Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Paul's Subject

Today I'd like to share with you another posting I received in my Grace Gems (http://www.gracegems.org/) daily e-mail feed. It speaks to the life of the apostle Paul and who he esteemed most.

Paul's subject!

(James Smith, "Rills from the Rock of Ages", 1860
This one is a bit longer--but it it choice!)

Paul was . . .
an extraordinary man,
called to an extraordinary office, and
being sent to perform an extraordinary work
--he chose an extraordinary subject.

He knew history,
he was acquainted with philosophy, and
he was well versed in tradition.

There were . . .
few subjects that he could not handle,
few themes that he could not discuss,
few congregations that he could not interest.

But he made the conversion of sinners the object of his life--and he chose Christ crucified to be the subject of his ministry!
No matter where he went--he took his subject with him.
No matter whom he addressed--he directed their attention to this point.

He knew what man required--and what man preferred; but it made no matter to him. As he wrote to the Corinthians, so he always acted, "Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified--a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God!" 1 Corinthians 1:22-24

Paul's subject then, was Christ Crucified!

Paul CHOSE this subject--and he had good reasons

Monday, August 30, 2010

Characteristics of a Servant

I am currently reading Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends by Sarah, Stephen, and Grace Mally (you can find the Amazon link on the right side of this page under "Books I'm currently reading" if you're interested in more information about the book). I bought this book at the Bright Lights conference I attended a couple weeks ago. I was intrigued by this concept and wanted to hear what the authors had to say.

As I was reading in the second chapter of the book, I found this little nugget and thought I would share it with you (its application stretches beyond the realm of brothers and sisters).

"As we seek to be godly leaders in our families, our first assignment is to learn what seems like the opposite. Be a servant; look for opportunities to humble yourself and unselfishly serve others.

Characteristics of a True Servant
  • Knows that all assignments are actually from God
  • Will be quick to volunteer
  • Considers his/her assignment important
  • Takes orders
  • Does not desire to have authority
  • Will do what others do not or will not do
  • Enjoys meeting needs
  • Doesn't need recognition
  • Will voluntarily serve without pay
  • Doesn't seek higher status
  • Will do more than is required
  • Will serve anyone--even those whom others do not like to serve
  • Is willing to be treated like a servant
  • Doe not seek the "big" and "important" assignments
  • Will serve with a joyful attitude
  • Will put his/her whole heart into each task
  • Thinks of others before himself/herself
  • Desires that his/her master receives the credit
  • Desires that God receives the glory

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Evangelism Video 08/29/10

Today I'd like to share a video with you of Ray Comfort sharing the gospel with a man named Henry. This is an interesting encounter and worth watching.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Evangelism Evening 08/27/10

This evangelism evening I returned to my local skate park. Once I pushed through the inevitable question, "Are you hear to pick up one of your kids?" (trying to figure out why this "old" woman was at the skate park) and after a couple of my "buddies" from past skate park experiences stepped up to say, "It's okay. I've seen her before. She talked to me about God.", I asked the young people there if they would be willing to answer a few questions regarding their spiritual beliefs. I told them I had heard on a radio show earlier in the week that the following statements summed up what young people in America believed about God (the radio show called this view moralistic therapeutic deism). I asked them if they would agree or disagree with the following statements:

1. A God exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.

2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other.

3. The central goal in life is to be happy and feel good about one's self.

4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except where God is needed to resolve a problem.

5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

Everyone who engaged me in conversation about these statements (about 6 teenagers specifically) affirmed the statements completely. In fact, they wholeheartedly agreed that the goal of life is "to be happy and feel good about yourself". They were shocked to think it could be anything other than that.

I then followed up with a couple questions of my own:

What does it mean to be good?

Are liars good?

Are you good if you steal things?

Does a good person disobey his/her parents?

I specifically asked these questions to two young girls named Tracy and Rachel. I opened up the moral law and used it as a standard of goodness. I was then able to share the good news of the gospel with them, explained what it means to repent of their sins and put their trust in Christ alone to save them (from their sin and the punishment they rightly deserve for it). I left them with a couple copies of the Gospel of John and instructed them to start by reading chapters 1-3. I asked them to read it and see if what I said lines up with what the Bible says on that same subject.

