Category Archives: Dear Diary,

Read Your Bible, Pray Every Day

Barna released their Year in Review recently that reported only 19% of Americans are what you call “engaged” in the Bible, meaning they read it at least 4 times a week & believe it to be the actual & inspired Word of God.  No wonder the American church is spiritually anemic!  Good news is, it can turn around TODAY.

As we enter another new year, we’ve been thinking of ways to get the kids we shepherd (our own as well as SS class & Wed night small group teens) to not be overwhelmed or discouraged in their Bible reading.  We all know, if you don’t have some kind of a plan, it won’t happen.  The BEST thing we can do for these kids is get them into the Word.  So…we looked for a flexible plan.  Here’s what we found.

Bible Reading Checklist-2015  

Note: We didn’t create this. The person who did put it on as a freebie but super complicated to share format, so I just made it a link here to simplify.  To give credit, here’s the original link if you’d like to get it that way.

This plan is great for a few reasons.  First of all, you can start wherever you want & go wherever you want in Scripture rather than feel like you have to start in Genesis & get bogged down in the Pentateuch (again).  You can start on January 1st or 10th or March even.  You won’t get frustrated by “being behind” or “reading ahead”.  If you hear a Scripture mentioned in a sermon or class & want to go home & dig further, DO IT.  Mark it.  Then as the year goes on, you can see the parts you’ve not hit & get busy reading those gems!  It may take three years (if you read one chapter a day) or you may “binge read” & get all the prophets read through in two weeks.  Doesn’t matter.  Just don’t neglect those letters from Paul or Psalms.  They are ALL important!!  “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.  God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16, 17

Keith likes that this plan has a prayer printed right on the sheet to remind you to start & finish by talking with your Father.  This is not just another item to check off the list  & get puffed up about.  This is a relationship you are building.

If you read as a family, you could mark those boxes in one color & your personal reading in another.  This way you can keep track of what you’re doing all in one place!  Nice.

So, print it out (we copied it front & back so it’s on one sheet & tri-folded it to make a bookmark) & hand it out to those you shepherd.  We think our kids will be encouraged as they see those boxes get colored in over time & actually see how much of the Word they’ve read. And we’ve already been able to pull it out to show the kids in SS how much we’ve read so it gives all of us accountably as well as an opportunity for them to see this is a life long pursuit.  It is exciting & fun!  It is VITAL.  It is the most beautiful, amazing, & life-giving Book.  Encouraging you to set those you shepherd on the personal God-seeking journey early & JOIN THEM. : ]

PS – We also encourage the kids to listen on their iPods.  It does speak to you differently when you hear it vs. when you read it.  Some people have a harder time reading & get so caught up in the letters they miss the message.  Even if that’s not you, it is interesting to see what jumps out when you hear bigger portions while you are on a jog or washing dishes.  It is worth doing if you’ve never tried it before.  Here’s a link to a few free ones: ESV New Testament, KJV & ESV complete Bible, or listen on line here to the entire NLT Bible.  That’s just what I found in a quick search.

Leaving you with an oldie but oft forgotten goodie that every preschooler I’ve ever taught has loved to sing way too many times.  (If you teach your littles this song, just be sure you explain the whole grow & shrink spiritually thing to them. They’ll take it literally otherwise!)  May the Lord richly bless the reading & hearing of His Word in 2015!


Seal Lessons & Scripture Links

I like this: 10 Life Lessons From a Navy Seal.  It certainly wasn’t hard to find a few perfect verses to hook with each of his points.  Here’s the list that first come to mind.  Maybe this will be a mini devotional series ahead with the kids?  We’ll see. (Feel free to add more verses that come to your mind in the comments below.)

#1. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

 Colossians 3:23

Ephesians 6:7

1 Corinthians 10:31

#2. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.

Genesis 2:18

Mark 6:7

Matthew 18:20

Luke 10:1

1 Chronicles 11:17-19

#3. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.

1 Samuel 16:7

Luke 16:15

#4. If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.

Psalm 119:96

Isaiah 64:6,8

Psalm 8:3,4

Psalm 144:3, 4

Romans 7:18

#5. But if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.

1 Peter 1:7

Job 23:10

James 1:3

1 Peter 4:12, 13

Psalm 66:10-12

Proverbs 17:3

Isaiah 48:10

John 16:33

#6. If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.

