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Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Tiger Spirit

The Chronicles of Biscuit: Stories about our youngest son, Tyler, whose nickname is Biscuit.

Every Friday is Tiger Spirit Day at our small-town school.  Our four children participate each week, just like almost every other student does. Friday during P.E., Biscuit was with his 2nd grade class and also the 3rd grade class.  Coach W. and his assistant, a senior in high school and football player, were talking to the students.  Biscuit began bad-mouthing the high school football team, saying that they were going to get beat that night, by the opposing team, who was rated third in our class C.

Coach W., getting tired of the bad-mouthing, but also teasing Biscuit a bit, told him to go to the bathroom and turn his Tiger Spirit shirt wrong-side out and then come back to the group.  Biscuit did as he was told.  He and Coach W. talked a bit, but Biscuit told his coach he thought his mom would be upset if his shirt was turned that way (funny!).  He took off his shirt...right front of the whole 2nd and 3rd grade classes, Coach W. and the HS football player.  But, Biscuit didn't just switch his shirt quickly.  When the students got tickled about his bare chest, Biscuit decided to entertain them a bit, by "flexing his muscles" for them.  (Not that a 7 year old has muscles to flex.)

Coach W. and the HS boy were laughing so hard that they could hardly get enough breath to tell Biscuit to get his shirt back on.  Eventually they did and that was the end of that I've heard it.

However, it's not the end of the story.  For one, we promptly gave our friend, Coach W. the "okay" to spank Biscuit, if and when needed.  Not that he'll ever do it, but the threat is there, if needed.  Biscuit knows it, too.  But secondly, and even more importantly, the Tigers did win that game and BEAT the #3 team!!!  Yeah for the Tigers!  They are now District Champs and the first one or two playoff games will be in our own home town.  That's super!

If you are a Christian, you're on God's team.  But, just like Biscuit being a Tiger, but not supporting his team, sometimes Christians want the name, but don't want to "show the spirit" for God's team.  In other words, one may want the name Christian, but not act like one.  

Biscuit is a Tiger, but he doesn't always show school spirit.  So, now....will Biscuit show more school spirit now that they're champs?  I think so.  He's kind of a fair-weathered fan.  He's with you when he's winning....he's against you if you're not!

A follower of God, in the Bible, is often described as a tree that bears good fruit.  We will be recognized by our the life we live. In other words, as members of God's team, we must show some team spirit!

He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

 "Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 
Matthew 12:30-33

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Just Gettin' It Done

The Chronicles of Biscuit:  Stories about our youngest son, Tyler, whose nickname is Biscuit.

Every week Biscuit brings home a small stack of graded papers from his 2nd grade class.  I look through the papers, see if there are any I should be concerned about, the dispose of them (unless it's something worth saving, of course).  The past few weeks I've seen a few grades that are lower than usual - usually in a reading comprehension-type of paper.  I questioned Biscuit about the lower grades on these papers.  His reply was, "Well, on those, Mom, I like to hurry and get done so that I can work on other stuff."

I admire Biscuit's honesty! However, I told him that he needed to do his best, even if there was something else he was wanted to do (which happens to be the sport's schedules that he would work on for hours if I let him).  I'm waiting to see if my little speech helped or not!

There's a fine line between being too hard on our children and being too easy on them.  I suspect that we're all in the same boat, as parents. We certainly don't want to be too hard on our children and have such high expectations that they feel they can never measure up.  We don't want them to feel like are failures if they don't reach our goals.  However, on the other hand, if we're too easy, and just let them get by with mediocre work, there's a possibility they will loose interest in succeeding in anything and get lazy in everything.

I'm certainly no expert in this area!  Each of our four children are different, with different personalities.  They respond to pressure and conflict in different ways.  They respond to us and to each other in different ways. They are unique individuals, just as your children are.

The one thing that we can all do, though, is teach our children the verse below.  This verse says that whatever we would do, we should work as if we're working for God and for Jesus.  That's an easy way to explain to children about how they should work, how they should respond to their work in school, and in how they should live.

We need to be reminded of this verse from time to time, as well.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Clay Balls

A man was exploring caves by the Seashore. In one of the caves he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone had rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake. They didn't look like much, but they intrigued the man, so he took the bag out of the cave with him. As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could.

He thought little about it, until he dropped one of the clay balls and it cracked open on a rock . Inside was a beautiful, precious stone!

Excited, the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each contained a similar treasure He found thousands of dollars worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left.

Then it struck him. He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of thousands of dollars in treasure, he could have taken home tens of thousands, but he had just thrown it away!

It's like that with people. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see the external clay vessel. It doesn't look like much from the outside. It isn't always beautiful or sparkling, so we discount it.

We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful or stylish or well known or wealthy. But we have not taken the time to find the treasure hidden inside that person.

There is a treasure in each and every one of us. If we take the time to get to know that person, and if we ask God to show us that person the way He sees them, then the clay begins to peel away and the brilliant gem begins to shine forth.

May we not come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown away a fortune in friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of clay. May we see the people in our world as God sees them.

(Story from

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
2 Corinthians 4:7-12

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Parents, Be Their Heart Meter

This past Friday and  Monday was Fall Break for our school, which means there was no school. (Can I hear a YIPPEE for no school days???!!!) Teachers, students and parents get a much-needed break during this annual four-day weekend in most Oklahoma schools.

