Thursday, January 31, 2013

Winter Getaways From Mom and Dad!

Every once and awhile your kid needs a break from mom and dad.  Our kids needed a break!  So, they went two different directions.  

My oldest went to a winter camp with her youth group for four days!  She had a great time.  Here are some pictures she took and some of her camp!
Great Services!
Great Speaker, Brian Pruit
Great Snow!
Scary Games!
Fun Games!
New Friends!
My middle girl went on an over night trip, Winter Blast, with kids group from church!  She stayed up way to late and had too much fun here are some of her pictures mixed with others.
Great Service!
Great Speaker, Pastor Kelly Presson
New Freinds!
Pure Fun1
Silly Pictures!
Memories to last a lifetime!

2 very happy kids + 2 very happy parents= 1 very happy family!

You Think You Are So Smart?!

James 3: 13-18 (NLT)

13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

I would like to think I am a pretty wise girl at the ripe age of almost 37.  I am wise enough to know that I do not know diddly squat.  Just when I think I have it all figured out, God shows me how much I do not know.  I like this definition of wisdom from

Wisdom: knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just 
judgment as to action

Wisdom is not just knowing a lot of things in your head.  Wisdom is also being able to act in a just way.  I want to be wise in all that I say and do.  I do not want to be an idiot.  Hahahaha Easier said than done! 

God so easily puts us in check.  I think some Christians can be so arrogant sometimes.   They walk around puffed up saying, “Look at me and how ‘Christian’ I am being!”  I love how He makes a simple statement to bring our attitudes into a proper perspective in verse 13.  If you think you are wise, understand God, and are all that and a bag of chips put your money where your mouth is….Prove it!

How do we prove it? 

  1. By living an honorable life
  2. Doing good works with humility that comes from wisdom (if wisdom comes from God than we realize that we can do nothing without Him…so we can’t be prideful about what we do.)
  3. Not being bitterly jealous
  4. Not having selfish ambition in your heart
  5. Not covering up truth by boasting and lying

That is a pretty plain and simple list.  I wish more Christians followed it.  But, I also understand that we are all not perfect even Christians, that is for sure.  And just like other Christians, Christ is working in me.  He is making me more like Him and we are all in that process.  I must be careful to encourage those "being washed"; because we are in all various stages of growth.  

Yup, that cutie is me!
We don’t come to Jesus clean up.  He is always scrubbing away something, thank goodness.  We are born with this sinful, selfish nature.  We are all pretty dirty (vs.14-16).   I love this line from a song by Colton Dixon’s song “You Are”

When all my dirtiness has left me helpless. 
You are the rain that washes me.

I want God’s rain to wash me.  I want His wisdom in my life.

If we understand where wisdom comes from and we figure out to ask for it then God gives us His wisdom.  When we allow the wisdom of God to flow through us we can be that definition of wisdom I stated earlier.  We can have “knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action”. 

Because godly wisdom “from above” is….
Peace loving
Gentle at all times
Willing to yield to others
Full of mercy
Full of good deeds
Shows no favoritism
Always sincere
Plants seeds of peace
Reaps a harvest of righteousness.

I want this list to describe me.  If it does not, I better figure out what God needs to clean up some more.  I don’t want the old me to rise up.  

I do not want to be jealous; it only leaves me unsatisfied.  
I do not want to have selfish ambition; it only leaves me lonely.  
I do not want to cover up truth with lies; it only leaves me in disillusion. 

I want to prove it by living a life full of God’s wisdom flowing in me and through me.  I can only do it by His help!

I want to prove it!  

Do you need wisdom today?  Maybe, you are facing some really hard junky life stuff?  God wants to give you His wisdom. He knows the beginning from the end.  He knows what is in your heart and He has a plan for you.  He wants to give you hope.  He wants to help you know what to do.  He does not leave us alone.  You do not have to wonder anymore.  He wants to have a relationship with you.  He loves you and He wants you to love Him back.  All you have to do is start by asking Him to be in your life from this day forward.  If you don’t know Jesus, you can.  Down at the bottom of my blog are some buttons you can click on to learn more about having a relationship with God.  You only are guaranteed this moment; do not let it slip away.  

