Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sharing God's Eternal Word

"The grass withers, and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord remains forever."
 1 Peter 1:24b-25a

Photo by Carole S. Amateis 2012

"This portion of Scripture is such  a comfort to me."

Surrounded by a world that is constantly changing and living among "things" that will not last forever, God's Word is constant and unchanging.  Much like God Himself.
What a blessing to count:-)

The longer I am on this earth, the less material possessions mean to me.  I am seeing where the true value is in life - relationships with God, family, friends and making a positive difference in the lives of others.

For years I have had the opportunity to teach God's Word to youth and children and have given an occasional sermon to adults. Currently I am pursuing my music endeavors for the Lord and I miss teaching.  But I found a way to reach out to my youngest granddaugther who lives some distance from me.

I started a project called "Gram's Bible Vitamins".  It is so much fun to create pages for her to dig into the Scriptures to find the answers.  I began the 5-page booklet by writing. "Researching and reading the Bible, which has terrific stories in it, can be fun!  At least, I think so.  See what you discover:-)" 

The worksheets cover both the New and Old Testament - there are some multiple choice questions and bonus questions where she needs to fill in the blanks.  There is one section called "The Book of the Month" - for July it is Proverbs - very fitting since that is what we are studying in church right now:-)  As I wrote out the true and false statements it was also a review for this "Gram"!

A memorization exercise is also included - I learned long ago that planting God's Word in your mind is very powerful and the Holy Spirit brings God's Words to mind just when we seem to need them most:-) It is remarkable!

I also included a section entitled:  "What can Gram learn from my Granddaughter?"  It asks her what insights she had while searching through the Scriptures and answering the questions.  I am sure, knowing Molly, she will give me some food for thought:-)

The Fun Page should suit my artistic granddaughter very well.  I started a drawing placing lines and shapes in certain spots on the page.  It is her challenge to finish it - I can't wait to see what she draws - I know it will be awesome as she is so talented.

Any day now I should be receiving Molly's responses in the mail.  It will be so delightful to see how she did and especially learn of her own insights and what she drew.  But probably the best part is knowing that she is growing closer to the Lord through this process.  YES!!!! 

So, if you are a granny out there and your grandchildren live far away from you, this may be one idea you could use; not only to bring them closer to Jesus but to create a special bond between you and them.

I did a similar project with my grandson years ago who is now a sophomore in high school!   We wrote stories back and forth.  He would write his part and mail it to  me and then I would write my part and mail it back.  We used our imaginations a lot! We came up with some pretty good stories.  He even read one story to his classmates at his elementary school.   His teacher and the class seemed to really enjoy it. I have offered wondered if we should get one of those stories published.  

The Bible is full of wonderful stories - I think sometimes we forget that.  God must have known that we humans can relate to stories - and each and every one has a lesson to it.  The parables that Jesus taught are awesome - no wonder He had the people's attention whenever He told them. 

The thing that is so remarkable is tthat those parables were told thousands of years ago.  And yet, they still apply to every day life in 2012 - and we are reminded again that the "Word of the Lord endures forever."  May we never forget that fact.

How do you share God's Word with others? 

I hope this post has inspired you to read your Bible every day - morning is best - the day goes much better if you start it with God from the very beginning - I don't always  get that accomplished, but I strive to.

And if you have a friend - young, old or in between, a grandchild, a youth or child that is a neighbor - reach out to them through the week; share you faith in the Lord - don't always leave it to the churches to do the work - we can be teaching, reaching and sharing all week long:-)  I have often said one hour of Sunday School is just not enough! And it is not.  Especially in today's world.

Thanks for visiting my post and God's richest blessings to you!  I look forward to hearing from you as always - sorry it has been awhile since I have written:-)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Laughter Blessings

"A joyful heart is good medicine."  Proverbs 17:22

In my view, this polar bear at the Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo  has a joyful heart as he leisurely swims on a hot summer day!  Little did he know that he brought joy to my heart when I captured him with my camera at just the right moment.  God has given us so much to enjoy!

What brings your heart joy? 

 What makes you laugh? 

               Photo by Carole S. Amateis 2012

 I have found it to be so true that laughter is one of the best medicines for the soul.  God's Word is pretty clear about it and so there you have it!

Sometimes when life throws me some curve balls that I don't expect, laughing can help ease the pain - even if I don't really feel like being cheerful!

If you ever find yourself feeling sad, think of the times when you have laughed.  Do some memory searching and recall happenings, converstaions, or perhaps some experiences that were not funny at the time but later became so. 

"Laughter blessings" we shall call them - that God has bestowed upon you and me.

Perhaps you may want to pause after you read this to recall some of your own or to write them down.

I will get us started by sharing a few of my own.

