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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Blog Design!

I don't like change.  I'm sure I've mentioned that before!  But, after more than three and a half years, I decided to change the design of my blog!

To have a unique, one-of-a-kind design, I chose a blog designer team after quite a bit of research.  I'm pleased with the results, and I hope you all that stop by daily, from time to time, or those who subscribe to Shine Like Stars are, too.

It will take me a while to get all of the page layouts completed, but hopefully it will go smoothly and I can figure it out - with my inadequate technology knowledge!

Thank you to Smitten Blog Designs (!  You did a wonderful job!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Judge Me....Judge Me Not

I've been thinking about this post for quite some time. It seems like it is something people struggle with - the "Judge Me....Judge Me Not" idea.  It seems that this topic isn't just a problem with non-Christians, but also with Christians.  So, let's have a look at the scriptures and see what they have to say about judging others. 

This scripture is probably the most quoted of all when it comes to judging others.  Christians use it as a way to not get too involved in the lives of others and non-Christians use it in defense of their sinful lifestyles (not sinful by "my" standards or by "your" standards, but by the standards of God....lined out in His Word.)

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Matthew 7:1-5

But, when you read this passage carefully, you will see that it is not saying that we can not judge, but that by the same measure we judge others, we will also be measured.  In other words, if I judge and condemn others, but yet fail to look at the sin and problems in my own life, then I'm being hypocritical and will be judged severely. 

Those who cry out, "Don't judge me!" are, in fact, judging the person they are crying out against!  Have you ever thought about that before?? So, "Judge Me Not" isn't really that simple, is it?
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?
Romans 2:1-3
We know that God is the ultimate judge of our souls.  Even Jesus didn't come to judge, but to save. There is no disputing that fact.  His Word plainly teaches that God will judge the hearts of everyone.  He will judge our motives.  He will judge our actions and our deeds. 

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.
1 Corinthians 4:5

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.  God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.
Romans 2:5-8

Other scriptures tell us to judge others very plainly.  When telling others about Jesus and how He died on the cross to forgive them of their sins, we are pointing out the need for Jesus.  We are pointing out sin in their lives (and hopefully recognizing it in our own lives.).  The judgement that God's Word tells us to pass on others is the judgement of those who are already professing to be Christians.  Read the following passage:

I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people - not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”
1 Corinthians 5:9-13

Paul is writing here - being inspired by God - and he is saying that those IN the church should judge those IN the church and not those on the outside.  Is that shocking to you?  Why in the world would Paul/God suggest such a thing?  Isn't what I do my business?  Isn't it true that "no one can tell me what I can and can not do?"  "No one can tell me something is right or wrong!"  Well, it appears that that is, indeed, what Paul/God is saying.  So why?

If a Christian sees a brother or sister in Christ sinning, it is his Christian duty to lovingly and respectfully confront the person with his sin.  However, this is not judging (or shouldn't be) in a condemning way, but rather pointing out the truth.  Pointing out sin and pointing out the truth strives to reach the ultimate goal - of bringing repentance in the other person and to restore them to the fellowship of God. (Remember sin seperates us from God.  Repentance is what brings us back to God.  The blood of Jesus will continually cleanse us when we have a pentinent heart.) We are to speak the truth in love and proclaim what God's Word says about sin. We are to judge the sin, but always with love toward the sinner. The goal of presenting the solution for sin and its consequences - the Lord Jesus Christ and He must be the motivation that brings us to the realization that it is our responsibility to talk to our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Another reason it is important that Christians judge sin in the lives of others is because when Christians are continuing in sin, they are being hypocritical.  The world is seeing someone who professes to be a Christian, yet sees no evidence of a changed, transformed life.  Why would anyone want to be a Christian if the example they see is no different than their own life?  Full of sin and full of despair?

"Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.”
John. 7:24

So, in reality, we can and do judge others, as long as we apply the same standards to ourselves and knowing full well that God will use the same standard on us.  We can and should judge others when it comes to sin in their lives and in regards to their salvation.  Hopefully and prayerfully, we want others to judge us, that sin in our lives might be pointed out and taken care of quickly.

