Monday, February 28, 2011

Cookie Baking Night 02/28/11

Tonight was Cookie Baking Night, and it was a full night of activity. In attendance this evening: Emily, Ethan, and Carissa. Tonight I decided to let the kids make supper (we've done this one time before, and I want to continue to add it to our evenings). We made grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.

Emily and Ethan worked together to make the tomato soup. They took turns stirring it while it was heating up.

Ethan unwrapped the cheese slices (which he found to be a little trickier than he thought it would be).

Carissa buttered the bread slices and put a piece of cheese between the two slices.

Emily grilled the sandwiches (with supervision). She did a great job. It's a bit of a tricky task grilling 7 sandwiches at once, but she managed it.

After supper, we made Chex Bars for our treat for the evening.

Here's the recipe. It's a very tasty treat:

Chex Bars:

4 cups Chex cereal or Crispix cereal (variety of choice)

1 cup peanuts (or nut of choice)

1 cup M&Ms

Mix cereal mixture together in large bowl.

In medium saucepan, combine:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

2 tablespoons flour

Melt ingredients over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Pour caramel mixture over cereal mixture. Stir well (until all ingredients are coated).

Spread into a 9x13 pan. Let cool. Cut into bars. Enjoy!

Our evening was also filled with a lesson from Leading Little Ones to God by Marian Schoolland. We're on Lesson 42 "Jesus Showed Himself to His Friends". We had some good discussion around the lesson. Since Emily hasn't been here for a few weeks, she read for us from John 21:1-8.

We also managed to squeeze in some drawing. We're working on a picture of a city. We're thinking of hanging it on the wall when we're done.

After the drawing time, by popular request, we played a few games of air hockey, then a couple hands of Mickey Mouse Uno and it was time to get our coats on because "here comes Mom."

As usual, a fun time was had by all.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Evangelism Focus 02/25/11

The picture above was taken about a year and a half ago at a local mall. After reading the blogs of Tony Miano, Paul Latour, Vernon Costello, and others, I asked Greg to make two wooden crosses for me to use in my evangelism efforts. One cross is small (3 '), to be used on benches, as is demonstrated in the picture above. The other cross is larger (4') to be held and seen with the idea of gathering the attention of passersby. On both crosses, are written the words "Are You Ready?" I had only used the small cross until Wednesday of this week.

On Wednesday, I stood on the corner of a busy intersection near my house and held the larger cross as the rush-hour traffic went by. It was not a spot that would receive foot traffic, but it was on a corner with a stoplight, so many people slowed down and read the cross (I could see it happening). My goal on this particular evening was to cause people to think about eternity if only for a minute. I find that most people just don't think about it (they tell me so when I have a chance to ask them). I lost a friend to death very suddenly a few weeks ago and have been very aware of the temporary nature of this life. I wanted to give people a few moments to pause and think about eternity. I pray they did.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mentoring Musings 02/24/11

This week I would like to share a few more things I learned from chapter 3 of Growing Up Christian by Karl Graustein, written to the "church kid". Chapter 3 is titled "Un-Amazing Grace" The Danger of Taking the Grace of God for Granted.

Here's an excerpt from the end of this chapter (pages 54 & 55):

Recognize your situation. As a church kid, you face the danger of failing to appreciate the grace of God in your life. Guard against growing familiar with your salvation. Resist the temptation to wrongly view your sin as little. Instead, glory in your salvation and view each and every one of your sins as offensive to your holy God.

What can we do if we want to grow in our appreciation for the grace of God? Here are seven tips to consider:
  1. Pray
  2. Study the holiness of God.
  3. See your sinfulness in light of God's holiness.
  4. Learn more about God's wrath--his just response to sin.
  5. Think deeply and often about Jesus' death on the cross.
  6. Study the doctrine of justification--forgiven and declared righteous.
  7. Sing great songs that focus on the grace of God.
(The author explains each point in detail. I highly recommend reading this book for further study on the matter).

The author ends the chapter with "questions for reflection and discussion". I will leave you with one of the questions and invite to you respond via the comments section on this blog.

