An Investment Tip Every Family Needs to Hear

Man today has been crazy!  Not unusual or out of the ordinary mind you…just another typical crazy day.  When your kids get older and more involved in activities, it seems like you are just running ragged almost everyday.  In the midst of all this, I have discovered a phenomenon that has occurred in our house.  Some of you may be able to relate to this, and some maybe not.  We have began investing tons of time in the future.  Garrett wants to play college baseball and attend a good university.  Amanda wants to go back to gymnastics and become a baker.  Caleb wants to play soccer and every other sport that we will let him play.  Gavin wants to learn to play as many musical instruments as possible and he wants to work with animals maybe.  In the midst of all these precious arrows of mine growing up, we are constantly planning and looking ahead for them.  Play for this team, take this private lesson, go to this camp, take this class.  Whew!  I’m exhausted just talkin’ about it.

Now you might be thinking, that’s not a phenomenon.  Lots of people do that.  It’s very common.   And I would agree.  But the phenomenon is this.  In the midst of this lifestyle of investing in each individual kids’ aspirations, hopes and dreams, we have neglected one huge thing.  We are so busy enjoying and living life as individuals that we have honestly forgotten how to enjoy life together.  Everyone seems to be living in their own world.  We are not living life as a family, together, today.  We are constantly looking ahead, as individuals, to tomorrow.

God’s Word whispers loudly to me right here with these words, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34  We have gotten a little off track here in recent months as a family.  We have been investing in and worrying about the future at the expense of today.  We have created an atmosphere that does more planning than living and more discussing than enjoying.  We have neglected living life today on a daily basis.  And we have neglected enjoying each other.

Now I know a lot you dads and moms out there, fellow trees like me and my wife, can relate to every word.  Some of you maybe not cause your kids are younger, but lemme tell ya….it’s comin’.  Let me encourage all of us.  Do not neglect today at the expense of tomorrow.  Do not pursue life as individuals and neglect togetherness.  We must invest in Today & Togetherness.  This is a true investment of love that God desires much more than constantly planning the future that we do not control and cannot predict.  So my prayer for all of us parents with little arrows we are trying to raise up and care for so that we can shoot them straightly out into the world, let’s make our primary investment an investment of love.  An investment in our family that embraces today and enjoys life together and trusts God with the future.

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Cooking without Seasoning…YUCK!

Now I’m no expert chef.  I do enjoy cooking and tinkering in the kitchen a little.  One thing I have found to be true no matter what it is that you are cooking, and that is the importance of seasoning.  Whether you are baking a homemade lemon cake (see recipe below), that requires just the right amount of sugar and lemon to achieve just the right zing!  Or if you are brewing up a nice pot of homemade chili ( see recipe below) that needs cumin and onions and peppers to give it just the right kick!  No matter what the cooking endeavor, seasoning is uncompromisable.  You simply can’t cook without seasoning of some kind.

Now I’m no expert Christian either.  But one thing I have found to be true.  We must live out our Christian faith with flavor.  The Lord Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?  It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”  We are supposed to be the seasoning to the world.  We as believers are the ones that give people that flavor, that taste, that desired result that everyone is looking and searching for in their lives.  But if we have lost our flavor as followers of the Lord Jesus, then we are worthless to the world.  Imagine a lemon cake without lemon.  I chuckled out loud as I typed that.  I mean how ridiculous is that?  A lemon cake without lemon, well that’s not a lemon cake at all.  And the same is true for us as believers.  A believer that doesn’t salt the earth with God’s love and the message of Jesus Christ, well that’s no believer at all.

So what does it mean for a Christian to be the salt of the earth?  How do we show people the ZING and the KICK that their life is missing without Jesus?  In 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 we see this, “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”  Here’s what I hear God telling us in this passage.  We don’t have to be eloquent.  We don’t have to have a speech prepared.  We don’t have to be experts in the Bible.  But we have to be believers who are obedient.  We have to be willing to talk to people about our faith.  We have to have courage.  I am reminded of the movie We Bought a Zoo.  At one point in the movie the father tells his son, “you just need 20 seconds of courage.  20 seconds of ridiculous bravery and something amazing will happen.”  This is exactly what we as Christians need, just 20 seconds of courage.  Just 20 seconds to step out of our comfort zone and be brave.

God gives us opportunities to have courage every single day.  Here’s what it looks like:  You see someone sitting alone at lunch.  20 seconds of bravery – you go sit with them.  As you are on your way to work you see a car broke down on the side of the road.  20 seconds of bravery – you stop and help.  You are checking out at the store.  20 seconds of bravery – you ask the clerk how she is doing and if there is anything you can pray for her.  You are playing golf with a friend.  20 seconds of bravery – you turn the conversation in a spiritual direction and ask what they believe about God.  You are at home in the evening and the whole family is watching tv.  20 seconds of bravery – turn off the tv and have a short Bible reading and prayer time with the family.  You are talking with your son or daughter about a problem they are having.  20 seconds of bravery – Grab their hand and say let me pray about that with you right now.  And this list could go on forever.

