Friday, June 28, 2013

Jesus died to save sinners.... like me.

I haven't been blogging much lately. This week in particular has been very busy. The girls and I helped at Higher Ground Church of God at their vacation Bible school. We helped out last year and so when it was coming up my girls asked if they could help out this year. Last year I just sent them primarily.

Despite what I think about VBS, Sunday schools, and children's church, I must commend Pastor Josh for his ability to convey the Gospel to folks who don't know. I was impressed that although they had a curriculum that laid out the messages to be presented about serving, Josh was not satisfied with just another list of do's and don'ts. While the children learned some practical ways to serve their families, neighbors, community, and Jesus, they also learned the whole Gospel in five simple words:

Jesus died to save sinners.

Quite simple really. It's only five words. The children, ages 3 to 12 really dug in and got this. 

A little boy in crafts asked me: "what is a sinner?" I told him every person ever born was a sinner except Jesus. So, this little one said "Jesus died to save everybody." Yes. Yes, He did. Every single one of us are sinners. It's in our blood. It's passed down from our parents and even as far back as our first parents, Adam and Eve, who lived in a world without sin but chose to have their own way rather than God's way.

I thought at the beginning of the week of having my own way: dropping off my girls and having the evenings to myself, coming up with a reason I needed to be somewhere else. This week's lessons were all about serving others. I wanted to serve myself. I already know what I think about VBS and children's programs at church and how it's parents who are told repeatedly to teach their children about the Lord. I still believe that God has charged parents with that responsibility and holds us responsible for what our little ones learn about Him. I didn't want to be part of a system that takes that responsibility out of the hands of parents.... somehow makes it seem like they can "leave it to the professionals" just like school, health, and a host of other things that take our children out of our households and put them into the care of people who don't care for them. 

I also have been getting to know Josh and Michelle. They seem to really actually care about these kids, but most importantly they really love Yeshua and love to share it with others. For them this doesn't seem like a "job" like it does with some pastors and their wives. They have presented themselves open to being looked at under a microscope and they really want to get to know folks. While we may not agree in every aspect of Biblical doctrine, I can clearly see their zeal for Yeshua.

Knowing my prejudice for things like this I prayed and asked YHWH to change my heart throughout this week if it was His will and His way of reaching people. I didn't ask Him to make me stay the same if He wasn't, but in my heart I felt that it was my fleece to test to see if He was in this. Did I want to see the things I have seen this week? Maybe not. I wanted to be right in my opinion though I also wanted for Josh and Michelle to be genuine at the same time. 

The first day, Josh actually got the workers together and told us he was not satisfied with the curriculum because it neglected the Gospel. He resolved throughout the week to come and share the Great News with everyone. I could see it in his eyes: he was desperate to get the message taught to these kids this week. It's such a short amount of time, but the message is so very important- it's life and death!

Tuesday, my sweet girl Miriam had to go to the doctor, and we discovered she was very sick but not with anything contagious. Jasmine went ahead of us, riding with family members who went also. Miriam could have stayed home. I recommended it to her and that I would stay home with her. She said to me: "Mama, my kids need me. There won't be anyone there to make sure they get to the right place." So, ashamedly I took her to get her little 1st-3rd graders so they would make it to classes on time. Although she has been on medicine all week that has made her feel awful- almost as bad as the illness- she has been so diligent to care for and serve this little group of children. I  learned from her that serving others, even when we feel terrible, is serving Yeshua. Really it was the lesson for the week. 

Tonight, we went to the cookout. The girls looked forward to it because they got to see the little children they served all week. They don't get anything out of helping little ones wash their hands, stopping fights, passing out things for the teachers, policing children who would not even consider following the rules, and the like. They weren't looking forward to winning some sort of prize for being "good" or memorizing the scripture. They even struggled themselves at times with some more difficult children [Jasmine (17) had the 3-5 year olds and Miriam (15) had the 1st - 3rd graders]. In fact, Jasmine told me that there was at least one child who didn't even like her and let her know as much, but she was determined to reach him this week. 

All I can say is WOW! God has shown me so much this week! I have learned about being humble no matter what my opinion is and maybe I should change my opinion. I have learned about service- not only from the lessons, but from my own girls. I have learned that God's ways are not my ways, and I cannot  put Him in a box. I have learned that I am the worst of sinners, yet, Yeshua died for me too. How grateful I am for VBS this week! I have been so touched! I have seen things with new eyes! And yes, I do believe that God has answered my prayers about this topic. I believe that He is always faithful to disciple us if we will just be quiet and listen.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

May 19, 2013- How to spot a Goat

Today, I read this article about how to spot a goat. I could not have said it better, so without further ado, here is today's post. :) I hope you are as blessed by this as I was.