Reflecting upon some of my "laughter blessings".

As a child, I ate so many dill pickles before a Christmas Dinner that before we sat down to eat I was covered in hives and itching all over - obviously, I had eaten too many but it required no medical attention.  Just lots of calamine lotion and some chuckles at the table:-)

I once got stopped twice by a police officer for a traffic offense and only got a warning.  But, he kept following me once it was settled and he eventually flashed on the red and blue lights again!  What now, I thought? "Sorry to stop you again mam," he kindly said, "but your purse is riding on your trunk".

Once when my grandkids were riding with me in the car on a starlit night my toddler grandson looked up into the sky and said, "God is a pretty good illustrator, isn't he grandma?" Joy radiated inside me:-)  "Yes, He is," I said.

Living in an old farm house always puts you at risk for seeing mice.  But I did not expect to see one doing the backstroke in the bathtub one morning when I sat down on the toilet.  I screamed and my husband grabbed the plunger and stopped the critter in mid-stroke!

One time I heard my young son talking in his sleep a short time after he had went to bed.  I asked him what he was doing as he sat up feeling around on the bedspread for something.  He said, he was hunting for mustaches. Well, okay then!

After a long day of shopping with my Jr High daughter for clothes we got back to the parking lot and she said - that was quite the es  cape  aid!!!  She meant escapade, of course. Now she's a novelist!

My preschool granddaughter was really concerned about the sun one day.  A cloud had covered it.  "The sun can't breathe!" she said. Her mom reassured her that all would be well.

I have been known to drive vehicles even when the gas gage indicates empty.  One summer,I drove my son's pick-up home packed with his college stuff and was so proud when I made it right to the house. But, the next morning it would not start.  It was completely out of gas. Time to get the gas jug!

I was literally expecting to find plastic tips from needles and thermometers in my bag once I returned home from surgery. Even though groggy,  I swore the male nurse was tossing them in there each time he came to my room. I thought it rather rude really. As he made the throwing motion with his arm, he said, "made it again". I remarked that he should join my son's basketball team; he was such a good shot. He laughed. Guess what?  When I got home, there was not one plastic tip in my bag. He had completely fooled me.

While working as a sub at a local school, it was announced on the news cast for social studies class that elderly people were starting to play video games at an increasing rate.  One fifth grade boy looked very seriously at his classmate and said, "This is not good news!"

As a town girl, I was doing my best to help out on the farm. One night I was out checking cattle during calving season.  Most were lying down in the straw but I was sure a calf was on the way for one cow.  I hurried to the house to awaken my husband.  He came out and when he shinned the flashlight towards the animal, he said, quite frankly, "That is the bull."  Oops!

One day on our farm, my oldest son and his toddler brother rode the three wheeler out to get the mail.  Placing the mail on the kitchen table, my eyes met the oldest ones in shock when we heard the three wheeler take off.  Toddler brother had decided to drive it on his own and ran straight into a hog shed - no injuries reported thank God.   

During a holiday football game between family members, my two year old grandaugther was a little cheerleader.  Standing there watching the game with us, she contiuned to yell at the top of her lungs "Goooo Ball!"  p.s. she later became a high school cheerleader:-)

So used to using modern gadgets, I was in such a hurry one day that I walked up to my house and hit the remote on my car keys thinking it would open the door.  What is wrong with this stupid thing?  Well actually, nothing; just another blonde moment!

Speaking of cars, one day I came out of the grocery store and hit the keys on my remote to open the door on my car - well, at least it looked like my car.  When I got inside it smelled like smoke with stuff about that I did not recognize. The owner had left it unlocked and my car, well, it was down a few stalls! I quickly exited hoping no one had noticed!

As a writer, my first published work is like no other.  I was notorious for writing notes to my friends at school.  During one high school study hall class I was caught passing a note to a friend.  The note was about a boy, of course.  The teacher asked me to make copies and pass it around to everyone in the class. By the end of the day, it was all over the school.  I decided to apologize to the boy.  However, it never stopped me from writing notes. I have written alot since that day - but most got published as newspaper articles in regional papers:-)

And one last moment to share for now. . . . . . If you ever need your house painted, don't call me.  One hot, summer day, I tripped going down the steps carrying a bucket of green paint.  The lovely green color covered the step AND even worse, my nearby car. Reaction?  Panic!!!!  I grabbed the soap, the hose, a brush and moved like crazy.  Exhausted, I finally got it all washed off.  But, I waited a day before I picked up a can of paint again.

Hope you enjoyed this post! 

God bless you and take a moment to recall some "laughter blessings" in your life!

