Friday, August 30, 2013

Why I'm not so sure about house churches

Okay, I want to make this clear - I'm interested in your comments, so let this be a conversation!

In case you are totally unaware, on the other hand, there's been a movement for a long time called "Home Church" or having "House Church." Despite the fact that this seems to be a phrase with multiple definitions, I would like to refer to the ones that hold church exclusively with immediate family members as "Home Churches" for this article, and ones with limited but multiple families included as "House Churches."  I found naming them useful, because they are different.

I would like to exclude House Churches that meet once a week as a big church, because the things I'm discussing may not apply. Those kinds of House Churches act much like Small Groups and are almost indistinguishable in difference to me.

For the most part, I find less issues within the House Churches, as there are multiple leaders / fathers included. For one thing, I think these different families coming together could more easily keep each other in check with what the Scriptures teach, and accountable in leadership in general. I read an article in USA Today that is a basic introduction to the concepts:
I think the article's title describes the goal - to keep things small, simple,and friendly. The potential for encouragement and accountability is certainly attractive and necessary.

I see a danger for both Home Churches and House Churches "that are started in an effort to counter 'the institutional church.'" This idea is found on, which also
points out, "while often listing the above reasons to more closely align with the biblical model, the real reason often seems to be displeasure with large church movements."  This seed of bitterness can be detrimental to spiritual growth. More time can be wasted avoiding structure or traditions, complaining about how "they" are (referring to large churches), that could be used to further the Gospel and build one another up.

Even in House Churches, I see a potential for neglecting the structure of the church found in the Bible.  "In Acts there is a leadership structure including apostles, pastors and deacons." ( ) And since House Churches and Home Churches often say their ideas are Scripturally based, I hope they don't ignore that the Scriptures teach "in Acts they met daily 'in the Temple' and 'from house to house,'" that is, both at a larger setting with other parts of the body of Christ, and smaller gatherings.

In both scenarios, I like ConnectBoise's questions, and think that these are worth answering. Some groups may have answers to these questions, and if so, who could find fault? But, if the Home Church or House Church is isolated, it isn't building into others' lives, so it is a danger. Considering the questions could be beneficial:
"Where are the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers? Where are the deacons? How do you send missionaries? How do you plant churches? How do you fulfill the great commission? How do you utilize your gifts for the body of Christ?"

"The house church can lack organization, focus, mission, leadership, and accountability if not tied to a fellowship and /or leadership of apostles or those in other positions of authority in the church...
1. A disconnect from other believers or churches around them
2. No clear leader
3. No significant financial contributions
4. No missions sending capacity or apostolic function
5. A closed mind to meeting with larger bodies"

In Home Churches, I have gathered that the father leads, and assuming he isn't going to just up and leave, what happens if he becomes ill? Travels for work? There's not much support for the family if there's just them. Even in House Churches, there is potential for a lack of support: "If the house church depends on one leader to do everything, it can quickly fall apart if the leader leaves."

I found a site where a man shared his experiences and talked about his decision to move to House Church: 

He says there was "so much activity (conferences, seminars, mega churches, parachurch ministry, books, etc.) with so little impact," (John White), and I can agree with him. While leading Cru and a youth group, I became frustrated by the big push for events with Cru, and the ineffectiveness of some events with our youth. The ones who knew God could grow in the weekly meetings and serving at special events, but the ones that didn't care, didn't care more or less because they attended these things. Their relationships with God were personal, and I couldn't sit with them every morning and read their Bibles with them and pray with them. What they gained from what we provided was ultimately up to them and God. And becoming ultra busy and spending lots of money wasn't a responsible way to act. What were we modelling? I still cringe when a teen says to me, "We're going to this conference and going to get our Jesus fill!" Ummm... wrong on so many levels... 2 hours after they come back, hey, even on the ride back, what's changed?

No church setting is perfect, because it's made up of imperfect people. There are two extremes to every problem, and it's easy to get off focus. If you're a part of a group that's more focused on bashing everyone else / their system than furthering the Gospel and creating opportunities that disciple over a lifetime, consider sharing with your group that anything that doesn't glorify God and encourage others is time wasted. Study God's Word, seek Him daily.