Isaiah 55:8

Proverbs 3:5,6

Psalm 37:23,24

#7. So, if you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.

1 Corinthians 15:57, 58

Daniel 3:17,18

1 Corinthians 16:13

Ephesians 6:10-17

#8. If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10

1 John 1:7

Proverbs 24:16

Ephesians 5:8

#9. So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.

Habakkuk 3:17,18

Acts 16:25

Colossians 3:16

Ephesians 5:19,20

#10. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.

Galatians 6:9

2 Timothy 2:10 & 12

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Romans 8:18

Romans 5:3-5


Set Apart

WARNING: This is more of a shot gun rant than anything.  Yeah, it’s that kind of day.

The Wednesday night time slot has LONG been abandoned by the church.  When I was a kid, that was what my folks wrestled over – ball practices & boy scout meetings on Wednesday nights vs. prayer/kids club.  Today, it’s Sunday mornings, and to my sadness, I don’t really even see a whole lot of church folk wrestling over it or challenging each other on it.

We’ve read the passages about Jesus & the Pharisees butting heads about the Sabbath & have as a Church whole, swung dramatically the other way in the last couple generations.  It is true Jesus condemned the religious rulers of His day for getting so caught up in Sabbath rules they put that above loving people.  Those Pharisees knew what God said in the OT!  And they took God seriously.  They got off track.  That is very true.  They missed the Messiah when He was right under their noses.  All that being said, I don’t think we’re in danger of over doing the Sabbath rules any time soon, do you?

This has been circulating around facebook the last few weeks.  Two words: Eric Liddell.  True, his decision didn’t effect a team; he switched his own personal races.  But his whole country had sent him to race!  Talk about pressure.  Obviously, his stand has been used for God’s glory & to get the attention of His people even almost a century later.  Here we sit these days contemplating how to “take back Sunday” from sports.   Why not just do it?  The world never took it; if you don’t have it, you gave it away.  Now it’s time for God’s people to simply honor God’s Day, gather with His people, be committed to that, & let chips fall where they may.  How hard is that?  After all, it’s not like we’ve yet shed blood here over it… (Hebrews 12:4)

Can I give you a small personal example from my life of honoring the Sabbath & God answering my prayer in it?  When I was in college, I moved to Marion for my last year to live with my grandparents.  (PRECIOUS memories, btw.  Wouldn’t trade that year for anything.  Highly recommend it!  And at the time, many kind of felt sorry for me that I had to “stay home” for my degree.  No need to feel sorry for what God blessed me with people!  Just saying.)  Anyway, I needed to get a job, so put in my application at two restaurants & one grocery store.  I was looking for a job where I didn’t have to serve alcohol or work on Sundays.  On Wednesday night, I shared this request with the prayer group at church.  Mind you, it was me, Pastor, and about 15 elderly in attendance as usual (in a church that had around 300 on the roll).  I was shocked by their response!  They shook their heads, patted my shoulder, & acted like I was soooo naive to think that could happen.   (Really, my naivety was in not understanding these people who had walked with the Lord for so many years could be so spiritually crusty – haven’t they seen God do even greater??)  But I was committed & prayed.  Within a week or so (can’t remember exactly, but I know I didn’t miss any income!), I had a job at the grocery store & praised the Lord at the small group.  They were stunned.  Within a few months, I was scheduled for a Sunday even though I had clearly told boss I couldn’t. I went to him as soon as the schedule came out & told him I couldn’t work for pay on Sunday so would fill the position since I didn’t want to mess anyone else up, but couldn’t do it for pay.  He didn’t know what to do with that.  I got switched & he never tried that again.  Again, the small prayer group watched in shock that God answered my prayer on all this.

Six months later, I got a waitress position & again, said I could work every Friday & Saturday but never on Sunday.  (Worked out GREAT for me – best tip nights!)  Nobody else wanted to work both weekend evenings so I always got them & it was never a problem.  I believe God WANTS to prove Himself in just these kinds of moments!  (Think Daniel & the lion’s den, Shadrach & friends, etc.)  I believe He GIVES us these moments.  Too often, we fail because we are too afraid of looking different, standing against the crowds, etc.