I had several other intriguing conversations with young people at the skate park this evening, some who wanted nothing to do with me in the beginning but warmed up to the idea of talking to me before I left, some I've spoken to before, and some who appeared to be gospel-hardened but still took tracts from me. All of them were thoughtful and courteous to me. I enjoyed speaking with each of them. None of the young people I spoke with this evening attend church more than once or twice a year. One young man had never heard of the 10 commandments before. It was a good reminder why I need to continue to go "out" into the world and share the gospel. These young people are not likely to step foot into a church anytime soon.

I'm praying for each young person I met this evening, that the gospel seed will take root and grow in their hearts. I pray God will call them until Him.
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

John 12: 23-26

And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will
My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Resource Wednesday 08/25/10

Today's Resource Wednesday is a 2 for 1 resource deal. About a month ago, I entered a drawing on the Fish With Trish website (http://www.fishwithtrish.com/). Trish was giving away a copy of the book Before God by Mike Sarkissian. The Fish With Trish website is a great resource for evangelism tips. She often posts videos of her tips. She also gives away resources via a drawing from time to time. I highly recommend checking out the website.

As mentioned above, I entered the drawing for Before God, and my name was drawn. Trish sent me the book (thanks Trish), and I have been thoroughly enjoying it. I'm halfway through it now. The subtitle of the book is "The Biblical Doctrine of Prayer". My favorite chapter so far is chapter 4, "Jesus' Prayer Life". When the God-man himself made prayer such a distinct priority, it's hard to deny the necessity of it in our own lives. I'm in a section of the book now where the author is systematically going through the Lord's prayer, dedicating a chapter to each petition of the prayer. It is very thought provoking. I'm looking forward to a chapter near the end titled, "Robert Murray McCheyne: A Preacher Marked by Prayer", as our pastor at church has a respect for this Scottish minister from the early 1800's and has introduced some his work to our congregation.

I look forward to finishing the book and will weigh in again with my thoughts after I have done so.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cookie Baking Night News

In Cookie Baking Night news, a future member was born on Friday, August 20.

Allison Rose Oseid made her arrival into the world a little earlier than expected (about 6 weeks earlier than expected) but doing well. She's seen here with her parents, Dan and Deena (Greg's brother and sister-in-law). We anticipate Alli will be joining us at Cookie Baking Nights in about three years (the official Cookie Baking Night starting age). We're looking forward to it!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cookie Baking Night 08/23/10

Tonight was Cookie Baking Night. In attendance this evening: Emily (Carissa had a "meet the teacher" night at school, as she is on the cusp of starting kindergarten--very exciting).

I had Emily make supper this evening. She made tacos, which meant she cooked the meat and added the taco seasoning, cut up the lettuce, cut up the tomatoes, and grated the cheese. It was delicious!

For the "baking" portion of the evening, we made triple berry rhubarb crisp from rhubarb we picked out of the back yard.

Instead of reading from our usual devotional book this evening, since it was the two of us, Emily and I started a lesson in a discipleship book I purchased at the Bright Lights conference last week. The book is titled 4:12 (based on Ephesians 4:12, Colossians 4:12, and 1 Timothy 4:12). It's an 8-week discipleship program for young girls. We enjoyed the first lesson.

At the end of the evening, Emily painted rocks she picked up from the shore of Lake Superior on our trip to Duluth last week. These were her "souvenirs".

As usual, a fun time was had by all.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Evangelism Evening 8/21/10

My evangelism efforts this week have been spread out through the week as I've been traveling around. I was in Duluth, Minnesota earlier in the week (Tuesday and Wednesday) and on Friday and Saturday I was in Des Moines, Iowa. My husband, Greg, has been working at the Iowa State Fair for the last two weeks (setting up and running projection at the concerts each evening). So, on Friday (after work), I made the 5-hour journey out to visit him and then was able to attend a family baby shower a few towns over the next day. The picture below was taken at the Iowa State Fair
(Greg and I spent a few hours at the fair on Saturday morning).

