Friday, July 31, 2009

Separation

As I was reading in Isaiah this morning, the words weighed heavy on my heart:

"Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear" (Isaiah 59:1-2).


The passage continues with its sad tune describing my heart and my situation before God:

"Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men. We all growl like bears; we moan and moan like doves; we hope for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: transgressing, and denying the Lord, and turning back from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words. Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.


I had to stop there with my reading as household duties called, but God was kind to bring to my mind Scriptures to keep me from despair:

"...remember that you were at one time separated from Christ, alienated from the common-wealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:12-13, ESV).

As I consider these words, my heart swells with joy!

Alas, when I could come back to this chapter, great hope lies within it as well:

"The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him...'And a Redeemer will come to Zion to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,' declares the Lord" (Isaiah 59:15-16, 20-ESV).


Those who were in darkness have seen a great light! Praise be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord that I am one of those who has seen a great light!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Book Review: Peacemaking for Families

I recently borrowed Peacemaking for Families from a friend. The question that I was asking myself was, "Is it really necessary to get this book if I already have The Peacemaker by the same author, Ken Sande? Does this book add anything new?" What follows are my discoveries upon comparing the two books.

Peacemaking for Families (PFF) does indeed make a valuable contribution to the Christian bookshelf, even for those who may already own The Peacemaker (PM). The book is divided into four parts and totals twelve chapters. The first half of PFF is essentially an abridgment of PM with practical applications made to family life. Parts of the material are taken from PM verbatim while other parts are summarized. Depending on your personality, you may prefer one or the other.

(I must confess, I have not read either of these books in their entirety. I had borrowed both from a friend but found PM at a book sale shortly thereafter. As a result, I began reading PFF first so that I could return it to my friend. However, I did not want to re-read portions of the book that I would later be reading in PM. Thus began my comparison.)

While all of PFF is worth reading (especially if you don't have PM or haven't read it in a while), I found it particularly helpful starting with Chapter 7. Following that chapter, the second half of the book moves into practical application of peacemaker principals including:

Teaching Children to Be Peacemakers (Ch. 8)
Making Peace with Children (Ch. 9)
Conflict Between Adult Family Members (Ch. 10)
Getting Help for a Troubled Marriage (Ch. 11)
Insurance Policies for a Healthy Marriage (Ch. 12)

Here are a few quotes that were particularly meaningful to me:

"...if a child becomes resentful, sullen, or angry when not getting what he or she wants, it is evident that a worldly desire has taken control of his or her heart. In biblical terms, the desire has become a functional god or idol that is temporarily ruling that child's life" (Peacemaking for Families, pg. 117).

"The fact is, every time we have a conflict with a child, we have a choice to make: Am I going to make much of my child's sin, or am I going to make much of God's redeeming grace? It's one or the other. We will either 'glorify' our child, or we will glorify the Lord.

The more you focus on your child's behavior, the more likely you are to be controlled by bitterness, resentment, or anger. The more you focus on God's love and promises, the more likely you are to be led to repent, confess, forgive, and change.

Therefore, when you find yourself in a conflict with your child, develop the habit of pausing for a moment before you speak. Reflect on who you are in Christ--redeemed and forgiven--and remember that God's covenant is not only for you but for you child as well (Acts 2:39). Quietly thank God for all He has done for you and your child through Christ and for all He is presently doing for both of you through the Holy Spirit" (Peacemaking for Families, pg 132-133).

"I want to emphasize again the importance of always ministering the gospel when confronting others…Jesus died for your sins as well as mine. He paid for all of them on the cross. He has come into my heart and forgiven me of my selfish, prideful desires. With His help, I am determined to change my attitudes and behaviors toward you and everyone else in the family. And He can help you to do the same…" (Peacemaking for Families, pg 159-160).


I'll stop there on account that the book is copyrighted! However, if you'd like more of a sampling, check these out:


Teaching Children to Be Peacemakers - Twelve Principals



What It Takes to Teach Children Peacemaking Skills


Appendix F - The Cross and Criticism by Dr. Alfred J. Poirier (A Phenomenal Article!)

You can also find the Table of Contents and part of Chapter 1 at Christian Book Distributors site.

Happy Reading!! I'd love to hear your comments if you've read this book or read this material!

Warmly,
Mrs. David Hankins

Saturday, July 25, 2009

S'mores

For those days when you want some of the above yummy goodness yet find the fire pit waterlogged, may I present to you the toaster s'more:


Oooooooooo! Aaaaaaaaaah! Beautiful!