My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
James 5:19-20

On this Gratituesday, I am grateful that God is the ultimate judge of my life, but also grateful for those who love me enough to let me know when there is something in my life that needs to change....according to His Word and not man's opinion. 

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

My Other House is Cleaner

I remember being at a funeral years ago and hearing a statement about how clean this particular woman kept her house.  I commented to my husband afterwards that that statement wouldn't be made at my funeral.  I also remember his reply, "That's okay.  I would rather you be known for doing other things for others than for having a clean house."  You know what?  I would, too!

Now, I'm not talking about a filthy home.  I'm not talking about never doing housework. In fact, if you ask my children, they would say I/they clean all of the time....but, the Mary Poppins spit-spot, immaculate home that I can only dream of will not be a reality in our household - at least until the children are grown. (Oh, but then there will be grandchildren!) Or unless Mary Poppins decides to move in!

I'm talking about "messes" from time to time.  Messes from doing thing for others.  Messes from providing meals for my family and for others.....for the sick, for the needy, and just for fun.  Messes from doing things with our children and for taking time to be together as a family.  Messes from having a family. Messes from not having enough hours in the day to get everything done.

I could keep a clean and tidy house 24/7/365, I'm fairly certain.  Yes.  I could do that if that was the only thing I was committed to.  If I never volunteered my time to serve others and to help others in our school, in church work, and in our community,  I would have a super-clean house, but I wouldn't be using my God-given talents in service to Him.  That service sometimes means giving up my time to do what I "want" and instead offering my time to others in need. The Proverbs 31 woman could do it all.  I must admit that I can't.

There is good news to my house keeping downfall, though!  It's the reason for the title of this post. " My Other House is Cleaner" is a popular home decor saying, but it's also a very true saying.  As a Christian, our other house (home) is HEAVEN!  It's clean!  It's super clean!  It's super tidy!  And I am looking forward to that other house some day, aren't you?

(P.S.  There will be no dishes to wash, no laundry to fold, no floors to mop. And the best part - it's paid for by Jesus.  Let's go! :)

Happy Monday, everyone!

In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 
John 14:2

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fishers of Kids

Last week, the first Wednesday school started, we began a new Bible class for our 1st - 6th grade students.  We're calling it "Fishers of Kids" and actually getting quite a bit of our material for FREE from (Thank you, Fishers of Kids, for your website!)
My husband (shown in top picture) is the deacon in charge of the class, so will be teaching the majority of the lessons.  He's using this old, old visual aid that was made by his granddad, Albert Trent, who preached for over 50 years!  Many people all over the country remember learning off of this original first type of powerpoint (as we refer to it!).  It's worn and a little smudged, but the children don't mind one bit!
The students spend the hour-long class time learning Bible facts, singing, praying, and having fun while learning more about God's Word.
It's especially fun getting the adults to help with skits!  This skit went along with the "Read Your Bible" theme we did last night. Great job to these fine actors! :)
And here is Leroy....the puppet.  He's always learning a lesson about God's Word in an interesting way!  The kids really like Leroy!!  (Thanks Renee' for helping with this part of our lesson!  You're doing great!)
Teresa read a tweaked version of "The Three Little Pigs".  This version taught the students that reading the Bible was a sure defense against the devil.  (Thank you, Teresa!)
Another website we are using is one that I've used many times for class and for VBS - Danielle's Place. (  I have a subscription to the site, but many things are free.  The students made this "God Aids" (like Bandaids) with little bandage scriptures to keep handy for any kind of problem that might come along.  Danielle's Place is an awesome website for crafts, activities, and even complete lessons.

Our oldest three children have also helped with skits and other adults have helped with puppet shows and the crafts.  It's great getting people involved in different ways and this way is great because it's helping our children learn about God, Jesus, and the Bible.

So exciting!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Biscuit, We've Got a Problem!

