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4 Ways to be Courageous Every Day

Be courageous

Do you like coffee? Do you like the atmosphere of the little shop or the hustle and bustle of people coming and going and wonder what their stories are?

Do you work out at the gym or go out for walks at the park? Do you go at the same time and recognize some of the same people who are there the same time as you?

Do you like to unwind at the end of the day or week by getting a nice cold one or sipping on a delicious, local wine? Do you ever see someone sitting alone and wonder why they are alone?

Are any of the above you?

Do you ever work up the courage to actually say something to someone or listen without expecting anything in return? Do you take time to put yourself second so someone else can be first? Do you?

In a world where everyone seems to be isolated by ear buds, closed off by window blinds, and house entry is behind the closed garage door, how do you get to know people? In a world where Facebook posts show what fun everyone is having and Pinterest shows perfection, how do you get to know people? Here are 4 ways to be courageous and go out on a limb and meet people.

  1. Be aware: If you take notice of your surroundings, you will find something that you can work into an icebreaker to start a conversation. Notice things around you such as:
    • the appetizer or drink you haven’t tried yet, comment on their outfit (color, shoes, earrings, etc.), the weather, the sunrise, their cute dog, whatever is on the TV, a play on the field
  2. Be open: Instead of looking closed off with an imaginary ‘do not disturb’ sign on, make yourself accessible. Open up by:
    • opening your shades, sit on the front porch, use your front door, uncross your arms, take out the ear buds, put your phone away, take off your sunglasses
  3. Be friendly: The old saying goes, turn that frown upside-down. This is an action like:
    • smiling, laughing together, not being short or rude with someone, taking a moment to stop what you are doing and recognizing someone
  4. Be quiet: Don’t always be loudest voice and realize your opinion isn’t always the best. In the quiet, learn to:
    • listen without judging, be present in the conversation, offer your experience in a similar situation without judgment or opinion

You have to realize that doing these things probably won’t  turn you and that other person into life long friends overnight. But, in that moment, you are offering yourself as someone who is kind, someone who cares, and someone who wants to be there. You have the power to impact lives around you. This is what my book, The Coffee Shop Pastor, is all about. You don’t know how your meeting with someone will change their lives. We have a responsibility to make disciples without being all religious. Being aware, open, friendly, and quiet are easy ways to get people to let their guard down and let them know that you are interested in them as a person. Check out my book and use the questions at the end to guide you so you are ready to be a courageous version of the coffee shop pastor.

pic from Amazon

Bacon Wrapped Goodness

Last summer, the kids and I had a cowboy day. We dug out some cowboy hats and bandanas, made up a wanted picture frame, and had a water gun duel at high noon. It was a lot of fun, but the real treat was dinner. I told them we were going to have Bacon Blankets for dinner. This was a throwback meal to when I was growing up and I hadn’t had it in ages. All the kids like bacon, they all like bread, and they all like cheese. I was pretty sure it was going to be a hit.

Bacon Wrapped Goodness

These Bacon Blankets are super easy to make and with all the bacon wrapped recipes floating around on the internet (bacon wrapped corn on the cobb?!?!) I’m feeling trendy! Just last week, we decided to make them again and the kids were delighted. PK was happy to have them too!

Let me just say, these aren’t good for you. The bacon juices (ok, fat) seep into the bread and onto the cheese and it makes a glorious mess on your grill. But, it makes your taste buds dance. You see we often look at life this way I think. We see the bacon – the bad for you or life’s troubles part, and forget that the bacon, cheese, and bread – all together, makes up life. It makes your life!

I want to encourage you to embrace your whole life…the good, the bad, the tasty parts, and those that leave a bad aftertaste. You really have something special to offer, everyday, to those around you. Bacon Blankets are delicious because it is all together. Sure, you can eat  each ingredient separately and each will taste good, but the fun is in wrapping it together.

If you’re a little behind in your quiet times or can’t settle into reading the Bible, (me included) think about it this way. You can read little verses here or there and they are good alone, but when you get the whole story, in context, it can really come alive and your Jesus loving taste buds will start to dance! PK did a great series on Ecclesiastes.  You can read my take on it and see how together faith really is better.