Each fall we decorate our yard with pumpkins and hay bales, corn stalks and a scarecrow.  It's my favorite time of year and my husband always makes sure we have plenty of the pumpkins and hay bales.  This year our own pumpkin crop didn't grow too well, so we actually bought about half of our pumpkins. 

Monday morning we woke up to a surprise.....a sad surprise.  Someone (or several someones) had stolen a lot of our pumpkins and one of the hay bales.  It disappointed us that someone had done it, especially since smashed pumpkins were seen on several streets in our small town.  This proved that the pumpkins were stolen only to be destroyed.  But the thought that someone came onto our personal property and stole something....even though it was pumpkins and a hay bale, makes me a little angry! 

What made me angrier is that I was writing my blog post late Sunday night and actually heard people at the stop sign near our house and heard a vehicle door shut.  That was probably the thieves!  I wish now that I had gone outside or at least looked out the window. I probably would have yelled out, "Thou Shall Not Steal!" and "Jesus Loves You!"....and then hit them with my son's marshmallow-shooter-sling shot :). Just kidding....don't worry!

Teens (we know it was teens now, although we don't know all that were involved) make bad choices.  So do adults.  But, I thought about this post I received some time back via email from Inspiration List.  It talks about the influences our children have around them from all different sources.  As parents, it's up to us to protect our children from those influences.  I love how Mr. Luce says that, as parents, we must be our children's "Heart Meter".

Who Owns Your Kid's Heart?
Ron Luce

"Johnny gets to do it, so why don't I get to do it?" Is this a familiar statement out of your son's or daughter's mouth? This is a tell-tale sign that their friends may be influencing them more than you do. Your kids can develop a frame of mind where they desire to please their friends more than you. You'll begin to see that these friends will subtly hold more authority in their lives than you do when it comes to what to wear or what to do.

Peer pressure is quite a common part of growing up, at least according to most parents. Yet the questions their children ask, based on feelings of peer pressure about why their friends get to do so and so and they don't get to do so and so, are met with responses like, "Because I'm not Johnny's parent, am I?" "Just do what I say," or "We don't do that in our home." While these responses are partially true, there is a deeper issue here: Is it really a "natural part of growing up" for our children's hearts to be given over more to their friends than to their parents? I'm not so sure. It may be a familiar part of growing up, but it doesn't mean that we can't stem the tide of the transference of their affections. It doesn't mean that we're doomed to lose our children, or that there's sure to be incessant fighting with the "because I say so!" kind of mentality from now until the time they leave home.

The change in ownership is not something that happens dramatically. However, there are subtle signs that friends are beginning to hold more authority than you do. Therefore, it is imperative to know who your kids' friends are; who they spend most of their time with. The values your kids friends hold will be values they attract to as well. Do you know what kind of talk goes on at school? What's being said in the locker room? And in particular, what is going on at overnight parties and sleepovers, even when they are young? Are they staying with their friends the whole night?

Most parents don't imagine they have any control over what are considered "normal" activities. How can parents control who their kids' friends are or what they do? How can they possibly know what's being said or done when their kids stay the night at another person's house? These are all difficult questions, but they are not unanswerable. We need to wake up to the fact that what seems to be the "normal way kids grow up" can actually pose entry points for the culture to begin to shape their minds and hearts.

When Katie and I were very young parents, some incredibly wise parents told us that the biggest mistake they ever made was to let their kids stay overnight with other kids. That seemed to be where all the trouble started for their kids, who were now teenagers who had gotten into quite a bit of it. There is a strange kind of peer pressure created, and an inordinate amount of influence on your children, when they are engaging in an all-nighter with someone else's kids, and you have no idea what that family's values are.

We made a decision when our kids were small that they could not spend the night at any friend's house. We modified that rule a little to say that they could stay the night at the houses of covenant friends. Covenant friends are parents with whom we have a relationship and know that they are raising their kids with the same values we have. We know that their kids are going to have the same kind of morals instilled in them. We know that the parents are going to be supervising our kids as well as their own.

Sometimes our rule about sleepovers meant that the girls could not stay the night with a friend down the street or even with their cousins. This is where it gets a little sticky, because we don't want to offend our relatives. However, one horrible conversation could destroy a whole bunch of work you are trying to do in the lives of your kids. If your children are only 8, 9, 10, 11, imagine if they had an exchange of thoughts and conversations with other kids, where rebellion is deposited, or something is shared about sex, or your kids are exposed to some movie where swear words are prevalent or it contains concepts that you just don't want in your kid's mind. Children are just too young to understand, not to mention the possibility of their sneaking out from a parent's supervision. We have stuck with this rule through all the years that our children were young, and I encourage you to do the same.

Parents, you are the ones to intervene in your children's lives to keep them from being pulled away by the culture. To do this, you need to develop a "heart meter" for your kids by watching for the signs-even when they are young. Watch who owns your kid's heart and mind, in each stage of growth, and you will see the cue for you to invest into their lives. You need to woo their hearts back from the culture or their friends so that you are their touchstone. You are the one they go to for advice and direction.

We are engaging into a battle for the hearts and minds of the young people of this generation, and we do have the authority to claim influence in our kid's life. It is time to step up and take the role that we have been given as parents. Remember, it's our job as parents to woo our children's hearts, to keep their hearts and then to influence their hearts. When that happens, they will become the God-honoring people we've always dreamed they would be. Who owns the heart of your child?

