Q&A

Am I Ready To Be Baptized?


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Baptism Sunday is coming up this next week, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to do a quick write-up on what baptism is about. This is good information for an adult, but basic enough that a parent can share this resource with a child that might be considering baptism.

Salvation

Before we talk about baptism, we need to understand salvation. Salvation is the act of being saved from something harmful. In the church we have a lot of church jargon-words only other church people understand. So when we talk about salvation we mean being rescued from our own sins-sins which the Bible says, deserve our death (Romans 6:23). But God had a rescue plan from the beginning. He knew He would send His son to die in our place. His son, Jesus, paid our price. But we must acknowledge Jesus died to save us, believe it to be true, and then confess our sins, or the wrongs we have done.

You can use the following questions to determine if you (or your child) is ready to ask Jesus to be Lord of your (his/her) life. The main goal is to recognize that your sin separates you from God and that Jesus’ death on the cross makes you right with God.

  1. Who is Jesus? Matthew 3:16-17
  2. What is sin? 1 John 5:17   Have I sinned? Romans 3:23
  3. What did Jesus do on the cross? 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 Why did He have to die? 2 Corinthians 5:21
  4. What happens to our sins when we ask Jesus to forgive us and we say/confess our sins out loud? 1 John 1:9

The next step is asking Jesus to be the Lord of your life. This is the best part! Here is an example prayer you can use if you need it.

“Dear Jesus, I am a sinner and I need You to save me. Thank you for dying on the cross. Because of this, I am forgiven. I want you to be leader of my life. Help me live my life for You. Amen”

After Salvation Comes Baptism

As a follower of Christ, you need to make your decision public, by getting baptized. Baptism is a picture of what Jesus did on the cross and He tells us to be baptized to show others that we follow Him. Baptism is when we go under the water symbolizing the washing away your sins and Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus died and came back to life on the third day. You can read Matthew 3:1-16, Matthew 28:16-20, and John 3:1-21.

  1. Does this mean you’ll never sin again? 1 John 1:8-10 and Romans 6:1-5
  2. When you sin again, what should you do? 1 John 1:9

Another great illustration to help understand the significance of baptism is a wedding ring. A wedding ring is a symbol that you have made the choice to love your spouse.   Baptism is a symbol that you have chosen to love and follow Christ.

Jesus modeled baptism in Matthew 3:13-17 and we were commanded to be baptized in Acts 2:38.

The final step should last throughout the rest of your life. God wants you to share your unique faith story with those around you. Paul gave us an amazing example in Acts 26:2-23. Your faith story should include how you became a Christian and how your life changed after becoming a Christian.

family, Personal, Uncategorized

I Am the Weaker Vessel


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I hate to make an enemy out of all women out there, but we are the weaker sex. Yup, I said it and I won’t apologize for it. There is nothing wrong with being weaker. It doesn’t mean we are inferior. We are still fearfully and wonderfully made for very specific purposes, just not to be the head of our husband. So, in what way am I weaker? Allow me to explain.
First of all, I am physically weaker. Relative to total body mass men are physically stronger than women. It’s been scientifically proven. Men have stronger bones, ligaments and tendons. Men have larger hearts, more lung volume, greater clotting factors and they even heal from wounds more quickly. I can say with certainty that I am no match for my husband or any man for that matter. My son has been able to subdue me since he was 14. The only thing I have greater than my husband are my thighs. Men were designed to be our protectors.
Gender also effects our decision making. Women tend to be more emotional than men. I’m not being condescending to woman. When you watch a very sad movie do you cry or does your husband? The truth is the truth. We are wired to feel in a way men don’t. It is part of our being. We can’t turn it off. Men take facts and data and make a decision. They are like a laser. You know what I’m talking about. Just try to talk to your husband while he’s watching T.V. or working on something. He can’t do both. Men are also able to take the emotion out of an issue and deal with it in a way woman can’t. That’s the reason my kids have given me the nickname “mama bear”. You mess with my family and I will tear you face off unless my husband gets to me first. Woman often talk too much. It may be in a perfectly just effort to fix things, but nonetheless it fuels flames that should die out. My husband can be objective in a way I can’t. I try to solve and fix everything. It is hard for me to be still and know that He is God.
God made my husband stronger then me and I am so grateful for it. There is something safe and comforting in knowing this. He protects me and would lay down his life for me just like Christ did for the church. He makes wise decisions, and I submit to them as instructed to in Ephesians chapter 5. We talk about everything respectfully and openly and then I trust his final decision. What I bring to the relationship is nurturing our kids, taking care of our home, being his encourager and help mate. That’s my job. It’s the same job that was given to Eve in Genesis chapter 2 and is referenced again in Proverbs 31. We complement each other in a way that only the creator could have designed. Weaker isn’t bad it’s just different. Silk is more delicate than denim. That doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. It is soft, beautiful, requires special care and is highly prized just like a woman, so celebrate who you are.
Now, not every man or every woman fits this profile. Things like our upbringing, trauma or sin can affect our emotions and behavior. If our behavior is at odds with scripture that doesn’t mean we disregard scripture. It means we adjust our lives. Try it. Be obedient to God’s word. It will change your life for the better. And men, if this blog seems foreign to what you see happening in your home take some serious time to contemplate if you are being the stronger partner? Are you leading? Are you loving your wife? Are you being all God has called you too? I am convinced if men lead as they should women will happily follow them anywhere.