I love this song!  Thanks Colton Dixon!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Nasty Words

James 3:1-12

Me, in the white dress,
 listening to my 1st grade teacher.
My first grade teacher would always tell us,   “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything!”  These are words to live by, words to remember for sure.  However, actually doing it, well if you are anything like me, is easier said than done.  Sometimes nasty words just fly out of my mouth and once said they can’t be unsaid.  I hate it when I do that.

Before I get too involved in pulling apart this section of scripture, I think we need to remember a few things.  James is talking to Jewish Christians.  Naturally, the church is beginning to grow and the gospel is being spread.  Our author is instructing them to be careful about being teachers.  Especially, he is addressing your actions not matching your faith, more specifically your words.  James expresses the seriousness of being a teacher of the Word and how our words can shame Jesus or bring His life.  Even today, so much damage to Christ’s message can happen when the bearers mutilate it with their words from their mouth. 

I think we learn three things from this passage of James. 

Our words can be powerful!
Vs. 5 the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches

I like the picture of a ship that James uses!

We went on a cruise and I was amazed on how this giant ship moved across the water.  Now the rudder I am sure was huge in comparison to little ole me.  But in comparison to the giant cruise ship it is not all that big.  The rudder moving just the tiniest of motion to the left or right can change the course of direction for that ship.  It can send us exactly to our destination or out in the middle of the ocean if not carefully controlled by the captain of that ship.

I control the direction of my words.  I can either direct them to life or death.  I can bring hope or destruction.  I can say very prideful things or I can keep humble silence.  I am the ships captain of my words.  I can steer them in the direction I choose.  But from the heart the mouth speaks. 

Luke 6:45
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

I can encourage my children or I can tear them down.  I can say words of love to my husband or I can push him away with word of bitterness.  I can share Christ with those around me or I can say nothing.  I can lift up my brothers and sisters in Christ or I can tear them down.  I can say words of love to my enemy or I can say words of hate.  I am the captain of my words.  Which direction will I go?  Will I go towards Christ or in the opposite direction?

Our words can be deadly!
vs. 6 the tongue is a flame of fire

James uses a forest fire to also show how destructive, deadly our words can be.  Our words can ignite something so awful and completely devastating that there maybe nothing to repair the damage except through the power of a loving God... healing can come.

There is this area in northern Michigan, that I have driven through countless times, that was destroyed by a forest fire.  The damage was very extensive.  It has taken years for new growth to take place.  Even now, over ten years later, it is still not the forest it once was.  In fact, mixed in with the beautiful new growth, there are still remnants of the fire reminding us all of what happened there. 

I believe the same is true of our words.  We can say things that destroy relationships. There are words that tear marriages a part.  Children are forever changed by nasty words from parents.  How many bullies have driven teens to suicide by their mean, awful words? 

Our lies, our jealousy, our hate, our bitterness, our hurt is like that forest fire.  A spark of our tongue can destroy someone’s hope in a moment and then the destruction can last a life time.  Even if we apologize, make things right, and allow time for healing there will still be embers left as a reminder to all of the deadly power of our tongue. 

Our words can become out of control!
vs. 8 no one can tame the tongue

Lastly, in this portion of scripture James address how difficult it is to tame the tongue.  In fact he says no one can.  We can tame all sorts of animals; but our un-tamable tongue is “evil and full of deadly poison”.

James 3:10-11
Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.   And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!

Lord help us.  No wonder non-Christians call us a bunch of hypocrites if this is how we treat each other and sadly we do.  I have been in ministry long enough to see it in action.  We are a bunch of imperfect people for sure.  But thanks be to God, who does not leave us without help.  He knows how hard our words can be; because He knows our hearts. 

We are not left without the power of Christ ability to change us from the inside out.  But we must allow Him to change us….change our hearts…control our tongue.  Yes, we cannot tame our tongue; but, Christ can. 

Whew, there is hope! 

And with each new day, I can allow Christ to turn my nasty words into words of grace!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

When Missionaries Come To Visit!

My dear friend, Jenilee, and her family came to our house for a visit.  It was such a great time with them.  They have become nationally appointed missionaries of the Assemblies of God to Senegal, Africa.  I am so excited for them.  They have just begun the process of raising money for their journey.  They have already achieved their first goal in their fundraising today and January isn't even over yet!  Awesome!  

They are traveling everywhere sharing this burden for African children, God has placed in their hearts, in various church around Michigan and their home state Ohio.  They hope to be in France by January of next year for a year of language school and then on to Africa for two years. You can check them out at, read their story, support them financially, and see what is going on as they journey to Africa.  