BTW---Past experience has taught me to guard the timing of the toasting very carefully as marshmallows begin to smoke once the top starts to brown. They are flammable ;)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Solid Ground Christian Books

In a recent post, I told you that I was ordering the book Womanly Dominion from Solid Ground Christian Books. I also told you that I would share my first experience with this book store since they do offer competitive prices.

They promptly mailed me an invoice for my order which was postmarked the same day that I placed the order. The invoice stated that my order would be dropshipped from Calvary Press. The man that I spoke with when I placed my order had told me that shipping usually took three to five days so I anxiously waited to see if this company would fulfill their order. After waiting nine business days, I called the company to inquire about the status of my order. The man who answered the phone politely told me that he would check with the publisher to see if it had shipped, and would ship it priority mail if it had not yet shipped. Shortly after our conversation, I received an e-mail with a tracking number. The package was delivered within a few days.

All that to say, the company was courteous and helpful. I ordered my books on the 7th and received them on the 24th...just a little over two weeks. I would do business with them again...keeping in mind, of course, that it might be helpful to make a follow-up phone call if I have not received my books a few days after their expected arrival.

One other tidbit that I would like to explore in the future is Calvary Press' reseller discounts. If I knew of a book I wanted to order, I could probably have my church order it for our bookstore and still get a fairly significant discount off of the regular retail value. Of course, this publisher was likely to blame for my delayed order so I would definitely make sure that it was a book that I did not need immediately and also something inexpensive, just in case.

I hope that this information will be helpful for you and your family. Stay tuned for thoughts on the content of the book in the future. ;)

Warmly,
Elizabeth

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Is Your Tent Waterproof?

About two weeks ago I would have said, "Yes". I mean, my wonderful Ozark Trail tent that I purchased years ago from Walmart has a rain cover and has faithfully gone through a few mild drizzling every now and again. This past weekend was our church's yearly picnic. We usually gather down at the local lake and enjoy a time of worship, message and then BBQ Chicken and pot-luck sides and desserts. We try every year to enjoy this retreat time and go camping. So Friday night we set out and enjoyed a great time of fellowship with some of our closest friends. The Bowman's with their 4 children and the Hersey's were out there with us. Saturday, Caleb stopped by to enjoy breakfast with us. Afterword we went for about a mile hike (with 8 kids it was quite far) and then went back to camp for lunch and some rain...

Kenny jinxed us I think because when we told him that we purchased our tent at Walmart he told us that our tent was going to leak. I didn't believe it at first, I figured a tent is a tent and besides, we had the handy rain cover on it. So after the rain had been going for some time we decided that we would go hang out in the tent and try to let the kids take a nap before swim time. As we got into the tent we realized that there was moisture on the inside of the rain cover. Worst yet, it was dripping right along the center line of our tent all the way across. We rolled up all our blankets and pillows into our sleeping bags and placed them in dry spots around the tent. After that we went back to our friends camp and hung out down there until it stopped raining.

We decided to go for the swim and allow some time for the tent to dry out a bit. Katherine, Matt and Grace all loved the water. Matt enjoyed playing in the sand more than actually playing in the water. Katherine was okay in the water as long as her feet touched the ground, and Grace only wanted Daddy to pull her around the lake. After that we went back to camp, grabbed some changes of clothes and went to the shower houses. That part went pretty well except my only pair of shoes I brought also somehow ended up with more water in it than what was coming out of the shower head.

Back to camp we went to check out our tent. At first inspection it looked like it might be salvageable. We started cleaning up a bit but as we unrolled the sleeping bags we realized that our blankets had been wet and it caused everything in the bag to be damp, wet and smelly. During this time frame we also found out that we had forgotten to pack the most important item for the camping trip, food for that night! It was about 8 o clock and I was hungry, my pillow and blanket were wet and the kids were crying. I made the call and told Elizabeth that we would wrap up and sleep at home Saturday night and come back for the tent on Sunday. I think our friends were a little upset at the fact that we were not out there that second night with them. I wished we could have stayed but things just were not working out.

After we got home and ate dinner (the food we forgot to bring with us) the kids fell right asleep. Elizabeth and I unpacked the camping gear and when we sat down for Ice Cream we heard a couple of loud crashes and bright lights flashing. Immediately I thought that the North Korean's were nuking WV! My wonderful wife jumped right up and said "Fireworks!" So we sat on our front porch watching an amazing fireworks show eating Ice Cream, looking forward to sleeping in our nice cushy warm bed while wondering how everyone was doing out at camp. Amazingly enough, the kids never woke up to the thundering boom of the fireworks either!

