Knowing THIS is a game changer in 2016

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You and I have no clue what 2106 holds for us as individuals or as families. Oh sure, we have loose plans or like my type A friends – you have firm plans for every month in 2016.  But really when it comes down to it we don’t know what tomorrow holds.

And that could be really scary.

It could be scary as we look back on the past and remember what happened to some of our friends, our loved ones, ourselves or people we don’t even know. Our hearts broke. For Paris. For school shooting victims, for the cancer diagnosis, the death of a child, the shattered marriage, the…..

Life will happen to everyone of us in 2016.

And it could be scary but it doesn’t have to be. And not because we choose to not look back or remember tragedy around us but because of something different we choose to know and remember.

If we approach 2016 with knowing who God is it changes how we respond to whatever 2016 brings our way. And really if I say it right I will say it this way: If we approach 2016 with knowing who God is it changes how we respond to what God brings our way in 2016.

Because when we know and believe who God is and we filter everything through that, while we don’t necessarily understand everything, we can trust God does.

If you aren’t sure who God is this January 2106 take a look at just a few attributes of God below. These are characteristics of God that we see in scripture in different places. They ascribe who God is.

If we believe God’s word is true we can also know these following things about who God is no matter what comes our way this year.

In 2016 we can know that God is…….

SupremeHighest in rank, power, authority, superior, highest in degree; utmost.  (Gen. 14:19, Deut. 10:14-17, Job 11:7-9, Isaiah 44:6-8, Hebrews 1:4,6)

SovereignHolding the position of ruler, royal, reigning; independent of all others; above or superior to all others; controls everything and can do anything.  (Job 42:2, Psalm 93, Ps. 135:6-7, Isaiah 46:9-10, Romans 8:28, Isa. 40:10)

Immutable Never changing or carrying; unchangeable ( Numbers 23:19, Ps. 100:5, Ps. 119: 89,152, Isa. 51:6, Hebrews 6:17-19, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17) *This means we can enter all the years prior to 2016 and all the years after 2016 and He never changes.*

GoodVirtuous, excellent; upright; God is essentially, absolutely and consummately good. (Ps. 25:8, Ps. 34:8, Ps. 86:5, Ps. 119:68, Ps. 136:1; John 10:11, I Tim. 4:4, II Peter 1:3-4

FaithfulConstant, loyal, reliable, steadfast, unwavering, devoted, true, dependable ( Ps. 33:4, Ps. 89:8, Ps. 146:5-8, Lamentations 3:21-24, II Tim. 2:13, I John 1:9)

Other verses reveal to us in scripture  that God is also all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful, Mercy, Compassionate, Eternal, Wise, Master Planner, Holy, Just, Creator, Revealer, Redeemer, King of Kings and so much more.

This is our God! 

And so whatever comes our way in 2016 let’s filter it through the grid of who we know God to be based on who he says he is in scripture.

This is a game changer.

We can get through anything when we have a God like we do. Friends, get to know Him this year. I’m glad to help in any way I can. Email me, message me, pull me aside in town and let me know you want to get to know Jesus more this year and I’d be glad to pray for you. My desire is to know Him more this year as well. So let’s do it together.

What attribute of God do you find yourself needing to cling to the most right now? 

I’ll answer in the comments. Would love to hear your thoughts.

 

Community Outreach instead of Cyclical Church Events

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For the first time ever our church took Trunk R Treat to a slightly sketchy neighborhood park. We had no idea what to expect but we prayed and planned and asked God to provide us with what He knew we needed for the night. Our church family worked hard and long to create a lit up obstacle course on the playground, set up decorated tables of candy and created a “dark room” where the Gospel would be presented every 4 minutes for two and a half hours straight.

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We are a small rural town and estimate that around 1000+ people came through the park. Of those people only about 5% got their candy and skipped out on the “Dark Room” where Randy gave a short telling of the Gospel using different kinds of light to represent how we can all go from dark to light through Jesus Christ.

We got home last night and neither one of us could sleep because we were so excited about the night. What God did. How excited our church family was about what God did. It’s impossible to do what God created us to do (to know Him and share His Good News with others) and not get a thrill from it. Combine that with a sugar induced high and you got some major sleep deprivation going on. And so as I lay awake late last night these are the things that ran through my mind and heart in regards to outreach.

