Command of Christ # 23

Hello, this week's commandment is special, because not only did Christ give this command, but we are told over 350 times throughout Scripture to not do this one thing...can you guess it?
Jesus said, "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28). We are commanded to Fear Not.
Jesus is saying here that we should not fear (be alarmed, frightened, revere, be in awe of) other people. It relates to Proverbs 27:1, "The Lord is my light and salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?" When we are on God's side, who can stand against us? They are no longer our enemy, but the enemy of the living God. Now most of us are not fearful for our lives, so how can we apply this to the everyday worries and troubles of a woman?
For the most part I have gotten over my fear of the dark or of something grabbing my ankle from under my bed...almost. : ) The things that bring fear or worry to my heart relate to my future and others' opinion of me. We will focus on fear of man, because I think we can ALL relate to this! Fear of man is wanting the approval and praise of others more than you desire the approval of God. Ouch, that hurt just typing it! It has been said that what you fear you will worship. If you fear your children, you will do whatever to please them, even if you know it is wrong. If we fear man, we will do a lot to get their approval, even if it is against God's ways. (Think Aaron and the golden calf)
Here are some ways that I have seen fear of man evidenced in my own life (I'll try to be brief): acting different depending on who I am with, dressing to get attention, doing my hair or makeup to get attention, being witty or overly loud, doing what I know someone else would praise me for, agreeing with someone's opinion even if it is not mine, complimenting with a wrong motive, not witnessing for fear of what they will think of me...I could go on forever. You get the picture...and it ain't pretty.
How can we learn to fear God? (This can apply to fear of man and other fears)
1) Get in the Word EVERYDAY so that you can know His commands. "And it (a copy of the Law) shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them" (Deuteronomy 17:19).
 (See also Proverbs 2:1-5)
2) Dedicate your life and your reputation to God: "I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1-2). When you have yielded your life to God, you have a confidence that whatever happens to you is God's perfect will. If you are committed to God's reputation more than your own, you will have a freedom to obey God rather than man.
3) Give your possessions and loved ones to God: if you have given everything to God, you have nothing to lose and therefore have nothing to fear. When I find myself fearful, it is because I have notyielded that thing to God and am scared what is going to happen.
4) Remember God's promises and special care for us: "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, neither be afraid of them, for the Lord thy God, He it is that doth go with thee, He will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Deut. 31:6). "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows" (Matthew 10:29-31).
-How can I increase my fear of the Lord?
-What fears do I have now that need to be resolved?
-Have you yielded your life, reputation, and possessions to God?
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Notes adapted from IBLP Commands of Christ study guide and pocket guide

Command of Christ # 22

This week's command is 'Be Wise as Serpents.' Jesus said, "Behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves" (Matthew 10:16).
Christ has called all believers to go out and make disciples and to teach others.  He warned us, however, that it won't be like trying to give away cotton candy to children, rather we are going to be faced with great opposition.  "But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles" (Matthew 10:17-18).  The wolves that we will face are those who bite and devour us with their criticism, scoffing, and reviling.
Sheep are pretty defenseless against packs of wolves who attack with their sharp teeth and strong jaws. Their main line of defense is their shepherd.  If they heed the instructions of their shepherd, they have a better chance of surviving. This gives us a picture of our own helplessness and vulnerability, but this weakness gives us great power through Christ (see I Cor. 12:9). When we arehearkening to the voice of our Shepherd, who can stand against us? (see I Pet. 3:13-15)
When we come against mockers and scorners, we are told to be wise as serpents. Genesis says that the serpent was subtil above all the other animals. Subtil means to be 'clever, or deal prudently.' Similarly, the word 'wise' in this passage means 'intelligent, prudent.'  Just as Jesus responded to His critics with clever questions, we also should be ready to give an answer. Not an angry rebuke, butpersuasive and well-crafted questions.  Jesus said that He will be with us to guide us in what to say. "For I will give you a mouth of wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist" (Luke 21:15).
The next statement is to be 'harmless as doves.'  The word harmless means, 'unmixed, innocent, pure, without mixture of evil.' It gives the idea that there is no evil in what we are saying or doing. That although we are giving a wise response, we are not doing it with guile or hatred.  Our words should be sweet like a dove (Songs 2:4), and should be void of offense.  "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles, that whereas they speak evil of you as evil doers, they may be shamed thatfalsely accuse your good conversation in Christ" (I Peter 3:16).
Josef Tson was a Romanian pastor that suffered great persecution in the 1970's. He has a powerful testimony of how he wisely answered his interrogators for weeks at a time while remaining harmless in his words. He told them that they could go ahead and kill him, because he would just go to glory and the Gospel would be spread even more in Romania. He is still alive today, preaching the Gospel..I encourage you to read more about his testimony!
Following Jesus' example, we are to give wise replies, rather than rambling off our opinions.  We are to be innocent of evil-speaking, so that like Jesus, there was not one who could honestly accuse Him of evil.
-What is your normal response to those who criticize or mock you?
-Would those who know you say that your words are blameless?
-In what ways are you learning to hear and obey the Shepherd's voice?
"A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger" (Proverbs 15:1).
Notes adapted from IBLP Commands of Christ study guide and pocket guide

