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.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Going Through the Motions

By Creg

This is my current favorite song.

The Motions by Matthew West.

This might hurt, it's not safe

But I know that I've gotta make a change

I don't care if I break,
t least I'll be feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough

Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don't wanna go through the motions

I don't wanna go one more day

without Your all consuming passion inside of me

I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

No regrets, not this time

I'm gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love make me whole

I think I'm finally feeling something

'Cause just okay is not enough.

Help me fight through the nothingness of this life

Have you ever had to fight through the "nothingness of life"? What makes us get that empty feeling? I think Jesus gives us a hint in the sermon on the mount.
Mat 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
When you treasure the wrong things, your heart goes bad. When you seek fulfillment through stuff, your life becomes nothing. I spent my high school years totally dedicated to making all-district in football and getting my name on the honor board. My senior year I made it and there was a plaque with my name on it that was put on the wall. A few years later I went back to visit and the new coach changed the locker room. Guess where my plaque ended up? In the trash! That was a treasure that didn't last.

"This might hurt, it's not safe. But I know that I've gotta make a change." If you've been searching for the answers to life's big questions in the wrong place and you realize your life amounts to nothing, don't you have to make a change? What does he mean by "it's not safe?" I think it depends on how you see Jesus. If you see Him as just a nice guy teaching or a decency cop, then you can stay safe & secure. Don't most people prefer comfort & stability? But, if you see Jesus as Lord then He gets defining rights for a Christian, since He's the founder. All lords claim absolute loyalty & this One will challenge your idols. He's good, but He's not safe if you want comfort & worldly security.

"I don't care if I break, At least I'll be feeling something. Don't we have to be truly broken, sometimes, before we realize where the answers are?

"I don't wanna go through the motions. I don't wanna go one more day without Your all consuming passion inside of me." Some of us spend most of our Christian life just going through the motions of what it means to truly follow Jesus. When we just go through the motions we miss out on some big things.

A few months ago I saw a video online of a violin player in a subway station in New York. But this wasn't just any violin player, he was one of the best in the world, in fact thousands of people had paid hundreds of dollars for a ticket to hear him in concert just a few blocks away the night before. A local newspaper set up a camera in the subway & paid him to play for about an hour as an experiment to see if anyone would recognize greatness in their midst and stop and listen or would they overlook him and walk on by.

After about a minute the video begins to play in fast forward so you can quickly see what's happening as time elapses. No one stops to listen to some of the greatest violin music the world has ever known. Oh, every now and then someone will slow down to drop a coin in his empty violin case, not even looking up as they walk by. Finally someone stops to listen. The video slows down to normal speed and you can hear the person say, "I saw you play at the theater last night, it was wonderful. What are you doing here?"

Sometimes we do the same thing with Jesus. The savior of the world is in our midst wanting our attention and we just walk on by. We might slow enough to give Him some of our pocket change to ease our guilt, but we're too busy going through the motions of life to really notice. The saddest thing is sometimes we do recognize Him and feel His presence, but ask, "What are you doing here?"

"I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything, instead of going through the motions?" Isn't that what Jesus asks of us, to give everything?
Luke 17:33 Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.
In this context Jesus is telling his disciples how to prepare for the end of the journey. It looks like there are two ways to live life. Those who protect it & those who pursue it. A voice of safety & a voice of risk. If you really want life, like Jesus talks about in John 10:10, lose your goals and follow God’s call and it will always be risky, at least according to the world.

"No regrets, not this time
. I'm gonna let my heart defeat my mind. Let Your love make me whole I think I'm finally feeling something." Do you want to feel something meaningful? God promises that those who love and serve Him, and are honest and faithful, will know a kind of joy & peace that those who are evil never will. This feeling is something unknown to those who do wrong. People who are not pursuing an intimate relationship with God are significantly limited, left to rely on their own feelings, thoughts & efforts. When a love for God is not present, your spirituality becomes fake, your good deeds self-centered & your sacrifices insincere. In any relationship where love is not your motivation, you can expect it to feel bland & unfulfilling - if not meaningless.

When we decide to live life like God created us to live, His promises start becoming real.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Yogurt Made Easy...really!

By: Chelsa
Since we are enjoying the health benefits of drinking raw milk, I thought I would look into how to make raw yogurt. I tried making it before, but it was too technical and complicated. After searching the Internet, I found an absolutely simple way to make it. I was amazed! I thought you had to have some special sort of yogurt machine to make this stuff, but that's simply not true. The key to success is having an ice chest with a lid and a thermometer.

All you need is an ice chest, warm water, a thermometer, store bought yogurt, a whisk, milk, glass jars and lids to store your yogurt, and a couple of pots.