I thought I would take this time to talk about evangelism while traveling. There are a lot of opportunities to share the gospel when you travel, but you need to be looking for them and it is best to be prepared.

Here are a few tips:

1. Be praying for opportunities to share the gospel with others via gospel tract or one-to-one conversation.

2. Preach the gospel to yourself, so you remember your own need for it and you're then ready to share it with others.

3. Have gospel tracts with you that you like to hand out. If you are a woman, carry a purse that allows you easy access to gospel tracts and stock it well. If you are a man, carry some tracts in your pockets.

4. Hand out gospel tracts when you stop to put gas in your car along the way, when you stop at a restaurant to eat, when you're at rest areas.

5. Keep a smile on your face. Present yourself in a friendly manner. Look up and smile when you're walking past people.
Say "hello". Be ready to interact with strangers.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Evangelism Video 08/20/10

Today I'd like to share with you a video from the Living Waters University series. This is Ray Comfort sharing the gospel with a young man named Jeremy.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, my niece, Emily, and I attended the Strong in the Lord Conference (through Bright Lights ministry) in Duluth, Minnesota. For more details about the Bright Lights ministry, please check out the Resource Wednesday post for 08/17/10. Duluth is about a two-hour drive from our home. We left on Tuesday morning and did a little sightseeing before the conference began. The conference started at 6:00 pm on Wednesday night (6-9) and then picked up again the next day at 9:00 am (and ran until 6:00 pm that evening). It was a whirlwind trip (we left on Tuesday morning and returned on Wednesday evening, late). We had a very enjoyable time. The conference was well done. The Bright Lights ministry did a great job of gearing it toward the various age groups with lots of stories, skits, singing, object lessons, and time in small groups. It was fun to have the time together with Emily, and the conference was great conversation material. We also managed to squeeze in a little fun and sightseeing along the way, as you can see by some of the pictures below.

On Tuesday afternoon, before the conference began, we stopped to enjoy a little sightseeing and rock climbing on the shores of Lake Superior.

And here we are at the conference on Wednesday afternoon, nearing the end of our time there.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Resource Wednesday 08/18/10

This Resource Wednesday I'd like to share with you about a ministry called Bright Lights (http://www.brightlights.info/). It is a ministry set up with the aim of discipling/mentoring (in Christianity) young girls ages 10-13.

Here's an excerpt from the Bright Lights website explaining how this ministry began and how it has grown into a thriving ministry today:

Bright Lights began in May of 1996. Sarah Mally, a seventeen-year-old at the time, was concerned about the spiritual walk of many young ladies she knew. The Lord gave her the desire to begin a discipleship ministry in order to share with these girls some of the things the Lord had taught her. She decided to call the group Bright Lights. BRIGHT stands for Being Radiant In Godliness, Holiness, and Testimony.

Sarah sent out brochures to several young ladies she knew, inviting them to come to Bright Lights. This wasn’t a group of just fun and games—it was a group for girls who were serious about spiritual things and desiring to be challenged in their walk with Christ. Initially, she invited the most mature girls she knew in order to establish a core group that would cultivate positive peer pressure. Sarah wasn’t sure how many to expect, but word spread and soon about thirty girls were coming. It was encouraging to see these girls making personal commitments to read God’s Word each day, to honor their parents, to keep a clear conscience, to minister to their brothers and sisters, and to shine their light brightly for the Lord!

In the spring of 2001, Sarah decided to organize a Bright Lights conference in order to involve her “older girls” in leadership and give them an opportunity to teach. The girls in her group were growing and Sarah wanted to give them more experience in ministry—knowing that when you teach others, you are the one who grows the most! She and these girls had already been praying that the Lord would give them, as a group, opportunities to reach more young ladies. By teaching a conference, Sarah hoped to accomplish two things at once: reach more younger girls and give the older girls in her group important ministry training. The first “Strong in the Lord Conference” was held in May, 2001. Through skits, testimonies, stories, and small group teaching, they covered topics such as being strong for the Lord in your youth, keeping a clear conscience, giving your heart to your parents, and making brothers and sisters best friends.