Q: Who is one person you know who is clearly amazed at the grace of God in his or her life? How do you see it evidenced in that person's life?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Book Club Wednesday 02/23/11

The Book Club selection through the end of February is Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands by Paul Tripp. Click here for more information about Book Club Wednesdays. This is our last week in this book. I will review chapter 14 (the final chapter) and then give a few summary statements about the whole book.

Chapter 14 is titled "Instilling Identity With Christ And Providing Accountability"

The author opened the section on "instilling identity with Christ" with these words:

"People need encouragement as they pursue the hard work of change. They need truths that will motivate and strengthen them. The gospel motivates us not only with the presence of Christ and the surety of his promises but also with the our brand new identity. In passages like Romans 6:15-17 and 1John 3:1-3, Scripture lays out this new identity for us. We learn that we are not only forgiven, but have in fact been adopted into the family of God. We are children of the King of Kings! The God of the universe is our Father! (pages 259-260)

He continues with:

"Many people in the midst of a struggle live as if they were spiritually homeless. They live the same survivalist, distracted, fearful, escapist, and "for the moment" existence. They do not think about growth and change or pursue the good things that are their inheritance as children of God. They just try to get through the day. They live as if they were poor, when, in fact, they are amazingly rich." (pages 263-264)

The author goes on to explain this concept in detail with illustrations and explanations from Scripture.

The second section of this chapter is about "providing accountability". I found this section very helpful personally. I often find Christian women longing for accountability in their Christian walk. But they don't really know how to ask for it, and I don't know how to provide it. So, I found this section of chapter 14 immensely practical and instructive.

The author offers the definition of accountability as "help for those who are committed to change." He went on to say:

"Accountability provides help on a practical level in ways like these:"
  • Accountability provides guidance.
  • Accountability provides assistance.
  • Accountability provides encouragement.
  • Accountability provides warning.
Ask yourself three questions as you seek to provide accountability:
  1. What kinds of ongoing help will this person need?
  2. How often will I need to be in contact with him or her for change to continue?
  3. Are there other resources in the body of Christ that would be helpful during this period? How can I connect this person to these resources?

I will conclude this blogging book study by highly recommending the book Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands by Paul Tripp. It is a book for Christians about personal ministry (in which everyone is involved on some level). I think I could rightly call it a handbook for personal Christian ministry. You will find it instructive and convicting. There are assignments and graphs and illustrations that drive home the points of the book. I find it highly unlikely that you could read this book and not come away with something that is immediately applicable to your present life.

The author concludes the book this way:

"This book is first of all a call to live a daily ministry lifestyle rooted in God's Word. We have laid out a whole Bible, whole life, whole body lifestyle. This lifestyle doesn't look to the Bible as an encyclopedia for problem solving, but finds in God's great story a perspective that transforms the way we deal with the circumstances of life.

Second, this book is rooted in the belief that God has called and positioned all of his children to live as his ambassadors. His claim is on all of our time and each of our relationships as we serve as his representatives.

Finally, this lifestyle is not simply for the few who are privileged to minister as a career. God's kingdom work involves every member of the body of Christ. Whether you are a child, a spouse, a neighbor, a relative, a pastor, an employer or employee, a teacher, a student, or a friend, all of your relationships must reflect your ambassadorial calling. You must always seek to faithfully represent His message, methods, and character. God sends unfinished people to unfinished people with the message of his grace so that he can reclaim every heart for his glory.

Did you read this book along with me? If so, please comment about it and let us know what you thought.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Workplace Musings 02/22/11

Last month, this excerpt appeared in our company newsletter (taken from a blog that promotes respect in the work place).

"A few days ago, my husband and I were driving up to our lake house and
listening to a soul music station on XM radio. The wonderful “Respect
Yourself” by The Staples Singers came on and got me going! This 1990 tune
has great rhythm and a wonderful message. As we look forward to a new
year, this is a great resolution for each of us. Respecting ourselves is the first
and most important step toward showing respect toward others

I often find the theme of "love yourself" and "respect yourself" promoted in the workplace, but I do not find that theme promoted in the Bible. In fact, passages of Scripture that seem to convey the opposite message immediately came to mind.

