Friday, October 31, 2008
As a people called out of oppression, we must recognize that it's the weakest among us who form the core. The elderly, the small children, the handicapped, the sick, the hungry, the mentally ill.
We can be called the people of God only when these, the least among us, are the most treasured. When the world looks at us, is this what they see?
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Don't freak at some of the items listed...be sure and read the answer before you jump to conclusions. Oh, and don't be surprised if you see this during a meeting sometime in the future!
This activity encourages group decision making. On a side note, this simulation is actually used in the military to train soldiers how to think when trying to survive.
You and your team have just survived the crash of a small plane. Both the pilot and co-pilot were killed in the crash. It is mid-January, and you are in Northern Canada. The daily temperature is 25 below zero, and the night time temperature is 40 below zero. There is snow on the ground, and the countryside is wooded with several creeks crisis-crossing the area. The nearest town is 20 miles away. You are all dressed in city clothes appropriate for a business meeting. Your group of survivors managed to salvage the following items:
A ball of steel wool
A small ax
A loaded .45-caliber pistol
Can of Crisco shortening
Newspapers (one per person)
Cigarette lighter (without fluid)
Extra shirt and pants for each survivor
20 x 20 ft. piece of heavy-duty canvas
A sectional air map made of plastic
One quart of 100-proof whiskey
Family-size chocolate bars (one per person)
Your task as a group is to list the above 12 items in order of importance for your survival. List the uses for each. You MUST come to agreement as a group.
Friday, October 24, 2008
While I do plan big events in advance (trips, mission projects, etc.) that's the extent of it. If you were to ask what I plan to teach for Advent, I'd have to tell you I'm looking at 2 or 3 different programs but haven't felt led to pick one yet. Who knows, Advent may end up being a combination of them. I DO know what I plan to use in Sunday School this week and since we're hosting a Halloween Party for the children on Sunday night, that program is ready too! As far as concrete plans, that's as far as it goes.
I do read and keep up to date on the latest offerings from many youth oriented publications and will make notes and file for future reference (sticky notes are my best friend!) but I cannot bring myself to "set in stone" when (or if) we will study a particular program.
Youth are a work in progress and so am I. After several years I must tell you God has always pointed us in the right direction. I've been amazed at the number of times He has spoken to us...just the right words at just the right time. And then there are the times that the sermon during morning Worship lines right up with or fleshes out what we discussed just a few minutes earlier.
I'm oh so happy to know that God is more than willing to let me fly by the seat of my pants...and serve as the parachute when we need it.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Imagine how we look to the outside world when we fight amongst ourselves about doctrine, baptism and even our interpretation of the Bible. It's easy to understand why those who do not know Christ see no reason to follow in our footsteps given our selfishness. What have we done for our brothers to show Christs' love?
Do we show the joy that is ours as sons and daughters of God? Do we freely share our inheritance with those who don't know or understand? There's an old saying that YOU may be the only Christ some people ever see...be His representative...we're not perfect, we're forgiven.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The tenderness of a lover's voice can feel like a warm caress; words spoken in anger can seem like physical blows; and a voice tinged with laughter can't help but fill us with good feelings. And then there are the voices of other people we encounter...the radio announcer's soothing baritone on a long car ride or the cheerful chatter of children playing on the street are just a few of the voices we may be blessed to hear on any given day.
Every time we use our voices, we make an impression on the people around us. Like the words we use when we speak, our voices can communicate what we are feeling, what we desire and what we really mean. Timidity, desire, pain and love can all be expressed and felt through the human voice. Our voices also have the power to heal, to hurt, to love and to transform others. When we are aware of the impact our voices can have, we can choose what we are expressing. Remember that what you communicate when you speak goes beyond words. Take responsibility for the power your voice has to impact the people around you and let your voice be a sound that creates harmony and compassion in your world.
Monday, October 20, 2008
These days, parents are often so busy that the children suffer from too little attention. There are concerns about their safety which means that they receive no physical contact from others...society tells us that we must be careful. These apprehensions are understandable and shouldn't be down-played but it's truly a shame when a child runs to you with arms wide open, only to be turned away. Their needs remain the same and the monetary cost is still nothing. They need our attention and a place to be children loved by the Father and loved by us. In as much as you can open your arms but more importantly, open your hearts.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Two of my teenage years were spent carrying a tuba in my high school marching band. My mother wanted me to learn to read music, and the choir was full while the band was a tuba-tooter short, so I signed up. Not necessarily what you would describe as a call from God, but it wasn't a wasted experience either.
I had a date with a twirler.
I learned to paint white shoe polish on school buses.
And I learned some facts about harmony that I'll pass on to you.
I marched next to the bass-drum player. What a great sound. Boom. Boom. Boom. Deep, cavernous, thundering. And at the end of my flank marched the flute section. Oh, how their music soared. Whispering, lifting, rising into the clouds. Ahead of me, at the front of my line, was our first-chair trumpet. He could raise the spirit. He could raise the flag. He could have raised the roof on the stadium if we'd had one.
