Congratulations to....

All of the 2013 National Bible Bee Qualifiers across the Nation. You're amazing! I'm SO proud of each one of you, and all the work you did!

And to all the contestants who did their best on contest day but didn't qualify... You're all winners in my eyes:)You did your best for God's glory, and that's all that matters. So, Please don't stop studying the Bible. Press on! I promise you that you will continue to grow in your relationship with God, as long as you continue to seek Him with your whole heart. And the rewards of doing that will far outweigh any earthly prize! 

I'm especially excited for the 15 qualifiers from our local hive in McMinnville, who I had the privilege of spending the summer with. Caleb, Olivia, Bethany, Jacob, Kelsey, Elora, Elijah, Katrina, LeAnna, Kirsten, Hannah, Esther, Noah, Louise, & Mikell; you all did an excellent job and I'm so glad you will be able to dig into God's Word, and learn more about Him in preparation for Nationals. 

And lastly, I wish to give my wholehearted congratulations to the contestants who were not part of my local hive, but who I enjoyed studying with, and encouraging via the web and other outlets, over the summer. I really enjoyed studying with you, and getting to know you better. Jordan, Nathan, Bethany, Alex, Carissa, Matthew, Anna, Kristin, Nick, Katlin, Rachel, Anna, Ryan, Lucy, & Audrey. You all did a amazing job in the competition, and I'm so glad I will be able to see you at Nationals! (some of you for the first time:)
I wish you all the best, and I will keep you in my prayers as you prepare and study for God's glory! 

"But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. 
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,
 to them who are the called according to his purpose.
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed
to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called:
and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified,
them he also glorified." Romans 8:25, 28-30

Please Pray For......

Our Local Bible Bee Contest tomorrow that:

* The contestants would have a peace that passes all understanding as they do their oral, and written rounds tomorrow morning. 

* The families would be encouraging and supportive of their contestants, no matter how they do. 

* The judges, and volunteers, would have clarity of mind to read the verses, and understand the contestant's speech, and be able to score the contest properly. 

* The contest would stay on schedule, and that God would be glorified through the entire day, not only at our local contest, but throughout the Nation. 

* I would specifically appreciate prayers as a judge that God would give me a gracious spirit, to be able to encourage the contestants, and create a comfortable environment for them to take their test. 

* Also please pray for all the contestants across the Nation, both nearby, and far away, that God would give them an understanding heart to take the tests, and that they would be able to discern between good, and bad, right and wrong, and that God would prosper the efforts of each of the contestants, and grant them mercy in His sight. 

* And for all you contestants that read this, please know that my prayers, and love are with you, and that God will supply all your need tomorrow according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Trust Him for the answers to the tests. Ask Him to go before you and prepare the way for you to glorify Him. Keep Him as the center focus of your day, and I promise you that you will not be disappointed, no matter what the outcome may be. And remember, It's not really about the contest, it's about your relationship with Christ.  To God be the glory, great things He has done and will do through you!

"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19

Command of Christ # 29

As I was studying this week's command I felt impressed to re-emphasize why I am sending out e-mails every week about the commands of Christ. "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him" (John 14:21). We show God that we love Him by keeping His commandments. If we don't know God's commandments, how can we keep them? And if we don't do them, we will miss out on knowing Christ more fully. This week, try to apply this week's command while it is on your mind and be prepared to reap the rewards!
Well, on to Command #29: Despise Not Little Ones. Jesus said, "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of your Father which is heaven" (Matthew 18:10).
God loves children just as He does adults, and did not even cherish the religious leaders of His day above them. Jesus tells us not despise children, which means to think lightly of, or to be mentally disposed against them. It is thinking that children are not useful and that they are a nuisance. I don't have younger siblings, but I am guessing some of you have struggled with 'thinking lightly' of the littler ones in your home.
I watched my 2 1/2 year old niece this week, and thought I would write this command after the fact. There were times when I was frustrated with her natural rebellious behavior and worn-out after reading the same book multiple times in a row. More than that though, I was reminded how precious children are and what a blessing they are! They are so full of love and they totally depend on you to guide them and help them.
Children have become an accessory in this country and we only have one or two, because they are just too much of a hassle and burden. God said be fruitful and multiply and that children are a gift from the Lord; happy is the man that has his quiver full ('one or two' does not communicate the thought of being 'full') (Psalm 127).
When we 'despise little ones' it is a sign of pride, because it is often a result of thinking that they are not of value. A few verses before Jesus says, "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:4). Jesus is saying that those who are humble like a child will be greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus realized that despising children was just a sign that we are proud and have an exalted view of ourselves. Jesus warned us against this because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. The key point of this command is to humble ourselves and not to see others as less than us, whether it is children, unbelievers, or our 'weaker' brother. 
As we continue through the week, let's focus not only on treating children with respect, but all those we come in contact with. Let's be aware of any attitude that makes us feel like we are better than others or that others are a 'nuisance' to be around.
-Is there any attitude of superiority in me?
-Have I seen children as a burden more than a blessing from God?
-How can I value other believers, particularly those in whom I see immaturity?
"And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3).
Notes adapted from IBLP Commands of Christ study guide and pocket guide

Fourth of July Celebration and Fireworks!