This article was adapted from Ron's book, Re-Create: Building a Culture in Our Homes That Is Stronger Than the Culture Deceiving Our Kids. Look for it at your nearest bookstore, or visit for more information.

Ron Luce is the president and founder of Teen Mania Ministries, a Christian organization reaching millions of young people worldwide. He passionately declares the Gospel through Acquire the Fire TV broadcasts, youth events, camps and media resources, challenging teens to take a stand for Christ.

Help Me Walk, Lord

Digging deep into the scriptures is refreshing, challenging, and inspiring.  It is impossible for me to ever read through a passage without find something new - even in something I've read many times before. I suspect we're all that way. There's always something new to learn.  Isn't that exciting?

Throughout my reading, studying, and writing last week's blog posts in particular, it made me realize that writing a blog makes me realize more and more that I am accountable to you.  Proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ is the goal of this blog, and I pray that it is always a blessing to those who take the time to read it.  As I say from time to time - don't take what you read here or what you hear or read else where and just accept it for truth.  Study God's Word for yourself to make sure what you are reading or hearing is truth - truth according to God's Word, not man's/woman's word.  The Bible is the ONLY source of what is TRUE and RIGHT. If you ever read a post on "Shine Like Stars" and have questions about it, please let me know.  I would be glad to study more with you via the blogosphere!

Here are last week's post I am referring to:  Does It Really Matter?; Open My Ears, Lord; Open My Heart, Lord; Open My Eyes, Lord; Open My Mouth, Lord; and Make Me New, Lord.

The following post is the "end" of this mini series.....that is, unless I add another one tomorrow....then it's not the end. :)

So, about this Walk.....
We need help.  Our Christian walk is easy at times, but also hard at times. We can not do it on our own.  We need a higher power and, as Christians, we have a higher power. We have God!  We have someone to follow - Jesus (John 8:12 and others)! And, God has given us a helper....a Counselor (John 14:26).  He has given us the Holy Spirit to help us and to guide us.  The Bible even says that when we are at a loss of what to pray for, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26).

Let's look at what the Bible says about our walk as Christians.

1.  We only have fellowship with God when we are walking in light.  When we do sin (and we all do) and we ask for forgiveness, we will be forgiven.  The blood of Jesus purifies us!

God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
1 John 1:5-10

2.  God made us to be workers in His Kingdom.  In fact, He prepared those things for us in advance.  Is that in advance of time, in advance of us being born?  Either way, He planned for us to serve Him a long time ago!  He wants us to use our talents to serve Him. In our good deeds, we shouldn't strive to receive glory, but rather He is glorified! Our walk should be one of service - always.

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16

3.  We walk by faith, not by sight.  If we knew what the future was in regards to our lives, we might be scared.  We might be afraid to face whatever we might see.  But knowing that God is in control and that He is here for us no matter what....we can face whatever comes our way.  Walking by faith is putting our full confidence and hope in Him. He will be our judge and decide where we will spend eternity.  We only have one life to live - let's live it for Him!

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body (Note:  meaning in the the world) we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
2 Corinthians 5:6-10

4. We show our love for God when we obey His commands.  And, the Bible tells us that the greatest commandment is to love Him and the second is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  Sounds simple enough, doesn't it?  But, quite frankly, it's sometimes hard to love the way God wants us to love.

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
2 John 1:6

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
John 13:34-35

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
Matthew 22:36-39

The whole chapter of Romans 8 talks about how the Holy Spirit helps us in our Christian walk.  Take the time to read it. It talks about how when we are living by the Spirit we will not be living according to the sinful nature.  If we allow our lives to be controlled by the sinful nature, we are not pleasing God.  We're not being obedient to His Will.

On this Gratituesday, I am thankful for the help God gives to Chrisitans in our daily walk.  Remember, there is no way to do it on our own!  Rely on God, Jesus, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit.  Then, and only then, will we be submitting to Him.

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

National FFA Convention

After being in 4-H since the 4th grade, our oldest son, Zachary, was excited to join FFA as an 8th grader this year.  We have several FFA jackets (our daughters, my husband's from the past, and a former Tipton student who moved away).  Zachary was excited to get his own jacket and sold Blue & Gold Sausage and D.J.'s food to receive a free jacket from the local FFA chapter. 
Zachary also earned the privilege to attend the FFA National Convention.  Last Tuesday night, my husband, Joe, and Zachary boarded a bus with several others from Tipton, OK.  They headed to Indianapolis, Indiana to attend the 83rd National FFA Convention.  The group returned early Sunday morning - 2:10 a.m. early!
The first stop was St. Louis, Missouri.  I wasn't sure Zachary would like going up to the top of the Arch, but he did.  My daughter and I rode to the top last year when we went to the National Convention.  It's sure neat to see everything from the tiny windows up top!
This picture is a little blurry because of the big screen, but this year's convention theme was "Infinite Potential".  The FFA does a great job with the sessions and makes it very special.
Indiana State Capitol
Inside the Capitol
Of course, Joe and Zachary didn't take quite as many pictures as I did last year, but they did manage to get one of Zachary by himself behind the Colts' stadium podium.  The microphone holder is in the way, but I'm still proud of the picture!
Tipton FFA group that attended, minus the adult sponsors.

