• GRACE NOTES 09/04/2010: A lesson while on my knees.

    As I was on my knees one Saturday afternoon, I had an epiphany.

    Lest you think I was on my knees praying, I wasn’t, although Lord knows I should have been. And it wasn’t so much an epiphany as it was a random thought.

    My husband and I were painting, he up on a ladder, me on my knees with a brush painting the bottom of the walls along the edging.

  • Sports teams up with faith

    At 7:20 on a Tuesday morning, the Inverness Middle School gymnasium is quiet.

    Just 10 minutes later, the music starts — loud music with a hip-hop beat and a Christian message.

    As the doors open, students pour into the gym. Some shoot baskets; others rush to find a spot on the bleachers.

    At 7:40 the weekly FCA gathering begins, a combination mini church youth group meeting and faith pep rally.

  • GRACE NOTES 08/28/2010: 'Talents' on loan from God?

    The problem with ministers, Bible teachers and religion writers is that we’re human.

    The problem with being human — one of the many problems — is the we read and interpret passages of Scripture through different prisms, depending on our experiences, past teachings, even our sinful bents. Sometimes we make the Bible say what we want it to say.

    It fascinates me how two people can read the same passage and come away with sometimes opposite interpretations.

  • JUDI'S JOURNAL 08/21/2010: Animals in the Bible

    They are our pets. Cats, dogs, birds, guinea pigs and gerbils. They are our companions, confidants and loyal friends. In the Hebrew Bible, however, animals have very different roles.

  • GRACE NOTES 8/21/2010: 'Sorry' not the hardest word after all

    In 1958, Connie Francis sang, “Who’s Sorry Now?” and later, Brenda Lee, Bo Diddley, The Platters and The Delfonics all sang, “I’m Sorry.”

    In today’s society, saying “I’m sorry” is the new “How are you?”

    We’ve come to expect it — demand it — of our fallen sports figures, politicians and celebrities, after which we, the public and all the talking heads on TV and radio, dissect each apology to judge whether we think the apologizer is sincere enough for our satisfaction.

  • ON RELIGION 08/14/2010: Healing ugly modern churches.

    The sanctuary walls are, as a rule, made of flat wood, concrete and glass wrapped in metals with an industrial look — often matching the furnishings on the stark altar.

    The windows are frosted or tinted in muted tones of sky blue, lavender, amber or pink. If there are stained-glass images, they are ultramodern in style, to match any art objects that make sense in this kind of space. The floors are covered with carpet, which explains why there are speakers hanging in the rafters.

  • Voices lifted in praise

    Recording artists Kevin and Cherie Daniels believe that without a touch from God, they would be just another husband and wife singing group.

    As Touched Ministry, their prayer is that the Lord will continue his touch on their lives and their music ministry and that God will use them to touch others.

    At 6 p.m. Sunday, the Daniels will be singing their original music, leading congregational worship and presenting a message from God’s Word at a “signs and wonders” service at First Assembly of God Church, 4201 S. Pleasant Grove Road, Inverness.

  • JUDI'S JOURNAL 08/07/2010: The Dead Sea Scrolls

    In 1947, a young Bedouin shepherd boy went on a quest to search for a lost goat. In the harsh, dry desert region that was his home, the boy naturally assumed the goat had left the herd in search of water. What the shepherd ultimately discovered was to become one of the most significant archeological finds of all time, and although the goat might not have found water to drink, the discovery nevertheless would be the spiritual fountain from which three monotheistic religions would drink and be nourished.

  • Sing and Pray. Repeat.

    LAWRENCE, Kan. — The worshippers sit silently in short rows on a steamy summer night as two men begin to strum softly on guitars near a minister-less altar.

    The parishioners join the stringed instruments in unison, somewhere between singing and chanting.

    “Bless the Lord, my soul, and bless God’s holy name, Bless the lord, my soul, who leads me into life.”

    Then, the voices and strings unite for another round of the same song. Then another. And another. Until four or five minutes and up to 20 repetitions of those verses have been sung.

  • Church offers course in financial freedom

    Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.

    — Romans 13:8

    What is it worth to you to be free of creditors calling or just worrying about “robbing Peter to pay Paul?”

    In its third year being offered through Gulf to Lake Church in Crystal River, the Dave Ramsey financial freedom course “Financial Peace University” begins another 13-week session from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17 at the Ministry Complex behind the SunTrust Bank, Meadowcrest branch.