Friday, December 31, 2010

Evangelism Focus 12/31/10

This is by far my favorite witnessing encounter of the year (so much so, this is my third time sharing it). I thought the last day of the year would be an appropriate time to show it one more time. This is a video of Ray Comfort witnessing to a man name Frog. There is a point near the end of the video where you can literally see Frog thinking through and considering what Ray is saying to him. I love those moments, and once in awhile God allows us to see it happening in front of our faces. Look for it, and may He allow you to see it soon in a witnessing encounter near you.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Format Addition

A friend requested that I add a "recent comments" sidebar to the blog to aid in the book club Wednesday discussions. It has been added. Discuss away.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Book Club Wednesday 12/29/10

I'm still working through chapters 4 & 5 in Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands by Paul Tripp. Click here for more information about Book Club Wednesdays. Click here for a schedule pertaining to Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands.

Chapter 4 is titled "The Heart is the Target" and Chapter 5 is titled "Understanding Your Heart Struggle".

In chapter 4, the author uses an illustration that drove home the importance of having a right heart. It is as follows:

Let’s say I have an apple tree in my backyard. Each year its apples are dry, wrinkled,brown, and pulpy. After several seasons my wife says, ‘It doesn’t make any sense to have this huge tree and never be able to eat any apples. Can’t you do something?’ One day my wife looks out the window to see me in the yard, carrying branch cutters, an industrial
grade staple gun, a ladder, and two bushels of apples. I climb the ladder, cut off all the pulpy apples, and staple shiny, red apples onto every branch of the tree.” (Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands—page 63)

I think that piece of the illustration is enough to drive home the point the author was getting at. He goes on to explain: “If a tree produces bad apples year after year, there is something drastically wrong with its system, down to its very roots…..If the tree’s roots remain unchanged, it will never produce good apples.”

I have shared on this blog before that I was a false convert to Christianity for many years. I proclaimed goodness with my mouth but harbored evil in my heart. I can’t think of a better way to explain that than stapling good fruit onto a bad tree. I shall always remember that illustration.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Marriage Musings

Today I interrupt my regularly scheduled blogging for some Marriage Musings. Greg and I celebrate 16 years of marriage today, and I can say most assuredly it is by the grace of God. Left to my own devices and dead in my sins before conversion to Christianity, I don't think our marriage would have lasted. But God saved me and in turn our marriage. For that, I am most grateful to Him.

It is a remarkable concept, this thing we call marriage. Two people from completely different backgrounds and family situations come together and live as one. Though I grew up attending church, before I married Greg I did not know that marriage was to resemble the relationship between Christ and the Church. I obviously missed an entire passage in Ephesians 5 that could not be clearer on this subject:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33

May it be so in our lives.

Happy Anniversary, Gregory!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cookie Baking Night--The Out takes

There will be no more Cookie Baking Nights this year. We'll pick it up again in 2011. I thought I would take this time to explain Cookie Baking Nights again and to share a few of the pictures that didn't get published this year (the out takes, if you will).

Every other Monday night, the nieces and nephews from both sides of our family come over to our house for the evening. We have supper together, bake some kind of cookie or other treat, go over a Bible lesson (we're working through the book Leading Little Ones to God by Marian Schoolland at present), play games, color pictures, etc. We've been doing this for about eight years now, and will continue until the nieces and nephews are all grown up (with new ones being added from time to time, it will be a while before they're all grown up). I would recommend a "Cookie Baking Night" for everyone. It has been a fabulous relationship builder with our family---wouldn't trade it. We're grateful God has allowed it.

And now......the out takes

It's been a good year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Evangelism Focus 12/24/10

Today is Christmas Eve and I had a desire to share the gospel. We (Greg and I) made up some packets using the leftover materials from the Black Friday evangelism efforts. We got up early and hit the train stations (commuter train) and bus stops in the area. There were not a lot of people riding the trains and buses this morning, but I feel confident we came in contact with everyone God planned for us to meet. I approached people, handed them a packet, and said "Merry Christmas!" Not a single person turned me down this morning, which is slightly unusual (often there's at least one in the crowd that says "No. Thank you.") Christmas brings that out in people, which is exactly why I wanted to be out there this morning. I also couldn't bear the thought of people going through Christmas without understanding the true meaning of it. I wanted them to hear the gospel.

