Sunday, July 29, 2007

Bless Me

Ugh, I've been sick with a cold this week. In my illness haze, seems I inadvertently posted something I was still working on. So, for those who recently read a partially written post on H-n-T and wondered, "Where's the rest?" I wanted to offer this assurance: It's a-coming. As soon as my nose and head are clear.

While I'm writing, I'd like to remind you all that you can subscribe to H-n-T for FREE! New posts are automatically sent to the email address of your choice. Just type your email address into the subscribe form at the right, and you're set. You'll get no spam from me--only the H-n-T posts. And you can easily unsubscribe at any time.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Breaking Up the Christian Party

Holly's latest blog entry on Today's Christian Woman magazine's website is now up:

Breaking Up the Christian Party
There's no single opinion that defines all Christians

Check it out, then visit H-n-T again for more thoughts on the
New Sanctuary Movement. (Coming soon!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The REAL Story of 57 Cents

I recently read a spam email, one of those tear-jerkers that sounds way too compelling to be true. As I read, I assumed it was a cooked-up tale. It was too sweet, with too many tender details, colorful language, and references to specific buildings and locations. I deleted it and was about to continue on with my day. But something stopped me. I'd been moved by the story. So I felt compelled to prove it was just Internet fiction: I didn't want to feel good based on something false.

Within minutes, I discovered the spam was based on a true story. Hattie May Wiatt, pictured right, was a young Philadelphia girl in the late 1800s. She'd gone to Sunday school one week and was dismayed to be turned away at the door, as the church was too crowded. (It was so crowded, parishioners had to request tickets weeks in advance for the Sunday sermon.) Hattie waited outside the Sunday school building, hoping she'd be able to get in later. The pastor happened to spot her waiting outside. He took her inside and told Hattie the church would soon buy a building big enough to hold everyone who wanted to come. Then she'd never be turned away again. The pastor knew the church already had a large mortgage and couldn't possibly afford a larger building at that time. But it seemed like a good dream to share with the child.

Soon after, Hattie took ill. She died in 1886, leaving behind 57 cents she'd saved to contribute to her church's "building fund." The pastor was so moved, he had her offering changed into pennies, and asked church members to buy them. Members did buy the pennies, turning Hattie's 57 cents into about $250. Additionally, 54 of those pennies were returned to the church. There's much more to the story, but essentially, the gift of 57 cents from a child turned into a large church, a hospital, and a university. (Read Hattie's story in a sermon given by Temple University founder Russell H. Conwell, the pastor who carried her into the overcrowded Sunday school.)

I felt so sad: I'd almost missed out on being inspired by Hattie May Wiatt. All because someone thought Hattie's story would be more interesting, more forwardable, if a few spicy details were added. The little girl's story never needed any embellishment.

I've heard some folks say they don't have a testimony. Seems they feel their own faith stories aren't interesting or compelling or emotive enough. And I think to myself, If only we all knew how God is using us! If only we could see the big picture--would we tell our stories more? Would I talk about the times I was feeling sad or alone, then felt a breeze brush my cheek and knew God cared about me? Would I share how a stranger's smile encouraged me, or how a kind word from a friend pulled me out of a funk?

As a writer, I've often been tempted to embellish a story, or to leave something out to make it read easier. And then I remember: There is a purpose for the specifics of each life story. God is in the details. I wonder if my sister Angela knows the music CD she gave me when she was only 12 convinced me I needed to give Christianity another chance. Or if my friend Penny knows her positive attitude was a major reason for my decision to become a Christian. Such little actions made all the difference in my life. From Russell H. Conwell's sermon about Hattie:

"Though you may think your life is humble, unknown, hidden, yet God sees all, and your life has probably just as great an influence for the uplift of mankind and the progress of His kingdom as has been the life of those who are seemingly great, seemingly famous in this world. There is no difference before God. The humblest of His Christian servants is doing just as much for His kingdom, when waiting, or doing faithfully their little duty."

To ponder:
1) What are the important stories of your life? What tiny moment made a huge impact on you?

2) Do you ever feel like your testimonies don't measure up? What are you comparing your stories with? What are your reasons for comparing?

3) Make an effort this week to tell others how their actions positively affected you.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Christian Doctors Tell of Miraculous Healings

“The Holy Spirit told me to ‘turn around and pray for that man.’ ... I prayed, ‘Lord, Father; how am I going to pray for this man? He’s dead. What can I do?’ All of a sudden, these words came out of my mouth, ‘Father, God, I cry out for the soul of this man if he does not know You as his Lord and Savior, please raise him from the dead right now in Jesus name. A couple minutes later, we were looking at the monitor and all of a sudden a heart beat showed up."

--Dr. Chauncey W. Crandall IV, a heart specialist who spoke at the Fourth Annual World Christian Doctors Network (WCDN) Conference in Miami, Florida, last Friday. At the conference, Christian physicians reported cases where they believe divine healing occurred, presenting medical evidence such as patient history and test results in front of their colleagues.

Full story:
Famed heart doctor tells the dramatic story of how a patient of his was ‘raised from the dead’ after prayer

To ponder:
1) Do you believe divine healing occurs today?

2) The WCDN website notes that in spite of extensive medical evidence, there will always be people who doubt divine healing has occurred. Why is it difficult for people to believe in divine healing?

3) When someone is healed through conventional means (medicine/medical care, surgery, change of lifestyle), do you think God's role is downplayed?

4) Why do we differentiate between "conventional" healing and "divine" healing?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Hell Hath No Fury: Boy Rejected By School Over Surname

"It's Hell. That's our name, it's our heritage."

--Alex Hell, who alleges his five-year-old son, Max, was denied admission to a Catholic school in Australia because of their surname. School officials now say Max is welcome to attend, but the Hell family says this change of heart was due to media attention, and they will decline the school's invitation.

Full story:

Thursday, July 05, 2007

If Cleanliness is Next to Godliness, I'm in Big Trouble

My late grandmother probably wouldn't be proud of me. She was the kind of woman who vacuumed and dusted daily. She would get on her hands and knees and use a scrub brush to get her floors sparkling clean.

I'm the kind of gal who vacuums and dusts only when company's coming. I use a Black & Decker battery-powered scrubber to clean my shower, but only after a healthy dousing of Scrubbing Bubbles.

I'd like my home to be spotless. I just don't want to exert the energy required to clean it. I spend big bucks on the latest cleaning sprays that are supposed to instantly, effortlessly dissolve gunk and goo. But most of the time, I find I'm just out another $6, and I still have to scour 'til my fingers go numb.

My mom can get things really clean, but her secret--elbow grease--doesn't do me much good. So I've been reading a lot of home magazines and websites lately. I recently got a hot tip online, and miraculously, it really works. Natch, I had to share it.

Cleaning Stovetop Burner Grates
Most folks I know clean the burner grates on their stove with powder cleanser, a scrubbing pad or brush, and a lot of effort. I, um, don't clean mine. Until now. If you clean your oven regularly, you can put the burner grates inside the oven and spray with oven cleaner. But if you're like me--meaning you clean your oven, um, never--try this:

1) Place one burner grate in a plastic zip-lock bag.

2) Spray oven cleaner into bag, saturating grate. (You also could use ammonia instead of oven cleaner.)

3) Close bag; place bag in oven (so as not to get your kitchen all fumy) and let it sit overnight.

4) The next day, remove grate from bag. Scrub off gunk with a pad or brush (it should come off very easily) and rinse in warm water.

Yay--easy! My stove top is pretty again, with minimal effort. Just don't look inside my oven.