Thursday, February 22, 2018

Who Do You Serve?

Love this kid and his honesty!
As Bible Adventures start lasted night Keith tells the whole class "I HATE when I get to go buy a prize at the store and then have to come to church. I wanted to stay home for just a little bit and play with my prize!" Keith did so good in school yesterday that his parents took him to the store and he bought a "Huge" T-Rex and he was upset he had to come to churc...h and couldn't play with it. Our Bible lesson last night was on Matthew 6:24 "No man can serve two masters: for either he will HATE the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Keith's statement gave me the perfect illustration to share as we talked about choosing the things that are good and righteous and pleasing to God or choosing the things that please us and ignoring the things of God. 

How many of us are just like Keith and say we would rather stay home from church because we want to play with our toys, or we've been working all week and just want to relax or it's been a stressing week and we just need some "Me" time? Having a relationship with God takes times and so often it's time we don't want to give. We don't want to take the time to read our Bibles, spend that sweet hour in prayer or go to church when it takes away from the other things we would rather be doing. My question to the kids last night and my question to you today is, who are you serving? We say we love God and He is our master, but is He really? If He really was our Master, would we have such a hard time focusing on the things of God? 

Anyways, just a thought from a 5 year old......

Monday, May 8, 2017

What Causes Your Avalanches?

I needed a pitcher today and I dreaded opening the cupboard and getting it out.  We all have that one cupboard don't we? The one where you shove all the sippy cups, water bottles, plastic cups, and whatever else you are trying to hide from view!  I knew as soon as I opened it something would fall out, probably several things would actually tumble out and start an avalanche of everything else falling out.  Dreading the outcome but needing a pitcher I opened the cupboard.
I was right, the lid to pitcher fell on my toe as the cup of corn on the cob holders rolled all over the floor, one of the sippy cup hit me in the head as I made a wild grab to stop the snow cone syrup from falling and of course while I was trying to stop as much of the avalanche as I could, all the various plastic cups bounced on the stove and proceeded to crash to the floor.  I was so aggravated and upset that my first reaction was to cry out in frustration!  "Oh man!!!"  "Stupid lid!!!"  "Why in the world!!!"  "Grrrrr, all over the floor!!!"  (Okay, okay you may not think those are strong words but that's pretty intense for me!) 
I think many of us get upset and irritated when something like the above incident happens.  When we are taking groceries or something else into the house and drop what we are carrying..... When we trip or stumble and stub our toe..... When we are trying to fix something but nothing we do is working..... When we are cooking dinner but the little one calls for help and as your helping them you forget about the food in the oven until you smell it burning...... When you forget you had an appointment until they call asking where you are..... When you are out to dinner and drop something gooey and messy on your shirt......  When you reach for the toilet paper and all you find is an empty roll......  And the list goes on and on.  So many things happen and we get upset and have to say something to get our frustrations out, to let everyone know how we're feeling, even if it is only the air that hears us.
That was my first reaction today, to say something to express my frustration at what happened...... but I didn't.  God immediately pulled on my heart and I stopped and stepped back.  If I am so easily irritated and frustrated at lifeless objects and have to say something to the corn cob holders that were now scattered all over the floor, how do I react when people irritate or frustrate me?  I have to admit, I am not the most mellow and calm person.  I get irritated more easily that I should and when I get irritated, I usually snap out something so people know..... so my husband knows, how I'm feeling about what was said or done.   So many times it's just a simple misunderstanding, an accident that couldn't have been prevented, an interruption to what I'm doing because someone needs me, someone doing a task differently than I would..... little things, but they irritate me just the same and too often I want others to know how I'm feeling by my words and my actions but too often my words and actions simply wound the ones around me.  
When my irritation and frustration at others and how I express how I'm feeling does not line up with the doctrine and truth of His Word, then I am not living out the gospel.  For the last month or so God has been convicting me to change how I react to the everyday things that happen around me.  To stop and step back and look at the situation before saying or doing anything.  To make sure how I'm feeling, what I'm saying and what I do, all line up with the doctrine of His Word.  I don't want to be a hearer of the Word only but I want to be a doer, putting away all wrath and evil speaking, being kind and tenderhearted, patient, longsuffering and loving no matter what storm is blowing or what little hiccup comes up.
It may seem little, but today I did not react, I did not express my irritation or frustration.  I stepped back and decided an avalanche of cups and pitchers and corn on the cob holders was not worth getting upset about.  Today I am content to spend a few extra minutes picking plastic cups up off the floor because I know God's Word is working in me and changing me into a vessel worthy of Him.
What causes your avalanches in life and how are you reacting?

