Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Heart of God

     It's Holy Week.  I really haven't taken the time to slow down and really reflect on its implications this year.  I did remember that today was Maundy Thursday.  I've participated in a Seder meal and would like to do it again.  I love the symbolism in each portion.  One of my students came up to my desk and asked me what Passover was.  I asked if he wanted to know it was a holiday or what it meant.  He wanted to know why it was a holiday, so I explained it.  He listened carefully and asked a few questions.  When I finished the explanation, he said, "Oh. Okay, thanks" and he sat down.
    Tonight, I read a post by Keith Wheeler.  You may have heard of him as "that guy who carries the cross all over the world."  Keith posted the following on his Facebook page:
As I think about this night so many years ago, I think of John leaning his head on Jesus' chest. My prayer has been that I might draw so near to Jesus that I'm able to lean my head on His chest and hear His heartbeat. I think I've heard it! I don't think it goes thump, thump ... I think it goes, "peo-ple; peo-ple!" And I think it's breaking.
      This reminded me of Colton, the boy who visited Heaven in the book Heaven is for Real, and how important it was for him to share how much God loves people. It also reminded me of David, a man after God's own heart.  While studying I & II Samuel, I see that David messed up royally (pun intended), yet still was referred to as a "man after God's own heart." 
      Okay, I'm starting to realize that when we try to be more like Christ and get just a glimpse of the heart of God, we see the great love He has for us.  In order for us to get close to the heart of God, our prayer should not just be for God to help us love our brothers or our fellow man, but instead to love the way He does.  This might mean talking to someone we don't particularly want to talk to or doing without something so someone else will have what they need.  It means taking "I" out of the equation and putting more of "Him" into everything we do.  I don't think this will be an easy task, but I do think it is well worth the effort.  The impact and implications will be eternal.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Couple of Awesome Easter Activities

     Easter is kind of late this year, but still it seems to have sneaked up on me. I guess I "remembered" when Sis let me know what to bring for dinner next Sunday.  I have my Easter dress ready for next Sunday. (I know I don't need one, but it's something I've done every year since I can remember.) I also have bunny ears to wear to school on Friday. (Hey, it's fun to wear them and God's not afraid of bunnies!)
     I was thinking of a couple of activities I want to share. One is the homemade Resurrection Eggs.  The other is Empty Tomb Cookies. The activities can be used together or separately. They may be used as lessons with studies from preschool to adult.  I've actually used the Resurrection Eggs as a youth group lesson, with students reading and discussing the scripture in the eggs. Both activities would be great for use as family devotions.
     For instructions on the Resurrection Eggs, check out the Thrifty Living Mom blog version (one of my favorites) by clicking here. You don't need to be exact when finding items for the eggs.  The important thing is to make sure the story, starting with Palm Sunday, gets told through ending with the empty tomb.
    For instructions on Empty Tomb Cookies, click here.  If you decide to do these, you need to start them the evening/night before Easter. Make sure you get up early enough on Easter Sunday to finish the project before heading off to church.


Friday, April 15, 2011

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    When you visit the blog, be sure to enter the giveaway for one of two bags!

How Much of the Bible do You Believe?

   Last night I heard Todd Burpo speak.  Todd is the dad of Colton Burpo, the boy in the book Heaven is For Real.  ( I talked about the book on a past blog post.) I really enjoyed hearing Todd speak and Colton and his aunt sing.  It was wonderful seeing Colton's aunt and my sis's roomie from college.  One of my students and his family also attended.  I sat behind them and didn't realize it for the longest time!
    Something Todd said really hit me, and I've been thinking about it a lot.  First he asked, "How much of the Bible do you believe?"  I automatically thought, "All of it!"  Todd went on the say that most people would say they believe all of the Bible. (Is he a mind reader?!) He then stated, "The part that you do is the part that you believe."  Wow! Now that was a statement that challenged me.  I say I believe all of the Bible, but do I really act like it?  I remember somebody telling me that sometimes I may be the only Bible someone ever reads.  I need to work on making sure, if that's the case, I give the complete story!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Google Exodus

 Click on this link to see the answer to the question, "What if Moses had Facebook?" It's very creative.  It made me smile!
 Google Exodus

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Who is your country?

     No, that's not a misprint.  Who is your country? It's the question I asked myself after reading the introduction to I & II Samuel in The Message. Eugene Peterson is talking about four characters that dominate the two books...Hannah, Samuel, Saul, and David.  Peterson says, "Not one of them can be accounted for in terms of cultural conditions or psychological dynamics; God is the country in which they live."
     Okay, so that got me thinking, "Do I let my culture determine how I live.  Do I let what others think about me, my beliefs and my morals determine how I live?"  I think about how Romans 12:1-2 challenges me not to conform to the way the world thinks and acts. I am very blessed to have been born in the physical country in which I reside.  I've seen the conditions and heard stories from the people of those countries about the persecution they suffered because of their beliefs. In spite of our location on the Earth, I believe that God can be the country in which we live.  I want God to be the country in which I live. 
     Being a teacher, I think of what defines a country's boarders and gives it its identity.  Things like mountains, rivers, plains, deserts...natural things that may physically mark a boarder...surround a country to define where it ends/begins or give the country it's physical features. Other things define a country. Currency, economy, culture, and government come to mind. 
     Being a Christian, I see how the things that define a country are the some of the very things that define God.  God did come in the physical...Jesus.  He lived, taught how to live in God's kingdom, died, was resurrected and lives.  When I think of currency and economy, I think about God's currency and exchange rate being love, grace and mercy and how He gives it freely.  In God's economy, giving is the priority.  Does that mean God wants us to be poor? No, He wants us to take our gifts and talents, whatever they may be, and use them for His glory. God's culture is described in detail in His book, the Bible.  The descriptions tell stories of real people in real situations who make good and bad choices.  The descriptions tell about a God who is personally involved in the lives of people. God's culture is not materialistic, greedy, about success or power or being in style.  What is it about?  See Romans 12:1-2.
     Okay, I'm done.  I do want to close with one more quote from Peterson's intro to I & II Samuel.  "God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves" (The Message-the Kindle Edition, 2002).  That actually reminds me of the study "Experiencing God" by Henry Blackaby.  What I really remember from that study is that instead of trying to come up with some really great program or "thing" to do for God, see where God is working and join Him. A post for another day!