Monday, April 29, 2013

Your Abundant Life Now

One of  my young ones, many moons ago.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10. ESV.)

Have you ever received promises of a "best" life or "purpose filled" one? How about one that is "happy" or "full"? I am not sure about all of those but what I do know is Jesus gives an "abundant life", now! Not, in the future, but right this second...from today, forward!

And all we have to do, is have FAITH. That is it! He takes care of ALL the rest!

But believing in someone may not be as easy as one might think. There is some opposition. Some who will challenge, manipulate, trick, deceive, con, and cheat others. Perhaps we cannot see the creator but we can enjoy, taste, touch, feel, smell, and gaze upon all of creation!

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20 ESV)

Though we cannot audibly hear his voice we can feel His guidance of our heart...and be impacted by His servants in our life.

...for all things are your servants. (Psalm 119:91 ESV)

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy."

"Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!" declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:1 ESV)

You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. (Ezekiel 34:3 ESV)

My cup runneth over!

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:12-14 ESV)

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Father of Suffering Children

Seth (2006-2008)
I watched a video, one day, that pierced me straight to my heart. (Just thinking about it, and the many other families in this world who walk that same path, makes tears well up in my eyes.) It featured a child, so energetic and healthy looking, who through the course of the flick gradually becomes so frail and weak...with eyes too tired to keep open and head too heavy to hold up. For me, it stands for all the children, so fearfully and wonderfully made by God, who have just one last Christmas, or a final wish, etc. and are gone too soon. Though I am a stranger to them, my heart breaks into a million tiny, little pieces! What an immense burden to carry for both child and parent.

And what about the grown offspring whose guardians are either deceased or simply not around? Who stays beside him/her in that greatest time of need? At first I was choked up, and mad even, that a human being could be left to die alone. But then a warm feeling washed over me as I thought about God, our Father, being right there, never failing, loving, nurturing, merciful, mighty to save. No one is EVER alone (unless he/she is apart from God...and even then, I feel, He is still present).

6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6. ESV.)

Like with the Israelites who were fleeing Egypt...He was a pillar of smoke by day and fire by night. He is unchanging, ever present, and all knowing. He is like the wind that brushes our hair from our face or the sun that gently touches and warms our skin.

"Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created."
(Revelation 4:11 ESV)

God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
(Numbers 23:19 ESV)

Regarding God's omnipresence (His ability to be all present), author Wayne Grudem describes it like this,
Just as God is unlimited or infinite with respect to time, so God is unlimited with respect to space.... God's omnipresence may be defined as follows: God does not have size or spatial dimensions and is present at every point of space with his whole being, yet God acts differently in different places....

There is nowhere in the universe, on land or sea, in heaven or in hell, where one can flee from God's presence....

We must also be careful not to think that God himself is equivalent to any part of creation or to all of it. A pantheist believes that everything is God, or that God is everything that exists. The biblical perspective is rather that God is
present everywhere in his creation, but he is also distinct from his creation. How can this be? The analogy of a sponge filled with water is not perfect, but it is helpful. Water is present everywhere in the sponge, but the water is still completely distinct from the sponge. (Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Zondervan. 1994. Pgs. 173-175.)

God, our Father, is with each and every one of us, daily.

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17 ESV)

Let the Children Come to Me: Youth Group, the Next Generation

Last week, the Little Chef (and peers) was introduced to the church youth group. The church bus (which looks like a prison one, by the way) came and picked them up on one side of the building, drove around it, and dropped them off at the sanctuary where the youth group was waiting with hands clasped over head to form a tunnel through which the (soon to be) new members ran as they entered the room! I had NO idea all of this was going on (as it was a special moment for just the kiddos) but a friend of mine said, "Come on!" and we ran through the courtyard and snuck in, to watch as our (not so) young ones (anymore) where prayed over as they make the transition from AWANA (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed, 2 Timothy 2:15) members to full on youth group participants!

(Side bar: Am I REALLY this old?! I swear, I don't feel a day over 25!)

Little Chef was SO excited as later that evening the story of the whole event unfolded before me and hubs. And then, there they were...seven words that caused my heart to drop..."I get to go to winter camp!"