I'm thankful that our FFA group had a safe trip there and back home.  They made lots of great memories, saw beautiful scenery with all of the fall colors, heard many great motivational speakers, and had lots of fun. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Make Me New, Lord

After hearing about God and about Jesus, a person will either believe that the Bible is true or they will believe that it is false.  They will make a decision about what to do with the One True God and the Savior Jesus Christ based upon what they hear and what they believe.

Hearing and believeing that Jesus is a Savior makes a person realize that they have sin in their lives.  Sin seperates us from God and Jesus is the only one who can draw us closer to God.  But, He can only draw us closer to Him if we allow Him to work in our lives.  Believeing that Jesus is the Son of God and that He is the Savior and the one who can wash away our sin, will cause us to repent of those sins.  Repenting is turning away from sin and drawing closer to God.  He draws us near to Him when we allow Him to be a part of our lives.

Jesus wants us to have a new life...a life that is ready to surrender our will and a life that is ready to do His Father's will. We put our faith in Jesus and give our lives to Him.  He can take our dirty, sinful life and make it new.  I like that, don't you?

There are so many scriptures that refer to our relationship with Jesus.  Here are a few of them.  Pay attention to the specifics of our relationship with Him. (I'm numbering the scriptures to discuss them at the end. I am also enlarging the text I will be referring to later. I try to use the whole passage thought, so that the full meaning is understood. (Be sure to open up your own Bible and check the scriptures for yourself!) Don't take my word for it. Take GOD'S WORD for it!  Let Him speak to you through His Words.

#1:  You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
Galatians 3:26-27

#2:  In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature,  not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us;
he took it away, nailing it to the cross.
Colossians 2:11-14

#3. For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.
1 Peter 3:19-22

#4. What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Romans 6:1-7

So let's look at each of the passages from above and consider our relationship with Jesus:

#1:  By faith we become sons (or daughters!) of God.  This happens through Christ Jesus and we clothe ourselves with Jesus at baptism.

#2 and #3 and #4: Each of these passages deal with our relationship with Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection.  The gospel is the "good news".  What is the good news?  It is Christ's death burial and resurrection. The best way to understand this is by the following illustration.  When I first saw an illustration similar to this several years ago...even though I had been baptized several years before that was the greatest thing!  It truly illustrates these verses and shows the significance of water baptism.

(Illustrations by Robert Swain)

So here we see that we are baptized into His death, we are buried with Him through baptism, and then just as Christ was raised up from the dead, we also are raised to walk in newness of life after baptism. There must be a death, burial, and resurrection before this new life is possible. Only in baptism does our old sinful person die and our new person rises free from sin. We are transformed from death to life. We become a new creation.

Baptism gives us a new life because of what Jesus did - because of the gospel!  He willingly died on the cross to save you and I!  He was buried and raised up to give us a death and burial of our old, sinful life...and resurrection resulting in a new life! 

Thank you, Jesus, for loving us so much!  Thank you, God, for loving us so much!
 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
1 Peter 4:17

He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
 2 Thessalonians 1:8
He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
Mark 16:15-16

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Romans 1:16

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Open My Mouth, Lord

There are times that we may want God to physically close our keep us from saying something we shouldn't - sarcastic remarks, gossip, slander, and maybe even curse words.  Sometimes we say things we shouldn't say or say things that don't need to be said.

There are other times when we should say something, where we should take a stand about something, and yet we keep quiet.  I wrote a post last week about being bold as Christians.  Jesus can give us the strength we need to be bold.  We can feel powerful because of what God can do through us, and thus, take a stand or speak out.

But there are some times when we need to say, "Open My Mouth, Lord".  Today let's look at confession.

The Bible speaks of two kinds of confession with the mouth.  The first type of confession mentioned is talking about confession of sins. Under the Old Law, confessions were made and sacrifices were offered to atone for that sin.  There were all kinds of laws attached to the sins.  Thankfully, Christ did away with all of that.  He became the sacrifice for our sins, so that no sacrifice would ever again have to be made. 

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1 John 4:10

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, repentance is turning away from sin and turning to God.  However, after becoming a Christian we will still sin.  The repentance will continue because the light of Jesus and the scriptures in the Bible will expose that sin.  But remember that Jesus was the perfect sacrifice!  His blood will continue to wash our sins away as we strive to walk in the light.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
1 John 1:5-10

But there is another confession that is important for salvation.  It is the confession that Jesus says all disciples (followers) of Him must do:  We must confess Him, just as the disciples in that day did. Another way to word the meaning for "confess" is "to acknowledge verbally".  In other words, we must verbally acknowledge Jesus for who He is and for what He has done for us.

"Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven."
Matthew 10:32

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
Romans 10:9-10

This confession is not a one-time thing.  For the Christian it must be a continual thing.  If we are not confessing Christ, we are denying Him.  We want Jesus to confess us before Our Heavenly Father, don't we?  Of course we do!  He wants us to continue confessing Him as well.

But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.
Matthew 10:33

So, how do we confess Christ?  Verbally?  Yes.  We certainly should confess Him verbally by giving Him praise and by telling others about Him.  But, we can also confess Christ by the way that we live our lives.  Do we live for Him or for the world?  Do we deny him by the way that we live?