So once again this year for Fourth of July our family hosted our 8th Independence Day Celebration. With over 300 people, no accidents, and excellent weather, we have so much to be grateful for!
Here's some long overdue photos and videos from that very special day. I hope you enjoy them, and leave a comment too:) 

People began arriving around mid-morning. I was elected to help with food coordination this year, which was a big undertaking. There certainly was no shortage of food, and I'm so grateful for all the excellent help from sweet friends. 

After arrival, we began the day with a giant ballon toss. 
It's always fun to see how far apart the winning team can get. 

Evan added a new twist to his red, white, and blue outfit this year. There certainly was no shortage of comments on the shorts:) 

It was fun to play croquet with some sweet sisters in Christ. I'm so grateful for all the people God has put into my life to encourage me in my walk with Him. 

The Handmade Craft's store was a great success for the families again this year. It was fun to see all the creativity in the Body of Christ. 

From the porch the yard looked so festive. Evan and Yvonne did a wonderful job coordinating the decorations, and setup. The entire day was amazing! 

From great food, 

To amazing musicians,  

To energetic games of volleyball, 

To a much needed message from Pastor Harris, 

To water ballon wars for old, 

And young, 

(Some people got a little too wet:) 

To over 30 pies, 

And 10 outstanding judges to judge them, 

To games, 



And more games:) 

To sweet times of fellowship, with fellow believers, (and to my amazing Mom and Dad without whose countless hours of preparation, prayers,and support, none of this would have been possible) 

To the outstanding winners of the water ballon toss, who seem to get farther apart each year. 

To all the people who pitched in to help throughout the day, (and especially for the committed few who spent the night, and helped us clean up when we got home from fireworks... You all are amazing...O.K. Maybe we didn't really have to have a bonfire and stay up until 4am, but it sure was fun and made for great memories.... Thanks:) 

To smiling energetic people, who keep us laughing,

And make life sunny all the time, 

To sweet children 

Who we couldn't live without. 

To God who orchestrated an outstanding day, in every way, I couldn't live without you. You never fail to keep me amazed at your ability to coordinate miraculous events that reflect your glory. 

And lastly..... I close this post...... With the links to the most amazing firework show I've ever seen.... Yvonne,..... You really outdid yourself in the planning of the show, it was absolutely the best yet,.....oh, and thanks for letting me help out with the setup, it was fun;) 

The show is in three parts, so be sure to watch the whole thing:) 

The first song... ("American Fanfare") It may be a little hard to hear the music in this video, sorry about that. 

The second song.... ("I Dreamed A Dream") and my personal favorite part of the show! 

The grand finale... ("National Anthem") it was so much fun to put together the mortar racks so that over 60 mortars would explode at once:) 

"Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD." Psalm150

Deny Yourself!

Hello all,
Hope this reaches you doing well!
This week we will be talking about my least favorite topic--denying myself. I think some of you could relate.
This week's command is to 'Deny Yourself.' Christ said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23). There a few parts to this command so we will look at them phrase by phrase.
1) "If any man will come after me..." Jesus does not force us to follow after Him and He will not make us take up a cross for His sake. It is our choice to follow the Lord for salvation.
2) "...let him deny himself..." The word 'deny' means to put away, recoil, refuse yourself. It implies that we are not giving-in to every desire; it is refusing to live according to the flesh.  "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:23-34).
     Why is denying ourselves a requirement to follow God? Well, if we are not denying ourselves, we are living for ourselves and not for God and we cannot serve two masters; we cannot serve the flesh and God. Denying yourself does not mean you never have dessert, but it means that we say 'NO' to those things that displease the Lord, but that the flesh loves. For example: holding onto bitterness, gossiping, gluttony, slothfulness, wrong music, using our bodies/looks for attention, greed for things/money, doing things for praise, lust, etc. We each have things that we struggle with and we often feel convicted and purpose to yield in a small way but reserve the right to have control in the rest of our lives. If we want to be true followers of Christ we must deny ourselves, if we are not willing, then we are not worthy to be a follower of Jesus.
I have seen in this in my own life when I feel prompted to witness to someone but my flesh is saying, "But they will think you are a religious fanatic!" or "What will they think of you??" or "What if they have all these questions that I don't know how to answer well?" It is at that point that I have to make a choice to deny myself, it is no use waiting until I 'feel' like being vulnerable. It is a choice to either obey God or my flesh. When I obey God I feel unsurpassed joy, when I obey myself, I feel guilt.
3) "...and take up his cross daily..." I thought it was interesting that Jesus said this before He was crucified; at the time, His disciples did not understand the implications that the cross would hold for Jesus. In Roman culture, they made the criminal carry his own cross on which he would be crucified.  Jesus carried the very instrument of His death. We too are called to carry our own 'instrument of death,' but it is a death to self.  Each person's cross will be different, but will require us to deny ourselves and to partake in the sufferings of Christ.  Notice it says that we are to 'daily' take up our cross. It is our nature to want to protect ourselves from humiliation, sacrifice, pain, and affliction, but it is those very things that conform us to the image of Christ. "For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh" (II Corinthians 4:11).
4) "...and follow me." If we want to follow Jesus and be His disciples we must be 'disciplined ones' who have learned to deny ourselves.  "And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:27).
-What areas are you still clinging to when God has called you to deny yourself?
-What is your 'cross' today and how can you respond to it in a way that will glorify God?
-Have you purposed to follow God whatever the cost?
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus Who...made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant...being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:5-8).
Notes adapted from IBLP Commands of Christ study guide

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