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

What a cute booklet Biscuit's 3rd grade teacher had them do on the 3rd day of class!  I was so excited reading through the pages and seeing Biscuit's work!  It was so cute looking at his answers, until this one:
Ummmmm.......Biscuit, we've got a problem!!  Yes, we do!  You don't like work, huh??  So much that you list it 3 TIMES????!!!  Apparently so!

It doesn't really surprise me that Biscuit put this on the paper.  In fact, it wouldn't surprise his daddy or his siblings, either.  Hard work doesn't seem to be Biscuit's strong point at the present time.  He'll work if it has to do with sports and anything that has to do with sports, but other than that - not too much!  We've got some work to do with that.  

Biscuit is the baby of the family and I think that it is natural to do things for the youngest.  We're all guilty - all five of us in his family.  We all "take care" of him and probably have for too long.  Some things he does very independently, but a lot of other things he doesn't.  Not good to do too much for the youngest!  It can make the youngest a tad bit spoiled it some ways (Ex.  WORK!).

Yes.  We've got some work to do!!

God expects His children to be workers, but like Biscuit, sometimes we're lazy.  We don't like work.  We don't like work.  And.....we don't like work.  Sadly, we often give the same answers to God that Biscuit gave on his booklet.  

Here are just a few verses that will help us when we get that "Don't like work" attitude when it comes to working in general.  These will help us remember that when we are working....however we are working.....we are working for the Lord and not for men.  

Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.
Colossians 3:23

Commit your work to the LORD, and then your plans will succeed. 
Proverbs 16:3
 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."

2 Thessalonians 3:10

As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.
John 9:4

So, yes, Biscuit, we've got a problem.  And we (rather, YOU) are going to start "working" on that problem on day five of 3rd grade! That's tomorrow, Biscuit --- so BEWARE!

On this Gratituesday, I am grateful that God is forgiving and patient with me when I get lazy and don't want to do His work.  My prayer is that I will be willing to work for Him earnestly and that I will always remember that in everything I do, I am working for Him....not for men.  I'm also grateful for the opportunity to teach Biscuit more about work!  We have lots of "work" to do, it seems! :)

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mystery Trip 2012

This year's annual "Back to School Mystery Trip" was a lot of fun!  My husband and I planned to take the kids to visit his brother and our sister-in-law, who moved from here several years ago, to Marble Falls, Texas, were he serves as youth minister.
We picked up the kids right after school Friday and headed south. Because we're close to the Texas border and because I had told them to pack their Texas Rangers' shirts, they figured we were going to Texas, so that wasn't much of a mystery. The mystery was "where" in Texas. Texas, as you all know is BIG! The kids guessed the Dallas area, but after going past several Dallas/Ft. Worth exits, they soon figured out we weren't going that direction.
Several hours down the road, they figured it out. Half of our family had already been to Marble Falls in the past, but the other half hadn't. We enjoyed the trip, enjoyed visiting with family, had lots of highlights!
The first stop was at a "pretty" convenience store.  We were impressed with it, anyway!  Much different than most convenient stores!  The second stop was at Hard 8 BBQ in Stephenville, TX.  No plates used - just trays!  You get your meat outside where it is smoked.  YUM!
Here, son Jacob, is enjoying his corn on the cob with a LOT of butter on the cob and on his face!
Saturday morning we played miniature golf in Marble Falls.  Here are the cousins taking a photo break before going to the next hole.
Saturday evening we traveled to Round Rock, TX, to watch the Texas Rangers' minor league team (Express) play baseball.  The mascot was so funny and cute!
The Express won the game - came from behind!  This photo is of our children after the game and fireworks show. 
This picture was Sunday morning before heading to worship.  It was great worshipping at Marble Falls, TX! 

We headed back to Oklahoma after eating yummy Italian food, finishing the trip with a family worship time in the vehicle (I love these times singing, praying, reading scripture and having devotional thoughts together!).