Bible Bee Kick Off.....

Once again this year my family and I have the privilege of helping out with the National Bible Bee at our church. To start of this year's local meetings, we had our local hive meeting kick off a couple weeks ago. It was very exciting and fun to be with over 30 families who desire to draw closer to God this summer. I'm so excited about this year's contest, and for all the families participating in the Bible Bee. It truly is a ministry committed to Family Discipleship. 

Here's some photos of this year's kick off event! Enjoy! And let me know what you think:)

The theme for the kick off was a beach theme. We all enjoyed decorating the tables with fish squirt guns, beach balls, sand buckets, and sea shells.

All set and ready for the people to arrive!

Trying out the beach style glasses, in Bible Bee colors. 

 Maybe if I hide behind this duck you won't see me:)

The fun began when the families arrived. 

Josh sporting a new look:)

We all decided to dawn some of the decorations, and even Mom joined in the fun with sunglasses, and Hawaiian flowers. 

Preparing the food line for the Hot Dog feast. 

Then came the fun ice breaker beach ball Game, where families got to share more about themselves and why they are doing Bible Bee. 

Evan was inspired to carve watermelons, and he carved the Bible Bee symbol, and a Bible bee,  ( in the back round) in less than an hour. 

Josh showing off his Bible Bee beach fashion:)

The families really enjoyed the group games, and fellowship time together. 

It is going to be so much fun to work with the contestants again this year, just thinking about the potential God has in store for each of the young people is inspiring. 

Here's Evan holding his masterpiece.

Overall the Kick off day was a wonderful event, and a great start to another Bible Bee season. Although some families will be sorely missed, from our bee this year, it is really great to see how many new families are participating, and to know that God has each person where He wants them to be for a specific reason. It will be a tremendous joy to study 1John with this amazing group of families. To God be the glory for whatever happens through this year's Bible Bee season.

"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us,
 that we should be called the sons of God:
therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be:
 but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."
1John 3:1-3

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to my wonderful father, and to all the fathers out there.  I'm so blessed every day by God's provision through My father, and I pray God gives him a long and happy future.