What do you think about House Churches? Home Churches? Other forms?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Never Filled - revamped version

Never Filled

By Hillary Beth

You will never be able to fill someone else's need.

In this life, you might encounter people who need healing from painful situations. You'll meet people who need love and have never known anyone who truly loved them. You might find that a friend or family member needs guidance, forgiveness, or comfort. You might come to know someone who wants a really close relationship, to feel known and appreciated. In the right context, all of these things are okay, and it is good and right and our duty even, to be there for others; the Bible tells us:

Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Romans 12:15
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

For people who need healing, remember, you are not their Healer. Only God can fulfill that role. Only God knows their deepest hurts, and their deepest needs. You can help point them to God, and start them on the right path to healing, and even walk alongside them in that journey, but you can't "fix" them.

There are people who need love and have never known anyone who truly loved them. You can show them love because God has shown you love. The best thing to do is to not forget that God is not only the best example of love through Christ's death for us, but also has changed your life daily with that same love.

You might find that a friend or family member needs guidance, forgiveness, or comfort. To a degree, you can offer these things - you can give someone advice, you can forgive those that have wronged you, and you can comfort those who have lost a loved one or something dear to them. But ultimately, God knows everything, all sin is against God, and God's comfort is the deepest comfort there is. So, unless a person seeks God, makes peace with God, and finds their peace in Him, that person will remain lost and broken deep inside.

You might come to know someone who wants a really close relationship, and wants to feel known and appreciated. We encourage each other by offering kind words, thanking others, recognizing others in their successes, and letting others shine instead of stealing the lime light all the time. But some people are never satisfied, and never feel famous enough, appreciated enough, or close enough to another person (think of someone who's very clingy, or doesn't know what to do unless they are following someone else around). This person desires a close relationship with God, whether they realize it or not, and can develop their identity better when they stop trying to find their identity in others and find it in their Creator.

As a Christian, you must keep this in mind - you are not, and cannot pretend to be, someone else's Savior, nor should you seek that someone else be that for you. No person can satisfy another person in the way God does; no person is good enough, knowledgeable enough, or able to love like God loves us.

What Christ has done on the cross is good enough for those who are in need - and good enough for you. If you are feeling unsatisfied today, ask God for your needs -

Philippians 4:19
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Another play

Hillary Beth Miller
Theater 101
Nancy Halverson
(575 words)
Millicent Scowlworthy
     The set in Millicent Scowlworthy helped greatly in telling the story. From the cold look of the opening scene with the silver school desks and the plaque-less monument to the warmth of the diner to the intrigue of the living room, each scene had a set that kept the plot moving and was easy enough for the actors to manipulate in this complex storyline.
     First of all, the opening scene was of dark and silvery tones and appeared cold and more impersonal. This went well with the arrival of students that were from all different cliques and groups; they were just beginning to be united, and only for the cause of remembering the events they were about to portray.  Also, the darker colors added to the solemnness and gravity of the occasion as the students picked their parts. The formal appearance given by the silvery chairs added to the intensity that held the audience to wonder what all the fuss was about.  The seriousness and formality created add to the credibility of what is going on, instead of this gathering appearing to be a bunch of highschoolers  just getting together to hang out.
     Once the scene changes to the diner, a sense of relief can almost be felt. This is accomplished by the warm, inviting atmosphere portrayed by the wooden counter with its trendy bar stools at the back of center stage, and the neatly arranged tables and chairs throughout that the students slowly fill. The relief is a key ingredient to the beginning of this scene; after all, the audience and the students are both waiting to see if some of the kids might have been caught by the police heard at the end of the last scene, which would have interrupted the students’ play! Considering the placement of the seating, the stageability of both the play, and the play inside this play, is proven quite workable, although obviously much time and thought had to have been put into the exact placement of each piece for this to occur.
     Finally, the last scene is brought about after the police yet again catch up with the students. There in the living room of one of the students, a sense of intrigue is kept up, amidst the comfy couches and various footstools and coffee tables. A well placed guitar comes in handy for one student during the students’ reenactment of the wrapping up of the events that leads to the climax. The various lamps and familiar odds and ends are kind of an irony considering the horrors of the events that occur in this scene, but this irony only adds to the impact on the audience. Almost every student is able to easily participate in the drumming sounds used to create the gunfire in this scene by using the surrounding furniture. Everything comes together in this scene to a heightened peak of emotion, and placing it in the setting of a house, where many people seek quiet and refuge and strength, brings the level up a notch.
     With thoughtful placement of set pieces, good judgment in the use of colors and textures for  the materials used, and good attention to details that help to move along the plot, this production of Millicent Scowlworthy did an excellent job in telling its story. The set not only created mood and atmosphere for each scene, but also aided the actors in performing their roles without awkwardness.

