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Monday, December 31, 2012

Recipe for a Happy New Year

A Recipe for a Happy New Year

Take twelve whole months.
Clean them thoroughly of all bitterness,
hate, and jealousy.
Make them just as fresh and clean as possible.

Now cut each month into twenty-eight, thirty, or thirty-one different parts,
but don't make up the whole batch at once.
Prepare it one day at a time out of these ingredients.

Mix well into each day one part of faith,
one part of patience, one part of courage,
and one part of work.

Add to each day one part of hope,
faithfulness, generosity, and kindness.
Blend with one part prayer, one part meditation,
and one good deed.

Season the whole with a dash of good spirits,
a sprinkle of fun, a pinch of play,
and a cupful of good humor,
Pour all of this into a vessel of love.

Cook thouroughly over radiant joy,
garnish with a smile,
and serve with quietness, unselfishness,
and cheerfulness -
You're bound to have a happy new year.
-- Author Unknown

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14

God has blessed us with this new year.  Let's use this new year to serve Him, to glorify Him, and become more like His Son.  Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Seeing Their Faces

It was horrible enough hearing about the tragedy in Connecticut....knowing so many young ones were killed, but something about seeing their little faces made it even worse.  I made myself watch it long enough to see their faces and hear some of their stories, but then I turned it off.  Seeing their faces made it even more real.  Hearing their stories was both heartbreaking and heartwarming.  I could imagine that I would want to tell my child's story if in that same situation - anything to help remember my loved one and share them with the world.  I didn't want to see their faces, but knew I should.  I needed to because I felt like I owed it to them and their families - to help remember and not forget.

Think about "seeing their faces", my husband mentioned abortion and how perhaps if the babies' faces were seen people would realize that it really is murder.  I think he's exactly right.

It's not just a blob of matter without a soul.  It is a baby.  A human. A life.  A little precious child from God who has no choice whether to live or die.  That decision is in the hands of the doctor and up to the decision of  the parents or grandparents - mostly the mother.

I'm thankful for young mothers I know who may or may not have their child's father in their life, and may be mostly or solely raising their child on their own, but who chose life for their baby.  They chose life when, in some ways,  it could have seemed easier to abort.

I am also thankful for those who unselfishly have given their child life, but loved the child enough to realize they weren't capable of parenting for whatever reason and decided to give their child to a loving home to be raised.  Several friends have adopted children and what a special thing to do - to give a life to someone wanting a baby to nurture and love.  That seems like an ultimate sacrifice of unselfishness and love.  Yes, it would be hard, but choosing life is still the best choice.  It's the right choice according to God's Word.  Life would always be the choice in God's Word.  Destroying life is murder.  There's just no way around that fact.

Would it make a difference if a mother or dad saw the face of their unborn child before making the choice to abort?  Would a grandparent be less likely to encourage or demand abortion if they saw their grandchild's face.   I'm pretty sure it would make a huge difference, but I am fairly confident that isn't going to happy.  It would be too hard.  Too difficult to see.  It would be protested.  To know that God knitted together that precious life would certainly pull at the heartstrings of a parent - even a parent who doesn't seem to have any feelings for the life within.

Seeing their faces would make it real, but just maybe that's exactly what it would take to stop abortion.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because
I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:13-16

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Where Was God?

My heart aches for those in Connecticut who loved ones.  My thoughts and prayers are joined by millions of others all across our nation, as well as those from all over the world.

One thing has saddened me during these past few days.  That is that Christians have tried to minimize God.  Many say He isn't there.  Or isn't here.  Many say that the absence of visual things with spiritual meaning get rid of God.  They don't.  They can't.  Yes, Christianity is being attacked.  Jesus said we would be persecuted.  But why do we believe that God will go away?  Why do we believe that any person has power over God?  As one friend stated last night, "I bet the sovereign Lord would be quite amused to hear He'd been 'taken out' of anything."  I'm pretty sure He knows, but I'm pretty sure He isn't amused.....just sad.  His people are saying that He isn't who He says He is - and many of them are sharing that idea with a hurting world - a world who needs Him and needs to know He is there for them and loves them - in good times and in bad times.

