Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.
I grew up thinking I was a Christian. When I was 12, I said a prayer and asked Jesus in my heart, and I believed that saved me. I was trusting my eternity on that prayer. I called myself a Christian and fully believed I was one.
But.......verses like the one listed above scared me. The thought of God knowing secret things and one day having that exposed to the world terrified me. I knew what went on in my head. I knew my thoughts and what evil I was capable of. I literally lived in fear of judgment day, but I didn't understand why.
I was trusting in my own goodness to save me and not what Jesus did for me on the cross. And if I really allowed myself to ponder it (which I rarely allowed myself to do), I knew I had no goodness in me, and someday everyone would know that. I had never humbled myself before God, asked for forgiveness of my sins, and put my trust in Christ alone for my salvation. So, fear was my constant companion, and I had no peace.
About six years ago, God brought me to my knees before Him in humility. He showed me my sin and how I had wronged Him, and that's when I understood why Jesus died on a cross. He took the punishment for my sins, so I could be reconciled to God. Jesus lived a sinless life (which I could not do) and died as the perfect sacrifice for my sins. He then defeated death and rose from the grave three days later.
In brokenness, I repented of my sins and trusted Christ for my salvation.
Now I can read verses like Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 and fear God with reverence and knowledge of His holiness and righteousness and not out of selfish fear of exposure.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissentions, heresies, envy, murders, durnkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirt is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Tonight was cookie baking night. In attendance: Ethan, Emily, Meghan, and Carissa. We made pumpkin patch brownies.
Make brownies (package or homemade, whatever you prefer)
Frost the brownies (prepared or homemade frosting, whatever you prefer)
Use a tube of prepared green frosting to create "vines" on top of the frosted brownies (the kids like this part)
Place candy pumpkins along the "vines" to look like a pumpkin patch.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Great God of wonders, all Thy ways,
Are matchless and divine;
But the blest triumphs of Thy grace
Most marvelous, unrivaled shine;
Who is a pardoning God like thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?
Who is a pardoning God like thee? Or who has grace so rich and free? Indeed!
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
These are the first five verses of Paul's letter to the Galatians. Basically, this is Paul saying "hello". May our greetings and every word that comes from our mouths be this gospel-centered and meaningful.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
As I opened my Bible this morning, I found great comfort in these words spoken by Paul in 2 Corinthians 12.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth I desire beisdes You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from You shall perish; You put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to You. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of Your works.
May it be so in my life.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I'll leave you with Ephesians 1: 1-6 (NKJV)
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Never underestimate the witness of a gospel tract. If you are doing nothing in the area of evangelism right now, I encourage you to start by handing out gospel tracts.
1. Find a gospel tract you like (one with a message you agree with, maybe one that presents the gospel in a similar style to the way you communicate). I like the tracts sold at Living Waters ministry (http://www.livingwaters.com/). I use them often.
2. If you don't think there's a gospel tract that explains the gospel exactly the way you would, then write one yourself (I've done that. I had my husband, a good friend, and my pastor proof it and advise me on it--Greg and I designed a cover for it on the computer. We took it to a local printer and had a large volume printed up. It was a relatively inexpensive process. I believe the Living Waters website also has a tool available for writing your own tract (haven't used it myself but I've seen it on the website under Resources).
3. Hand out gospel tracts when you are out running errands, eating at restaurants, standing in line somewhere. It's awkward at first (okay, always!), but it's not hard to do.
4. My own personal rule--don't leave a restaurant without leaving the waitress/waiter a gospel tract. It's a no-brainer. Note: Leave the gospel tract with a good tip--be generous, as God has been to you.
5. I have heard many testimonies of people who have come to salvation in Christ because of the witness of a gospel tract. I know a few of them. The tract usually asks a question or makes a statement that causes a person to think in a way they haven't before. The gospel tract also sticks around until the person is ready to read it (until the Holy Spirit works on their heart), which may be days, weeks, months, years. I've heard testimonies of people shoving the gospel tract in their pocket and then in a drawer at home but pulling it out months or years later, reading it, and responding to the message of the gospel in repentance and faith.
