathing short with impatience. Waiting for the world to be made.

Through pollinated air she saw a glorious being coming up the road. In her former blindness she had known him as shiftless Johnny Taylor, tall and lean. That was before the golden dust of pollen had beglamored his rags and her eyes.

In the last stages of Nanny's sleep, she dreamed of voices. Voices far-off but persistent, and gradually coming nearer. Janie's voice. Janie talking in whispery snatches with a male voice she couldn't quite place. That brought her wide awake. She bolted upright and peered out of the window and saw Johnny Taylor lacerating her Janie with a kiss.

excerpt from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
on Catholicism...


Regarding salvation: "Catholics claim that salvation is secured by faith in Christ plus good works." John 3:16 teaches that anyone who believes in Jesus Christ will be saved. It doesn't say anyone who believes in Jesus AND does all the right things. Salvation is a free gift to us. To say that we must do good works -- or works of any kind -- to secure our salvation is to say that we must earn it, and therefore it is not a free gift. Furthermore, the concept that I could ever earn the right to be saved is beyond my comprehension. I am incapable of being worthy of anything in the presence of a perfectly holy God. I will never, ever deserve anything from Him: not salvation, not heaven, not even for good things to happen in my life. In comparison to God's perfect standard, I am completely and totally unworthy. The Bible describes our good works as filthy rags. That's how much value they have in comparison to God's perfection. Many times I have heard "filthy rags" described in more accurate detail. The phrase literally describes the rags that leapers used to clean their sores. After use, the rags were thrown into the fire to be burned so as not to spread disease. Gee, sounds like our good works are really worth something, doesn't it! Aside from the fact that our good works really are worthless, to say that they are required for salvation is to say that Christ's sacrifice was not enough. Not enough?! The God of heaven put on dirty flesh and lived in a sinful world for over 30 years, was brutally beaten and killed by His creation, and still chose to ressurrect so that we could have salvation and a relationship with Him. To call this anything less than enough seems like a huge slap in the face of God to me.

"Catholics blend justification and sanctification into one process as the believer must work to merit eternal life; Protestants believe God justifies the believer by declaring him or her righteous, and that sanctification is a lifelong process of becoming holy as God works within." At the moment we believe in Christ's sacrifice as the means of our salvation, God declares us righteous. He no longer sees us for the sinful people we really are; He now sees Jesus Christ in us, and therefore views us as righteous. That is justification. Justification is often described as "just as if I never sinned." God erases our sins and His memory of them. Sanctification, on the other hand, is basically this: when God enters your life you begin to desire the things of God. From the point of salvation onward, the Christian begins to grow in Christ which is to grow more like Christ. By no means will we ever be perfect as Christ is, but we do begin to take on His characteristics.

Not only do Catholics believe that good works are a necessary element of salvation, they also "believe they cannot pay for all their sins in this life, and at death they go to purgatory for an undetermined time to be made totally fit for heaven." During the life of a Catholic, penances are done as payment for sins. When they die, they go to purgatory for the sins they did not get a chance to do penance for. So basically, not only is Christ's sacrifice not enough, His sacrifice plus their good works is also not enough. While in purgatory, it is believed that individuals cannot help themselves any more. They either complete their entire "sentence" or are helped by other Catholics on earth. The Catholics on earth can gain indulgences for those in purgatory. "When we speak of indulgences we are speaking of God 'indulging' (being kind to) a believer by giving to the believer from an inexhaustible supply of spiritual merits that have accumulated in the Church's treasury through the work of Christ and the prayers and good works of the Virgin Mary and the saints." So the way I see it, this says a person's salvation depends on the work of Christ, Mary, the saints, the individual, and the other Catholics left on earth after the individual's death. This method of salvation seems to depend on an aweful lot.

An additional note: This didn't fit into my two-point outline, so I'll just throw it in here. I'm not comfortable with the high level of focus and attention given to Mary in the Catholic church. Many beliefs about Mary grew from the traditions of the church, but as stated before, the Catholic church holds those traditions to be equally as important as the Scriptures themselves. First, tradition taught "that Mary's virginity continued after the birth of Jesus and that she never had any more children." To begin with, this is very false because the Bible mentions the literal brothers and sisters of Jesus. [Furthermore, some would argue the point that for Mary to remain a virgin after her marriage to Joseph would have been wrong or "sinful" based on the scripture that says a man and woman become one flesh in marriage. I'll save this argument for someone else though!] Regardless, I do believe Mary and Joseph went on to have a "normal" marriage and that they had other children. The Catholic tradition also teaches the Immaculate Conception, which says that Mary "was conceived without sin and lived a sinless life." This would basically put her on an equal level with Christ Himself. Based on the teachings of the Bible, I am convinced that Jesus was the only person ever to live a sinless life. Catholic tradition also teaches the Assumption, meaning that Mary did not die but "was taken up body and soul directly to heaven." While this is possible, the Bible does not mention it. I cannot say that it did not happen; I am just curious where the Catholic church found this information or evidence for it. Here comes the big problem I have with the focus on Mary. The Catholic church views her as a "co-mediator with Christ between God and man." The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ alone is our High Priest through whom we have access to God. It teaches that no man can approach the Father except through the Son. The Catholic church added the phrase "no man goeth to Christ but by His mother." This is never taught in the Bible. The Bible teaches that we have access to God by Jesus, not by Mary first, then Jesus.

