Monday, March 29, 2010

Easter cookies

As you reflect on Jesus this week and what He did for us, here's a little family activity.

You can also make these a bit simpler with grands biscuits and butter and cinnamon and sugar. Flatten out the biscuit, brush with butter, sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture on and then put a marshmellow in the center. Seal the dough around the marshmellow and bake as directions on biscuit package states. When they bake, the marshmellow melts and the 'tomb' is now empty.

THE EMPTY TOMB COOKIES—To be made the evening before Easter

1 cup whole pecans ziplock bag
1 teaspoon vinegar wooden spoon
3 egg whites medium sized mixing bowl
pinch salt cookie sheet and wax paper
1 cup sugar tape

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Place pecans in ziplock bag and let children beat them with wooden spoons to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested he was beaten by the Roman soldiers.

READ John 19:1-3: So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. Then they said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck Him with their hands.

Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 teaspoon vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross, he was given vinegar to drink.

READ John 19:28-30: After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave his life to give us life.

READ John 10:10-11: The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

Sprinkle a little salt into each child’s hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’ followers and the bitterness of our own sin.

READ Luke 23:27: And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him.

So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 1 cup sugar. Explain that the sweetness part of the story is that Jesus died because he loves us. He wants us to know and belong to him.

READ Psalm 34:8:Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

READ John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Beat mixture with a mixer on high speed until stiff peaks are formed
(when you cut through them with a knife, they should remain standing). Explain that the color white represents the purity in God’s eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus.

READ Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”

READ John 3:1-3: There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus’ body was laid.

READ Matthew 27:57-60: Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.

Put the cookie sheet in the oven. Close the door and turn the oven OFF.

Give each child a piece of tape to seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus’ tomb was sealed.

READ Matthew 27:65-66: Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.

GO TO BED! Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus’ followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed.

READ John 16:20, 22: Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus’ followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.

READ Matthew 24:1-7: Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I don't wanna gain the whole world...

One of our favorite songs as a family is Toby Mac's 'Lose My Soul.' If you don't know it, follow the link.

It is taken from the verse in Matthew 16:26:
What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

What do you think Toby Mac means by that? It's kind of a warning not to be fooled by the glitz and glam of this world. There are so many things that people can get wrapped up in and before they know it they are worshipping fame or fortune or popularity or sports or music or their jobs or their children or another person that has become so important to them that they have left out that place reserved for God. Our society is filled with people who have sold their soul to the devil over the slightet gain and indulgences. We can watch the news and see star athletes or actors and musicians that have strayed so far from whom God made them to be through a slow progression of choosing thingsover Christ. The things of this world are temporary. We cannot take them with us. But the one thing that last forever is the love of Jesus and to follow HIM, we may have to deny ourselves many times. It is the example He gave us when He took up that cross. But what a blessing it will be when we are one day in heaven with HIM.

I will borrow some of the lyrics of Toby Mac's song for our prayer.

Lord forgive us when we get consumed by the things of this world,
That fight for our love, and our passion,
As our eyes are open wide and on you.
Grant us the privilege of your world view,
And may your kingdom be, what wakes us up, and lays us down.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tears in a bottle

One of my favorite verses in the entire Bible is the following taken from the New Living Translation:

Psalm 56:8

8 You keep track of all my sorrows.[a]
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.

How amazing is that? Our God loves us so much that he has collected every one of our tears in a bottle and kept track of every sorrow. When you feel sad because your brother or sister hurt your feelings or you lost your special blankie or you don't feel well, all of those things are important to God. Every. single. tear. When you are older and you get your heart broken or you lose a friendship or don't make the team....he keeps track of all your sorrows. You know what that means? We are never alone in our sadness! He is, not only with us, but he is collecting each tear. What a wonderful image for us to remember.

Gracious and Loving God, we are amazed at your concern for us, that you would count every tear and collect them. Thank you for loving us so big. Thank you for always being with us and comforting us in our times of sadness. We continue to be amazed by you. Help us to love like you. In your name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

He Created What?!?!

Everything. Absolutely everything. This God that wants us to love one another and the God that we cannot physically see, created everything in the entire world. He created the world. Before time began, He was. It's hard to wrap our brains around.

Genesis, is the first book of the Bible and it tells us how this all came to be. Genesis 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. God created the day and night and the land and the sea. And then what did He put into the sea? And what kinds of animals did He put on the land? He created the sky and the stars that dance in it. He created the birds and the sun and the moon. Genesis 26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, [b] and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
And do you know what He named the first man? Yes, Adam. And God then made Eve out of his rib. God made everything! How cool is that?!