Never underestimate the witness of a gospel tract.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Two lessons stand out to me today:
1. Know the gospel. Read about the gospel, understand it, preach it to yourself. If you do not understand the message of the gospel (we are sinners, enemies of God, yet God loved us and sent his Son, Jesus Christ-fully God, fully man-to live a sinless life and die a cruel and painful death, taking the punishment we deserve for the sins we committed, and then rose from the grave after three days, defeating death, that we may be reconciled to the Father through the sacrifice of His Son--nothing we have done or can do ourselves) then you will not be able to share it with others and you won't be compelled to do so either.
2. You will never be brave enough to share the gospel with someone else. I put it off for weeks and months thinking, "If I just hear one more person share the gospel with someone else, then I'll be ready" "If the circumstances line up just right, then I'll be ready" "If that person didn't look like they were in a hurry, I would share the gospel with them" "If I didn't have my friend with me and the awkwardness around the situation, then I would have shared the gospel with that person." "I have to memorize a few more Bible verses, then I'll be ready" "If I had more time today, I would share the gospel with that person".
I have never been ready. I keep waiting for a brave feeling, and it hasn't arrived yet. I am terrified every time I approach a stranger to talk about the gospel with them.
I remind myself that this is not about me. I will not be converting any souls. God will do that, in His timing. It is simply my task to proclaim the gospel, whether I feel brave enough to do so or not.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Today I'll pass on a tip I learned from the Fish with Trish website (www.fishwithtrish.com) that I tried out yesterday on my way to work.
I decided to stop at a local coffee shop on the way into work (alright, I'll confess I don't drink coffee--it was hot chocolate I was after). It didn't take long for a line to form after me in the drive thru. I asked the cashier if I could pay for the drink of the customer behind me. She gave me the total, and I paid the bill. I then handed her a couple of gospel tracts. I told her that one was for her and asked her to give the other to the customer behind me and let them know that their drink had been paid for. She kindly agreed. Then I pulled away.
I wouldn't recommend a steady diet of evangelizing in only this way, but I would recommend trying it sometime. If you do I would also recommend these tips:
- Smile (I think I might have forgotten to do that in my concentration)
- Make sure you give a tract that presents the gospel very clearly since this is your only interaction with the cashier and the person behind you in line.
- Utilize this stop in this way. You were planning to go through the drive-thru anyway. Use it to spread the gospel if at all possible.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Since Meghan is a teenager now (year #2 as a teenager, actually), her appearances at cookie baking nights are few and far between. It was a joy to have her with us this evening. Meghan read the Bible lesson from our book, Leading Little Ones to God. It was fun to have her participate in this way.
Later in the evening, Meghan was sending a text message to a friend. Emily saw the message. Meghan said she was telling her friend something along the lines of "you're so funny". Emily said, "That is sooo boring. I thought being a teenager would be more fun than that. I think I'll stay 8 years old."
Meghan enjoying some sugar cookie dough
Emily doing the same
Ethan and Carissa making cookies
Sunday, September 13, 2009
In my MacArthur study Bible the note for this phrase says: "Confidence in the Lord is a purposeful decision, replacing an emotional reaction to one's circumstances."
Psalm 56 (NKJV)
Be merciful to me, O God, for man would swallow me up;
Fighting all day he oppresses me.
My enemies would hound me all day, for there are many who fight against me, O Most High.
Whenever I am afraid,
I will trust in You.
In God (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not fear.
What can flesh do to me?
All day they twist my words;
All their thoughts are against me for evil.
They gather together,
They hide, they mark my steps,
When they lie in wait for my life.
Shall they escape by inquity?
In anger cast down the peoples, O God!
You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?
When I cry out to You,
Then my enemies will turn back,
This I know, because God is for me.
In God (I will praiseHis word),
In the LORD (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not be afraid.
What can man to do me?
Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God;
I will render praises to You,
For You have delivered my soul from death.
Have You not kept my feet from falling,
That I may walk before God
In the light of the living?