News flash: We are CALLED out of darkness.  We are set apart!  (1 Peter 2:9 – “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”)  These “resolves” are what it means to be a “peculiar people”.  It is exciting!  It is a little risky.  Sometimes it’s a lot risky.  We have to depend on the Holy Spirit to lead in each unique situation.  It looks different for each person.  That makes it hard to teach or talk about.  One family may feel led to never go out to eat or shop or even buy gas on Sundays – to do so causes others to have to work on a day they wouldn’t dare.  Another family may feel it best to take an electronic fast to set the day apart.  Or maybe even a food fast (vs. fast food!) on that day.  Or making simple meals to minimize food prep.  Some have used the Sabbath principle to start the night before – setting aside sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday.  To impose each other’s leadings/leanings on another is Pharisaical.  We want to love, love, love, love, LOVE, not divide & put each other under man made laws.

But I do want to challenge each family who loves the Lord to really wrestle with & pray about what God is calling them to do about this issue, and may I suggest you start with Hebrews 10:24 & 25.  Have you noticed how MANY times God talks about setting the Sabbath apart in the OT?  It is perhaps the most mentioned commandment.  And He is serious about it!  There are blessings & curses associated with honoring it or not.  (See a few links here if you’re interested.)  It was & is a pretty obvious way God assigned His people to be different.  Other nations worked for their own gain all week.  They didn’t give a thought to what God said to do or how to live.  We, God’s people, are supposed to be different here.  (Ezekiel 20:19-21 – “I am the Lord your God; walk in my statutes, and be careful to obey my rules,and keep my Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God. But the children rebelled against me. They did not walk in my statutes and were not careful to obey my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; they profaned my Sabbaths.”)

I hear you…  “That’s Old Testament” you say.  “We’re under grace so get out of my face!” you say.  “The Sabbath was Saturday & we celebrate on Sundays now” you say.  Okay.  SO DO IT.  Celebrate Sundays.  SET THEM APART.  Make them holy.  Whatever that means for you & your family.  DO IT.  Stop twisting into pretzels with excuses as to why you’re out there & not in church on Sunday mornings.  Stop so easily giving in to the world’s squeeze on making it just like any other day.  Stop using Colossians 2:16 as a crutch & add a little Hebrews 13:8 & Malachi 3:6 in there.  Let this be the year you commit to setting God’s Day apart & see what He does with it.  “If MY PEOPLE, who are called by MY name… THEN I will heal your land.”  (2 Chronicles 7:14)   I know this is talking about prayer, but it applies in that it speaks of God’s people getting their act together THEN God heals lands.  (Don’t even get me started on the current state of (way too often anemic) prayer meetings in the American Church these days.)  I’m praying this is the year the American Church gets real about holiness; gets out of the muck & gets set apart as intended.

Imagine an American Church Body that looks different, is set apart, holy.  May it be so, Lord!  The world’s waiting…


15 Ways Technology Has Improved My Spiritual Life

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Technology.  There are days I love it & other days I really wish I was born in Laura Ingalls’ time & could live in a cabin in the woods, milk the cow, sweep our dirt floor, & tend the stove all day.  But, then I remember I couldn’t do all that while listening to my iPod & quickly thank God I live in this day & age!

I think we all know the huge pitfalls of it in our spiritual lives: it can eat away at our time with frivolous nothingness between gaming, pintrest, twitter, etc., it feeds any perfectionist tendencies (you could make that photo perfect if you just run it through the photo editor one more time…), and can be a huge trap for porn of all kinds if you don’t put serious barriers on your devices.  But I got to thinking this week of all the really great ways technology has improved my spiritual life.  I list them here to give ideas if you’ve never thought to use it these ways.  Please add to the list if you have ways not listed here.  Let’s swap ideas!

1 – The last few years we finally gave in & started texting.  It has been SO encouraging at times we have needed immediate prayer to be able to text my Circle of Sisters &/or Keith’s Band of Brothers to pray for the situation.  The return text alert rings, even if we can’t read them right away, brings such encouragement knowing we are being covered! And my friends & I occasionally get so excited about a passage, we’ll text it to each other for encouragement.  Or a prayer for each other “out of the blue”.  It’s nice to be able to move as the Spirit moves without calling – they can read it when they get a chance.  It always makes my day when I get those kinds of texts!

