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.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

We've Never Done That Before


By Creg
Once middle school athletes have been to 2 track meets, they're experts. However, when we would go to a meet that ran events in the "wrong" order, they would start asking, "We've never done that before. Can they do that?" Have you ever had trouble with belief or doctrine just because you haven't seen something before? There's a story in Mark 8 that could give us a lesson or two.
22They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?"
Notice why they brought the blind man to Jesus; "to touch him." They knew that when Jesus laid His hands on people good things happened. But that's not what Jesus did. He spit on him. After they "begged" Jesus to touch him, Jesus cleared His throat, puckered His lips & the people cried, "How dare you spit on him, let's go." It's a good thing they didn't base their beliefs on what they've seen or haven't seen. I think we do sometimes. "God can't talk to you like that. He only does it this way." "Visions are just your imagination because I've never had one." "We've never done that in worship before. That's wrong."

24He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around." 25Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

How did he know what a tree looked like? He probably could see before and Jesus is giving him a second chance at seeing. Isn't that what Jesus is in the business of doing? Getting you back what you lost in the will of God. Jesus came so we could go to heaven, but that's not all. What about right here and right now? To restore us in an intimate relationship with God through the Spirit so we can learn what it means to live all of life under the reign of God. In John 10:10 Jesus says;

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Was it ok with Jesus for the man to see people as trees? No, Jesus could've said, "That's better than you were before." Jesus wants us to see as clearly as we were created to see, especially spiritually. Some of us spend our whole Christian lives seeing people as trees. Seeing sinners and problems instead of opportunities. When you stop at an intersection that cardboard sign has a face above it, made in the image of God.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Satan Seeks Weakest Link Pt 2

By Creg

The story of Achan in Joshua 7 is a sobering story of God getting rid of a weak link. Achan took some plunder from Jericho after God said not to.
24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold wedge, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, "Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today." Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them.

Yikes. God, I think, is basically saying, "If the rest of the world is going to know me by my people, I can't have behavior like this."

1st John 3:8 says;
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work.

One reason Jesus came was to destroy the devil's work. The devil came to destroy our lives through sin & Jesus came to save us from that. Continuing in 1 John 3;
9No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.
John's not talking about being perfect (1:8-10) but sin is not a normal way of life for a Christian. If a Christian has a particular sin in his life, he's going to do something about it; like a good coach or military general from the previous post. If sin is normal in a Christian's life & not dealt with, that person is making a mockery of Jesus' life & mission.
10This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God;
How can a Christian enjoy what God sent Jesus to destroy? I read of a man praying in church, asking God to get rid of the spiritual cobwebs in the member's lives. Then one fella said, "Lord, just kill the spider." That's the mission: destroy, not tolerate. Too often I've just wanted to clean the webs out of the corner to look better & not deal with the spider.

Satan Seeks Weakest Link

By Creg

The other day I was hanging some wire up for a new clothes line. I had to splice several pieces together to have enough length. While I was stretching the wire it kept breaking in the same spot. I didn't tighten that splice enough. Doesn't everyone know where a chain breaks? At it's weakest link.

If you're pitching to Josh Hamilton you're not going to throw it over the middle, belt high. You're going to try to hit the corner of the strike zone. If you're a football coach & the other team is playing their 3rd string rookie at cornerback, that's where you're going to throw the ball. In war, scouts are sent to spy on the enemy to find their weakness to know where to attack.

John 10:10 Jesus says, "The thief comes only to steal & kill & destroy." Satan comes to destroy your life & he's a good scout, looking for your weakness. After a loss a good coach or military general won't rest until he finds the solution for the weakness that caused the loss. Do you know what your weakness is? What are you doing to fortify it? I know what mine is & Satan's been after it.

Playing in the Rain

By Creg

What do boys do when it's raining 2.5 inches? They put on raincoats & mud boots & pretend they're Jurassic Park workers running from dinosaurs. What an imagination!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Istre Farm Day


By Chelsa
The last couple of weeks our family has had the privilege of hosting Farm Day at our place. This has been a new and fun adventure for us. A while back, we received a call from a friend of ours asking if she could bring her preschool kids out to our farm to have a tour sometime. So last Wednesday morning we braved 15 four year olds and 10 moms as they toured our farm and did some hands on "helping." The morning was full of all sorts of fun and educational things. First, they watched a goat milking demonstration, then held baby chicks, petted rabbits, got up close & personal while feeding the sheep and goats, played with the baby goats, gathered eggs from the chicken's nesting boxes, rode the horse if they wanted, planted garlic in the garden, made their own personal pizzas and watched us bake them in our homemade outdoor earth oven, played at the tree house, played with our kitties, and ate their pizzas in the back yard for a picnic lunch. We all had a great time. I think they liked it, too.