So, I am so grateful to have had them in my home for two days before they are on the other side of the planet.  

We home schooled together. 

We learned about Martin Luther King Jr.

We talked way to late.

Our girls played a lot!

We went to our church's Global Prayer Initiative prayer meeting.  

We prayed for them and the people of Senegal.

I got my Goodwin prayer cards!  Whoot Whoot!

We loved having these missionaries to Africa in our home!  
Godspeed Goodwins, Godspeed!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

To All You "Christians" Out There...Don't Let Your Faith Be Dead and Cold!

James 2:14-26

This passage is a very touchy one for me (LOL).  I wrote a sermon in my Homiletics (how to preach class), in bible college, I think on this very passage or at least on this topic.  And well let us just say that it did not go over well.  I believe the word “heresy” was written in quotations and in large, capital, red letters on the margins.  Yup, to this day I joke around with my hubby about what a heretic I am. 

The problem was and what I was trying to not so eloquently express is this idea of faith without works thing.  I want to declare right now…shout from the roof tops, that you are saved by faith alone!  You cannot earn your salvation!  Salvation is a free gift given by God and paid for by Christ death on the cross.  I want that to be perfectly clear.  Yet, when I say all that we must then also understand that there can be no dichotomy in you between your faith and your behavior.

Salvation is free to you through faith
However, the evidence of your faith is your behavior. 

Maybe you have heard something along these lines, I can tell your character pretty quickly by how you spend your money and your time.  I think this is true of any Christian.   I can tell if you are truly a Christian by what you do or as in this James passage your “good works”.   This free gift of salvation is given to us by our faith and then what we do with it is measured by how we handle that gift. 

It is far easier to only lean on this first half of salvation.  Hey, our human nature loves all that is lazy.  We will take anything that is free.  But to then have to work with it, allow it to work through our lives, and let it change us, whoa…that is a whole new ballgame.  It is like winning a treadmill.  I can say I have a free treadmill and still be fat; because I have not used the dusty thing.  It was just easier to just accept the first part in hopes to someday be skinny.

Sadly, we treat Jesus much like the dusty treadmill.   I believe in Jesus and that is it!  I prayed the prayer.  The rest of my life I will live like the rest of the world and still get into heaven because of my free gift.  I’m sorry friends that attitude is like slapping my Jesus in the face over and over again.  He didn’t die so you can continue to live in your sinful slumber.  No, He died to save you from yourself.  Wake up and let Him change you.  And as He begins to infiltrate your life, He is going to come out in all that you are and all you do.  Why?  Because He loves you and you love Him back.

I married my husband 16 years ago.  I can say I am married and I love him until I blue in the face. But what if I treat him like garbage day in and day out, ignore him constantly, don’t do anything with him, and don’t work at having a relationship with him…is it really a relationship or is it all a fa├žade?  Am I really who I say I am by my actions?  Wow, that is the question now isn’t it?  Now replace the object of my affections with the name “Jesus” in those questions, what are my answers?

James gives two examples of Faith, Abraham and Rahab!  He could have used any number of examples; but yet I think he purposely choose these two.  Remember who James is talking to?  Scattered Jewish Christians!  Abraham is considered the ultimate patriarch of the Jews.  He is the one with whom the promise of the Messiah would come through, he would be the father of many nations, and he was honored by all.  Man, any Jew  would hold this guy with the utmost respect.  He is the Jew of all Jews.  He had so much faith that he would even offer his own son to God.  Wow, this guy had faith.  He was honorable.  He was God fearing. He is the man of all men in Jewish history.  Those are some hard shoes to follow for some; but inspiring to others. 

But his faith made him a friend to God.  I cherish the image God creates here.  He shows us that we to can be friends with God.  Abraham allowed the love of God, his faith, to permeate him inside and out, that even his actions declared the very glory of God in his life, his friendship with Almighty God!  Not too many religions allow you to be friends with their gods.  But Jesus, creator of the universe, longs to consider us friend.  How cool is that?

Well, I can’t have faith like Abraham.  I’m not that good.  I have a bad past.  God wouldn’t want me. 