Pastor Tim in his last sermon shared with us these things. Did you know that there are 10 million different kinds of plants and animals in the world? Did you know that a catfish has over 27,000 tastebuds and an octupus has 3 hearts? What about the fact that a starfish doesn't have a brain and a baby whale is as long as a school bus? Who else could do that than God?! How wondeful and amazing is that.
And God created it all by HIS word. Just HIS word.

Thank you God for your magnificent creation, for the animals and the land and the sea. Thank you for how unique you made us all. We are in awe of your work. We want to take care of what you have created. Help open others eyes to your awesome creation. Remind us when we look at the stars and the sun and the sky just who made them to be. You rock, God. You rock. Amen.

Love One Another

God gave us a commandment to love one another. He didn't ask us to try or say it was a really good idea. He commanded us to. Sometimes it is easy. We love our family, our friends, our dog. Other times it's not so easy. God didn't tell us to love the easy ones or the ones that don't bug us or the ones that are pretty or popular. God told us to love everyone as He had loved us. He doesn't ask us to love our friends when everyone else is loving them but to love them always, even when it may not be the popular choice. We are to love even when we feel wronged or tired or someone just rubs us the wrong way.

In Matthew 22:39 after He tells us to love God, Jesus tells us to 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' In 1 John 4:7 He tells us again. And in Galatians 5:13 and in Romans 13:8 and over and over again throughout the Bible. This love thing is important to God. Some would argue it was the most important thing to God.

When I say love what do you think of? What does love look like to you? Those are such great answers. God doesn't want us to love everyone like Prince and Princess fairytales, Shrek and Fiona or husband and wife kind of love. He wants us to be respectful and kind and patient and accepting. He means to include the kid on the playground that no one ever asks to play. He means to take time to read to a younger sibling a book even though there are cooler things to do. He means to help our friends and neighbors. Maybe it looks like raking our neighbors leaves or hugging our friend that is sad. God gave us the most amazing example of what love looks like in His son Jesus. And the more we learn about Him, the more we'll learn how to love one another.

Most Loving God, we thank you for sending your son Jesus that we would have such a perfect example of love. Help us to be loving. Help us to treat others like you would treat them. When we are tired or not feeling well, Lord, we ask that we love them with your strength and not depend on our own. We know that people will notice the way we love others and want to know more about you. We love you so much, God and we thank you for all you do for us. Amen.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


As Christians, I think it so important that we as a family remember that being Christian doesn't make us perfect or better than anyone else. We will still mess up and we will still make mistakes or at times, bad choices. We are human. And that is totally okay. The goal is to keep trying and to let others start again with us just like God lets us start anew everyday. Phillipians 12-14 tells us "I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back." The Message

There are things we can do to set us up to win and to mess up less....
1.) It is important to surround ourselves with friends that make good choices too. Friends that value what we value
2.) We must remember to pray. Praying is our way to talk with God. We can tell him anything and ask for His help.
3.) Studying God's word builds us up and gives us the information we need to make wise choices. We can look to the Bible to guide us in our decisions.
4.) It's a good idea, no matter how old you get to have someone you can look up to that can help you make the right choice. Maybe now it's mommy and daddy. I still look to my mommy and daddy for help with choices or have them pray for my decision.

The important thing is to keep your eye on Jesus. To remember His daily presence in our lives and to strive to live our life for HIM. There are days we will fall short, but that's okay. When we get off track we have to just get right back on and keep our eye on the prize. It's a journey we are on and we'll take one day at a time together.

Heavenly Father, thank you for being in our lives. Help us to keep you at the center of our family and our friendships. We may not always get it right, Lord, but we want to live our lives for you. Help us to grow in our walk with you and to seek you in all things. In your name we pray, Amen.

God uses the ordinary

In Acts 4 there is the story of the trial of Peter and John for preaching about Jesus and working a miracle in His name. In Acts 4:13 it says, "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus."

Peter and John had basic education compared to all of the rabbis and authorities surrounding them. They had only followed Jesus for three years. They were considered country folk back in the day. They didn't have the Bible or any resources like we have today. They were ordinary. Ordinary. Not special, not extraordinary but normal everyday people like me and you. Yet in just thirty years they were able to spread the word of God from Jerusalem to Rome, and increased the followers from hundreds to millions. In Acts 17:6 their enemies said they had “turned the world upside down” (KJV). They soon became the mightiest and largest religious movement in human history.