Whoa, whoa, whoa there! Hold on! I don't think so! Little Chef (and the Little Leaguer, for that matter) has NEVER been out of my sight for more than 24 hours...and I don't intend on starting now! Winter CAMP!? Sure some are only over a weekend (which MAYBE I can handle) but others stretch a week! Summer camp, for one! Which inevitably comes after winter camp!

Okay, I admit youth group was one of the absolute best times of my life (as I know it) and I had the privilege of going on ski trips and such but I am so not ready for my young ones to start all that! (Though they are chomping at the bit, I'm sure.) I have already had to experience the bittersweet sensation of "empty nest" (when the College Kid and Second Born moved out and onward)...but I thought I was going to get at least five years to prepare myself for the next dose of reality! Time for me to get to preaching to myself.

But Jesus called them to him, saying, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. (Luke 18:16 ESV)

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17 ESV)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Church of Word

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
(Psalm 1:1-2. ESV.)

Last week, the Little Chef had state testing and the location assigned to us was a church...a modern one complete with foyer/lobby, auditorium, stage, theater seating, etc. I had never been to this particular one before though I had passed it many times and looked at its banners. While there, something stirred within me...but what? The Holy Spirit? An idea? A comfort? I have no idea.

What I do know is there is one body and many parts of it. A single family with several members. A solitary church with numerous congregations. But as long as the word of God is the very foundation onto which each is built, and as long as the teaching is doctrinally sound, it is not false and still glorifying to God...right?

Whether the "church" (group of believers) meets in a brick and mortar building, shelter, hidden room, hut, shack, chapel, sanctuary, in a park, barn, dorm, around a flag pole, or online, God is there.

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them." (Matthew 18:20 ESV)

With all the social sites (Google Plus, Instagram, Twitter, Pintrest, etc.) available, we can fellowship together anytime no matter on which continent we live...with our words, spoken or written.

"For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:43-45 ESV)

Now, how important are words? First, and foremost, when Jesus was here, He was the "word made flesh"! Secondly, Justin Taylor states the following in the book THE POWER OF WORDS AND THE WONDER OF GOD edited by him and John Piper:
What do words have to do with Christianity? Almost everything. At every stage in redemptive history—from the time before time, to God’s creation, to man’s fall, to Christ’s redemption, and to the coming consummation—“God is there and he is not silent.” God’s words decisively create, confront, convict, correct, and comfort. By his words he both interprets and instructs.(Piper, John and Taylor, Justin. THE POWER OF WORDS AND THE WONDER OF GOD. © 2009. Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois. Pg. 22.)

So, let's fellowship! Click on the link (caption below picture) for the network(s) of your choice!

Facebook

Twitter

Google Plus

Pintrest

Instagram

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Take Me to Your Leader

Who is your leader? Who or what do you serve? On what (or with whom) do you spend most of your time?

When I was a high schooler, I fell in love with Jesus as my Savior and my Lord. That may sound clichè, but it is true. I remember some Christian bookstore merchandise that read, "Jesus is my Co-pilot". Then, it did not raise any flags but now I say, "No way! Jesus is my pilot!" And, I am to serve Him well!

Today, was the reunion of my former youth group. I saw a few pictures through out the day but it was nowhere near as momentous as I am sure it was to actually be there! Tomorrow, some will be attending worship service together at the church where I grew up. That is where the Lord met me where I was. There is where Palm Sunday came to life and sunrise service took a special place in my heart.

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."...Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
(John 14:15-21, 23, 24 ESV)

I feel I have grown (and continue to do so) the most when I started spending time in the word of God everyday! I placed Him first and try to fit in everything else. He is my Leader! And, if you take my hand, I will gladly take you to Him. He will blow your mind and you will be filled to overflowing with His love!

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:18, 19 ESV)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spiritual Gifts: The Gift of Administrating


And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:28 ESV)

The softball season of 2012 opened some amazing doors. Hubs, who had been searching for a softball team on which to play since I have known him (16 years), was invited to join the one that is associated with the church we attend. (Until around that point, he was not a regular church goer.) Further, two of the couples in that group became new friends of ours. One of those individuals also manages the AWANA program to which my kiddos belong. Before then, I only knew of her by name and her position with AWANA. (I had been absent from this particular congregation a long time...since 2007 or 2008.)

