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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What Are You Doing With Jesus?

There are many things we can do with Jesus.  We can love Him.  We can serve Him.  We can follow Him.  We can reject Him.  We can mock Him.  We can deny Him.

What are you doing with Jesus?  What would others say you are doing with Him?  What about your family?  What would they say?

It is possible that what we "think" we are doing with Jesus and what we are really doing with Him, are at odds with one another.  It is possible that in our daily Christian walk, we may think we are following Jesus, when we're really straddling the fence post between what is good and what is bad.  Or maybe we really are following Him and realizing that we are human and that the only way we can truly live for Him is to realize the sacrifice He made for our salvation.  All things and all scenarios are possible.

I saw this quote from someone on Facebook, talking about sin and our attitude towards it.  I copied it because it was such a good thought about how human nature:

"I think a lot of time, people sin because they know they will be forgiven. I think that in doing that, they cheapen the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. Like it was no big deal."

Kind of makes you think, doesn't it?  Do I ever deliberately sin, knowing that I can be forgiven?  I pray that is never the case!  In doing so, as this quote says, we are cheapening the sacrifice Jesus made.  The sacrifice Jesus made for each of us WAS a BIG deal, wasn't it?  He gave His life.  He gave His life for you and for me.

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
   “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,    but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, 'Here I am - it is written about me in the scroll - I have come to do your will, O God.'"

First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made).  Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Hebrews 10:5-10

Monday, February 27, 2012

Baby Shower Decor - Black, White, and Lime Green

Decorating for baby showers is always lots of fun, but this time, using a different color palate than I had done ever before:  lime green, black and white.  I found all of these baby clothes at Hobby Lobby.  The hanging rods were made by hot-gluing smaller rods onto larger ones, cutting them when needed and putting balls on the ends.  If needed, clothes were attached with mini clothes pins.  The lime green crocheted flowers were attached with stick pins (because my duck tape didn't work on material :).  The clothes were all given to the mom-to-be.
Every little baby is special, so planning for his/her up-coming arrival is special as well.  And since this little girl, Tynlee will be my great-niece, it was especially. This name banner was made using a lime green piece of tulle from a roll, zebra print black and white rectangle pieces (alternate the direction of the animal print), burlap rectangle pieces cut from a roll, and lime green ruffled ribbon which made the letters. Hot glue all pieces together and attach letters with mini clothespins.
We have some pictures hanging in our church fellowship building that needed some sprucing up for the shower decor.  I covered the whole picture with a paisley/floral black and white paper, then finished the project in the same manner as I did the banner, except for this one, I hot glued the clothes pin to the background paper and tied a ruffled ribbon bow.  The whole picture was hung by lime green tulle....making an easy cover-up for existing decor.
This burlap wreath is the one I've shown before that hangs on my own front door.  It was dressed-up with some black mesh ribbon and more lime green tulle.  More could have been added to make it even more personalized for this shower.  If my printer had been working, I thought "It's a Girl!" would have been a cute sign hanging in the middle.
Isn't this an interesting addition to the shower decor???  My husband and son hung all of the paper lanterns from the ceiling for me Saturday morning.  When I got ready to finish late that night, I found this little thing sitting like they had made it just for the shower.  Of course, I wanted to give them credit (so no one would think that I did it :).  Later I found out that it was only my husband's doing.  Funny!
Here is another existing picture re-do using the same supplies:  black and white paper, burlap, zebra print ribbon and lime green ruffled ribbon.  I taped the bottom piece of paper to the picture glass, making it easy to just tear off and throw away.
If you remember the Valentine's banquet pictures, I used a candle jar inside of a vase.  This time I used those same candle jars (from Dollar Tree and now in their second use).  I removed the sheet music from the jars, hot glued burlap around them and added zebra and/or lime green ruffled ribbon.  The jars sat on a base off lime green tulle inside of the larger vase.  It made a perfect centerpiece with very little cost.  I'll be able to use the jars at least one or two more times, so they've been a great addition to all of my other "stuff".

Now.....it's on to get ready for the next baby shower in a few weeks!  It's a girl, too!  Babies are a gift from God :).

