Friday, August 30, 2019

Sweet Memories, Old and in the Making

December, 1996:
We left the three little kids with our friends the Cowans the other night while we went to an adult church dinner. Murray tried to pay Brenda for taking care of the kids, but she gave him the money back. I didn't know this, and I asked Rebecca the next day if she knew if Daddy had given Brenda any money when he picked them up. "No, I think SHE gave HIM some money."

I was reading to Sarah the other day about how King Herod killed all the baby boys in Bethlehem, trying to kill Jesus. Sarah said, "But he didn't get Jesus, because he went to Egypt. But if he did kill Jesus, Jesus could make himself back alive again, because He's God."

Sarah has memorized Philippians 1, 9-11 a long time ago, which is our church's prayer. The other day she said that for our lunch-time prayer, and then said, "Mommy, I want you to tell me what all that means."

Murray called home the other day, and when Kathy hung up from talking with him, Sarah said, "I knew that was Daddy because you talked in your normal voice. Why do you talk like a lady when other people call?"

December 13, 1996: Sarah was in the car with Murray, and she likes to put the keys in the ignition. She was having trouble figuring out which key, and she said, "Now, be patient, I'll get it."

December 23, 1996: The other day at lunch, I put my hands on the sides of Sarah's head. Sarah said that we should do that from now on when we pray. She said, "Let's hold the ears instead of holding hands when we pray."

Today at lunch, I was reading the kids stories about when God created the world. They were asking all sorts of questions about how He did it. “How did He do it?” “Did He just say it and it was done?” “Did He make it up out of His imagination?” “Where did He get the seeds for the plants?” We read a little more about it, and Sarah said, "He made a miracle!"

The other day at breakfast, we finished reading a passage from Mark, and Kathy said that tomorrow we would read about when Jesus was arrested. Rebecca said, "Oh, good!" Kathy said we shouldn't be happy about that, we should be sad because Jesus would be hurt and then die. Sarah said, "But I'm a teentsy bit happy because we don't have to be punished."

December 25, 1996: Today Caleb had hot chocolate for breakfast. He took a swallow and said, "Mommy, I drank a baboon."

December 30, 1996: The kids stayed at three different homes this weekend while we went to Colorado. We heard that they called each other while we were gone, and discussed what they each had to eat.

Sarah received a monetary gift from Grandma Brinkmann for her birthday. When she opened the envelope, she exclaimed, "I got $100!"(or whatever). She danced around excitedly and said, "I can give it to Jesus!"

And let’s make a new sweet memory. My children’s Christmas book, Millie’s Christmas, comes out on October 22.

Ruthie says Millie will love Christmas. Ruthie is Millie’s best friend, so she’s sure Ruthie’s right, but why does Millie keep finding Ruthie and her brother Jake crying?

Millie, an orange kitten, shares about her first Christmas. Her best friend Ruthie, six years old, teaches Millie about Christmas—food, decorations, music, presents, and Jesus!

Millie’s friend Bruce, the family dog, also helps her celebrate Christmas, and sometimes gets her in trouble.

When Ruthie’s big brother Jake breaks his ankle, Millie learns about sad things, like divorce, when Jake can’t visit his mommy for Christmas. Millie watches Ruthie’s family love each other through the sadness, and find joy in Christmas.

Share this story with a child you love, struggling with sadness at Christmas. Jesus’ love and truth remain solid.

Friday, August 23, 2019

What's So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey

What’s so Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey. I read this book years ago, and again recently. I wanted to share some of the ideas here.

Is grace the aroma our church gives out to the world? Is that what they think of when they think of Christians?

Remember how much Jesus loves you. Like a shepherd who would leave ninety-nine sheep alone to look for the one who was lost. He is the doctor come for the sick, not the well; for sinners, not the righteous.

There is nothing I can do to make God love me more. There is nothing I can do to make him love me less. He already loves me as much as an infinite God can.

What is so amazing about grace? It’s unfair, unnatural, scandalous. Yet it heals. And the wounds that grow in us when we do not offer forgiveness to others who have hurt us sour and crush us.

In the Lord’s prayer, Matthew 6, Jesus says we must forgive as God has forgiven us. That’s not as scary as it sounds. Because truly, we can only forgive with his help, and he will help us if we ask.

God requires us to forgive, not just to benefit the person who wronged us, but because when I forgive another, I let myself out of the prison of bitterness I’ve kept myself locked up in. God wants that peace for us.

On the cross, Jesus forgave people who had not asked for forgiveness, who had not repented. That is a beautiful example for us.

Philip Yancey told many stories of unbelievable, scandalous forgiveness.

He gives an excellent chapter about how Christians who Scripturally disagree with homosexuality still show love to the people they disagree with. He talks about repentance and forgiveness for racism and other deadly sins against whole peoples.

In this world, we may not see large amounts of forgiveness happen in our lifetime. But we can let it happen one person at a time with those we’ve wronged and with those who have wronged us.

Forgiveness for personal one to one sin may take years, but God is patient and gentle in how he deals with us.