Thank you, Ken, Michelle, and kiddos for the fun time!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Happy and Sad.....All at the Same Time

First Day of School 2011
First Day of School 2008

That's how I've been feeling the past few days:  happy and sad....all at the same time.  Why?  Happy that our four children are healthy, happy, and were able to begin a new school year, but on the other hand, sad that time goes by so very quickly and our children will be grown and gone from home before we know it.  Those of you who have already experienced it know exactly what I am talking about.

It seems like yesterday our oldest, Lauren, was beginning kindergarten, excited about her new venture and a little excited to be going to school all day.  Now she's begun her junior year.  Only one more first day of school left in this chapter of her life.  Exciting to watch her grow, learn, and experience all high school has to offer, but sad that it's almost over.  Excited to think that soon she'll be off to college, and eventually become a wife and mother (and I'll be a grandma!), but hard to believe that is even a possibility within a few short years!

Our second oldest, Zachary, began high school this year.  He was my biggest baby at birth and it's looking like he may be the tallest of all of our children.  He's changed more this summer than ever and has become a young man right before our eyes. Not having a brother myself, watching the boys grow up has been interesting and fun! Such happy thoughts, yet so sad!

And then Jacob, the third oldest.  Now officially a teenager and playing junior high sports.  So exciting that he and Zachary will be playing on the JH teams together in several sports!  He says he'll always stay close to home, won't go far for college or even after he's married and a dad. (However, we've warned him he HAS to leave home by age 21! We love him, but love him enough to tell him that big rule! :)  How happy it makes me feel that he loves us and his home enough to be content to stay here, but how sad it is that 18 or 21 will be here before long.

Last, but certainly not least, our youngest, Tyler.  He's grown up faster than any of the others, it seems.  Just yesterday we were talking about the day he was born.  All of his siblings had just gone to their grandparent's house and thirty minutes later they got the call that their new brother had arrived!  Now Tyler is excited about being a big 3rd grader, getting to join 4-H in January, and being able to show goats for the whole year this year, instead of just at the local and county fairs.  We all enjoy his stories and dreams and look forward to watching him pursue those dreams.  We'll all be sad to see him grow up because he's the youngest.  Right now it seems like we've got a while before he's leaving home, but in reality those years will fly by - just as the others have.

Another sad and happy thought is the end of summer fun without school and without much of a schedule.  Monday I took the three boys to play golf.  (I'm convinced that golf is a character-building sport!)  After a few squabbles and bad attitudes and a time of having to not play for a few holes because of those problems, I was thinking to myself, "Why did I choose to bring these boys to play golf last day of summer when we could have slept a little later?"  I was sad and a little bit mad!  But then, attitudes got adjusted, squabbles ceased and the boys were having fun playing golf together and I was happy!  Happy that I had gotten up really early and used that last free summer day to take the boys golfing.  Happy and sad....all at the same time!

I'm sure there will many more days of happy and sad thoughts this school year.  The happy thoughts just need to greatly outnumber the sad thoughts!  Life will go on and time will pass.  Children will grow up and parenting will be accomplished.

What about you?  What are your happy and sad all-at-the-same-time thoughts?

Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

'Twas the Night Before School Started

Note: I wrote this poem on August 18, 2010, for last year's first day of school.  Thought I would share it with you again.  Happy 1st Day of School Tipton students and faculty!

'Twas the night before school started and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse (thankfully).

The backpacks were hung on the laundry room hooks,
They would soon be loaded down with papers and books.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of homework danced in their heads.

And Dad in the bedroom had just begun snoring,
And I was still cooking and might be 'til morning.

When out of a bedroom I heard such a clatter,
I sprang down the hallway to see what was the matter.

Away to the bedroom I made a mad dash,
And opened the door, my toe I did smash.

The night light plugged in shone brightly in the night,
One of the children had yelled out in a fright.

When what to my wondering ears did I hear,
But children exclaiming, “It's finally here!”

With a kiss and a hug I calmed down their spirits,
And told them I loved them – they needed to hear it.

More rapid than TIGERS, the prayers for them came,
And I spoke to God softly and called them by name.