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and Sadly, The Ugly

The Good: Last night our high school basketball team was playing the in consolation side of the Area Tournament....a game that, if won, would send our team into the State Championship playoffs next week. The team was excited!  The fans were excited!  The opponent team and fans were excited!  It was a great atmosphere, with lots of visitors and past Tipton alumni in attendance - ready to watch the Tigers try to do something that hadn't been done in many, many, many years.

The team we were playing had dealt our first loss just the previous week.  Our boys were ready to show their stuff.

The Bad:  Unfortunately, many of our shots were just not going in.  Usually, even if one or two of the boys are "off", the others pick up the slack.  Last night, all of them made some, but no one was really "hot".  Foul trouble got the best of us a few times and turnovers plagued at times.  I'm not sure that we ever had the lead during the entire four quarters ( I could be wrong) , but at the very last second, something good happened:

The Good (again): Our point guard, who typically doesn't shoot a lot, drove in for a shot, which was kind of like a lay-up looking, jump shot at the top edge of the three point line. IT WENT IN!  The crowd jumped up and screamed (our side, anyway :)!  This shot tied the game, put us into a four-minute overtime, and almost made me have a heart attack! (not really, but it felt like it for a few seconds.)  It was unbelievable!  Something we'll never forget.

The Bad (again):  We got on top and ahead quickly into the overtime, but the opposing team caught up.  It went back and forth and back and forth.  Both teams fouled and both teams turned the ball over.  We ended up losing the game by four points.

The Ugly:  This is the hardest part to write.  Harder than the loss itself, because this part gets personal.  But, it is a part that I feel needs to be admitted and addressed.  The ugly was bad sportsmanship.  It wasn't just during this final game, but especially during this final game.  In a playoff or tournament championship game, spirits are high and emotions are often out of control.  It's easy to say things without thinking.  I've been guilty myself.

Last night I saw and heard some very, very unsportsmanlike conduct from our fans and players.  So much so that one of my children, who happened to be sitting by me close down by the opponents bench, got up and left to sit by his dad (my husband) up high.....to be out of that yelling and name-calling.  It was bad.  It was embarrassing.  At one point I turned and said out loud "Be quiet!".  I shouldn't have said that, I admit, but of course the fan didn't hear it.....because they were yelling at the refs.

One of the saddest things I saw about sportsmanship was a few weeks ago on Facebook.  It was another close game, and again, some were complaining about the poor officiating and the fact that we lost.  Someone, who apparently lived here years ago made this statement, "Well, I see Tipton hasn't changed.  Still blaming the refs when they lose."  Wow.  That is really, really a sad statement to have said about your town and your fans......a town I love and people I love......and where my children are being raised.

Are officials sometimes bad?  Absolutely!  Sometimes they mess up and some times they mess up big.  But, most of the time.....if/when they are bad.....it's equal on both sides (bad for both teams).  Sometimes it is one-sided, or it seems to be one-sided.  But, you know what?  A call is a call and you and I yelling isn't going to change it.  It only makes us look bad, and makes us look bad to everyone around us.....to the other fans.....to our children.....to our friends, etc.  Another thing to remember is that if you and I were officiating, we would be yelled at, too....for missing things.  Fans are looking from a distance and often-times, from way above.  Refs are right by things and looking at what is right in front of them.  They may not see what we see from up above.  It doesn't seem to make sense some times, but if we were in their shoes, it just might.

So what can we do, as fans??  If we feel we've been wronged by the officiating, instead of yelling it from the stands, write a letter to the headquarters (in Oklahoma it's OSSAA.com).  Say what you think, but do it respectively.  Don't name-call.  Don't demean.  Just point out facts.  Not opinion.  Be objective.  Realize that, YES, your child CAN make a mistake.  It is really possible that YOUR child messed up on his/her own.  It is not always someone else's fault.  It does not always have to be blamed on someone else. (Yes, I'm on a rant right now! I have another rant about team discipline and champion attitudes, but I'll spare you....for now :).

My husband has great advice when it comes to this:  He says, "Unless a team makes every shot, every free shot, never fouls (legitimate fouls, of course :), and never turns the ball over, it can NEVER, NEVER be blamed on an official."  That's pretty wise right there, isn't it?


Friday, February 24, 2012

Feed Them and They Will Come...