I hope God will  lift you up through this gift
He has given us:-)

Thank you for visiting my blog:-)  Sorry, it has been awhile since I have written!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." Hebrews 13:8

 "Sprinkle me with the cleansing blood and I shall be clean again. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow."  Psalms 51:7

Amid a life of many transitions, I rejoice that Jesus, my Lord and Savior never changes. Nor does His Word.

One of those transitions for me recently has been searching for a home church.  Anyone who has experienced this may know that it is not an easy process.  Especially in this day and age when many churches have dramatically changed the manner in which they worship the Lord.

I am having quite the struggle with some churches who seem to have become more like the secular world.  In Romans 12, Paul tells us "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think."  

Some may call me old fashioned and I don't mind if they do. I don't think I should be entertained when I go to worship the Lord.  And I desire a time of reverence and quiet reflection to confess my sins - on my knees, if possible. Following one service I attended recently, I came home, lit a candle and read my Bible to have a quiet time with God. There was just no time at the service to do so.  Not that I am saying worship services should be completely quiet! 

The balance of joyfulness and reflection seemed to be off at this particular church and in others I have visited. I have asked myself, are some churches seemingly becoming like the world to reach people for Christ?  If so, is He, Himself, the living Christ, not sufficient?  Did he not warn us not to do this?  In the book of Matthew, Jesus said "You are the world's seasoning, to make it tolerable. If you lose your flavor what will happen to the world?"

There's always been some differences among bodies of Christian believers - how they want to worship and what they believe.  I respect those differences.  Therefore, we do have a number of denominations across the United States. The various interpretations of the Holy Scriptures seems to have been a contributing factor.  But the basic truths of God's Word still remained a common thread.

However, during the last three or four decades, that thread is weakening. Some Christian churches have went through extreme change -not only in the way they worship the Lord but in their doctrine. Some are turning from the truth of God's Word and bringing worldly ways into their sanctuaries. This brings great sadness to my soul and concern for the future of the chruch.  And thus, I struggle to find my spot.  Where does God want me?

Sometimes I wish I could walk into a country church along the prairie in the 1800's where the Old, Old Story is being told including some reference to that word.  That word that seems to be missing in many churches today. Sin. Yes, that word that is mentioned in the Scripture many times over.  I asked some Sunday School children about sin recently and they did not know what it meant.  That was an eye-opener.   

It is true that God hates sin. People never have liked to hear about it and still don't, me included. So, in order to keep people filling the churches, could it be that some pastors and leaders are choosing not to mention it much? It appears we all want to feel good, have an uplifting worship service, experience the wonderful love of God and fellowship with one another.  

That is all well and good but does not cover all the bases.  Now days, it takes a very brave pastor to preach about what they used to call "hell and brimstone."  But if your pastor does, it is because He loves and cares for his sheep as Christ cares for you.  Rejoice!!!

If you really think about the core of Christianity -if we had never sinned there would be no Christian faith.  Yes, God is a God of love but He is also a God of justice and guidance.

  As I reflect upon the Ten Commandments, each is related to a sin that God warns us not to do.  Why?  Because He loves us.  He wants our lives to reflect His guidance and for us to experience abundant life only He can provide. 

Ultimately, He knew we would fail and sin.  Sinful people cannot have eternal life. But God loved us so much He made a way for us to become holy (or without sin) so we can enter heaven and live forever.  Thank you Father!

He sent Jesus to earth as a man. Jesus taught people about love but He also made it plain that all of us are sinners. He spoke about true repentance, telling us how we could be born again. How struggling with sin would be a never ending battle while on earth and to expect it. But, assuring us that He would be here  to help us through the power of the Holy Spirit and we could be forgiven when we sin.

But we have to do our part. We have to believe Jesus died for our sins, and accept Him as our personal Savior. To repent and confess our sins and to accept His merciful forgiveness. And we have to be willing to change our sinful habits and live as Christ would want us to for we have been made clean through the blood of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. It is that plain and that simple.

I started to read and study the book of Acts in my quest for a body of believers that are Bibilcally solid and where I can serve and worship the Lord.  It has really been a blessing.

I am reading about how they often met in small groups in homes, took communion together and were filled with the Holy Spirit. I am learning about the boldness the apostles had when they shared the message of Christ.  It took courage. Stephen was remarkable.(Acts 7) He told it like it was. And he died for it.  As I reflected about his experience I had to ask myself, would I be willing to die for the sake of Christ and the Gospel?  Would you? 

Where can I serve the Lord with the gifts He has given me?  Where can I worship Him in a way that is respectful, reverent, honorable and gives me the opportunity to lift my hands in praise but also kneel to confess my sins?

God knows and I am trusting Him to show me:-)

Blessing to you, thank you for visiting my blog.:-)

How about you, do you have a home church? 
        How do you worship the Lord?