Think about it.

Last night I was discussing this whole, "Where Was God?" thing with my husband.  Here's his response I posted on Facebook, with a few of my thoughts added at the end:

My husband and I were discussing the shooting in CT yesterday and I was telling him of how some believe and say that God wasn't there. He gave a good illustration and thought about the question some ask, "Where was God?". "The answer? He was at the same place he was when His Only Son died on the cross. Right there. He is and will always be "right there". It may not make sense to us. It may not seem right to us. Satan is called the "prince" of the world. The world isn't perfect - never has been and never will be. Heaven is perfect. That's the home we should long for - and not a perfect earth." Satan is the cause of all evil. God wants us to believe and have faith in Him in the good times and the bad times. We must fight against Satan with the "full armor", but realize God isn't ever leaving our side. It's not the absence of God, but the presence of Satan that produces evil. 

Christians, we MUST believe that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. If we don't believe it, how can we share it?

Righteous are you, O Lord,
The statutes you have laid down are righteous;
they are fully trustworthy,
and your laws are right.
My zeal wears me out,
for my enemies ignore your words.
Your promises have been thoroughly tested,
and your servant loves them.
Though I am lowly and despised, 
 I do not forget your precepts.
Your righteousness is everlasting  
and your law is true.
Trouble and distress have come upon me,
but your commands are my delight.
Your statutes are forever right;
give me understanding that I may live.
Psalm 119:137-144

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Elementary Youth Group Christmas Party 2012

What a fun and special time of year!  Kids are excited! Adults are excited!  There are parties galore!
 Of course, if you have a party, you much have food, right?  I made some fun Christmas-themed food for the elementary youth group tonight.  A veggie Christmas tree.....
 .....snowman mini donuts.....
....and snowman peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (with raisin eyes/mouth and a carrot nose).
The kids enjoyed eating....
 .....and laughing.....
Instead of going through a line or buffet, the were served each dish.  It was less chaotic that way, plus a treat for them.
They played the "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" book game, where you pass a gift (or several) around the circle and hand it to the left every time the word "the" is read. That's always a lot of fun!
My husband enjoyed reading the book for the kids as they passed the presents.  We had five gifts wrapped, so several kids "won" the prize for this game.
 We divided the kids into three groups and had them pick one person to be wrapped as a snowman.
They were given three rolls of toilet paper, a scarf and a hat.  The winning team had to wrap the snowman well, and put on the hat and scarf on the person.
 The kids had a lot of fun doing this game/activity!
Yes, it left a mess, but it was quick to clean up, so not a problem.  I do kind of feel bad about wasting the toilet paper, though!  They didn't use all three rolls.  Maybe one or one and a half total.  Having three just made more people able to help.

This fun evening was a treat for the kids and it got them just a little more excited about Christmas coming!  It will be here very soon!

Friday, December 14, 2012


 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Luke 1:11-17

This morning I was reading the passage above as I have many times before, but this time the enlarged phrase stuck in my mind:  "To turn the hearts of the parents to their children".  The angel of the Lord, Gabriel, came to Zechariah and told him that he and his wife were going to have a son.  They were to name him John, and he would go before the Lord in the spirit and power of the prophet Elijah.  His mission was to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and also to turn the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous.  He was to prepare the people for the Lord's coming.

We know that the world is filled with unrighteousness.  It was then, and it still is now.  We know Satan is at work trying to get people on his side.  But doesn't it seems strange that this verse says the part about turning the hearts of parents to their children?  Isn't it odd that there was even a problem with parenting in those days?

Years before, the prophet Elijah was sent to help with parenting problems.  Malachi has almost the same message in chapter four, verses 5 and 6, although this time it not only mentions the parenting problem, but also the disobedience of the children:

“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
Malachi 4:5-6

I'm not a perfect parent.  My husband isn't a perfect parent.  Our children aren't perfect.  But, they are not disobedient.  They are not habitually disobedient. They may disobey at times, but for the most part, they want to obey us because they love us - and know we love them.  They also know that because we love them, we will discipline them when they do wrong.