As our high school teams began the past-District playoffs, I decided to feed them breakfast on the Thursday before the big game beginning the next weekend tournament.  Last Thursday, in addition to all of the meat/egg dishes, I made them these English Royalty Chocolate Chip Scones (Posted at www.3cherrycokes.blogspot.com from last week).  Most, if not all, of them had never eaten a scone, so they were introduced to something really new.
I promised the girls and boys' teams that if they were still in the quest towards the gold ball at State, I would continue to feed them a breakfast each Thursday.  With this week's hectic schedule, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to swing having the breakfast, but then I saw one of the girls and she asked me about it.  I told her I was trying to, but wasn't sure (mostly because I wasn't sure what time the teams were leaving school).  
But what she said made all the difference:  "You promised you would, so I was just wondering."  At that moment, I told myself that I/we could make it happen, as long as the coach said okay.  If I've promised something, I will do whatever it takes to make it happen.  I don't like breaking promises - at all.  I don't want it to ever appear like I have lied.  She was just asking a question and not trying to make me feel bad, but her simple question made me even more determined.
This week I got a few moms to help me with the meal, which helped (didn't get me to bed any sooner, but it helped with the food!).  We served more chocolate chip scones (pictured above and made by another mom), fruit, homemade cinnamon rolls, and I made hash browns, breakfast burritos, and sausage & biscuits with gravy.  They had plenty to eat, for sure!
The cheerleaders joined in with the teams as they prepared to cheer on their friends and ball teams.


After a few refills of plates, it was time to get on the bus and head to the first round of the Area Tournament!
                                      
Part of the reason I wasn't sure about the breakfast had to do with these shirts pictured above!!  For the first time ever, we ordered playoff shirts!  In a matter of four days (with no school on Monday), we collected money for these shirts.  We had 217 shirts ordered on Tuesday morning.  Wednesday I drove to San Angelo, TX to get the shirts....about a 4 1/2 hour drive.  I wanted to make sure we had time to deliver them Wednesday afternoon for the game the next day.
We arrived at the huge gymnasium.  It was so neat and a fun atmosphere.  My boys and husband got a tour of the facility and the high school from a former teacher and student of THS.  They thought that the whole town of Tipton would have been equal to the number of about one class at this big high school!
Sadly, one of our starters and point guard, Amanda, had emergency appendectomy yesterday morning and didn't get to play.  Without getting down and discouraged, our girls played their hearts out!  Even after getting behind, they came back to within a few points several times.  We lost, but we gave them a good run for the win, for sure!  The girls are done now, but our boys won!  More basketball this afternoon and hopefully tomorrow!
I love this sign on the Yukon gym.  Love what it says!

The teams asked me yesterday if I would feed them breakfast next week.  That would be the State Tournament.  I told them I would - most definitely!!  Then they asked if I would the next week.....after basketball is over.  I loudly exclaimed, "NO!"  :)  It is really a joy feeding these kids.  They appreciate it and I enjoy doing it for them.  Little things.....showing that you care in simple ways.....means a lot to people.  

Take the time to do something for someone TODAY.  If you choose to feed teenagers, they will come! And they will come back for more!  And you will "Shine Like Stars" in doing so.

Have a great weekend!  I'll keep you posted on the playoffs and the quest for the GOLD!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What Kind of Christian Are You??

Recently I heard a preacher ask this question:  "What kind of Christian are you?"  He went on to explain that there are two kinds:  Soul winners and back sliders.  Hmmmmmm.......made me think.  I've always heard the term "back sliders" meaning those who don't attend worship, but perhaps that's just the way we have termed it and not the way God would term it.

The question made me think about my own life.  Which one am I?

What about you?  Do you think those are the only two types of Christians?  Think about it and let me know.

Here are my thoughts: I can be a good, moral person.  I can invite others to worship.  I can feed the hungry, cloth the needy, and visit the sick.  I can do all of those things, but if I never open my mouth or maybe type a post on this blog and tell someone about Jesus, then I am not fulfilling God's mission.  I am not living out the Great Commission as Jesus told his followers to do before He ascended to Heaven.

Then Jesus came to them (Note: the disciples) and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 28:18-20

As a Christian, I am a Christ-follower...a disciple of Jesus.  This commission was intended for me, just as it was the disciples of long ago.  Jesus' message is just the same:  

#1:  Go and make disciples (How?? By teaching and telling others about Him)
#2:  Teach them about baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Why is it important?  What does it do?)
#3:  Teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded.  (What are some commandments of Jesus???)