Here's what you do
  1. Get an ice chest that is big enough to hold your jar/jars of milk.
  2. Fill the ice chest half full with warm water (115` F)
  3. Close the lid.
  4. On the stove, warm your milk to 115`F stirring often. (Use a double broiler or something similar to keep the milk from burning)
  5. Add 1/4 cup of store bought yogurt to the warm milk and mix thoroughly. (I like to use yogurt that has at least 4-6 different types of live cultures in it. Check the labels on the back of the container. The one in the picture is NOT the one I used. I don't remember which brand of yogurt I tried and I already threw away the container. Sorry.)
  6. Make sure the temperature reaches 115`F then take it off the stove.
  7. Pour the yogurt/milk mixture into glass jars and screw the lids on tightly. You don't want the water to leak into your jars!
  8. Gently place the filled jars into your ice chest. Remember, it's half full of warm water.
  9. Make sure your jars are completely submerged under water. If not, add more 115`F warm water until jars are covered by at least an inch.
  10. Put the lid back on the ice chest and do not open or move for at least 8 hours. (If you make this right before bed, it will be ready in the morning.)
  11. The longer you leave the yogurt in the ice chest, the more sour it will become.
  12. When the 8 hours are complete...you have your very own homemade yogurt!!!
  13. Be gentle with your new creation and place it in the fridge to cool. Don't stir or shake until completely cooled or it might mess up the consistency of the yogurt. This yogurt won't be quite as thick as the store bought kind because they add thickening agents, but that's okay. It tastes wonderful!
  14. If you want to make flavored yogurt, you can do that after it cools. Just add your sweetener and/or fruit and stir gently.
  15. Sit back and smile and enjoy not only the yummy yogurt, but also the fact that you have been industrious and have saved money in the process. Nice.
  16. To make more, be sure to save at least a 1/3 cup of your yogurt. If you remember to do that, you won't have to buy yogurt at the store ever again.

Got Milk?

by: Chelsa

A couple of weeks ago we had to dry up Milkshake, our milk goat. I know she needs a well deserved break before kidding this spring, but I was still sad to do it because she's been providing us with such deliciously healthy raw milk to drink. Everyone in our family absolutely loves to drink the milk, but this has not always been the case.

Back in May, when I milked her for the first time, I poured the warm strained milk into a quart glass jar and stuck it in the fridge to cool. When the kids tried it later the next day, no one liked the milk. I thought we had made a big mistake in getting a milk goat because it just tasted funny. I couldn't figure out why no one liked it. We had tasted milk from our friend's goat and everyone thought it was great. After some trial and error I discovered that it wasn't the goat's fault, it was mine. I wasn't cooling the milk fast enough. And that made it taste just a little bit sour, which turned everyone off.

Soon I found a better way to cool the milk quick enough so it wouldn't sour. I began to split the milk into two glass quart jars, put it in the freezer for 45 minutes, then transfer it to the fridge. That seemed to work well. It tasted good and we enjoyed drinking it. But one day I didn't hear my timer go off and the milk froze solid. Irritated at the thought of messing it up again I pulled the jars out of the freezer and stuck them in the fridge. But instead of ruining the milk, that "mistake" actually led to the "discovery" of our favorite way to drink milk. Now I do this on purpose all the time. I freeze the morning milk and then pour the warm evening milk into those same jars and stick them in the fridge. This causes the frozen milk to soften up, but still have some ice crystals in it. When we pull this jar out to drink the next morning for breakfast, we always shake it up first so the ice crystals spread into all the milk. And when we drink it, it's ice cold and crunches just perfectly in between your teeth. It is so delicious to drink it this way that we almost fight over who gets it.

The Truth Project: Deceptive Philosophies

By Creg

A few months ago a friend of mine had me watch the opening lesson of "The Truth Project" at his house. After 30 minutes of lesson 1 I was hooked. It is a 12 part series produced by Focus on the Family and I am currently teaching it at our local prison. I think every Christian should watch it.
Col 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
By reading vs 6 we know he's talking to Christians and basically saying, "Don't fall for the deceptive human ideas about the nature of the world as you search for reality." Because, as most of us believe, God wrote the book on the nature of the world & the truth. Do you believe the book? All of it? Can people tell that you believe it?

Dr. Tackett draws a box on the board & says that some people believe everything is in this box. That all reality is within the natural realm. Most Christians believe that God originates outside the box but came inside to reveal Himself & be involved in our daily lives.

Too many people look for the answer to big questions inside the box. Some even put God inside the box. For example, does reading your horoscope influence your plans for the day? When you read a fortune cookie with good news do you feel better? Those who look for the big answers inside the box will end up depressed & confused. There are huge implications of believing that the answers to life's most important questions are in the box.

Here are my questions for you. How will someone know that you believe in the God that provides? Do you have to be an atheist to live like there is no God? Do you know some believers who live like God doesn't exist? If someone doesn't pray with confidence or trust in God's promises or follow Jesus' teachings (on money, not worrying, living for others...) are they saying God is irrelevant?