What uncommon things do we want to become common?

Things like:
our children having mutual love and respect for each other.
our teenage children having love, honor, respect and obedience for their parents.
us continually becoming better friends and lovers.
our family totally trusting God in all things and putting our faith in Him to fulfill his promises.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Faith = Risk Pt 2

By Creg

Doesn't that picture look like a driver's worst nightmare? That's what happens when the drivers in Bucharest, Romania all decide to run a red light. What an adventure!
I just read an article by John Stossel describing how traffic moves better & more safely when the traffic lights & stop signs are removed. Does that sound crazy? Instead of sitting at a mechanized light waiting to be told when to go, drivers meet in an intersection & negotiate their way through by making eye contact & gesturing. In Drachten, Holland, lights & signs were removed from an intersection handling about 30,000 cars a day. Average waiting times dropped from 50 seconds to less than 30 seconds. Accidents dropped from an average of eight per year to just one. On Kensington High Street in London, after pedestrian railing & other traffic markers were removed, accidents dropped by 44 %. This type of behavior even has a name: the "Peltzman Effect", named after retired Univ. of Chicago economist Sam Peltzman. He said, "
People tend to behave more recklessly when their sense of safety is increased. By removing signs & lights, drivers feel less safe, so they drive more carefully."

When you read the life of Jesus you continually come across people taking risks for Him. The leper who risked a stoning to come to Jesus asking to be healed (Mark 1:40). The 4 friends tearing up someone's roof to allow their paralyzed friend to see Jesus (Mark 2:4). The Royal Official risking his son's life by taking Jesus at His word & going home to his sick son without taking Jesus with him (John 4:50). Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14:29). The Canaanite woman who barged into a Jew's house uninvited to ask Jesus to heal her daughter (Mark 7:25). Story after story in the gospels tell of Jesus rewarding people for courageous acts of faith done for Him.

How can I have a part in that great adventure & come away with a miracle to tell? I think Matthew gives us a hint in chapter 15 of his gospel account of the Canaanite woman.
28Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted."
So great faith causes you to take risks? That means faith is not something you think or believe, but rather how you live.

Do some people think picking up a homeless couple that you've never met is risky? They could stink up your car, or spill their beer on you. They might even pull a knife & rob you. You just don't know what might happen. How can you take that risk? Remember the Peltzman effect? People tend to behave more recklessly when their sense of safety is increased. Here is the spiritual way to look at the Peltzman effect. When you feel safe in doing God's will you can take more risks for the Kingdom.

About a month ago my mom saw a lady holding a cardboard sign (pictured at left) at the corner of an intersection. They had come to Abilene on the promise of a job & it didn't work out. They were out of money & living in a tent behind a restaurant. My mom asked the lady if she would like to go to a Bible study & have a meal. The lady said yes so she & her husband came along for a ride (Little did I know that my family were the ones that would be going for a ride). Tonight they were both born again, baptized into Jesus. Just weeks after they had thought about committing suicide, they have been raised to live a new life. Having a front row seat watching God work in their lives is the great adventure. If my mom hadn't taken a risk of faith, we would've missed out. When we risk things for the Kingdom we tell the world about God, that He is trustworthy & faithful. Sermons, Bible study and seminary classes can't teach the true nature of God, you have to experience it.

When was the last time you took a risk for Jesus?

Mom's Doing Her Job


By Creg

Chelsa was gone for the weekend at a spiritual retreat in Houston. Thankfully she has done a wonderful job of preparing our 4 kids, ages 8 to 14, how to manage the house. They did their morning chores and cooked & cleaned without hardly any instruction from me! While I was working outside or preparing a lesson I would come in & the laundry or the meal or the dishes would be done. Chocolate chip pancakes, pitas with bacon, eggs & cheese, pan fried potatoes, scones with green icing. And that's just breakfast. YUMMY! What a proud dad! But I still missed Mom :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Interpreting the Bible


By Creg

Sierra has been reading Winnie the Pooh books to the kids. I've forgotten how funny they can be, especially the language from the 1920's like, "Oh bother", "many happy returns of the day" (which Sterling wrote on Nana's birthday card) and "tut, tut it looks like rain." They get a real kick out of that. When you read "Winnie the Pooh & Some Bees" what should you try to get out of the story? Is it instructions on how to make honey? Or just a story of how Pooh gathers & loves honey?

I went to Mark Hamilton's class on interpreting the bible at ACU's Summit earlier this week & he had some very thought provoking things to say. He talked about the different ways in which the bible was written; laws, stories, poems, parables, etc. and how we try to carry out each one of those different types. Laws are easy to understand what to do, but how do you do a story? He showed a picture of a car stereo manual & said one problem is when we read other texts like this manual. Put disk A into slot B & push button C. For example, if you read the stories in the book of Acts as a manual, then examples get put into commands. What if you don't have disk A, slot B is too small & there is no button C? He said if you want to memorize all of Paul's stops on his missionary journeys, that's OK, but the main message of the book of Acts is that they went out & spread the gospel & we should also.