Be with Lauren and Zachary, Jacob and Tyler,
And guide them all safely - my prayers lifted higher.

To the kitchen I then wandered all calm and sincere,
That God would be with them throughout the school year.

I rushed through the cooking and baking with ease,
And got to bed early – I was certainly pleased.

But before my tired eyelids ever closed for the night,
I prayed for my children one more time – it seemed right.

In the morning they'll awaken, mixed emotions galore,
I'll miss them and think of them and pray for them more.

But I won't need to worry for my Father knows best,
That He is still with them when they're out of the nest.

Written by Lori Waugh
August 18, 2010

Monday, August 15, 2011

Is Your Personality Your Excuse to Sin?

I remember many years ago hearing a preacher say something really interesting....something I've thought a lot about since I heard it.  He said, "Don't ever let your personality be your excuse for sin".

Do you understand that statement?  In other words, what the preacher was saying, was that often times you and I may say, "Well, I speak my mind.  That's just the way I am."  Or perhaps, "I can't help it.  That's how I am.  That's how God made me."

You and I may be frank, rude, sarcastic, uncaring, unkind, blunt, etc. and use the excuse that our personality makes us that way.  And, maybe our personality is more prone to be a certain way and makes us more likely to respond in a certain way, but we mustn't forget that it is always a choice how we act and how we respond.  We don't have to be rude.  We don't have to be blunt.  We don't have to be sarcastic.  We choose to be all of those things, and when we choose to act that way, we are choosing to sin.  Hurting others with our words is sinful.  It hurts the person we are talking to or talking about, but it also hurts us.

Our personalities are what make us unique.  Our personalities are what distinguish us from one another and will help us or hinder us, depending on how we manage them; however, we must remember that it's a choice how we respond and react.  God didn't make us to have sinful responses!  We choose to have sinful responses.  Satan wants us to have sinful responses.  He wants us to use our personalities as an excuse to sin.

It's important for us to realize that our personalities can get us into trouble if we make poor choices.  But we don't have to work at this problem on our own.  God has given His children a helper.  We have the gift of the Holy Spirit.  If we will allow God's Spirit to work in our lives, these fruits of the Spirit will grow and mature.  We'll be able to make wiser choices.  We'll rely on the Spirit to help us.  We'll get rid of any excuses having to do with our flawed personality, and he result will be a personality that resembles Jesus' personality!   No more excuses to sin!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Galatians 5:22-23

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 
2 Peter 1:5-7

The Drama of Abby and Ace

Last week our niece, Emily, was staying with us for a few days.  She is nine and our youngest, Tyler, is eight and a half, so they had lots of fun playing together.

One day, early in the morning, I took them swimming. After a while their usual games and playing turned into a drama - a play.  Emily was the director and decided she would be "Abby".  She told Tyler that he was "Ace" and that a bad guy named "Bill" was trying to attack her.  Tyler...."Ace" was supposed to save her.

It was hilarious listening to this dramatic play by these two!  It was especially funny knowing that the only real "drama" they had seen was from animated Disney movies and things like that.  Being a girl, "Abby" was more into the acting....WAY more into it!  "Ace" just kind of followed along!

After five or ten minutes of "Bill" trying to attack "Abby" and "Ace" trying to get the bad guy, I guess "Ace" was getting tired of playing along.  I heard him tell "Abby", "Bill is dead.".  He said, "He's down there." and pointed to the deep end of the pool.  The look on "Abby's" face was hilarious!  No longer was she the victim and no longer could she act like she was because "Ace" had defeated the villian!  But she seemed kind of sad about it.  I think it confused "Ace"!  Wasn't that what he was supposed to do - save "Abby" by getting rid of "Bill"? 

This little scene between these two cousins acting out made me think about people in real life.  Doesn't it seem that some people actually thrive on drama, just like "Abby" did? 

After a little while, "Abby" began talking about "Bill" again, so I asked Emily about it.  She said he came back to life! I think "Ace" was a little shocked!

