Sat, Dec 31st - 6:31PM
I misjudged my posts. It turns out that I have a while before we start our all-nighter with the teens so I'll post this and go for my resolutions tomorrow. Here's the schedule for tonite:
7:30 8:00 Sign In
8:00 9:00 Relay (Games) - Amber, Brenda, Chad
9:00 9:30 Snack (Pizza) - Audrey, Taryn
9:30 11:00 Multimedia (movie clips and contemporary music) - Jon, Amber
11:00 11:30 Q-tip Game (they duct tape a leader's head, sticky side out, and shoot Q-tips at it through a straw) -- Jon, Andy ,Josh
11:30 12:30 New Years Eve Events (devotion mentioned below, ball drop at midnight) -- Jon, Ben, Jock
12:30 1:00 Snack (homemade soup) - Audrey, Taryn
1:00 3:00 Bunko (a co-operative dice game) -- Jon, Taryn
3:00 4:00 Karoke (christian songs) - Chad, Audrey, Taryn
snack - Taryn
4:00 5:30 Seen it Game (video game using Disney clips) -- Amber, Brenda
5:30 9:00 Movies (G-rated, "Sahara") --- Jon
9:00 9:30 Breakfast --- Amber
9:30 10:30 Clean Up --- Everyone
10:45 - 12:00 church
I'm not crazy about so much video movies but we don't have the people to be more ambitious. Its hard to get too serious early because they are excited and hard to teach later because they are sleepy. We have never kept going past 8:00 AM before. 12:00 kinda scares me. It should be fun and bonding and still have a spiritual challenge.
I envy Lee, who is already at 2006.
Happy New Year!!
Thu, Dec 29th - 8:07PM
I have gone on before about my tough year. Let me say again that I know many of you have had tougher ones. I wouldn't trade all of my church politics or personal attacks for marriage trouble, money trouble or bad health.
But it was a tough year, by my standards. I'm pretty spoiled. Possibly harder because it was church stuff and my expectations from people were higher. My failures were failing God's church.
But, here is how I grew this year.
First, in forgivness. I had been frustrated for years with my tendencey to hold a grudge. I have been easily offended. I had trouble with "forgive and forget." I had prayed about it but failed to make a plan to deal with it.
When our pastor resigned, I was left in charge of the church during the pastor search period. Almost immediately, God gave me the thing that I would need most, forgivness. The first time that someone got hostile, I found myself suddenly able to let it go and look for solutions. I have never felt anything like that before. I was just suddenly much more forgiving and patient. It was not an achievment on my part, it came, completely formed, from God. I count it as a miracle that I have personally experienced. I needed that gift a lot the next several months, as things got more personal and hostile. I wasn't always perfect. But I was always far better than I would have been a year before. And I still find myself able to respond to things in a more loving way.
Second is prayer. I was in many situations that I had no action to take. I had to just wait for God to fix it. There was no one I could talk to, no scheme to hatch. Often I couldn't even imagine a solution because it was trying to change people's attitudes. So I learned to just pray. In the past that has felt like doing nothing, but I learned finally that prayer is doing everything. Don't even try to decide to do something until you give it to God first. Then see what He gives you to do. I knew all this already. I had probably given it as advice before. But I am completely at peace with it now. This one didn't come miraculously. I learned this lesson quite gradually. Mostly from times when I couldn't do anything except pray.
There are a few other things from this year. I learned some things about how meaningful it is to give some of your time to someone. I guess because I was so busy, my time was more precious. So it meant more to me to spend time with a kid, for example. I really saw the fruits of that.
I learned some things about grace. About how all of us aren't worthy. Without exception. And we are only useable in areas, or times, where we really accept that.
I learned that God's plan is perfect, even to death. I still don't know why Sue died, but I see how ridiculous it is to think that we should understand it all.
What did God teach you this year?
Next post: resolutions for 2006
Mon, Dec 26th - 1:30PM
I don't mean to rush Christmas out the door. Be like Scrooge (at the end of Christmas Carol) and keep Christ-mas in your heart all year round. I hope that you had a great and meaningful one.
But this is a very rare opportunity for me to post at my leisure, in my PJs. And this I wanted to issue a small challenge.
I am a big believer in New Years resolutions. I hear an awful lot of people saying that they are a waste of time. That its dumb to make something that you'll break a week later. And I agree with that. That would be dumb. But it is smart, and Biblical, to make them and seriously attempt to keep them. God's Word encourages growth and especially growth through introspection. (Maybe someone knows the passages that back this up. Actually this is one of my resolutions to come, but that's for later) New Years's resolutions are a great way to check yourself and prayerfully seek God's desire on where you should focus on growing.
