Thursday, April 30, 2009
For the past three days, I have been at the Oklahoma FFA State Convention as a parent sponsor. This year is my daughter, Lauren's first year in FFA, so it was neat getting to go along with her and the other 23 Tipton FFA members. I counted up today and will have the opportunity to go for the next 18 years straight. Then I'll have grandkids in FFA, too! So, it looks my relationship with the FFA is just beginning!
I've mentioned before that the FFA (and 4-H) teaches Biblical values. I knew that before I ever attended an FFA Convention, but am even more convinced now. It is truly an amazing organization, and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to attend. It was refreshing to see how the FFA was not afraid to allow God to be mentioned by the speakers, by the leaders, and by the songs that were sung.
There were many great speakers during the event, but last night's speaker was probably the very best. His name was Dave Roever. Maybe you have heard of him before, but if not, please take the time to visit his website at http://www.daveroever.org/ . Dave told the story of being in the Vietnam war and a grenade went off while still in his hand. He was severely injured, but thankfully lived to tell his story. He travels all around the world to encourage others. He was humorous at times and even blunt about some things teenagers (and adults) may be facing. But, the most important thing he did was stand for Biblical principles, such as honesty, trustworthiness, fidelity, love, kindness, caring, citizenship/patriotism, purity, abuse of body (alcohol, drugs) and many more. His story is truly amazing.
God and Jesus were both glorified during the Oklahoma State FFA Convention this week. Thanks, FFA!
“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven." Matthew 10:32-33
The kids and I wanted to get him a box made that he could use for their goat show supplies. My dad found a man that would build it for me. Isn't it neat? Joe is going to paint it sometime, but it's going to be very handy for him.
Happy Birthday, Joe!
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I have always wanted a pond in our little field by our house. I've thought it would be neat, and have pictured it having ducks, too. A family pond would bring lots of family fun, plus perfect scenery for family fun and pictures! Well, this morning I heard from my husband that we DO have a pond! In fact, several of them all around our house.
I'm in Oklahoma City for the state FFA Convention (which has been awesome, by the way!), so by the time I get home tomorrow night, my "pond" may not still be there. Because we've needed rain for so long, the dry ground may soak it all up! Two of these new "ponds" are really fields for our goats.
We have had flooding in Tipton before, but it's been a long time since it's been like this - about 13 years if I'm remembering correctly.
Many in Tipton have been praying for rain for a long time, and last night God answered our prayers. Thank you, God! Of course, with the abundance of rain, there have been some problems, due to flooding. The biggest problem for us, personally, is that, unfortunately, seven goats have drowned in the very deep water. My husband waded out knee-deep in the water to check on them, and thankfully the other goats had moved up to dry ground. Most of the goats were babies, many that I have shown pictures of or mentioned in posts before. One nanny and her two-day-old twins died. My husband thinks she was staying nearby her babies trying to protect them. How sweet!
Flooding makes me think of Noah and the ark, of course. Someone back home did comment that animals were seen going 2 by 2 down Broadway in Tipton, but I'm not sure I believe that(hee hee)!
By the way, did you know some even went 7 by 7 in the Bible? Read here to see for yourself: Genesis 7:2-3!
Monday, April 27, 2009
I told Biscuit that his ears were just fine and that God made him just the way he is. I also told him that his aunt Kimberly had recently said how much he looks like his twin uncles, James and Dan. Well, you would have thought that was the best thing in the world that could have ever happened to Biscuit! He was extremely honored that someone thought he looked like his uncles!
A few days ago, Biscuit's great-uncle, also named James, said the exact same thing - that Biscuit looks like James and Dan. Well, that made Biscuit even prouder! We had never really thought about it before, but he really does look like his two uncles, as you can see in this picture. (James - left/ Dan - right) They were around Biscuit's age when this was taken.
I am thankful Biscuit has James and Dan, plus many more uncles to look up to as role models. They are leaders and servants of God as preachers, deacons, an elder, and a youth minister.
In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul told the Corinthian church: "Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ." (NASV) Other versions say "Follow my example." We strive to be good role models for Biscuit, but I am very thankful that he also has great role models in his extended family. He can imitate them because they are imitating Christ.
Now I want to tell you about another side of that story:
There was a woman (I'll call her Sally)who was having a very difficult time at her job. Sally didn't enjoy her job or anything about the job. She began praying that God would open the door for her to have a new job. I'm not sure how long she prayed for this to happen, but it was several months.
On April 26, 1993, God answered the Sally's prayer! When I was fired, Sally replaced me in my job!
God answered her prayer, but I lost my job.
I didn't know this part of the story until about three years ago, long after Tyler's bout with glaucoma. When Sally told the story about praying for a job, I was in the room, along with several other ladies. I realized what that story meant to her, but also what it meant for me. Her prayer was answered by my job loss. WOW! Isn't that an amazing thing? God's ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts!
It doesn't bother me at all that God allowed me to suffer, and with my suffering it opened a door for Sally. In fact, it makes me realize even more that it was all in God's plan. I don't know that I would have realized God's hand in it all if I had heard Sally's story right when it happend, when I was 23 years old. Maybe I would have, but I'm not sure.
So, on this Gratituesday, hosted by HeavenlyHomemakers.com, I am grateful for being FIRED! Yes, grateful. It saved Tyler's eye. It caused me to grow in my faith as a Christian. It gave Sally a new job. It confirmed to me that God's promises are always true, even when things don't make sense. It has also provided and will continue to provide a huge lesson for our children when something disappointing happens in their life: That life isn't always fair and sometimes things happen that may not seem right, but that God is in control and we must trust in Him and look to Him for strength. I am grateful for God and His promises and His plan.