#1 You know your Trunk R Treat is a true “community outreach” event when there is only one Bible character that shows up out of hundreds of people and everyone mistakes “Moses” for  Gandalf. You can catch a glimpse of Gandalf’s twin, Moses, below. Love it!!!

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#2 Another way we know we’re participating in a true community outreach is when the church is serving off site. It’s easy to set up our church homes with all kinds of fun stuff and ask people to come to us – and there’s nothing wrong with that – but true outreach is when we reach out to people beyond our church property. Beyond the pews and steeples. It’s when we go to our community instead of asking them to come to us every. single. time.

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#3 Outreach is taking the love and message of Jesus to places where people are comfortable showing up. I can’t know for sure but I would say that more than half the people that came to the park last night and sat through a 3 minute sharing of the Gospel most likely don’t and would not step foot in church. We can make all kinds of judgements about people who choose to stay away from church but the bottom line is this: do we want them to hear the Gospel and be shown the love of Jesus? If so, we must be willing to serve outside the walls of our churches.

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#4 Reaching out in our communities will get messy. But it’s worth it. People will be rude. There will be times that people will take advantage of your kindness. Not necessarily often but when it happens it will make you stop in your tracks and ask yourself if it’s worth it. And we remind ourselves that it is so worth it. Remembering where we were before Christ and recalling the abundant life we now have in Christ will remind us how worth-it it is.

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#5 Outreach is not about building our church but solely about building the Kingdom of God. Sometimes that translates into our churches growing and that’s awesome but the motivating factor in outreach is to share Jesus with people expecting nothing in return. That’s why church turf guarding isn’t necessary one bit. Last night we were telling people about the other awesome churches in our community doing Trunk R Treat at their church. One person made the comment they were going to Community Baptist Church next and I had to tell them “Dude, this is Community Baptist Church!” That was an awesome moment. They said, “Really! That is so cool that ya’ll came to the community for this. Thanks for doing that.”

I’ve mentioned before that our church is learning and growing in so many areas. Getting out of our comfort zone is one of them. But we are seeing God go before us, provide for us and do through us what we could never do ourselves. One of our members looked at me last night as we were taking down the last of everything at the park and he said, “Now this was church right here.” I couldn’t say it better myself!

 

3 lessons learned & random miscellany

Lesson #1: Don’t recycle bird nests for bird use

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If you have ever wondered if you could trick a fallen baby bird by putting it into a nest that’s not it’s own just know it doesn’t work. The rescue attempt is a kind hearted move but the bird will fly out immediately and make a beak dive and injure it’s other wing. We have six bird nests that we’ve recovered from our ferns on the front porch. So we tried recycling them. Didn’t work. Yeah, just don’t try to be green when it comes to bird nests. Unless you want to use it as a candy dish and that’s just gross. I’m pretty sure that’s how people get the bird flu.

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On a happier note we had a great time with church/school staff on July 4th cooking out and doing fireworks with the kids in the front yard. About the time a bottle rocket landed on a roof at the same time a policeman drove by we decided we should be done. But it was fun while it lasted.

Lesson #2: Save the bottle rockets for the beach or the country. Not the city limits.

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This week Mitchell was at a lego robotics camp at our local community college. It was a lot of fun for him although he really enjoys building more than programming. This was a great experience for him.

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While he was doing his lego thing Sophie and I had some special girl time. We got our nails done one day and walked our little downtown and got ice cream. It was a fun time together.

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I found this adorable whicker basket in one of my favorite little shops called Mish Mosh. I’m thinking I may go back and get it if it’s not already sold. It would be so cute with long twigs coming out or some lighted stalks of something. But I’m being budget girl right now so I’m not spending money on things that aren’t needs. I don’t know though, sometimes you just need a whicker basket.

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 Lesson #3: Don’t try to explain what a Mammogram is to your children. 

I was praying with someone over the phone this week who was about to have a mammogram and she was very anxious about it. We prayed and apparently I used the word “mammogram” enough times for our seven year old to ask me about it when I got off the phone. Ironically she was content to accept my simple answer of, “It’s a test that helps Doctors determine if you have cancer.”

But it was our teenage son that asked a million questions. What kind of test? How do they do the test? Where do they do the test? Have you had the test? Do men have the test? Is it a shot? I tried so very hard to avoid specific answers for whatever reason. Maybe because I just found it awkward? But finally I was pressed so hard with the questions that I just unloaded and gave the full description.