Why is it that parents' hearts would need to be turned back to their children?  Why would that even be an issue in Zechariah's day or in our day?  There are several reasons to examine.  Time.  Work. Hobbies. Activities.  Responsibilities.  Goals.  Pride.  Communication. Respect. We could look at many, many different areas, but in reality, all of these areas go directly to one area:  SELFISHNESS.  Selfishness is the root of all of the other problems.  


Many parents are selfish.  They want "ME" time.  It is less about what needs to be done for their spouse and their children and more about what needs to be done for "ME".  Do you notice as you read the Bible that the people didn't talk about "getting time for myself"?  Do you notice that Jesus didn't go off alone for himself, but to talk to His Father?  If that is the time away we need, that's wonderful.  Because then it is about HIM - GOD, and not about "ME".  We do need time alone with God, and as parents, that alone time may be hard to find.  But don't we find time to do the things we want to do?  Don't we find time for TV, movies, hobbies, exercise, shopping, etc.?  Yes, we find time for what we want to do.  

Turning our hearts to our children will not be excluding them in our day to day lives.  It will be using every opportunity available to teach them and nurture them - in the LORD - not about things in the world.  Turning our hearts to our children will not be making them participate in activities to boost our own egos and to receive accolades from others about things of this world, but to teach them about God, and Jesus, and the church He died for.  It will be showing them a faithful Christian life of service to God.  It will be leading by example.....worshipping together as a family on Sundays and Wednesdays.  It will not be forsaking the assembling of the saints - of the Christian family of God that will help be an example to the children.

So, what if we examine our lives as see that we have become selfish?  What if we realize that our hearts aren't turned to our children, but turned to ourselves - to our own wants and desires?  What should we do?  We need to stop.  We need to stop being selfish.  But how?  The simple answer is to stop thinking about "ME".  Any time something comes up, we must stop thinking about how something will affect "ME".  "ME" can no longer matter.  It becomes about "YOU".  What is best for "YOU".  What is best for "OTHERS".  What is best for the children.  Ultimately, what is best for God.

Maybe we're used to being away from our children all day long.  Our society has a problem with pawning our children off on others.  We expect other people to raise our children:  teachers, babysitters, daycare workers, coaches, youth ministers, grandparents, older siblings, friends, etc.  We want (and maybe even expect) someone else to raise our children for us while we just enjoy the "good" parts....the fun and easy parts of parenting.  The thought process is something like this:  "Someone else can do the dirty work, but I'll take the glory. If there's a problem, I'll have someone else to blame.  It's not my fault."  And that's what is wrong in our society, and must have been wrong in Zechariah's society as well.

No one can change your heart for you.  God can help you and He will, but you have to want to change.  You have to want your heart to turn back to your children.....or to your spouse.  It won't happen without your consent.  Satan will try his best to keep it from happening.

When parents turn their hearts to their children and teach their children about what is really and truly important, amazing things can happen.  The family will be stronger.  Relationships will be stronger.  Love will be evident.  Your family will not be perfect, but it will be stable.  Children will feel secure.  You may have less time for "ME", but you'll feel more fulfilled.  You'll see that life is about more than just you.  You'll see that true joy is found in serving others.  You'll know that you're doing the most important thing - teaching your children about God, Jesus, and His Church.  You'll be doing what God wants you to do and there is nothing better than doing His Will.

