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Category Archives: God’s Creation

God’s Word…Life and Truth

“Give Thanks”

 “Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 106:1).

Thanksgiving is a time to remember all the blessings in our lives.

Let’s begin now…and continue all year long.

Our daughter started a new Thanksgiving tradition last year. Their family makes a Thankful Tree. The children find a tree branch and place it in a homemade container and then cut out leaves made from construction paper. Each day the children and their parents write something they want to thank God for on a leaf and then hang the leaves on the tree branch.  — Adapted from Changing Seasons In Me, article originally written Nov. 13, 2014.

 

Jack and Julia

I’m not fond of the winter months. In fact, my wardrobe is indicative of this, having many more summer clothes than winter. My hands shiver when walking down the freezer aisle at the grocery store…in the summer!

A thankful spirit often requires a different or new perspective on life’s familiarities. Otherwise, we may find ourselves taking for granted the blessings right in front of us….our family, the changing colors of autumn, a red bird perched on a snow-covered branch, and so on. While driving home from work the other day, my husband called and told me to look outside at the beautiful sunset. I ran out on our deck, only to be disappointed I had missed the window of opportunity.

To keep our children from missing the windows of opportunity, we (parents and grandparents) have the awesome responsibility to train our children to have watchful eyes, for the many blessings we receive each day. This takes intentionality! Children and adults not fully surrendered to Christ, are naturally self-absorbed and can easily miss the joy God intends. Looking at the world through eternal lenses portrays true and lasting blessings. The following story depicts two diverse perspectives from ten men who received the same blessing.

Jesus Heals Ten Men with Leprosy – Luke 17:11-19

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[b] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

After reading and contemplating the two varying responses to the lepers’ healing, ask yourself how you may have responded? Would it be more like the nine, or the one?  I’d like to propose two diverse perspectives—the temporal and the eternal.

The temporal perspective:

“The nine” cleansed lepers missed their window of opportunity to receive an even greater blessing, far beyond their physical healing. Here are a few possible reasons “the nine” didn’t go back to thank Jesus.

  • Being in isolation for so long, their minds were solely focused on returning to their former lifestyle.

  • They may have thought Jesus was simply doing what He was “supposed” to do…heal people. Therefore, they took their healing for granted.

  • Some may have said something like, “I’m sure God wants me to get busy fulfilling the plans He purposed for my life.”

The eternal perspective:

“The one” leper who came back to thank Jesus not only recognized the miraculous healing in his life, he experienced the greater blessing—the presence of a loving and merciful Savior. His perspective was filled with overflowing gratefulness, a direct result of being Christ-focused rather than self-absorbed.

The following quotes are from the book, Love Made Perfect—Foundations for the Holy Life (1997), authored by Dr. William M. Greathouse (April 29, 1919 – March 24, 2011), minister and emeritus general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene.

“Self-love is the disease of original sin.”  “Idolatrous self-love is our sickness, but it is a sickness God wants to cure.”

To help our children develop a grateful heart like the “one leper,” I believe we must first explain that everyone is born with a sinful nature. The sinful nature will naturally dispose every human heart toward being self-absorbed. The only cure for a self-absorbed life is full surrender to Christ. I recommend reading Dr. Greathouse’s book, Love Made Perfect, for a fuller understanding of loving God with one’s whole heart, strength, and mind—a love perfected in us through Christ alone.

Secondly, we need to stop and “smell the roses.” I love this definition for the idiom “smell the roses.”

To take time out of one’s busy schedule to enjoy or appreciate the beauty of life.

Parent Challenge

Take time to thank God throughout your day. Don’t let the busyness of your schedule or life’s distractions keep you from missing out on the blessings of life. Begin by thanking God for your precious children, spouse, friends, church family, co-workers, neighbors, etc. Practice pointing out the blessings of life to your children, as you drive along the road. The changing seasons exude with God’s blessings.

My new perspective of winter:  I love sitting by a fire on a cold wintry day with my husband. Building snowmen with our grandchildren imparts cherished memories of innocent smiles and silly giggles into my heart. Christmas brings the greatest blessing of all, as our family gathers together to sing happy birthday to Jesus. God warms my heart throughout the winter.

