You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2008.

I just finished reading The Empty Men: The Heroic Tradition of Ancient Israel by Gregory Mobley. It’s a book that focuses in on the language, wording, and ritual details of three people from the book of Judges: Ehud, Gideon, and Samson.

I found much of the insight very helpful in understanding some strange parts of these little known and used stories.

Rating: 6 out of 10. Its biggest value is if one is doing a study on any of these three characters. It is more of a commentary than anything else, but one that’s actually interesting to read.

 

I use this site to give me questions on focusing in on vision.  Here’s the most recent offering:

 

In My Ideal World…

 

COMPLETE THIS SENTENCE:

 

In my ideal world . . . I would have the opportunity to ________________________!

 

This is also a great question to ask a person you are interviewing for a position, to find her/his dreams.

It can also be a great question to ask a spouse, adult children, parents, and other family members.

This one comes from The Journal of Student Ministries:

Rules, Rules, Rules

Raid your Sunday school cabinet for a variety of children’s games. Set these up in the youth room, and break your group into smaller groups. If you have a smaller group to begin with, you can all play one game. As the game progresses start adding some new rules just for fun; for instance: Add five to the roll of the dice if you are wearing sandals. Get a free spin if you pay a compliment to the person across from you.

Then slowly begin adding rules that are out of line; for instance: All guys get five points extra for no reason. Sixteen-year-olds lose a turn. The person in last place may add whatever he or she needs to add to be one space in front of the leader. You can use this as a launching pad to talk about rules created by parents, teachers, or society—or as an opening to a Bible study on Job’s rant to God in Chapter 38.

Youth Worker JournalI just finished an article in the Youth Worker Journal (great bi-monthly magazine for youth workers) titled:  “Too Many Yeses a No-No.”  Good thoughts from David Burke, a veteran youth worker.  Here’s the gist of how to take care of your soul:

Say Yes to Areas of Passion – In this look for areas that make you passionate about the kingdom of God and not just ministry.  This is good to consider.

Clear the Clutter – Clutter blocks the vision of future potential.

Eliminate the Guilt – Serve out your convictions, burdens, and passions (“I have the desire to do this.”).  When things become an “I have to…” is when guilt enters the equation.  Do you have the desire to spend time with God?  Or do you have to spend time with God?  Ask this question with all you’re doing.

Just Say No! – Where in your life and ministry do you need to say, “No?”

Imagine what God can do with those of us who do these things!  It won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.  And, if you have time, share any success stories you’ve had in the “Comments” section.

Are you looking for a way to have devotions with your kids?  We have three young boys in our family and have been using the Gotta Have God books for the past year.  They are broken into age categories (we use ages 2-5) and each day it has a brief Scripture, a kid-centered story, a couple of questions to ask, and a prayer.  On the next day it has a fun project you could do with your kids connected to the theme.  Our boys love them!

Fun story:  Yesterday, in volume 2, our theme was “faith.”  One of the questions was, “What protects you from things you cannot see?”  Our youngest quickly answered, “Reindeer.”

Apparently, we’ve Gotta Have God a little more.

Heart of StoneThis reading below hit me right in the gut.  Oh how often I am selfish when I look at all the “simple” things I do in life.

By way of encouragement, God tells us in scripture:  “I will remove the stony heart from their bodies, and replace it with a natural heart…” (Ezekiel 11:19).  But I’m still waiting, asking myself when and how this will happen.

In our community the other day there wasn’t much coffee.

Coffee does me good down here in the desert… it helps me… I am old.

I was worried about not having any, about spending a few hours feeling dull and weak, and so – without perceiving the evil I was doing – I went into the kitchen before the others and drank up all that was left.

Afterwards, having suffered all day and made my confession, I thought in shame of my selfishness, of the ease with which I had excluded my two brothers from those black, bitter remains.

