Monthly Archives: May 2015

Church Planting: Learning to Lean on Each Other

Carrots leaning

I actually grew the carrots pictured above in my garden last year. This is how I grow carrots. I designate a small area, turn the ground, use a spoon to smooth the area and bring a little dirt to the area. Sprinkle the five packs of seeds in the area, and cover them up lightly with dirt. Then, I wait and wonder if they will grow.

I watch them and water the dirt and then one day little green tops pop up. A week later a ton of green tops are up. Now at this point, you are supposed to thin the carrots. Yes, actually pull up something that is growing well and discard it so the ones left can grow better. This is hard to do and while I did it a little, I always think about whether the ones left will grow!

Well, they grew (and I didn’t thin them much) and as my daughter helped me pick them we came across these two carrots. Aren’t they cute? I dubbed them the hugging carrots. The two carrots flesh did not fuse together, but the small one actually popped out and then fit back in to the larger one in its place.

So, how does this relate to church planting? Well, these past couple of weeks have been some sad times in our small, but growing church. People’s faith is being tested and put through the ringer. I won’t air our business here, but imagine something sad and multiply it by four.

As we grow and welcome new people into the church, we get new personalities and gifts. When we first started, it would have been me suggesting and organizing meals or getting the kids to write some cards. Not this time. Other people just did it. It’s no longer just my husband, the pastor, reaching out to encourage the men, it’s other men who are doing this.

You see we are working hard to build a church not built on committees and politics, but built on the love of Jesus. Jesus was action. He taught through parables so people would understand. We are striving to show Jesus’ love in action.

This is how we are like those carrots. There is now a church family that cares for the others in the church and can reach out to hug them. People can reach out and know they can lean on others from our church. It all fits. Is it perfect? No. But it is a sign that we are moving from the thought that the “pastor and his wife do everything” to people saying yes and seeing a need and being there to help or comfort.

Luke 12:35-36 says, “Be dressed and ready to serve. Keep your lamps burning. Be like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding dinner. When he comes and knocks, they can open the door for him at once.” Are you ready to serve? Are you ready to be the carrot and allow others to lean on you as you grow in your relationship with Jesus and as you use your talents and gifts? If you are, don’t wait for someone else to do what you see needs to be done. Reach out and learn to let someone lean on you. And if the tables turn, learn to lean on someone else. After all, if we can’t support fellow believers then what is the point?

 

Summer Fun Chart

Will it Work Wednesday 2Can you sense the excitement in the air? School’s almost out! If you have multiple kids, like me, I bet you might wonder how to fairly divvy up things over the summer. How do you keep track of who does what around the house. I mean the whole day can be lost if you forget whose turn it is to pick tv for lunchtime. Right? And so enters the Summer Fun Chart.

Summer Fun Chart

I first made one of these a couple of years ago. The one above is one I used last year. My oldest son just asked me the other day if I had made this year’s chart yet. I guess I better get to work. Each year the chart is basically the same, with a new presentation and twist on some things. So, what do we have?

  • Summer Selector: This is the person who gets to do all the moving, spinning, and picking of things for the day. A paper clip slides along to mark the initial of the kid for the day.
  • Afternoon Quiet Time Wheel of Fun: The top chart has a rotation through the week for where each child spends their 30 minutes of mandatory quiet (aka Mommy needs a break) time. I think we rotated from two of the  kid’s bedroom, my bedroom, or the sofa. The spinning wheel has different activities they are allowed to do during that time. The choices were read, draw/write, Kindle, or free choice (always the favorite).
  • The Whiner, Fit Throwing,  Attitude, Foot Stomping Wheel: Spinners are a lot of fun to spin, but not when your in trouble. Rather than having to decide on a punishment each individual time, if a child was whining I just told them to spin the wheel. We dubbed it the Whiner Wheel for short. They did NOT like this, but made it so much easier for me. The luck of the spin would bring you a time out in my room (because there is nothing in there) of either one or two times the age of the child, loss of Kindle until 7am the next day, or write a letter to me about their behavior and it had to be the age they were in sentences. No fuss, no muss. They knew the consequences and it worked pretty well.
  • Lunchtime Picks: Each paper had something different on it. Things from who got to pick out lunchtime tv to eating on the steps or in the yard, to going on a picnic lunch.
  • Get Stuff Done: Each stick has the things they need to do on it. It was basically get washed, do your school stuff, and your job. When they were done they could pull their stick through and it said done.
  • Daily Chore: During the school year they have the same job for the week. Over the summer, the rotation really helps them to not get tired of it. The buttons just rotate around. Yes, I even threw in a free day because some days even I want a free day!

Is this the deluxe, most beautiful thing you will see on Pinterest? Probably not, but you know what? It works! I used two cereal boxes opened up and duct taped together, glued on some random paper I have in a pile, wrote stuff out, made the spinners out of container lids, and just tried to make a variety of spinning, moving, and picking things.

If you are looking to relieve the remembering of whose turn it is, this chart can really help you out this summer! Definitely a keeper!