Peter, who was one of Jesus' apostles, publicly denied Christ after vowing he would never do such a thing!  He never thought he would do it, yet he did.  Not just once, but three times.  Peter sinned.  When he realized his sin, he was sorrowful.  He wept because of his denial of Christ. (Mark 14:72).  Later, on the day of Pentecost, Peter boldly confessed Jesus (Acts 2) before thousands of people.  Because of his confession, many believed and were baptized on that day.

We may be like Peter.  When things are going good, it will be easy for us to confess Christ, but when things aren't going so good, it may be harder.  We may become discouraged.  It's at those times, we can look to God's Word for comfort and strength.  It's at those times we can look at the example of Peter.  Peter sinned those three times, but later confessed Christ and led many to Him by his confession and his teaching.

God has given us a mission.  He has given us a message to share with others.  We must fight the good fight even when times are tough.  In this passage, Paul encouraged Timothy to keep the faith and continue towards the Heavenly goal:

Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession
in the presence of many witnesses.
1 Timothy 6:12

We must also live a life that is worthy of the gift God has given us.  We must confess Jesus verbally and in the way we live.  Paul gave us another example of this to follow when he encouraged the Christians at Corinth to live according to their confession:

Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves,
men will praise God for the obedience that
accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ,
and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
2 Corinthians 9:13

We must not only confess Christ before men, but must also follow through with a life that models that confession.  By the way we live, we are confessing Christ.  But remember, it is not of our own doing, but because of what Christ and God are doing through us.  It is because of His Spirit within us....which we'll talk about in tomorrow's post.

Prayer for today:

Heavenly Father,
Open my mouth, Lord.  Help me to confess you daily.  Help me confess you by the words I say, by the praise I give You, by the way I tell others about Jesus, and by the way I live my life.  And when I fail - when I deny you like Peter did - help me have the courage to repent of that sin and allow Jesus' blood to continue to make me pure.

Thank You for your promises.  Thank you for Your love and mercy and grace.
In Jesus' name,

Open My Eyes, Lord

From the very beginning, after Adam and Eve first sinned by eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, mankind has had the ability to discern good from evil.  Their eyes were opened and their knowledge of sin became evident.

"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman.  "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Genesis 3:4-7

Although our eyes are open and we can discern between good and evil, sometimes our conscience is seared in that we don't recognized sin in our lives or realize that it is all around us.  God's Word will help open or enlighten our eyes so that sin will be exposed.

The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. Psalm 19:8

Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;  my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
Psalm 13:3-4
Paul's letter to the church in Ephesus:
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:17-19a

When our eyes are opened and we recognize sin in our lives - that we are sinners.  Only then will we realize that we need a Savior.  Jesus is that Savior!  Repentance is choosing to turn away from sin and to turn to God.  It's a change of mind that results in action.  Turning to God and realizing we need a Savior who can wash away our sins. In illustration, we take our "dirty laundry" to God and Jesus, and let them do the washing!

All throughout His ministry, Jesus preached of repentance.  His disciples did, as well.  (Luke 3:8-14,  Acts 26:20, Acts 17:30, Acts 20:21, and many more.)

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.
Acts 3:19

If you read yesterday's post, it talked about Peter addressing a large crowd and telling them the good news about Jesus. During his message, the eyes of the people were opened, they recognized their sin, they were pricked/cut to the heart. They interrupted Peter and asked, "What shall we do?"

Here is Peter's response - his answer to their repentant heart:

Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38

But, although our eyes must be opened to recognize sin and the need for repentance, it is important for us to realize that repentance is not a work we do to earn salvation. No one can repent and come to God unless God pulls that person to Himself  (see verse below and also Acts 5:31 and Acts 11:18)

 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day."
John 6:44

It is impossible to truly and fully change your mind without that causing a change in action. In the Bible, repentance always results in a change in behavior. When the eyes of our heart are opened, we see sin, but we also can see the only One who can take that sin away.  God's gift of salvation is only possible through His Son and Our Savior, Jesus.

When the eye of our heart are opened, we can see Jesus.

Prayer for today:
Open my eyes, Lord.  Let me see the sin in my life and in the world around me.  Also let me see Your Son, Jesus, who You willingly gave to died on the cross for those sins, so that I might have them washed and way and have the opportunity to live with you forever.  Thank you for that gift. Help me have a repentant heart, but know that your are the only one that grants forgiveness.  Draw me near to You.

In Jesus' name,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Open My Heart, Lord

In the Bible, there are many descriptions given of the heart.  In Exodus, Pharaoh's heart was hardened towards the Israelites. Sometimes it says that the Lord hardened his heart and other times it says that he, himself hardened his heart. (Exodus chapters 8-14) Later on even the Israelites, themselves, hardened their hearts towards God, as did King Nebuchadnezzar, King Belshazzar, and others throughout the Bible.

But in other places, the Bible speaks of hearts being opened - or being pricked or cut (in comparison to circumcision under the Old Law).  The first place the open or pricked heart is mentioned is in Acts 2, during Peter's first sermon on the day of Pentecost.  Peter addressed the large crowd telling them all about Jesus.  He told them about Jesus' whole life and then named them as the accusers and the ones who eventually  killed him.  The crowd believed Peter's message.  They were pricked/cut to the heart.

"Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"
 Acts 2:37 

You can look up Peter's answer and the crowd's response in Acts 2:38-41, but for right now, let's focus on the heart of the people that heard Peter's message.  They were cut to the heart.  Their hearts were opened to the message they heard and they responded.

Belief in Jesus comes from hearing the good news and believing it.  Jesus said, "I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins." John 8:24.  

We must believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the He is the Son of God, that He was born of a virgin, and that He is the Savior and the only way to God.  That belief is essential for all of Christianity.  Without belief in Jesus, we would have no hope of eternal life.  He is the way - THE ONLY WAY!

Many people may believe in God and believe in Jesus, but that belief goes no farther than that.  They may hear with their ears about God and about Jesus, but their heart is still hardened or not pricked or cut in any way.

True belief in God and Jesus changes our heart.  The heart responds to the gospel message, just like the crowd we read about above. True belief will not keep quiet, but want to share that message with others, so that they can know the truth, as well.

When we believe in God and believe in Jesus, our hearts are opened to His Word.  Our hearts are pricked or cut.  We want to serve God. We want to trust His promises and obey His commandments.  We want to be more and more like Jesus. We want to be live in Heaven forever in eternity.  It's our hearts' response to our belief in Him.

Prayer for today:
Open my heart, Lord.  Help me to believe in You and to believe in Your Son, Jesus.  Help me truly believe that He was sent to this world to be the Savior of all.  Open my heart to the gospel message, but also help me to respond to that message.  If I believe it, I must share that message with others - by telling them and by showing them your love.  Help me more like Jesus every day.

In His name,

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Open My Ears, Lord

As a parent, I know sometimes my children "hear" me, but they don't actually listen to what I'm saying.  My husband and I used to tease each of them when they were little, that we were going to get them an appointment with their doctor to get their hearing checked.  They would just laugh and admit they really weren't listening to us like they should.  No doctor's appointment was needed.

We can hear all kinds of things around us - both good and bad, but we must choose to listen to what is good and needful and choose not listen to what is not good. We also must be willing to hear the open our ears to the message about Jesus.  

The Bible talks a lot about ears and hearing.  Hearing is one of the first ways we will know about God and about Jesus.  We may hear it from others or maybe we read about it in the Bible ourselves.  But, when we hear....what do we hear?  What do we want to hear?  Do we want to hear the truth?  Do we want to hear only about what makes us feel good? Do we believe everything we hear?

In 2nd Timothy, Paul gave Timothy this charge about preaching the truth.  He told Timothy that there would come a day that people would not want to hear sound doctrine, but would want to hear what they wanted to hear.  They would turn from truth to myths.

"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." 
2 Timothy 4:2-5

To believe the Bible, believe in God, and believe that Jesus really is the Son of God and that he came to bring salvation to all, we must first hear that word.  We must hear it from those who proclaim that message and learn about it from His Word.  That good news is spread all over the world for everyone to hear....if we'll all just open our ears.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
Romans 10:14-15

Hearing the truth is essential to becoming a faithful Christian.  In fact, faith comes from hearing that message...and the only true message comes straight from the Word of God.  Anything else we hear or read, we should check it out in the Bible to make sure what we're hearing is truth.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. 
Romans 10:17

Maybe we should all pray this prayer:

Open our ears, Lord.  Help us to not just hear, but to also listen. Let us hear Your message and the good news of Jesus always.  Help us to always listen to Your Word and obey your commands.  Help us to open our ears to truth and to stay away from anything untrue.

In Jesus' name,

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Does It Really Matter?

Sometimes I get the feeling that people don't really care.  Maybe it's just me, but it seems that in the world, Christianity is professed, but not always lived out.  I'm not trying to be judgemental at all.  Some things are just obvious.  Trey Morgan wrote about this recently in his blog post BE BOLD TODAY.  Sometimes we, as Christians don't live out our lives boldly.  It's like we want to hide our Christianity or we only want it when it's convenient to do so.  But Jesus wants us to follow Him pick up our cross (our burden) and follow Him daily.  He's coming back, just as the Bible tells us.  He wants us to be ready!

Does it really matter how we live?  Let's see what the Bible has to say. Consider this passage from 2 Peter 3:10-14 (the heading of this chapter says, "The Day of the Lord", meaning when Christ returns.)

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

Notice where I've enlarged the text and the question it asks:  What kid of people ought you to be?  Apparently it does matter how we live.  Of course, Jesus' free gift of salvation is not earned by our "goodness".  We could never be good enough to earn salvation.  But, because Christ gave His life for us and God has asked us to live a certain way in this passage, as well as many, many others, it seems that it really does matter how we live.

So what did this passage say about how we should live?  It said that we should live holy and godly lives.  What does that mean?  God is holy.  Holy means set apart.  So living a holy and godly lives is being set apart.  Set apart from what?  Since God hates sin and there is so much sin in the world and all around us.  It would make sense that we should be set apart from sin. 

The Bible actually lists sins throughout the Bible....too many to list here, but sin literally means to "miss the mark".  I don't know about you, but I probably miss the mark in some way at least once every day.  Thankfully, we serve a loving and merciful Heavenly Father, who is willing to forgive us when we miss that mark.