Each packet contained a note from us, a treat, and a gospel tract.

The note contained these words:

“Peace on earth. Goodwill to men.” That’s a popular phrase this time of year. Do you know where it comes from? It comes from the Bible. Many people think of peace as the absence of conflict or the absence of fighting, but the peace spoken of in the Bible is much greater than that. “Peace on earth. Goodwill to men” refers to peace between you and God. It’s the message the angels brought to the shepherds in the field the night Jesus was born on this earth. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men!.” Luke 2:14 . It’s the message we proclaim when we sing that classic Christmas carol Hark the Herald Angels Sing (“Peace on earth and mercy mild. God and sinners reconciled). Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ was born on this earth. He came here to provide us with the peace of reconciliation with God. That is why we celebrate Christmas.

I have provided for you today two things:
  • A treat (Merry Christmas! Enjoy!)
  • A gospel tract (my hope is that you will read the message in the tract and spend some time considering it today).
Merry Christmas and enjoy your day!

My prayer is that the gospel message will penetrate hearts today.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Give Away Announcement

As part of my Mentoring Musings posts in the coming year (geared toward the young person), I will be using the book Growing Up Christian by Karl Graustein to guide some of my posts.

With that in mind, I hosted a give away contest for two books of that title.

Congratulations to Rebecca! You are the winner of Growing Up Christian. Your book is on the way!

Only one winner this time, as there was only one entry.

Stay tuned for future posts as we unpack the material in this book over the next year. I think you'll enjoy it, and you will definitely be provoked to think.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Book Club Wednesday 12/22/10

The Book Club selection for now through February is Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands by Paul Tripp. Click here for more information about Book Club Wednesdays. Click here for a schedule pertaining to Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands.

The assigned reading for this past week was Chapters 2 & 3.

In chapter 2, titled "In the Hands of the Redeemer", I was struck by this passage on page 22.

" If you were asked to teach a Sunday school lesson, preach a sermon, or lead a Bible study, you would immediately ask yourself, 'Do I have the time I need to prepare?' Yet we often respond to our neighbor, golfing buddy, or church volunteer with little preparation, reflection, or prayer. Why do we spend hours preparing to teach while we offer important personal direction without a second thought? We forget that God uses those interactions to apply the transforming power of Scripture to people's hearts. We forget that God's Word is our primary tool of change. Instead, we come up with a little personal wisdom and personal experience and let the words fly."

Ouch. That can be true for my own life. I often want to speak out of personal experience and leave God's Word as an afterthought. As I have realized this about myself (even before I started reading this book), I realize the answer to that "why?" question is that I don't have enough of God's Word in me to come out. A situation I am working to remedy.

Have you started reading the book? Any comments on chapters 1-3 so far? I look forward to your feedback.

Next week: Chapter 4 (The Heart is the Target) and Chapter 5 (Understanding Your Heart Struggle).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Workplace Musings 12/21/10

At my place of employment, I am in a two-person department that is mostly self-operating. Occasionally, I run into an issue that I cannot solve on my own, so I seek out a higher authority. Such a scenario presented itself last week. I went to the next in command over my department. That person was not able to help me but directed me to someone who could. As I was leaving her office, she handed me a couple signs to hang up in my work area (I had noticed these brightly-colored signs with humanistic sayings on them popping up all around the building--I had a feeling our department wouldn't escape this latest self-help directive). As she handed me the yellow sign she said, "Maybe you need this one." The irony being, printed on that sign were these words: Trust Yourself. You Know More Than You Think You Do. The second sign read, Start Where You Are. Use What You Have. Do What You Can. Hmmm. When we remove a moral authority from our lives (God), we will start looking to ourselves for the answers. I find very little hope in that scenario. My knowledge only goes so far, and I am sinful at heart. I don't want to trust myself.

I work at a secular company, and they don't claim to be anything other than that. Therefore, I do not expect them to run the company based on Biblical principles. I am not surprised when I receive humanistic advice from the administration. However, I do not check my Christianity at the door when I arrive for work in the morning. As a Christian, I am to look to the Bible for counsel in all situations (even the workplace). The passage I've been working on with my Sunday School class came to mind immediately.