He also talked about how experience plays a big role in how we interpret the bible. If you've already installed a car stereo you're probably not going to read the manual because you think you already know what to do. Same with scripture. Sometimes we don't read with a fresh mind because we've already read that verse & we know from our previous experiences what we think it means. I pray for an open mind while reading the ancient words so the Spirit can reveal things to me that I was too stubborn to see before.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What did I do to deserve this?

By Creg

As a result of a disease that took years to take its toll, Kyle was totally blind for his 14th birthday. He sunk into depression & loneliness & didn't care about getting out of his hole, rarely leaving his room. He questioned God, his parents, his friends & even strangers, but didn't get any answers to his satisfaction. After about a year his dad started leading him around inside the house to remind him of where things were. The father wanted the son to start being involved in the house again, but Kyle would have none of that. Finally one day his dad decided to take a different approach. He woke Kyle up & boldly told him to complete several chores before he came back from work that day. If Kyle didn't get finished, there would be severe consequences. Then the front door slammed. So Kyle got up & drudgingly went to work. There were a couple of minor mishaps & a few close calls, but he made it. When he finished the last chore someone gave him a big hug from behind. It was his dad. The father had taken the day off & had been right next to him the whole time!

Job of the Bible lost his animals, servants & children. After that he was covered with painful sores. Then the questions started coming. What did I do to deserve this? Have you ever felt like that? John the Baptist did.

2When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"

What do you think motivated this question? John was the forerunner of Jesus who was sent to prepare the way for the Christ and now he was in prison. Do you think, since John was in trouble & Jesus hadn't done anything to get him out, that John was wondering if this was how God rewards his anointed; is this how God honors the faithful? Could it be that John thought his release from prison would be best & that if Jesus was in command he should do something about it? Aren't questions asked anytime the faithful suffer the consequences of the faithless? Anytime a person takes a step in the right direction only to have their feet knocked out from under them. Anytime a person does good but suffers evil as a result. Then the questions come, "If God is so good, why do I hurt so bad?" "Why doesn't God do something?"

Sometimes, does God choose to do nothing?

4Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see:5The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 6Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."

Was the problem Jesus' silence or John's inability to hear & see? Jesus basically said, "Tell John everything is going as planned." John ended up dying in prison.

Notice in the book of Job that God didn't give Job answers, but he did give Job perspective. God could have said, "People will read about you for thousands of years. I'd bet on you against the devil!"

Sometimes being able to see things from God's perspective is better than getting all the answers to our selfish questions. If we make it through our ordeal with a better way to see the Father, like Kyle realizing that his dad was there right beside him all along, then wasn't it worth it?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Possibilities...


By: Chelsa

Look at this picture. What do you see? An innocent looking slender brown goat with floppy brown ears wearing a blue collar. Is that what you see? You know what? We saw that too when we first got her. She was a cute little kid goat whom the children loved to play with. But after the newness wore off and after she had gotten herself into trouble one too many times, we began to see her as an evil escape artist who deliberately ate our garden and grape vines, destroyed our flower beds and defoliated our fruit trees.

When we decided a few years ago that we wanted to get a milk goat so we could have fresh raw milk to drink, we didn't know what we were getting into. We would come home and find her out of her fence and inside the garden fence, munching on our green beans. Or she would be in the back yard eating our shrubs and rosebushes. Or she would be up on her hind legs stretching her neck as she ate the last leaves off the little trees we had just planted. Ooooo!!! She was really messing up our landscape attempts! And we started to wonder why in the world we ever decided to get a goat. She just wasn't worth the trouble!


But then one fine day in May (on my birthday! :-) she had twin kids and the milk started flowing. And our bad thoughts of her began to melt away into yummy possibilities. We went from thoughts of wringing her skinny little neck to thoughts of homemade ice cream, yogurt, kefir, fruit smoothies, fresh cold raw milk to drink, and homemade cheese! She still gets into trouble now and again, but my thoughts of her have changed. I want to show mercy because she is our source of creamy goodness. Thank you Lord for Milkshake.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sierra's Golden Summer Skye

By Chelsa
It's been a LONG wait, but it was worth it. Skye is finally here! Isn't she cute? Sierra has been wanting a Golden Retriever puppy for a couple of years now, but finding the perfect dog in her price range was harder than she thought. Because her main purpose in getting a dog was to breed and sell puppies, she needed to do it right. And that took lots of time, energy and plenty of patience.

She read up on dog breeds to see which kind she should get. She searched the internet for breeders in the area, read book after book on how to train puppies, worked different jobs to earn money for her future dog and built and prepared the area where the dog was to be kept.