AWANA is only the tip of the iceberg! This daughter of the King is also the administrator of fantastic community outreach events like the "Easter Celebration" (the day before Resurrection Sunday) and "Awesome Autumn" (a Halloween "trick or treat" alternative). She spearheads each of these while also 1. Being manager/coach for a local youth softball team, 2. Piloting an independent consultant monthly event (where ladies in the community come together and sell their goods---everything from jewelry, to purses, makeup, handmade toys, home decor, health and fitness workouts and supplies, kitchen utensils, wickless candles, baked goods, fondu and supplies, etc.), and 3. Supporting her family as a full time wife and mother! When I look at her I cannot help but think, "Wow, what an amazing, ambassador for the Lord!" And, "Does she ever sleep?!"

Not to mention, she definitely has a beautiful zeal in all she does for the Lord! I am honored to not only call her "friend" but also to serve as a helper in some of the many things she does to glorify our King!

Chrissy, truly I am blessed to know you and witness all you do for our God and His Son! Thank you for your hard work and dedication. I have never met anyone like you! And, I am grateful you have allowed me to write about you and share you (and your remarkable spiritual gift) on my blog.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6-8 ESV)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Why Homeschool?

It is, once again, that time of year to decide 1. Whether or not to homeschool next term, and/or 2. In which charter school should the kiddos be enrolled? This was my fifth year schooling and I have to say, I am getting a bit burnt out. On one hand, I desire a charter school where the kiddos can be in the classroom most of the time, if not, all of it. But on the other, I love the flexibility of them learning at home! I can take them on trips, to the museums, aquariums, zoos, national parks all over the United States (U.S.) without restrictions of time and place...just the budget.

We have always finished, each grade, on schedule without overflowing into the summer months. In some ways I keep it similar to traditional school with lessons being from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. however there are days when we have something going on in the morning, or on a work day, and switch things around a little to accommodate. Thankfully, we have never done a "year round" calendar...otherwise I would be completely overloaded. Does any district still do the "year round" thing, by the way, or was it an epic fail?

Charter schools in our area are, unfortunately, limited. There is one not too far away where the students are in the classroom full time. I was interest in that one but the staff failed to return my calls and email messages. Boo! Other charters are strictly "independent study" programs and participants are home full time. Lastly, there's the hybrid, where individuals are in the learning center part of the time and at home the rest. Currently, that is where I prefer we stand...on the middle ground.

But, back to my initial question...why homeschool? I feel the option was presented to me five or six years ago, in bible study. Many, though not all (and probably not even half), of the ladies were homeschooling their children. I felt frustrated with the local "traditional" public schools and desired a different (better, in my eyes) choice. The book WHEN YOU RISE UP: A COVENANTAL APPROACH TO HOMESCHOOLING by R. C. Sproul Jr. came to me highly recommended. Not to mention Titus 2:3-5 (ESV) states,
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
I took that to apply to me. I still do.

So...am I going to homeschool for 2013-2014? That's the plan. I find it enriching, enlightening, fun, tiring (at times), frustrating, monotonous, challenging, a full time commitment, the BEST use of my time, revealing, unyielding, life altering, rewarding, intimidating, gratifying, exhausting, a privilege, and an honor.

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generationthe glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.

He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in Godand not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;and that they should not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
whose spirit was not faithful to God.
(Psalm 78:1-8 ESV)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Growing in Faith

There are two points in my life when I feel I grew the most in my faith. (I'm sure there are more to come being I am a work in progress.) One, the latter, I have mentioned on this blog a few times already. The former is when I attended First United Methodist Church (FUMC).