Sarah and the Bright Lights staff have also had the opportunity to train many other young ladies to begin Bright Lights groups in their own areas. There are now about 350 Bright Lights groups that have started in 38 states and 8 countries. The Lord recently provided an office building for the Bright Lights staff in Marion, Iowa where they continue to develop new resources for Bright Lights groups and mothers and daughters.

The Bright Lights conferences mentioned above are held a couple times a year (often in Iowa and Minnesota). The Strong in the Lord conference is geared toward young girls ages 8-14. My niece, Emily, and I are attending one of these conferences (in Duluth, MN) today.

I recommend checking out the website and the material available for discipling young girls.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The State of the Heart

Today I'd like to share with you the devotional thought provided by my Grace Gems daily e-mail feed (www.gracegems.org) on the condition of the heart versus the words coming out of one's mouth.

When a man's tongue is extensively wrong

(J. C. Ryle)

Let it be a settled principle again in our religion, that when a man's general conversation is ungodly--his heart is graceless and unconverted. Let us not give way to the foolish notion, that no one can know anything of the state of another's heart, and that although men are living wickedly--they have good hearts at the bottom. Such notions are flatly contradictory to our Lord's teaching. Is the general tone of a man's speech carnal, worldly, godless or profane? Then let us understand, that this is the state of his heart! When a man's tongue is extensively wrong, it is absurd, no less than unscriptural, to say that his heart is right!

"No good tree bears bad fruit; nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart; and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart--his mouth speaks!" Luke 6:43-45

Monday, August 16, 2010

Joe's Graduation Gift

About 4 years ago, we spent a couple Cookie Baking Nights making fleece blankets. The nieces and nephews each picked the color for the backing on their blankets (they all had the same pattern on the front) and then they tied the ends together themselves. The purpose of these blankets was to use them when we all watched a video together or during our Bible lesson time. Of course, all the kids wanted to take the blankets home with them that night, but I insisted that they stay at my house. Joe was 14 years old at the time and said, "When I graduate from high school, can I take mine to college with me?" I agreed that would be an acceptable time to take the blanket home. At the time it felt like that day was decades away, but it being only 4 years ago, it arrived in the blink of an eye.

Joe graduated from high school in June this year, so recently I gave him the blanket as a graduation gift. My mother-in-law was gracious enough to lend me her seamstress talents and machine-embroidered an inscription on the blanket.

You will find below a picture of the blanket and a close up of the inscription. The picture certainly doesn't do it justice, so I've included the words of the inscription as well.

Inscription reads: Joe Benton, June 2010, Happy Graduation! Remember, you're always welcome at Cookie Baking Night. I love you! Love, Aunt Katrina

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Evangelism Video 08/14/10

Today I'd like to share with you a video of Ray Comfort sharing the gospel with a young woman on an airplane. It's kind of a weird format (with a fair amount of background noise from the airplane), but it's a very interesting interview. I think it's worth watching.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Evangelism Evening 08/13/10

This evangelism evening I leave you with the animated version of the "Are You a Good Person?" gospel tract from Living Waters.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Idol of Comfort

I have had a very uncomfortable week (husband out of town, vehicle broke down, changes at place of employment, pain issues and doctor appointments downtown, etc.), which God has used to show me that I all too often make an idol out of comfort.

The Bible says in Exodus 20:3 "You shall have no other gods before me." Yet this week I found myself worshipping at the feet of the god of comfort. And when I did not get what I wanted (comfort), my instinct was to act sinfully. I was very uncomfortable this week, and I hated it.

God showed me that not only was I worshipping comfort, but I was all too comfortable with who I am, all too satisfied with me. I don't care to change and won't choose it. God uses trials and difficulties to change me, to conform me to the image of His son.

I know this through scripture:

when it says: "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-3

when I am warned: "But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it is conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death." James 1: 14-15

when I am reminded: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers." Romans 8:28-29

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Resource Wednesday 08/11/10

This Resource Wednesday I'd like to remind you to check out the information posted on the right-hand side of my blog home page.