Friday, April 28, 2017

Birthday Dinner Hot Pot Style

It was Saraina's birthday yesterday and since we didn't have plans to go out and do anything special I wanted to do very special dinner.  My dad used to love doing Hot Pots as a family and I thought it was the perfect dinner!  So easy to put together but so good!  I used a big skillet to keep the chicken broth hot and wooden skewers to put the meat on.  We had chicken, pork, beef and of course shrimp.  Keith loved all the dipping sauces and had fun dipping the meat he made in them.
I also did a simple cheese fondue.  Tali is not a huge meat eater so she loved dipping the bread and hot dogs in the cheese.

Another favorite my dad cooked when we were kids was artichokes.  Saraina had never had artichokes before but she was such a good sport and tried eating it.  I don't she really liked them!
She tried to eat Keith to eat an artichoke piece too but he told her no!
I think dinner turned out great and of course it was so fun to just spend time together.
Happy Birthday Saraina!  We are so glad Chandler brought you into our family!  We love you! 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

34 Weeks of Jonah

Tonight is our 32nd week of teaching Jonah.  Just two more weeks and we will finally be finished! Several people have asked me what in the world I am teaching that is making it take so long to get through the story of Jonah.  I mean, we have all had the story of Jonah taught to us over and over as a child and it's a pretty simple story.  God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh, Jonah says no and gets on a ship to Tarshish, A huge storm threatens to destroy the ship, the sailors throw Jonah overboard, Jonah gets swallowed by the whale, Jonah prays and gets right with God , the whale spits him up, Jonah goes to Nineveh and tells God's message, God doesn't destroy Nineveh and Jonah throws attitude.  Shouldn't take more than a lesson or two to teach, right?  The thing is, I'm not surface teaching the story, I'm deep teaching the story. 
Sadly today, we are seeing kids grow up in church and when they hit the teenage years they really struggle with their faith and what church teaches them.  It is during the teen years we see our church kids and bus kids in full out rebellion and it is during those years we see the bus kids stop coming to church and the church kids, although they're in church, they are tuning out the teaching and preaching.  As they continue to grow, over half of those church kids will stop coming to church as adults.  This trend of young people leaving our churches is so disturbing and I hear so many church leaders blame it on the society the kids are being raised in.  Although I do know that society and the decline of morals do affect our kids, what if the real problem was we are too busy surface teaching our kids and giving them the fluff of the Bible?  What if our teaching is so lacking in building a strong foundation in their young years that when the teen pastor comes and tries to build on that foundation, the foundation is unsteady and can't hold up the weight of heavier doctrine and truth. 
2 Timothy 3:16 - All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
This verse is not only for teens or adults but also for children.   We do not think that our kids can learn deep doctrine and Bible truths so we teach them the same Bible stories with the same lesson year, after year, after year, after year.....  David and Goliath, Jonah and the whale, Daniel and the lions den, Adam and Eve, Noah's ark, the Ten commandments, Moses and the plagues of Egypt.  These are all amazing stories and our children should know them but what are they really learning about these stories?  Are they just learning the surface lessons and not the deep doctrinal lessons of these stories?  It is the doctrine of the Word of God that helps build strong foundations that everything we do in life will be built on.
By taking Jonah verse by verse we have learned about who God is, His characteristics, his attributes, how we fail as people, how we, too often have attitudes and emotions that God does not like and what God want us to do as we follow Him in obedience. 
Look at how we can break down a couple of verses and get so much out of it.
Jonah 1:1 -  Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