Command of Christ #21

This week's command is 'Pray for Labourers.' Jesus said, "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of harvest that He will send forth labourers into His harvest" (Matthew 9:37-38). 
When I had read this before I just assumed it was a command to go and witness. While it involves that, this is really a command on praying. It does not say, 'Go harvest the fields, because they are ready,' but it says, '...PRAY ye therefore the Lord of harvest that He will send forth labourers into His harvest."
The first step is prayer. Witnessing is wonderful and needful, but it needs to start with prayer. Oswald Chambers said, 'Prayer isn't preparation for the work, it is the work.' In any work we do, prayer should be the main priority, not a quick 'flare prayer' that we shoot off before we dive into the 'important' part.
I am speaking for myself here, I have really neglected this area sadly.
I thought it was interesting that Jesus did not say, 'pray for them to accept Me,' but rather pray thatlabourers would be sent. Pray that Christians would be willing to break their backs for the Gospel. I don't live on a farm or anything, but from what I hear, harvest time is time-consuming, requires all your energy, must be done at a precise demands everything of you.  Pray for labourers who are willing to be sold out for God...pray it for yourself.
Pastor this past Sunday talked about a middle-aged Korean couple that went to Japan to be missionaries at the same time my pastor and his wife were sent off. Compared to the young, outgoing couples, this quiet and eserved couple seemed like an unlikely 'world changer.' However, they werecommitted to the task, and they put in their all to get the harvest. The man's knees are calloused,because he spends so much time in prayer on his knees. Part of their goal is to make each new convert a disciple-maker...once they become a Christian, they are immediately taught to share theirfaith and teach others. How much time do you think they spent praying for labourers...praying for ones who would go out after they had been saved? In about 10 years they have had over 1 million converts. Prayer is the work.
The parallel verse to this one gives us more insight into this command:
"Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest" (John 4:35).
The first thing that Jesus says in this verse is 'Lift up your eyes and look.' What is our focus in this day and age? Are we looking down at ourselves, worrying about our own priorities and concerns or are we looking at all the sheep without a shepherd (see Matthew 9:36). I too often find myself consumed by own trivial concerns, when there are multitudes who are dying in their sin. There are people out there who are labouring for the harvest, sweating in the heat of the day...and what am I doing? I am not saying we all have to pack our bags and move to a remote country to be a missionary...but have we lifted up our eyes and recognized that the harvest is ready.
Jesus' passion for the lost sheep consumed Him; so much even that He was willing to die for us when we were still in our sins.
-Are you praying for labourers to be sent out into the harvest?
-What missionaries can you be praying for right now?
-How can you 'lift your eyes' and partake in the harvest?
"I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work" (John 9:4).
Notes adapted from IBLP Commands of Christ study guide

Family Economics Conference

In early May, my family and I were blessed to be able to attend the Family Economics Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. We had a wonderful time together, heard excellent speakers, met many new friends, and also got to go to the Creation Museum for the first time. 

Here area few pictures of our trip.

Yvonne on the flight to Missouri. 
Heading into the Conference. We got to St.Louis a day early so we could settle in before the conference, and so Evan and I took advantage of the extra time, and played about 2 hours of Basketball, and 2 hours of swimming. 

The speakers were very motivating and encouraging. I especially appreciated all the real life examples from experienced business owners on the subject of starting a business. 

 On the way to a session. My Mom, Evan & I volunteered to help during the conference, and we really enjoyed the opportunity to get to know more people. Dad and Yvonne were pretty busy for most of the conference judging, and preparing for the Business plan competition that took place on Friday. Yvonne had had the idea for doing a family Business Plan Competition for several years now, so it was really great for her to see her ideas come to life at this conference. 

Mom and I in the main hotel which was attached to the convention center. 
There were live plants and waterfalls in the hotel, and all the rooms opened out to the middle, and the roof was glass so that the natural light could come in. It was beautiful, and it felt like a tropical jungle. 
The open glass roof.

A view of the plants and waterfalls from above. 

My favorite part about the conference which was unique to any other conference I've been to, was the family night activities. For the last session of each of the four nights of the conference there were interactive activities for the whole family to participate in. The first night was this family dance, which we watched, because there were so many people dancing. At the same time, Facing the Giants was being shown in a separate room, so I was really glad we got to see some of that as well. 

On one of the other nights, there was a trivia time for families to answer questions about family businesses throughout history, and have an opportunity to win prizes. 

On one of the other nights, there was a historical reenactment of Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech, that was impressive. 

My personal favorite from the family night activities was the skit the Swanson family did on a "Day in the Life of the Swanson Family". It was hilarious, and at the end of the skit after having a more than full day of hospitality, family businesses, and activities, they realized that they forgot to Homeschool. :)

On the second to the last day of the conference, for the family night, 6 families were awarded prizes for the Family Business Plan Competition. Each of the plans were well thought out, and allowed the entire family to have a part in the business. Pictured here is my Dad Awarding the first place winning family.