Proverbs 3:5-8
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

Another good reason to (constantly) be putting the truth of God's Word in your mind.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Niece & Nephew Christmas Party

Saturday was our 7th annual Niece and Nephew Christmas Party. In attendance this year: Kylie, Emily, Ethan, Carissa, Uncle Greg, and Aunt Katrina.

We started the party this year by decorating a gingerbread house cookie.

Ethan went with the "I like frosting" decorating approach this year. Then, he promptly ate his cookie, every last crumb.

Everyone was in on the act. Uncle Greg decorated a Gingerbread house cookie with an accompanying gingerbread doggie house.

Every Christmas party includes a cookie decorating time, lunch or dinner, dice game for candy prizes, and a "special activity". For our activity this year, we decided to return to Bunker Park Stables for a sleigh ride. This was a our third year at Bunker Park. In past years, there wasn't quite enough snow for a sleigh ride, so we settled for a hay ride. This year, in Minnesota, there is no shortage of snow, so it was our first official sleigh ride. Yay! It was an evening ride this year, so we didn't take quite as many pictures as we have in past years.

We arrived early, so the kids had a chance to play on the snow hills before our ride began.

And the horse-drawn sleigh arrives looking exactly how we imagined it. Wish I had a picture of the kids faces when it pulled up--everyone stared in wonder--it was the first time they were silent all night.

It was another fun year! Merry Christmas nieces and nephews. We love you all!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Who Is He in Yonder Stall?

Who Is He in Yonder Stall? I love this song.We sing it at church at Christmastime. It's Jesus birth, life, death, resurrection, and ruler as king all in one song, and the chorus is beautiful as well.

Verse 1:
Who is He in yonder stall, at whose feet the shepherds fall?
Who is He in deep distress, fasting in the wilderness?

Verse 2:
Who is He the people bless for His words of gentleness?
Who is He to whom they bring all the sick and sorrowing?

Verse 3:
Who is He that stands and weeps at the grave where Lazarus sleeps?
Who is He the gathering throng greet with loud triumphant song?

Verse 4:
Lo at midnight, who is He who prays in dark Gethsemane?
Who is He on yonder tree dies in grief and agony?

Verse 5:
Who is He that from the grave comes to heal and help and save?
Who is He that from His throne rules through all the world alone?

Tis the Lord! O wondrous story!
Tis the Lord! The kind of glory!
At His feet we humbly fall
Crown Him! Crown Him, Lord of all!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Evangelism Focus 12/17/10

For today's evangelism focus I'd like to share with you a video of Tony Miano sharing the gospel with a young man named Juan. It's a thoughtful encounter, and I think there's merit in watching it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mentoring Musings 12/16/10

The White Horse Inn podcast recently featured a broadcast titled "A Survey of Biblical Literacy". They sent someone out to a Christian Retail and Sales convention and surveyed the crowd with a few Biblical questions. Here's a few of them:

Children are not born guilty of Adam's sin. They only become guilty at the age of accountability. Agree or Disagree?

"Blessed are the poor in spirit" is a famous line from Peter's Pentecost sermon in Acts 2. Agree or Disagree?

More than anything, Jesus is a great moral example who shows us how to live. Agree or Disagree?

Jesus was fully divine and only appeared to be human. Agree or Disagree?

There is no one who does good, no not even one. There is no one who seeks God. Agree or Disagree?

Christian young person, have you thought through these questions? Click Here to listen to the full broadcast (again, titled "A Survey of Biblical Literacy) and further explanation of the answers and the tally of the survey results.

Quick Reminder:

On December 23, I will be giving away two copies of the book Growing Up Christian by Karl Graustein. Click Here for further explanation and the book and reason for the give away.

There are two ways to enter the give away.

1. For 2 chances/entries, post this give away on your website, blog, or social networking site, and let me know about it in the comments section.
2. For 1 chance/entry, enter your name (first name will suffice) in the comment section stating your intention to enter the give away contest.

As appropriate, please enter only if you have your parents' permission. The give away is open to everyone.

I will draw two winning names on the morning of December 23 and will announce them at that time. I will give you 24 hours to contact me via e-mail at that time and then will send the books off to the winners.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Book Club Wednesday 12/15/10

For now through the end of February, I will be reading Instruments in The Redeemer's Hands by Paul Tripp. I'd enjoy it if you'd join me in this process and comment on the book as we go. Click here for the reading schedule for this book.