In this verse we learned why the Bible says LORD instead of YHWH (Yaweh, Jehovah).  We were able to talk how God's name used to be so Holy and revered that people thought it disrespectful to say God's real name aloud.  We were able to talk about how God's name is used now and how we should and shouldn't use God's name.  Out of that verse we also talked about what a prophet was, who Jonah was and how God talks to each of us. 
In Jonah 1:2 we looked at what God specifically told Jonah to do and we were able to talk about how God tells us in His Word what we are to do too!  Jonah 1:2 also describes Nineveh and their wickedness and how that wickedness came before God.  We talked what wickedness was, how all our deeds good and bad come before God and how God is Holy and hates wickedness and sin.
We talked about obedience in Jonah 1:3 and how God wants complete obedience all the time and just as Jonah had to pay the fare to Tarshish, we pay a price when we disobey and run from God.  Two times in the verse it tells us that Jonah was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, and when God tells us something twice in the same verse we better pay attention.  This then led us to talk about God being omnipresent and a few other things we found in the verse.
Every verse in Jonah has been a wealth of knowledge, doctrine and truth and if I truly want to teach the kids about God and His Word, I need to dig deep into His truth and talk about everything we see in each verse.  Each week we have slowly been going over one or two verses and pulling everything we can out of those verses.  Some people asked if the kids have gotten bored with teaching so slowly and methodically but the answer is no, the kids are loving it and hate when class time ends.  I am loving see the kids beg for just one more verse or bringing up something they see in the verse or how the verse applies to something that happened at school.  Jonah has become more than a surface story to them and that has been my goal!
We need to look over what our kids are being taught and be sure they are not being surface taught the fluffy stories that are fun to learn but lack the depth of truth and doctrine that God has put into each story.  We want our children to grow to be strong Christian adults with a solid foundation so that the world and society will not be able to knock them down with every new idea that comes up.  But in order to do that we need to be intentional about what we're teaching them.  Teach them doctrine, instruct them deeply in scripture, give them reproof and correction and then watch as they bloom and grow into the next generation of church leaders who know the difference between fluffy surface teaching and doctrine and truth. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

This Is........

This is what ministry looks like.  Not always preaching or teaching, not always counseling or visiting but simply helping.  Helping when someone says all the light bulbs are burnt out in their kitchen.  Lighting a pilot light on the hot water heater for a mom who's husband won't be home from work until late and she has dishes to wash and kids to bathe.  Taking someone to the doctor or the hairdresser and waiting patiently for them so you can then take them back home again.  Going to the part store to buy and then installing a new battery so someone can get to work on time.  Helping our older people shop and put their groceries in their car and taking the electric cart back into the store.  Shoveling the last of the spring snow off people's sidewalks and towing someone's old car to the junkyard.  The list goes on and on..... It's been a busy month for us as we minister to our church people and help them both spiritually and physically but we are loving each moment as we get a chance to talk, laugh and love on each family in any and every way the Lord gives us.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Blessing Wall

April is our Blessing Month at church and we have such a great time all month counting our blessings.  I made these Blessing wall frames several years ago.  First I screwed together 1x3 boards, and added eyelets every six inches all the way around on the inside lip of the frame.  I then strung string back and forth and crossway over the whole frame.  To finish I hot glued on greenery and flowers to add a springy look. 