April 4, 2013- Accident Report

Perhaps I should start filing these somewhere.
Here is my current "accident report:" Since my shoulder has been healing slowly, as do all such tendon injuries, I haven't been able to drive. It's been 5 weeks so far. In the beginning it just about killed me not to be able to just hop in the car and go places. Now, I'm used to it and have enjoyed knowing that I have no pressure to go anywhere. My shoulder is still sore some mornings and when I've done too much. We said "let's wait until 6 weeks and see." The swelling is gone but the site of injury lump is still there. I figure it might just stay there as scar tissue or whatever. So, I'm on the mend and thought I am so much closer to being able to do all my work myself and go to the grocery store whenever I need to by driving myself, etc... Not so fast. As I was rearranging the fire this morning, some of the coals started popping, so I started to shut the door to the woodstove. Some popped onto my clothes so I quickly reached to put it out. I looked up and more popped onto me including the corner of my eye. Yes, I have burnt myself in such a weird way! I say all this to introduce myself: Hi, I'm Angela and I'm accident prone. When some dangerous thing needs doing, I'm the one who does it. Leave me to myself in safety, and we might need a trip to the ER.

March 30, 2013- "It's for the Kids"

Today, I am wearing a sling. I have somehow injured my right shoulder. A few days ago was the 1st day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread as well.  We are celebrating God's festivals now. It has been interesting since we haven't really done these in earnest that we are learning. That first day was a high Shabbat, in it we are not to do any work except food preparation. That worked out nicely. Since my shoulder has been injured, I have not been able to do the daily work I normally do, so Scott and the girls have been doing my work and theirs as well. They are not used to my work, so I often have to remind them. I hate doing that, and I think they hate it too!
Perhaps hate is too strong. No one likes being told what to do.
Throughout scripture, the Children of Israel are told how to worship YHWH and not to worship anyone else, nor worship Him the ways other gods are worshiped. He gave instructions in the Garden of Eden to take off the seventh day of the week to rest as He had done in creation. He also told our first parents what thing not to do. In the New Testament, Yeshua tells us how to worship and how to love. Throughout the Bible He's talking to adults. Yet in our society, we have this mentality that there are things that are only for children's benefit and when we become adults, we can decide for ourselves if we want to follow the Lord's Word or not. We give advice to the children, we say certain things aren't appropriate to children but somehow the same things become appropriate to us as adults...we shield children from sin then when they begin to look like adults we expect them to suddenly make adult decisions and allow them to dress, talk, listen to, watch, read anything the world has to offer. This should not be so.
Yeshua said that anyone who causes a "little one" to stumble, it would be better for him if he had a millstone tied around his neck and be cast into the sea (see Matt. 18:6, Mark 9: 42, and Luke 17:2). That's pretty serious! He's saying that anyone who leads or causes a child to go astray would be better off drowning!
Mill stone

Here is Matthew 18:6 in different versions:
"If anyone causes one of these little ones--those who believe in me--to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (NIV)
But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. (NLT)
but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (ESV)
but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (NASB)
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (KJV)
"But whoever causes the downfall of one of these little ones who believe in Me--it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea! (Holman CSB)
I had the experience once of hearing one of my nephews tell his Great-Grandma that he was sorry that her daughter (his Grandma) had died. He was just matter of fact and unafraid. Only a few weeks before that he told his Grandma that it was OK that she was going to die and that God didn't hate her but that Jesus just wanted her to be with Him soon. He just told her it would be OK. He was so confident of the Lord's desire to have her at Home in Heaven with Him that he just treated it as if his Grandfather had asked him to go tell Nana to come into the kitchen! No one was shocked by his telling her this because that's the way children are! He was 5 at the time. I imagine that Yeshua would have chastised any of us adults if we had tried to explain away his faith or tried to make him feel bad about it.
Sadly, I have also seen parents train their children in wickedness deliberately. I once knew a woman who, in an effort to entertain her boyfriend and his friends, taught her boy of 3 or 4 to say curse words and in context. I have no idea what his life is like now as an adult, but I imagine Yeshua would be very displeased with this mother, possibly even to the extent that she would be better off to be cast into the sea with a millstone around her neck! Two vastly different little boys and their families....
What about something in between? What about something less harsh, that seems alright, but scripture tells us is still not OK? What about teaching a child to worship God in the way that pagan gods are worshiped or to worship pagan gods? What would be His response? I think it might be the same as the woman who was teaching her child to sin in his words. I recently watched a video about that very thing. Here is a link to it. It's not for the faint of heart or those who would not really search scripture.
I have heard it said by well meaning Christian adults that even though they knew certain things were wrong, they did it "for the kids." Consider Yeshua's words about causing little ones to go astray and millstones....

I'm back!!

Well, after much thought, I decided this was the best place for my blogging purposes. I had moved but now I'm back. I will be bringing the  posts from the other blog over here. So stay tuned for those and more. Blessings!!