Does it really matter? Apparently, to God, it does.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Things - Like Makeup and Such

I'm the type of person that just sticks to the same old thing in a lot of ways.  Same favorite colors of clothing, same furniture arrangement in our home, same makeup brands and colors.  Mostly the reason I "stick to the same old thing" is because I don't like change in those areas, but in the makeup area, I'm too cheap frugal to change.  I don't want to buy something and then not like it.  I don't like to waste the products if they don't work out, so I don't waste money on trying new products. I just stay with the same thing all of the time.

A few weeks ago, due to certain circumstances, I had to try something new.  I had to try different makeup.  And you know what?  I liked it!  It was fun and it worked (well at least I thought it looked good!)  Who knew that new and different makeup might actually be better??? Probably all of you!

Here's what happened:  I went to the QMCC ladies retreat and at the end of the retreat, I packed up my stuff in the vehicle.  During breakfast a friend brought me my makeup bag, saying I had left it in the cabin. I joked that if I had left it it at QMCC, I would have had to wear three teenage girls' makeup the next day.  I said that because after the retreat I was going to stop by my house, unload the retreat decorations and clothes, and head to Arlington, Texas, with my husband, daughter, and two of her friends for an overnight trip (you can read about that trip here).  We both laughed about that possibility of borrowing makeup from teenagers.  Little did I know that would be exactly what would be happening the next day!

I got back home and my sons and husband all helped me unload.  My makeup bag and Bible were in one of the decoration buckets that my son, Zachary, took in. I grabbed my Bible, but failed to notice that my makeup bag was in there, as well.  Into the house it went, and in the opposite direction I went.  I didn't notice that my makeup bag was missing until the next day.

Early Sunday morning we woke up early to get ready for worship and Bible class.  My husband and I were in one hotel room and the three teenage girls were in an adjoining room.  I asked my husband if he had seen my makeup bag.  He hadn't.  He even went down to the car and checked.  It was no where!  I knocked on the girls' door and told them my problem...asking if I could borrow theirs.  My daughter has a much darker complexion than I do, so I borrowed some of her stuff and some from one of her lighter-complected friends.

I was so surprised that I liked a lot of my daughter's makeup!  In fact, some of the things I liked even better than my own.  I couldn't believe it, really!  So, the next time I went to the store, guess what I did?  I bought new makeup.  Aren't you proud of me?????  I got out of that makeup rut and tried something new! (You can clap for's okay :).  Who knows?  I might even decide to rearrange furniture some day. (doubtful)

New things.  Sometimes it's hard to try new things.  But unlike my wanting to try new makeup because I didn't want to waste money, many new things we could try don't cost a thing.  Now they may make us feel uncomfortable.  They may make us nervous.  But we mustn't let fear keep us from trying something new....especially from trying something new as it relates to our service to God.

At that ladies retreat I mentioned, we needed someone to lead the singing.  The "usual" song leader was busy that weekend and wasn't going to be able to attend.  I sent a message to a friend that I knew was coming and asked her if she would lead the songs.  She said yes.  I don't think she realized just how many songs she would be leading over the course of the over-night event!  She later said that, even though at first she wasn't sure about it, trying something new was good for her.  She did an excellent job!

Another friend at the retreat gave a devotional thought.  She, too, wasn't sure about doing it when I asked her, but she said yes anyway.  She decided to try something new, just because I had asked her (which is another lesson for us:  It never hurts to ask!).  She also did an excellent job.

Both of these women tried something new.  They both discovered a new talent.  They both found new talents that can be used in their service to God.  Isn't that great??!

So, will you try something new? Maybe you can just start out me.....and try some new makeup!  Or maybe you can try something really worthwhile, such as branching out and finding a new talent like my friends did. 

Try something new.  Find a new way to serve God.  Tell someone about Jesus.

You can do it!  Then, write and tell me and I'll clap for you (and pray a prayer of thanks for you), 'mkay?

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Isn't Your Bag Heavy Enough?

I received this via email from Inspiration Daily .  It's such a great thought I wanted to share it with you today, along with this scripture that goes well with the message.

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Colossians 3:13

Isn't Your Bag Heavy Enough?

One of my teachers had each one of us bring a clear plastic bag and a sack of potatoes. For every person we'd refuse to forgive in our life experience, we were told to choose a potato, write on it the name and date, and put it in the plastic bag. Some of our bags, as you can imagine, were quite heavy.

We were then told to carry this bag with us everywhere for one week, putting it beside our bed at night, on the car seat when driving, next to our desk at work.

The hassle of lugging this around with us made it clear what a weight we were carrying spiritually. We were constantly reminded how we had to pay attention to it all the time. We could not forget the bag and kept putting our bag in embarrassing places. Naturally, the condition of the potatoes deteriorated to a nasty slime.

This was a great metaphor for the price we pay for keeping our pain and heavy negativity! Too often we think of forgiveness as a gift to the other person and it clearly is for ourselves as much as anyone!

So the next time you decide you can't forgive someone, ask yourself... isn't your bag heavy enough?