Saturday, September 12, 2009
I love Meghan and pray that she knows that. Meghan is beautiful. She is funny. She is oh-so-cool (maybe a little too cool?) She's fun to be around, a real thinker.
I talk to Meghan about God, often. She tells me that Jesus is the most important thing in her life. I pray that is true. I pray these verses are a reality in her life:
Ephesians 2:4-10 (ESV)
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved--and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immearsurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Chrsit Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
I love you, Meghan, and I always will! Happy Birthday, kiddo!
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
I mentioned in yesterday's post that we are enjoying reading through the Bible in this way, and we're finding it beneficial. What I didn't mention in yesterday's post is that we have struggled keeping up with the plan a bit. We stayed on track January through the beginning of May. In May I took a trip out to California (for five days), and Greg and I have been struggling to catch up ever since. With approximately four chapters of reading a day, it doesn't take long to get behind. We have been struggling to catch up and we were starting to get discouraged (we were at least a month behind the plan at this point).
Today, I made the decision to start reading my personal reading from the place where the plan recommends today (starting over in a sense) and not trying to catch up. I recommended this plan of action to Greg for our family reading as well. He thought that sounded like a good idea. So, we skipped ahead to the reading for September 10 instead of floundering back in July (for family) and August (for personal).
I didn't want to give up on it. I want to stick with this plan not for legalistic reasons but because it offers a structure that has been very helpful to our family.
Here's a few other benefits I have found from following a plan this year:
- Our pastor is following this plan as well, so he often reads from his daily readings at the beginning of Sunday services or preaches on the text during a Thursday or Sunday evening service. I enjoy that, and for this reason it is helpful to be reading the text he is reading at the same time and becoming familiar with it.
- By reading through a plan, I am finding myself in parts of the Bible that I would not have made myself read through on my own. It challenges me to think and to understand what is going on in that particular passage. It challenges me to understand the text as it is written and not to smash my circumstances into the meaning of the text. For example, right now we are reading in Ezekiel for the personal reading. I am loving it. I am surprised by this. I would not have started reading Ezekiel on my own.
- It keeps me in God's Word every day, which allows me to know Him more and love Him more.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
I'm enjoying the fact that we read part of it alone and part of it as a family. I find that I digest the information differently in each setting and both are beneficial.
When I read the chapters with Greg, I'm able to have discussion with him and hear what he is thinking as we read the Bible. He often observes things in the passages that I don't. I love talking about it with him.
When I read the chapters alone, I'm able to write it down if necessary (add it to my "What do I Know About my God?" notebook), look to commentaries if desired. And I still have the benefit of discussing it with Greg because we are reading the same chapters at the same time separately (in theory).
This has been a great tool for Spiritual growth in our lives throughout this year.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
I Corinthians 13: 7-13
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I reasoned like a child, I thought like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide; but the greatest of these is love.
Monday, September 7, 2009
1 Corinthians 13:1-6 (ESV)
If I speak of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Emily also made me a special frame with one picture in it. Unbeknownst to Emily, the picture she chose was the infamous (in our family anyway) 4th grade picture. Until recently, it was my least favorite school picture of all time. I did my own hair that day and I can still remember the photographer asking me ("Don't you want to comb your hair before I take the picture?"--I was appalled. I spent a lot of time on that hair. It was exactly how I wanted it). My dislike for that picture actually stemmed from pride, something God convicted me of later in life (which made the picture all the more unappealing to me).
When I opened Emily's present on Friday night and saw the picture she chose for her special frame, I was surprised by my own emotions. It actually filled my heart with joy. It was a reminder to me that God is sovereign. All things are known by Him and used by Him.
I started laughing when I saw the picture she had chosen. I was sitting at the bonfire when I opened it. We had a blast passing it around. My brothers especially enjoyed it. It also did not go unnoticed that there is a striking resemblance between Emily (now 8 years old) and my 4th grade picture (I was 10 at the time).
I will cherish this picture frame made by Emily (and the picture that it holds). I marvel at the work God does in one's heart and the means He uses to do it.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
The cakes were pretty, yummy, and a big hit!