In conclusion: I'm not really sure how to wrap this all up, but I think I'll just restate what I believe is my key point. I believe the message of the Bible is simple: faith in Christ alone brings salvation. The Catholic church tries to add things to this message to make it more feasable and comprehensible for us humans. The idea that people who do good works will be the ones who are saved makes sense to us; we like it. But God doesn't work that way. He says anyone who wants salvation can have it; it is equally free to all, regardless of behavior. The receiving of salvation should compell us to be better people for the sake of Christ's name, but our salvation is not contingent upon us actually becoming better people. Nor is it contingent upon any act or deed or accumulation of such that we or any other human (saint or otherwise) could ever do or have ever done. My point in all this research, and in these three lenghty posts, was to help myself determine my thoughts on Catholicism and its doctrine. I believe what I have discovered boils down to this: I am fine with any church that teaches that salvation is through faith in Christ alone and nothing else. I understand that individual churches vary from one another in many cases, therefore this is the standard. I also understand that even in churches that teach a works-based salvation there may be individuals who disagree with the teachings, and chose to believe in salvation through faith alone. I can't understand why these individuals would chose to go to these churches, but that's not my problem. As for those who believe in Christ plus works for salvation, I am in no position to say what their true spiritual standing is. While I do believe they have some things wrong with their faith, to God those things may be no bigger than the things I have wrong with my faith... because I obviously don't believe that I have everything exactly right all the time. All I know is that faith in God is a condition of the heart which other people are not capable of judging. This faith is usually displayed through a person's life, and is therefore often obvious to others, but a person's true standing with God is between the individual and God and no one else. These are my thoughts. Do with them what you like.

Dec 18, 2003

so tired...

I just got home about 15 minutes ago. I've been gone since 8:30 this morning. That's a long day for me. I worked 9-6 and then I met the girls at Olive Garden for Erin's "girls' night out." I had all intentions of going straight home from there, but they convinced me to come over to Toni's house to learn "the dance" for the reception on Saturday. So I went, and it was fun, but I had to leave pretty early since I'll be at work at 7:00AM tomorrow. Anyway, my posts haven't been showing up on my site lately, so maybe when I post this one the rest will show up. I can always hope. I'll try to finish up my series of posts tomorrow. G'night.

11 days...

Dec 17, 2003

on Catholicism...


The statements to follow are strictly my opinion on things. I apologize for any toes that are stepped on. As I form and explain my opinion on the things to follow, I will do my absolute best to base those opinions on Scripture and to avoid allowing my Protestant upbringing to give me a predisposed negative outlook on Catholicism. As always, I attempt to form and justify opinions on my own rather than simply believing what I'm told. As a further note, there are also things within the Protestant church with which I disagree. Future rants will surely be posted on such topics!

Regarding authority: As stated in the previous post, Catholics believe Scripture and "Sacred Tradition" hold equal authority. I have no problem with traditions in and of themselves, but I do not feel comfortable saying that they have a position of authority in the Christian life. To say this would be exactly like the Pharisees and Sadducees that Christ so often reprimanded. Christ scolded them for holding their traditions and teachings on the same level as the commands of God. In the book of Matthew, Jesus quotes Isaiah saying "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt. 15:8,9). ["Me" refers to God.] I will say, however, that oftentimes in Protestant churches the same thing happens. We begin to value our traditions as though they were "God-ordained." We would never say that this is the case, but indeed it is at times. At least in the Catholic church, in this case their words and actions match up!

Secondly, Catholicism teaches that the church "has been entrusted to interpret the Bible for Catholics, who are not to interpret it for themselves." The book sums up pretty well what I believe: "Protestants say that individual Christians can trust the Holy Spirit for guidance as they read and interpret the Bible for themselves." This is not to say that each person will have a different "interpretation" of what the Bible says; it just means that as individuals read a passage of Scripture, the Holy Spirit may use that passage in different ways for different people. Verses and passages can have various areas of application, especially dependant upon what situations an individual is going through. These various applications are not something the church is able to tell you or teach you; they are simply things that the Holy Spirit must speak to the hearts of the individuals as they read the Scriptures.

