Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Festival 2007

Praise the LORD

Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.

Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.

Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,

praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,

praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD.

-Psalm 150

That has to be one of my favorite Psalms. It is fairly simple, yet full of praise. This past weekend, all of my family (except young Christoper) got to experience something akin to that Psalm. We went to Baylor University for a Festival of Choirs.

This Festival that we went to was made up of about fifteen church youth choirs from all sorts of denominations. From the start of the school year, our choir has been learning pieces (I think it is nine) to perform together with the other choirs that had learned them for a grand concert. There are numerous festivals held over different states. We went to Alabama last year. I must say that I prefer Baylor over Birmingham. So, after a ton of hard work, our choir took about 80 chorus members to Baylor University in Waco, Texas, for one awesome weekend.

Festival lasted from Friday morning (almost everyone was able to get off school) to late Sunday night when we arrived home. There were over eighty of us, so we had two huge tour buses. One for the ladies, and one for the gentleman (that was one of my favorite things about the entire trip, no offense intended to the gentleman of course). The bus rides were full of great fellowship between all of the ladies. I don't know what went on in the guys bus, but I am sure they had just as good a time as we did :) Another great thing about this trip was the amount of parents who went. We had lots of sponsors, so things were kept under good control and went smooth.

Our schedule was pretty tight, with late nights (midnight sometimes...though partly by our choice...) and early mornings (can you say five-o-clock AM??? good grief). Almost all of Saturday was rehearsals. We did have some free time for our lunch hours though, and a short break with Dr. Pepper floats. The cafeteria was pretty nice, though I must say that none of us Arkansans were fond of the water. We also got to see the Baylor Bears. Yes folks, they were real...and asleep. But they were still neat to see. The campus was very nice. They had planted trees here and there, so it made it a little less flat looking. There was still a ton of wind and dust though.

Singing up on the stage was absolutely awesome. There was a 1.5 million dollar organ behind us, a Steinway concert grand in front of us, plus members of the Baylor student orchestra. We had two conductors for the concert. One of them was Randy Edwards, a head member of Youth Cue and a graduate student of Baylor. It was so inspiring to be conducted by someone so young. The energy that went into it was amazing. The 25 year old conductor was also our soprano and alto coach and the accompanist for most of the pieces we sang. We had a ton of fun in rehearsals and learned some new exercises (the tennis ball exercise...). Over all the other choirs were friendly, and we all sang together quite well.

Saturday night we had to follow tradition and eat Mexican food. So we all dressed up a bit and headed to El Chico for some great Mexican food. I am not a huge fan of spicy foods, but the fellowship was great, so that made up for it. I was SO blessed on this trip to get to know a few people better then I knew them before. Our group is so large, so it is hard to know who everyone is. But of all the large groups I have been in, ours has been the most unified. I love that.

On Saturday, another awesome thing happened. Our choir was given the first ever (in 40 something years) award for embracing the youth cue spirit and being what a youth cue choir should be. Our choir director, Pastor Eddie, gave us a group talk about how humbling this is. We are not perfect, this is for certain. But people will now be looking at us to follow our lead. This is just a little scary. But I know that through Christ we can pull together to do the best that we can. Our choir has a key verse that applies here. Colossians 3:17 says this: "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." This is what we must strife for, so that we do not lead people astray.

Sunday morning was our earliest morning. Groups of the youth cue choirs went to sing at a pretty Baptist church at two services. Our choir was assigned the early service. It was really neat to sing for everyone at a church we had never been to. Our director really emphasized the fact that the chances were extremely slim that we sing together with that exact group of people for the congregation that we sang for ever again. So we had to do our best to make the best intended impression for Christ upon these eight in the morning. I think it went well.

Later that day was our grand concert. It was amazing. The orchestration on certain songs made it extremely hard for me to not cry during certain parts. It was so awesome praising God while blessing other people with music! After the concert there were hugs, laughter, tears for those not coming back next year, and an over-all uplifted feeling. Things like that give me a lasting spiritual boost. That is another great things about festival...the results aren't as temporary as other things I have done with church. I will remember those exact moments for the rest of my life. God truly blessed that trip. I can't wait until next year!

Paige =)

POST SCRIPT: Pictures are coming soon!!!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Are they Christian???

Recently, I have considered which religions claim to be "Christian". The Catholic, or Roman Catholic Church, is one in particular that comes to mind. After researching many publications, having one on one conversations with Protestants and Catholics, and observation done on my own, I have come to the conclusion that one who belongs in the Roman-Catholic Church, and lives it, is not a Christian. Before I delve into my reasoning, I feel I must define a few things for you so that we are both thinking on the same terms. Then I will share my reasoning and discoveries.

