Wednesday, January 31, 2007

De-lurk! De-lurk, I tell you!

I've really been enjoying this whole blogging adventure that I started last fall, after much coercing by my husband who, it seems, is ALWAYS RIGHT. :) The Lord has taught me so much this year, and I find that writing it down has been good for reinforcing the lessons learned. It is such a discipline, to put into words the thoughts and impressions the Lord has given me, but I'm liking this. I'm liking it a lot.

Awhile back I installed sitemeter on this site, just to keep up with the traffic that comes my way. And I have to say, quite a few of you are frequenting my little blog on a regular basis. 72 of you, in fact, today. I wasn't expecting so many visitors, but I certainly don't mind. I hope that you too are finding that life with the Lord is an amazing adventure, and maybe we can encourage each other along the way.

All that to say, it's time to de-lurk! Yes, that's's your turn to introduce yourself. Please leave a comment, and let me know who's reading and how you found me. Even if you don't have a blog or don't use blogger, you can still post an annonymous comment and just sign your name.
So give it a shot, okay? I would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Days like yesterday

Isn't it amazing how a little sleep can change your outlook on life?! I had a really rough day yesterday, and after sobbing to a friend for awhile, I just went to bed and prayed and prayed for wisdom to raise these little boys the Lord has entrusted to Dave and me. We so want to be faithful to raise them in a way that pleases the Lord, but at the ages they are, it is so hard to see results and trust that it will be worth it. I guess I should say that sometimes it's hard to trust that it will be worth it. Days like yesterday, when my 3 year old could not obey for the life of him! And after a multitude of trips to the bathroom for correction, I was exhausted and spent. What in the world is going on????!!!

I found this verse last night as I was pouring out my troubles to the Lord in a, "Why did you choose me to be their mom, Lord? I am not a strong enough person to raise such strong-willed little children," sort of way.

"Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children..." Lamentations 2:19

And I completely changed my attitude right there. Instead of continuing to protest against the Lord's will for me, I realized that, OF COURSE, I am not a strong enough person to raise strong-willed children. And if I were, then I'd have no need for the Lord's help. If He had made me patient enough, and my children naturally sweet-tempered enough, then I'd never run to Him and beg for help! He wants for me to seek after His wisdom and rely on Him for strength minute by minute.

I so do not have it all together. :)

And after yesterday, I realize that that's good! Because the Lord gets the glory that way, in using a less-than-perfect mom to raise 2 mischievious little boys. It is obviously all because of Him!

It's so humbling though, you know? Because even when we feel like we're doing everything right, all our efforts may fail. Ultimately, the outcome isn't up to me, is it? The Lord has to win their hearts. He's just using me to soften their hearts toward the things of God.

Well, tonight when I put Ethan to bed, he put his hands on my cheeks and pulled my face towards his and gave me the sweetest kiss. "I just love you so much, Mom!" he said, making me think that I must have been dreaming up the events of yesterday. :)

And then he prayed for Christian and Abby, that they would not poop in their underwear (his own current problem!) in the brown house. I just about died laughing! That kid is so stinkin' funny!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

It's a Cowboy Hoe down!

Ethan turned 3 in January, and to celebrate, we invited several of his friends over for a cowboy birthday party. This was my first attempt at a do-it-yourself-big-time-big-kid party, and I was really nervous about it. Especially the cake. But the kids were pretty excited about a horse cake, so I think that part was a success. Here's a picture of my icing job.

Here is our kitchen, ready for the festivities. Dave got this weird look on his face when I sent him out to buy red and brown balloons, but hey, it has to match! Or am I the only one with this weird obsession?

When the kids arrived, they each got a cowboy hat and a red bandana to wear. Then it was time for pony rides, courtesy of our friends' garage sale find!

Here's a funny shot of our favorite little duo around here:

Next we all gathered at the table to decorate paper bag sheriff vests with stickers, crayons, and horse stamps. This was a big hit!

The whole group together...whew! That was a lot of work!

Next all the cowpokes headed to the basement to corral all the hidden horse figures. This was the perfect game for their ages!

The Camryn smirk

Next we managed to tear apart a horse pinata. Even little Jacob got into the action!

We had franks and baked beans for lunch, with lemonade (you know, cowpoke food). Finally, it was time for that horse cake!

Ethan, we love you so much! And we're so thankful for the 3 years the Lord has given you to us! May you grow up to be a man with a tender heart that loves the Lord and desires to obey Him. In the mean time, we'll keep enjoying your crazy antics and sweet smile. You are such a precious boy!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

It's Started Already

Camryn: Ethan, is Simon your sister??

Ethan: No, he's my brother.......

Camryn: Oh. Are you my brother??

Ethan: No, I'm your husband.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Everything belongs to the Lord

Since my posts on Walgreens and CVS, and all the interest they have generated, I have found myself thinking very seriously about my motivation for shopping and finding deals. I love this new hobby, as anyone who knows me could tell you, I'm sure. But I struggle too, with this increasing desire to live in dependance on the Lord for our daily provisions, instead of trusting myself and my own ability to provide for my family's needs this way. I've been praying about posting about this topic this week, and I wanted to share Monday's Choice Gleanings with you because it really pricked my heart.