Ministry, Personal

What is More Important Than Your Religious Beliefs?


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The staff and I read books together from time to time.  Last summer we read Albert Mohler’s book The Conviction to Lead.  One of the later chapters in the book is “The Leader’s Legacy.”  Yes, you guessed it.  It is a little morbid, thinking through who will lead after you and what convictions they will continue to embody.  It’s not exactly a knee slapping, hand clapping, yee-ha evoking chapter.  It’s more like facing the dark reality that leaders often fail to instill their convictions in the next generation of leaders.  Similar to parenting, we make sure everyone is properly dressed, educated, married and employed, but we don’t stop long enough to define the convictions, the nuances of character, that are the building blocks to being proper.  In the case of the church we face the hazard of teaching Biblical theology to people without developing the building blocks of Biblical character in them.

So, here are my pastoral convictions.  These are not theology and doctrine.  However, they are the building blocks of Christian character that I hope to instill in those who follow in my footsteps and more importantly, those who will one day make the footsteps.

 

  1. The authority of Scripture:

This is foundational.  There is no such thing as Christianity without the conviction that the sixty-six books, Genesis through Revelation, are our authoritative guide to knowing and serving the Christian God.  When we fail to submit to the authority of Scripture we end up comparing our opinion to God’s opinion.  Scripture is not God’s opinion that is in some way negotiable or debatable.  God has spoken.  His Word is true.  We can either submit to it or be judged by it.  We cannot subvert the authority of Scripture and assume to arrive at Biblical Christianity.   To be a Christian is to be a submissive follower of the instructions God has given us in the Bible.

 

  1. Jesus is the only way to salvation:

Churches who have abandoned their Biblical roots are finding nonbiblical ways to find god.  They will call it the Christian God, but that makes no sense.  If the recipe for good hot chocolate calls for two tablespoons of cocoa and a cup of hot water, but you use two tablespoons of coffee instead, you made coffee not hot chocolate!  John 14:6 is clear,  ”Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”    It is not up for debate.  There is no other way to right standing before God the Father other than faith in Christ Jesus.

 

  1. Christians should be characterized by love one for another rather than fighting.

I hear stereotypes of church people that are not at all flattering, but there is a degree of truth to them.  As a pastor, when a non-church goer describes their perception of church members as fighting with each other over unimportant things, it makes my heart sad.  If we can agree on the authority of Scripture and salvation through Jesus we are going to be able to get along just fine . . . unless, you just want to argue.  Sure, there are things we differ on that we can have lively discussions about.  However, at the point that one person is defending their position instead of both persons defending the Biblical position, it is a worthless argument and shouldn’t be happening between two siblings in Christ.  Before Paul was converted, he killed people who disagreed with him.  After his conversation he preached that we are unified in Christ Jesus, that there is one faith, one Body and one God.  The church should look less like Saul and more like Paul.

We must never lob theological grenades at each other.  We must stop defending denominational distinctives and start unifying around faith in Jesus.  The true church of God will humbly lay aside its differences for the purpose of loving one another and even loving those who are lost.  Loving one another and loving the those who are lost is the first evangelistic thing we do.  Which leads me to my next point.

 

  1. Living the Christian life full of joy is the second most evangelistic thing we do.

The world is watching long before they listen.  It’s human nature.  We are more perceptive of what we see in others than what we hear.  I’m currently preaching through the book of Philippians.  Several times Philippians refers to being filled with joy, rejoice and again I say rejoice!  It is as if Paul expects the Christian church to be deeply happy and visibly excited about the fact that they have the privilege of fellowshipping with Christ, sharing in His suffering, and will participate in His resurrection.  That’s a lot to be rejoicing about!  So, let’s try not to look like we’ve been baptized in pickle juice.  Let’s refrain from mourning Christianity and begin to celebrate Christianity.  Jesus did die, but He rose again and is alive in the believer.  I give you permission to show joy about Jesus being alive in you!

 

  1. Share your personal faith story happens third.

I am making an issue of the progression here.  We went through an era of evangelism that promoted simply telling your faith story and the gospel message and then expect that person to pray the sinner’s prayer and be saved.  The average unchurched person is smarter than they used to be.  They want to see the product before they purchase.  They need to see evidence of love and joy in your life.  Then they will listen to and believe your faith story.  Your faith story without love and joy in your life makes your gospel presentation difficult to believe.  Honor the process!  Love and joy first, then your story and the gospel.