Routine is not evil

Some people act like a routine is the worst thing a person could ever possibly subject themselves to. I completely disagree. I know it's often going to be hard for me to keep any kind of routine, but I feel like I fall apart without some resemblance of one.

I knew, when I got married, my husband and my biggest difference was routine. Don't get me wrong - he has some - but his daily routine constantly changes based on his training schedule, location, and scope.

I like having a routine. It helps me center myself, evaluate myself in a good way, and know when it's time to rest and when it's time to push through and keep working. Sometimes, my routine goes away pretty much, because I have to choose - do I work everything around so that I'm free when my husband is, or do I try to do my own thing and just hope I get to ever spend any time with him?

Abosutely everything I planned for this Fall basically isn't working well. But, I decided there are some things I can keep the same through all of this:

1. Reading my Bible daily (usually with Erik)
2. Posting to GGFG / having Megan post every Friday (and now maybe Tuesdays as well)
3. Writing in my journal (even if it's not every day)
4. Eating breakfast (yeah that seems small but I like breakfast)

Hopefully, most days until we move I can also still:

1. Exercise at the gym 3 days a week
2. Take walks 3 days a week
3. Play with Jake
4. Blog

Friday, August 23, 2013

Germany and Egypt

Germany and Egypt
By Hillary Beth Miller

Tumbling, pouncing, scratching,
Biting, yipping, yapping, barking, flapping
Go the puppies round-and-round.
Running, jumping, hopping,
Creeping they come.

Messes, toys, shredded newspapers,
Bitemarks, clawmarks, scratchmarks,
And puddles with piles left behind
Are all puppy trademarks.

Splashing, wet, soapy,
Cold and scared at bath time;
Warm, clean, fuzzy after.

Scared and shivery, whiny,
And stressed at the vet,
The puppies are so changing!

Sleepy, quiet, still,
No messes, dirty but lovable,
Sweet and silent,
Cuddling, huddling,
They lie in some warm arms.
Cozy, resting, warm and sweet
They sleep.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sea World - Speech