First I must clarify why I called it "Roman-Catholic", instead of just "Catholic". If you look in the dictionary, you will find that "catholic" (not capitalized), means the Universal Church. This is the idea that all Christians form part of a single body. Let me give you a definition of "Roman-Catholic" from the dictionary: "of, relating to, or being a Christian church having a hierarchy of priests and bishops under the pope, a liturgy centered in the Mass, veneration of the Virgin Mary and saints, clerical celibacy, and a body of dogma including transubstantiation and papal infallibility". This is the group that I am addressing. One small thing I want to point out is that they are addressed as "Christian" in this definition. To be a Christian basically means to be a follower of Christ and His teachings. I will show you that this definition got that part wrong later. Now that you know I am speaking of the Roman-Catholic Church, not the Universal Church, and what a Christian is, we shall move along.

The first thing I discovered that their teachings go against is in John 14:6 where it says this: "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." The Roman Catholic church attempts to contact God through appointed "Saints", praying to them so that they might pray for them also. Although saints are mentioned, nowhere in scripture does Christ or anyone else say to pray to the saints for help. I did find scripture in Ephesians chapter six, verse 18, that tells us to pray for the saints, but not to them. What the Bible tells us is that we as believers are the saints (see Romans). Also, Heaven is supposed to be a place of joy and reward, from what little you can gather about it. If it is a place like that, why would the souls in Heaven have to worry about praying for the troubles here on earth? Would they not be praising the Father in Heaven? I must conclude that the problem is not the fact that they have saints, but the pedestal that they have put them on so that they are given honor that is due to God only.

One of the biggest flaws in the Roman-Catholic doctrine is "Marian devotion". Let me share this quote with you: "The very fact that God has elected her proves that none was ever holier than Mary, if any stain had disfigured her soul, if any other virgin had been purer and holier, God would have selected her and rejected Mary." This was said by Jacob of Sarug in AD 521, a bishop and writer. The first thing I will say is that there is no proof that Mary was sinless. We do know that she was a virgin, and Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit through her, but not that she was sinless. I will be specific here to make myself clear. The Roman Catholics pray a certain prayer to Mary that calls for her intercession. The parts of the prayer come from two scriptures (Luke 1:28-32, 42-48,) and the last is from the Roman Catholic Church (I am not certain of the person or exactness of it). Christ teaches on prayer in Luke chapter 11 verses 1-14. He does not say to pray to saints, or anyone else for that matter. We are supposed to follow Christ's example, and He did not pray to anyone but the Father. I do not know why God selected Mary, and I probably never will. But I am for certain that only One is perfect in all ways (Matthew 19:17), and that is our Lord, Jesus Christ. From what I have found, the Roman Catholic treatment of Mary is idolatry. It is just like the idolatry of the saints. Our God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14).

There are other flaws in the Roman Catholic doctrine (the position of the pope, image idolatry, and purgatory) I have only mentioned the ones I feel necessary. If you are to be a follower of Christ, you should follow His teachings. The Roman Catholics do not do this. In honoring the "saints" and Mary, they are dishonoring God. Or, in other words, by following a doctrine made by man, they are not following Christ. It is quite simple. I am not saying that a Roman Catholic is condemned to Hell, for that is not my judgement. But I will go as far to say that the laws for being saved are not the same as the Roman Catholic standards. But once again, it is not my judgement. I must say here that there are also good things about the Roman Catholic beliefs. They embrace the Apostles Creed, which is a wonderful way to say what you believe. I do not disagree with this.

The above statements were made to pose a question, and present on of many possible answers. A thought provoking post, as it were. Another purpose would be to state what I believe is the truth. This is not meant to provoke arguments, debates, or the likes of them...though this may happen. It is a statement of faith, that probably not all will agree with. You must come to a conclusion on your own. I hope I have aided you in just that. Have a blessed week!

In Christ,


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

This is for my Daddy, The Arkanblogger, and is my present to him for Valentine's Day (since was the one who had us start blogging in the first place:~). Please read it, and I encourage you to go and thank your fathers for everything they have done for you.