 

  1. Point others toward Biblical morality in a genuine and caring way.

Listen carefully:  Biblical morality is a work of the Holy Spirit in a person.  You are not the Holy Spirit.  I have pastored long enough to know that in any church there are regular attenders who range from unsaved to very mature in Christ.  God is at work in each them in His way and at His speed.  I do what people to live in a Biblically moral way, but I can’t force that change.  I can model that change.  Pestering someone about their moral inadequacy very seldom motivates them to change.  Pointing them toward the counsel of Scripture, praying with them and modeling the instruction of Scripture gives them something to strive toward.  The Holy Spirit is the one transforming the person, we are just long for moral support!

 

  1. Genuine love is more powerful than being right.

There is something magical about genuine love.  Genuine love covers a multitude of sins and overcomes all fears.  When there is genuine love we’ll work together to uncover and overcome sin, whether it is your sin or my sin.  When there is genuine love there is no cause for me to fear your motives or for you to fear my motives.  The need to be right works just the opposite.  Being right polarizes people.  Please understand and recognize the difference between being right and identifying truth.   Being right wants you to become like me.  It is selfish and arrogant.  Identifying truth in God’s Word is a journey we can share together, we can walk together, we can talk together, we can share this adventure of faith together.  I believe with all my heart that as we put Christ first and genuinely love others we’ll all arrive at the “right” that God wants us to be.  There is little or no need for convincing.

 

After all the theology and doctrine, preaching and teaching, the church must portray the character of Christ Jesus.  We come to know Jesus with childlike faith and the Holy Spirit transforms us.  We don’t have to explain the intricacies of how it works, we simply believe that Jesus finishes the work He begins.

 

 

family, Ministry, Personal

Are You One in Seven….


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Are you the one in seven adults who…?

Did I catch your attention? I actually wanted to throw down some statistics on this post, but my limited interment research didn’t help me come up with the numbers I was looking for. What I set out to find was the number of adults who memorize scripture.   I found alarming statistics about church goers not reading their Bibles more than once a week, or statistics on whether Christians believed Harry Potter was a Bible story. !! Alarming statistics.

I think here at Desert Heights Church, we do a good job of pushing our people to get into God’s Word. And sure, Wednesday night DHC kids has a monthly memory verse for the kids…but what about you? What about the average church adult? When was the last time you thought God said something soooo profound or so important that you actually set out to memorize it.

If you were raised in church I’m sure you have memorized several verses and if you couldn’t say it verbatim right now, you could probably get most of the words mostly right.

John 3:16

The Lord’s Prayer

Psalms 23

I was fortunate to be a part of the Missionette girl’s program growing up and I attribute a lot of my scripture memorization to that. At Missionette retreat (camp) for several summers there was a statewide Bible quiz contest and I was lucky enough to be on the teams that were runner-up and champions as well as winning the top quizzer award. But it did not happen overnight. My mother was our leader and as a team we studied hard. We had sleepovers that were basically study groups! Because of all that hard work to hide God’s Word in my heart–as an adult I access those verses ALL THE TIME.

But when was the last time I put that much effort into retaining God’s Word so that I could apply it over my life?

We teach our children (you better be, anyway) what God says about when we are scared, sad, or lonely, but do we encourage our children to memorize those verses? Do we learn those verses alongside our children?

I’m calling you out, adult! What do you do when life has you stressed–what verse, what promise from our almighty creator God do you pull out of your mind? Do you have a verse to recall? SNAP! I hope you answered, “yes and amen.” But if you didn’t I want to encourage you. To know God you must know what He said. So first: do your S.O.A.P. Second, think about your life right now. Do you need peace? Joy? Encouragement? Friendship? Seek out what God has to say about those things, then choose to memorize a verse that you can pray over your life daily.

Here are a few examples:

Years ago, Linsey Low was the leader of the mom’s SOAP group. She has these super cute bookmarks made for us with a shabby chic braid made from multi textured ribbon connected to it. The verse on the bookmark read: “Ecclesiastes 4:12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” I set out to memorize that verse so that when I gathered with anyone in Christ whether it was small group or Sunday school I was reminded that we are a team in this Heaven journey. I recall that verse ALL the time.

In November, the Wednesday DHC kids were memorizing Philippians 2:3-4, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” As a parent, there may not be a better scripture to memorize!! Because my children were learning it, I made the choice to learn it too. And let me tell you how may times I have quoted this verse to my children to stop fights or encourage sharing.

Here is a practical way the whole family can learn the same verse: Put the verse you want to commit to memory in a place where you will see it several times a day. I hang the verse behind our table (the idea was first seen in the Krakow household). Then every time we sit for a meal together, I see the verse, say it aloud and have my kids say it. In no time, I guarantee, you can memorize several verses as a family.