I have a category there titled "Books I'm Currently Reading" which is exactly that, the books I am currently reading (there is also a link to Amazon with each book cover shown if you wish to find information about how to purchase that book). As I am in the process of reading books, I usually review them as I go and post excerpts from them when I reach a particularly noteworthy part (or at least noteworthy in my opinion). I take my time reading books and processing them, so you may find titles stay in this category for awhile. But when I'm finished I either move it off the page altogether or I move it to the "Books Worth Reading" category.

Which brings me to my next category titled, as mentioned above, "Books Worth Reading". I list a book in that category only if I have read it and gleaned useful information from it.

Finally, there is a category listed there titled "Feed the Starving Teenagers Selections". These are books that I have read with my teenage niece and nephew (or teenage friends) in the process of mentoring them. They have been tried on real, live teenagers and proven themselves to be thought provoking, engaging, and fuel to future conversations with this age group.

I know that the items listed at the side of the blog home page can easily become "background noise" after awhile, so I wanted to take a few minutes today to highlight and explain that section. I hope you'll check it out and find it useful.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The World Must Be Shown

Today I'd like to share with you a couple more pages from Elisabeth Elliott's book Keep a Quiet Heart that speak to the subject of Christians suffering in this world. This excerpt is titled "The World Must Be Shown" (pages 191 & 192).

When Jesus was speaking with His disciples before His crucifixion, He gave them His parting gift: peace such as the world can never give. But He went on immediately to say, "Set your troubled hearts at rest and banish your fears....I shall not talk much longer with you, for the Prince of this world approaches. He has no rights over me, but the world must be shown that I love the Father and do exactly as He commands" [John 14:27, 30-31, NEB].

A young mother me called to ask for "something that will help me trust in the Lord." She explained that she had several small children, she herself was 30 years old, and she had cancer. Chemotherapy had done its hideous work of making her totally bald. The prognosis was not good. Could I say to her, "Set your troubled heart at rest. God is going to heal you?" Certainly not. Jesus did not tell His disciples that He would not be killed. How do I know whether God would heal this young woman? I could, however, remind her that He would not for a moment let go of her, that His love enfolded her and her precious children every minute of every day and every night, and that underneath are the Everlasting Arms.

But is that enough? The terrible things in the world seem to make a mockery of the love of God, and the question always arises: Why?

There are important clues in the words of Jesus. The disciples' worst fears were about to be realized, yet He command (yes commanded) them to be at peace. All would be well, all manner of things would be well--in the end. In a short time, however, the Prince of this world, Satan himself, was to be permitted to have his way. Not that Satan had any rights over Jesus. Far from it. Nor has he "rights" over any of God's children, including that dear mother. But Satan is permitted to approach. He challenges God, we know from the Book of Job, as to the validity of His children's faith.

God allows him to make a test case from time to time. It had to be proved to Satan, in Job's case, that there is such a thing as obedient faith which does not depend on receiving only benefits. Jesus had to show the world that He loved the Father and would, no matter what happened, do exactly what He said. The servant is not greater than his Lord. When we cry, "Why, Lord?" we should ask instead, "Why not, Lord? Shall I not follow my Master in suffering as in everything else?"

Does our faith depend on having every prayer answered as we think it should be answered, or does it rest rather on the character of a sovereign Lord? We can't really tell, can we, until we're in real trouble.

I never heard more from the young woman. I neglected to ask her address. But I prayed for her, asking God to enable her to show the world what genuine faith is--the kind of faith that overcomes the world because it trusts and obeys, no matter what the circumstances. The world does not want to be told. The world must be shown. Isn't that part of the answer to the great question of why Christians suffer?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cookie Baking Night 08/09/10

Tonight was Cookie Baking Night. In attendance this evening: Ethan and Carissa (Ethan has been away for awhile with soccer practices and soccer games--it was good to have him back). Tonight we made the ever-so-fun hamburger cookie. I documented the process in case you would like to try this with your gang at home sometime. It's a good summertime recipe because it doesn't require an oven or stove to make it.

The main ingredients in this recipe are small peppermint patty candies (unwrapped, of course) and vanilla wafer cookies. You will also need vanilla frosting and food coloring.