The "Abby" character thrived on the fact she was being attacked and that someone was a fight over her.  Her character was much happier (so she thought) when the conflict was going on in her life. She liked the drama.

Do you know anyone like that?  Like "Abby"?  Sadly, there are many "Abby" and "Ace" characters in the world and maybe even in the church. Paul addressed this in several of his New Testament letters.

Conflict, strife, dissension always come from two things:  selfishness and pride. 

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
James 4:1-10

Yes, unfortunately selfishness and pride get in the way of our walk with God.  They get in the way of our following Jesus.  Only when we realize that these two character traits are not what God wants will we "resist the devil" as the scripture says.  We won't want this type of drama in our lives.  We will realize that it only brings heartache and trouble, not happiness and joy.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Accountability.  Not a word we talk about too often.  I've actually only heard it when it is suggest to those who are battling an addition. But today I want us to look at other areas of accountability.

The word accountability means, "responsibility to someone or for some activity".  As Christians, we are all accountable to someone - in fact, many someones - depending on our age and stage in life.  We have specific responsibilities in regard to accountability.  The Bible actually  shows us the dangers of living a life without accountability.  In order to realize how you and I are accountable in various areas of our lives, we must be totally honest with ourselves and others in our lives, but most of all, we must be honest with God.  After all, He knows the truth, anyway!

Let's look at some of the areas of accountability:

As children of God:  
Obviously, the most important area of our accountability is to our Heavenly Father. He is our Creator and He knows us better than we know ourselves because He knows everything about us.  We will give an account of our lives to God on Judgement Day.  We are responsible for the way we choose to live our lives and will be held accountable for the way we live it.  His gift of salvation is free because of Jesus Christ dying for us.  What we do with that free gift is up to us.  We'll be held accountable.

So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. 
Romans 14:12

In marriage
Married couples are accountable to their mates.  Husbands and wives say vows on their wedding day pledging their love for each other as they enter into a life-long commitment.  Those vows hopefully stated that each would love, honor, and cherish (or something like that), but also to remain faithful until "death do us part".

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:21 (and following verses tell more about husbands/wives)  

As Parents and Guardians:  
Parents are accountable to their children.  It is the parents' responsibility to teach their children right from wrong.  The parents should take care of the children's physical needs, nurturing them and guiding them so that they, themselves can become mature and responsible adults.  Parents care for their child's emotional needs, and should be examples and teachers within their spiritual lives. However, when those children grow up, they become accountable for their own lives.  Parents can still help and guide, but the choices and decisions the children make eventually must become their own accountability issue.

 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.  Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! 
Matthew 18:6-7

As Children
Children are accountable to their parents, as well.  Children must (or should) obey their parents, respect their parents, and honor their parents.  (Of course, this is only when it is in accordance with God's Will.  Unfortunately, in many situations, parents aren't accountable for their own actions and the children are the ones who are hurt the most.)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise.
Ephesians 6:1-2

In other relationships as employee/employer.....friends and coworkers.....students/teachers, etc. and as citizens in our town, state, and country:
In all relationships, we must be fair, honest, trustworthy, and truthful. Being accountable is accounting for what we are up to, whether we are young or old, male or female.  We have responsibilities and it is our "job" (whether paid or unpaid) to fulfill those "jobs" to the best of our abilities. We are responsible and accountable to others and they, in turn, are accountable to us.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 
Romans 12:17

Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: … For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 
1 Peter 2:13, 15
In the church:
Brothers and sisters in Christ are accountable to each other and to the leaders....the elders of the church (also called shepherds, overseers, and pastors.....always plural).  The elders are accountable for the church they serve.  Just as a shepherd takes care of his sheep, the elders should care for the "flock".....for the church.  They will give an account for themselves, but also for their "flock".

So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 
Romans 12:5

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 10:24-25

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Hebrews 13:17

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
1 Peter 5:1-3

It takes time, energy and love to hold someone accountable.  It takes humility and trust to be held accountable.  Sometimes accountability may be scary.  Sometimes it may be hard.  But in everything, being held accountable and holding others accountable is realizing that we are serving God by doing so.  We are serving Him because we know that we are ultimately going to be held accountable by Him.