Evan heading to a session. Evan was a great help to volunteer to be a room monitor for many of the sessions, and he also helped clean up after the conference. 

One of my favorite things about traveling to conferences is getting to meet new friends. We all really enjoyed meeting the Schultz family ( some of them are pictured above) and spending time with them. 

On the last day of the conference, most of the people from the conference went to a nearby park to enjoy some food, fellowship, and game time. It was a wonderful close to a amazing conference, and really made it hard to leave. 

Speed Volleyball was a big hit at the game time, and it was great to be able to get out some energy and warm up a little as it was only about 50 degrees outside. 

After playing games for quite a while, we sang some Sacred Harp music, and spent the rest of the time fellowshipping with the remainder of the people. Finally, when we couldn't bear the cold anymore, we headed back to our hotel with a few friends, and played games. 

After the conference, we headed off to the Creation Museum, and spent two days at the museum and really enjoyed our time there. 

I love this picture of Mom at the Museum. 

My first time to see a Camellion. 

After we toured the amazing Creation Museum, and watched a spectacular movie about the stars, we headed outside to walk in the beautiful gardens surrounding the museum. 

Mom and Evan in the garden.

We were so blessed to be able to go to the Creation Museum, and we hope to be able to spend more time there in the future. 

Yvonne found a white goose on the path through the garden. ( or maybe the goose found her) 

On the way to the airport, the next day, we had just enough time to stop by the World's Largest Air Museum, and see all the buildings that we didn't have time to go though. I was really disappointed, but I'm sure we will make time to tour the museum in the future. 

After a wonderful trip, we were blessed by a safe, and smooth flight home, and were very surprised by how many roses were out in our yard after being gone for just a week. I'm so thankful we were able to go to the Economics Conference, and spend time together as a family. God is so good!

"How excellent is thy lovingkindness,
O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house;
and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.
For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.
O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee;
and thy righteousness to the upright in heart." 
Psalm 36:7-10 

Command Of Christ #20

Hello! It is interesting how God can bring things into your life at the exact moment that you need to hear it. I have heard from many of you that the week's command directly related to something in your life that week. Isn't God good, He is so creative!
This week's command is 'Beware of False Prophets.' The warnings throughout Scripture are far and wide about the destructiveness of false prophets and teachers. Jesus said, "Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruit" (Matthew 7:15-16). Because these false prophets come in sheep's clothing, they are often hard to detect at first. They have a 'form of godliness' but deny the power thereof (II Timothy 3:5)...they may sound good, but inwardly they do not know God. God spoke of the true condition of these false prophets, "I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hand of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness..." (Jeremiah 23:14).
So in a day where we don't exactly have 'prophets', how can we be alert to false teachers? Now when I speak of false teachers, I mean those who are opposed to the ways of God and deliberately fight against the Word of God. What I don't mean by false teachers, are Christians who either by ignorance or fault misinterpret the Word. We should deal with false teachers differently than we deal with Christian teachers who have missed the mark.  Today we are talking about false teachers, which can give us insight into false teachings as well.
Characteristics of false teachers/prophets:
1) They produce poor fruit. Do they have the fruits of the Spirit in their lives? Or are their lives characterized by continual sin, such as greed, lust, pride, etc? Do they lead people to righteousness or do they cause sinners to be content in their present state?
2) They do not proclaim Jesus: "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world" (I John 4:3).
3) They oppose the Truth: "Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in My name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart" (Jeremiah 14:14).  A teacher of God will be dedicated to speaking the truth according to the Word of God.
4) They despise authority: "Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities" (Jude 8).
There have been many false prophets throughout the history of time, especially those who claim to know when the world will come to an end.  Some prophesied that we would be taken over by aliens, that a flood like in the days of Noah would come, or that a great meteor would destroy the earth...all of which have not come to pass obviously. These are somewhat amusing, but according to God's Word, only God the Father knows the time, and so those who claim to know the date have been proclaiming a lie.
We often want to put all the blame on these false teachers for turning away God's people, but in reality we have to take a good look at ourselves. While false teachers will definitely come into condemnation, we as Christians are responsible to stand in the faith and not get tossed about with every wind of doctrine.  How well do we know God's Word? How much time do we spend in God's Word so that we can actually discern what is the truth?
-Are you diligently studying the Word of God?
-Have you tested every teaching against the Word?
-Have you asked the Lord to protect you from being led away by false doctrines?
"Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of a good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Philippians 4:8).
Notes adapted from IBLP Commands of Christ study guide and pocket guide