Think of Joseph and his life. He was sold into slavery by his brothers. They hated him. But God took care of Joseph and when the brothers eventually found out Joseph was alive and was in charge of the palace where they had come to get food, they were ashamed and sorrowful. Yet God worked out His plan through Joseph's life:
But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50:19-21
And of course, Jesus! None of us will ever go through what He went through. And He went through it for us to live with Him in Heaven some day. Our earthly trials and suffering could never compare to His death on the cross. Thank you, God, for Your plan!!
How would it make you feel to suffer, but by your suffering, someone else is blessed? Have you ever experienced something that was bad at first, but then you were grateful?
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Why do I tell you this? Why do I bring it up? It's surely not because I dwell on on the past or the pain. I don't. Of course, there was a time that I did. A long time. It's not because I'm bitter. I'm not. Of course, there was a time that I was. Unfortunately, longer than I should have been. So, why? Why tell it? Some of you may be asking yourselves that same question, and I don't blame you at all. I would have asked myself that same question, too. That is, until almost six years ago. Six years ago something happened in our life that made the words "YOU'RE FIRED!" seem understandable. In fact, even made us thankful.
I tell you this story because God moves in mysterious ways. His ways are not our ways as Isaiah 55:8-9 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Sometimes things come into our lives. Bad things. Hurtful things. Painful things. And we ask, "Why?". But God says, "Trust Me." "Rely on Me." "Have faith in Me." In times such as these, we want help and we want answers. And, we want it "Now!" But God's time is not our time, and His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. So, I tell you this to encourage you. To show you how that when bad things happen in life, it is part of His bigger plan. And sometimes we are able to see the results of His plan and understand them, and sometimes we may never fully understand. But we have this promise: Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
Immediately after I lost my job, I went to work at a craft store in a nearby town. Luckily for me the "country craft craze" was a big thing in southwest Oklahoma, and probably elsewhere, too! Some friends needed someone to manage their little store. It was a fun job and I enjoyed it, but worked six days a week, which I had never done and sure didn't like! I had only worked there for three weeks when I read an ad in the paper for a "scribe" at an ophthalmologist's office. To tell you the truth, I didn't know what an ophthalmologist was at the time, but I had heard of a "scribe". They have scribes in the Bible! I applied for the job and got it. I was so excited!
I worked for "Dr. K" for seven years as his "scribe", writing in the patient's charts as he examined them. I worked three days a week and enjoyed the job tremendously. I enjoyed meeting the patients and the medical field, in general. "Dr. K" and the girls were great to work with, too.
I had my first three children during those years, but quit to be a full time mom in May, 2000. Our forth child, Tyler (A.K.A "Biscuit") was born in December, 2002.
Jump ahead to the last week of June, 2003....10 years after hearing those words, "You're Fired!".
Our children were 9, almost 7, 5, and Tyler was almost 6 months old. We were outside a lot and I had noticed Tyler squinting in the sunlight, but didn't think too much about it at first. Our three boys all have big eyes like I do and I'm really light sensitive, so figured he was. But then, one day, I noticed he was only squinting one eye. I remembered "Dr. K" saying something about children squinting only one eye, that it could be a sign of amblyopia (one eye weaker than the other). I really looked closely at Tyler's eye and noticed that the left eye's pupil couldn't be seen. His eyes are dark brown, but this was even darker and the eye looked bigger.
Immediately after calling my husband, I called Dr. K. It was a Saturday, but he told me to drive to Altus (21 miles away) and meet him at his office. When I got there and he examined Tyler, he said that it was one of two things: glaucoma or an ocular tumor. Glaucoma could be corrected with surgery. The ocular tumor would be fatal. Of course, we prayed that it would be glaucoma.
Dr. K was going to have his office manager call Monday morning for an appointment with a Pediatric Ophthalmologist. I knew if we waited on the call and then had to get ready to go, we might not see the doctor until Monday afternoon or even Tuesday, but I didn't want to wait. My husband and I went to Edmond, OK, a suburb of Oklahoma City, on Sunday afternoon. That evening we went to worship services with his brother and our sister-in-law and their family and stayed the night with them. At their congregation there is an ophthalmologist and an optometrist, who both said they would help in any way they could when they found out the reason we were visiting. I think I began calling early Monday morning, not even waiting for anyone else to make an appointment. We got Tyler in immediately and were so relieved when the doctor said it was juvenile glaucoma and that Tyler would need immediate surgery. However, there was a possibility his vision wouldn't be very good in that eye.
The surgery was performed the next day on Tuesday, July 3. Dr. S checked Tyler on the 4th of July when his office was closed. This picture was taken that morning, July 4th, 2003.
Tyler remained on glaucoma drops for a few months, but eventually he was able to stop them. He got glasses when he was 18 months and has had two muscle surgeries. His left eye is very, very nearsighted now, due to the glaucoma.
Both our pediatrician and the pediatric ophthalmologist have told me that if I hadn't noticed his eye when I did, Tyler would be blind in that eye. In fact, they both said most parents don't notice congenital glaucoma until the child is running into furniture.
So, you see? That is why I am thankful that I was fired! If I had never gone through that time in my life, I never would have worked for Dr. K. And, if I had never worked for Dr. K, I wouldn't have learned a lot about the eye and known about certain symptoms of diseases or problems. God worked in His time and something bad turned in to something good!
Tyler sometimes looks in the mirror when he has his glasses off. He'll say, "Mom, my eyes look different." I tell him, that, yes, God made him that way and that is a way he is special and unique. I am thankful that Tyler's vision is great, between 20/20 - 20/30!
Yes, God does work in ways we sometimes don't understand. But God is faithful to His promises and we must trust in Him, no matter what. He will never leave us or forsake us as His children.