Now all that work has finally paid off... well, except that the work is really just beginning. There's a new puppy to train. What fun!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Faith = Risk


By Creg

Not long ago we were at a swimming pool with some friends playing with our kids. I noticed a father & son playing by the side of the pool in the 5 ft area. The father could stand up but it was too deep for the kid. The father would stand with outstretched arms & tell his son to jump & he'd catch him. Sometimes he would, but a few times he wouldn't. The dad thought it was funny, but the son sure didn't. I wonder if that son will be able to take his father at his word when he gets older.
John chapter 4 tells of a remarkable story of faith shown by taking Jesus at his word.

46Once more he (Jesus) visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

Why did this official walk a days journey all the way to Cana? So he could bring Jesus back with him to Capernaum.

49The royal official said, "Sir, come down before my child dies."

Evidently this official has heard enough about Jesus to know that when He is in the room, good things happen. When He touches the sick, illnesses leave. His hand over the eyes, and sight is restored. The royal official is on a mission to bring Jesus back to his place so the master's touch could bring health to his boy.

50Jesus replied, "You may go. Your son will live." The man took Jesus at his word and departed.
.

He didn't get what he came for. He left without taking Jesus with him! Was he taking a huge risk? After all, it was his son's life that was at stake. What do you imagine he was thinking on the long journey home? "If this doesn't work out, I'm in big trouble." His family was expecting to see two people come over the horizon, not one. This man had heard enough about Jesus to trust Him with his son's life. What faith! Have you heard enough about Jesus to trust Him with your life? Not just for salvation when you die, but for a life while you're alive. Don't our actions show where our faith really is?

But the royal official didn't have to wonder for long.

51While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, "The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour."

53Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, "Your son will live." So he and all his household believed.

Who did his household believe? Jesus didn't come with him. It had to be the royal official. The father's testimony led his whole family to faith in Jesus. Isn't that how it's supposed to work? The father's words & actions show his family the true nature of God, that He is faithful & trustworthy to keep His promises. Then they use the father's faith as a springboard to their own.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Going Down to the River

By: Creg
We have been talking & studying about it for several weeks, but my heart skipped a beat when our oldest child finally says, "Daddy, I want to be baptized." So when both sets of grandparents were here we went down to the river on our property. But there's more to it than water. There is no relationship between water & baptism without the Spirit. We had been discussing what it means & all of the implications, so it wasn't the first time I had ask her this, but yesterday when I asked her why she wanted to get baptized she said, "I want to have what mommy has." Wow! What else can a man ask for? A wife who lives such a spirit-filled life that her daughter wants the same thing for herself. They have been studying the Holy Spirit in the women's Bible study while we've been studying Jesus in our home studies & Sierra has been soaking it in.

I would also say there is no relationship between water & the spirit without faith. Sierra has been searching for a good golden retriever for over 2 years. She finally picked one up 2 days ago. After she decided to follow Jesus, she realized she didn't want a dog anymore. She told us that for the longest time she thought having the right puppy would fulfill her & make her happy. However now she realizes that only Jesus can fill that void & give true fulfillment. What a statement of faith! It took me 40 years to figure that out. Baptism without faith & the spirit is just getting wet.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Who makes your wine?

By Creg

When I was 13 my family went on a cruise in the Bahamas. One of the first things I remember is going into our room on the ship & finding a bottle of white wine, courtesy of our travel agent. My dad told my brother & me that it tasted like Sprite & said, "Drink up boys." So we did. Talk about "fire in the hole". Whew!

What is the oldest institution that is still a big part of our lives today? If you said marriage go to the front of the class. It's older than sin. So what does wine have to do with marriage? Go to John chapter 2.
1On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, 2and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."
Big deal, right? Not at a 1st century Jewish wedding that lasted a week & was basically a time for the groom to say, "I've got what it takes to provide for my bride." Are spouses going to come up short sometimes? Without a doubt.There are times when I'm not worthy of being respected & submitted to by my wife.
I'm thinking of a scene from the movie Jerry McGuire when he looks at his fiancee & says, "You complete me." Is there anything wrong with a Christian saying that? If my wife looks to me for her fulfillment she's going to be disappointed quite often. Spouses who look to the other for completeness need to change their focus & rely on Jesus for true fulfillment that only He can give you. In my marriage I know without a doubt that Chelsa will never leave me. Believe me, it has nothing to do with my qualifications as a good husband. If you look at the husband rankings I fall in the dufus category, which is right under a nit wit. The reason I'm sure about her is because I know she loves God more than me. Did you notice that Mary looked to Jesus for her supply? Shouldn't we do the same? Continue in John 2.

7Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim. 8Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so, 9and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.

Does the groom know anything about what happened? He doesn't, & it won't be the last time the groom doesn't have a clue in a marriage! Jesus saved the groom from disaster & he doesn't even know it. When has Jesus intervened in your life & you didn't know it until later? All you knew was that the wine kept flowing.


Then he called the bridegroom aside 10and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."

When you let Jesus make the wine that is your life, He only makes the best!