Ok, so here is the recipe for Bacon Blankets so you can make yourself some bacon wrapped goodness for your dinner!

Ingredients:

  • bread (two pieces per person…hubby may want three)
  • cheese (I used American, but muenster or mozzarella would be delicious too – one slice per piece of bread)
  • bacon (one slice per piece of bread)
  • toothpicks or kabob sticks

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Put a piece of bread down, one piece of cheese on top and roll it up. Wrap a piece of bacon around the rolled up bread and cheese and stick some toothpicks in it to hold. Repeat. Cook over the grill the best you can without burning them until the bacon is done the way you like it. Eat. Enjoy. Let your taste buds dance.

20151009_153415Need something for dessert?

These Lofthouse copycat cookies are really good and quite easy!

 

 

The Path of Faith

the path of faith

Faith is trust and belief. Think of all the things you need to have faith in each day. Faith that your car will start to get you to work. Faith that your kids will be safe at school after they get on the bus. Those examples of faith are ones you can see and at some point in the day have answers too. But what about faith in regards to God? You can’t see Him, so how does it work?

The path of faith is not an easy one. In fact, to grow in faith means that you are going to fail. Yes, failure is a part of faith. Faith says, that despite the fact that I’ve fallen, I’m going to get back up and trust God’s plan. Proverbs 24:15-16 says, “Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous; do no violence to his home; for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.” When we trust God’s plan, we are saying, “Ok, God, I need to listen for your voice and do what you want me to do. My way doesn’t work, show me Your way.”

Living by faith will stretch you. It’s not sitting on life’s La-Z-Boy.     -PK

Proverbs 16:3 tells us that God directed plans will succeed in His way. And you know who’s going to everything in his power to derail your God directed plan? Who’s going to get in your face and mind and plant seeds of doubt, confusion, and discouragement? You got it. Satan. Satan loves when we start to think, “Maybe I shouldn’t do this”. Jesus had it hard and he had Satan going after him too. Satan wants you to fail. Jesus wants you to flourish.

While Satan whispers doubts in your ears, Jesus is coming after you and is there for you. And even when the object of our faith doesn’t work out the way we wanted it to, Jesus is still there. He says, “Yup, there’s Olivia. Have to leave these 99 here and go after her”. And I should add “again” to that! Isn’t it awesome that he will go after that one sheep? It’s you, its me. Oh the love!

Faith is finding joy in whatever we are going through. They are not the joy suckers. In fact, remember to enjoy the suck. Be centers of joy and don’t let those joy suckers win.

Our human desire will never be satisfied. Proverbs 27:20 tells us, “Death and destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes.” What we need is our faith to remind us that what we have, the path we’re on, and God’s gracious love are enough. Faith that is strong is faith that trusts. Faith that trusts is faith that believes. The path of faith isn’t straight, but if you keep God as your focus, the bumps don’t seem so bad.

 

Disciplining, Discipling, and Loving Your Kids

DISCIPLINING

I just finished up an intense couple of months at my job. I’m a secondary music teacher and it was musical season. You can read about that here. Many days I spent more time with my students than I did with my own kids. So, the message PK gave on Family Time really hit home. I didn’t completely ignore my kids, they had lunches made, laundry was clean, and dinner was always available. But, I missed them and the little interactions we have at random times together when we are home.

So, the question is, “What do you want your kids to remember?” I’ve cried before thinking that all my kids will remember is me yelling at them to pick their stuff up. Will that overshadow the great love I have for them? I hope not and so I try not to get so worked up about all the junk! Really though, I need to cry over the question, “If I die, will they still love Jesus?” This forces me to look at myself and how I am living and how my children see me.

What’s important to us as parents, will be important to our kids.       -PK

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” In order for our kids to know Jesus, whether we are by their side or not, we need to discipline them. Disciplining your children is not necessarily a popular topic, but the Bible does talk about it.