Grace abuse. Romans chapters 6 and 7.

Should we sin more to make grace abound? No, we died to sin. So we should no longer give it life.

Romans 7:24-25: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Legalism. He talked about how through the years, believers have added extra rules to God’s laws and rules. Jesus spoke much against this hypocrisy. The alternatives to hypocrisy are only perfection and honesty. Since we cannot be perfect, our only hope is honesty, being honest with God about our sin, repenting, and finding his grace.

Matthew 23:23: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”

Legalism has always been a struggle for me, using rules to pressure myself and also others.

Over the years, I have caused myself so much pain from trying to be perfect with the rules I set for myself to be right with God. Reading this book reminded me that I also laid that kind of legalism on others, including my children. I pray now that they will learn more of how much God loves them, and that they will find that love and grace as the way to direct their lives.

The highest duty of Christians is to give grace. Because we have received, and still receive daily, so much grace.

As the church, Jesus’s body on earth, people in need should gather to us, just as people in need, sinners, hurting people, gathered around Jesus when he lived on earth.

Jesus, who never sinned, never treated sinners with disgust. Instead he welcomed them and offered them grace. Like the woman at the well in John 4, instead of turning from her or treating her with disgust, he treated her as a person who was really thirsty.

Yancey suggests we might do the same with those we have trouble with or disagree with. I pray this will become a natural part of my life.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Healer of My Heart

Though my heart is torn, it’s white again.
Though I sank to the depths of hell, you lifted me up.
Though I failed you again and again, you forgot it all.
And when my heart aches,
And my eyes flow with sorrow,
You wipe them dry and tell me,
“Beloved child, I would have come just for you.”

Isaiah 1: 18:
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

Psalm 103: 12-13:
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

Friday, August 9, 2019

Lost in the Storm, Tamera Lynn Kraft

Will war bring them love or will they be Lost in the Storm!

Lavena, a journalist during the Civil War, wants to become a war correspondent. She finally gets her chance, but there’s a catch. She has to get an interview from a war hero who has refused to tell his story to every other journalist, and she has to accomplish this impossible task in a month or she’ll lose her job.

Captain Cage, the war hero, has a secret that will destroy his military career and reputation. Now, a new journalist is trying to get him to tell what he’s been hiding. He wants to ignore her, but from the moment she came into camp, he can’t get her out of his mind.

Leading up to the turbulent Battles for the city of Chattanooga, will Lavena and Cage find the courage to love and forgive, or will they be swept away by their past mistakes that don’t want to stay buried?

Meet the Ladies of Oberlin, the causes they're willing to fight for, and the men who capture their hearts.

Ladies of Oberlin, Book 2   By Tamera Lynn Kraft

  About the Author   Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. There are strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in her stories. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest.    Tamera’s been married for forty years to the love of her life, Rick, and has two married adult children and three grandchildren. She has been a children’s pastor for over twenty years. She is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire for Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist. She has written children’s church curriculum. She is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.   You can contact Tamera online at her website: 

I loved this story.

A beautiful picture of bravery of both women and men. A story of forgiveness, an unexpected love story. Great history.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Happiness is Scriptural

This Sunday will be the last meeting of our church. We’re having a celebration, sharing time with each other, remembering good things, praising God. I know we’ll cry, but we will find joy.

For our last month together our pastor Todd used the time to study two very important Bible topics, humility and happiness.

Happiness is Scriptural, spiritual. It’s okay for us to desire to be happy. God is happy, with himself, his creation, his people. He is the source of all happiness.

Todd said there are at least two thousand times happiness or a synonym is mentioned in the bible—pleasure, contentment, satisfaction, well-being, joy.

People need to see a smile on our faces, hear it in our voices. We don’t need to be so serious.

Happiness is not shallow.

Of course there are hard times, but Paul wrote about joy from prison in Philippians, and Zephaniah did during hard times for Israel. We can be happy because of our knowledge of God and what he’s done for us. We need to let what we know in our hearts show up on our faces as a witness to people in the world.

Zephaniah 3:17: The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.

Genesis 1:31: God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Psalm 4:7: You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.

Todd said the word for happiness in that verse was like a festival!

We need to stay close to God, the source of happiness, like backing up to a fire to keep warm. Todd told a funny story about that, but I won’t share it. You’ll have to ask him.

Psalm 16: 11: You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Fullness of joy, not just a little bit.

Philippians 4:4: 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Paul thought it was so important, he repeated it. In this verse and throughout Philippians.

1 Timothy 6: 6, 17: But godliness with contentment is great gain. Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Be careful not to let the devil steal our joy.

John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 15:11-12: I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

Psalm 32:1 Blessed (Happy) is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

Another thief of happiness is worry.

Matthew 6:25: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

Todd told us about happiness habits.

Thanking God. Specifically about the things around us, in our house, in our days.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Stay in God’s word daily; stay close to the source of happiness.

Giving to others; encouragement, financially, everyday help.

Acts 20:35: In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”