Thank you, God, for blessing us in ways we may not fully understand. Thank you for your patience and love. Help us to realize that you are in control and that we should put all of our trust in you, even during pain, trials, and sadness.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Hearing this story, I was amazed, really. I'm usually pretty perceptive about what's going on around here....especially during a birthday party....and especially with eight third grade boys here at the time for a sleep over!
I said, "Jacob, that really isn't the kind of story a mom wants to hear."
Jacob replied, "Then can I tell it to Dad?"
I had just told Jacob a "Mom" wouldn't want to hear that type of story and he asks if he can tell it to "Dad"!....even though his Dad was right there hearing the whole thing! I have been accused of not being as much fun as my husband...maybe that's why (hee hee).
This story makes me think of a question the preacher of our Gospel Meeting talked about this week. Instead of asking "How close is too close?" in regards to sin, we should be asking, "What is the wise thing for me to do?" Sometimes we want to get right up close to sin, when we should flee from it. Satan uses all kinds of tactics to draw us away from God. Let's strive to do what is wise.
Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. Proverbs 8:33
Friday, April 24, 2009
Joe's uncle, James Trent, was one of the speakers for the evening. James directed camp sessions for over 25 years. His session is where Joe and I met. He still helps with QMCC and even took his 9 year old grandson from Iowa with him last summer!
These are the old 'A' frame cabins. These are what Joe and I grew up sleeping in! Our children can not believe we slept in these! My memories of camp are full of stories about weeks in these cabins. Lots of nights we would have to go out and shut the windows (they're covered up now with metal) because of wind or rain! There were 5 'A' frames for the girls' side and 5 for the boys' side. You had to walk to the bathrooms...in the dark....with flashlights.....worried about snakes and tarantulas!!
Fisher Chapel - a place for worship, talent shows, and skits. Built in the mid 80's. It holds about 200 people. There's a bigger one being built where the old pool was. Yes, there's a new pool. Almost 2 years old! I didn't get a picture of it tonight, though.
Trent Pavillion, named for Albert Trent, Joe's Granddad and James Trent's dad. He was one of the original board members, as was one of my great-uncles, Virgil Francis. Camp is a great experience for the youth. Being in a setting such as QMCC - you can't help but feel close to God. The wide open spaces, the mountains, the starry sky, the Bible lessons, the family groups, the singing, the friendships, the closeness of Christians coming together to worship God for an entire week! It's AWESOME!
Just last week my daughter asked, "Can I pack for camp now, Mom?" She goes at the end of June and first part of July!
It's supposed to be Soap Box Saturday.....so here's my soap box: That I'm too old to attend QMCC as a summer camper any more!
And, the song! Yes, the QMCC Camp Song! Let me hear you sing it!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Lauren and I were playing a game called "Bananagrams". It's kind of like Scrabble, except you make words right in front of you using your own tiles. Lauren asked me if a certain three letters made a word, such as "S", "E", "R", or something like that. Biscuit piped up and said, "Sound it out!". He seems to think that if you can sound it out - it's a word. Sounds logical, doesn't it?
Biscuit's Words of Wisdom #2:
The other day Jacob was looking for a shirt and he couldn't find it. Sometimes Biscuit gets a lot of clothes out and when he puts them up, occassionally gets his brother's in with the mix. So, I asked Biscuit, "Do you know where Jacob's shirt is?". Biscuit answered, "Where he put it." Yep, that's probably right! Whatever is lost can sometimes be found right where we left it.
Biscuit's Words of Wisdom #3:
Last night we were eating around the table (yea, the "table"!) and were discussing an older member who had passed away. Biscuit said, "You mean Mrs. P?" His dad answered, "No. Mr. H. Mrs. P has already been buried." Biscuit said in one big long statement, question, and answer, "Oh, yes. I remember...Do you think she went to heaven or hell?....I'm thinking heaven.....We went to see her in the hospital". I'm telling you, the rest of us could hardly keep a straight face! The question he asked isn't funny, of course. That question is a serious question. It was just funny the way he was logically thinking out loud.
So, from Biscuit's Words of Wisdom, what can we learn today?
#1 - If something seems right, it may be right, but it doesn't necessarily make it right. What I "think" does not equal what God desires. The Bible is the ONLY source of what is right and true and good.
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17
#2 - If something is lost, we should look for it in the right place. The Bible teaches what to do if someone is spiritually lost. We should seek to find the lost.
Luke 15 (whole chapter) tells of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son.
#3 - Biscuit's question is something we should each ask about ourselves. If we were to die, would we go to Heaven or to Hell? We can be certain of where we will spend eternity if we follow the steps of salvation that are laid out in the Bible and continue to live faithfully for Him.
"Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things (the "things" are listed in the verses above), you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."2 Peter 1:10-11
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
If I could go back in time to visit, I would choose to go back to when the church first began. I think it would be a great time to visit and help us appreciate all we have, but also make us realize what is really important for us to do as Christians. Jesus died for the church - not a building, but the people who have become children of God. He died for the church, but also left instructions for what the church is to do and how the church is to live.
Twice a year our congregation here at Tipton does something that I feel is similar to how the early church lived. I believe it's the closest we come to living how the 1st Century church may have lived during that time - except for modern conveniences (which we are all thankful for!).
We have just finished a gospel meeting/revival. It began on Sunday morning with Bible class, then worship, followed by a noon potluck dinner. That evening we had services again. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we had morning worship at 10:00 a.m. and a noon luncheon every day, then nightly worship services each of those nights. Every day we met together, sang together, prayed together, studied God's Word together, worshipped God together, and ate the noon meal together.