 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life[c] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Mark 8:34-38

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Senior Class of '13 - Christmas Party

The THS Senior Class of '13 has been getting together monthly since the end of the last school year.
For December, they decided to go look at Christmas lights in Altus and go out to eat Mexican food.
Of course, not all of them can come or want to come, but for this evening, there were 14 Seniors able to make it for the night of fun.
My daughter and her friend had to take a picture with the Grinch.  Little did they know what would be happening when they arrived back at our house after the party!
The freezing cold temperatures cut the walk in the park to see the lights a little short.  Everyone was ready to get back to the house for some hot chocolate.
 But first they took the time to stop and take a group Santa's chair.  Santa is only there on weekends right now, so they didn't get to talk to him Monday night :).
After we had been at our house for a few minutes, Grinch showed up at the door!
Some of the Seniors were excited.  Some where worried.  Some were scared.  
 And some didn't know what to do!
My daughter and her friend were a little bit of all of those.  They couldn't keep from laughing!  It was so funny watching them!
Finally they calmed down enough to get a nice picture before Grinch had to leave.  He had fun knocking on a neighbor's door and walking with a few family members as they were getting some exercise in the middle of town.
Before leaving the house, Grinch (my oldest son was wearing the costume) took time to pose with our youngest.  Not sure Tyler would have taken the picture with him if he hadn't known who was under the mask!  Still a little strange, even knowing who was in there!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What Now?

Last week I told you about our high school football team winning the State Class C Championship for 8-man football.  It was an exciting time, and it still is.  But something is a little different around here now.  Gears have switched from football to basketball.  In fact, just two days after winning that championship, most of those boys played in their first basketball game of the season...and opener in a tournament.  From football to basketball - just that quick.

Our boys did okay in the tournament, but not as well as they were expected to do or as well as they wanted to do.  They are super-talented, but they were super worn out!  They are physically and emotionally exhausted!  They're ready to take some time off soon during Christmas break.

Several of us adults have noticed the boys' demeanor.  It's almost like they are 'down', even though they won the championship.  I think it is because for a whole year, they have been striving for a goal...determined to get that top prize....the gold ball.....and they did.  They got it!  But, after working, praying, wishing, hoping, dreaming of getting it for so long, it's like something is missing.  There's nothing else to strive for.  They got to the top!  So now, it's a little bit of a let down because that goal is gone.  It sounds strange, but it makes complete sense in worldly issues.

In spiritual issues, this whole "striving for the goal", but a "little disappointed after it is reached" makes no sense whatsoever!  As Christians, we are striving for the goal, which is eternal life in Heaven with God and Jesus.  We're working towards that goal by following Jesus and by living according to God's Word.  We have detours and must rely on God's grace and mercy and forgiveness along the way, but we're still striving for that goal.  But something is different about this goal in comparison to a gold ball.  This goal will last forever....for eternity.  The gold ball will pass away.  The memories will stay for years, but fade.  The experience of being a state champion will always be there, but will not be quite as important as it was on December 1.  The ultimate goal and victory in Jesus by eternity with Him in Heaven will never, ever fade away.  It will never be a let down.  It will be far better than we could ever imagine!

I pray that you are looking forward to reaching that goal and are obeying His Word by believing and following His commands to be His child.  In Heaven we won't ask, "What's now?".  We'll be enjoying being in His presence forever and ever!

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;
Philippians 3:13-15

Monday, December 10, 2012

Soups and Carols

Last night, after evening worship, the youth group and their parents treated the congregation to "Soups and Carols".  It was a fun evening of food and fellowship.
When asked to decorate for the event, I was encouraged to pick a color theme.  For this year, I chose red and green.  Simple. Easy. Christmasy.
To me, nothing says "party" like things hanging from the ceiling.  I found red/green/lime green/white polka dotted napkins at Hobby Lobby, and those became the color scheme.  The next week, standing on the party aisle at Hobby Lobby, I saw these matching plates.  They were 50% off, and seemed like the perfect addition to the celebration. 
I'll share directions for these hanging decorations on "Life's a Bowl of Cherries". Look for the link on the right side of my "Shine Like Stars" home page.
The youth group served everyone during the evening.  They had options of chili or cheesy chicken tortilla soup, plus cornbread and desserts.
Everyone seemed to have a great time!
The man who had cleaned the building and taken care of the yard for 25 plus years was retiring.  He was honored during the evening.  Thank you for your service, Mr. Carey!
The teens sang Christmas carols.  I think they had as much fun doing it as the rest of us had listening to them!
Not sure my son is singing....or just laughing!  
What a great evening for all ages!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hard for Me to Say I'm Sorry

Yes, the title is borrowed from an '80's love song from my very favorite group, Chicago.  But today it's not referring to some love song.  Today it has to do with saying sentimental things.  For some people, it is really very hard for them to say "I'm sorry".  In fact, some people never say it at all.