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:24-26 (NKJV)

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV)

Can you think of any others?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Prisoner Alert-VOM

Today I commend to you, again, the Voice of the Martyrs website. I recommend signing up for the Prisoner Alert e-mails (there will be a tab to the left hand side of the home page titled "Prisoner Alert" that will give you more information on how to do this). Voice of the Martyrs will send you e-mails about persecuted Christians around the world who are currently in prison for their faith. They offer the opportunity to send letters to them in prison by making available a tool that allows you to pick phrases in their language and then compose an entire letter with these phrases. They walk you through the entire process from beginning to end (including postage suggestions). The updates will also inform you of persecuted Christians facing death sentences and will instruct you on how to write letters to officials of that country. It is valuable in these cases to show support for persecuted Christians from other countries around the world.

I highly recommend checking out the website and signing up for the Prisoner Alert e-mails.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Evangelism Focus 02/18/11

This evangelism post I'd like to share with you a video from the Living Waters University series of Ray Comfort sharing the gospel with three young ladies, one of them being Catholic, one Muslin, and one Hindu. It's worth watching.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mentoring Musings 02/17/11

I just finished reading chapter 3 in Growing Up Christian by Karl Graustein. The chapter was titled "Un-Amazing Grace" The Danger of Taking the Grace of God for Granted.

Here's a quote from this chapter (page 49):

"As church kids, we can tend to view ourselves as being pretty good and not having sinned much--at least no really awful sins. Although we would never say it aloud, we are tempted to think that God got a pretty good deal when he chose us to be part of his kingdom. We tend to erroneously see ourselves as having little sin and as having been forgiven of little sin. This way of thinking leads to a danger church kids face: a lack of appreciation for the saving and forgiving grace of God."

The author goes on to give a self-evaluation quiz to see if we can tell if we appreciate the grace of God in our lives. It is as follows:

Read the following statements, and rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10. Ten means that you strongly agree and one means that you strongly disagree.

  1. I am extremely grateful that God has saved me.
  2. I regularly think of what my life would be like if God had not saved me.
  3. When I look at my life, I see a lot of sin.
  4. I am often amazed that God forgives me, even when I repeatedly sin.
  5. When I pray, I frequently thank God for forgiving my sin.
  6. I love to worship God and express my love for him in song.
  7. I really enjoy talking with others about God.
  8. I look for opportunities to share my faith with others.
  9. I am extremely excited about spending eternity in heaven.
  10. I regularly thank God for saving me from eternity in hell.

Take a minute to look over your ratings. How would you evaluate yourself overall? Do you seem to appreciate the saving and forgiving grace of God in your life?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Book Club Wednesday 02/16/11

The Book Club selection for now through the end of 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.

I broke from the schedule a bit over the last couple weeks. This week I will review chapter 13 and next week chapter 14 along with my final comments on the book.

Chapter 13 is titled "Establishing Agenda and Clarifying Responsibility". This chapter estabilished four objectives and then the author spent the rest of the chapter explaining the first two objectives. Here's the 4 objectives:
  1. Establish your personal ministry agenda. This provides a sense of direction.
  2. Clarify responsibility. As people apply truth to life, the issue of who is responsible for what will always arise.
  3. Instill identity in Christ. Change is a hard process, and people need to be reminded of the resources that are theirs as children of God.
  4. Provide accountability. Change demands patience and perseverance, so we all need the encouragement, insight, and warning that a system of oversight provides.

I found the section on "clarifying responsibility" very useful. The author used a diagram to explain the concept and then took a few pages to explain the diagram. I found it very helpful personally, and I think it would be a useful tool to explain to others. I think chapter 13 was worth reading just for that section alone.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Workplace Musings 02/15/11

Today I returned to work after my trip to Lafayette. As anticipated, it was a difficult first day back.