A special part of this week is having the Sojourners with us. I mentioned a few weeks ago that they were working at our Bible camp, QMCC. For these two weeks they are working at Tipton Home. They are a joy to have in our midst! The couples are from Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and Kansas. They agreed to having their picture taken for this post.
Another neat thing about the noon luncheons is that the whole Tipton Junior High and High School is invited to the meal. Every day between 40 and 60 students came to the luncheon. It is one of the benefits of small town living, I'm sure, and the school is just down the street from the fellowship building.
Of course, the best part of the week was hearing God's Word preached every day. It was a spiritual feast! The visiting minister did a great job delivering his messages as a servant of God. He inspired each of us to be great servants and our congregation to be a great church.
Look at this passage from Acts 2:40-47:
"And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." (emphasis mine)
I know I've used these verses before, but they really are some of my favorites. Can you see why I feel like I'm back in the 1st Century each time we do this? It's the daily meetings, the continued fellowship, and the continued teaching the early church did. I would like to be able to go back there, would you?
By the end of our four days, we're all exhausted, but spiritually uplifted. And to think - the early church did it daily! I hope you enjoy the pictures. If you ever think of visiting Tipton, Oklahoma, the third week in September and the third week in April is a great time to visit!
Have you ever seen the movie "Pollyanna"? Pollyanna had a game she would play to try to find something to be glad about in every situation. She called it "The Glad Game". Pollyanna taught others to be glad, as well.
My mom embroidered the 'I'm Glad' picture above and gave it to my sister and I for Christmas this past year. It is a reminder for us to always be glad.
The Bible teaches Pollyanna's "The Glad Game" philosophy, as well.
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns!"
1 Chronicles 16:31
But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Psalm 5:11
In every situation in every day, we can find something to be glad about, just like Pollyanna did. What are you glad for today?
Monday, April 20, 2009
Anyway, my daughter needed some cookies made for an event Sunday afternoon. I was planning to make them later that night, but also had food to cook for our church's potluck meal the next day. Our oldest son, Zachary, volunteered to make the cookies. So, for this Gratituesday, which is Hosted by HeavenlyHomemakers.com I am grateful for Zachary's kindness.
Zachary could tell that Lauren and I were way too busy that day to stop and make the cookies. He saw the need and volunteered his time. Actually, he had already helped his dad build the fence, but his dad asked him to. The cookies were something he volunteered to do on his own.
Zachary is a pretty good cook and knows his way around the kitchen. For some reason, though, he can't always unload the dishwasher and get everything put back up in the right place, but he's learning! On Saturday, Zachary wanted to make chocolate cookies. His dad has a certain favorite and we were looking for that recipe, but came across one that was a chocolate cookie with a marshmallow and chocolate icing on top - YUM! He decided that would be the perfect cookie to make. They didn't have a fancy name, just said 'chocolate cookies'. We named them 'Chocolate Globs'.
You know, now that I think about it, Zachary's kindness may have had an ulterior motive behind it! What do you think? :) I don't care if it did or not. Zachary was kind and helped our family when we needed it. "And be kind to one another..." Ephesians 4:32a
1/2 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk
1 t. vanilla
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 c. cocoa
Large marshmallows, cut in half
Cream shortening and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Sift together dry ingredients. Add to creamed mixture, alternately with milk. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake 8 minutes at 350 degrees. Top with half marshmallow and bake 2 more minutes. Ice cookies with chocolate icing. He made about 4 dozen cookies.
Chocolate Globs Icing:
2 c. sifted powdered sugar
3 T. melted butter
5 T. cocoa
1/2 t. vanilla
dash of salt
4 T. cream (he used 2% milk)
Beat ingredients until smooth.
My brother-in-law writes a blog called "Waughs Wall". He preaches in Nashville and challenged his congregation a few weeks ago to bake cookies and take them to a neighbor that they didn't know well. I'm giving that same challenge to you. Could you show kindness this week by baking a batch of cookies for someone you don't know? Or maybe you can, like Zachary, just show kindness to someone you do know....with a 'Chocolate Glob' cookie! Thank you, Zachary!
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Update on "Counseling Session": Well, Biscuit had his last "counseling" session scheduled for last Thursday. Right before he went in, his daddy asked him what he was going to talk about. Biscuit said, "I don't know. You got anything?". His daddy said, "Animals". So, Biscuit and the counselor talked about animals...and, the counselor gave him beads....and that's the end of the counseling sessions!
The Chronicles of Biscuit: I've been really busy writing a Bible lesson for a workshop where I will speaking in May. I was discussing my outline with my husband and our daughter. Biscuit was in the room with us. My lesson is "Who Do You Imitate?" and I was telling my husband that I was going to use the points "Jesus' Walk, Jesus' Talk, Jesus' Actions, Jesus' Attitude"..., but before I could finish the rest of my list, Biscuit blurted out, "Mom, Jesus didn't have an attitude!" He was very annoyed that I had said such a thing. We laughed a little and explained to Biscuit that EVERYONE has an attitude, it is just either a "good" attitude or a "bad" attitude.
The word attitude isn't meant to be negative, although many use it that way in today's language. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the word "attitude" means "an internal position or feeling with regard to something else."
As Christians, our attitudes should have changed from what they were before we became Christians."You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off the old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds." Ephesians 4:22
Philippians 2:5 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”
Yes, Jesus did have an attitude, Biscuit. We all do. But, Jesus had a good - no, a perfect attitude - and he left for us an example to read about and strive to imitate. (Read Philippians 2:1-11 to find out more about Jesus' attitude.)
Let's all strive to "Have an attitude" just like Jesus this week!
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Anyway, one of the kids asked, "Why do you always want a picture of us holding hands?" I said, "To show you are united." Of course, a few of them didn't know what that meant, so we explained it on the way to Bible class.