2 – Speaking of prayer, every Tuesday we can join around the country on a phone conference call to pray for revival in our nation.  How cool is that??  One week I was privileged to pray with a man in Texas, woman in Mass, another in Michigan, etc.  So exciting!  For info on how to join in on the action, click here to visit the One Cry page.  Another great thing about these prayer conference calls is that even when I can’t join them, I signed up to get a text alert to remind me every Tuesday about it.  It’s amazing how fast a week goes by & I think, “Man, is it Tuesday again?”  It makes praying for our nation’s spiritual awakening a priority.  If I have gotten too busy that week to remember to pray for our nation, that little alert gives me the needed reminder.

3 – Our church has a facebook page as well as a ministry trailer in a trailer park.  The lady that coordinates things like after school tutoring, Good News Clubs, coat distributions, etc. posts needs every now & then.  Last week, a neighbor in the park needed a stove so she posted on our fb page.  It’s a great way to get the word out, spread the news for help, & allow others to pray for & contribute.  And you can pass the good news quickly when the prayer is answered.  Love it!!

4 – The last few days there has been a prayer summit in Colorado.  We could join Joni Eareckson Tada, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Shirley Dobson, David Jeremiah, etc. in the 27 hour prayercast in the comfort of our own home for free!  Amazing.

5 – Family worship rocks!  A surround sound home theater system is not out of the norm these days.  Twelve years ago, we had a small group that started using it for worship time.  The leader at that time made power points, but these days, Keith leads our family regularly with ease using YouTube playlists.  Can’t get any easier.  If we need the words, we just put one on with the lyrics.  And it’s so fun to crank the sound up & praise the Lord together!  Keith has lately been putting our family Bible reading up on the TV each night for our evening family devotional time.  He has it set up to mirror our computer (Air Parrot), & we can then read together on the big screen from whatever translation we wish (BIble Gateway), & we can even hear it read to us in various voices using the audio Bible found there.

6 – Can’t say enough about podcasts!  You become who you hang out with & thanks to podcasts, I can “hang out” with some really great people.  If you’ve never been to OnePlace,  go check it out & find some new “friends” to fill your mind with Truth on a regular basis.  We can get anything from daily encouragement from Joni Eareckson Tada & Revive Our Hearts, to our pastor’s sermon if we missed a Sunday or our national missions conference sessions from two years ago.  Keith likes to listen to the messages each week from our Virginia pastor we had when we first got married.  There’s kids programing, Focus on the Family, Phil Vischer now has a weekly podcast, etc.  You can listen on your own time: while mowing the lawn, baking a cake, or grocery shopping.  Plus, you can start & stop it as needed, like when you’re needed to stop & kiss a boo-boo!  Genius invention, that little Shuffle clipped to my collar.  Brings me encouragement daily.

7 – Our worship leader recently started posting new songs she wants to teach the congregation on our church facebook account.  What a great idea!  Now we can listen at home & get the tune & words down so we are freed up to worship in cooperate worship time.  I enjoy new songs, but hate that awkward first few weeks when I can’t sing along because I don’t know the tune or words.  Those of us who can read music REALLY Do miss hymnals at times like that.  This eliminates that frustration.

8 – When I led our church children’s group, I started a blog to keep parents informed on what we talked about, up coming events, pictures, etc.  It also worked well to keep my stuff organized as a leader.  To see what I mean, click here.

9 – I’ve seen church sites feature testimonies for a few reasons. First it gives a way to share that testimony!  Secondly, it’s a great way for new members to get to know others in the church.  I love the idea & wish more churches did it.  Click here to see how one church does it.

10 – It’s so easy these days to just click & get a monthly prayer sheet to print & pray.  Here’s the pdf for October 2013 for an example.  Or find a great Bible reading plan (Click here for the one we use).

11 – It’s great to be able to get book, game, and movie reviews with a Christian perspective.  Plugged In is our go-to source.  We don’t watch a movie without first checking it out here.

12 – You can get things put daily into your email to remind you to pray, or give you a devotional from your favorite devo writer, etc.  We’ve gotten My Utmost For His Highest, Prayer Challenges from Revive Our Hearts, Commands of Christ, Unreached People Group of the Day, etc.

13 – There are some GREAT websites for kids these days: Adventures in Odyssey for free on line listening, Studio 252 for weekly Bible stories that connect with monthly character qualities all rolled into a cool TV show format, G.C. Kidz Club is a great missions site for kids, & Club Jelly Telly for fresh Christian children’s programing to name a few.

