So much for that…

Last night as Brent and I were doing our budget for FPU, we decided to see how much money we spend on eating out every month. I’ll just say that it’s way too much. We made a commitment at our “Budget Committee Meeting” to keep our eating out to once or twice a week (mainly on Wednesday’s. Because of our work schedule and having to be at church by 6, there is no way I could possibly have time to cook and eat before church. Eating out on Wednesday’s is inevitable. And, some Sunday’s. After all, it is the day of rest and I can’t rest when I am cooking a meal then cleaning up, right?) Anyway, so we made this grand decision to really cut back on our eating out. And, what would you know, I screwed up dinner tonight and we had to go out! My college roommate/best friend, Allison, and I cooked meals all the time when we lived together. We weren’t your typical college students. We didn’t heat up TV dinners or Stouffer’s Lasagna. We cooked homemade meals probably 5 nights a week. I screwed up plenty of those meals, like the time I accidently dumped nearly a whole bottle of Worchestershire sauce on some hamburger meat and tried to soak some of the liquid up with flour, cooked the burgers and tried to convince Allison that it was good so that we didn’t have to eat out. Needless to say, I got my messed up meals out of my system before I got married. Thanks, Allison, for learning to cook with me! On nights like those, we just went out for dinner. It never took much persuasion to get us out of the kitchen and into a restaurant. Tonight was one of those nights. I tried to create a dish all on my own, similar to something I have had at a Mexican restaurant in town (not Rosie’s). I’ve tried it before and we liked it, but tonight I wanted to prepare the meal differently. No recipe, just my own expertise…what little there is. It didn’t turn out well. Half of the meal was fine, but not enough to be considered a meal. So, we just dumped everything in the trash and went to Rooster’s to get chicken. Thankfully, we just bought one of those HUGE coupon books and we were able to get a free meal. And, we paid for it in cash. Dave would be proud. So much for committing to not eat out.
After Rooster’s, we ran a few errands. Lifeway was one of them…I went to find a book that I might use in a high school girl’s bible study. As we were backing out of our parking spot, a homeless couple stopped us and asked for money to buy a bag of ice. It wasn’t until after I gave them $2 in quarters (which, by the way, I had complained about having too much change in my wallet at Rooster’s) that we tried to make sense of their plead for money. They were staying in a hotel room for $475 a night and needed ice before the big storm came through. First of all, what hotel are you staying at that’s $475 a night and where did you get that money? Second of all, don’t hotels have ice machines? Third, what storm? Tropical Storm Fay that is gone or Hurricane Gustav that is not really headed our way? I will give them some credit though, they did have a few bags of groceries. And, no I don’t think any of it was alcohol because the bags were not shaped that way. Who knows if they were legit. At least I know that if they really needed ice, they were able to get some.

Money, Money, Money

So our computer got sick with a horrible virus, but thanks to Josh Coffman, it’s feeling much better now and so are we. For about 2 weeks we were bored and I was a little stressed. It’s amazing how much we do on the computer. Email, Facebook, Blog, Wachovia, Pay Bills, Sunday school lessons, work stuff, and the latest, Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. I am definitely the one in the family that deals with money,bills, and budgeting. My parents will tell you that money has always stressed me out and that I am a control freak when it comes to managing money. My parents never had to worry about me over spending. They have taught me to be very frugal with my money, which is a good thing and a bad thing. I am not a big spender, but at the same time, I am so detailed with money that I get stressed very easily. I have made a lot of progress since Brent and I got engaged. I promised him that I would not have any arguments with my parents about money during all the wedding planning. My mom and I had plenty of pointless arguments during that time (that’s what happens when you are planning a wedding in Birmingham while living in Auburn and doing student teaching in Dadeville with a cooperating teacher who does not like you and wants you to be unsuccessful and your fiance is 12 hours away in Southwest Florida and your mom, who is doing most of the planning, is actually planning VBS and Kid’s Camp at the same time…all in a span of 5 months, whew! But that’s another story for another time.) but none of the arguments were about money. And since then, I have learned to not get so uptight about money. But…now we have started FPU. We did a zero-based budget tonight and had our first “Budget Committee Meeting” and I got a little testy. I already had a budget that was working fine. However, it did not include dog food, saving $3.34 a month for co-pays, vacation savings, entertainment fund, clothing fund, toiletry fund and a bunch of other crazy stuff that I didn’t think to have a fund for. Yes, I did say I was detailed, but not to the point where I direct every last penny to a certain fund category every month. Ahhh! Dave Ramsey suggests the envelope system for things like groceries, gas and entertainment. That means, at the beginning of every month, we take out whatever we have set aside for those categories and put the cash in an envelope. Once the cash is gone, we can’t eat anymore, buy anymore gas, and can’t go to Maggie Moo’s anymore for that month. Of course the point is to not run out of the cash until the end of the month. But, my first thought is, what if the house catches on fire and we lose that cash? I guess we have to keep the envelopes in our fire safety box. But, what if the fire gets so hot that the box melts (which is unlikely, but I still think about these things)? And, that means everytime I go to the grocery store or get gas, I have to remember to actually get the cash, which also means I have to go to the guest bedroom, pull the fire safety box out from under the bed, get the dust bunnies off, find the key, unlock the box, get the right envelope, lock it back, push it back under the bed, then go to the store or gas station. Because, if I forget the cash and use my debit card that means I have to go deposit the cash back into the bank for the amount I spent on groceries and gas. I say all of this with sarcasm, but it is so much to think about. Brain overload. I know all the hard work will pay off. Dave says, “If you live like no one else, then you will live like no one else.” Meaning if I live now like I have no money, later I can live like I have money because I will be debt free. So, if anyone asks us to go out to eat and we say “no,” it is not because we don’t like you, it’s because we do not have any more cash in our restaurant envelope. Instead we will go home and eat rice and beans. Yum-O! But you are more than welcome to come to our house and eat rice and beans with us. We would love your company over such a boring meal. But Dave would probably have us request that you bring your own rice and beans. Don’t eat ours. Just kidding:)
I like Dave and know his system will work because it is based on Biblical principles. Believe it or not, I am actually excited about this.