It’s not too late to make a new year resolution to memorize God’s Word. Leave a comment and let me know the verse you a committing to memorize.

family, Personal, Uncategorized

Christians, Stop Watching Trash!


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So, I want to start off by saying I am no prude.  I enjoy T.V. and movies.  I even have Netflix.  I am not legalistic.  I think we have so much freedom in the body of Christ, but Christian people some things are off limits.  Yes, I am drawing a line in the sand.  There is trash on TV you have no business watching.  Here is what Ephesians 5:3-4 has to say about our entertainment. 3 “Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.”  The more you read your word, pray and become true friends with Christ the more His Spirit will speak to you. How do I gauge what I watch?  Well, I ask myself a few simple questions?

  1. Do I want my kids watching this? If the answer is no, then I don’t need to watch it either.  I find it ironic that as Christians we will go to the movies and watch something that by the world’s standards is restricted.  These are unbelievers who say it may not be appropriate because of violence, language or nudity.  Hello, if people who don’t read scripture or know Jesus say you should think twice about going then you should definitely, as a believer, think twice about it.  Here is what James 3:10-12 says about being inconsistent. “10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”  In other words, if you are a Christian then act like it all the time and in every part of your life.
  2. What is the premise of the show? There are no perfect TV shows, but if the title is something like “Mistresses” I know I don’t need to watch it. If the entire theme of the show is adultery, fornication, or homosexuality why would I ever begin watching it?  I read my Bible.  I know that those things don’t bring God honor in anyway.  I don’t ever want to get comfortable with the idea of sin, so I abstain.
  3. Would I want church friends to know I watch this? I know that we live to please Christ and him alone, but as brothers and sisters in Christ we have the obligation to hold each other accountable.  I would never invite friends over to watch “Fifty Shades of Grey”. Why? Because it is porn plain and simple.  You wouldn’t want a pastor who indulged in that and neither would I.  I don’t want to be involved in anything that demoralizes women, the sanctity of marriage or diminishes my testimony.  Here is what Paul says about thinking of others in 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 “23 You say, “I am allowed to do anything”[d]—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. 24 Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.”

 

Here’s the deal.  The more I grow in Christ the less I care about what I am free to do.  Maybe I can watch junk on TV, but why would I?  The more I hide God’s Word in my heart the less the things of the world are appealing.  I have watched things before that I shouldn’t have and in the end I just felt yucky.  My spirit was not comfortable.  Actually, it was His Spirit in me that was not comfortable.  I know I could and should make better choices.  If you aren’t sure about the shows you watch, I encourage you to delve more into scripture.  It is pretty clear what we should reflect on.  Let me leave you with one last scripture from Philippians 4:8 “ And now, brothers, as I close this letter, let me say this one more thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.”

 

Uncategorized

15 Years and Counting God’s Blessings!


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On March 23, 2003 Desert Heights Church held its first Sunday service at the Courtyard by Marriot.  We rented two rooms, one for children and one for adults.  There was a modest thirty-one people there!  I began a six-week sermon series titled “Why Jesus?” that would lead up to Easter Sunday.

Here we are fifteen years later at the beginning of another year wondering what this year holds for Desert Heights Church.  I have kind of joked that my crystal ball doesn’t work very well.  I don’t know the future of DHC, but I do know it’s history.  I know that God has been faithful year after year.

When Dianne and I first began to talk about the idea of starting a church we had friends and acquaintances from our past that told us they would come help us.  Most of them did not.  But God sent the people we needed to get started.  All eight of us sat in our living room in our humble mobile home dreaming together about what the church would look like and planning our first services.  God sent us faithful people, selfless people who knew how to bless others.  Fifteen years later those dreams have been exceeded by reality!  God has brought many really great people to Desert Heights Church.  At every point in the development of the church there have been people with very specific gifts to help us grow.  It is as if God knows exactly what He is planning for Desert Heights!  Dianne and I have had the privilege of serving alongside of many people over the years, great people who have been willing to give up a portion of their own lives to help out with ministry at the church.

I grew up with offerings and offertories.  (That’s when someone sings a special song or plays an instrument while the offering plates are being passed around.)  When we started the church we wanted to remove all the obstacles we possibly could so that unchurched people would feel at home at church.  There is nothing sacred about passing an offering plate and it is sometimes off putting to unchurched people, so we set out an offering box at each service.   We didn’t pass offering plates.  After service Dianne and I would take the offering box home and dump it out on our dinner room table to see if we were going to be able to cover the rooms we had rented for service, sometimes there was enough and other times there was not.  I would fret and Dianne would comfort.  I didn’t start the church with a whole lot of confidence anyway.  Before we actually started the church people would ask me in a doubtful tone of voice, “How do you start a church?”.  I’m sure I had some glib answer, but the fact of the matter was I had no idea how to start a church.  So, when there was not enough money to cover the church’s one bill . . . it exposed the reality of the size of my faith.  Church planters are supposed to be confident men of faith and power.  My own insecurities questioned, “Maybe God didn’t want us to start a church.”  But more than once, on the way to pay the motel on Monday morning, we’d stop by the post office to check the mail and there would be a letter and money from someone who God had directed to send us an offering.  We paid our one bill every single Monday.  God has been faithful!

