Thanksgiving Moxie

I passed by a gas station the other day with a sign that read, “Let us prepare your Thanksgiving dinner.” It struck me odd, really, that the gas station grill owners had the idea that yes, they could be the Thanksgiving go-to place. But good for them! I admire their confidence. Ye have not because ye ask not (James 4:2), and they were putting it out there that they were available to serve.

Today let’s be like the gas station, and let’s ask God. Let’s not ask God to do something for us; let’s ask God, Let me be your servant. I find myself as unlikely of a choice as a gas station serving up Thanksgiving dinner, but God loves and uses all of us, though we may be “the least of these.” I’m asking God today, because I want to be His servant. Will you ask Him?

Special Ideas for Meaningful Gatherings

In a me-focused culture, seek meaningful experiences that give to others at Christmas.

– Tree trimming for a forgotten senior. Needy children are often remembered at Christmas, while the lonely elderly are not. Ask a local agency to provide the name of one shut-in senior adult who is alone at Christmas. Plan a time to go to the senior’s home with a small tree and decorations for trimming, and give the gift of your friendship and listening ear. Remember to return after Christmas to remove the tree and follow up with love and concern.

– Pancake party. Breakfast for supper is a great winter treat. Invite friends over for a pancake feast, and allow children to make silly faces with banana slices, strawberries, and other toppings. Ask everyone to bring a few cans of food to the gathering, and then deliver the cans to a local food pantry.

– Carol. Why not? Spread Christmas cheer with yuletide tunes at a nursing home, prison, hospital, neighborhood, bowling alley…make a joyful noise to celebrate the birth of Jesus!

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness... (Colossians 3:12)

Special Ideas for Meaningful Memories with Children

Holidays are an important time to spend with our children, but sometimes in the hustle and bustle it’s a challenge to squeeze in those tender, thoughtful times that create special memories. Here’s a few ideas for meaningful treasures of time.

– Draw a picture. We moms cherish the colored pictures, drawings, and cards that our children make for us. Why not make a Christmas picture for your child? It’s okay if your drawings aren’t perfect; your children will extend the same measure of grace to you that you extend to them.

– Make a scrapbook. Okay, scrapbooks are very time-consuming, but a December scrapbook is quite doable. Include programs from church Christmas plays, photos of Christmas-cookie-decorating night, lists of Christmas books read together, drawings of everyone’s Christmas sweaters, prayers, a birthday card for Jesus, Christmas wish lists…every tiny detail that makes Christmas special for children.

– Build a Christmas fort. Kids love cardboard boxes. Pick up some large boxes from a local store, spring for some cheap wrapping paper, and let your children create a Christmas fort. Mark one block of the fort with a bulls eye and let your children throw balled-up Christmas socks (or fruitcake?) at the target.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness... (Colossians 3:12)

Special Ideas for Meaningful Gifts: Friends

I don’t even want to know how much time I’ve spent searching for the perfect gift to give loved ones at Christmas, only to overspend on things that in the end still fell short of expressing my love and appreciation for the person I was trying to bless. What do you give to the person who has everything? Here’s a few fresh ideas for meaningful gifts for friends.

– A complete home-cooked meal. Imagine the joy of your friend coming home after a long day of winter work, to find you pulling up in her driveway with a hot, yummy, home-cooked meal complete with dessert! Be sure to top off the main dish with a Christmas bow, and use disposable containers so your friend has no responsibility to wash and return dishes.

– A night of no responsibilities. For that friend with young children, trying to Christmas shop is a major ordeal of hiring a babysitter and then dashing from store to store to hurriedly get everything done in one brief evening. Babysitting expenses can begin to add up at what already tends to be a rather pricey time of year. Give your friend the gift of a night away to do whatever she wants to do, while you swoop in with activities for a fun-filled night of babysitting. Want to go the extra mile? Bring supplies to let your friend’s children make a special gift to give their mom for Christmas.

– Buy fairtrade. For those friends who really love to unwrap a gift, choose a gift with special meaning by purchasing a fair trade item. The money you’ll spend helps struggling families from around the world. Be sure to tuck inside the box some information about the people group who made the gift you’ve purchased, letting your friend know that others have been blessed in her honor through your purchase. (Worldcrafts is a great choice: www.worldCrafts.org.)

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness... (Colossians 3:12)

Disease and Enemies: Can We Still Do Missions?