The soft flute
the brash trumpet
the steady drum
the soft flute
needs the brash trumpet.
Get the idea? The operative word is need. They need each other. By themselves they make music. Together they make magic.
Now what I saw two decades ago in the band, I see today in the church. We need each other. Not all of us play the same instrument. Some believers are lofty, and others are solid. Some keep the pace while others lead the band. Not all of us make the same sound. Some are soft, and others are loud. And not all of us have the same ability. Buts each of us has a place.
Some play the drums (like Martha).
Some play the flute (like Mary).
And others sound the trumpet (like Lazarus).
Mary, Martha and Lazarus were like family to Jesus. After the Lord raised Lazarus from the dead, the decided to give a dinner for Jesus. They decided to honor Him by having a party on His behalf (John 12:2). They didn't argue over the best seat. They didn't try to outdo each other. All three worked together with one purpose. But each one fulfilled that purpose in his or her own unique manner. Martha served, Mary worshiped, and Lazarus had a story to tell and he was ready to tell it. Three people, each with a different skill, a different ability. But each of equal value.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Choices...God is all about allowing us to make decisions on our own. By doing so, when we turn to Him it is because we want to be with Him...not because He forces us. What does this have to do with poverty? Wouldn't the millions who suffer live a different lifestyle if they could? Again, absolutely! But our lives are impacted not just by our own choices but by those who surround us, govern us, have come before us.
The problem can seem overwhelming, do we then just throw up our hands? Absolutely not! Impacting the life of others (even if it's just one) is our calling on earth. We are charged with being our brother's keeper. We must make a conscious decision to reach out and share our time, our talents and our money. Touching just one life, one day at a time.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Life itself can be compared to the sky. Although I would wish you a lifetime of beautiful skies, we need the rainy and foggy ones too. Although I would wish you a lifetime of carefree happiness, we learn the most when we pause to reflect. We need balance to live a life of fulfillment...gray skies and blue, sunshine and rain.
The weather can and does affect our mood...studies show several days (or weeks) of gloomy weather tend to make us more depressed. The key is to remember that the gray days will pass and the beautiful blue sky is always just behind the clouds.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Thomas a' Kempis
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Often, when we lash out, it's because we're having a difficult time. We may be feeling overwhelmed, afraid, frustrated, stressed out or just plain angry. Having these feelings boiling up inside can be very uncomfortable and our first reaction is do something to get rid them. When we direct this outburst toward someone else, we may feel better for the moment but in the end there will be feelings of guilt (on our part) and hurt (on their part).
Whenever you have these seemingly uncontrollable feelings, it's time to go to your knees, take a walk or do something else physical...in most cases, an activity will help you take control without hurting someone or something else. It's also time to talk with God...He know and understands and fortunately for us, He's big enough to take it and continue to love us.
It will pass, but we must learn to control our emotions before they get the better of us.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
By spending my life surrounded by sound, what am I missing? Peace? Serenity? The voice of God? Even though scripture tells us of God's "still, small voice", I know that He has other ways of communicating and I am getting the messages! However, He shouldn't have to compete for my attention, especially when it's something I can control.
Although it will probably be harder than I realize, I plan to work on spending at least part of every day in silence and then I'll just listen.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Take me where you want me to go. Let me meet whom you want me to meet. Tell me to say what you want me to say. And keep me out of Your way!
If only we could follow this every day, think of the impact we would make in our own little world and worlds of those around us.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Today I got to purchase tickets for my daughter (my eldest) for her dream concert! Because of the price of the tickets, they will be her birthday/Christmas present this year but she is thrilled. And the concert is actually ON her birthday...what fun! So, for all you Sarah Brightman fans, have hope, someday someone you love may find a way to send you too! Love you Baby Girl! For those who don't know Sarah Brightman, take a listen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sp0ccQVy1og
Friday, October 3, 2008
Boy was I wrong! Is it any wonder that Jesus says "Unless you become like little children..." (Matt. 18:3)? We speak to all the dogs (and now know some of their names), pet any horses that will let us, count the birds and listen to their songs, see images in the clouds and the list goes on and on. I know the neighborhood, but he sees it and revels in any changes since the day before. Needless to say, by the time we get back to the house to start supper, I'm in a completely new frame of mind. The little nagging problems of the day are gone and replaced with joy...joy in living another day, being able to take a walk, spending time with my one and only grandchild, feeling the changes in the weather (I LOVE fall!) and gratitude...who but our Father God could have created such a place and given me such a "buddy" to share it with?
Thursday, October 2, 2008
We are blessed to have this instruction especially when society seems so far out of balance. We can look back to the death, destruction and captivity, all of man's own making, and know that when we turn our hearts away from our idols,we will see God's deliverance once again.