Friday, November 29, 2013

Evangelism Musings/Black Friday 11/29/13

Today is the day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday. It's the day people all across America line up outside of stores in the wee hours of the morning in hopes of finding a good deal on a Christmas present. It's also the day my good friend, Kim, and I wake up in the wee hours of the morning with the intention of putting the gospel message of Jesus Christ into the hands of the masses.

Pictured above are the "packets" we prepared for the very occasion (the teenage girls from our church helped us prepare them a couple weeks ago). One of our young friends from church (who helped us prepare the packets), Emily, also joined us in distributing the message. It was a joy to have the extra hands with us this year. We moved through the crowd very quickly and managed to hand out 350+ packets in the matter of about 20 minutes.

Each packet contained:
  • A gospel tract
  • A Christmas message
  • A granola bar
The Christmas message read like this: 

Christmas is the season of giving! 

Today, you stand in line waiting on the generosity of others. Today, we visit you because of the generosity of someone else. 

We celebrate Christmas because over 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ showed great generosity toward all mankind when He (God ) came to this earth and took on human form (became a man). It is a gift beyond comprehension. The Bible speaks of this gift in the book of Philippians. “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 2:5-10. 

Christmas is the celebration of the day that Jesus came to earth and took on human form (was born as a baby). That thought alone is worth great consideration. 

Today, we want to give you a Christmas gift. The bag you received contains: 

• A treat (to enjoy while you’re out and about starting your Christmas shopping) 
• A gospel tract (our hope is that you will read the message in the tract and spend some time considering it 

 Merry Christmas and enjoy your day!

God has allowed us the opportunity to return to the same spot many times now, and we thank Him for it. This is one easy way to put the gospel in the hands of many people in a short amount of time, people who may never step foot in a church.

If you don't currently have a way you're spreading the gospel message (forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ) to a lost and dying world, consider doing something like this. I guarantee you can do it.

May God do a work in the hearts of those who received the gospel today, and may He receive all the glory and honor for it!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Cookie Baking Night 11/18/13

Tonight was Cookie Baking Night. In attendance this evening Emily, Alli, and Emily's friend, Julia. Tonight was Emily's birthday choice (she turns 13 at the end of this month). As is our Cookie Baking Night/Birthday Tradition, Emily got to pick the meal and the "cookie". For supper, she chose: Hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, honey BBQ chicken wings, and root beer floats. For her "cookie" she wanted to make chocolate mousse. 

We made the mousse from scratch, so there was chocolate melting to do. 

Egg whipping. 

And of course, decorating. We put the chocolate mousse in little chocolate cups and decorated them with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Alli was in charge of the chocolate shavings. 

As you can see, we ended up with some pretty fancy little mousse cups. 

When we weren't making mousse (which took up a big chunk of the evening), we were reading from "Sammy and His Shepherd (chapter 5) and watching a little "Finding Nemo" (Emily's birthday request). 

As usual, a fun time was had by all. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Evangelism Musings 11/15/13

During the summer and through the end of the year, our church has been foregoing Sunday evening services about twice a month to participate in what we're calling community gatherings. The idea is to spend that Sunday afternoon/evening time gathering with other people from our church in smaller groups around some sort of activity (be it dinner or an outing at a park, etc.), something that allows for friendship with others and Spiritual growth. This past Sunday, my good friend, Kim, and I invited the teenage girls of our church over to my house for lunch and to help us with an evangelism project.

If you read this blog on a regular basis, then you know that Kim and I usually line up with the early birds on Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving) in the wee hours of the morning. The crowds are there in hopes of receiving a really good deal on a product. We're there to spread the gospel message. We usually make up bags containing a treat (granola bar of some sort), a message about the reason we celebrate Christmas, and a gospel tract. Kim and I usually procrastinate about preparing the bags ahead of time and then recruit our poor husbands in the 11th hour of Thanksgiving Day. This time, we thought ahead. Cue the teenage girls.

These lovely ladies (Michaela, Courtney, Emily, and Allie) helped us put together over 400 bags for the day after Thanksgiving event. 

When we finished that project (in record time, I might add), we moved on to making "Christmas Packs". Kim and I also make up several of these "Christmas Packs" during the holiday season and hand them out when we run errands between the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas day (feel free to borrow the idea). 

Each pack contains a few pieces of candy, a message about Christmas, and a gospel tract, all tied up with a bow. 