This past week, I read chapter one, titled "The Best News: A Reason to Get up in the Morning". Page one includes this paragraph:

"This book is about the best news a human being could ever receive. It is about something so significant that it makes everything we do worthwhile, even though we are just flawed people in a broken world. This news has nothing to do with fantasies, dreams or unrealistic expectations. It is rooted in historical facts and present realities. It penetrates the harshest human situation with life-altering hope. It is the only thing really worth living for! It is the good news!"

The author went on to describe the creation of the world and man's relationship with God at that time ("People loved, worshiped, and obeyed as they were created to do."), the fall of man ("Sin altered every thought, desire, word, and deed. It created a world of double-mindedness and mixed motives, self-worship and self-absorption."), and God's redemptive plan for this fallen world through Jesus Christ ("Hope is only to be found in Jesus Christ, the King of Kings. In him, lasting, personal heart change is possible.")

Chapter one gives a thorough explanation of our core problem (sin) and God's plan to rescue us from it (redemption through Christ). It is filled with real-life illustrations and object lessons as only Paul Tripp can narrate. It has laid a foundation that makes me eager to want to continue on.

Next week chapters 2 & 3 "In the Hands of the Redeemer" and "Do We Really Need Help?"

Stay tuned.......

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Workplace Musings 12/14/10

The world hates a hypocrite, and they can spot one a mile away.

In the workplace, if you profess Christianity, your coworkers will be watching you closely. There is a desire to see if you are just like everyone else. They want to see if you will say one thing with your mouth and do another thing with your actions.

There is also a great misunderstanding of the gospel in the secular world. There is an idea that being a Christian is all about being a good person or at least looking like you are one. And I think professing Christians often perpetuate this idea. Our coworkers see us "being good" but they don't see us confessing our sins and explaining where our forgiveness comes from.

I have recently taken Biblical language to the work place. One area where I practice this is in the area of apologizing. Instead of spouting off a quick "I'm sorry", when I wrong someone in the work place, I name the sin I have committed (I was selfish) and ask for forgiveness (will you forgive me?)

I have found it very difficult to do this in the workplace. I feel exposed. My coworkers don't know how to react to it. But, I have also found it allows me to open the gospel door in conversation. When my actions are being quickly dismissed because the situation is awkward for those involved (including me), it gives the opportunity to explain that my offense was first against God, and the condition of my heart matters very much to him.

Do not underestimate what God can do with your sanctification process in the workplace.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Making Faces

Today is an off Cookie Baking Night, so I thought this would be an appropriate time to share this post. I have kind of an unusual hobby I revisit from time to time. I enjoy making faces (literally) out of polymer clay. Pictured below are a few of the faces I've made over the years.

A few weeks ago, Emily (our niece) spent the weekend with us. One evening during the weekend, I introduced Emily to the skill of "making faces". First, I had her watch the following you tube video so she could get an idea of the process.

Then we set to work. The first step is to condition (soften) the clay. A pasta machine is used for this process. Emily enjoyed this part the most.

Next, she started to layer the pieces together that will make up the face.

Now, she was ready to roll it down to a smaller size (it's harder than it looks).

The proportions were off on the first try (yellow), so we tried again (green). I think she had a successful beginning face-making experience. We baked the clay, and she took a few of the faces home with her to be enjoyed in some kind of craft, I'm sure.

This was a great exercise in learning how to follow directions and realizing that no one is an expert right away. Skills need to be practiced. I see more fun nights with clay in our future.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Our Wisest Plans and Best Endeavors

Saturday is the day I reserve for posts about my own thoughts. But, this is the second week in a row I find my thoughts dim in comparison to something that could be shared from the Bible or something written by one of the Puritans. Today's post comes to you courtesy of my daily e-mail feed from Grace Gems. This quote is taken from letters written by John Newton (writer of the hymn Amazing Grace).

Our Wisest Plans and Best Endeavors

(Letters of John Newton)

We are disciples--Jesus is our Master. The world we live in is His school--and every person and event is under His management, designed to forward us in the great lessons which He would have us to learn--such as . . .
a distrust of creatures, and
an absolute dependence upon Himself.

In this view,
afflictions--are mercies,
losses--are gains,
hindrances--are helps,
and all things, even those which seem most contrary--are working together for our good.