The Fall of Satan: Isaiah 14:12

IMG_4919At some point, kids need to learn about Satan. They need to know he was a beautiful angel, yet he became so greedy and corrupt, that God threw him from heaven. Isaiah 14:12 says, “How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!”

This craft literally shows that fall. What kid doesn’t like moving parts? Have the kids read or repeat the verse with you and move the fallen angel as you say it.

For this craft you will need:

  • One full paper and one angel per child Isaiah 14 12
  • crayons, scissors
  • something to cover the table

I used a utility knife to cut the  black line on the verse paper ahead of time. Also, on the angel, you can cut on the dotted line and then your angel will hold onto the paper as it slides. Be sure to have your older kids help the younger kids cut out the angel. Let them be your helpers because it is never to early to show them  that even little tasks are a way to serve.

I Serve at the Pleasure of the King

I serve at the pleasure of the KingThe parable of the workers in the vineyard comes after Matthew 19 and the story of the rich man wanting to know what he has to do to have eternal life. The young man is told he needs to give up everything to follow Jesus and he walks away.

Matthew 20:1-16 goes something like this:

  • The master goes out early in the morning to hire some men to work in the vineyard for a set amount.
  • He goes out at the third, sixth, and eleventh hour to hire more men. When he asks why no one has hired them  they reply, “because no one has hired us”.
  • At the end of the day, the master pays all workers, regardless of how long they worked, the same amount that he promised the workers who worked all day.

Obviously, this makes the workers who sweated all day mad. They feel they should get more. But, the master explains that he paid the agreed amount and isn’t he allowed to do what he wants with his money.

The master is very generous in this story. He is paying all the men the same because he knows at the end of the day, they all need to eat and probably have families that need to eat too.

How does this story affect you? This is a story about God’s generosity and how we respond. If we are fortunate to be saved at a young age, we need to get out there and  serve. It should be an honor to have a whole life to serve Him. However, if someone is saved on their deathbed, we need to rejoice for that person because they were saved!

There are people all around you who “haven’t been hired” yet. These are people who haven’t accepted Jesus yet. Why? They would respond, “No one has told me yet”. Are you ready to jump in and serve God? Is there someone you need to tell about Jesus? Let Jesus be Jesus and let Him do His job. You and I need to get out there with the attitude of whatever He says is good by me.

God is generous and waiting for you to do your part without complaint. Stand up and say, “I serve at the pleasure of the King”!

Giving Without Expecting Anything in Return

Our small groups have adopted some different, local work forces this year to surprise with a small treat and a note of encouragement. We do this for several reasons. One is to keep our name in the community. The second is to teach new believers how to give without expecting anything in return.

When we put together our gifts, we pray for the group they are for. We pray that the small token might brighten their day and give them encouragement. We pray that someone who is searching might come to our church or another Bible believing church to find out about Jesus. As a growing 2 year old church plant, we are always praying in new people who want their lives impacted by God and want to impact others with their faith.

The hard part of this task is to give without expecting anything in return. When someone drops off the candy bars, it is not to be showered with praise, but to say thank you to them for what they do. We need to take the focus off of ourselves and our need to receive recognition and give praise to Jesus.

I can tell you we have gotten exactly zero new people from doing this, but the people who put them together and deliver them have gotten that warm, fuzzy glow in their heart. It’s a time spent in fellowship, taking the focus off of me, me, me and turning it towards others. After all, who doesn’t need a pick me up in their work day when you are bogged down by the daily grind?

Your gift doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive. We usually candy bars or m&m’s because who doesn’t need chocolate? Then I print out a little tag, we write a note and tie it on.

IMG_4626Then we pray that it will help someone get through their day and that they can feel Jesus’ love. Someone delivers them and we just go on with our day.

Be sure to give your new and seasoned believers opportunities to give without expecting anything in return. It’s such a great feeling and one you will want to replicate again soon!

 

 

 

Clothespin Wreath

Will it Work Wednesday 2Looking for a quick way to spruce up your front door today? This clothespin wreath is really quite easy. I’ve seen them before online and I wondered if it would really look nice and it really does.

March 2014 001It was simple to do. I cut a circle out of an old box, then put blank clothespins all around so I knew how many to do. Next, I gathered up pictures of flowers from all my catalogs (I knew I was saving them for something!) and traced a clip on one and then cut out enough little rectangles to cover all the clips. I used some modge podge to glue them down underneath and on top. I think that would work better than a glue stick! Let them dry and clip them on. Find some ribbon and hang it up.

Now, it’s going to fade over time if yours is in the direct sunlight, like mine. (However, I don’t think it will melt like this one!) But what a cheerful welcome for you as you get home from work or the store! Definitely a keeper.March 2014 002

God Created Man: Genesis 1:27

IMG_4896The story of God creating man never gets old. He took Adam from the dust. How amazing is that? Genesis 1:27 tells us that God created us in His image. For today’s craft, rather than having a flat person, just colored, I decided to stuff him. This was a little trickier than I thought it would be, but I think it works and the kids had fun doing it.