We want unity in our family. You do, too. Unity in the family is important, but more importantly, we should want to have unity with Jesus.
And we can:
"Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin." Romans 6:4-6
Posted by Lori at 10:43 PM
Friday, April 17, 2009
So, what's my Soap Box this Saturday?
Family time around the table used to be the norm. Old sitcoms (Leave It To Beaver, Andy Griffith)show the family around the dinner table every evening, and I'm sure that was the way it was then. But, nowadays, with our lives busier and busier, the family meal time has diminished. Honestly, in March, it seemed that we were never home together in the evening. Too many activites and obligations (most of which we put upon ourselves, I know).
After becoming a little annoyed by our rare family meals, I began to put a star on our family calendar for every night we ate together, just so we realized how few times it really was. April has been much, much better! Maybe we are making more of an effort to be together because of seeing the lack of stars, but a lot of it has to do with certain school activites ceasing for the year or job responsibilities that require more at some times than others. It goes in spurts throughout the year in our family and it probably does in yours, too.
When we eat together at the table the TV is never on. We use this time for visiting with one another and enjoying our time together. Occassionally we all eat in the living room and watch something together, but it's a treat, not the expected. How does your family do meal time? Do you struggle with the same things we do?
Have you ever heard of Turnoff TV Week? Our family has participated in it for the past eight years. The organization begins the event on Monday, April 20th. We start ours on Sunday, April 19th, since it's the first day of the week, and the TV stays off all week. Even though we don't watch TV all the time anyway, it's still missed in the beginning of the week. However, by Saturday each year, we don't even give it a thought. In fact, I believe it was last year, we even forgot that we "could" turn it on! It stayed off another day or two! When the kids were little, I'll admit it was harder, because that meant no Barney or Disney movies, either! But, our children are now used to the every April routine. The organization's goal is to encourage reduction in screen time in an effort to build stronger families. I did notice they've added a date in the fall. Check out the link above for more info.
After our meal tonight, we went for a family walk. What a rare and enjoyable Friday evening!
So what do you think? Are family meals around the table rare for you? Are your meals centered around the TV? Will you give TV Turnoff Week a try? Maybe for your family the whole week of the TV off wouldn't work or seems impossible, but maybe you can make an effort to cut down on the screen time. Remember, our goal is stronger families and more time together. It's worth it!
Be sure to let me know your thoughts!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
This is Lucy. She is a Great Pyrenees and serves as a guard dog for some of our goats. Lucy is friendly and will let us pet her, but is very protective of the goats, especially the little ones. One of the little goats had to have a shot last week. My husband said Lucy cried the whole time he was working with the little goat. Isn't that sweet?
These little goats just lie around and jump up and down on the hay bales. They even get on Lucy and play on top of her. They don't know she's there to guard them. They sense no danger.
Unfortunately, sometimes there is danger. Little foxes like to sneek up during the night and get baby goats. We saw several last spring and occassionally a little goat would disappear. But, not since Lucy has been around! She is doing her job by protecting the goats.
Sometimes we are like these little goats...completely unaware of danger that may be lurking nearby. But we read in the Bible that Satan trys to snatch us - catch us off guard. He wants to harm us - just like the predators that try to get baby goats. 1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."
But God is ready to protect us. As Christians, He is our Shepherd. He is willing and able to help us, if we will rely on Him.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear...Psalm 46:1-2a
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3
Thank you, God, for protecting me and strengthening me - even when I don't realize I'm in danger.
In Jesus' Name,
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Okay. Are you back? Some of you didn't go, did you??? Well, anyway, what did you see? That little flappy thing in the back of your throat? Yes, but what color do you see in there? PINK! We're all PINK in the middle! God made us with all different colors of skin. He made us with all different colors of eyes and hair. He made us all different sizes and with all different abilities. But, WE'RE ALL PINK IN THE MIDDLE!
When it gets right down to it, we're all the same on the inside, just different on the outside. In God's eyes we are all are equal. He wants all to come to know Him. He does not show favoritism as Romans 2:11 states, "For God does not show favoritism."
God doesn't want us to show favoritism, either. We sing the sweet song, "Jesus Loves the Little Children"...."red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight" from the time we are little bitty to aged, but sometimes our words and actions don't show that love like they should.
"But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." James 2:9-10.
Now, for those of you who didn't look in the mirror before, go look now. Okay? Did you do it? What color did you see?
See, I told you - WE'RE ALL PINK IN THE MIDDLE!
My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. James 2:1
Have a great day!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Lauren has also been doing speech contests, ag-science projects, and land judging. In fact, she leaves at 5:00 a.m. Wednesday for a contest...glad it's her and not me! The boys have a "Dress Review" contest tomorrow for our county, which is teaching the members about dressing appropriately (matching) and taking care of garments (washing, drying, ironing). I can't say the boys are excited about it, but they are willing to participate without too much complaining! And, since I'm their 4-H leader and mom, it's not like they really have a choice :).
Although the activities may seem a little overwhelming at times, I'm convinced that 4-H and FFA are two of the best organizations available for our youth today. Why? Because, although the two are not Bible-based organizations, they teach Biblical principles. The 4-H Motto states: "To Make the Best Better." The pledge is:
My head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service, and
My health to better living,
For my club, my community, my country, and my world.
The FFA Motto states: "Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve."
Wow! Making things better, clearer thinking, greater loyalty, greater service, better living, doing for others, learning more by doing, working to survive, a life of service. Sounds like it's straight from God's Holy Word, doesn't it?