If I'm not doing what Jesus asked His followers to do, I'm a back slider.  I don't like that term, do you?  I don't want to be a back-sliding Christian.  I pray that you don't, either.  Go and tell someone today!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tools for Sale


I subscribe to Tim's Inspiration via email.  This post had a great message that I wanted to share with you.  In our Christian walk, it is very easy to become discouraged, but if we realize that when we do become discouraged, that it's exactly what satan wants, it will be easier for us to resist the temptation to become discouraged.  

If you are interested, the link to subscribe to Inspiration Daily is at the bottom this post.

TOOLS FOR SALE

It was advertised that the devil was going to put his tools up for sale.
On the date of the sale, the tools were placed for public inspection;
each tool being marked with its sale price. They were a treacherous lot
of implements...Hatred, Envy, Jealousy, Deceit, Lying, Pride, and so on.

Laid apart from the rest was a harmless looking tool, well worn and
priced very high.

"What is the name of this tool?" asked one of the purchasers, pointing
to it.

That is Discouragement", replied the devil.

"Why have you priced it so high?"

"Because it is more useful to me than the others. I can pry open and get
inside a man's heart with that when I cannot get near him with my other
tools. Once I get inside, I can make him do what I choose. It is badly
worn because I use it on almost everyone, since very few people know
that it belongs to me."

My friend, don't let satan discourage you in anyway. You are God's
child and have the victory already won. All you have to do is keep your
faith on the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ. The devil
will not have a chance to discourage you, even with his best tools.



Add the inspiration daily to your web site:
http://rss.groups.yahoo.com/group/inspirationdaily/rss

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Special Moment.....A Great Example

Last night our high school girls' basketball team played in their first game of the Regional Tournament.  We played Ryan (OK).  The Ryan girls set a great example....probably a tradition they've had for the whole season, if not for years.

As the two teams gathered in a circle right before the game, one of the girls prayed for the teams and the game.  The words were not clear to us in the stands, but the message to each of us was certainly clear!

Thank you, Ryan Cowgirls, for the example you are setting for others!  May we have the courage to use our lives in a way that sets an example to others, as well.  To God be the glory in all that we do and in all that we say!

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




Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Square Roots

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

Last week, after Tyler got in the car after school, he began talking about squart roots.  He's in 3rd grade, so in my mind I was thinking, "I can't believe what young kids learn now!  I don't remember learning about that until junior high or high school and don't remember much of anything about it!".  Tyler continued by saying the teacher was asking him to tell the square root of 25 (he answered 5), the square root of 16 (he answered 4), and on and on.  After a few answers, he explained that the answer was just a number times itself, such as 4 x 4 is 16, etc.  Then he said, "You know?  Little kids would probably think it would be 4 + 4, but not me.  I know it's 4 x 4.  Mom, am I a big kid?"

I was still amazed at the whole square root thing to begin with, so I didn't answer immediately.  I thought quickly about the best way to answer him and came up with the answer that he's kind of in the middle.  Not big, but not little.  Nine years old is kind of in-between, don't you think?  He seemed satisfied with my answer and went on to talk about other things from his school day.  And.....I was still stuck on the fact that he knew more about square roots than I did!

The whole big kid/little kid thing got me to thinking, though.  In the Bible, Jesus tells His followers to be like little children, but then in other scriptures it talks about how we should not be infants, but to grow to maturity.  Is this a contradiction???  Not at all!  We can be as children, but also be mature.  The key is wisdom.  Wisdom in knowing when to be like each of those characteristics.

People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Luke 18:15-17

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

To be like children is to "come to Jesus" like Jesus mentioned in the scriptures above.  They longed to know about Jesus and wanted to be near him.  Little children have full faith in their father, just as we should in our Heavenly Father.  We should have faith, trust, and confidence in the Father as the little children did who were coming to Jesus.

As mature Christians, though, we should be growing in wisdom, in faith, and in our relationship with God/Jesus.  We should stand firm on the foundation layeed out in scriptures and be able to teach others about Jesus.  If we're not growing...if we're not maturing....we're still infants, and in that way, we're not pleasing our Heavenly Father.