Accountability is not about judgment here on earth. It is about love.  Loving ourselves and loving others so that we may be what God has called us to be. 

Are you willing to be accountable for your life? Are you willing to love someone enough to hold them accountable in their walk with God?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Seeking the Lost

Yesterday afternoon my son, Jacob, was telling me how he had lost seven golf balls when playing golf earlier in the day.  I was shocked!  Seven???  How??  Why??  When I go with the boys golfing and they lose a ball, I make them look for it and I help them. Then we also look for other lost balls to make up for the ones we don't find!

I asked Jacob about why he didn't go find the lost balls. Here are his answers:

#1 Went in the water...
#2 Was by a SNAKE!!!  (Okay, this one I totally understand!)
#3 Was over the fence in the cow pasture.
#4, #5, #6, and #7???  Well, it seems Jacob was just too lazy to look for these last lost balls.

What if we, as Christians, used this same logic for seeking the lost - the spiritually lost?  What kind of servants of God would we be?

#1 We don't seek to save those that seem unreachable.  We're afraid to get out of our comfort zones and tell others about Jesus.
#2 We let the devil trick us into believing teaching others about Jesus is too scary.  We are afraid to reach out to others.
#3 We see those who are different than us and decide not to "cross over" into unknown territory and talk to others about their spiritual state.  We build walls and fences around others or around ourselves....restricting our service to God.
#4, #5, #6, and #7 We are just too lazy to do what the Lord has asked us to do. We use excuses about doing what we know we should be doing and what we know God wants us to be doing:  It's too hot, too cold, too early, too late, too far, too close, too......whatever.  Excuses.

Of course I wouldn't have wanted Jacob to go into the small pond of water or near the snake to get his lost golf balls, but I was a little bit upset that he hadn't tried to find any of the rest of them.  Surely he could have at least tried!

What would God think of our excuses in the examples above?  Would he approve or disapprove?  Would he pleased or displeased?  Unfortunately, we often-times use excuses and are selfish when it comes to our command of telling others about Christ.  Instead of obeying Him, we take matters into our own hands and make decisions based upon what we think is right instead of by what the Bible says is right.

Jacob will be looking for those lost golf balls just as soon as he has an opportunity to golf again.  He's not off the hook! I'm certain that God expects us to be seeking the lost for Him, too.  We're not getting off the hook, either!

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Luke 19:10

Luke 15 (click to read whole chapter at Bible Gateway)

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.” 
Matthew 28:19-20

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Magic Words

Last week our youngest son, Tyler, and I were having a conversation on the golf course.  He was talking about something that had happened the day before when he and his two brothers were playing golf.  I'm not sure what the conversation was, but what I do remember was this statement:  "Mom, the older men always say "thank you", but the younger ones don't.  They don't say anything."

My mind quickly went back to the "Barney" years....when Barney videos and the TV show was a big part of my four children's lives (especially the oldest three).  A song that Barney would sing was "Please and Thank You".  I sang part of it for Tyler that day and talked to him about how it is good to be polite and how that, although those two words aren't really "magic"....they are showing kindness and courtesy to others. 

Here are the lyrics:

There are lots of things
We can do to be nice,
Sometimes they're hard to remember.
But there are two little things
You should never forget,
From January through December.

He's talking 'bout please and thank you,
They're called the magic words,
If you want nice things to happen,
They're the words that should be heard,
Remember please and thank you,
'Cause they're the magic words.

Use 'em in the morning, at noon, and night,
'Cause it's a great way to be polite!
Please and thank you,
They're the magic words.

We're talking 'bout please and thank you,
They're called the magic words.
If you want nice things to happen,
They're the words that should be heard!

Remember please and thank you,
'Cause they're the magic words.
Use 'em in the morning, at noon, and night,
'Cause it's a great way to be polite!

Please and thank you,
They're the magic words.