It seems a tiny thing, yet in that cup of coffee, taken and not shared with my brothers, is the root of all the evil which disturbs us, the poison of all the arrogance which selfishness, riches, and power create.

The difference between me and Jesus is right here, in an affair that seems simple but isn’t at all; after a whole life time it is still there to make you think.  Jesus would have left the coffee for his brothers; I excluded my brothers.

No, it isn’t easy to live with hearts like ours:  let us confess it.

 

      From The God Who Comes by Carlo Carretto

 

Lord, please take our hearts of stone and replace them with the heart of Jesus.  Amen.

Switchfoot Lyrics to the song: \”This is Your Life\”

The Apostle Paul, speaking on God’s behalf, begs us to “lead a life worthy of your calling” (Ephesians 4:1). But what does that look like?

In the next couple verses Paul answers this. He tells us to be humble and gentle (v. 2a), be patient (v. 2b), and be united in the Spirit (v. 3). Okay, these all sound like good things, but why these specific things? Because this is what brings us to, and show, maturity. Paul tells us this in verses 14 and 15. “Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of the body, the Church.”

Now, you may have noticed I missed a few verses in the middle. This was intentional, my friends. These verse talk about the fact that God also gifts us in ways that we will build up the church (vv. 7-13). God calls us to humility, patience, and unity first because he knows if we focus only on the gifts we will never become humble, patient, and united. We will fight because of our differences and this is not what we are called to be.

So, are you who you want to be? Or, more appropriately, are you being who God wants you to be?

Lord, please help us to be the type of community You are calling us to be. Help us to truly be one, like the example of the body of Christ You’ve placed before us. We need Your help. Amen.

I love “The Office” and have wanted to learn how to play the theme song for a long time.  Well, here is someone online showing us how to play it.  I couldn’t imbed the video. Grrrr! Now, if only I had a piano…. 

The Office on Piano

I\'ve Got the Power

During devotions today, I had a hard time getting past the first verse.  Isaiah 45:1 starts like this:  “This is what the Lord says to Cyrus, his anointed one, whose right hand he will empower….”  I kept thinking, “Why is Cyrus God’s anointed one and what’s the big deal with his right hand being empowered?

We find out later that Cyrus is God’s anointed because God wants Cyrus to know that God is the true God and is calling Cyrus personally (v. 3).  Isn’t that amazing?  God anoints Cyrus because God wants Cyrus to know who God is.  God does things to make us realize that God is alive and calling each of us personally to Him!

But wait, there’s more….  God empowers Cyrus’ right hand.  The “right hand” signifies power and even all power (omnipotence) when talking about God.  Thus, God is giving Cyrus the power/ability to accomplish amazing things that God wants done.  Why?  Because of God’s love for His people (v. 4).  God is making sure that His “salvation and righteousness” are poured out so all have the opportunity to know Him (v. 8).

God, thank You for using whatever means You see necessary for people to know about You.  May we take advantage Your gift of salvation and righteousness and live for You.  Amen.

The Golden ChildDo you know what it’s like to be the chosen one?  My siblings used to call me “The Golden Child” whenever there was some perceived favoritism given by our parents.  Now, I may have seen things differently than they did, but I also never avoided any kindness from my dad and mom.  But what about being one of God’s chosen ones? 

 

In Isaiah 63 we see God looking at the people of Israel and exclaiming, “They are my very own people” (v.7).  That must have been incredible to hear and understand!  Being God’s chosen people, that is.  God loved them.  God believed in them.  And, even though they messed up time and again, God did not give up on them.  As a matter of fact, God kept telling them that He was waiting for them to cry out to Him (see chapter 65). 

 

You know what?  God still has a chosen people today.  It’s those who have given their lives to Christ.  To this day, God still proudly proclaims those who are His own people, and He is still waiting for all to cry out to Him.  Why not spend some time with God right now?

 

God, thanks for seeing me as one of Your very own.  Thank You for loving me and believing in me.  And thank You for not giving up on me.  Amen.