After our Easter service, we made the big decision that we had enough people we’d continue the church.  I had been leading worship with my dad’s antique Gibson guitar.  Looking back people came in spite of worship at our church not because of the worship.  My talent and repertoire were very limited.  “Lord I Lift Your Name on High” and “Every Move I Make” made it to the overhead projector every Sunday!  It was special.  There were three men in the church that were the beginnings of our Leadership team.  I met with them on Saturday morning and discussed purchasing a keyboard amplifier, microphone and mic stand.  This was our first big expenditure.  We discussed it.  Prayed together about it.  And made the purchase (on my credit card).  Sunday morning Dianne and I take the offering box home, dump it out on the dining room table and our hearts sank.  I remember it.  There was one check for $45, the lowest offering in the short history of DHC.  “What was I thinking!!!”  That afternoon, with our heads a little low, Dianne and I were doing our shopping for our family at Wal Mart.  We ran into a person who was not a church-goer.  This person pulled a check out of their pocket that had already been written, as if there was a plan for us to meet them at Wal Mart, and handed it to us.  It was more than enough to cover our two rooms at the motel and the equipment we had ordered.  How do you start a church?  By faith in a faithful God!  That was the last Sunday I counted the offering.  Obviously, my anxieties and insecurities were not contributing to the financial well-being of Desert Heights Church.

After six months of being in the motel, we needed to relocate.  A friend of mine told me about some offices with a warehouse on Schofield Ln.  My dad and I went and looked at it with the realtor.  It was ugly.  I returned home to tell Dianne that this place would not work.  But Dianne has a unique ability to see potential.  (Maybe that is why she married me.)  She quizzed me about the layout of the building.  The short version is the floor plan was perfect for an auditorium and classrooms.  We rented it, painted everything, borrowed chairs and held our first service in “our” building.

We could not have been happier!  Monday morning the city red tagged the building because we didn’t have a Certificate of Occupancy.  Now I feel like I am proving that I don’t know how to start a church!  There are several stories about that church remodel that are nothing short of miraculous, but I have one favorite story to tell.  Part of our meeting the city building codes required us to have a handicap accessible bathroom.  The plumber comes by, looks at our situation and tells me we will have to jackhammer concrete from the middle of the building out to the middle of the street because there is no way there is a four inch drain under the concrete.  I told him we would start jackhammering where the new toilet would be and if there was no four inch drain line we’d continue to tear up the rest of the concrete and pavement at great expense!  The plan is to pray and jackhammer I told him.  He assured me that even with prayer, there would not be a four inch drain line.  Several men were working at the church that evening.  Some were pouring concrete in front and one of the men was running the jackhammer.  This particular man was new to church, new to Christianity and had not yet made any profession of faith in Christ.  In the few months I’d known him he had less expression than the typical male, but that night he came bounding through the building wide eyed with surprise and excitement! He couldn’t have smiled bigger if he had won the Powerball lottery.  “Brent, I found the four inch line!”  Of course, all of us went to inspect this discovery.  Sure enough, under a paper thin layer of concrete was a clean out that went all the way down to a four inch drain line.

We were in that building for almost eleven years.  The church grew, both in number and in faith.  When we relocated to Main St. we did the remodeling and got a Certificate of Occupancy before we moved in.

The stories go on and on about God’s faithfulness to Desert Heights Church.  But I should get to the point instead of reminiscing.  God has been faithful and I expect Him to continue to be faithful.  I do not know if there are financial or plumbing miracles ahead in 2018.  I know what I’d like to see at Desert Heights Church.  I would like to see the evidence of God’s work in people’s lives.  I’d like to see God’s mercy and grace transform the broken into the healed, the hurting into the rejoicing.

God has promised to do more than we could ask or imagine in His church.  As we walk with God there is no way we can anticipate what God is going to do in us and through us this year!

I’m looking forward expecting more from God than ever before!