So that next week I went to Ace Hardware and found some Silicone tent waterproofing in a spray can which I paid around $5.99 for. I sprayed it on the rain cover of the tent and let it sit outside for about 3 days. On the third day it rained and it appears to again be waterproof. We are now set and ready for the next camping trip. Lessons learned on this one was:

A. Always double check the food situation

B. Just because you have a rain cover does not mean that your tent is waterproof. Spend the extra $6 and waterproof the tent.

C. If you have to go home early, you may get to enjoy an amazing Fireworks show and have a quiet evening with the love of your life.

Thanks for camping with us!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

War

As I watched a movie with my husband the other evening, a Biblical thought became more real to me. An individual was being pursued by an assassin who was hired by the government. It is a typical plot, but the thing that stood out to me was the intensity of the pursuit. I've seen it in a lot of movies. You always come away with that intense feeling and a bit of caution as if you too were about to be pursued as well. (At least I do, maybe I'm weird.) However, if you're a Christian, you are being pursued. 1 Peter 5:8 says:

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (ESV).

Furthermore, Ephesians 6 reminds us:

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm...."
I recommend continuing on through the passage, but I won't put that all here now. The point in posting this is to provoke your thoughts as the Lord has provoked mine. Are you living with a wartime mentality? Are you keeping these things fresh in your mind each day? It is challenging. I recall the disciples with Christ before He was arrested. Christ told them:

"Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation" (Luke 22:46, ESV).

May we all rise, pray, and take up the full armor of God that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil! Friends, "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." May we never forget!


Thought for the Day

As I came to my Bible reading this morning, I found myself longing to turn to the New Testament as I've been reading the Old Testament since the new year. However, God is faithful to reveal Himself in the Old Testament just as He does in the New. How can I be ungrateful for any of these God-breathed words? Here is where God met me and spoke to me this morning, by His Spirit...

"Have you not sins of your own against the Lord your God?" (2 Chronicles 28:10, ESV)

Background:

Ahaz became king in Judah and did evil in God's site so God gave him over to the king of Syria and the king of Israel. The men of Israel took 200,000 men from Judah to make them slaves. These were their neighbors; their kin. Sure, the kingdom was divided now, but these were still God's chosen people. So, God sent a prophet with a message to Israel, part of which is the line above. God was calling them to be merciful just as God had been merciful with them.

Fortunately, the chiefs of Israel cared about what the Lord said. "They clothed them [the men of Judah], gave them sandals, provided them with food and drink, and anointed them, and carrying all the feeble among them on donkeys, they brought them to their kinsfolk at Jericho, the city of palm trees" (2 Chronicles 28:15, ESV).

What about you and me? Although this prophet was speaking to Israel, Jesus said: "Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:36, ESV) for much the same reason. When we consider our own sins against God, how can we be anything but merciful to others? Few days go by when I am not impatient toward someone or something.

Who do you need to grow in mercy and grace toward in this season of your life?

How do you plan on expressing greater mercy and grace toward that individual?

I'll be seeking to grow in mercy and grace toward my children. I'm with them all day, every day. I get impatient when they disobey...again. Today it was getting into the baby wipes...again. I'm glad the God doesn't speak harshly toward me when I overeat...again and again and again. He is patient toward me; I must grow in patience toward others. How will I grow? I will meditate on these couple verses, and I will commit to praying daily that I will grow in grace and mercy. May you too grow in grace and mercy toward others!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

This Life...

The line, "This life is the worst it will ever get" on The Blazing Center was particularly encouraging to me today. My sin will never be worse than it is now. My sorrows will never be greater than what they are in this life. My trials will never be greater. My joy will be infinitely greater! Thought it might encourage you as well. Not that things are all that bad today, but life has its ups and downs...even if it is mostly a matter of perspective (and when it's not ;)..."This life is the worst it will ever get" HALLELUJAH!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Womanly Dominion

If you're considering joining the Girl Talkers for their summer reading, you may be interested in whetting your appetite by listening to the Iron Sharpen's Iron (by Monergism) interview of the author. You can find a lengthy preview of the book at Calvary Press Publishing's web site. The best price that I have found is through Solid Ground Books out of Alabama ($10.95), however, this will be my first time ordering through them. They seemed friendly on the phone, but I'll let you know how the order goes.

How about you? What are you reading this summer? Where are your favorite "places" to buy books?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Free Audio Book

I'm not a huge fan of listening to books because I enjoy interacting with the text on paper. However, this is a book every believer ought to interact with on some level, and it's a free download all month at Christian Audio.com - It's called Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I'm half-way through it so I'll let you know how the other half goes. The first half is very convicting. I'm looking forward to getting into more application points.

If you check it out (or have already come in contact with this book), let me know what you think of it.