Divide the frosting into two bowls. Color one bowl of frosting yellow and one bowl of frosting red (that will be your ketchup and your mustard).

Spread a layer of "ketchup" (red frosting) on one cookie, a layer of "mustard" (yellow frosting) on another cookie, then sandwich a mint candy between the frosted cookies.

And you will have yourself some hamburger cookies. Always a hit!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Evangelism Evening 08/07/10

Tonight Greg and I went to a local festival to hand out some gospel tracts. The music was loud and the beer was flowing, so the atmosphere wasn't that conducive to our goal (it was a little different than I was expecting). We stuck around for awhile, though, and handed out several gospel tracts. I pray the message of the gospel will reach prepared soil tonight and God will use it to regenerate hearts.

If you're a Christian reading this blog, I encourage you to bring some gospel tracts with you when you attend these local festivals. Some venues work, some don't, and it doesn't take long to figure out which is which. Pray, be prepared, and go.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today is my Dad's birthday, so I thought I'd say a few words about him.

My dad was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland and came to America when he was 21 years old. He became an American citizen over 20 years ago. Recently, Dad and I had a conversation about social security and he spoke about his "naturalization papers". I said, "Are those the papers you received when you became an American citizen?" He said, "Yes. I can prove I'm an America citizen. How will prove you're an American?" I said, "I was born here. It says so on my birth certificate. Thank you for that, by the way." He smiled.

But, if you're looking for that cool Scottish brogue when you speak to my dad, you won't find it. He was annoyed by the kind of attention the Scottish accent produced here in America so he worked hard to rid himself of it and blend in (he's a very determined guy). However, it still lurks just under the surface (easily distinguishable when he is tired).

My dad lives in Texas where he and his wife (Sandra) own a motel. He is also a union boilermaker by trade, so he travels around the country from job to job throughout the year as well. Work often brings him to Minnesota, which affords my brothers and I the opportunity to see him from time to time.

All of his children have a bit of his personality and traits in them. My sister, Elan, shares his spirit of adventure and love of the entertainment industry. My brother, Rob, looks the most like him in physical appearance, has his handwriting, and shares his first name. Rob also shares my dad's love for the union that is unsurpassed by any other family member. My brother, John, has his sense of humor and his physical mannerisms. My sister, Julia, has his determined nature and spirit of an individualist. The oldest of his children (that would be me) seems to have inherited his thinking process, private nature, sense of humor, and demeanor of intensity.

I spoke to my dad on the phone earlier today at his home in Texas, and he said, "I'm doing nothing today--just sitting around and enjoying it." Later in the conversation I said, "So, they're treating you like a king today?" He said, "Well, I'm acting like one!" That's my dad.

I'm grateful for the father God has given me and that He has allowed me a relationship with him.

Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Psalm 8

I teach the Christian Education (Sunday School) class for the 3-6-year-old children at our church. A year ago we memorized Psalm chapter 8 (in the Bible) and we spent last month reviewing it.

It's a great passage describing God as the creator of heaven and earth, so I thought I'd share it with you today.

O LORD, our LORD, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, You have established strength because of Your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at Your heavens the work of Your fingers, the moon and stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O LORD, our LORD how majestic is Your name in all the earth!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Resource Wednesday 08/04/10

This week I'd like to tell you about a radio ministry/podcast I listen to called The White Horse Inn with Michael Horton and other guests. The tag line of the White Horse Inn website (http://www.whitehorseinn.org/) is Know What You Believe and Why You Believe it.

Each radio program opens with this introduction:

"Five centuries ago, in taverns and public houses across Europe, the masses would gather for discussion and debate over the latest ideas sweeping the land. From one such meeting place, a small Cambridge inn called The White Horse, the reformation came to the English-speaking world. Carrying on the tradition of the early reformers, welcome to the White Horse Inn."

I recommend checking out the website and listening to a few of the programs on there. On the home page, there is a tab labeled "First Time Visitors". On that page, you will find several radio episodes they recommend listening to so you can get a feel for what they are about.