It's great for our youth to be involved in extra-curricular activites, whether they are going to public schools or being home-schooled. Too many of our youth today spend the majority their time in front of the television and/or playing video games. While a little of that is okay, it's not teaching Biblical principles, such as leadership, responsibility, team work, and hard work. That's what organizations such as 4-H and FFA instill in youth. Being a part of these types of organizations is also a great way for families to be together more, from working on projects together or serving others together.
Of course, even better than 4-H and FFA, is for youth today to be involved in the church and the youth group, if there is one in your congregation. Being a part of a group is important to children, and for some peer pressure is really strong. Having a support system around who share the same morals, beliefs and principles will help youth resist temptations that surround them daily.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Today I will be participating in "GRATITUESDAY", which is hosted by HeavenlyHomemakers. Please leave me a comment, send me an email or a message on Facebook about what you are grateful for today.
It is extremely difficult to just list one thing to be grateful for, isn't it? God has blessed us all so abundantly! But, today, I am grateful for my husband, Joe, and here are some of the reasons why:
1. He is a great husband and dad to our four children. He makes life fun. He enjoys making people laugh - especially our four children. Momma's not always amused at the times he likes to make the kiddos laugh and she prefers funnier jokes than those on Laffy Taffy wrappers :). No, really, I am thankful he likes to have fun. He lightens things up! Sometimes I'm too serious.
2. For every ladies' get-together, church event, party, luncheon, family gathering, decorating or entertaining event, we have in our home, at the church building, or at school, he is always very helpful. He carts tables, chairs, and plastic totes full of decorations around from one place to another. He runs errands, moves furniture, tidies up the yard, and helps in any way he can to help me or others get ready for the event. Then, after the event, he helps put it all back in place.
3. In some ways he really spoils me. I have only had to fill the van with gas a few times. He keeps it full for me. I think that is secretly because he's afraid I'll run it all the way to empty and then he'll be the one to have to come pick me up or bring me gas! He's right, of course, but I really do appreciate it! He keeps the trash taken out, keeps his clothes picked up, doesn't glue to the tv after work, doesn't expect the house spotless. He's not "typical" on a lot of "typical husband" lists, actually! I'm extremely blessed, I know!
4. Most importantly, he puts God first in his life. He shows that example to his family. His work with Tipton Home and for the children there is important to him. He is a great preacher (does this part-time filling in around here and for his work) and Bible class teacher. He rarely gets upset at anyone and if he does "they" will never know it. He lives out the truth that Jesus went through more by dying on the cross than we will ever go through here on Earth.
So, I am grateful for my husband. I don't tell him that enough, so it's a good thing he reads my blog :).
What are you grateful for today? Be sure to leave me a comment and let me know!
Sunday, April 12, 2009
So, we don't know what the beads are all about, but it's apparent that Biscuit thinks it would be a lot of fun to visit the counselor. He got an appointment set up with the counselor -on his own - for 3:05 on Wednesday. We told her she didn't have to do it, since there really wasn't a problem, but she wanted to do it for him. After Biscuit told me about the appointment, I asked him what he was going to visit with her about and he said, "Fruit". I asked, "Fruit?". Biscuit said, "Yep!" Okay....fruit! That makes sense, doesn't it???
Biscuit was so excited about getting to talk to the counselor at 3:05. I told him I would be back in a little bit. I went to pick him up about 3:20, but he was still in "counseling". I could see him through the window....would have liked to have been a fly on the wall! He and the counselor talked and talked and talked. He finally came out about 3:35 and said, "I'm coming back next Thursday at 3:05." I looked at the counselor and mouthed to her quietly, "You don't have to do this!" She said, "It's okay. He's fun!" We asked her later about the counseling session. She said that he wanted to know how much sugar was in fruit! That was all he wanted to know. She asked him questions like "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Biscuit said "President". Usually he says Vice-President because our 10-year-old wants to be President. She asked him about our past Presidents - the 1st, the 16th, the 43rd. He enjoyed answering all the questions, but Biscuit is mostly excited because the counselor is making him a bead necklace and giving it to him at the next "session". We've told him that this next meeting will be the last one. He's okay with that (not that it would matter, of course!).
This sweet counselor is giving Biscuit time and attention. She is listening to him. She is being a friend to him. She is taking time out of her busy schedule to talk to a little 6-year-old boy who is already well-loved and well-cared-for. Why? Because she loves and cares for all children. Biscuit has five others in the house with him, so there are plenty of us around to listen to him, but he thought the counseling and talking to someone else would be a lot of fun. Plus, the beads, of course, were a big deal!
How many people in the world need someone who will listen to them? How many people need someone to care about them? We know that God should be our #1 Counselor, but we all need friends, too. This counselor is being a friend to Tyler and making him feel special for these few visits. Who needs you to be a listening ear? Who needs you to be a friend?
Take the time this week to listen to someone who may need it. Take the time this week to help someone in need. Take the time this week to be a friend to someone who needs it. Their lives will be blessed, but so will yours. Sometimes in our hurried lives we don't take the time to stop and think of others. I challenge you and myself, too, to make an effort this week to put someone else's needs before your own. Reach out to someone who needs you. Through your example, you will be showing the love of Jesus. Just another way to "Shine Like Stars".
A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17a
Ointment and perfume delight the heart, And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel. Proverbs 27:9
Saturday, April 11, 2009
For today's Soap Box Saturday, I want to talk about Easter. Tomorrow morning millions and millions of people will worship God and many of those will be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. Of course, that is WONDERFUL! It is GREAT! It is what SHOULD BE DONE! But, here's my "Soapbox": On Sunday, April 19, many of those same people who were so excited about the risen Savior on Easter Sunday, will have put Him out of their minds until Christmas. Many feel obligated to get all dressed up and "go to church" on special holidays, but I can't find any scripture in the Bible that tells us that is what God wants.