More Traditions

Thanksgiving tablecloth. Using the same tablecloth every year, each family member writes what they are thankful for on the tablecloth. The little ones love to make turkeys as they trace around their hands. Use permanent fabric markers or pens.

Indian Corn: Our grandchildren help me place several kernels of Indian corn by each table setting. Before eating our meal everyone shares something they are thankful for and then they place a kernel of corn into a decorative basket. Our basket goes around the table several times because the children have such thankful hearts.

 wreathThe first Sunday of Advent is November 29 this year (2015). There are limitless resources available to help families prepare their hearts to celebrate Christ’s birth. The Advent wreath is one of my favorites.

Check out Christian Book.com at:

http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/easy_find?Ntt=Advent+devotionals+for+families&N=0&Ntk=keywords&action=Search&Ne=0&event=ESRCG&nav_search=1&cms=1

 

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God’s Word…Life and Truth

SAM_1167“Yes, may all the nations praise you.
Then the earth will yield its harvests,
and God, our God, will richly bless us” (Psalm 67:5-6).
Praise to God
A follow-up from my blog post last week.

God often places a song of praise on my lips. The song is often from days gone by; while other times, a fresh new song pops into my mind. Most recently, To God be the glory, great things He hath done (https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/39), keeps playing. Amazing! Every time I sing a song of praise to my Father in heaven, He fills me to overflowing…with joy, tears of gratefulness.
Join me today in giving praise to God. You will be blessed.

Facebook friends: May the Psalms draw you near to God.

“1 May God be merciful and bless us.
May his face smile with favor on us. Interlude
2 May your ways be known throughout the earth,
your saving power among people everywhere.
3 May the nations praise you, O God.
Yes, may all the nations praise you.
4 Let the whole world sing for joy,
because you govern the nations with justice
and guide the people of the whole world. Interlude
5 May the nations praise you, O God.
Yes, may all the nations praise you.
6 Then the earth will yield its harvests,
and God, our God, will richly bless us.
7 Yes, God will bless us,
and people all over the world will fear him” (Psalm 67).

Faith at Home Moment:
Teaching children and grandchildren to offer praise to God blesses them and honors God.
While taking a walk around the block or hiking in a park, stop and take special notice of all God has created for our enjoyment. After talking about the intricate detail and beauty of a butterfly, autumn leaf, or sun rays illuminating a waterfall, take your child’s hand and give praise to God for His amazing creation. During a worship service, sing to the Lord with all that is within you! God is an audience of One and we are the participants (worshipers).

 

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Building a Legacy of Faith ~ Autumn Leaves — Jesus Never Does!

The purpose of this weekly blog entry, titled: Building a Legacy of Faith, is to share practical and biblical ideas with parents/grandparents who are passionate about intentionally passing down their faith in Christ to their children/grandchildren. I would also like to receive other tried and true spiritual formation ideas from parents and grandparents. These may be sent to my email address at: covenantheirs@gmail.com, and from time to time, I will publish some. Please mention in your email, consent to publish (with potential edits) of your submission.

Volume 1, Issue 2 (October 3, 2013)

Building a Legacy of Faith

2 Timothy 1:5

For parents who are passionate about passing down their faith in Christ to their children.

Autumn Leaves — Jesus Never Does!

falling leaves   Summer has come to an end, but thankfully, here in the Mid-West, we are continuing to enjoy picture-perfect warm sunny days. The cooling off at dusk as daylight quickly dwindles, tells me that autumn has arrived. Even though I am more of a summer person, there’s something very captivating about fall. For me, it’s the changing colors of the leaves and bright orange pumpkins arriving on neighbors’ doorsteps, that draws me into the pleasantry of the season. Whether you have toddlers or teens, this is a great time of year to experience God’s amazing creation together as a family. Here are few suggestions:

♦  Take a Sunday afternoon drive into the country. Have everyone point out the “colors of fall” ranging from freshly cut cornstalks to blazing burnt-orange leaves. End up at a pumpkin patch or an apple orchard.