As a Florida girl for 18 years, I fell in love with a seemingly magical place. No, I’m not going to be talking about Disney – in fact, I’ve only been there twice in my life. I’m not even going to be talking about the beach –this place is still inland. Instead, I’m going to tell you all about a place I would go, when we had season passes, up to once a month and never get tired of – Sea World in Orlando. There are three main types of attractions that I think will give you the best idea of this water-filled park; the shows, the exhibits, and the rides. I’d also like to give you a small rundown of the other features after that.
First, there are the shows. Although there are several shows, I’d like to highlight just the two I considered best. One of the funniest shows offered is the show entitled “Clyde & Seamore Take Pirate Island.” A Walrus and a pair of Sea Lions steal the audience’s hearts in this show, guided by several trainers. Of course then there’s the most famous show, which is Shamu’s Show: Believe. If you dare you may get in the Splash Zone during the end of the show, and Shamu will splash you with his gigantic side fin! Shamu will also wave to the audience, jump on command, and even take a trainer for a ride on his nose! Shamu is really a stage name for several different Orcas, or killer whales. These massive creatures are beautiful and intelligent, following hand commands from their trainers and sometimes even guests who pay to get in on a part of a show.
Now that you know about the shows at Sea World, I’m going to tell you about some of the places you can view animals up close and personal. First, there’s the Shark Encounter. As you walk through a totally glass enclosed tunnel, you can see a shark or numerous other sea creatures swim right above your head, or to your left and right! You may get the eerie feeling that you are actually underwater with them! Another animal exhibit is the Penguin Encounter, where penguins run and slip and slide and play as if they were putting on a show just for you. Come up close to the glass and you will likely have only the glass separating you from these curious chilly birds; they will make sure they check you out face to face and seem to enjoy the attention. Probably the most crowded attraction is the Shamu Underwater Viewing, where, if you are lucky, one or more of the Orcas will swim right against the glass tank. This is the very best way to realize just how massive these creatures really are. All around you will be the recorded sounds of Orcas, and the darkness of the man-made structures resembles a cave, in which it’s easy to get lost in the sight of the very blue water.
 If there was an award for the noisiest place in SeaWorld, Pacific Point Preserve would win, hands down! Here the Sea Lions and Harbor Seals bark and howl with incredible intensity in a pit below you. As you see how many people are feeding them fish you may wonder if these creatures ever stop eating. Truly these sea lions and seals are very playful and can entertain you for quite a while jumping off their rocky perches and competing for the food you drop in. In the same way, the smelliest award would have to go to the Stingray Lagoon. Don’t be afraid – if you follow the directions, you won’t get hurt while petting these bottom-feeders. The first time you stick your hand into the water that fills their tank, with your hand parallel to the bottom and your fingers close together with the small dead fish standing up in between your middle and ring fingers, like so, you might be shocked when the smooth and slightly slimy creature slips by stealing your offering. Quick, or you will miss your chance to pet its back! Don’t tempt or tease this animal to try to make it linger nearby you, or you might be sorry, but not even usually because of the poisonous barb on the tail; did you know sting rays actually have teeth? Another step up in the interaction is the Dolphin Cove. At select times of day you can feed these playful mammals! They will come right up to you, and often, if you know the right signs to make, you can persuade them to do tricks for their snacks! Some dolphins actually seem to enjoy being petted and rubbed, so you may find a friend for a few moments even if you don’t buy some fish.
So far we have discussed shows and exhibits, and now I’d like to talk about rides. While you may have heard of rides such as Journey to Atlantis or Kraken, I would like to tell you about two lesser-known rides available at Sea World. One is a very gentle ride that has quite the view – the Tower Ride. Once up in the air, this ride shows you the whole park and more of the immediate surrounding Orlando area. The best time is at sunset, where you can look out over the lake and see brilliant colors from the evening sky. Also, the Wild Artic simulates a helicopter ride to the land of ice and …polar bears! On display with them are Beluga whales and walruses. When this portion originally opened, the bears, Klondike and Snow, were twin cubs. They soon grew big and strong! You might want to take a jacket for this part of SeaWorld, because after being out in the warm sun, this cool environment filled with man-made ice walls and snow will seem quite a contrast.
Let me take a moment to give you a brief list of the many other attractions, such as the wonderful Shamu’s Happy Harbor, which is a playground for kids with high nets to climb across and water tunnels to slide through; fancy dining if you please; Clydesdale horses pulling carriages; tropical gardens with Hawaiian-sounding music lightly playing from stone speakers along the paths; a brewery; little huts selling jewelry and snacks and drinks; and numerous shops to get figurines and stuffed animals, books and apparel, hats and more.
Although it’s not the most typical place you might think of when someone mentions the Sunshine State, Sea World has a huge assortment of shows, exhibits, and rides featuring the animals of the ocean. With plenty of water and not to mention all the extra shopping, dining, and activities packed in between the main auditoriums and stadiums, Sea World brings to life several worlds that might otherwise seem far off, yet still keeps up some of the mystery that goes with the great deeps of the sea.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Part of a Journal about Science Camp