We encouraged each of the girls to take some of the packs with them and seek to hand them out over the Christmas season this year. Several girls took packs with them and a few expressed interest in joining us on the day after Thanksgiving to help us hand out the bags we put together. It was a well spent community gathering Sunday. It was fun to get to know the teenage girls of our church (not all in attendance here)  just a little bit better, to enjoy conversations around the gospel, and to sharpen each other in our witness for Jesus Christ in everyday life. (I would guess you could do the same thing with a teenager near you). 

P.S. The picture below is just for fun. Kim had attended a craft fair the day before, bought these knitted flower rings, and gave us each one. It added a little extra flare to our event. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Traveling Musings 11/09/13

Two weeks ago today I was in Arizona over the weekend. It was an unplanned visit, and a wonderfully pleasant one. Greg was working in Arizona for a week. He left on Tuesday and called me Thursday afternoon at work. He said he was staying at a nice resort in Phoenix and asked if I would like to visit there for the weekend (hmmm, let me think about that for a minute, Yes! Yes, I would). In God's providence, the weekend plans and upcoming work schedule were such that I was able to get away without being missed too much. So, Friday after work, I hopped a plane to Phoenix and returned on Tuesday morning (on the same flight as Greg). Greg was there working audio/visual production for the Arizona Jazz Festival. These out of state shows are often long hours and hard work, this one not being an exception to that rule. Greg thought it would be a good time for me to visit, though, because I could spend time within the resort and I have a step-sister in Phoenix as well (henceforth called my sister--"step" is the appropriate word to describe the mechanics of the situation but not nearly appropriate enough to describe the relationship). 

One morning, Greg spent some time showing me around his work area. I always enjoy seeing the area where he works and getting a better understanding of what he does on these big shows. 

Greg worked early morning on Friday until very late that night. I had several hours to kill before I met my sister and family for supper that evening and a rental car at my disposal, so I took a little day trip (about two hours from Phoenix) to Sedona, home of the red rock mountains. It was a lovely time (beautiful drive too). 

I had several occasions to see my sister Elan and family (every day actually). It was a surprise visit for them as well, but they incorporated me into their weekend like I lived in the area and they were expecting me. It was so good to see them. It's been far too long. Pictured above is my sister Elan, niece Julia (16), nephew Sean (14), and brother-in-law Tom. 

Pictured above is the venue where the Jazz Festival took place on day two of the event. Pictured below is the venue the day after the event ended (Greg and his boss, Dale, taking down equipment and loading the semi truck headed back to Minnesota). 
My husband works so very hard to support his family, and I'm grateful God allowed me the opportunity to see so many aspects of an out-of-town show on this trip. It increased my gratitude (and respect) for the husband God has given me. 

Well, I never actually spent any time at the resort other than sleeping, but I spent a lot of time with Elan and family, some time sightseeing on my own, and the rest of the time with Greg. A worthwhile trip, indeed, and I thank the Lord for it. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Cookie Baking Night 11/04/13

Tonight was Cookie Baking Night. In attendance this evening: Emily, Ethan, Carissa, and Alli. Tonight we made turkey cookies (sugar cookies in the shape of turkeys). A lot of ingredients, a lot of work, and a lot of time go into this cookie (and we didn't even bake it tonight, I pre-baked them), but the end product is pretty cute.

Usually, we do our cookie baking projects in the kitchen, but since this was mostly decorating, and we needed to spread out a bit, we moved to the dining room tonight. To make the "turkey cookie" you'll need: flower-shaped sugar cookies, large peanut butter cups, small peanut butter cups, buttercream frosting in yellow, red, and orange, brown decorating frosting for the feet and to "glue" on the smaller pieces, candy eyes, candy corn, and small pieces of red licorice. (see picture below for how that all fits together on the cookie).

The decorating 

The tasting

The final product

We also read from our current devotional book Sammy and His Shepherd by Susan Hunt. This week we read chapter 4 "He Restores My Soul". I think this week the children were finally getting the connection between Psalm 23 and and the word pictures presented in this book. After I read the chapter, I read Psalm 23 again, and I could see comprehension in their eyes. 
The older children have struggled a bit with this book because it has talking sheep in it. They've had a hard time taking it seriously (and, really, it is for younger children but I switched to it so we would have something that Alli could connect with a little more), but as we get deeper into the story and they connect the word illustrations of the sheep and the shepherd with Psalm 23, I see them getting the bigger picture. The questions at the end of each chapter are also a huge help in tying the lesson together (without the questions, I would totally lose the interest of the older children). Even with its challenges in this particular setting, this is a worthwhile book to read, and I highly recommend it. 

Cookie Baking Night was also filled with board games, books of the Bible memorization game, and lots of and lots of talking (and laughing), and many spiritual lessons along the way (for both the young and the old). 

As usual, a fun time was had by all.

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...