Remember the other example of great faith?  Yeah, Rahab.  Rahab the prostitute, she leaves us all without excuse.  She gives hope to anyone who longs to have faith in God and that they can change who they are.  God is always chasing after us.  You can never be to far gone, to dirty, to smelly, to bad, to whatever…that His free gift of salvation cannot change you.  All you have to do is reach out in faith and let Him begin the process of making you more like Him.  It is a process, sometimes lengthy and difficult, but in the end if you allow Christ to change all of who you are from the inside out you can begin to have great faith with matching good works…just like beautiful Rahab who also became a friend of God just like Abraham. 

I love the last verse, 26, at the end of James 2.  I think it marries perfectly the idea of the free gift of salvation through faith and our good works. 

just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.

That is it plain and simple, clear and precise, and so easy for us all to understand as we breathe in and breathe out even as we read it.

May your faith be alive and goodness come out as easily 
as you take in breath and release it.


 I always thought that I was weird for taking these pictures.  They are from a cemetery in Gladwin last winter.  The snowy day was so perfect and as I was driving by, it just seemed to beautiful in there to not grab some pictures.  They seem to fit with today's post.
Don't let your faith be dead and cold!

Friday, January 18, 2013

More Mercy, Please!

James 2:1-13

Last night around the dinner table, we talked about the greatest commandment.

Matt. 22:37-40

Snack we took down for the kids, dirt cake!
They normally have bananas for snack everyday.
37  Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

And then John asked them about the next 2nd greatest commandment.

39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

I think sometimes as Christians we forget how important that second commandment is.  It is easy to get so caught up it trying to get the first one right that we don’t allow our love for God flow out in love for others. 

Kindergarten children enjoying every little bite!
Here in James, he is correcting the Jewish Christians of their bad behavior.  For a lot of us, it is easy to show kindness to those who are equal to us or above us in society. I hate to think it is for selfish reasons, possibly in hopes that we can get something out of them; but it is for probably more of that reason than any spiritual reason.  Sometimes you just need to call a spade a spade.  We favor people…a lot.  I mean come on it is easier to show kindness to some one who looks nice, smells nice, and talks intelligently in hopes that we can move up the social ladder along with them.  We want them to do for us, what we won’t do for those beneath us.  Ouch!     

But God is calling us to much more.  He knows our motives all to well. He wants us…
Getting their hair braided for the week and playing.
To love the forgotten
To love the smelly
To love the hungry
To love the uneducated
To love those who look different than us
To love those who have nothing
To love the lonely
To love the unlovely
To love all with disregard to their social status
To show mercy…to be like Christ who humbled Himself, lowered Himself to live among us. 

Washing their clothes.
We need to learn mercy.  God has shown us all mercy if we take some time to think about it. defines mercy this way… compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence: Have mercy on the poor sinner.

Miss. Laura their teacher and us trying to help.  
How many times has God shown mercy on us?  Too many times to count, I am sure.  I remember feeling mercy like never before 8 months ago.  When we deserved God’s wrath…He showed us mercy.  I have a new understanding of what God’s mercy truly is and how beautiful it is to give to those in need of it.  You can be one who shames Christ’s mercy by your lack of mercy; or you can draw people to Christ’s mercy by showing them your own mercy.  You can break a person in your wrath and by showing unkindness.  You can also bring healing and restoration when you show mercy and compassion to others.

Because we need to remember who we were….   

I was forgotten; but God knows my name!
I was smelly; but God washed me and made me clean!
I was hungry; but God gave me the Bread of Life!
I was uneducated; but God showed me His Word!
I looked different; but God gave me garments of righteousness!
I had nothing; but God demonstrated His love to me, a sinner, by dying for me.
I was lonely; but God bent down and heard me.
I was unlovely; but God sees me as His masterpiece. 
I was beneath His status; but God made me co-heirs in Christ.
I needed mercy; He shows me mercy everyday.

We are not any different then the poor of this world.  God help us if we ever forget who we once were and ever begin to think more highly of ourselves then we ought. 
My sweet Marvis!

Now is the time to say hello to the kid at church who has pink hair and tons of tattoos, give some money to the guy standing outside the store begging, go work down at the mission, help a single mom working two jobs to support her kids by babysitting and giving her a break,  put money in the red bucket at Christmas time, take a elderly person on a fixed income out for a nice dinner,  sit with a person at church who doesn’t smell good,  support and orphan,  go fix something at a widows house,  give your kids clothes away instead of trying to sell them in your next garage sale, give to your church’s benevolence fund without a judgmental heart, give to Convoy of Hope (I have a link on the side here for it), go on a missions trip, help someone find a job…the list can go on and on.  
All the school supplies, pj's, and flip flops we brought with us
that were donated by so many wonderful people.  