The Ebola scare coupled with the rise of ISIS has many Christians wondering, is it safe to be doing missions right now?

Perhaps a better question could be asked. When is it ever “safe” to do missions? Oppression of the faithful has been present since the days of the early church, but equally important, those who are Christians in unreached areas face daily persecution as they stand firm in their faith. Never a day in their lives has it been “safe” to do missions, yet they live missionally in obedience to Christ.

The enemy is attempting to strike fear in the hearts of believers, dampening the missional flame that burns within us. Fear is not of God, and we must not falter now. The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1). Boldness! Courage! Faith in God! Simple obedience. Let us keep going, trusting in the safe haven of the presence of God who goes with us.

Follow the Boatman

Follow the boatman today. I like to call him a gondolier. Of course there’s no such thing as a gondolier in Bangladesh, but he offers rides down the river on his wooden boat, standing above the water as he pushes it gently to provide a smooth ride. Trace his footsteps today. Watch as he begins his day in prayer. No one joins him, because his family does not believe in Jehovah God. Study his face as he enjoys a modest breakfast and enters the world, ready to endure whatever the day may bring. Watch him labor in the heat of the day, and observe his loneliness as he is shunned for his faith in Jesus. When his neighbors beat him in the early evening because they disapprove of his decision to follow Christ, don’t look away. No, don’t dishonor his momentary affliction for the cause of the gospel, but affirm his decision with your willingness to stand by him if only by your recognition of the price he pays for his faith.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Looking for Glory

Today as you read this, I have arrived in Bangladesh. And as I begin this journey, I have a request of God: “Please, show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18).

What are you looking for today? Are you looking for entertainment? Are you looking for answers? Perhaps you’re searching for your place in this world. Set out on another quest. Seek for God’s glory today. Search everywhere, all day long. Even in the most peculiar of places, say perhaps even a place like Bangladesh, God is displaying His glory for all to see. Behold the glory of God.

Bound for Bangladesh

I’m leaving tomorrow for another journey to Bangladesh. My hope is to bring light into the darkness, hope where there is no hope.

As I began my spiritual preparation, God gave me a little something to pack in my bags to take with me on this journey: But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head (Psalm 3:3). As I go, I shall rest in these truths.
– God is my protection, and His protection is enough. God surrounds me on every side to shield me from evil. Nothing will happen to me, at home or abroad, that isn’t under God’s authority. 

– I walk in the glory of God. I have great news to share with everyone.
My head is lifted up because I am the daughter of the King; He has cast away my shame and given me dignity and hope.

 

Just a Few Letters Off

My boys’ elementary school participated in breast cancer awareness last month, celebrating with a “pink out” day. The boys raided my closet, looking for anything pink, but much to their dismay we discovered that I don’t own much pink. My youngest son was highly disappointed with my lack of help. I asked, “John Mark, why are you getting so upset? Do you even realize what this whole ‘pink out’ day is all about?”

He stopped a moment, scratching his chin and staring at the ceiling. “Momma, it’s breath cancer awareness.” Well. Two changed letters certainly can alter the entire meaning of a word.

Proverbs 30:5 teaches, “Every word of God is pure.” Even the slightest twisting of the Word here and there can completely change its meaning. Stand firm on the entirety of Scripture.

 

Helping Your December

December is just around the corner, the month of hustle and bustle. Do you long for a worshipful, Christ-focused Christmas season this year? Then fill your mind with thoughts of the manger and the precious Savior given to mankind.

BFF Ministries has written a beautiful Christmas Advent devotional book that you’re just going to love: Good Tidings of Great Joy. Think about the Christmas story from every angle; some daily devotionals feature a character from the Christmas Story (like Mary, Joseph, or the Wise Men,) while other devotionals spotlight an element from the story (like gold, frankincense, or the star in the east.) All of the book proceeds go to support the Light of Hope Learning Center in Bangladesh. Purchase the book to enjoy on its own ($5), or enjoy the book with the Christmas Tree Advent Calendar created by the girls at the center.

If you have questions about either item, please let me know! These items would make great Christmas gifts, and you can enjoy the holly-and-jolly feeling of knowing that your purchase is directly impacting the lives of young women in Bangladesh who need the love of the Savior this Christmas.

Enjoy a preview: Good Tidings of Great Joy Promotional