Proverbs 23:12-14, “Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge. Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death.” This is not saying how to punish them, but why children need discipline. Disciplining your children doesn’t mean you hate them, but it means you love them and want them to know that they were wrong. And when you love Jesus, and share His love with your children, you are giving them the tools to save them from death.

Then, when you have text conversations like this (yes, I believe butthead is a multi-generational word):

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You remind yourself that Proverbs 29:17 says, “Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.” Therefore we encourage our children to give hugs not hits, kisses not kicks, and to say words that build each other up. And we do that because it shows them how to love and we have text conversations like this where big brothers ask if little sister is ok:

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The truth is, disciplining your child is part of your job as a parent. Sometimes you have to bring out the discipline that will really impact your child. If that means no electronics, then stick by it and mean no electronics. You, and only you, will know what discipline works best for your family. Use discipline as an act of love so they learn what is important to you. Then, you will be confident that you did your best and that they will not turn from your teachings, which, if they are based on the Bible, are excellent teachings for them to know.

Next time, some thoughts on discipling your child.

 

 

A Family Love Banner

A Family Love BannerAh, yes, the sound of the cash register ringing up the love of money. Are you feeling like you want to avoid that and instead make a genuine effort this Valentine’s Day? Look no further, the whole family can participate in this activity. I have nothing against the commercialism of Valentine’s Day, I just don’t need anymore stuff off the shelves. If you are looking for something to raise people up with loving words, this is it.

I have this fantastic window in my kitchen with very exciting white curtains. Ha! So, come holiday time, we like to jazz them up. For Valentine’s Day, I went digging in my bin of stuff and found some beads and festive paper. The kids helped make Valentine’s for the top row, I did the words, but then everyone helped with the bottom row.

Here’s what we did. Everyone was given two hearts for each person. On each heart, they had to write something they love about that person. It could be something they are good at, that they like to do together, something they admire about them, or anything as long as the words were loving and built the person up. So, in our family that meant each person got 10 hearts full of loving words.

We gave each pocket out after our Valentine’s meal and read them. It was so much fun to hear what others wrote because I didn’t look at them ahead of time. We did this early in the week before the 14th and we put them in as we finished. No peeking was the rule. It was so cute because my youngest daughter had me help her with everyone’s but she asked a brother to help her with mine, so it was a secret.

You see, kids love this. And whether everyone in the family gets along all the time or not, we all had something loving to say about each other. Because we are a family. We work hard to teach our children to say things that build each other up, to give hugs – not hits, and kisses – not kicks. Because we are a family. God has blessed us and allowed us to be together and we need to grow that bond and this is a great way.

Remember, your banner doesn’t need to be fancy. We did a variation on this a couple of years ago with the Tree of Love. It’s not about the presentation, it’s about the words on the notes. You better believe I have all those notes tucked away. You never know, when they think they are too tough for love, I’ll be pulling them out.

So, get your chocolates and roses. Open a bottle of wine or make a heart shaped pizza. Celebrate Valentine’s Day however you like. And, if you’re feeling up to it, add in these messages. Happy Valentine’s Day!

What Are You Praying For?

What Are You Praying For_Maybe this morning you dutifully did your quiet time with God. This included reading your Bible or daily devotion book and finishing in prayer. What did you pray for? Do you have list you go through and add an “Amen” and you are done? Does your mind wander on your to do list as you try to focus on your prayers, so it just turns into a quick run down of the top five? It happens, you aren’t alone. I’m guilty of both of those things…frequently. And so I decided I needed to branch out.

The Bible tells us to pray. This is how we can communicate with God and He wants to hear from us. Sure, He already knows what we will say, but He wants us in relationship with Him. And in a relationship, you need to talk. It says in Matthew 21:22, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Obviously, we’re not expecting him to give us a million bucks, but He will answer our prayers in the way that best fulfills His plan. Here are two things that may help recharge your prayer time.

