Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful for PRS?

PRS [not PMS!!! Ha ha ha?] is how you become and stay Christian. You practice the presence of God 24/7 listening twice as much as you talk [prayer].

You read the Bible for a relationship not just research since Jesus Himself said all Scripture points to him [according to John 5:39]. And then, you do what you can to live grace. And
when God opens the door, you share what you've heard back from Him.

That's it. Anybody telling you otherwise is selling you something. Are you thankful for PRS? Click the pic to watch, listen, or read any of the PRS messages in their entirety. Or click the triangular play button below to watch a few LOL ways NOT to share your faith!!!

Why Should We Spend Less This Christmas?

Because Christmas is not your birthday, it's Christ's [though he was probably NOT born DEC 25, we still celebrate his birth during this season]!!! And when Jesus was born, he only got 3 presents [see Matthew 2:11] — most of which a child wouldn't even like! But today, Americans spend $450 billion/year on Christmas. About $900/family. While only $10 billion could solve the entire world's water problem!!! [click triangular play button below to see how!!!]

So this year, I'm challenging my church to spend less and give more presence. In doing so, I'm not suggesting you not give your kids any gifts this Christmas. I'm simply suggesting that as parents, we give them no more than Jesus got! Three! Doing so will teach our kids that you cannot serve God and money. It will free resources to pour into the local church and non-profit organizations that need help. And it will remind us that Christmas and really, being a follower of Christ on every day, is about giving not getting.

If giving three gifts is too radical, perhaps you could:
  • make some of your gifts instead of buying them [generations did it this way!!!]
  • set a budget and commit to a no credit card Christmas
  • consider drawing names instead of giving everyone gifts
  • give one or two less gifts than last year donating the difference
  • read Luke 2:21-39 and ask your family: what emotions did seeing Jesus arouse in Simeon and Anna? Why was Jesus enough for them?
  • read James 5:1-6 and ask your family: what are some specific sins condemned in this passage? What are the consequences of putting trust in wealth or riches?
  • rent and discuss the DVD What Would Jesus Buy? [click triangular play button below for a preview]

Can Music Help Us Pray?

Last time I talked about how Brother Lawrence in his [really] old school book The Practice of the Presence of God taught us that prayer is keeping company with God who is already present. And I promised you a few ways I routinely experience this kind of prayer beyond the meal and outside of church. So here you go. The first way is through nature [see my post on Geocaching for more info]. The second is through providential circumstances [remind me to tell you about those some time!!!]. And a third [of at least six I experience all the time] is music. But not just church music. All music. Which was a huge epiphany to John Bunyan’s church in the 1600s.

Because until the 17th century people had sung only the psalms and paraphrases of Scripture. Hymns introduced secular poetry into the church. And they were convinced that was evil. Even if the poetry overtly talked about God! Apparently, they weren’t aware that the Holy Spirit inspired the Bible writers to add at least 4 pieces of "secular" poetry straight into the Bible. There are probably more, but scholars agree at least these four places in Scripture were based on then well known secular poems or songs. They are John 1:1-18, Philippians 2:6-11, Colossians 1:15-20; and 1 Timothy 3:16.

That's why on my iPod and on my blog, there’s a continually rotating playlist of all kinds of songs that remind me about Jesus. I added some of my Thanksgiving Faves this week. So click the triangular play button to the right and listen for some for some of your own since Psalm 40:3 says God will "Put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD." What songs have helped you practice the presence of God? How has music of any kind helped you speak and hear from God? Ask me about how God used a Bruce Springsteen song to speak to me!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Who Loves Autumn?

I do! It's my fave season. Here's a few things we've been doing lately. The kids LOVED the hayride and bonfire a few weeks ago. Josh even got to drive the GINORMOUS John Deere tractor. We picked pumpkins in a field and took them home to carve. The kids dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood and Bumblebee the Transformer. Marty took me to a Monday night football game in Maryland. Too bad the Redskins got crushed! Our church hosted a bell choir concert with 1k bells! A film crew from a Japanese TV station filmed life in America from one of our church member's point of view including part of church last week. Barkley had anethesia to get his tiny sharp teeth cleaned. And Jackie and I went on a spiritual advance [a.k.a retreat] to a very quiet place with rowdy nuns and geese.

Still coming is Pinewood Derby NOV 14, Film Fest #4 NOV 21 in addition to a recap from the West Virginia mission trip, Little Minnow Awards, and another wedding NOV 21!!! What have you been doing? Who else STILL loves autumn?

A Spiritual Advance?

Some stores celebrate Christmas in July; this year we’re going to celebrate Easter in December. The winter season is ripe with imagery of death and rebirth—the journey from Friday’s crucifixion toward Sunday’s resurrection. And YOU are invited to experience this spiritual advance with me!!! [Editorial note: a "spiritual advance" is similar to a spiritual retreat, but I like this term better cause it implies going forward not backward with God!!!]

For guests there is no leading, just absorbing and eating and learning and enjoying!!! Meaningful hands-on children's programming will be available simultaneously by students from Andrews University so the entire family can be empowered to reach out in service that is loving, passionate, and eternal [click pic to register online or click here to download the brochure].

The cost for this advance is free, but we are looking for fifty people to donate $20 to help defray food and center rental costs. Please RSVP by December 1 to Dee Caulder at the Toledo First Adventist Church office: 419-882-6200 or email her at dee@toledofirstadventist.org. If you would like more information or if you are able to make a donation, please contact Pastor Rachel Davies at 419-320-3516. You do NOT need to be a member of Toledo First to participate.

Would God Have Us?

Over three hundred years ago, an uneducated cook in a French monastery known as Brother Lawrence discovered how to enjoy a profound awareness of God moment by moment, even in the midst of busyness and distraction. A little book called “The Practice of the Presence of God” compiled from his letters has been translated into English and become a classic on the devotional life permanently warping [in a good way!!!] my understanding of prayer. I used to think prayer was about making lists and asking for stuff. For myself and for other people. And certainly, that is an appropriate use of prayer. Or Jesus would have never encouraged us to "ask and you shall receive." But prayer cannot be limited to lists because prayer is about listening twice as much we talk! It's about the inevitable relationship that grows when we keep company with God. Not just at church or before meals, but during every waking moment of our lives. Listen to Brother Lawrence explain why:

There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God: those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it; yet I do not advise you to do it from that motive; it is not pleasure which we ought to seek in this exercise; but let us do it from a principle of love, and because God would have us.

Aren't you glad loves us like crazy and "would have us"! How did I not know when done unto God, that ALL work is sacred? How have I missed that every moment is prayer!!! Stay tuned next time for a few ways I've experieced God in prayer beyond the meal and outside of church!!! Click pic to purchase this [really] old-school stocking stuffer!!!