Mitchell’s eyes were are as wide as saucers and Sophie is belly aching with laughter. Mitchell is horrified at the thought and in pure shock. He asks if Sophie would ever have to have one and when I replied in the affirmative her laughing suddenly came to an abrupt halt. I told her she had to grow them first and then wait for like 25 years before she had to have one so she didn’t need to worry about it.

When Randy got home for dinner the kids revisit the mammogram conversation and start telling Randy, complete with sound effects and charade type gestures, what a mammogram is.  I’m pretty sure Randy was in about as much shock as the kids were because after 21 years of marriage this is one topic we’ve never really discussed.

I’m just hoping it doesn’t come up in church or school as a prayer request soon. I can just see my kids requesting prayer for all the 35 year old women and up that will have to endure a mammogram. Nice.

Alrighty then, that’s what we’ve learned the last two weeks. What about you? Learning anything practical you’d like to share with the rest of us?

 

I’m grappling with my friend’s death and God speaks to me gently

My heart is heavy because I lost a good friend last week. Her death was completely unexpected and what I want to say is untimely because she was only 39 years old. She loved Jesus with all her heart and so did her family. She leaves behind a husband and three children. Their son Zach went on to heaven even before Katie when he was just 5 years old. Such devastating loss this family has endured.  Katie’s brother passed away in the last few years as well. He was younger than she was.

Katie was a wonderful person. To know Katie is to love her. Her laugh; her heart; her humor. She gave generously and she had a heart of gratitude. She wanted people to know about Jesus and so she went on mission trips and took her kids with her. She held Happy Birthday Jesus parties for neighborhood kids and friends and we brought gifts for charities. Katie had people over for dinner even if her house wasn’t perfectly picked up and she was fine with serving pizza and salad because she was about relationships. She was authentic.

And so I have been turning to the scriptures daily asking God to show me a verse on behalf of Katie and the pain we feel on her family’s behalf and just our own personal pain. I scramble through verse after verse that reminds me that God is our Protecter, our Defender, our Guard. I read verses in Psalms that proclaim God’s goodness and his watch care in a time of trouble. I find comfort.

But I admit that way in the back of my head in a whisper I secretly wonder….. where do these truths fit in with my friend who is no longer here on earth?

Defender. Yes, I believe with all my heart that God is my Defender and Katie’s Defender. But how does this fit right now? She’s gone.

God protects. I know and I am comforted by this but I still have the haunting question of  ” but how is that protection for Katie?”

And then it’s as if  The Holy Spirit nudges me and reminds me that He is protector and He is Sovereign both in the same sentence. He knows our days. They are ordered before we are even born. He knows us that well. And so it’s not that He doesn’t protect or guard. It’s that He is working out a purposeful plan we can’t possibly understand but we choose to trust. God is so powerful that nothing can thwart his plan. Not our own plans and best intentions can interfere with God’s plan. And this is why I must keep trusting and believe that God is good. All the time. Even when I don’t understand and can’t see the plan.

Today I’m clinging to these verses in Psalms 62

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God  my hope comes from him.

Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

Would you pray for the Emerson and the Glover family? That the God of all hope and peace will be lifted high in the celebration of Katie’s life on Friday afternoon.

When tragedy hits – we have a choice

Our hearts are all aching for Oklahoma right now in the midst of their sheer devastation. A school involved. Children among the death toll. The sudden nature of it all. It’s overwhelming and incomprehensible. The news is what most of are watching – online or on our televisions. Tears stream even though many of us don’t know these people. But that doesn’t matter. The human heart is breaking for complete strangers. And compassion builds up and a heaviness forms within us.

And we have a choice.

We can get mesmerized by interviews and late breaking news and so overcome with sadness that we just shuffle away in depression. Or, as we become informed, we can pray to the One true God who can bring peace and comfort in the midst of unspeakable horror. We can pray for the people we see interviewed in that moment. It takes an element of strength to speak publicly but imagine the recurring nightmares of sights and sounds they heard on May 20th, 2013.  A day forever etched in Oklahoma resident’s minds. A day that will stand out in history forever.

I want to be able to say I did more than just “remember where I stood when I got the news of the 2 mile wide Oklahoma tornado that took almost 100 lives”.  Because of God’s great love He has given us the ability to reach His throne through prayer. And not only for ourselves but for others as well. A true gift.

So let’s not waste time on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Oklahoma. The greatest thing we can offer right now is our prayers for them. It makes a profound difference.