Hillary Beth Miller’s week at BJU Science Camp July 6-11, 2003

Sunday, July 6, 2003 – As soon as we had packed we went down into the lobby at the motel to get some orange juice.  Holland got a cinnamon bun and apple juice.  The orange juice I got was extremely tart!  Mommy got two cups of coffee to go.
About an hour-and-one-half later, we arrived at Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, SC. 
Of course, first off Mommy had to go to the bathroom.  After she came out, we looked at the gigantic rocks and the little pretty waterfalls in the gardens at the zoo.  We were amazed at the huge pink hibiscus flowers, which were the size of Holland’s head!  As we started down the pathway that led deeper into the gardens, we saw more and more different kinds of flowers, even “antique roses.”
Holland was only impressed for a short time and then she met this cat which she later named some silly name.  Daddy told her to stop messing with that cat and pay attention to the flowers.  Also, we saw a tortoise that was in the dead center of the path.

This time we took the tram down to the main section of the zoo. The ride was so bumpy that we were holding our chests.  I loved going across the bridge over the Saluda River.  Daddy reminded us to look at the remains of pilings on the river bank that were left over from when there was a bridge there during the Civil War. 

During the ride, Holland and I turned the map for the zoo the right way so that we could see where we were and where we wanted to go.  Sadly, the polar bear exhibit was not listed on the map and I figure he must have died.  I will miss him because he was my first favorite, and when I was four I wanted so badly to see a polar bear.  I talked and talked about wanting to see one.  Then we went to Riverbanks Zoo on the way to cousins Tracy & Tracy’s wedding and as soon as we entered the zoo, first thing on the left was the POLAR BEAR!   I visited him again three years ago when we went to visit Aunt Rita. 

This time my favorite animals were located in the new bird center.  Splashing, paddling, preening, and diving, these funny little birds wanted anyone’s attention!  Yes, they were penguins!  They’d come right up to your face at the glass so that only an inch separated you from them in their watery playhouse.  There was one penguin we were worried about because he hid in his little cave and acted like he was ill.  He also had discoloration on his feathers on his lower front.  Poor baby!

While Mommy was in the gift shop, Daddy took us to see the gorillas, bats, elephants, and seals.  Sitting with this his back to the glass, the young gorilla relaxed in the shade and made it seem as if he was mocking us for trying to get his attention. Daddy said that the gorillas must have just eaten because all of the chimps were taking naps and the gorilla was lethargic. There was also a little baby girl who squealed in delight when she saw this animal that was three times her size sitting so close to her.  

Next, there were the bats.  Holland acted as if she was scared of them, but I loved them.   There was a female zookeeper in one of the bat exhibits and she was taking up dishes from their feeding.  Several of the bats fought and she tried to see if they would eat more.  They refused. 

Later on we saw the elephants and Daddy jokingly said, “I can just see the little red angry faces rising up from their heads!”   You see there were piles of “poo”
sitting everywhere.  On our computer zoo game, animals tell you whether they are happy or not by little faces that rise into the air above them.  Red angry faces are not good!  I can’t even imagine what it would be like to scoop elephant poop!  One pile is two feet in diameter!

As we approached the seals, we noticed that one looked kind of funny as he was swimming.  Suddenly Daddy exclaimed, “He’s swimming upside down!”   They had just been fed so I am sure they were very happy and in a playful mood.  The other seal sped around the corner of one of the large rock islands, then disappeared for half-a-minute.  When he returned, he went partially across the pool and then sped right back around again.   Upon our leaving, the first seal was sitting sunbathing on one of the islands.

Mommy found us at the elephant exhibit and we happily continued on our adventure.  Ostriches, giraffes, and zebras were grouped together.  Since Mommy wanted a picture of the closest ostrich, which had her back to us, she called out in a sweet, high voice, “Turn around for me girl.  Come here girl, turn around.”  Almost instantly, that ostrich responded by turning around with what seemed like a smile on her face.  Mommy got a great shot.