Creatures smile--or frown, caress--or disappoint us,
friends grow cool, and enemies become kind--
just as His wisdom sees most expedient to promote our spiritual progress.

Where we look for most blessing--it often comes to little;
where we look for nothing--we often obtain most benefit.

Our wisest plans and best endeavors at one time produce great troubles!
At another time, what we do at random, and what we account the most trifling incidents--are productive of happy, lasting, and extensive consequences.

It is well for us if, by a long train of such changing, checkered experiences--we at length attain to some proficiency, and can say with David, "My soul, wait only upon God; for my expectation is from Him."

The heart possession of two maxims of Matthew Henry, is well worth all that the acquisition can cost us:
1. Every creature is to us--only what God makes it.
2. We cannot expect too little from man--nor too much from God.

In this school I am placed--and these lessons I am aiming to learn. But I am a poor scholar and indeed any master but He who condescends to be my teacher--would turn me out as an incorrigible dunce!

Yet I sincerely wish to be willing to be what, and where, and how the Lord would have me be--to cast all my cares simply upon Him, and to be always satisfied in my mind that He assuredly cares for me!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Evangelism Focus 12/10/10

For this evangelism focus post, I would like to bring to your attention the ministry of Living Waters (also known as Way of the Master). This month they have put everything at the ministry on sale including their gospel tracts. I am a big fan of Living Waters gospel tracts and purchase a great deal from them. Their tracts offer a clear law and gospel presentation. I encourage you to go the Living Waters website and check it out. You can view the tracts and read the messages before you purchase. Now is the time to fill up your gospel-giving arsenal. My favorite Living Waters gospel tracts (and those I find myself restocking the most) are: Comic Are You a Good Person?, Curved Illusion, and Which Square is Darker? The ministry also has their videos on sale right now. I like "Why Christianity?" for a thorough gospel presentation in video form. I often throw a few of these in my purse when I'm heading off to the skate parks in the summer time (on sale now for $1.50 each, can't beat it).

If you have a favorite Living Waters gospel tract that I haven't mentioned, please weigh in with your comment and let us know about it.

Christmas is an opportunity in our world to share the gospel and Living Waters is making it easy for us. Don't miss it! Be prepared.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


As part of my new blogging schedule, Thursday posts will be dedicated to the young person (often the young lady). The Thursday posts will be titled Mentoring Musings.

As part of this process, over the course of the coming year, I will be working through the book Growing Up Christian by Karl Graustein. I became aware of this book a couple years ago---far past my teenage and growing up years, but I still found it very helpful. I think the thoughtful quizzes and opportunities for self-examination within its pages would have benefited me greatly in my "growing up years". I grew up going to church and professed to be a Christian but did not possess a relationship with Christ. A few thoughtful questions by a concerned adult would have easily exposed this truth. I'm grateful Karl Graustein has written down some of those questions and put them in this book.

Here's an example of one of the self-tests found within the pages of this book:

Do you pray?
What do you pray about?
Do you read your Bible?
Do you enjoy reading your Bible?
Why do you pray?
Why do you read your Bible?
Why do you go to church?
Do you talk about God with your friends?
Do you enjoy spending time with true Christians?
Do you desire to serve others?

The questions are thought provoking and the book allows you time to work out the answers while supplying you with valuable information to consider in the process.

I would like to give away two copies of this book, and I will be doing that on Thursday, December 23.

There are two ways to enter the give away.

1. For 2 chances/entries, post this give away on your website, blog, or social networking site, and let me know about it in the comments section.
2. For 1 chance/entry, enter your name (first name will suffice) in the comment section stating your intention to enter the give away contest.

As appropriate, please enter only if you have your parents' permission. The give away is open to everyone.

I will draw two winning names on the morning of December 23 and will announce them at that time. I will give you 24 hours to contact me via e-mail at that time and then will send the books off to the winners.

I look forward to some good discussion around this material in the coming year, and hope this give away will allow a couple people a chance to read the book.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Book Club Wednesday 12/08/10--Schedule

As mentioned last week, I will be starting new posts on Wednesdays. I will be reading 6 books between now and the end of 2011 with the intention of discussing them on the blog. Please see the Book Club Wednesday post of 12/01/10 for details.