Often people have trouble saying things that need to be said.  Things that are from the heart....things like:

I was wrong.            
I forgive you.                        
I love you.        
Thank you.                            
You're welcome.

Why is is hard to say these things?  We don't want to be wrong.  We don't want to even admit that we might be wrong.  Some of us more have more trouble with this than others.

We have four children.  One of them will apologize immediately after they do something wrong.  This child has a very tender heart and recognizes the wrongdoing very quickly.  Two of our children are the opposite.  They rarely, if ever, admit wrongdoing, much less apologize for it.  The other child is sort of in the middle....sometimes saying sorry and sometimes not.  The differences in our children are evident, but interesting.  We try not to compare them to each other verbally, although it's just obvious that some are one way and some are another.  It's good for them - and for us - to realize and recognize differences in themselves and in others.

God made us all differently.  We're all unique.  But we also all sin differently.  It's the sin in our lives we must recognize and be willing to confess to our Father in heaven.  We need forgiveness for that sin, but we have to ask for it.  If we don't recognize it, we won't ask for forgiveness, will we?  Now you see why it's important.  We must analyze our lives and see where we need improvement.

It doesn't matter what kind of personality you and I have.  It doesn't matter about our talents and abilities.  ALL of us can learn to have good manners and be courteous to others.  For some it will take more work than for others.  For some it comes naturally to say all of those sentimental statements.  For others it will be like pulling teeth to get "I'm sorry," out of our mouths!

Sin comes in three forms.  It can be broken down into three categories:  The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.  These sentimental thoughts, and the inability or the refusal to say these things mostly come from the third area of sin - the pride of life.  We tend to be prideful people, and saying "I'm sorry," or "I was wrong" is something that is hard for a prideful person to do.  Pride can even be the cause for not saying "Thank you" or "You're welcome".  Our pride keeps us from being humble.  Pride keeps us from looking like Jesus.

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:16-17

For the rest of this week, try to use the sentimental statements above at least once a day.  More often would be even better.  Make a concentrated effort to say what you need to say to others.  Don't go through life any longer without saying the things that need to be said.  Recognize sin in your life.  It's easy to recognize it in the lives of others, isn't it?  Yes.  We're pretty good at that.  But we have a much harder time seeing it in our own lives.

We can change.  We can become more like Jesus.  God and His Spirit within us will help us change.    We just have to be willing to give up our pride and selfish desires.  We must be humble.  We can grow to look more and more like Jesus.  Let's get started!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Happy 10th Birthday, Tyler!

Ten years old!  Double digits!  
Happy birthday to our youngest child, Tyler (a.k.a. Biscuit!

After 10 years of having soups, stew, cornbread, and garlic/cheese biscuits for Tyler's family meal, he has informed us that this year he doesn't want that meal.  His reasoning is pretty good....for a 10 year old.  You see, Tyler feels that since he's 10 now, he's a BOY.  Before he was 10, he was just a kid. (according to him, that is!).  Now he's a BOY, and he can make big decisions, such as what to have to eat at his family party.  He chose stacked enchiladas, which is really quite a bit easier for me.  I should thank him!

Tyler also decided he didn't need a theme for his party.  For a party-decorating diva like me (ha ha!), that's kind of a slap in the face, but I'll grant him this wish.  However, he did instruct me on HOW to decorate his cake.  In detail.  Colors to use and designs to make.  (Maybe he'll forget.  Doubtful.  He's got a great 'rememberer' :).

(Buddy the Elf left Tyler a birthday message and some balloons.)

Some important things happened in Tyler's life this year, and since this blog post is written for Tyler to have in the future, I'm going to list those important things, so that he call look back on it some day.  Of course, you are welcome to read them, too.