Ask God what you can do today.  I promise He will give you an answer.  Once you have done these things, your view of them and yourself will unexpectedly change for the better. 

 But if you have been merciful,
God will be merciful when he judges you.
James 2:3b

I will be merciful; because in God’s great love for me, He showed me mercy!

Picture taken by missionary Matt Love while John was on a
missions trip to the Dominican Republic.

The pictures are from my trip to an orphanage in Jamaica 3 years ago, except the last one.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Heart of Me

James 1:9-27
The rest of James 1 speaks right to the heart of me and who I am.  Sometimes, it is when God’s word is reflecting back at you who you really are…well it can be painful to look at.  Sadly, you might not like what is glaring back at you.  Sometimes we may say to ourselves, “I don’t look like much of anything of real value, much less a prized possession!”

I treasure this reminder in verses here 17-18
Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.   He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

We need to remember how good our God is.  He loves us enough to change us into His image.  He puts new clothes on us.  He covers us with His feathers.  He is the one we call Abba or papa.  But He also shows us what old things to take off, to get rid of, to let go of.  The things that so easily trip us up, trip me up!

My money (vs. 9-11)
God knows what a stumbling block money is.  I understand how, in verses 9 -10, God shows us that He has honored the poor and humbled the rich.  That seems so weird to us westerners.  Sometimes, I get so caught up that if I have more money, I could give so much more.  But then I am reminded that to whom much is given much is required.  I have to answer to God in everything, even my finances.  God provides exactly what He means to.  It is me who must learn to be humbled.  I am rich compared to most of the world and a lot of the time I complain that we can’t go out to eat, buy new clothes, or see a movie.  God needs to humble me. 

My temptation (vs.12-15)
I appreciate it when God makes things very plain for us idiots.  God holds nothing back…He reveals here that He is not tempted and He most certainly does not tempt us to do wrong.  In the verses to follow, everything good and perfect comes from God, not sin and temptation to sin.  It is our own evil nature, my pastor calls it our Adamic nature (man’s propensity to sin), and our desires are what pull us away from Christ.  He also gives us a warning sign for us. 

When we are being tempted…watch out sin is lurking.  When we give into that sin death is breathing down our neck if repentance and turning away doesn’t come quickly. 

However, there is love tucked into these verses.  God knows us so well.  He knows our nature.  He knows sin is waiting to steal, kill, and destroy us.  But in verse 12, we see His love.  If we patiently endure testing and temptation; which alludes that it is absolutely possible to overcome temptation, He WILL bless us and give us eternal life when we endure.  We have to do our part and God whole heartedly does His.  Remember, God always keeps His promises.  We cannot give in, we must not give up, keep fighting patiently endure, and when we have done all to fight, stand!  And no worries, God gives us everything we need to fight temptation...He gives us Himself, His power, His Armor!

But God Always Digs Deeper

My actions (vs.19-25)
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.   For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

I ardently love these verses…they speak so real to me.  How often do I find my self talking so much that I never really listen to those around me?  How often am I rattling off words immediately wishing that I could unsay them; because I see the hurt in my children’s eyes?  How often do I snap at my husband for no reason?  I need to get rid of my old ways and put on God’s ways!  I need to wash, rinse, and repeat until I humbly accept what God is doing in me.  I must also then live a life that does what His Word says, not become lazy, and not walk away and forget.  I must be vigilant and God’s blessings will flow. 

And just when you thought…”I don’t struggle with any of this stuff!”    BAMM! He squeezes these last two verses in…..
My words (vs.26-27)
 God’s Word says it all; I don’t need to add anymore….

 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
(If only the Westboro church would heed this)

James 1 is full of good things for us when we do our part...
Gives you joy, growth,contentment.
Gives you wisdom.
Gives you honor if you are poor and you have to live in shame.
Gives you blessings.
Gives us a crown of life.
Gives us all that is good and perfect straight from heaven.
Gives us His Word planted in our hearts which saves us when we believe.

I am His prize possession!  I am going to live like I am!