This Valentine's Day I would like to thank my Daddy for being the father that God has called him to be and let him know I am blessed to have him for my father. Here is a list of things my Dad does and that I would like to thank him for:

1. He is the spiritual head of our household
2. He has supported us financially by working so hard and being gone, sometimes for weeks on different trips for his company.
3. He is always there to talk to (something I like to take advantage of at inconvenient times;~).
4. He is our protector (waiting with shotgun in hand for the first suitor to come along;~).
5. He stands in the brink for his family and I know he would protect us to the death.
6. He shares bits of wisdom with us that he finds in his search for God's truth in all things.
7. He encourages his children to grow in their talent, and listens (almost) tirelessly to the sound of two pianos going at the same time, every day.
8. He sets an example of what a Godly man is that we may know what one looks like.
9. He goes shopping with his daughters and helps them to protect their purity by guiding us in what is modest or not (starting the petition for "Daddy chairs" outside dressing rooms in all department stores).
10. He teaches his son daily what it means to be a man.
11. He teaches all of his children to be seekers of the truth.
12. He loves his wife and by doing so shows his children how love between spouses should be.
13. He leads by example, and teaches his children to do so as well.

My father does all of these things and more. I have memories of things I have done with him that I will cherish all my life. Hiking Pinnacle Mountain at sunrise, going for a drive, talks until midnight about faith and and being a follower of Christ. One of the more recent ones may be a little long, but I will share it with you anyways. I was on a business trip with my Dad in Jackson TN. I had gone with him so I could see Alena, who had just moved to FL and was visiting her Grandmother in Jackson at the time. This was in November, and at the time there was a movie in theaters called "Facing the Giants". My sisters and I had just gotten back from a Christian film festival in San Antonio where we had heard much about the film, and had even gotten to meet the producer, but we hadn't seen it. Our parents though, went to see it while were at that same film festival and loved it, so us four girls were determined to see it. Back to Jackson, we were driving through the city looking for our hotel when I saw a sign for movie theater that was showing "Facing the Giants" and "Unidentified", another Christian film that we had heard about at the festival. My dad said if I wanted to go that he would take me to see one of the movies. I said OK, but not "Facing the Giants", for I felt that would mean a sure and sudden death when I got home if I went without my sisters. My father however, kept pushing me to go see "Facing the Giants" telling me I would really like it, and that he would take the others to see it when we got home, I still said no, feeling like I would be operating outside the codes of sibling fairness. When we got to the theater however, and I looked at my Dad's face when the movie attendant said "Unidentified" was "something about the rapture" I gave in and we got two tickets for "Facing the Giants". We were very early, and for awhile were the only ones in the theater which was in a bad part of town, and my Dad took the opportunity to give me a self-defense lesson. He asked me if I knew what he would use for a weapon if someone tried to attack, and then proceeded to point out these objects around the theater. Lucky for us, though we didn't know it at the time, this was the only theater in Jackson screening "Facing the Giants". So about time for the movie to start, a nice sized church group showed up. So the movie started and the sound system in the theater was not the best, but you could hear everything. It took just a few minutes and I was engaged in the film. It is a wonderful movie, but the one thing I was thinking the whole time, was "why am I not crying?" Almost everyone who had gone to see it told me I would cry (which is a big thing because I don't cry very easily. "My Dog Skip" was one of the only movies I had ever really cried for). It would come to these wonderful moving parts and my heart would ache with joy or sorrow, but I still wouldn't cry. Finally, it is coming to the end of the movie and nary a tear had been shed when something happens. The character in the movie named David has to go out out for a field goal that could win the game. His father, who is in a wheelchair sees what is happening and knowing that his son is scared does something that I will never forget. He goes to the end of the field behind the goal, and he stands for his son. The second I saw that man start going towards the goal I knew what was happening, and I started to cry. In fact, I was crying so hard that I was shaking with quiet sobs. My Daddy thought I was laughing and looked to see if I was OK, then saw that I was crying and tried to comfort me. I kept crying, but not as hard, even after we left the theater. In the car, on the way to Cracker Barrel for dinner, my dad asked me why I was crying like that, wondering if it might be something bad, or that he was a bad father because his daughter was crying, and all I could get out without breaking down again was that is wasn't anything bad. But after we got to the restaurant and I had blown my long-suffering nose, I told him something like this: "Daddy, the reason I was crying wasn't because you don't do those things for me, it was because you do. You stand for me just like that man did for his son, in so many ways. I was also crying because Christ stood for me, and still does stand for me." That is my father, a man who stands for his family, one who loves his family and sacrifices himself for his family. He is my Valentine and I want to thank him and tell him that all of us, his family, love him very much.

In Christ,