The next Monday we got an unexpected call from another friend who is Headmaster of a local private school. The teachers had planned a trip to the May Farm that morning, but Mrs. May called in sick. So he called us that morning asking if they could come out to our farm instead. Monday mornings are busy for us because we prepare and take a meal to Faithworks and In-Focus Digital and I make and bake lots of whole wheat pitas from scratch. But we worked it out so they could come anyway. Creg and 3 of the kids stayed and led the tour, while Sterling and I left about halfway through and delivered the food. Because we had such late notice, they didn't get to watch me milk the goat, but it worked out perfectly for them to watch the bread making demonstration outside since I had a fire in the earth oven going earlier that morning. We didn't make the pizzas this time because they had packed their lunches. I couldn't do the garden planting with them, but they had a hay ride as Creg pulled his trailer full of bean bags with his Farmall tractor.
As far as we could tell, all the kids had a blast, but I think it was the moms who learned the most. They asked lots of questions. And our family had a good time, too. It was fun working together to pull it all off. This is definitely something we want to do more often.

Monday, October 18, 2010

What treasures are you chasing?


By Creg
This quote from Rick Warren's "The Purpose-Driven Life" book was in our church bulletin yesterday.
"You will not be in heaven two seconds before you cry out, 'Why did I place so much importance on things that were so temporary? What was I thinking? Why did I waste so much time, energy, and concern on what wasn't going to last?' "
If you believe this statement, what are you going to change?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Solitude

By Chelsa
About 3 weeks ago I was able to go on a silent retreat for the weekend. No computer, no phone, no music, no talking, no distractions. I was able to enjoy the beautiful scenery, slow down, rest, relax, think, and focus on God. It was really nice. I had lots of time to read my bible, seek God, listen to Him, think, journal and pray. I thought about my relationship with God. I thought about our family and all the things that we do to teach our children about God and I realized that we don't really teach them about the benefits of solitude: going outside to solitary places to pray. When I returned home I discussed this idea with Creg and we decided to incorporate a time of solitude into our schedule. Last Sunday was our first organized attempt as a family. We all met in the living room and discussed what it meant to "be still and know that I am God." We told the kids to find a quiet place outside, think about God, take a notebook and pencil and draw something they saw that God had created. They had to sit still and be quiet until they heard the bell (about 30 minutes later). Creg found a place by the river to read his bible while I sat by the river, enjoyed the scenery, and journaled. At the end of our time we came back to the house and discussed our experiences. It was good. If Jesus went often to lonely places and prayed, we need to do the same.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

By Chelsa
We're doing a little experiment this fall. For the next few days/weeks when we have time, we're going to spend about 30 minutes each morning cutting tall grass along the roadsides. After we cut it, we stuff it in the back of the truck, drive it home, unload it, and spread it out to let it cure and dry. Finally, we pack it in the barn. I'm curious to see how far it will go this winter.

Faith = Risk Pt 3






By Creg

One summer during my college years I flew to California to visit my roommate. His grandmother lived in Las Vegas so we drove there to spend a couple of days. As luck would have it, our visit just happened to coincide with a Mike Tyson fight, when he was in his prime. Being the big sports fans that we were, we decided to make a visit to the hotel where the fight would take place. As we made our way through the casino to the boxing ring we saw portable stands & make shift fences set up around the fight ring. It was enough to get in the view of anyone who wanted to see the action without a ticket, that would be us. We settled in the middle of a big crowd just outside the fencing where we could see the fight on the big screen TV above the ring. Right before the bell for the first round we decided to give up our spot in the crowd and take a risk. My roommate saw an unmarked portable fence we could sneak around to try for a closer view. Luckily, we found a place where we could stand behind the grand stand & watch through a gap in the bleachers. Seeing a heavy weight world championship boxing match in real life was absolutely electrifying.

Luke tells a story of a sinful woman (some versions say she was a prostitute) in chapter 7 who took a big risk to sneak in and get a closer view.
37When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears.
How did she get in the Pharisee's house? Was she invited? There's no way a woman, especially a prostitute, would be a guest of a Pharisee. Evidently she snuck in. Was that a risk? She could be stoned for adultery! Does Jesus like it when people take risks for Him? Absolutely!
38Then she wiped them (Jesus' feet) with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
Do you think she had the perfume for her job? Is she showing, by pouring out her perfume, that she was giving up on her former way of life, and that she has faith in Jesus to help her? Isn't that the effect that Jesus has on people?
39When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner."
The ironic thing is that Jesus knows exactly who this woman is & that's why He's letting her touch Him. Makes me wonder who should I be touching today that would make Jesus smile & others cringe.
44Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman?
Did Simon see the woman? Jesus sees the woman & her pain; Simon sees the sin. What do we see in others in similar situations? Jesus continues:
44I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.
Does Jesus defend her in his reply to Simon? Jesus sees her pain & her hopeless situation. By defending her He puts himself with her. Jesus makes it very clear whose side He's on. It's the faithful ones who take risks to serve Him.
47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much.
Jesus sees in her heart that she wants to love, but she just can't get out of her hole. When Jesus gets down there with you, He knows it's a horrible place to be, but He'd rather be there with you than someplace else without you. However, He doesn't leave us there.
50Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
She is rewarded for showing faith in Jesus. Knowing He was the one to see her as an opportunity, not as a problem. Jesus didn't come just to get rid of our sins, He came to handle our pain, to suffer with us, to love us no matter where we've been & to offer us a peace that the world can't give us, nor can the world take away.

This story starts out as a story of pain because she didn't get to where she was by accident. Little girls don't grow up with a goal to become a prostitute. But Jesus is in the business of radically changing the lives of people who take risks of faith for Him. The view becomes much better.