I've enjoyed checking out the website and listening to the podcast. So, I leave you with another resource to consider.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Rare Family Picture

My parents divorced when I was 8 years old, and I never knew how to deal with it. Even at 40 years old, I struggle with it. I always handled it by dealing with my family as units (the mother and stepfather unit, the father and stepmother unit, the sibling unit). Keep them separate! That was my motto.

Six years ago, God regenerated my heart (commonly called "born-again" in Christian circles and in the Bible). He gave me new desires and with that came a desire to love my family as a family. He continues to give me opportunities to exercise this desire.

At my nephew's graduation party a few weeks ago, my youngest brother jokingly (and somewhat vindictively but that's another story for another time) suggested that we (me and my two brothers) have our picture taken with my parents. It was a weird and foreign concept to me, and I was very uncomfortable with it. I quickly tried to figure out a way to get out of it. I looked at my Dad and said, "Seriously? All of us?". And my Dad said, "Yes. Bring your mom in here. Ya know, this used to be a team here." Oddly enough, those words comforted me and put me at ease.

So, you will find below the first family picture (me, my brothers, and my parents) since I was 8 years old. I will truly cherish it!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Thoughts on Cookie Baking Night

Tonight is an off night for Cookie Baking with the nieces and nephews, so I thought I'd share with you some of my thoughts on this event.

I'll give a short explanation of Cookie Baking night for the benefit of those who may be new to the blog: Cookie Baking Night happens every other Monday evening from 5:00 pm until 8:00 pm. Our nieces and nephews come over to the house (from both sides of the family). We have supper together (Greg always joins us for supper, and I enjoy having him as part of the experience as well) and then we make some kind of treat in the kitchen (sometimes cookies but it can be a variety of items). Once a niece or nephew turns 3 years old, they are invited to join us on Cookie Baking Nights. Each Cookie Baking Night we read a Bible lesson. We're currently working through Leading Little Ones to God by Marian Schoolland. I read the lesson and now that some of the kids are old enough to read, they take turns reading the passage (that accompanies the lesson) from the Bible. We also play board games, go for walks, and occasionally watch a video.

I started this practice 7 years ago. My oldest nephew, Joe, has since graduated (from Cookie Baking Night and from high school) but he held on in attendance until he was 16 years old. I was surprised he lasted that long but enjoyed it while it lasted. In the last few months before he ended his time with us, he was having a hard time telling me that he might be out growing Cookie Baking Night (his dad, my brother, broke the news to me so I could address it with Joe). I assured Joe that though I enjoyed having him here and would miss him when he was gone, what he was eperiencing was a sign of maturity. (I also told him I would be a little concerned if he was 25 years old and still wanted to attend Cookie Baking Nights with the little kids).

My niece, Emily, is 9 years old and has been coming since she was 2 (we didn't have age rules back then). This is a part of life for her.

Part of the Cookie Baking Night tradition includes birthday celebrations. On the Cookie Baking Night closest to the child's birthday, they get to choose what we have for supper that night and they get to choose the cookie we bake that evening. As the kids get older, they take delight in choosing these items. Carissa just turned 5 years old at the begining of July, and that's the age the children really start to engage in the process of picking what we eat and bake that night. She had it planned out in detail. She chose macaroni and cheese ("the cheesiest kind" please), french fries, and strawberries. For the cookie, she asked to make M&M cookies. Oddly enough, french fries appear at every birthday meal. I've seen the request for spaghetti and french fries, pizza and french fries, macaroni and cheese and french fries.....whatever the main dish, french fries accompany it.

I thoroughly enjoy Cookie Baking Nights, and I'm grateful God has allowed me this opportunity to be involved in the lives of my nieces and nephews. It affords me a relationship with them that I'm not sure I would have otherwise, and it allows me the opportunity to model consistency for them.

I encourage you to consider some kind of relationship-buidling activity with your own nieces and nephews or other children in your lives (if not an every-other-week event, then consider a once-a-month or once-a-year tradition).

Cookie Baking Night 06/25/18

Tonight was Cookie Baking Night. In attendance this evening: Ethan, Carissa, and Enzo (Allison and Rylar were attending a birthday party els...