Here I am with my Dad-Larry (I love him!)--He took the night off of work to be there (so nice!)
Here I am with my uncle Ernie (haven't seen him for awhile--was thrilled he came)
Here I am with my Aunt Wanda (the other half of the Uncle Ernie set)
Here I am with my brother Rob and his family. From the left: Meghan, Mary, Emily, Rob, Me and Joe
Greg's cousin and aunt and uncle (so glad to have them there). From the left: Tammy, Me, Monica, Larry
Dan and Deena (Greg's brother and wife) and me. (Hmmm. I didn't get my picture taken with Greg but we did get a picture of Dan, they look a lot alike---close but no cigar).
Diana, Carissa, Me, Ethan, Jon (Greg's sister and family)---Jon also took the night off of work to be there--so kind of him.
Dee & Phil & Me (Greg's parents)---so glad they were there. I love them.
The Roman family (our pastor and his family). Back Row: Me, Julie, Doug. Front Row: Isaiah, Abigail, Samuel.
The Tingelstad Family. (I used to teach Karl and Erik at the daycare--little tots then, now they're 21 and 18). From the left: Merle, Karl, Me, Erik, Kathy.
Our good friends, the Perfettos. From the left: Kim, Me, Joe
The Stoffels. (I work with Cindy--she's a good friend and a great coworker). From the left: Tony, baby Roland, Cindy, and Me.
The nieces and the nephew (Rob's kids). From the left: Joe (17), Me, Emily (8), Meghan (13)
The Kidd kids all grown up. John, Katrina, and Rob. Do you see a family resemblance?
Friday, September 4, 2009
I certainly feel older than 20, and I am quite (physically) aware that I am not 30 anymore either, but I'm also grateful for 40. I feel like celebrating it. Tonight I'll be having a party to do just that. I've invited several family members and friends and look forward to spending the evening with them.
I am truly grateful to God for 40 years of life, but I am particularly grateful for the last 6 years of my life. It is about 6 years ago now that God saved me, regenerated me, and adopted me as His own. It is about 6 years ago that I finally understood that when Jesus died on the cross, He took the punishment for my sins (of which were many and extremely offensive to the righteous and Holy God of the universe). My sins deserved the punishment of Hell. Jesus paid the fine for my sins in His life's blood that I may be reconciled with the Father. May the rest of my days be spent glorifying Him, as they were intended.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
The Lord is blessing the church with growth and with a new building to rent. We are moving to Otsego (just a few miles from our current location in Elk River). Renovations have been under way for the past couple months, and we will meet for the first time in the building this coming Sunday.
Tonight was our Thursday night prayer and Bible study meeting. We met for the last time in our location in Elk River.
To God be the glory. Great things He has done.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
The final heading in my "What Do I Know About My God?" notebook (for now) is God's Word.
Here are the verses I have under that heading.
John 1:1-2 (NKJV)
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
Proverbs 6:23 (NKJV)
For the commandment is a lamp, and the law is a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life.
Proverbs 13:13 (NKJV)
He who despises the word will be destroyed, but he who fears the commandment will be rewarded.
Psalm 19:7-10 (ESV)
The law of the LORD is perfect reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure making wise the simple, the precepts of the LORD are right rejoicing the heard; the command of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)
All Scripture if given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Hebrews 4:12-13 (NKJV)
For the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
Psalm 119:1-2 (ESV)
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with their whole heart.
Psalm 119:9-11 (ESV)
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your word. With my whole heart I seek You. Let me not wander from Your commandments! I have stored up Your word in my heart that I might sin against You.
Psalm 119:27-28 (ESV)
I will meditate on Your precepts and fix my eyes on Your ways. I will delight in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
My God Warns Against False Teachers
2 Timothy 4:1-4 (NKJV)
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince , rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
1 Peter 2:1-3 (NKJV)
But there were false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom they way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
Matthew 7:15-20 (NKJV)
Beware of the false prphets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their furits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits ou will know them.
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