January 2012
Tyler got his own room.  Our new addition to our house was finished.  No more sharing with his two brothers!

Tyler joined 4-H.

February 2012
Tyler did his first 4-H demonstration and placed 1st.

March 2012
Tyler showed at OYE in Oklahoma City......the first "big" stock show as a new 4-H member.

April 2012
First Rangers' game of the 2012 season. 

May 2012
Tyler moved up to Grammy's class at VBS and away from my class.  The last of my children for me to teach in VBS :(.

June 2012
Tyler placed 2nd in several golf tournaments.
Tyler attended QMCC for the first time as a camper.

July 2012
Tyler attended QMCC with his whole family at his dad and uncle's session.

August 2012
Tyler began 4th grade.

September 2012 
Tyler learned to express his thoughts and opinions.  (A Chronicles of Biscuit post.)

October 2012
Tyler obeyed the gospel and put on His Lord in Baptism.
Tyler tried out and made our 4th grade chorus and will perform in "Circle the State in Song" soon.

November 2012
Tyler placed 1st in a one-mile race for his age group.

December 2012
Our football team won state!
Tyler's first academic meet with his team. They were awarded with a plaque for District Runner Up.

I love you very much!  I can not imagine life without you.  You bring all of us much joy and laughter! 

You made the very most important decision this year when you decided to follow Jesus.  I know that baptizing you is one of your dad's most special days ever.  It was for me, too.  I look forward to watching you grow in your knowledge of God and in your service to Him - following in the footsteps of Jesus and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit who will guide you to do the Lord's Will.

Thank you for being YOU!  Yes, you need to be more responsible.  Yes, you need to learn to clean up your room better.  Yes, we've probably made you that way because you were the "baby".  You'll always be the baby, no matter how old you are.  (But, Biscuit - you better learn to be responsible, too! :)

Our prayer is that you always keep Him before anything else in life.  You have many goals and dreams.  Pray for God's wisdom in your goals and He will direct your paths and show you the way you should go.  Never forget that!

Double digits is a big deal.  You're a boy now!  (I can't wait for you to read that when you're older!).  You're growing up way too fast, but we enjoy watching you grow and learn.  We are thankful for you, Tyler, and we can't wait to see what God has planned for your life. 

I'll love you forever and always!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I shared this picture on Facebook yesterday, and everyone liked it so much that I decided to share it with all of you!  I really like the message it sends - that not even a pesky mosquito can ruin or steal our joy!  This mosquito gets more than he expected!

(Photo from:  Stand on the Rock)

SHINE brightly today, Sisters! :)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Senior Leadership

Yesterday was the day we had hoped for, dream for, and even expected, all year long.  Our high school team made it to the Class C State Championship for Oklahoma High School 8-Man Football!  It was the second year in a row our boys had made that appearance, last year coming up short at the end of the game - taking home the silver ball instead of the much-wanted gold ball.
But this year had been different.  This year our team hadn't lost even one game.  They had only been scored on one time during the regular season, and that was only allowed with the third string players in the game.  They did a good job, too, but just allowed one touchdown.  Still not bad!  
This year there were four Seniors on the team.  Four guys with great talent and skill, but also with great leadership and examples on the field and during practice, for their team.  One of the coaches even said that their leadership, as well as the attitude of the whole team, got them to where the were - at the game they had been working towards their whole season - and in fact, since last season.
Here's a picture of the scoreboard at the end of the game.  We're the Home team - the one on the left!  We won!!! 30 to 12!  We won the GOLD BALL!  As our spirit playoff shirts said - we turned "SILVER INTO GOLD"!
Here's the team after the win....
And here are my kiddos after the game....
And here are many of the Senior class members gathered around the gold ball and celebrating their classmates' big win....
And this is one of my nephews, who is the defensive coach for the team, his wife, and little one.  He is such a great Christian example to the team and to all who know him! (And so is she!)