14 – The every day DVD is still amazing.  The fact that I can “travel” with my family any night of the week to the Holy Land & get top notch teaching at the press of a button is incredible.  If you’ve never seen Ray Vander Laan, the next 22 minutes you have free, treat yourself here then go watch more.   We watched the lesson linked below last night with the kids.  I dare you to watch it without being moved to tears by the end.  They never disappoint!  Just one of so many great resources we have at our fingertips these days.

15 – It is so easy to get $$ to people when they need it.  Last year, we had a friend pass away who had a loved one living 2,000 miles away in seminary.  Rather than give flowers, we really wanted to help him get home to be with his family.  Within 24 hours, we were able to get the news, pass the news around to friends all over the country, collect $$ via paypal, & put the gift electronically in this brother’s church fund (they have a way you can give on line) so the pastor was able to personally hand him the love gift with a note from all of us & start making flight arrangements!  Simply amazing.  Most charity organizations now have sites were you can give monthly, one time, it keeps track of what & when you gave for tax purposes for you, too.  And if you have missionaries you support, you can do it all on line & many save oodles of money having their prayer letters on line, too.  My, this list keeps getting longer…

So which of these do you use?  In what other ways has technology bettered your spiritual life?  Do share!


Lawnmower Listening

I love mowing because it gives me an uninterrupted couple hours of podcast listening.  Makes me sad to see mowing season winding down.  But that just means those long winter evenings are right around the corner & those bring listening opportunities as well, so no worries. : ]

I’m linking here a few of the ones that really hit me recently so I won’t forget the great lessons learned on the red rider:

Loving the Way Jesus Loves – This is a great 3 part series on a book Dr. Philip Ryken (President of Wheaton) wrote about 1 Corinthians 13.  He took each of the characteristics of love spelled out there & pointed to how Jesus showed us that quality.  Good stuff!  Gotta remember to request that book at the library or ask for it for Christmas.

Ask Nancy: How to Control Runaway Emotions – EXCELLENT listen for all women.  Whether you struggle with controlling your own emotions, or you deal with women around you who do (daughter, sister, friend), either way this podcast gives great advice on how to deal with & counsel.  HIGHLY recommend listening to this & I want to keep this one on file for future reference.

Joni & Friends – The whole month of August has great encouragement.  Joni always has good stuff!  Some highlights from the summer include: First Response, The Leper, Faces Unveiled, Painting Faces, The Shepherd, & Some Ordinary Day.  I am so thankful for Joni’s encouragement!

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Duck Dynasty Fever

We are admittedly late joining the Quack Pack.  I heard people talking about it, but was skeptical so didn’t actually tune in myself until like late January, 2013.  You’ll be happy, happy, happy to know we’ve been catching ourselves up for the last month so can now safely give our top three favorite episodes.  If you haven’t watched, HEY, give it two episodes before passing judgement.  I really thought it was a stupid show the first time I watched, but can now consider myself a diehard fan.  If you’ve been a fan, add your top three favs to the comments.

Top three favorite episodes so far:

1 – The boys go on strike

2 – Phil & Si help out on Career Day

3 – Tied between Anders’ fav: Leave it to the Beavers, & Callie’s fav: Of Mattress & Men

Sure, it’s scripted.  So’s every other “reality show” on TV.  This one has not one, not two, but three generations of family fun going on, prayer at the end of every episode, & KILLER bumper/trailer/mash-up production.  Excellent combo.  Haven’t decided if I like Si or Phil better.  And the Willie – Jas rivalry is hilarious.  The Godwin/Martin sideshow is just icing on the boudin.

Favorite quote so far:

“Have y’all ever heard of the term NAM?”

You’ve only got two days to catch up before season three starts up, Jack.


Podcast Potpourri & Job

Just a quick check in to share a few podcasts that have really spoken to me in the last few days..