New Year's Day has always been a meaningful holiday for us. Early in our kids lives we started making them little ceramic tokens (out of Fimo, a bake at home clay) that symbolized something that marked their growth each year. For instance, C'Anne got a hot air balloon that was about her trip to France, a open book about her scholarship, in school and in the Word, etc.. We gave them a small wooden treasure chest to keep them in.
In my life it seems like God has often used each year to focus on a particular challenge. This year more than ever. And I think it helps to reflect on the past year and look forward to the next one to make the most of those lessons. That way I learn the lessons as thoroughly, and as easily as I am able to. My goal is to learn things the easy way as much as possible. Maybe this year was extra hard because I had failed to do my homework on humility the year before?
So this week I will try to reflect on what God taught me this year. And pick just a couple of things to try to focus on next year. Yes, each year I pledge to improve my devotions, and am dissapoined in my results. But what would my results be if I never even tried? This blog is a result of an effort to improve my devotions and I am thrilled with the family that I have found here!
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
(See, its working already. I found my own reference! )
Sun, Dec 25th - 9:05PM
Well apparently, church services on Christmas was an issue, at least around here. Last night churches being closed was a top news story on TV. And it looks like it was a bit of a question here too. I'm not one to say a person should never miss church, but I am not too happy with churches closing their doors.
I'm happy to say that our new pastor had church today, despite it sounding like many people wouldn't come. We ended up with a surprisingly big crowd and quite a blessing. He even mentioned possibly starting to have services every Christmas day. The service felt a little more intimate than normal. More casual. His sermon was a drama from Joseph's point of view. There were many visitors there and extended families. I think it appealed to a slightly different "audience" than our regular services.
The next test. I guess is New Year's Eve. We have decided as a Youth Team to have our usual overnighter for the teens on New Year's Eve. We'll play games, sing, etc and try to stick it out until church service on New Year's Day.
Around midnight I am planning a short talk about leaving something behind. It will have to be brief because the kids will either be excited or tired. I want to talk about how we drag things aroung that we don't need to. Things like guilt, bad habits, resentment, etc. Then I'll ask them to write someting that they don't want to carry into next year on a piece of paper and pray over it. Then they can drop it into a fire we'll have burning.
Thu, Dec 22nd - 9:44AM
My thoughts on Christmas being on Sunday this year. We''ll be at church. What better way to celebrate a Birth than with Family?
Last night we had scheduled caroling for youth night. The weather turned into a huge rainstorm, the one condition that should cancel caroling. Our new pastor took us out anyway, to the home of a very sick woman. We gathered outside her window under umbrellas and sang for half an hour. We ended up very wet, and very blessed.
Mon, Dec 19th - 8:15PM
Ok, the rush is over. We had the "busiest day of the year" today and it wasn't too bad. In fact, I think last Monday was busier. I also don't teach any lessons for at least two weeks. In fact, this is probably the freeest time I've had in months, maybe a year.
Tonight however, I am dead tired.
Kristen (see below) is doing ok. That's just how people say it when asked, "Ok" with a concerned tone. I doubt anything will happen fast. At least it hasn't been fast so far.
Do you like having Christmas on Sunday? Will you go to church?
Wed, Dec 14th - 9:01PM
Just a couple of updates.
I haven't posted in a while because we are in the middle of one of those crazy stretches. Christmas rush at the Post office and at church. I guess, in reality, we are shorthanded both places. I haven't been home except to sleep since Saturday and won't be for a couple more days. I still read all the new stuff, but rarely get even time to comment.
I saw Kristen (see below) last night. She was smiling and singing with us. She has always been one that, although thin, never looked bad. Now she looks like a concentration cap survivor. Looking at her, I could barely control my anger at Satan's lies. It is so frustrating. And her family is struggling badly also now. I know its a lot to ask for continued prayer for a stranger. Thank you.
Fri, Dec 9th - 9:03PM
I think that the problems with denominations is really just a symptom of a bigger problem. People who judge others. People who think that they are the only ones who understand God's Word. People who seem to think that they never sinned. People who think that other's sins are worse than their own. They are that way because they have forgotten that they are saved by grace.
If they only understood that they are sinners who have been forgiven. That they did nothing to earn God's love. If they knew how far they were from God, they wouldn't think that they could tell someone else how to worship. Isn't what Jesus did on the cross big enough that we don't need to quibble about little things?