How about you?  Do you say "please" and "thank you" all of the time?  Some times?  Rarely?  Are they "magic words" to you, meaning that you appreciate hearing those words from others?  A Christian with good manners is just one more way in which we can "Shine Like Stars". 

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 
Colossians 3:15

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 
1 Thessalonians 5:18

 A person finds joy in giving an apt reply — and how good is a timely word!
Proverbs 15:23

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Hand of God

In the past few weeks, there have been a few things that have happened for a few of our family members that have been unexpected.  And, while they have been unexpected, they have become a blessing in each of their lives - and in turn become a blessing to their families and those around them.  As a matter of fact, it is very obvious with each of these situations that God's hand is at work in each of them....just a blessing from Him out of the blue!  What a wonderful thing to acknowledge!

But then I think of a few bad things.  Sad things.....scary things.  Sometimes in the hard things in life, it is really hard to see God's hand at work.  Sometimes it is hard to even want to see His hand in trials and struggles.  We just want it gone and out of our lives.  We want His deliverance and we want it NOW!  That's natural.  We don't like bad times for ourselves or for our loved ones.  None of us do.

So, as I think about family and friends experiencing blessings and other friends and family members experiencing trials, my thoughts return to the Hand of God in both of these extremes.  It is important to look, see, and acknowledge God's Hand in the good, but also to look, see, and hold onto God's Hand in the trials.  Stepping out in faith in His blessings is just as important as stepping into His arms in trials.  We must realize in both situations - that He is in control, and that He is our comforter, protector, and our loving Father.

Praise be to you, LORD,

the God of our father Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
11 Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, LORD, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
12 Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
13 Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.
1 Chronicles 29:10a-13

Monday, August 1, 2011

For Better or For Worse

When my husband and I said our wedding vows over 23 years ago, the phrase, "for better or for worse" was a part of the vows.  It's a good thing they were!  Not that this is the "worst" thing that could happen in a marriage at all, but some of these things, if not handled in a mature way, could become some of the "worst" things.

I've always been clumsy, a little scatter-brained, and have many "blonde" moments (as the jokes say :).  I've learned to deal with these "issues" and just laugh at myself - there isn't anything else I can do.  Well......I suppose I could cry and have at times......but laughing makes it all more bearable!

This photo was taken a few months after we moved in our first owned home.  It's the same one we live in now.....eleven years later.  I think the month was August, though you can't see the month in the photo.  Why?  Because, after I hit the garage all those years ago, and my husband so sweetly drew the circle around it, put my name on it and dated it, I've hit it a few times more through the years!  I guess he didn't want me to forget what I had done!

I've had other "issues" too:  Locking my keys in the car (with the latest one this past Friday in Oklahoma City), locking myself out of the house, backing into other cars in parking lots (with the latest one last Wednesday), scraping the side of our old mini van, backing out of the garage with it still closed, backing into our daughter's car in the driveway, and many, many other situations like that.  Sadly, there have been a lot of situations like that in our 23 years! But, rather than dwell on the problems I've had...and the money they may have cost....and the trials they may have caused at the time, do you know what I remember?  I remember that with each of those problems and situations, my husband's response has always been the same.  He has never once gotten mad or angry in any of the situations.  He has never questioned what I was doing or thinking (maybe he was afraid to ask??: :)  He's never once made me feel worse than I already did, but actually made me feel better.  He's always found a way to make it seem like no big deal.  He's a great example for our boys on how to react to situations they will or may face when they, themselves, are married (although I hope their wives are less clumsy than I am!!).  Joe's response is always's never mean.

"For better or for worse."  Those simple words in wedding vows really aren't that simple.  They say a whole lot.  They make a bold statement in the commitment of a marriage.  God expected marriages to last through the good and the bad.  That can only happen when there is love, forgiveness, support, and total commitment of both the husband and the wife.  It can only happen with both spouses are willing to make the worst better - not make the worst...worse.  Thank you for your response and reaction, Joe, to all of my "worse" issues!  I love you!

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
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