They were ordinary. And God used them. In a mighty way. Can you think of someone you know that has done something really cool for Christ? They put on their pants just like you, one leg at a time. They are no more or less special than us. They just said yes when He called. God uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary. He wants to use you, each of us. How can you let God use you? What talents do you have? What can you do to serve God by serving others?

Amazing God, we love you. We are amazed at how you use ordinary people to do your work and we ask dear God, that you use us. We are open to what you want us to do. Help us to see ways to do your work. Thank you for our time together. Be with us today and use us so that others may come to know you. Amen

Why devotions?

What is the big deal about reading our Bibles? Why is it so important? Well first of all, I wish I would have made it a habit when I was younger so it wasn't so hard for Mommy to do consistently now that I'm big. And by big I mean older, not big as in BIG! And secondly, God lives through HIS words to us. They are living and as useful today as they were 2000+ years ago. He meant for the Bible to be our instruction manual for life. Would we put together your new bike without reading how to do it first? Or would we even bake a birthday cake for Daddy without reading the recipe? Even our new Wii games tell us what to do when we first go to play it. The good news is we don't have to figure out life on our own, the bad news is that it takes discipline to read the Bible and we have to make it a priority everyday. But there's more good news, we will feel so much better when we do. It helps us feel closer to God and equips us to make better choices.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (New International Reader's Version)

16 God has breathed life into all of Scripture. It is useful for teaching us what is true. It is useful for correcting our mistakes. It is useful for making our lives whole again. It is useful for training us to do what is right. 17 By using Scripture, a man of God can be completely prepared to do every good thing.

Loving God, we are thankful that you woke us up today and that you love us. Thank you for our time together and for giving us your words and the Bible to help us find our way in this world. We think it is so cool that you would love us enough to leave us instructions. Help us to have the desire to learn more about you and the discipline to give you our time. Be with us today. Amen

Prayer for Spiritual Growth

I thought I would start with this scripture today to kind of set the tone of what this blog is about. I have been searching for a devotion that I can do with my we can share as a family that is brief and relevant to todays world and not to one extreme or the other...something my children ages 3-9 can all learn from and I've come up empty handed so here is my attempt at creating my own. I just want us to start our days with Christ and invite Him into our day. This is written from me to my children so that if you are a mother or father out there looking for a 'little bit of Jesus' you can just share the blog with them.

Ephesians 3:14-21
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (NIV)

As your mommy, this prayer for spiritual growth that the Apostle Paul gave to the Ephesians, is my biggest hope for you. It is our goal as your parents that above all else, you know the love of Jesus. His dreams for you are bigger than your dreams for yourself. His love for you is greater than even the love Daddy and I have for you. As we like to say, it goes to the moon and back and wraps around the world... How big do you think His love for you is? (if your children are like mine you'll get a wide range of opinions and each answer will try to outdo the one before it)

The other thing that Paul wanted the Ephesians to know and that we want you to know is that Christ power is at work within us and when we call on that power, we can do way more than we could do on our own. He tells us that again in Phillipians 4:13 "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." That is why it is so important to us as a family to ask God to help us. Sometimes there are situations in life that seem too hard for us, maybe a friend says things that hurt us or your siblings or your parents are just getting on your nerves or your stressed out because of all your homework and the practice you have that evening. In those moments, just take a moment to ask God to be with you, to help you, to give you the words or to guide your steps or to help you be a leader.

[ (give a simple example as to a time that you tried to do something on your own and it didn't turn out so well and an example of when you let Him work through you or let your children share their own experience. I shared with my own children about a day that I let my temper get the best of me and lost patience with them and let them know that I didn't start my day with God and I cannot do it by myself and that everyday mommy depends on the strength of God to help her be the best mommy I can be. And that when Mommy took her trip to Africa it was very hard to see all of the struggles and poverty that I saw but that I could feel God with me each day as I asked HIM to be with me and to use me to love on the people of Nairobi and I was able to minister to people in a way that I couldn't on my own accord.) ]

Heavenly Father, be with my children today. Be with all of us and help us to feel to the tops of our heads and the tips of our toes your immense and awesome love for us. Help us to treat others with the same kind of love. Help us continue to start each day with you in our hearts so that we can better handle the situations life throws at us. Keep our family rooted in the center of your love. Thank you for loving us just like we are. Amen.