  1. Read between the lines. When a friend sends an email or you see a Facebook post, really read it. Look between the lines of what was written. See if there is something there that you can pray for. It could be a prayer for a praise, a need, something specific or something general. Consider it a privilege to be able to pray for someone. They don’t even have to know you are doing it.
  2. Listen to those around you. I know this sounds basic, but my kids actually helped me with this one. First, my two youngest were playing and I heard one say, “I’ll be your boyfriend”. Yikes! Boyfriends and girlfriends are long way off, but time flies by. I realized I needed to be praying for future boy/girlfriends for my kids. I need to pray that God is raising up other godly children for my kids to meet one day and have a relationship with. On the opposite end, I feel bad that there aren’t a lot of older kids in the neighborhood for my oldest to play with. A house a couple of doors down is for sale and so I decided to pray for a family with a son the same age to move in.

I know neither of these are life changing ideas. But, as a teacher, I know I have to say the same thing fifty different ways until the content gets through. So, I hope maybe it helps you as you think about your prayer time.

There are prayer needs all around us. We just need to look for opportunities to recognize them and then take action and pray. If we just open our eyes we can easily come up with a whole host of things to pray for. So, I encourage you to look around and see what you can pray for. Put your regular list to the side for a day and read between the lines and listen. There is a world of hurt and a world of things to praise out there. God is just waiting to hear from you!

Has Anything Changed?

Has Anything Changed

We are well into the new year, a time to reflect and make goals for what you want or think the future should be for you. We can get so focused on the moment that it can be hard to see the change. Today, I encourage you to step back and take a look at the big picture. If the New Year’s resolution has already tanked, a big picture look can get you back on track. The last couple of posts have looked at how thorns can help us and how God can use you. But, I think we need to take a moment and look at your faith. Has anything changed?

2 Corinthians 13:5  tells us to, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves…”. You can look close in the mirror, really close. PK’s gross example had to do with looking close at that pimple. Eeeew. If you’re that close, all you will see is that pimple. So step back and look at the big picture. What has God done over time in your life?

In the end of 2 Corinthians, Paul writes about how he hasn’t burdened people. He has a day job to pay the bills and hasn’t taken money for himself. He’s setting an example. He does this so we can see what a transformed life looks like and so we can use it as an example. He wants others to benefit from his example of living. Mark 10:45 reminds us that, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Jesus came to give, not to take. Paul is trying to live like that as well. His goal is to make disciples. He’s afraid people aren’t getting the message. If our goal is to make disciples, then we need to remember the big picture. It’s not what we get out of it, but what we put into it so others can benefit.

So, have you changed? When you look at the big picture, do you see how God is leading you? It’s messy and hard. You might do all you can for someone and they just turn and throw it all away. It happens. But do you stop? No. You keep going forward for God and trying to make disciples and living for Him. You hear a message and then you don’t let it stop there…you do the message so other people can go through a transformation like you.

Church isn’t about building up programs or empires, it’s about building up people.        -PK

You can have buildings and butts in the seats, but it can also be void of heart if the visual of “what a church is” overtakes the real mission of the church. Christians need to be people who are committed to people committed to the mission of the church. God reminds of this in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

How is your big picture looking? Are you growing up in your faith? Are you more concerned about building others up rather than yourself? Are you using Jesus and Paul and other disciples in the Bible as your example? When you look at the big picture, you’ll see living a transformed life is not a straight, flat path. Rather, it is hilly, with detours and circles no doubt put there by the one who knows just what you need. I encourage you to look at the picture and map it out if you need to so you are not discouraged by what you think doesn’t matter or hasn’t helped. Instead, I hope you will find that your life has transformed and that each day presents new ways of building people up in God’s love.

 

The Temple of Whom?

The Temple of WhomOk, you have PK to thank for the corny title. The things he comes up with for titles for his messages are funny sometimes because it instantly makes you think of something. This message opened up with a clip from Indiana Jones. I mean, those two things go together right? Church and Indiana Jones? Well, PK has a knack for making it work.

The real question is, who is the Temple of God? The Bible calls the church the Temple of God. What does that mean? To outsiders looking in to our “church” what do they see? Do they just see the building, a concert, and programs? Somewhere along the line, the view of church went bad. Christianity, before it was legal, used to have people meeting in secret and risking their lives for their faith. Now, we have people arguing about the color of the carpet.