Biscuit wanted assurance that he wasn't a little kid because of his square root knowledge.  As Christians, we should be examining our lives to see what age group we fall into, as well.  Are you a child, with a strong desire to be close to Jesus?  Or are you a "big kid" who tries to tackle the world all by yourself?  Are you an infant, still not sure about your faith and struggling to grow in your Christian walk?  Or are you in the process of maturing, learning and growing in your faith and in your relationship with God and Jesus?  We can be as children, but be mature.  It is possible.  With God all things are possible!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Teen Valentine Banquet/Scavenger Hunt 2012

Linked to Heavenly Homemakers' GRATITUESDAY (find out what I'm grateful for at the end of this post.)

Sunday night was our annual teen valentine banquet and scavenger hunt.  When we got out of evening worship around 7:00 p.m., it was snowing!  Never before have we had snow on that evening, so that was really exciting! (Especially since we hardly get it at all in the winter.)
This year there were 51 teens/adults in attendance, with 9 more teens coming back with groups after the scavenger hunt.  We've always made it work by lining up long tables in row, where there was little room to move around.
This year we were able to spread out and make it a lot more roomy by having seating in the new addition of our home.  Pretty neat!
One thing the teens especially look forward to is the food, of course!
It's always the same menu:  chicken and beef lasagna, green beans, and breadsticks.  Lots and lots of breadsticks - 200 this year!  There were seven left over!  First time ever to have some left!  Oh, yes....and desserts.  Can't forget the desserts. (All of my recipes can me found at www.3cherrycokes.blogspot.com)
After eating, the teens were divided into five teams for the annual scavenger hunt.
One of the items on the hunt said, "a colored, flavored marshmallow".  Kamen, a 7th grader, came up with the colored marshmallow part all on his own!  Not sure if it was flavored or not....afraid to ask!
My husband is checking out the lists...making sure the teams got their required items.
The groups all have to bring back two people with them, who were not previously at our house.  We sing devotional songs and my husbands gives a short devo.
Since it was snowing and since one of the new guests that came back was the daughter of our school superintendent, she called her dad and we all yelled, "CANCEL SCHOOL!!"  It didn't work (unfortunately :).  We did have school yesterday!  And, it was fine....the roads weren't slick.  The kids were all disappointed and so was I!! (I like snow days!) 

We enjoy hosting the teens each year for this special evening, but something occurred to me yesterday. The older church members are just as excited about the evening, because they know the teens will be stopping by gathering items, singing songs, getting signatures, and doing good deeds for them.  It's a fun way to get the teens and "senior saints" together in a unique way.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!  Remember that the love of God is more important than any other love you know!  He loves you SOOOOO MUCH!  And that love, is why I'm so grateful on this GRATITUESDAY!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16


JOIN us for GRATITUESDAY at Heavenly Homemakers!


Monday, February 13, 2012

Senior Saints' Banquet 2012 - Vintage Valentine/Music Theme

In 1994, our young adult Bible class began organizing a Senior Saints Banquet for the older members of the church.  Though our "young" adult class isn't so young anymore, we're still hosting the event every year on the weekend closest to Valentine's Day.
For the theme this year, I chose a vintage Valentine/music theme.  It was so much fun getting all of the supplies together for this look!  The colors were white/ivory/black/silver.
I asked our preacher (and my brother-in-law) if he had seen any old song books around the building.  Since he had just moved into the office, he knew right where some were.  The former, now retired preacher had given him a stack of really old ones.  Perfect!  I used one whole book for these paper hearts and wrappers for the inside candles.
The tables were set for five or six people each.  
The whole theme/inspiration for this decor was based on these placemats I found at a little store in Altus, OK.  You can find them at www.cakevintage.com.   I found Valentine stamps at Walmart and stamped LOVE, Be Mine, and You're Sweet in the center of each plate.  The centerpiece black/ivory papers are from the same line as the placemats.
Music hearts and silver heart confetti.
I made a lot of paper doily/music hearts to hang from the ceiling.  Thanks to my husband for hanging all of them for me!  He typically isn't a "decorator"!!
Paper doilies with silver glitter also hung from above.
A few of these 3-D hearts were hung.  Not many, but they were pretty!
 Something about candles.....So pretty!
Close-up of the centerpieces.
 Room from a distance...
Close-up of one pennant.
Close-up of hearts.
Little lace valance for a typically bare window.
Another view....
Dessert table!