God bless every one of you big! – Pastor Brent

Personal, Uncategorized

Downer Dianne and the Very Dreary Day


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I don’t know about you guys, but some days I hate being a housewife.  I love my kids and husband, but I don’t enjoy all the energy and time it takes to cook, sweep, vacuum, mop, etc.  I would much rather shop, watch T.V., get my nails done, have coffee with the girls, or go on a cruise. I mean I do the same monotonous work week after week and it often doesn’t seem to get noticed or appreciated.  Surely, I am destined for more than this!  Then this week while I was cleaning I had an epiphany.   God has given me everything I have ever wanted.  I’m just being Downer Dianne.  So, this week I made a pledge to God and myself.  I will be changed from Downer Dianne to Delightful Dianne.

While I was cleaning my house this week and doing mountains of laundry from vacation I was having a conversation in my head.  Yes, I do this a lot because I like what I have to say and I always agree with myself.  So, I said, “Dianne, You really hate doing laundry and no one really ever thanks you for being such a super mom/wife.” Then I replied to myself, “I know it’s really not worth it.”  Then out of nowhere the Holy Spirit says, “Oh really, isn’t this what you asked for?” “Then I said, “Excuse me, but this was a private conversation and I don’t want to hear anything reasonable from you.”  But then I simmered down and contemplated what God’s sweet Spirit was saying to me.  As a teen I prayed and asked the Lord for a Christian spouse, kids, nice house, great job, and good health.  And I have all those things.  He has blessed me soooo much and here I am complaining.  What a whiny, brat. Well, no more.  I have turned over a new leaf.

When I was kid we used to sing a song in church and part of the words went like this, “Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings see what God has done.”  Those words resounded in my head and heart that day and I decided to take the song very literally, here are just a few things I counted.

  1. I woke up and I’m alive.  Thank you Jesus.
  2. Took a shower and have hot running water. (I just got back from Mexico and people there don’t drink their faucet water and only have it on a few hours a day.)
  3. Washed laundry. Yay, I have a family to take care of.  I’m not alone and I’m not doing it by hand Little House on the Prairie style.
  4. Made some breakfast. My fridge is full.  I looked at the picture of my Compassion sponsor child and remembered that not everyone’s is.
  5. Went to work in my car that has heated seats and was happy I don’t have to walk.
  6. Got to my job, which I really love and realized I get paid to do this. And if life throws us a curve I am in good health and have the ability to do something else.  Many people can’t say that. Thank you Jesus.
  7. Came home later and did some school work with my daughter and was grateful for how much time I get to see and spend with her.
  8. Did my Bible reading and S.O.A.P. How many people don’t have a Bible or the freedom and safety to read it?
  9. Made dinner and set the dish washer going. No, I don’t even wash my dishes by hand.
  10. Watched Netflix with the hubs. I put my feet on him and stretched out on the couch and he let me!  He didn’t say, “Please get your feet off me couch hog.”  And he lets me pick girly shows even though I know he would prefer something with shooting and assassins.
  11. I go to bed and my two kids (18 and 16) come pile on and tell us about their day. We laugh and joke and finally tell them to go away because we are old and tired and we’ll see them in the morning.  They still talk to me.  They love me and I love them.
  12. As I drift off I pray and ask for forgiveness from the Father up above who has blessed me with more then I deserve.  My heart is so full.

I love being a housewife and mother.  It is my dream come true.  Help me Lord to never take it for granted.  He is a great God who gives us more than we could ever ask for or imagine.

Psalm 84:11 “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

Uncategorized

Best Christmas Ever!


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I love Christmas, always have.  I have many great memories of Christmas.  One year my parents got my brother and I bicycles for Christmas and hid them in our camp trailer.  Weeks before Christmas we were playing in the yard and for no reason at all I jumped up on the step of the camper and looked in the window.  There they were, one was black and white with hand brakes and the other was blue and silver.  The coolest bicycles ever!  We ran into the house to announce what we had found.  My mom was less than impressed that we had discovered our Christmas gifts.  Several days later, because the weather was exceptionally warm, we got to “open” our Christmas presents early.  It was magnificent!

On another occasion, when money was extra tight, some family friends anonymously adopted our family for Christmas.  I still have the electric train from that Christmas tucked away in a special box in my attic.  I’m not a materialistic person, but that little train is one of my most valued earthly possessions, not because of its monetary value, but because it represents a moment in time when God was bigger than circumstances.

Christmas dinner was served on a brand-new dining table that year!  Again, it had nothing to do with the dollar value.  It had everything to do with the people value.  It was around that table at Christmas that I remember my uncles getting into the hot rolls before dinner, Uncle Ned picking the cream cheese out of my mom’s Coke-salad and leaving it on the edge of his plate, Uncle Dan unbuckling his belt so he could keep on eating and my Aunt Hilda finding a toothpick in the German Chocolate cake!  She thought that my mom had accidently dropped it in while she was cooking.  But the fact is, she used toothpicks to keep the layers from sliding because there was so much frosting between them.  Countless hours were spent telling stories, laughing and reminiscing.