  • Prayer & the Sabbath – interview with Jack Hayford.  Well worth the listen.  Great ideas on prayer & thoughts on the Sabbath.
  • the physical & spiritual health connection – two part interview with Gary Thomas.  Well put!  Encouraging & insightful.
  • Forgiving – David Meece shares his testimony on how God delivered him from bitterness.  (There are two parts but if you’re short on time, the second gives you the meat of it.)
  • Is God Really Good? – fits well with just finishing up the book of Job.  Sooo many truths in this 25 minutes!  Psalm 119:68 – “You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.”
  • Heart for the Disabled & the power of words – Joni has been sharing various families to encourage all last week.  Listeners are invited to send notes to gather & have sent for Valentine’s Day for them.  I’ve been so blessed & encouraged all week, had to share this one, too!  Encouraging & blessing others is one of my themes for 2013.  Perfect!  Proverbs 25:11 – “Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.”
  • New fiction trilogy in the making – Can’t wait to read this one, Fatherless, by Kurt Bruner & Dr. Dobson.  Next up, Childless then Godless.  “You want to convince the unconvinced?  Don’t call to arms, call to art.” (Paul Harvey)  Part two of the conversation is excellent, too!
  • A Vision for Revival in Your Church – A panel of ministers talk about praying for revival in the church: Byron Paulus (from Life Action Ministries), Dr. Erwin Lutzer, Pastor Michael Catt, & Pastor Jim Cymbala.  Two part podcast, but well worth the time to listen.  Joining them!

Reading through Job these days.  Just finished so want to jot down a few reflections.  Lessons learned:

  • Wisdom – Seek it!  Make it a lifelong priority.  Be intentional about it.
  • Job’s friends were pretty good; even came a long distance to sit for a full week in silence before speaking!  They had a lot of great things to say, but much of it was honestly poor timing.  In the end, God was angry with them (42:7, 8) & God told them they were wrong about Him.  Praying for more ability to choose wise words & right timing.  Convicted about my words, timing, & tone.
  • Judgmental – don’t be!
  • God’s response to Job – There are times & situations were things just don’t seem right.  It can really be frustrating.  But even when things seem “unjust” or “wrong”, I can trust 100% that it is in the Lord’s safe hands & under His control.  Sometimes, no matter how wise you might be, it is impossible to see God’s perspective on a situation.  Job was completely innocent, but there was no way he could know what was going on in the heavenly realm.  It was frustrating to Job & baffling to his friends.  God doesn’t have to explain Himself to us.  Once Job heard God, he stood humbly silent before His Maker.  Good response.
  • Once again, PRAYER!  In chapter 42, God told Job to pray for his friends & THEN they would be accepted (vs.8).  Sobering.  These guys were godfearing yet wrong.  I find it interesting that God accepted Job’s prayers on their behalf.  Points out the power of prayer – beyond our understanding.

Great quotes heard lately & not to be forgotten…

  • “Show me that you are redeemed, then I will believe in your redeemer.” – Nietzsche
  • “God is good whether of not His choices seem right to us, whether or not we feel it, whether or not it seems true, and whether or not He gives us everything that we want.” – Nancy Leigh DeMoss
  • “What are you believing that’s not the truth? How do we counter that?  We always counter lies with the Truth. We replace the lies; we displace the lies with the Truth.”  (Goal in ministry – help your children & those to whom you minister learn to council their own hearts according to the Truth.)
  • “His name was known all over the empire. He was Caesar.  The whole of the Roman world bowed to his will.  The life of that mighty empire revolved around this man, Nero Caesar.  Then there stood before him this obscure little Jew, Paul the Apostle, from a despised Roman province.Paul stood in chains before Nero…  Yet today we name our sons Paul & our dogs Nero.” – Pastor Ray Stedman
  • “That happens.” – Jack Wayne, when his game chair rocked all the way back & he lay on the floor staring at the ceiling.  Hilarious!!
  • “I love you because that’s Who I am.” – a man said to his wife after her double mastectomy, reflecting how/why God loves us.  Beautiful.

Saturday Quick Links

It’s been crazy busy around here lately & blogging just hasn’t fit into the schedule of life. But I had to link a few great podcasts & jot down a few lines to remember before they escape me for good. Maybe a few of these resources will be helpful to you as well.

Jesus Calling for Kids by Sarah Young. Excellent way to start the day! Sample: “When Moses & the Israelites were wandering in the desert, they were given manna to eat. Each morning they were given just enough for that day. They could not store it up for the future. This day-by-day gathering helped them remember that they needed Me – every day…My peace works in much the same way. When you come to Me in prayer with a thankful heart, I give you enough Peace for today…” – Good stuff, I don’t care who you are! This looks like a very simple devotional book for kids, but don’t let it fool you. Adults will be challenged, refresh, & fed, too. The sample little thought from April 18th has been ringing in my ears for weeks. God gives us just enough peace, just enough joy, just enough love, (fill in each Fruit of the Spirit) for TODAY. We just need to go pick it up! Daily. Trusting Him for it. I love that picture. Every day, getting out of the tent first thing in the morning & gathering the Fruit God gives for that day.