The Senior Saints were served ham, green beans, potato casserole, bread, and homemade desserts.  They played a "2 truths and 1 untruth" game.  We guessed who was who.  They also played a matching game using songs from the song book about "love".  They matched the song title with a phrase from the song.  So much fun!  What a blessing those Seniors are to all of us!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Who Do You Follow?

*Used by permission.  This story has a great message!  Have a great Saturday!  Lori



WHO DO YOU FOLLOW?

    This story falls into the category of an "urban legend":

    According to news reports, Lucky, a German shepherd guide-dog for the blind, has so far been responsible for the deaths of all four of his previous owners.

    ``We will not have him put down. Lucky is basically a good guide dog,'' Ernst Gerber, a dog trainer from Wuppertal, Germany told reporters. ``He just needs a little brush-up on some elementary skills, that's all.''

    ``I admit it's not an impressive record on paper. He led his first owner in front of a bus, and the second off the end of a pier. He actually pushed his third owner off a railway platform just as the Cologne to Frankfurt express was approaching and he walked his fourth owner into heavy traffic, before abandoning him and running away to safety. But, apart from epileptic fits, he has a lovely temperament. And guide dogs are difficult to train these days.''

    Asked if Lucky's fifth owner would be told about his previous record, Gerber replied: ``No. It would make them nervous, and would make Lucky nervous.  And when Lucky gets nervous he's liable to do something silly.''

    Jesus spoke about the "blind leading the blind."  I think he would have been just as critical of the "dangerous leading the blind."  Either way, the point is that we need to take a good look at who (or what) it is that is leading us.  Who (or what) have you chosen to follow?  The answer is important because many of our choices are just as deadly as trusting Lucky. There is only one truly safe guide:

    "He who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.....When he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.  Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." (John 10:2,4,5)

    Father, today I seek to hear your voice.  In a world full of voices that try to lead me down paths that would harm me spiritually, I trust only you. Thank you for your faithfulness that allows me to trust your leadership.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Have a great day!

Alan Smith
Helen Street Church of Christ
Fayetteville, North Carolina

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Do You Help or Hinder the Church?

The other day, Trey Morgan wrote this post about being a Christian hypocrite.  The post really made me think.  I'm not doing any of the things he mentioned in his post.  The things Trey mentioned seemed like "BIG" things.  But, am I doing anything that would hinder the growth of the church?  Aren't "little" things that I might be doing, really BIG things, too?  God doesn't see sin as "BIG" or "little".  Sin is sin in His eyes, and it should be in our eyes, as well.

From time to time, maybe we should examine our own lives....not someone else's' life....and see if we are helping or hindering the Lord's work.

1.  Faithful - Am I faithful to God, to Jesus, and to His church?  Do I attend worship, Bible classes, other church gatherings?  Being faithful isn't just meaning sitting on a pew, but am I an actively involved member?  Do I faithfully pray for those who are sick and hurting?  Do I faithfully do what I can to bring others to Christ?  Am I always faithful or am I only faithful when it is convenient for me to do so?

2.  Servant - Am I a worker in the church?  Do I volunteer to help in ways that will help the church or do I leave the work up to others who I believe are more capable or who have more time?  Am I willing to help when asked or do I make excuses of why I can't help?  Do I expect to be catered to or am I an eager servant of God, willing to serve others in order for them to have their needs met?  Do I put others' needs above my own or am I selfish with my money, food, and talents?

3.  Example of my words - What does my Christian life say to those around me?  Am I hypocritical?  Am I a good example and one that exemplifies the life of Jesus?  What about my words?  Do they shout to the world that I'm living a life of service to God, or do they shout prideful and boastful words that make me look selfish?  When I speak, do I speak with love or with hate?  Are my words hurtful or helpful?  Do they uplift and encourage or tear down and destroy?

4.  Example of my life - What do people see when they look at my life?  Do they see someone devoted to spiritual things or to earthly things?  Does my Christian walk mimic the walk of Jesus or does it mimic the ways of the world?  What would people say is the most important thing in my life?  Is it what I would want them to say or do I need to adjust my priorities and show that Christ is the center of my life?  Am I using my money, my talents, and my time for selfish reasons or to glorify God and as a servant for Him?