The Unpardonable Sin

This is another long one. I’m not much of a deep thinker, except when it comes to Scripture. I like to study and figure things out. I’m not saying I have figured out this topic, just been thinking about it a lot since Sunday. If you think you may understand this better than me (which is very possible), or have any kind of comments or questions, please respond. A big thanks to the Reformation Study Bible ESV for helping me wrap my mind around the unpardonable sin. A lot of the information in this blog is from the commentary.

At church this past Sunday, we were studying Hebrews. We didn’t get very far into the Sunday school lesson because the Holy Spirit took us in another direction, which is always a good thing. The discussion started with Matthew 24:13, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” First, we had to grasp this verse because it’s stated backwards. Does it mean that if we don’t endure, we won’t be saved? No. It means the followers of Christ will endure hardship and they will be saved. We, as Christians, prove our faith by our perseverance. Questions were raised about people who accept Christ, then “fall away” from their beliefs. One person said she believed that she truly received the gift of salvation at age 8, then through her adolescent years she began to neglect her faith and search other religions. She mentioned the verses, Hebrews 6: 4-6, “For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.” Her question was, if she accepted Christ at 8, then sought other religions and neglected her faith, how is it possible that she was restored to repentance? Another question was asked about someone who, in high school, was a follower of Christ and then turned away from Him later in life and chose a lifestyle that doesn’t glorify the Lord, what would happen to that person if he/she were to die today? Maybe I can answer these questions. IF, if is the key word, IF that person was truly saved, and turns away from the Lord, He will restore them to repentance. Salvation is a gift and it seals you for Christ and NOTHING can break that seal. It is a done deal. We are told there will be difficulty in the Christian walk. And I think the word “endure” from Matthew 24: 13 doesn’t just mean that we endure hardships such as losing a family member, a car wreck, cancer, etc. It also means that we endure the times that we have unbelief and our faith is extremely weak or even non-existent. We can not judge how long a period of unbelief can last for any person. But I do know that having a bad attitude for 3 years, lying to my co-workers for 3 years, or stealing gum from Walgreens for 3 years is the same as any other sin I could commit for 3 years. (3 is just a random amount of time). For example, if a true follower of Christ goes off to college, gets in the wrong crowd, and lives a sinful life that doesn’t glorify God; that is the same as some other follower of Christ going off to college, getting in the right crowd, and lying all the time. Both situations do not glorify God. We seem to have a sin scale that adultery, drinking, gambling are the “bad” sins and lying, bad attitudes, and cheating on tests are the “ok” sins. The fact is, all sins do not glorify God. Anytime we choose to sin, we choose to turn our back on God and tell him we don’t love him enough to not commit sin, whether it’s “big” or “ok.” No matter what a person is doing at the time of death, 3 years of an affair, or 3 seconds of a bad attitude, those sins cannot and will not separate us from eternity with Christ, IF we are followers. We are not perfect, we will sin and even deny Christ (Peter!). God knows this and that is why salvation is not based on works. We could never amount to His standard. Thankfully, he offers salvation by grace through faith so we don’t have to worry about our “big” and “ok” sins. This is not a free ride to do whatever our sinful nature wants. We have to bear fruit, but we can know that we are forgiven and sealed by his grace.
Now…you’re probably wondering why I gave this blog that title. Hold on a little longer. I still wanted to know who Hebrews 6:4-6 was talking about, if it’s not those who are Christians and fall away for a time. Let me break it down:
1. “once been enlightened”–those who had the knowledge of God and publicly confessed in baptism
2. “tasted the heavenly gift”–some see this as a reference to participation in the Lord’s Supper
3. “shared in the Holy Spirit”–had some experience with the gifts of the Holy Spirit
4. “if they fall away”–this kind of falling away is irreversible. Christian salvation is final, and the decision to reject it, if made at a certain level, cannot be reversed.
People who have committed the unpardonable sin are those who have been informed and tasted the Lord’s goodness and make an educated decision to reject salvation.
Matthew 12:31-32 says, “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”
My first question is, why is there a distinction between Son of Man and Holy Spirit? The Son of Man is our salvation and the Holy Spirit draws us to salvation. So, if you blaspheme the Holy Spirit, you are rejecting salvation. And, if you reject salvation, you can’t possibly be saved. Speaking against the Spirit, calling the work of the Spirit the work of Satan, involves an explicit, willful, and decisive rejection of the very Power that can bring about repentance. Anyone who has been convicted of sin by the Spirit and now believes the truth cannot possibly have committed the unpardonable sin because the Spirit does not work against itself.
Brent describes this sin as someone who has knowledge of the truth; this person has been explicitly and clearly informed and fully understands the truth and makes a consistent conscious effort to reject it as the work of the Holy Spirit and follow false teaching. This person believes a lie and knows he is believing in a lie because he knows and understands the truth. I can not imagine that. How can anyone know the truth and make an informed decision to not follow the truth, knowing that everything else to follow is a lie? I can not fathom that. Let me make this clear that this unpardonable sin depends on there being particular enlightenment and understanding from God and that is not a common, everyday matter. These people are not casual Christians, these people are not those who “believe” in God but don’t live the life, these people are not those who follow Christ but have denied him for some time. These people make a forceful, complete, and public rejection of a faith that is known and understood. And, just like salvation, it is a sealed done deal, but with a different outcome.