As believers we are not called to be experts.  We are not called to be polished speakers.  We are called to be the salt of the earth and to be obedient.  You can’t cook without seasoning.  And a believer who doesn’t actively live out his faith…YUCK!  God gives us opportunities every single day.  20 seconds of courage.  20 seconds of incredible bravery.  You can do it!

Grandma Lierly’s Lemon Cake                                            Greenwood’s Go Pokes Chili

1 box lemon or yellow cake mix                                           1 lb ground beef browned

1 small box lemon jello                                                           1 lb sausage browned

3/4 cup vegetable oil                                                               3 cans diced tomatoes not drained

3/4 cup water                                                                            2 cans kidney beans not drained

4 eggs                                                                                          2 cans black beans not drained

1 T lemon juice                                                                          1 onion chopped

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Pour               1 Green Bell Pepper chopped

in 9 x 13 baking pan.  Bake at 350 until toothpick            1 Poblano Pepper chopped

comes out clean.  While cake is hot, make icing.               3-5 cloves garlic chopped

Put 2-3 cups powdered sugar in bowl with 6 T                  3-5 whole garlic cloves

lemon juice.  Mix well and pour over hot cake.                 3-4 T chili powder

2 T ground cumin

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

optional 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Cook in crockpot on low for 8 hrs

 

 

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Wait Does Not Mean Wait

Wait Does Not Mean Wait.

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Wait Does Not Mean Wait

A familiar verse to many of us is Isaiah 40:31.  God’s Word tells us, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  I love this verse.  It gives me great encouragement and peace knowing that God is going to be there for me, especially when I need strength.  But this verse in its English translation does not really mean what we think it does.  The Hebrew word for wait is qavah.  This means to bind together or twist, like a rope.  It’s not what we think wait means at all.  So let’s read this verse again, “But those who bind themselves together with the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  Our strength comes not when we sit and wait for God, but when we bind ourselves together with Him.  We must be bound together with God.  We must stay connected to God in prayer.  We must stay connected to God in His Holy Word.  We must stay connected to God through fellow believers.  And this truth we must exhibit and teach to our children.  My sons and daughter need to know how to be strong.   And it is my job to teach them and show them how to be strong.  Our strength comes from God.  We must be a people who don’t sit idly waiting for God, but we very actively stay connected with God.  As the verse goes on to say:  God gives us wings to soar.  God helps us run without getting tired.  And God helps keep us on our feet.  Bind yourselves together with God each day, and teach and model for your kids this life changing truth too!

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Basketball, Ping Pong and Jesus

God wants you and I to understand that He has gifted and equipped each and every one of us to not only serve Him, but to minister to others.  Yes God has given you a specific gift with which you are to use to minister the Lord Jesus to others.  God tells us in 1 Peter 4:10, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 

I tell people all the time, I only know two things:  Jesus and Sports.  And God in His amazing grace put these two together for me.  God has blessed me with gifts and abilities in almost all sports and recreation activities.  When I was in my early 20s, God helped me to realize through this verse that he wants me to use sports and recreation as a way to talk to others about Jesus.

I have found that when you share a common interest with someone it opens us an immediate door of communication.  You have an instant bond with someone because you both play basketball, or you both enjoy ping pong or you are both soccer or baseball fans.  God opened my eyes to see the opportunity here.  But also, God showed me the responsibility I have to these people I share sports with, to tell them about Jesus.

I have talked to more people about Jesus on the basketball court or across the ping pong table than anywhere else in my life.  I praise God for the gifts He has given me and that He showed me how to use my gifts to serve Him and share with others.  How has God gifted you?  In what areas of your life and in what ways has God equipped you to minister to others?  For me it’s basketball, ping pong and many other sports and recreation activities.  Thank you Jesus for using me and my abilities to tell others about You.

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Be a Tree!

Be a Tree!.

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Embrace the Joy :)

 

When I read Acts chapter 13, the thing I see more than anything else is believers that are excited.  I see believers excited about Jesus!  I see believers that are excited about the forgiveness and salvation they have received.  But mostly, I see believers that are excited to share the good news of Jesus with others.  They count it a privilege, an honor, and a blessing to tell others about Jesus.  They look for and take advantage of every opportunity to tell others about the redemption that they can have in Jesus Christ.  And as you see in verses 50-52, even when these believers are persecuted and ran out of the city, they are filled with joy.  Why do they have joy?  Because they have Jesus!  And when you have Jesus you have joy everlasting.  You need only to embrace it by sharing Him with others.

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