What did God have in mind when he called the church the Temple of God? He had the people in mind…not a building or a concert or a bunch of programs. Isaiah 43:7 says, “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” We were created for God’s glory! He made us! We never have to worry about running into ourselves because He didn’t run to the store and pick us off the shelves, He made us each individually. How cool is that?

1 Kings 8:27 says, “…The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” Solomon knew that even the temple he built was not sufficient to hold or glorify God. But, he did it anyway to glorify God. So why do we, in 2015 try to contain God to church? What does it mean to be the Temple of God?

As Christians we need to separate ourselves and be with people. 2 Corinthians 6 talks about not being tied or yoked together with unbelievers. This doesn’t mean that we are elite and need to look down our noses at unbelievers.

Don’t yoke (tie) yourselves with nonbelievers which might take you from God’s mission. One path keeps you walking with God. The other path leads you towards the American dream and a paycheck.     -PK

I am NOT saying that you can’t be friends with unbelievers and only hang out with other Christians. What a silly thought. But you do need to be sure that your path has other Christians on it so you can all keep yourselves on track and not fall into bad company. After all, our job on earth is to tell others about Jesus, so isolation certainly isn’t going to help spread the word!

We are the dwelling place of God. Don’t bring idol’s into God’s temple. The American dream alone is good. But the American dream lived out through God’s mission is even better and you can do that. We are holy, set apart, for God’s mission.

The world says: right is wrong and wrong is right.

God says: right is right and wrong is wrong.    -PK

Read that again if you have to. And again. I’m thinking God’s way is better and if you have surrounded yourself with other Christians, they will help keep you on the right path, even when the world will try to pull you away. Being the Temple of God means that we are not our own. We need to listen and do the work God needs us to do. It’s time for the world to see that when church comes to mind!

 

Avoid Being the Christian SBD

Christian SBD

There are 6 of us in our family. Four boys (yes, PK is included in that) and two girls. A day doesn’t go by that there isn’t some sort of bathroom reference or someone laughs so hard they inadvertently let one rip and the giggles start all around. So, imagine my horrified face with a bright shade of pink rising through it when PK spouts this off in his message:

So many Christians come off as pushy and judgmental…they’re the SBD in the room.     -PK

It took a minute, but there were giggles all around as they realized what he said. (In case you don’t know, SBD refers to: Silent But Deadly. If you need more information, go ask a boy!) Oh my, why wasn’t this a Sunday I was in back with the kiddos so I could plead ignorance on anything PK said? But, we hung in there and the good news in PK’s message came through. Good news that you don’t need to be the Christian SBD because that isn’t what God has called us to do or be.

God’s word in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is, “All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” And Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Looks to me like we need to be the servant and let God take care of everyone.

God has made us ministers of the new covenant. 2 Corinthians 3:1-9 tells us that we are to move from the old law to the new covenant. We need to move from the legalistic life of living by the law. Gone are the days of saying absolutely no dancing allowed, no watching movies, no having an occasional drink. Here to stay is the new covenant, where our salvation is not based on our performance but His. Jesus came to earth and died on the cross for us so that we could have salvation through Him.

 The Bible tells us so in Romans 7:6. It says, “But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” Yes, we have been released. But why? And how do we serve?

The new covenant was instituted by God so we could be free to serve Him by showing the love of Jesus for others. That’s right, the Christian SBD needs to stop giving nasty looks and acting holier than thou and start showing the love of Jesus to others. We all have to do that. We need to use our gifts to serve Him so that others can come to know Jesus. We need to realize at the end of the day that if we don’t have Jesus, what does anything else matter.

We need to stop relying on rituals and rules at church and start relying on a relationship with Jesus. Church is all around you. It’s at the football game, your workplace, in the restaurant, or even in long holiday lines.    -PK

No one wants to be around an SBD. It stinks! So, PK’s message that started us off giggling really left us with a challenge. How is church in your life going to become the beautiful aroma that pours forth the love of Jesus through serving Him?