On Thursday of last week I checked my home messages from Indiana and found a message on there from my place of employment. A dearly-loved coworker had suffered a massive heart attack and died on Saturday (the same day we left on our trip). I loved him very much as did most of the employees at our company. He worked in the IT department (our only IT employee, actually) and had been with the company for over 20 years.

My other coworkers had rightly surmised that returning home early would (likely) not be an option for me. Instead of contacting me directly, they kindly left me the message on my home voicemail, so I could process the information (and begin grieving) before I returned to work on the following Tuesday. God, in His sovereignty, allowed me to discover the news when it was too late to return home (as services were over by then), at a biblical counseling conference where every session was ultimately focused on the sovereignty of God (dealing with death was spoken of in the first session of the day on Thursday), and with my husband and good friends by my side. I am overwhelmed by His kindness!

Loving your coworkers is not something that is often talked about in everyday life, but love them we do. We don't live in a vacuum. We love the people we spend time with. Larry, my coworker, was greatly loved by his fellow coworkers, and the company forever changed on February 5, 2011. But, this I know, his death was not a mistake, nor could it be escaped. It was exactly as God had planned.

My friend's death was a reminder to me that I have been living this very temporary life in far too permanent of a way. May it never be again!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cookie Baking Night 02/14/11

Tonight was Cookie Baking Night. In attendance this evening: Ethan and Carissa. Since it was Valentine's Day today we made a special Valentine treat. We made Valentine Lollipops (aka Oreo Truffles on a stick decorated with candy hearts).

First, we crushed the Oreo cookies, added cream cheese, rolled them into balls, and put them in the refrigerator to chill.

Next, we picked out the hearts we wanted to use to decorate our lollipops.

Then we put lollipop sticks in the refrigerated truffle mixture.

Now it was time to dip them in the white almond bark and decorate them with candy hearts.

Ahh, the finished product! Next, we wrapped them and sent them home for distribution.

As usual, fun was had by all this Valentine Cookie Baking Night.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Back Home 02/12/11

We have returned from the Biblical Counseling Conference in Lafayette, Indiana. It was a great time! Pictured above is the gang that attended from our church this year (left to right: Joe, Kim, Marc, Katrina, Greg). The picture was taken on our last day, so we were dressed in our travel clothes, van was packed, we had two sessions to attend that morning, and then we hit the road.

We stayed with Mrs. Goode again this year. Her husband pastored Faith Baptist Church (where the conference was held) for many years and was instrumental in starting the Biblical Counseling Ministry, which is a huge part of the church still today. Mrs. Goode was a joy to stay with and taught us a lot about following the Lord and about hospitality during our stay with her.

Many books were recommended during the conference. Here are a few I wrote down and commend to you:

The Gospel Centered Life by CJ Mahaney

A Gospel Primer for Christians by Milton Vincent

A Praying Life by Paul Miller

Humility by CJ Mahaney

One Thing by Sam Storms

Sunsets by Deborah Howard

50 People Every Christian Should Know by Warren Wiersbe

Friday, February 11, 2011

Evangelism Focus 02/11/11

Since I'm traveling this week, I thought I would take this opportunity to touch on "travel evangelism". Before we left for the week I stocked my purse with gospel tracts and a few evangelism videos and New Testaments. I prayed for opportunities and boldness to share the gospel on the journey. As we're traveling I try to hand out gospel tracts when we stop at gas stations and restaurants (I usually set a goal of how many tracts I want to hand out before I return home). Then I trust the Holy Spirit to move the hearts of those who receive the gospel.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book Club Wednesday 02/09/11

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.

This week I'm at the Biblical Counseling Conference in Indiana, so I will put my review of chapter 13 on hold until next week and review that along with chapter 14.

A note of interest: We're in classes all day long during the Biblical Counseling Conference, about 8-10 different sessions a day (with different topics in each session). I have now lost count of how many times Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands has been quoted from during this conference. It is a valuable tool to anyone wishing to counsel another person biblically (formally or informally).