Been listening to Nancy Leigh DeMoss & every time, she brings just what I need to hear! Great listens lately…

Together Growing Appetites for God – We moms spend so much time, money, planning, etc. making sure our children have proper nutrition, but what about their spiritual nourishment? Do they hunger & thirst for God’s Word? Do you? This podcast has inspired me to switch our family club time of going through the CEF material to simply reading the Bible through together. Keith & I have read the Bible through together several times over the years, but I’ve never thought to do that systematically with the kids. We’re in Acts & loving it!

– For those of us with men &/or boys in your life, or those that have little girls that will be looking for a man someday, you need to take a listen here: Snips & Snails Series, and specifically Encouraging Men to Be Men. This along with another podcast, Singing With A Whole Heart, remind me of the many, many things I love about my man. It wasn’t good luck that God gave me a great one! I’ll have to blog some time on a list of things girls should look for in a man. For my daughter. Next time I have time! If you listen to the singing podcast, give a listen to the next one in the series as well, Why Should You Sing?. It’s another one well worth the time.

New Webkinz-like game with a purpose – iToadu.com Well done, fun, & not a time-waster. Praying more ministries do this kind of thing for our children.

Okay, that was quick & probably really choppy, but I had to share. My iPod is loaded & charged for the grocery store. Gotta run! Saturday chores call.


Oklahoma!

We went to Liberty U for homecoming this year & got to see Oklahoma! on stage. Jack’s been singing the songs ever since. It’s pretty comical to hear a 3 year old singing “Everything’s going my way…” Ain’t THAT the truth! When you scream about it anyway. But the best is when he gets the solemn look in his eye & bellows out “Poor Jud is daid. Poor Jud F-why is daid.” You just gotta hear it. This is staged so not as much gusto as when it just explodes from the heart, but gives you the idea. Enjoy.


Ramblings on Grace

Ever since writing the last post, I’ve been thinking it shouldn’t be left hanging, but the area of grace is such a BIG one! It’s been mulling around in my mind for these five months. Last month in church, the kids learned about Grace: getting something that you don’t deserve. This week in Club we talked about the three lost things (coin, sheep, & son) so it kind of got me thinking even more about it all.

Watch this video as it brings out the part about the little sheep knowing better, but not doing better…

Didn’t Oprah say, “If they knew better they’d do better.”? Sorry, Oprah. That’s not what Isaiah says. So many times I for one know better but sure don’t always do better. (Romans 7:14-25) It’s frustrating. It’s disgusting. It’s deadly if left go. It’s called sin. And Jesus died to remove it. He’s the Only One Who could. (Romans 8:1-13) It’s humbling & amazing & moving to realize Jesus hunts us down just like that shepherd even when we get ourselves into the thorn bushes & other such messes. There is not one person created that Jesus doesn’t love as much as that father who welcomed his lost son. None of us are beyond the loving reach of our gracious Shepherd/Father. Some who have wandered farther or take longer to turn to Jesus suffer longer-term consequences but there is ALWAYS hope! It’s never too late to turn to Him.

Just last night I was feeling down in the dumps; feeling like I was sitting in the thorn bush. How could I be so stupid & end up surrounded by these dumb thorns again?? But as Anders left for school this morning, because we talked about the lost things Wednesday night, I gave him a “gold” coin & told him to use it to remind him every time he looked at it or felt it today how MUCH God loves him. God goes after us when we’re in trouble; is always with us, never leaving us. “Coincidentally”, the verse for the week (B – we’re going through the alphabet of quotes from Jesus) is “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:20) He’s talking to the church here, not unbelievers. He’s talking to me! I’m thinking I’ll leave a coin or two in choice places to remind myself. He loves me & is so very patient with me. I don’t deserve it. This fact should give us all the grace & patience we need to deal with all the other sinners around us.