For December thru February, the book club selection will be Instruments in The Redeemer's Hands by Paul Tripp.

Here's the excerpt from the back of the book: "We might be relieved if God placed our sanctification only in the hands of trained professionals, but that is not his plan. Instead, through the ministry of every part of the body, the whole church will mature in Christ.
Paul Tripp helps us discover where change is needed in our own lives and the lives of others. Following the example of Jesus, Tripp reveals how to get to know people, and how to lovingly speak truth to them."

This week, I will be reading chapter one (The Best News: A Reason to Get Up in the Morning) in this book and discussing it on next week's post.

Here's a tentative reading/discussion schedule for this book:

12/15/10 post: Review chapter one

12/22/10 post: Review chapter two and three

12/29/10 post: Review chapters four and five

01/05/11 post: Review chapter six

01/12/11 post: Review chapters seven and eight

01/19/11 post: Review chapter nine

01/26/11 post: Review chapter ten

02/02/11 post: Review chapters eleven and twelve

02/09/11 post: Review chapter thirteen

02/16/10 post: Review chapter fourteen

02/23/10 post: Summary discussion/conclusion

I've heard excellent reviews about this book and hope you will join me in reading it and discussing it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Workplace Musings 12/07/10

Last week, I had the entire week off of work. I thoroughly enjoyed the time off and was very thankful for it. At the beginning of the week, I purposed in my heart to be grateful for every minute of it and to spend no time bemoaning the fact that it was coming to an end (as would be my usual course of action toward the end of a week of vacation time). As I continue to read God's Word and the Holy Spirit convicts me of sinful actions in my life, I am very aware that each time I am discontent in my circumstances, I am being ungrateful to God. It is a slap in the face of God's sovereignty to be discontent in my present circumstances, as all circumstances are used in my life to mold me into the image of Christ.

As the Bible states in the book of Romans: "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 (ESV)

Back at work this week, rested and grateful to God.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Time with the Nieces

I'm recovering from a weekend illness, so I canceled Cookie Baking Night tonight.

Last week, I spent some time making Christmas candy, specifically chocolate Christmas mice. Every year I sell them at the small craft fair hosted by my place of employment. One night, Meghan came over and helped me make the mice (she's helped me with this project for at least the last three years--she's a big help). The next night, Emily came over and helped me prepare boxes and package the candy. They were both a big help to me. Here's a couple pictures from our time together. I love these evenings together with the girls around a project. It always allows for great discussion while the hands are busy.

Sorry--didn't get a close up of the mice. In case you're wondering: It's a Hershey kiss, stemmed cherry dipped in chocolate, almond slices for the ears, and red and green frosting to make them look seasonal.

Emily went to town on assembling the boxes. She had more fun with that project than either one of us thought she would.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Technology Warning

This is a timely thought (and a convicting one) delivered via my Grace Gems daily e-mail feed.

Technology Warning!

(J.I. Packer)

I'm amazed at the amount of time people spend on the internet. I'm not against technology--but all tools should be used to their best advantage. We should be spending our time on things that have staying power, instead of on the latest thought of the latest blogger--and then moving on quickly to the next blogger. That makes us more superficial, not more thoughtful.

"Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15-16

Friday, December 3, 2010

Evangelism Focus 12/3/10

About two years ago, I wrote my own gospel tract. It's in booklet form. My husband, Greg, helped me design it. The pastor of our church and a good friend of mine helped me edit it. We sent it off to a printer and had copies made. In order to get the best deal, we needed to order 500 tracts. That seemed like a lot to me at the time, but the day has now come when it's time to reorder. Greg has spent the day making a few minor edits and will be sending it off to the printer soon. In light of this event, I thought it would be appropriate to share the content of this gospel tract with you today. It is half testimony and half gospel presentation. I enjoy handing out this tract because I know exactly what it says and it's written from my perspective. If you enjoy writing, I would encourage you to give this a try.

Here's the content of the tract (again it's in a booklet form, so it's a bit long for a blog post, but I wanted to be sure to include the full content).

Thank you for opening this pamphlet and taking a few minutes to read the story found on these pages.

I spent many years of my life believing I was a Christian and believing things about God that simply weren’t true. I had a wrong idea of what it was like to be a Christian. I put my trust in one decision I made when I was 11 years old and not in Jesus Christ alone for my salvation. I have since repented of my sins, and God saved me.