Monday, February 7, 2011

Biblical Counseling

I interrupt this regularly scheduled blog to attend the Biblical Counseling Conference in Lafayette, Indiana. This year, my friend Kim and I returned to the conference and our husbands joined us (as well as another friend from our church). It's a busy week of attending classes 8:00 am until 6:00 pm (and later) every day. We look forward to all that we'll be learning this week. Posts will be sporadic this week. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Evangelism Focus 02/04/11

For today's Evangelism Focus post, I will direct you to the The Word Street Journal blog. Paul Latour recently posted a video (post name: Cross Providential Timing) of an evangelism encounter he had about a week ago. Paul narrates the video and beautifully details the encounter. It is a heart-stirring re-telling of the gospel event with an instructional (and encouraging) element to fellow evangelists as well. Click here to visit his blog and view the video.

Mentoring Musings 02/03/11

Currently, I am re-reading Growing Up Christian by Karl Graustein. I will be posting about this book on my Mentoring Musings posts in the year ahead.

As explained by the author in chapter 1, this book is split into three parts.
  • Part 1 explains some of the dangers church kids face.
  • Part 2 goes on the offensive, learning the purpose of thinking Biblically.
  • Part 3 urges us (the church kid) to put into practice what we know and demonstrate our love for God through obedience.
This book defines church kids as: "individuals who have grown up in the church. They come from Christian homes, have Christian parents, and have attended church their entire lives. They live in a Christian culture surrounded by Christians at home, church, and often school."

If you fit into this category (or know someone who does), grab a copy of this book and join me as we explore the subject a little deeper in the year ahead.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Book Club Wednesday 02/02/11

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.

This week I read chapters 11 and 12.

Chapter 11 is titled "Speaking the Truth in Love". This chapter is about Biblical confrontation. It helped me shake off the old image of past experiences where I have been accosted by people claiming to "speak the truth in love" while angrily listing off several offenses toward them and and offering no hope for the future relationship with them. Up until now, that is the only association I had for this phrase. The first page of this chapter (page 199) addresses that very issue with an illustration from the author's life.

This chapter addresses why we don't confront others biblically (lack of courage), how to do it (start with examining your own heart) what our goals should be (to be used as an instrument to help others see themselves in the mirror of God's word), and it leaves us with a beautiful explanation of the Gospel and how it applies to our lives everyday and in every circumstance.

Chapter 12 is titled "The Process of Speaking the Truth in Love". The following two paragraphs were worth reading this chapter for me:

"The Lord owns every one of our relationships. He has placed us in each one for the advancement of his kingdom and the sake of his glory. His agenda is so much bigger and better than ours! By his grace he is taking lost, suffering, blind, deceived, self-absorbed, fearful, and rebellious people and molding them into the likeness of his Son. He displays his glory by transforming the thoughts and intentions of our hearts.

This display of glory is taking place where his children--his ambassadors--live, work, and relate. Every situation, conversation, relationship, trial, or blessing belongs to him. None of it belongs to us. We cannot be satisfied with pleasing ourselves in what we say and do, but must ask what would please him."

The author goes on to explain the process of speaking the truth in love and ends the chapter with an example of confrontation taken from 2 Samuel 12:1-7 (Nathan confronting David about his sin of adultery with Bathsheba). The author then applied what he taught us on the previous pages to that situation.

I found both of these chapters to be self-convicting and wonderfully instructive.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Workplace Musings 02/01/11

Recently I was listening to a podcast with special speaker Carolyn McCulley. She said this:

"If you really want to affect an unbeliever, you humble yourself. An unbeliever can see your sin as clearly, if not more clearly, than you can. But a watching world does not often hear people say, 'I'm sorry. I was selfish. Please forgive me.' You're going to affect people by your humility."

I have found this to be true in the workplace. One word of caution here: If your evangelism plan is "I will show them how humble I am, and they will want to be a Christian", you've already blown it. That is not humility. When God is humbling you in the workplace, and you respond in obedience, you will know it, and so will your coworkers.

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...