For this craft you will need:

  • one copy of both pages per child Genesis 1 27
  • crayons, scissors, tape or glue
  • something to cover the table with

IMG_4895To put this little guy together, color him first. Then cut out around the lines. Now, be sure to save what you cut off, because you will use that to stuff him. No mess! I taped the legs first, stuffed then taped the middle, stuffed, and then the head. At my church we have some older kids be teacher helpers, so this worked out well. If you have younger kids, you can always not cut right on the lines, but cut an oval around and then stuff him. Kids will still be happy!

 

What if God Said You Weren’t Forgiven?

FORGIVE

Raise your hand if you have sinned. All hands up out there? I’m guessing yes. Now how would you rank your sinning on the sin scale? A doozy or a little white lie? Does it really matter? What if God said you weren’t forgiven for your sins?

God sent his son Jesus to earth, to live a perfect life, and died nailed on the cross so that our sins would be forgiven when we put  our faith in him. So why is it so hard to forgive someone when they have wronged us?

Colossians 3:13 says, “Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (TLV)

Wait, let me re-write it. “Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” You must forgive others. Not only on Tuesdays or when it is convenient for you. Not for one day and then hold it against them the next.

As my husband says, we all have a sin debt. But, once He forgives us, we need to be willing to forgive people. This is hard, isn’t it? What does forgiveness mean? Forgiving someone doesn’t make what they did right, it means you are free to move on with your life.

Forgiving someone doesn’t let them off of God’s hook. Romans 12:19 tells us not to take revenge, it is not ours to dish out, it is God’s. Instead it tells us to feed our enemy and give our enemy something to drink if they are thirsty. In other words, spread love, not hate.

Why would anyone want to do that? Well, Jesus did exactly that. He loved his enemies and taught love. You see, what if your love is the only love that “sinner” ever sees in their life? Perhaps you will be the human changing force in their life and they come to know Jesus because you chose to forgive and love rather than to judge and hate.

If God can forgive us, then let’s work on being more like Him. Let me finish by giving you both sides of Colossians 3:13. Here is Colossians 3:12-15:

Since you have been chosen by God who has given you this new kind of life, and because of his deep love and concern for you, you should practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others. Don’t worry about making a good impression on them, but be ready to suffer quietly and patiently. Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Most of all, let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony.  Let the peace of heart that comes from Christ be always present in your hearts and lives, for this is your responsibility and privilege as members of his body. And always be thankful.

How beautiful is that? How beautiful will your forgiveness and love look to God? So, the answer to the title question, “What if God said you weren’t forgiven?” is it would be a dark, uncaring, bitter world. Life would only be about the here and now on earth because there would be no hope for eternity. I am so thankful that is not our only option. God forgave you, go out and forgive.

A Mother’s Request: Part 3

A Mothers'RequestDoes it seem like your kids were just small enough to cradle in your arms a blink ago? Where does time go? The third and last question in this series, A Mother’s Request, is something to reflect on now and as you look back. It has to do with you and as a result them. The question is this:

What do you want to teach your kids that will stay with them a lifetime?

From the moment of the first kiss, until your last breath, what do you want your children to remember that you taught them? What is the impact your “momming” is going to have on their lives? If you are praying to raise godly and not great children and if you are sending the message that a relationship with Jesus is most important, are they getting the message to carry through their life? What do you want to teach your kids that will stay with them a lifetime?

Let your requests be focused on the eternal rather than the temporary.

Request that your kids become like Jesus. Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” But how do you get that across to your children? Moms (and Dads) you need to live it out at home when no one at church is looking.

Modelling behavior which shows that Jesus is important to you will show your children where your priorities are. Show them your relationship with God. Show them you love Jesus…don’t let hate win. First model the behavior and then use words. Let them see your Jesus love in action. Be an example.

None of these things are easy. I encourage you to pray for your kids everyday, not just when they drive you batty. Praise your kids for doing something good which shows the love of Jesus. Raise your kids to love Jesus. Be their model here on earth. Little by little the influence your actions and words have on your children will seep into them and they will become godly children.

Raise them godly, raise them to love Jesus, and be the model they need.

The Tools of a Hero

Will it Work Wednesday 2

So today’s Will it Work Wednesday is courtesy of my husband who is currently feeling like a hero to our little girl. Problem: she dropped her 25 cent bracelet into a drain. Result: possibly an end of the world situation!

Bracelet in Grate

I’m at work and get a text at 8:15 in the morning saying, “Do we have duct tape?” It ranks right up there with a text I got a while back at about the same time that said, “Is there more ketchup anywhere?”. I read this after a class and I think ???????

Well, I get home from work and find out all the details. Apparently, the tools you need to remedy this situation are nothing fancy. You just need a broom handle and some duct tape. Put the two together, extend it into the drain, get it to stick and bring it up. How about that?

Then you have one happy girl and one genius husband who is now a hero and thinks he is so clever! He wanted everyone out there to be sure they knew it was the simple items around the house that can fix life’s tough problems. All joking aside, I’m sure the stick and tape method would work in several other situations when things are out of reach, so be sure to keep it in mind!