When I was a young girl, my family started attending a local, community church. When I was 11 years old, I went to church camp. One night at camp, I heard a sermon preached on hell and that all sinners go to hell. I certainly could agree that I was a sinner, and I definitely didn’t want to go to hell. I responded to an invitation at the end of the service and prayed to “ask Jesus into my heart.” From that day forward I proceeded to live like a Christian. I trusted fully in the decision I made that day at camp. I attended church every Sunday, and I worked hard to be a good person. I felt was pretty good.

When I was in my early thirties, I went through a time of depression in my life, a time of profound sadness. I was so unhappy and believed that everything and everyone around me was the reason for my unhappiness. I cried out to God in my despair, and God answered my prayer. God began to show me, through my conscience, that I was not the good person I thought I was.

I was utterly and completely addicted to TV. I loved it with all my heart. I gave all of my spare time and attention to it. I lived for it. It was an idol in my life. The Bible says in Exodus 20:2, “You shall have no other gods before me.” This is the first of the 10 commandments.

I had a mistaken image of God in my mind. This god I worshiped turned a blind eye to sin. He was okay with sin and saw no need for me to be different from anyone around me. I created my own god. The Bible says in Exodus 20:4: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath”. This is the second of the 10 commandments.

I was dishonest. I lied to protect myself when I didn’t want to hurt another person’s feelings. I lied when I said I would be at work by 7:30 but showed up somewhere between 7:35 and 7:40, constantly. I lied in stories I told from the past (changed around and embellished some of the details) because I thought my newer version of the story was more exciting. I told thousands of lies. The Bible says in Exodus 20:16 “You shall not lie.” This is the ninth of the 10 commandments.

I spent most of my days wanting what someone else had. I wanted a husband who behaved differently than my husband. I wanted a different car. I would spend a lot of my time poring over magazines full of things I desired to have someday. I coveted just about any life but my own. The Bible says in Exodus 20:17 “You shall not covet…” This is the tenth of the 10 commandments.

The 10 commandments are God’s standard of goodness. God showed me, by convicting my conscience, that I was not a good person. I realized I was an idolater, a liar, coveter, and much more. I’ve only shared with you how I had broken four of the 10 commandments for time’s sake, but you can be sure I have broken them all.

When I realized my own sin, I realized I was not a good person. I grew up in church and had heard the gospel many times in my life, but it wasn’t until I realized the depth of my own sin that the gospel message made sense to me. For the first time in my life I realized I had sinned against the holy and righteous God of the universe, the one who created me. I knew at that point that if I died I would go to Hell, and I deserved it as punishment for my sins (Ezekiel 18:20, “The soul who sins shall die…”). It was then that I truly understood what God did for me over 2,000 years ago (Romans 5:6, “For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.”) God in His lovingkindness gave His only son as substitution for my sin. Jesus Christ came to this earth, took on the form of a man, lived a sinless life, and died a cruel, painful death as the punishment for my sin, and then rose from the grave defeating death. A legal transaction took place (Colossians 2:14 “by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.”) I broke God’s laws, and Jesus paid my fine.

If I would have died before that season in my early thirties, I would have gone to Hell, though I professed to know and was fully convinced that I knew Jesus Christ as Savior.

Consider this illustration. Imagine I showed up at the White House and said, “Hey, I’m here to see the President of the United States. I know all about him, and I totally believe in him. I love him!” Most likely a member of the security staff would say “You’re going to have to leave now. The president does not know you.” Now, imagine I went to the White House by invitation of the president and when I arrived I was greeted with these words, “Follow me, the president has been waiting for you.”

There was a great difference in these two scenarios when the president knew me.

It doesn’t matter if you claim to know God. Does God know you? Have you repented of your sins and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation? It’s like putting your trust in a parachute. You don’t just believe in the parachute. You don’t just recognize that the parachute exists and find comfort in it. You have to put on the parachute and trust it with your life when you jump out of an airplane.