One of the biggest thing He’s working with me on (& has been for years) is the area of taking care of my body; not giving in to all the foods & amounts I want & stop being lazy physically. I know there is a spiritual connection to the physical. Some days/months/years I do well in this area & other times I am downright lazy & selfish. I eat whatever I want. I don’t exercise out of sheer laziness. No other excuse. God has given me several verses to “feed on” over the years. I share so that if this is one of your thorny areas, maybe these verses can minister to you, too. They’re not in any particular order…

Hebrews 12:1-2 – Fixing our eyes on Jesus is the key to getting & staying un-entangled.
Psalm 119:103 – God’s Word is what my soul was made to crave.
Genesis 25:27-33 – Esau foolishly gave up everything for food & instant gratification. Do I do the same thing?
Genesis 3:6 – Eve did what she wanted in spite of what God told her – even eating what God directly told her not to!
Psalm 34:8
1 Corinthians 6:19 – I am not my own. In this area, I get “a chance to die” as Amy Charmichael said.
John 6:50
Psalm 23:5
Matthew 5:6 – Do I know what it feels like to hunger & thirst after righteousness? Am I satisfied by it?
Psalm 19:10
Psalm 141:3,4
Luke 9:23, 24
Psalm 81:10 – We don’t have to live in Egypt – slavery to anything. He wants to fill us!
Psalm 63:1-5 – Is this the cry of my heart today?
Jeremiah 15:16
John 3:30 – I know JtB was talking about something else, but it is also true in my life. When I allow the HS to increase His will over mine in one area, other areas come more under His control as well as I decrease my will across the board.
Leviticus 3:16 – I used to joke about this one, but no more after last reading through Leviticus & reading further…
Leviticus 4:31 – I use this verse to remind me when I exercise, it is an offering to the Lord. I even use a red notebook & pen to record what I did for the day to remind me…and I believe He is just as pleased with my daily burning the fat on the EFX machine! “…it will be very pleasing to the Lord.” It has changed my attitude about exercise.

Like I said, last night I was down in the dumps about letting my weight once again get up so high my clothes are uncomfortable, etc. Graciously, God had Ryan Dobson talking to Greg Thomas yesterday & today so I just happened to be able to listen to the perfect podcast first thing this morning. Again, God is so gracious and patient with me! I know all this stuff, it’s just so good to be reminded gently again. (To hear the podcasts, go here.)

Can I share one more area where God has been so gracious with me? The whole last post was about the royal wedding, so I’ve been thinking a lot about Keith & me & how blessed we are by God’s grace in our lives. God protected us both as children. He saved us for each other. He brought us together. And He continues to remind us how blessed we are to be walking this road of life together. Our own children heading so quickly to adulthood (especially now that we have one in high school) has caused me to pray more fervently for their hearts. When I think about the guys I had a crush on as a kid, it causes me to pray, pray, pray as well as repeatedly talk to the kids about guarding their hearts & not trusting them. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) One of the guys I happened to like as a kid is now a divorced jailbird while another is living in homosexuality & chronic depression. Oh, what incredible pain God graciously spared me!!!! You can’t really help crushes – they just happen to you, but if I’d have acted on my crushes, I don’t even want to think about what a mess my life would be right now. Not to say those two aren’t beyond God’s grace either. In fact, I do hope someday to hear wonderful stories of how God has turned their lives around. I’m just super thankful I don’t have to walk through the horror with them on their rebellious road away & back!

I pray our children don’t foolishly act on crushes their deceitful hearts spring up on them. Many seemingly harmless books, videos, etc. these days try to tell our kids, especially girls, to “follow their hearts” – teach your children the subtle but very foolish lie this is. Just as my parents did for me, teach wisdom early & often in the area of marriage & pray for God to graciously bring just the right person for each of them at just the right time. With wisdom, they’ll recognize & be attracted to the character qualities that make for a strong godly home. Not to say there’s a perfect spouse out there – your child’s not perfect either! Pray that weaknesses (we all have them) will be honestly talked through on both sides & with prayer together, taken to the Lord to handle as a team with His grace. Honesty & teamwork against sin makes for a powerful marriage. Pray with your children for their future spouse sometimes. It is powerful when children hear our prayers for them. We’ve got to impress these things on our children intentionally & repeatedly as they grow though, because they are getting all the wrong messages from the world, setting them up for disillusionment, broken hearts, & broken homes. Just what Satan wants. And just what grieves the Holy Spirit. Jesus has better for us! (John 15:10-12) Which takes me right back to Rev. 3:20.

GRACE!!! I am so thankful for it! May the grace He’s given me overflow out of my life onto others today & every day.

PS – For that fan who’s wondering why in the world it’s been five months since a post, go here & here to see. I have been busy, just not here.