I couldn’t tell you the most expensive gift I ever got for Christmas.  I don’t know that I even have a favorite Christmas gift.  I do know that every Christmas is meaningful because of the people we share it with.  Opening presents never gets old.  Eating everyone’s signature dish is just part of the tradition.  And reading the Christmas story together with the family continues to cultivate nostalgia. Faces change around the Christmas table.  Some are new, some have aged, and some are missing, but the story of God sending His Son to be born in a manger never changes.  Christ is the centerpiece of Christmas.  It is the celebration of God humbly joining humanity that remains the same.  It is Jesus in the manger that drew the shepherds and the angels to gather around, sing and share gifts.

Make this Christmas your best Christmas ever!

family, Uncategorized

Traditions


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I love Christmas.  It is my favorite time of the year for so many reasons.  People seem a little more open to talk about salvation and why we celebrate Christmas.  When else can you bring up Jesus so easily?  Make sure you take every opportunity to share the gospel.  I also love to be with my family and I love to give people gifts that I hope they will love.  Then there are all the wonderful smells and the beautiful trees. (Don’t worry I’m not worshiping it, dancing around it or giving it any undo power in my home. It only serves to be a place holder for the gifts.  If it’s too much, just pretend it’s a house plant.)  And most of all I love the traditions.  Here is a glimpse of Heddin holiday month.

The warm up:

In my family the women kick off Christmas by Black Friday shopping.  We usually get a coffee around 10:00 p.m. and head to our first destination.  I have already spent the day reading the sale adds and circling what we need with a sharpie.  Then I check the store opening times and make a strategic plan of where we are going and how long we can stay there before we are off to the next location.  We do this frantically until about 1:00 a.m. By that time my husband, daughter, and sister have all went home.  I am the lone survivor.  When I get home I look at my receipts so proud of the $20.00 I saved that night.

Our next tradition is getting a tree.  We do it every year the day after Thanksgiving.  We go chop one down at Lowes, bag it, and toss it into Brent’s truck for the 3 mile journey home.  He trims and gets it ready while I clear a spot for it.   The kids throw the decorations down from the attic.  They usually break a few things, but hey I didn’t have to crawl up there so I’m fine with it.  Then we spend either the afternoon or evening decorating with our kids.  Our son Brennen wrangles the lights around the tree in true rodeo fashion.  He’s going for speed not beauty.  Our daughter Bethanie pulls out all her special ornaments and makes sure they get premium front of the tree space while Brent and I get the back of the tree.  I confess it has gotten a little harder since they are older and have jobs and lives, but we still make it work.  I now have to add pizza as an incentive, but it’s always a good time.

The week before:

Several years ago we started doing something with our kids that I think is ingenious.  We make them spread out their present opening.  No, we do not have a crazy free-for-all at 5:00 a.m. on Christmas Morning.  I mean who wants to get up that early on their day off?  Instead we see how many presents the kids have under the tree, it’s usually around 5. (Don’t freak out some of the gifts are very small like a bracelet or gloves and some are a little bigger, some have been sent from aunts or uncles, etc.,.  My goal isn’t to go bankrupt or into debt.) So, if there are 5 presents we start opening 1 present a night from the 20th to the 25th.  The reason for this is that we want our kids to really appreciate and take some time with their gift.  If it’s a game we might all sit down and play it that night.  If it’s a movie we might make popcorn and watch it together.  When the kids were small they would spend the evening playing with that one new toy and they really played with it.   At the end of the night it gives them something to keep looking forward to and they don’t just have an enormous pile of stuff that they don’t even know who they got it from or what it’s for.

The night before:

Christmas Eve is my family night with my Mexican family.  Yes, I referred to them by their race and none of them are going to get upset.  That is the easiest way to classify my 40 closest family members on my mom’s side.  We have a giant pot luck.  Every family brings one or two dishes to share.  We always have more than enough food.  There will be tamales, enchiladas, ham, posole, pie, cake, lots of laughing, telling stories on each other and Spanish bingo, which is my grandma’s favorite thing to do.  Then we divide up into family teams and have a few minute to win it games to see which family reign’s supreme.  We even have a family cup that we put the winning families name on each year.  At the end of the night we go home and we read the Christmas story, from the Gospel of Luke, with our kids.  As soon as they could read they would take turns every year reading from their Bible to the family.  We have read the story so many times now, but we don’t ever want our family to forget the focus.  Jesus gave us the greatest gift and that’s why we share gifts with each other.  Then we continue with the gift opening.

Christmas day:

Christmas morning we make a big breakfast and we share it with my parents and sisters and their families.  Brent’s specialty is homemade gravy and my sister Rebecca’s specialty is canned biscuits. We always switch off hosting Christmas day at one of our houses.  This year it is my sister Stephanie’s turn, so she has to clean her house and make the ham for lunch.  We open presents one last time, have a huge lunch (you must wear your stretch pants for this), and play card games.  I visit with my aunt, uncle and granddad on my dad’s side.   It is a really blessed day.