Since last nights' win, I've been thinking about "Senior Leadership".  It is very important for the oldest members of a team, organization, or group to be leaders.  As adults, yes....sometimes leaders can be younger, and even in school students can be leaders to older people, BUT for the most part, on a team, the teammates look up to the older members of the team.  They EXPECT them to be leaders.  Sometimes they are.  Sometimes they are not.  Sometimes they set good examples.  Sometimes they set bad examples.  Leadership should always be good and positive - not bad and negative.

Several scriptures talk about how older Christians should teach and train the younger members.  They are to set an example.  Middle aged people, like me, are in the middle.....still learning from the older ones, but also teaching and setting an example for the younger ones.  The example we show to others matters.  How we "lead" others matters.  

Whether it is a sports team, a business group, a student club, or a family, it matters. And in the instance of our football team, it mattered.  In fact, "Senior Leadership" led the team to the state championship - and ultimately prize - the GOLD BALL!  Congratulations, Tigers!  We're extremely proud of you for your success and for your attitude and examples on the way to that success!

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

This song came to mind a few days ago:  "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus".  I jotted down a few other thoughts along with the song title, then thought about what that song means to me.

For me, the day I decided to follow Jesus, I decided to follow Him without exception.  It doesn't mean that I've always followed closely or haven't had a few detours along the way.  I have.  There have been times in my life that I didn't pray like I should, or study and read the Bible like I should, or strive to live a holy life like I should.  At times I was following, but not very close.  But I never quit following.  That's the key.  As the song lyrics say, "No turning back".

I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. 19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.
Romans 16:17-19

I'll never forget sitting in a Bible class and the teacher was talking about worshipping together and class.  One sweet lady said, "Sometimes it's hard to decide whether to come or not."  She meant well and was very sincere, I know, but something struck me as odd with her statement.  The "decide" part.  That isn't something I ever do - "decide" whether or not to go to worship or Bible class.  To me, that decision was decided the moment I became a Christian and had my sins forgiven.  Why would I ever have to decide whether to worship Him with my church family?

Maybe you do have to decide whether to worship each Sunday or Wednesday or to be involved in any works of the church.  Maybe for you it is a choice each time.  If so, please consider this:  What if God made a choice about your salvation each of those times?  He doesn't, and He won't.  That's not how He deals with His children.  But what if He did?  We wouldn't think much about His free gift, would we?  We wouldn't think He loved us as much as He says He does, would we?  So what are you telling God by the way you live?  By the way your worship?  By the way you think about His church that you are a part of?  YOU are the church - the church He gave His one and only Son for!

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,  and he will establish your plans.
Proverbs 16:3

A few of the words in the "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus" song say, "tho' none go with me, I still will follow", and "my cross I'll carry 'til I see Jesus".  When we sing those words, we should mean them.  If no one else follows Him - I will!  I will carry my cross until I see Jesus!  Following Jesus may mean going alone - without your spouse and without your family.  Following Jesus means following daily and not making it a daily decision.  It should be a one-time decision - without wavering faith.  Yes, at times our faith may be stronger and then at time it may be weaker, but it's still there.  The faith doesn't go away.

By taking up your cross daily, you are telling Jesus you are willing to follow Him by denying yourself. Maybe you want to go shopping instead of worshipping Him.  You deny yourself.  Maybe you want to go golfing instead of helping with the food baskets for the needy.  You deny yourself.  Maybe you need more money so you take a job that will keep you totally away from meeting with your church family at all.  You deny yourself.

God will bless those who love Him and serve Him.  He wants you to decide to follow Him once and to keep that commitment to Him.  If you've recently decided to quit following Him, please reconsider. He will keep His commitment to you because He loves you so very much!

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 
Luke 9:23-25

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Body and Soul

And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deuteronomy 10:12

Below is a great quote from C.S. Lewis, but I'm not sure many in the world believe this truth.  Our soul will live on after our body dies.  We spend lots of time taking care of our bodies.  What is more important is that we spend time taking care of our souls.  

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
1 Peter 2:11-12

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?  For the Son of Man is going to comein his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
Matthew 16:25-27
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