In fact, we see just the opposite is true in the following passage:
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:19-25It seems from this scripture that the early church had the same kind of problems the church does today. There was, is, and always will be, those who choose to not assemble or meet together with other brothers and sisters in Christ to worship Him.
But, consider this question: Is Jesus your mascot or your Master? Answer it truthfully. Is Jesus something you just use to fulfill a duty or an obligation or his He the Lord of your life? The definition of mascot is: A person, animal, or object believed to bring good luck, especially one kept as the symbol of an organization, such as a sports team.
Jesus wants to be your Savior. But He wants to be recognized as being so every day...not just on special holidays.
Have a wonderful Easter Sunday!
3. GO is a big word because it is an open-ended command. Jesus said, "go and tell", but we ask the question, "When do I stop?". We may say, "I'm older now." "I've done my part." "I've taught others about Jesus." "I'm retiring from that job." But, we must realize God needs us for our entire life! You and I are never too old to serve God. You and I are never too old to tell others about Jesus. You and I may be telling others about Jesus from a nursing home bed or from a hospital bed, but we can still share the Good News!
Another question we may ask is, "How do I go?". You and I may make excuses. "I don't know what to say to others." "I don't know how to share the Good News about Jesus." By studying and reading God's Word, we become more and more comfortable with the teachings written there and then become more able to share those teachings with others. However, we do not have to be a Bible scholar to teach others! Just open the Good Book and share straight from the Word.
Another thing we have to realize about the word "go" is that maybe you and I are "going" and "telling", but maybe God wants us to get out of our comfort zone and go a different way. Maybe God can use us in a different way or in a different place. I have felt this way since I began teaching teenage girls. I was used to teaching adult women and had for 5 years. I was used to teaching preschoolers and had for 3 years, plus babies, and school-aged before that. But, I had never taught teens and was a little afraid to, honestly! But, God gave me the courage to teach these girls about Jesus and it's been exciting and gotten me out of my comfort zone. It's helped me, but more importantly they are learning about Jesus!
4. GO is a big word because of what we are asking of others. "Make disciples" is not a command that can be mass-produced in a factory. However, remember that Jesus gave this command in Matthew 28:16-20 and not very long afterwards about 3,000 disciples were 'made' in one day! Acts 2:41 says, "Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day."
God did mass produce, didn't he?!
We must remember that we are talking to real people with real lives. They have real opinions about what they believe. They have real experiences that they have gone through. That is an awesome responsibility and we cannot take that lightly. But, just as the Jesus' original disciples carried out the command and God gave them success, we must also have faith that God will bring about the same success now. We just need to get busy and get to work!
As we work trying to 'make disciples', we are telling them about Jesus and showing them His love and power. We are letting them know what a relationship with Jesus means...what following God's plan means for them - ultimately eternal life in Heaven! But, we also can only teach them about Jesus by showing them that we are living for Him. If we are trying to get someone else to become a Christian, it is implying that we have already given our lives to Him. We are telling them that we are striving to live our lives for Him each and every day. Not just once, not just a few times a year, not even 52 times a year, but every single day of our lives here on Earth.
Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23
So....GO seems like such a big word because it is. It truly is a big word.
Have a Happy Easter, everyone!
Friday, April 10, 2009
1. GO is a BIG word because it implies something about you, if you are a child of God. It says that Jesus Christ has caused a change in your life and that He has impacted you in such a way that you want to share Him with others. Can you say in words what it means to have Jesus in your life and to explain to other how you are living for Him?
2. GO is a BIG word because it contains a BIG purpose. In this passage we are told to go "make disciples" 'Go' is a simple word. 'Make disciples' are simple words. So how does "go make disciples" (disciples means "followers") become so complex and difficult?
For some, past sins may have had such a hold for so long, that even though now forgiven, we don't feel strong enough to consider ourselves a disciple. We may feel that we have to be a "perfect" Christian before we would feel comfortable telling others about Jesus. And, guess what? You'll never find a perfect Christian. The only perfect man that ever lived on the earth was crucified on a cross for you! However, the blood of that Savior can perfect you in God's eyes and with his forgiveness.
And then, sadly, for others, there is no intention to obey this command of Jesus and God's Will for all Christians. Those who may believe that the Great Commission is for everyone else, but not for them.
"Go make disciples" is not difficult, but it contains a big purpose. It is a grand purpose and our lives should be consumed with this purpose. This purpose being the goal of the early church is what made it grow, as we see in the following scriptures:
With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:40-47
Notice in the first bold printed verse: 3,000 souls were added that day!!
Notice in the second bold printed verse: The Lord added to their number daily!!
The early church was doing what the church is supposed to do: The Lord's business. Making disciples. And, the Lord added to the church....daily.
...Okay, this post is getting long and this is important stuff we're talking about! I'm going to ask you (please) to come back for the last two points on the next post which will be Saturday evening sometime. Have you ever heard how the human mind can only take 22 minutes of speaking from a public speaker? I doubt a blog post is even half that much!
Thursday, April 9, 2009
In the gospel of Matthew (28:1-10), we read Matthew's account of the resurrection of Jesus. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary had gone to visit the tomb, but when they arrived at the tomb, Jesus' body was not there. An angel of the Lord had come and rolled the stone away. He spoke to the women and told them to not be afraid, but to go quickly and tell his disciples.
They hurried on their way, but along the way met Jesus. They fell at his feet and worshipped him. In verse 10, Jesus told them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." The women went quickly.
Would you have wanted to be one of the women who went to the tomb early that Sunday morning? Would you have gone quickly when the angel said "go and tell"? After you met Jesus - risen and now alive - would you have clasped his feet and worshipped him? When Jesus told you to "go and tell", would you have gone?