Command of Christ # 19

My mom told me that Oregon had the coldest weather in the U.S. today (I am guessing not including Alaska)...not Maine? Not Washington? O well, I can handle a little rain. In everything give thanks..Anyway, back to the topic!
This week's command is 'Choose the Narrow Way.' Jesus said, 'Enter ye in at the strait gate, because wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there be which go in thereat; Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).

Many people today believe that there are many ways to heaven or that there are many religions that are right. However, logically when we die there is going to be one scenario. Some people aren't going to be reincarnated to mice while others will go to purgatory based on what they believe. One thing is going to happen when we meet eternity, so it is best if we make sure we have the facts before we die; we must make sure we have chosen the right 'path.'

Jesus said enter in the strait gate; He didn't say 'Enter in whatever gate you like best, because they all lead to heaven!' There is a specific gate and path that leads to life and this is what it looks like:

1) It is narrow: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me" (John 14:6). There is not room for all the religions on this path, just on the one Way, Jesus Christ. All other philosophies that are contrary to the Bible are on the path of destruction, and consequently, that way is very broad to accommodate all the beliefs.

2) It is not crowded: "...and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:14). God's path requires us to give up our rights, our fleshly desires, and even our life for the sake of Christ. It takes someone who is truly committed to the Lord Jesus to follow on this path.

Adoniram Judson grew up in a Christian home in the late 1800's, but in college was swayed by a fellow student atheist to believe that God did not exist, and they became good friends. Judson's life soon became desolate and on one particular night the only place he could find to sleep was in a shared room with a dying man. Judson was awake all night while the man on the other side of the curtain groaned and moaned. Judson was flooded with thoughts about death and the after-life, but realized how foolish his thoughts would sound to his atheist friend. In the morning he asked about the man and heard not only that he had died, but that it was his atheist friend from college! Thoughts of his friend who would be lost for eternity consumed him and he gave his life to Christ. He entered the strait gate and dedicated his life to serve God. He became a missionary to a heathen and previously unreached Burma and worked there for 34 years only coming back to America for a few months in that time. He translated the entire Bible into Burmese and after his death the government estimated that about 210,000 Burmese had come to faith as a result of his work. Few are willing to give up the pleasures of life and live the narrow way like Adoniram Judson.

Jesus not only said to go in the strait gate, but to go on the narrow path; it is a day by day abiding in the Way. Here are some things we should be aware of that can keep us from the path of righteousness:

-Fear of man: (Proverbs 29:25) Fear of what others think of us and fear of being ridiculed can keep us from obeying and staying on the straight and narrow.

-Pleasures of sin: the pleasures of sin can be enjoyable, but they are temporary and lead to destruction. We must be willing to deny ourselves daily and to give up the desires of the flesh, knowing that those who are faithful will reap eternal life.

-Leaning on our own inclinations: "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12). We often act on our own understanding, rather than on the Word of God and it leads us into the path of death and destruction.

Just as in the days of Noah when all the people were wicked, so we are in those days. So many are in the broad path and do not realize that they are walking into eternal death. As Christians, it is vital that we be radiant lights to those who are in darkness. We can only be radiant if we are keeping on the narrow path and abiding in Christ. If we don't fight against the culture, we will be taken with the current; we must be diligent to stand for truth as Noah did and be willing to take the narrow way.

-Are there evidences in your life that you are on the narrow path?
-What areas of popular culture will you have to give up to be on the narrow path?
-What earthly pleasures will you exchange for eternal rewards?
-Is God's Word your standard or the opinion of the world and other Christians?

"Then spake Jesus again unto them saying, I am the Light of the world, he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of light" (John 8:12).

Notes adapted from IBLP Commands of Christ journal and pocket guide