This squeaky clean appearance
I've been working on
Is often in the way
Of the truth and life that I'm portraying
This narrow road I'm walking
Is rising up to meet me
Meet me right square in the face
Lord guide us to see
The key to our redemption
Is knowing our humanity
There are no heroes
There are no great ones here
We're only fools who know that we are fools
There are no saints here
There are no guiltless ones
We're only those who know that we've been rescued
Fri, Dec 9th - 12:50AM
If I sit down with the wrong man
If I cast my vote Republican
What will my brothers think of me?
So am I praying in the wrong way?
Do I worship on the wrong day?
What are we fighting for?
So Ill meet you at the cross
If thats the only place we meet
Its fine by me
If my thoughts on predestination
Seem to you a bit outrageous
May I still worship at your side?
Is what Im wearing on my body
Causing you to look right past me
What are you looking for?
Sweating, bleeding on his knees
Waiting there in Gethsemane
His prayer was "Father May they be one"
Tue, Dec 6th - 9:58AM
There is a teenage girl in our church named Kristen, who is starving herself to death. She is anorexic and its getting pretty serious. She, and her family, have been going through therapy for a couple of years now. She'll make occasional small steps for a while, but mostly its been a steady decline. They are looking at putting her back in the hospital (Stanford).
Its an incredibly frustrating "disease". She seems like a great kid and great to be around and her mother is wonderful. I'm proud of our church for having a day of prayer and fasting yesterday for her. We are new at this. Its something we never would have thought of in the old administration. Please lift her and her family up to Him, if you get time. I'll keep you posted.
Mon, Dec 5th - 8:39PM
Isaiah 9:6: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7: Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Based on prophecies like this one, Isreal had been looking for their messiah for centuries before Jesus was born. Rabbis had theories about what the messiah would be like. They were even aware of the fact that two aspects of messiah are in scripture, a reigning king and and suffering servant. Some even pictured two different messiahs, one to fill each role. Messiah sightings were common for centuries. Often someone would rise up claiming to be the messiah, with a grand plan to drive the Romans out and usually lasted until it was proved that he couldn't. Even today, there are orthodox groups of Jews who look for the messiah. Recently there was a very old rabbi who some thought was the One. Until he died with nothing special happening. Most Jews have come to think of messiah as an age, or an attitude that might still be coming, a time of peace and understanding.
Isaiah 53:1: Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
2: For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3: He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4: Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5: But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6: All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
All the talk about a kingdom had the Jews thinking of a savior on a white horse, coming to conquer Isreal's enemies. After all they were an occupied nation. They were poor and heavily taxed, oppressed and abused. They dreamed of a messiah who would come and defeat Rome and restore the wealth of the glory days of King Solomon. They had missed the fact that God's main concern was personal, not political or financial. They needed saving from their sins more than from the Romans. When Jesus came born in a manger instead of a palace, riding a donkey instead of a stallion, talking of love instead of conquest, its no wonder that they rejected him.
They rejected Jesus because they were looking for the wrong things in a savior. What are you looking for? Do you seek Jesus as someone who will solve your problems? Who will heal you, or make you wealthy, or bring a good wife or husband? Or have we learned enough to want a savior who can free us from our sins? One who can draw us closer to a relationship with God. Would your messiah be born in a manger, or a bank vault?
Thu, Dec 1st - 9:06PM
This plays off of both Mel and Terri (40 Days)
In commenting on Terri's post about worship I used a phrase that I like, "worship despite". Anyone can "worship because". Worship because we are well, because most of our bills are paid, because our kids are behaving. Any dummy would do that. Satan tested Job to see if he would curse God when it was all taken away from him.
But the real test is when things aren't going well. Do we then "worship despite" Worship despit the problems, the disapointment, the pain. As you grow spiritually you hit a wall when you realize that God is allowing this pain. In fact, since He could always stop the process somehow, it can be said that He makes the pain happen. Can we worship despite the fact that He is hurting us?
God prunes us. He makes things happen that reveal areas that need work, or habits that we have, or to build character. He even brings pain so that He can comfort us so that we can then "comfort others with the comfort we were comforted with". But a great summary of that is, will we worship despite. How we live our lives is worship. Everything that we do out of love for God is worship. Job summed it up well when he said, "Though He slay me, still I trust in Him". Few things make us stronger than when we can say that even when it felt like God wasn't giving to us, we still loved Him.
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