Merch: Short for Merchandise

One of our good friends, Gus, came in town this weekend to go with us to the Jeremy Camp concert Saturday night. We didn’t actually stay for Jeremy Camp. There were 2 openers, a sword swallowing guy from Hartselle (which apparently is like the sword-swallowing capital of the world) and Rick Burgess spoke. By the time Rick was done it was 9:00 and Gus had to get back to the Ham and we still wanted Maggie Moo’s. So, we left. But…while we were there, a few really annoying things happened.
1. Instead of the word “merchandise,” the speakers and bands used “merch.” I guess that’s the cool new slang word. I thought it was rather obnoxious.
2. While Rick was speaking, the custodians came by to empty the trash cans behind us, which made LOTS of noise then they left the stinky bags on the sidewalk. Thanks, that smelled great!
3. We were asked probably 5 times if we were ready to see Jeremy Camp play. The answer was yes everytime. 3 hours later he finally got on stage and we were no longer ready to see Jeremy Camp play.
4. Our cup holders were on the back of the seats in front of us. The lady sitting in front of Brent was putting her arm around her daughter and stuck her hand right in Brent’s drink. Mmm!
5. The same daughter kept turning around and staring us down like our presence really bothered her. Sorry!
6. I saved the best for last…Gus went to get a pretzel. The 8 year old that was running the concessions (I guess that’s what you get a free concert) asked Gus if he wanted salt on his pretzel. Gus said yes and the boy proceeded to dunk the pretzel in the salt, twist it around a few times, then wrapped it up in paper and gave it to him. Gus probably has enough salt in his body to last about 3 weeks. Thankfully, the lady in front of us didn’t stick her hand in his drink, and he was able to wash down the salt.

Despite all the annoying events, Rick’s message was awesome and a lot of people accepted Christ. So, I guess all the things that annoyed me are irrelevant.

Prayer Request

I’m asking that you pray for Alan Henley and his family. Alan is the lead pilot with the AeroShell Aerobatic team. If you went to the Huntsville airshow, you saw his team fly. He was severly injured few weeks ago while playing on some monkey bars with his children. He fell off and suffered injuries to his neck and back. The doctors say he has a 1-5% chance of ever walking again, which means flying is probably not an option anymore. He is making progress, although he is still on a ventilator. The doctors moved him a step down from the acute trauma ICU unit at UAB today. He and his wife know the Lord. Pray for healing and for God to use this in their lives as a witness to those in his family and friends that do not know the Lord. I have linked the Caring Bridge blog under my web suggestions.