The Bible says in Psalm 14:3 “….There is none who does good, no not one.” You cannot earn your way to heaven by being good because you are not as good as you might think and certainly not to the standard of a perfect, holy God. The Bible also says in John 3:3 “…unless one is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.”
When I truly understood the impact of my own sins and how I had broken God’s laws, I did what is natural in any situation where you have wronged someone else. I repented of my sins. I apologized to God and asked for forgiveness. I thanked Jesus Christ for taking the punishment for my sins. I put my trust in Him for my salvation. When I did that I was born again. God changed my heart. He gave me new desires. The sin that I once loved, I now hate. I now long to please the God who created me. I long to read His word and know more about Him. My sinful nature did not go away that day, but my desires have changed.

Have you been born again? Have you repented of your sins and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation? Have you considered the 10 commandments? Please take this time to ask yourself a few questions?

Has God always been first in your life? The first of the 10 commandments says, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

Have you ever taken the Lord’s name in vain? That is called blasphemy. It’s very serious in God’s sight. The Bible says in Exodus 20:7 (the third of the 10 commandments) “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”

Have you ever murdered anyone? Jesus says in Matthew 5:21 “… shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” God’s standard is so high that he judges the intentions of your heart. If you even have the angry, hateful thought against other person (perhaps when you are driving down the road and someone cuts you off in traffic), you are a murderer at heart.

How many lies have you told in your life? What do you call someone who tells lies?

Have you committed adultery? Jesus said in Matthew 5:27: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, you shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery in his heart.” Have you looked at another person with lustful thoughts, sexual desire? Again, God’s standard is so high that He judges your thoughts and intentions. Looking at someone with lust would be considered adultery of the heart.

We have looked at 5 of the 10 commandments. If you have answered “yes” to them, the verdict is that you are an idolater, a blasphemer, a murderer at heart, a liar, and an adulterer at heart. If you stood before God on judgment day and he judged you by the 10 commandments, would you be innocent or guilty? The innocent go to heaven; the guilty go to hell. Would you go to heaven or hell?

As I discovered a few years ago myself, we are all guilty. We all deserve hell.

Please give this some thought today. Think about your sins, think about the punishment you deserve because of your sins, and think about what Jesus did for you on the cross. Isaiah 53:5 says “But He [Jesus] was wounded for our [yours and mine] transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed.” You don’t need to say a special prayer. You don’t need to go to a church right now to talk to God. Cry out to Him where you are. Repent of your sins (apologize and turn from them) and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. God will make you a new person. (2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.) He will change your heart.

If you have cried out to God in repentance today, if you have been born again, get a Bible and start reading it. Consider starting with the Gospel of John in the New Testament. Pray daily. Start attending a church that preaches the Bible so you can grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mentoring Musings 12/2/10

Today I'm starting my Mentoring Musings posts. They will appear on this blog every Thursday now through the end of 2011. The posts will be geared toward young people (usually the young lady). Feel free to tune in and read the posts or join in the discussion via the comments. Because I do not trust solely in my own wisdom, I will be using a few sources throughout the year to guide the posts I write. Those sources will be: The Bible, Growing Up Christian by Karl Graustein, and The True Woman Manifesto document by Nancy Leigh DeMoss at Revive our Hearts Ministry.

To get started in this new venture, I will be hosting a give away of the book Growing Up Christian. I will be giving away two copies of the book on Thursday, December 23 (Christmas Eve Eve, if you will).

There are two ways to enter to win.

1. For 2 chances/entries, post this give away on your website, blog, or social networking site, and let me know about it in the comments section.
2. For 1 chance/entry, enter your name (first name will suffice) in the comment section stating your intention to enter the give away contest.

As appropriate, please enter only if you have your parents' permission. The give away is open to everyone.

I will draw two winning names on the morning of December 23 and will announce them at that time. I will give you 24 hours to contact me via e-mail at that time and then will send the books off to the winners.

I look forward to some good discussion around this material in the coming year, and hope this give away will allow a couple people a chance to read the book.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Book Club Wednesday 12/01/10

The Wednesday posts will now be dedicated to Book Club selections. I'll be reading 6 books between now and the end of 2011. I invite you to join me in reading them. I will discuss what I am learning from them in the Wednesday posts and invite you to comment as we go along.

Here's a tentative schedule and list of planned books.

December thru February: Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands by Paul Tripp

March and April: Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand.

May and June: You Can Still Trust a Communist to be a Communist by David Noebel and Fred Schwartz.

July and August Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor by D.A. Carson

September and October: Women Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild by Mary Kassian

November and December: Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose

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