♦  Choose a day that offers a little breeze. Provide small containers for each family member. Find a location (a park, backyard), where there are plenty of trees. And as the breeze blows, chase the falling leaves, catching as many as possible. Award a small prize to the one who catches the most leaves. (Little ones can simply collect leaves from the ground.)

♦  Bake pumpkin pies or cookies and deliver them to someone who could use a sweet treat (a lonely neighbor, your pastor, a friend, a shut-in). Make a leaf-shaped card from construction paper and attach it to the treat.

After experiencing these intentional family fall moments, build in some extra time to discuss the process of dying and new life. Begin by talking about the changing seasons. For instance, summer is a time of vibrancy and life, which then surrenders itself to fall, when leaves on the trees die and fall away and many plants appear to die. Winter arrives and with it the frost and chill seem to halt all growth and life. Following winter, when it seemed as if everything had died away, spring comes forth. New life surrounds us. Daffodils, crocuses, and tulips begin to push through the once-frozen ground. The bare tree branches begin to show signs of new leaves. Talk about the New Life that is found in Jesus alone. Use these Scriptures, along with others to describe our new life in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Ephesians 2:4-5; Colossians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 3:18; (Romans 3:23 & Romans 6:23); John 12:24; John 14:6

Recommended book for toddlers and preschoolers:  The Pumpkin Patch Parable, by Liz Curtis Higgs

Covenant Heirs 10/03/2013

 

 

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Beauty in the Moment

I recently received a warning from my doctor that my “bad” cholesterol was getting a little high, considering my heart disease. Not wanting to go back on medicine with painful side effects, I made a commitment to begin exercising again.

Lone Tree Typically, I run (well, walk fast) on my treadmill, but this morning I decided to walk fast outside in our neighborhood. Great choice, since I truly enjoy the outdoors in the summer. While making my last turn before heading back, I spotted the “lone tree.” I first noticed this tree while driving to get somewhere in a hurry over the past several months. This day I actually took the time to thoroughly enjoy the beauty in the moment. One dainty tree, set aside by God, for all to observe. A little further along, I noticed several yellow finches fluttering about in a God-made garden of wildflowers. Awesome! And then, arriving at my driveway, a vibrant bloom on a hibiscus plant caught my eye.

Over fifteen years ago, a college professor wisely spoke these words to me. “Be sure not to miss the journey.” At the time, all I could think about was my husband finishing Bible college so we could take our first church as pastor and wife. Thankfully, I heeded the professor’s instruction, then and now. Jeff and I took time to enjoy our journey by exploring the majestic Rocky Mountains while finishing Bible college. And now I find myself experiencing a new journey ofHibiscus transitioning from full-time ministry to the next chapter in our lives.

It is my prayer and hope that my adult children and their families, and other parents and families, will take the time to enjoy the beauty in the moment. Even though there’s a lot of bad “stuff” going on in our world, I am so thankful that our Living God continues to bless us daily with so much beauty!

 

Speaking From Experience from One Parent to Another:  Take the time to enjoy the beauty in the moment with your kids.                                                                                                                                                           +  Don’t overload your kids with too many activities, where you find yourself running from one to the next.
+   Schedule times to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Take bike rides or walks together, pointing out all the beauty God has created. It’s amazing how kids are so delighted when they spot a frog and a mud puddle, both placed in just the right spot–if you know what I mean.
+  Camp out and rediscover the names of the constellations with your kids. Remember the “Big Dipper”?

We are expecting our sixth grandchild in October. This 9-month journey is a reminder to me, of the greatest of God’s creations, the miracle of life. Nothing really compares to this moment, when a mother holds her child for the first time.

Prayer for the Journey:

Dear God, help me to enjoy each moment of every day. Help me not to miss the journey, by being too busy, or too loaded down with temporal concerns or selfish desires. Thank you, Lord, for the beauty in the moment of this new day.

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2013 12: 38 pm - in Faith At Home, Family Time, God's Creation

 

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