5.  Am I a help or a hinderance?  By my words and by my actions, do others have a positive view of the Christian life or of the church, or do I cause it to be a negative view?  Am I argumentative and cause strife within my relationships or do I seek ways of being understood without arguing?  Do I take pleasure in calling out those who are wrong or do I gently restore/explain to them the Way (as Aquila and Priscilla did in Acts 18:26.)  Is my "point" and my desire to be "right" more important than showing the love of Christ to others?  Am I a peacemaker or a troublemaker?  Am I humble or am I prideful?  Am I showing love or festering hate?  If a problem comes up, do I activity try to help find a solution, or am I part of the problem?  Am I mature or immature?

It's easy to point out the problems that others have.  We seem to have no trouble doing that at all.  What's more difficult is truthfully examining our own lives and seeing what we are doing to help or to hinder the church.  Maybe we're fine.  Maybe nothing we're doing is hindering growth.  But, on the other hand, maybe we're not doing anything....at all.  Maybe our "not doing anything" is a hinderance.  Maybe we should get busy!  Maybe we should get our minds off of ourselves and get busy for the Lord!

Our Christian walk may be the only thing some people see that would point them to Jesus.  It's imperative that we take our walk seriously.  It matters!  It matters to God....to us....and to the world around us.  We must let our lights shine!

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

Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Philippians 3:17-21

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Love is Something if you Give it Away!

You may know the song that is used in the title of this post. I didn't realize it had so many verses, until I searched online for the author! Here it is with just a few of the verses: 

Love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.
It's just like a magic penny,
Hold it tight and you won't have any.
Lend it, spend it, and you'll have so many
They'll roll all over the floor.
For love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.
*written by Malvina Reynolds

Some people are easy to love.  Some people are hard to love.  But, God's Word says to love everyone:  friends, neighbors, enemies, one another - EVERYONE!  Think about that as you go about your day today.  And remember, when you find someone that may be hard to love.....perhaps to someone else you are hard to love.  We must be strive to be lovable, as well!

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” 
Matthew 5:34-35

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
John 13:34

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love oneanother, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.
Romans 13:8


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Our Perception of Life

Recently one of my young teenage friends on Facebook put the following status:  "What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head or how it's supposed to be."


She really made me think because what she said was sooooo true!  My reply to her is below.  I also asked if I could use her status for a blog post some time and she said that I could.

My reply: "I think maybe we want things like we think others have it - and maybe they do and maybe they don't - we can't really know. One of the hardest things to NOT do is compare our lives to others, and I think as females (of all ages) we're into comparing more than males (hair, bodies, makeup, clothes, family, husbands/boyfriends, children, homes, decorations, and on and on). But, you know what we all need to remember? None of us are perfect....none of our lives are perfect....and comparing only keeps our eyes on others instead of on God/Jesus and it will end up making us miserable in the process."

What do you think?  Do you believe that we compare our lives to others and try to match what "they" are doing?  I really do believe that we do - especially young girls/women.  In fact, I believe our culture teaches us, or tries to teach us, to be that way through advertising and entertainment.  It's a constant battle to not get caught up in all of that "stuff" and to not get a warped perception of life!

Our perception of life will be much easier and clearer if we keep our eyes on others and on God/Jesus.  When we are too focused on ourselves, our lives will be miserable, because we will be focused on our perceived flaws or possibly begin to feel like we're not good enough, not smart enough, not......whatever.  We will become selfish in our thoughts.  Instead of looking outward and seeing the needs of others, we become consumed with self.

Let's make it a goal to look outward and upward each day!  Let's make it a goal to do what we can to help others and to serve others, even if it just by brightening their day with a kind or encouraging word.  In doing so, we will be brightening up our own lives.  We will be changing the picture in our head from what we think life is supposed to look like to what God/Jesus show us life is supposed to look like!

And, in all of that, we will be "Shining Like Stars"....looking more and more like Jesus.

Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 


1 Timothy 2:9-10

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

When you look into a mirror, what do you see?  You see your physical self, don't you?  Some things you and I see, we may like.  Other things we see in ourselves, we may not like. We may see things that need improvement.