 

What do you do?

I hate when Christmas time is over.  I have to put everything away and my house looks sterile and bare for a week until I get used to it, but I am so thankful for the time I had.  What traditions do you have as a family?  They don’t have to be like mine, but make some that work for your family.  Make the holidays a joyous time they all look forward to.  I have friends who always go out for Chinese on Christmas Eve.  It’s their thing and it’s great.  Remember to be kind, accommodating and easy to be around.  Some of our traditions have had to be tweaked over the years for in-laws and such.  It’s no big deal.  Remember to be a light to your family, friends and neighbors. Jesus is still the reason for the season.

Share one of your tradition in the comments.  I would love to read about them.

Advent, Redemption

For All the World He Came: An Advent Meditation


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Universal Fall and Redemption

Humanity is unique. It is the pinnacle of God’s creation. The universe, world, and its inhabitants were spoken into existence (Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24). Man, alone, was formed by God (Gen. 2:7). Man, alone, had life breathed into him (Gen. 2:7). The Creator displayed affectionate intimacy with this created being. Man had the distinct honor of bearing God’s own image (Gen. 1:27). Mankind was not created out of necessity but out of the surging overflow of God’s love. God’s good love crafted in man the capacity to enjoy a relationship with his Creator.

Adam, the first man, enjoyed this intimacy with God. He walked with God. The world was as it should be. Everything was good. It was paradise.

This blissful state would not last forever. Tragically, Adam sinned. He rebelled against his good, kind, Creator and Companion. Adam plunged humanity deep into the harsh consequences of sin, taking the world with it (Rom. 8:22). Man, now, was faced with being separated from his satisfying Companion, God. He would now experience death, both physical and spiritual. His home would no longer be the cool, lush Garden of Eden, but the scorching pain and suffering of a broken world. Mankind was drowning in the ocean of his own making. He was now “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1).

But the King, the Lord of the Universe, did not stand by while humanity damned itself. The King is kind. The King is good. This King did not remain in his heavenly court while his subjects died. He condescended to the world.  The transcendent God became a man. He joined humanity in its broken world. From child sacrifice to good works, Humanity has crafted religions  that seek to appease God for salvation. The liberating truth, though, is that the good King gave Himself for humanity’s salvation.

The arrival of the long anticipated Messiah came in the stink of a manger, with little fanfare. Empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38) Jesus was the perfect man. He lived a life of total obedience and fulfilled the law (Matt. 5:17). He lived the life Adam never could for the sake of the whole world. Adam through sin brought death to all, but Christ through death, brought life to all (Rom. 5:12-21). This atonement,  the laying of all our sin on Jesus was predicted long before his arrival (Isa. 53:6). Jesus was rightly identified by John as the “Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the whole world” (John 1:29). His atoning death was for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2). He “tasted death for everyman” (Heb. 2:9)  so that all may live (2 Cor. 5:14-15). His death was a ransom for all (1 Tim. 2:6). He died even for His enemies (Rom. 5:8, 10 ), and those that deny Him (2 Pet. 2:1 ). His death was the reconciliation of all things to himself, including his prized image bearers: humanity (2 Cor. 5:19; Col. 1:20).

“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father,” Jesus said (John 14:9). Jesus, God the Son, is the fullest picture of the Father (Col. 2:9). It was the Father that loved the world so much that he gave his Son for its redemption (John 3:16). He sent “his Son to be Savior of the World” (1 John 4:14), because he is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 2:9). Because of Adam’s sin, the Father “consigned all to disobedience, that he might have mercy on all” (Rom. 11:32). He commands “all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). He is kind enough, through Christ and the Holy Spirit, to draw all men to Himself (John 6:44 12:32). His grace has “appeared, bringing salvation for all people” (Titus 2:11).

For all the world the King came. He joined His creatures, partaking in humanity: eating, sleeping, weeping. In the fullest expression of love, this King laid his life down for all. He now works to expand his Kingdom by wooing his rebellious creatures with his love, commanding them to submit to his good and kind lordship.

Advent and its worshipful culmination on Christmas Day is the celebration of this King’s universal, redemptive condescension to humanity. Anticipating his blessed nativity, we remember our own sinful hearts, desperately in need of a Savior. Surrounded by family and friends, we remember his love for all. In our giving of gifts, we reflect the King who gave himself as the greatest gift to all of mankind. Christmas is the yearly reminder of the loving God, the King of all, who gave himself for everyone.

Mild He lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth;
Born to give them second birth.

Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conquering seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.

Now display thy saving power,
Ruined nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to thine.

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface;
Stamp Thy image in its place.
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in thy love.

Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the life, the inner Man:
O! to all thyself impart,
Form’d in each believing heart.

~Charles Wesley