We couldn’t see much of the black rhinoceros because he was dozing in the grass at the back of the exhibit.  So we went on to see the lions, a couple more birds and the koala bears.  In the petting barn, we saw three beautiful barn owls sitting in a row up above the door.  They were each in slightly different positions and did not seem to be moving so Daddy, Mommy, and Holland thought they were stuffed.   I was curious about the sign and read it because it implied that they were real.  I watched and watched.  Finally one of them moved!  I showed Daddy and we waited for them to move again thereby certifying that they were real. Then we had to leave because it was getting late for us to get to camp on time.

Quickly, we found a motel and rushed to change clothes and to eat potato salad for “lunch.”  It was a meal on the run.  I had a hard time walking up and down and up and down the stairs at the motel in my new black skirt.  Finally, I arrived at Bob Jones University Science Camp despite the clueless directions given by the motel lobbyist.  I was so scared when I got to my room in the Margaret Mack dormitory, that I wanted Mommy to leave and I wanted it to be bedtime, so that I could figure out what I was afraid of. 

My room mates names were Kristin Smith who slept above me, Whitney Fromm who slept on the other lower bunk, and Mary-Elsye  ________ who slept above Whitney.  Kristin seemed nice at first and Mary-Elsye did something extremely funny.  She dumped absolutely everything she brought into her three drawers without looking or giving a second thought.  This included bottles of shampoo, conditioner, makeup and other things that can spill. 

Whitney was the only one not in science camp and not in the room when I arrived.  She was in music camp and her instrument was the piano.  She was really sweet right from the start.

Our first event was Sunday evening service.  It was held in the Collins Auditorium.  There were many songs that I did not know.  The pianist was a good instrumentalist.  She did her own special performance for us, which sounded very difficult to perform.

As we were dismissed, the camp director said, “ We’re having lunch in the junior high cafeteria.”   Immediately there were whispers around the room as people wondered why he called dinner, lunch.  As soon as we were led there, we found out why.  It was just stale meat and cheese sandwiches.  The bread was as hard as the Cuban bread Daddy and I bought for Mommy one day last year.  That was the time that Mommy pretended that her bread was a baseball bat, and she swung it around the kitchen before making it into garlic bread to go with our spaghetti dinner. 

Well, next up on our schedule was the introduction to science camp which was held in the science building.   Can you believe they have two, two-story buildings dedicated solely to science?  These buildings have case after case of different agates cut in half, which look like all kinds of things like sea horses, butterflies, and tons of other things.   There are also animals that have been preserved through taxidermy including the largest crow I have ever seen in my entire life. 

Anyhow, we got an idea of what activities we were going to be doing and what days we would be doing them on.  Things like the Mars Mission, the Great Oscillation Race, and the ___________ Derby.  The _________ Derby was a mystery to be unveiled by Mr. Harmon himself.  I knew that it would be good because after having Mr. Harmon all year for Physical Science, I knew he had a trick and a joke up his sleeve. I was too afraid to say anything except hi to him when I first met him.  It was such a shock seeing him right there in front of me instead of behind the television screen.  He was just standing there just like on video, but more relaxed and waving us in with a hi.

Although I was interested in the web newspaper team, I figured many people would be signing up for it and since there were only three positions, I thought I’d let others have them.

Back in the dormitory for the evening, it was getting late. It was about 9:30 P.M. and we still had to take showers, brush our teeth, and finish unpacking around our devotional time. It’s not as bad as it sounds, because we had until 10:55 P.M.

There were three rooms our counselor Sarah was assigned to, and they all met in our room.   After she took up prayer requests, we prayed and she explained how our personal devotion time would work for the rest of the week.  We were supposed to devote the entire half-hour even if we were done early everyday.  She suggested that we read other passages in case of finishing early.

Tired and cold on the bottom bunk about an hour after lights out, I finally fell asleep.   We had followed the rules and didn’t talk, but it took me a while to fall asleep because there were so many strange smells and I was still sorting out my day.