God's Word, the Bible is like a mirror for our mind and our heart.  Just like a mirror shows us the outer image, the Bible shows us the inner image.  We can use the Bible to examine our inner image and see how we measure up to God's standard.  We can find areas that might need improvement.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
James 1:19-25

If we read God's Word with an open heart and an open mind, we can find areas that need improvement. As we are working on those areas, we will find ourselves looking more and more like Jesus every day.  The mirror of God's Word....the perfect law that gives freedom!  Thank you, God!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Just Be Yourself

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

Tonight, just as Biscuit was getting ready to go to bed, he asked me if he could talk to me alone.  Of course, I said yes.  He started telling me about the story they are reading this week in his 3rd grade reader.  He said it was about an eagle who was raised on a chicken farm, so he thought he was a chicken.  (Biscuit said it was of the folklore genre, if you wanted to know! :)  Anyway, he said with this type of story, there was always a moral to the story.  The moral in the end was:  JUST BE YOURSELF.

Biscuit went on talking, "I needed this story. It taught me a lesson.  Sometimes I try to be like other people, when I should just be myself."  Interestingly, I've actually had that same conversation with him recently (Example:  The young golfer, Ricky Fowler, wears Puma hats/clothes, Biscuit wants Puma hat/clothes....and other things like that.), but apparently either I didn't do a good job explaining what I meant, or Biscuit just wasn't ready to learn the lesson at the time!

Sometimes it's good for kids to learn a lesson from somewhere else, isn't it?  Because, in this case, it wasn't someone instructing him and teaching him by words.  This time he learned by reading and figuring it out all on his own.  He'll remember this lesson even more because he came to the conclusion that he needed it all by himself.

Good job, Biscuit!  I'm proud of you!  As the saying goes, "Just be yourself.  Everyone else is already taken."


Lost and Found

A friend, who has been married 50 years, lost a diamond out of her wedding ring a few days ago.  She wasn't sure she would ever find it.  Last night, she happened to find it in the bathroom and was understandably excited, after thinking it was lost forever!

This story reminded me of our oldest son, Zachary, when he was little.  Zachary enjoyed dressing in a suit and tie for worship, just like his dad.  For something special, I began to get he and his brother tie tacks made from charms (the jewelry store sends them and has them made into tie tacks) a few times a year.  One Sunday, after we got home from worship, Zachary noticed his tie tac was missing.  He and I quickly returned to the church building, but before we went in, I told Zachary we should pray about finding it.

We prayed that we would find the tie tac, then got out, went inside and began searching.  We first went into the classroom where I had taught him earlier that morning, and there it was!  The tie tac was in the very first place we searched!  Immediately, I told Zachary we needed to pray again, telling God thank you....and we did.

I was confident that we would find the tie tac...mostly because that's just my personality to expect good results (for the most part, that is.), but it was such an awesome thing that day to show Zachary about prayer - even for something as insignificant as a tie tac.  He was able to see that pray answered immediately!  Prayers aren't always answered immediately, we all know, but that day it was.  And it made an impression on my little boy.

Sometimes we think God only cares about the big things.  I don't believe that.  I believe that God cares about everything and can help me in everything - big or small.  The problem is that sometimes I don't ask Him for His help.  Sometimes I want to do things - or choose to do things - on my own...without His help.  Why would I ever do that?  Why would I ever choose to make a decision on my own, when I have a Heavenly Father and the Creator of the Universe who is willing and able to help me?  Put that way, it doesn't make much sense, does it?!  God should be a major part of ALL of our plans.  He want to be part of our plans.  We just have to LET Him be part of our plans.

When we lose something, we're sad.  When it is found, we rejoice!  Relating these two stories of lost and found makes me thinks of Jesus' parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15.  In each story, something was lost.....some by negligence and some by choice.  In each story, rejoicing happened when the lost thing/person was found.  These parables illustrate God's love and rejoicing when one is lost and is found.  When someone is unsaved and becomes saved.  You and I have to help the lost be saved.  That is our responsibility.  Let's not forget to be praying about the lost...just as Zachary and I prayed for the lost tie tac.  And then, let's not forget to pray about and rejoice for those who are found.

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Luke 15:7

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
Luke 15:31-32

There are many who are lost.  Let's get to looking for them!
 
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