We have pens and papers sitting out for everyone to write down the blessings they have received from God and are so thankful for.  They then take their papers and paperclip them to the strings of the blessing wall.  Every week, blessings will be added to the wall and by the end of the month the wall will be full!
Through the month we encourage everyone to pick someone in the church to bless and do something special for.  They can help them in some financial way, give them a gift, a note of encouragement or any other way they can think to be a blessing to another person.  The last Sunday in April we will all share a big pot of blessing soup and have a special service where our pastor reads all the blessings that were written down and gives us a special message.  Our members love Blessings month and look forward to it each year as it's such a special time of fellowship at our church.
My husband and I have talked over several people we will be blessing this month and I am so excited as we give a little extra love to the ones God has asked us to bless this year! 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

To Fool or Not to Fool

This morning as my husband and I talked about April Fool's Day and the last epic prank I pulled on him, we again made our yearly pact, no April Fool's jokes today.  We laughed as we agreed there is no way he will ever top my April Fool's joke but here is a deeper reason we have a agreed not to prank each other. 
When we returned to the states from Germany we got Mason a cat. He named her Mickey and she was a such a loving and sweet cat!  She gave us several batches of beautiful kittens and I'm sure she would have given us many more if we wouldn't have taken her and got her spade. She was so upset after that as she loved being a momma and having babies. She found a small stuffed ball that was covered with fake fur and that furry ball became her baby.  She would carry it around and cry to it, lay the ball by her stomach as if it nurse it and cuddle and clean it. This went on for years and years!

One April Fools Day I had a brilliant idea!  I called my husband at work and told him Mickey was acting weird. I told him she was crying and biting at her stomach like she was in pain. He told me to watch her and if she got worse he said to take her to the vet. I let an hour go by and called him a little more hysterical saying how I was so worried about Mickey because she was getting worse and I didn't know what was wrong!  He then told me to take her to the vet. Smiling, I hung up the phone and then called our vet and asked them if they would help me with my April Fools joke. 

Our vet was absolutely awesome as I told her my plan and laughed as she told me they would love helping me out. I waited another hour and an half and I called my husband back. I excitedly told him that Mickey had given birth to one little miraculous kitten!  I told him that the vet said this was a very rare occurrence but one in a million cats have kittens after being spade. I told him I wanted to name our precious new kitten "Miracle"!  I then asked him to pick up Mickey and her baby on his way home from work. He hardly agreed and was so excited to see our little "Miracle".

My husband said that when he got to the vet and told them he was there to pick up our cat and kitten, the receptionist smiled at him strangely and went to the back and got several of the people that work there.  They all told him April Fools and told him there was no way a spade cat can get pregnant and laughed at how good I had gotten him.  He came home and said that was the best April Fools joke ever and he had fallen for it hook, line and sinker.  That was over ten years ago and we have never pulled an April Fools joke on each other since.

As it think back now, I can see this was really a mean and terrible thing to do to my husband.  Although he laughs about it now, I think about how demeaning it must have felt to go into the vets office and have everyone laugh at him.  I made my husband the brunt of a joke and it really hurts my heart to have caused him any pain or humiliation.

In society today it is normal to make fun of our husbands and make them the brunt of the joke, to belittle them to other people and make them feel small in who they are as men.  Sadly I have done this to my husband too many times.  You see, my husband is an amazing man created in the image of God, but when I don't uplift him and encourage him but rather tear him down and belittle him, I am breaking the incredible gift God has given me in him. God is molding him into the man He needs him to be, the man I need him to be, and the man that can change world but I can so easily hinder what God is doing in his life by my words and actions.  How can my husband live a life to the potential God has made him for, if I am tearing him down in anyway.  I have to constantly be aware of my words, actions and attitude so I do not say anything that would tear him down, embarrass him in front of others or make him feel less of the amazing man God created him to be.

I truly am so thankful for, and love the gift God has given me in my husband!  So this year I choose not to fool or make a fool of my husband but this year I choose to give him a small gift to let him know how much I love him and what a treasure he is to me!

I Love you Chep Day and I'm so thankful for the love you show me each ad everyday! Happy April Fool's Day!