FUMC was a lot of "firsts" for me...it was the initial:
1. ...church I ever attended,
2. ...(and longest running) "crush" I ever had (on a boy who was also an attendee),
3. ...time I ever went to the snow and attempted skiing (with the youth group),
4. ...school to which I went (preschool),
5. ...choir in which I participated,
6. ...moment I felt my heart beat with a deep desire to know God,
7. ...Christmas party at which I was a guest... (one of the church families allowed the youth group to take over their beautiful house for an evening).
8. ...season I wanted to go to worship service. It made a difference to me and I felt void of something if I missed it.
9. ...encounter with and adoration for hymns.
10. ...communion.
11. ...volunteer position in the church (as an acolyte and then years later as the leader of the liturgical dance group).

To say FUMC helped mold me would be a gross understatement! God had given me the most amazing congregation in which to mature. I was young, innocent, naïve, and the FUMC family was safe, understanding, protective, and nurturing. Though it was bigger, I was known there, encouraged, instructed, and loved. To put into words all that it was, to me, is impossible. But, I'm sure you can imagine a child so unaware of all this world has hidden in its shadows---trying to feel accepted, and find her place---searching, questioning, and attaining, with gentle guidance.

I have lost some of my FUMC family. Those like Ms. Lucy, Mrs. Wills, and others who God has called home...yet, I am certain I will see each of them again, for an eternity! Until then, however, I think of them fondly and miss them dearly.

This month, there is going to be a reunion of the FUMC youth group, which I am going to miss. But, my heart will be there! How I would delight in sitting with them again, singing our favorite songs! Actually, the absolute BEST would be the chance to show up at the old youth room (with it's 80's video games, DC Talk music playing, ping pong table and pool table), have pizza (or whatever else we used to get for dinner), hang out with the old crew, play games, learn, share, sing, pray, and anything else we used to do, together! I guess those days feel like an old friend. What I would not give for one more evening there, with ALL of them. To me, it was a small taste of heaven.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Our Hearts Are Restless Till They Rest in Thee

"For Thou has made us for thyself and our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee." - Augustine

Augustine's mother, Monica, prayed fervently for her children (ESPECIALLY Augustine)! And, though I have a wayward child or two and SHOULD be praying as heartfelt and desperate as she did...I feel I do not hold a candle to this woman! Being interested in learning more about her, I visited the Wikipedia site which says the following:

[Monica] was married early in life to Patritius (or Patricius), who held an official position in Tagaste (present-day Souk Ahras, Algeria). Patritius was a pagan, though like so many at that period, his religion was no more than a name; his temper was violent and he appears to have been of dissolute habits. Consequently Monica's married life was far from being a happy one, more especially as Patritius's mother seems to have been of a like disposition with himself. There was, of course, a gulf between husband and wife; her alms deeds and her habits of prayer annoyed him, but it is said that he always held her in a sort of reverence. Monica was not the only matron of Tagaste whose married life was unhappy, but, by her sweetness and patience, she was able to exercise a good example amongst the wives and mothers of her native town; they knew that she suffered as they did, and her words and example had a proportionate effect.

Augustine wrote of her unrelenting prayers, for his soul, in his autobiography.

I cannot help but feel such awe regarding this mother and her son. She cried, begged, and pleaded for his salvation! Further, God not only saved this man, He called Augustine to great things to glorify Him! There are many articles by Augustine on the Monergism website which I, of course, highly recommend you check out!

Sometimes I "people watch" as I sit at the park waiting for my kiddos while they play. I will see various individuals of all different shapes, sizes, and ethnicity. I observe the mothers as they relate to their children. I muse to myself, "Is that what I look like?" How do my kids perceive me?

I have to be honest, going through the teenage years with our older ones really burnt me out! I am thankful for these years of being able to catch my breath before the young ones reach that stage. I enjoy watching them run, jump, and frolic...just as I took joy in watching our now adult children when they were this age. I replay years gone by and wonder what I could have done differently. Did I make the right decisions? Did I teach/ am I instructing them enough about God and His precious Son? When will God call each one's heart? Will He save them? Are their names written in the Book of Life? Was/am I too strict or not stern enough? No matter what I should definitely pray much more!

Monday, April 01, 2013

The Weekend in Pictures

Losing My Locks for Deven
(Sorry about the camera phone quality photos/video.)













Sunrise Service











He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. (Matthew 28:6 ESV.)

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