- Author Unknown

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tsunami Mommy

"Tsunami Mommy"
That's my new nickname, bestowed upon me by my loving husband.  He means it as a strict warning to our four children that mom is on a cleaning/straightening rampage and that they'd better have everything neat and orderly.  I kind of think he means it in a negative sense (It's just a vibe I'm getting...), but I totally take it as a positive nickname - one that I have earned

It has taken several years, many messes, four children, and many messes and episodes with those four children for many acquire this special nickname.  So I am honored to have earned it.    I am grateful for my newly-earned nickname.  I think it makes me a legend, don't you??? ;)

My mother-in-law was known as "Hurricane Sharon".  She got her nickname from being a mother to six and houseparent at Tipton Home to 17....YES  S-E-V-E-N-T-E-E-N!  22 TOTAL PEOPLE IN HER HOUSEHOLD FOR 12 YEARS!  She earned her nickname, too, in more ways than I will ever earn mine.  I've heard it told that she would empty out dresser drawers and have a pile waiting for a child to come and straighten it up - in a neat and orderly fashion.  She's still the most organized person I know.

My house isn't that orderly, though I kind of wish that it was. (Maybe I should invite "Hurricane Sharon" over for a  cleaning visit while???? Ummmmm. No.  I'd be embarrassed!) My drawers aren't straight.  Some of them are, but very few.  My philosophy is more "out of site - out of mind", but by that I don't mean "stuff everything under the bed" or "stuff everything in a garbage bag" or having "12 water bottles stuffed in crevices by the bed/under the bed" (as this photo illustrates).  No.  I'm more into things being put up in the right place; however, that place, in and of itself, may be messy. (Does that make sense??)  I can only go so far.  I don't have the time to organize everything perfectly.....and honestly, if I had the time, I wouldn't do it. It's just not that important to me.  I like to do to many other things to be totally organized.
Photo:  Source - Mom....June 2010
Prosecutor - Tsunami Mommy
Defendant: Jacob, age 12
Crime:  12 water bottles by/under his bed

Luckily for my kiddos, a few weeks out of October are fairly free on my calendar during the daytime while they're at school, so "Tsunami Mommy" is out in full force and finding lots of piles for them to take care of when they get home from school. I know they will thank me when they're older.  I'm certain of it.  But for now, I'd better get back to earning my new nickname.  I wouldn't want it to be taken away.

I'll be back for another more devotional-type post tomorrow.  See ya then :).

This post is linked to Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers. Join us for Gratituesday, why don't cha?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What About the Stars?

The other day I was thinking about the stars and then began to think about the theme verse of this blog, Philippians 2:14-15, "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe."

As Christians we're to "Shine Like Stars", so I was thinking about characteristics of the stars.  When I went to the NASA website it was interesting to see that stars have five characteristics:  brightness, color, surface temperature, size, and mass (amount of matter).  Can these characteristics tell Christians anything about living our lives "shining as stars"?  I think they can.  Let's see!

Just as stars shine in various degrees of brightness, Christians "shine" in various degrees as well.  Differently, but each one shining in an important way.  As Christians, we all have different jobs, different abilities, different talents....but each person is important in God's kingdom.  Yes, some jobs or talents are more "seen" by others, but that doesn't make the person more important. Through the blood of Jesus we form the one body....the church.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 
Romans 12:3-5

Who knew that stars had different colors?  I sure didn't! NASA states that stars vary in colors from yellowish, blueish, and reddish.  Interesting!  So, in our Christian life, of course we all have varying degrees of actual skin color...depending on our ethnicity, but let's think of "color" having to do with the brightness of our light.

As Christians we are to let our lights shine.  But, just like real stars sometimes are hidden by clouds, sometimes we let things get in the way where our lights aren't shining like they should.  We have to get rid of the "stuff" that gets in the way of our lights shining.  By serving others, working in a way that glorifies God, and taking the time to tell others about Jesus, we are not only living as "shining stars", but we are also pointing others in the same direction.  

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. 
Matthew 5:14-16

Stars are hot...very hot... but, they vary in degrees of "hotness".

Christians vary in degrees, also.  We may be cold.  Maybe our desire for serving God is gone.  Maybe something got in the way of our shining light and eventually our light went out.  Or maybe we're kind of on fire for God, but it just depends.  Sometimes we are.  Sometimes we're not.  We're lukewarm.  But maybe we're totally on fire for God and Jesus!  Maybe we are letting our lights shine brightly, and we're completely committed to Him. That's what God and Jesus want from us - our total commitment.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Revelation 3:15-16

4.  SIZE
Stars vary greatly in size.  The variation in size and temperature determines the stars' brightness. 

When one first becomes a Christian, they are described as "babes".  We may know the elementary teachings of Christ - described as "milk" - but don't fully know about the Bible.  But, eventually the Christian will mature....or at least we should mature.  The mature Christian will move on to "solid food".  In both 1st Corinthians and Hebrews, we read of the early Christians who had some trouble with maturing.  

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?  
1 Corinthians 3:1-3

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
Hebrews 5:11-13

5.  MASS (Amount of matter)
The mass of a star refers to the amount of matter it has or basically it's density.  A definition of density is "the degree to which something is filled".  

As Christians, our lives can be consumed by all sorts of things - physical and material things or spiritual things.  Idolatry is often spoken about in the Bible.  Idolatry is anything put in place of God or in front of God.  As Christians we must guard our lives so that nothing becomes more important than God and Jesus in our lives.  In everything we do, we must keep God and Jesus first.....or I like to look at it as keeping Him in the center of our lives and everything else to the outside.  Our lives should be filled up with God, with Jesus, with His Word, and by being a part of His church....the church Jesus died for.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Ephesians 5:25-27

Using these star characteristics we can "Shine Like Stars".

So SHINE, Christian - SHINE!
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