I think almost all of us would answer a big YES to every one of those questions, without hesitation. We would have come in contact with the risen Savior!
Well, think about this today: If you are a Christian you, too, have come in contact with the risen Savior! He died, was buried, and rose for YOU! And like these women, you, too, have been told to "go and tell".
Later on in Matthew 28:16-20, Jesus sees the disciples for the first time since his resurrection. He tells them what he needs them to do in order to fulfill God's plan, in verses 19 and 20:
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
We are so excited about the risen Savior and, of course, we should be! But, are we just as excited to go and tell others about this good news? Mary and Mary Magdalene got the opportunity to go and tell the best news that can ever have been told!
Let's make it a point to tell this "juicy" news, too!
I had another post in mind for tonight, but I just had to change it. Usually when I write about our youngest child, it's in "The Chronicles of Biscuit" posts. "Biscuit" is always "up" to something and it's usually funny! But tonight....he's Tyler....and it's just the sweetest thing......
Each second Wednesday night of the month, instead of regular Bible classes, we have singing night. Boys and men of all ages go up and lead a song. Tyler is six, and is the youngest one that led a song tonight. After he led his song, he came and sat down. Others led songs and towards the end of the worship, my husband went to lead his song. He led "When All of God's Singers Get Home" and then came and sat down.
Tyler didn't go to school yesterday. He went to the doctor and was diagnosed with strep throat, but after being on the medicine for a day and feeling good, everything seemed fine, so went to school today. Towards the end of the worship, though, Tyler said his tummy was hurting and then a little later he started crying. I usually don't let the kiddos go out during services, but it seemed pretty bad, so he and I went to the bathroom. He went in and went out pretty fast. He seemed just fine. I asked him if he was okay and he said that he was. I asked him if his tummy hurt and he said it didn't. I said, "Then why were you crying? I thought you were sick." He started crying again and said, "That song makes me think of people in our family who have died." I said, "Which song? The one dad led?" He said, "Uh, huh."
I wanted to cry right there with him. It was the sweetest thing! I asked him who it made him think about and he said "Great Grammy", who was his 97-year-old great-grandmother, Amy, who passed away in January, and he said "Grandpa Gene", who was his 87-year-old great-grandpa who passed away three years ago. They were the two "greats" that he knew the most, even though two others have passed away in the last several years, as well. Tyler said, "Daddy led that song at Great-Grammy's funeral". And he did. In fact, that funeral was full of songs led by my husband, his three brothers, plus cousins, nephews, and uncles. It was a big celebration of her life as a Christian woman and she loved singing praises to God.
This post is a lot like yesterday's because it has to do with precious memories. What I think about, though, is the influence these two people had in Tyler's life, as well as so many other's lives. You see, his Great-Grandmother Amy was a preacher's wife for 50 years. She lived a faithful Christian life in service to God and to others. People still talk about she and her husband and the things they did or the things they taught them years ago. And Tyler's Great-Grandpa Gene? Well his memory still lives on, too. Since his death we have heard and are still hearing of the good deeds he did and the example he was to others. It's amazing the things he did....quietly...and without any thought of wanting praise or recognition.
I am so thankful all four of my children were able to see these two Christian examples for the years they did. Their example and their memory in Tyler's mind makes me think of my own life. What do I want my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren to remember about me? What legacy will I leave? What will yours think about you? What legacy will you leave?
Anyway, it was just the sweetest thing.....
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
For the past 6 years I've hosted the ladies from our congregation in my home for a spring salad supper. Everyone brings their favorite salad and we enjoy the meal together. After the meal, we do some kind of activity to get the ladies talking about themselves. This is always the highlight of the evening.
This year I announced for everyone to bring one or two things that were special to them. They all mentioned how hard it was to narrow it down to one or two! Several brought pieces of jewelry and knick knacks that were given to them by their children or passed down from their parents or grandparents. One Christian sister brought a silver dollar that her husband had as a teenager. He was going to use that silver dollar to take her to the movies, but she had some money and "bought" the silver dollar from him. She didn't want him to use it. She has had that silver dollar in her billfold for over 50 years now!
Several women brought Bibles that were their own when they were younger or had belonged to their parents or grandparents who are now deceased. It was interesting seeing how they were written and marked in. Our preacher's wife brought two letters that had been written to her by her dad and her son many years ago. The one from her son was written the night before he left for Japan. He wrote it not knowing for sure that he would ever see his parents again. She read the letter to the group. Very heartwarming! Thankfully her son did return home and is doing fine, but what a special letter she now has.
Another Christian sister brought an old 7up bottle. This bottle is used when she bakes angel food cakes. It holds the pan upside down while the cake cools. But, what is special about this bottle is that it was given to her when she and her husband were houseparents at Tipton Home. A teenage girl in their cottage became very sick with a rare type of pneumonia and later passed away from complications of the illness. That bottle has a sticker with the name of the young girl on it and is a reminder of her memory each time the angel food cake is made.
We know that all of these earthly "treasures" will some day be gone and that our real treasure is in heaven, but it's the special memories of the people associated with the "things" that make them special.
Christian fellowship was one of the main goals of the early church. Acts 2:42 tells us, "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Hmmmm. They "devoted themselves....to the fellowship". What does that mean? What is fellowship? A potluck dinner? No. It may include a potluck dinner, but that is not what defines Christian fellowship. Fellowship in the Greek means "to share together, take part together". Christian fellowship is being together. It is sharing together. It is having a relationship with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Precious memories are made when Christians come together and share sweet fellowship with one another. Is Christian fellowship important to you? Are you "devoted" to the fellowship as the early Christians were?