"Catholicism teaches that Peter was the first pope...." So far, I have no problem with that. Pope, priest, head pastor, head minister, whatever you want to call it... I believe it is biblical for a body of believers to have some type of human leader. Whether or not there should be one worldwide head leader or not may be up for debate, but I'll skip that part of the discussion for now. The problem I have with the concept of the pope is what the book mentions: "Catholics teach that the pope is infallible...; Protestants reply that no human being is infallible...." All humans are fallible. We all sin. We all make mistakes. We all mess up sometimes. To say that a particular person (other than Christ, who is God in the flesh), even for a particular time, is infallible is completely contrary to the teachings of the Bible.

to be continued...
on Catholicism...


To begin with, I'm going to quote straight from one of the books I have been reading, which touches on some of the key issues.


Regarding authority: Catholics claim that Scripture and "Sacred Tradition" are equal in authority. Protestants say the Bible is the sole guide for faith and practice (see 2 Tim. 3:16,17; 1 John 5:13). Rome says the magisterium (teaching authority of the Roman Church) has been entrusted to interpret the Bible for Catholics, who are not to interpret it for themselves. Protestants say that individual Christians can trust the Holy Spirit for guidance as they read and interpret the Bible for themselves (see John 5:39; 14:26). Catholicism teaches that Peter was the first pope, and that through apostolic succession other popes have succeeded him, each serving as "vicar of Christ"; Protestants insist the apostles had equal authority and there was no "pope"... (see Matt. 18:18; John 20:23). Catholics teach that the pope is infallible when he speaks "ex cathedra" (lit. "from the chair" or with authority) on matters of faith and morals; Protestants reply that no human being is infallible, and only Christ is head of the Church (see Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:18).

Regarding salvation: Catholics claim that salvation is secured by faith in Christ plus good works and grace conferred through the seven sacraments of the Church; Protestants reply that salvation is secured through
sola fide (faith alone) in Jesus Christ's atoning sacrifice on the cross (see Rom. 3:24; Eph. 2:8,9). Catholics blend justification and sanctification into one process as the believer must work to merit eternal life; Protestants believe God justifies the believer by declaring him or her righteous, and that sanctification is a lifelong process of becoming holy as God works within (see John 17:15-19; Phil. 2:12,13). Catholics believe they cannot pay for all their sins in this life, and at death they go to purgatory for an undetermined time to be made totally fit for heaven; Protestants, believing they are justified by faith in Christ and nothing else, trust that they will go straight to heaven where sanctification is completed in Christ's presence (see 2 Cor. 5:6-10; 1 John 2:28-3:2).

This was the summary at the end of a chapter in the book So What's the Difference? by Fritz Ridenour. [If anyone who is Catholic reads this and disagrees with the information it provides about Catholicism, please leave a comment.]
Katie-Gail has a blog! I'm excited! Give it a look sometime. She's a way-cool girl, so I'm sure she'll have some good stuff to say at times.

Dec 16, 2003

been doing my research...

I was reading up on Scott's posts the other day cause I've been lagging behind a little lately. One in particular got my attention. It mentioned a few things about the Catholic church and some different points of view concerning it. As I read the post, I was reminded that I am not totally sure how I feel about Catholicism. Today I decided to do something about that. After my devotions this evening, I pulled out the two books I have about various denominations and started "doing my research." It has been very informative and thought-provoking for me. I don't want to get started on it tonight for fear that I may stay up far too late writing, so I will share the details of my search tomorrow. Until then, sweet dreams.
sitting down...

Today was my first day back at work. It was good, but seven and a half hours of standing on your feet takes some getting used to. All went well, though. I remembered all my necessary cashieer skills! I'm glad I'm off tomorrow because that ensures that I can go to church tomorrow night to hear Danny speak. Thursday night the girls are supposed to be taking Erin out for her "bachelorette" night. Then the wedding's on Saturday. I'm really excited about that. I know it's going to be beautiful, and the reception should be a blast! That's about all the new news for now.

THIS is what I will be seeing in a little over two weeks! I can't wait!

13 days...

Dec 15, 2003

"Come away with me" by Norah Jones

Come away with me in the night
Come away with me
And I will write you a song

Come away with me on a bus
Come away where they can't tempt us
With their lies

I want to walk with you
On a cloudy day
In fields where the yellow grass grows
knee high
So won't you try to come

Come away with me and we'll kiss
On a mountain top
Come away with me
And I'll never stop loving you

And I want to wake up with the rain
Falling on a tin roof
While I'm safe there in your arms
So all I ask is for you
To come away with me in the night
Come away with me

14 days...