"God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8
"All grace," "all-sufficiency," "all things," "abound." Unlocked by prayer, here is a treasury that is never empty. It is a fountain, "full, flowing, ever flowing, and overflowing." Our great need can never diminish this inexhaustible treasure. Myriads of saints on the earth can draw from this eternal source of grace, and there will always be a sufficient supply when they return for more. Ah beloved, there is grace for sunshine and storm-for the old believer and the young-in health and sickness, in life and death. There is sufficient grace to say, through tears, "Thy will be done." --M. Haack

I just want to encourage you, if you're starting to coupon and shop for deals, pray for the Lord's help before you go out. He is a gracious and generous God who delights in providing for His people. Give Him the opportunity to provide for you! Sometimes when we start figuring everything out ourselves, it causes us to stop looking to the Lord to meet our needs...and I would not want to contribute to that in your life.

"Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all." 1 Chronicles 29:12

No matter how much or how little financial wealth the Lord has put you in charge of right now, He is really the only One who determines how much is in your bank account. This is so good to remember, don't you think? Yes, we are responsible to work hard at our jobs and be good stewards of the money we do have, but ultimately, the ability to do those things is just a gift from God.

"Though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them." Psalm 62:10

I recently read Linda Dillow's book Calm My Anixous Heart, and in the book she talks about how greed is the enemy of contentment. She says, "You can quickly identify where your heart is if you will survey the things you own and then answer this question: Suppose this treasure were lost, destroyed, or stolen tomorrow. Would I miss it to the point that it would harm my trust in God, my contentment, or my relationships? If the answer is yes, then your treasure is on earth."

"Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the Lord?' or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God." Proverbs 30:8-9

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Okay, so I didn't intend to go on and on about this, but as you can tell, it's really been on my heart. I so desire to live in dependance on the Lord, as I know many of you do too. Now, we don't consider ourselves rich, necessarily, but in comparison to the rest of the world, we have an overabundance, don't we? So I've just been praying for this mindset--that everything is the Lord's and that He is just allowing me to use it right now. I want my treasure to be in heaven, not here on this earth. It sure puts a different spin on bargain shopping! Now I'm looking for the deals that HE wants to provide for my family and others.

Todd and Jeremy

For all of you who will get this, as my husband snapped this picture, Todd said, "After this, JOHNNY CARINOS!!!"

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Walgreens explained...hopefully!

I've been in contact with several of you who have wanted to know more about how the Walgreens EasySaver rebate program works, so if you're interested, this is the post for you! And this is quite a bit easier than CVS, so the rest of you, don't tune me out yet. :) I know what you're saying. "But I don't have time for that! I don't have hours to spend coupon clipping and planning and go to multiple stores!" And I agree, because I'm always short on time too, so whatever I add to my week needs to be worth it. I'm constantly evaluating my use of time and how much I'm actually saving, but so far (and I've only been couponing since September), this is very, very worth it to me and my family.

And by the way, if you're just getting started with couponing and shopping around, I recommend spending 30 minutes to an hour each week clipping coupons, planning your shopping trip and planning your weekly menu. If possible, do this the night before you're going to shop, and organize your store lists with the coupons that correspond to the sales they are having. Being organized before you hit the store helps so much, especially when you're shopping with little helpers. If you know what I mean. :)

So back to Walgreens. Each month Walgreens publishes a catalog of rebate items called the EasySaver catalog. You can find these at the front of the store next to the weekly ad display, or just ask a cashier if you don't see them. Sometimes they are a small narrow booklet, other months they are the same size as the weekly ad. I always grab a couple because they have coupons inside that are good for all month. And sometimes I need to use more than one of each coupon.

The current January EasySaver is for 12/31/06 thru 1/27/07, which means that your receipts must be dated between those dates to be eligible for the rebates.

Inside the EasySaver it explains exactly how send in for your rebates. You always have about one week to send in your submission. For example, this month, submissions must be postmarked by Saturday, February 3, 2007.

What to send in:
  • Total Earnings Sheet (found in the EasySaver)
  • Customer Information Sheet (found in the EasySaver)
  • Your original Walgreens receipts with your purchases and prices circled and the offer numbers (rebate numbers) written next to the price. Don't send photocopies.
If you choose to receive your rebate in the form of a Walgreens gift card, you will get a 10% bonus. The gift card can be used toward any purchase in any Walgreens store, even on prescriptions. Or you can just get your rebate in check form.

Allow 8 to 10 weeks for delivery of your rebate after submission is received. You can check your rebate status at:

After the first month, reloading your gift card only takes 2 to 3 weeks at most. So after doing this program for a couple months, I am now able to buy the free after rebate items at Walgreens every month using my gift card, as well as other rebate items or great deals I find there. And I rarely ever have to spend any money out of pocket at Walgreens anymore. How exactly does that work? Well....

Coupons! Follow this scenario with me...this month these 4 items are free after rebate at Walgreens:
  1. Chlorasceptic Defense Daily Health Strips, 40 pack (rebate limit up to $2.99)
  2. Finesse Shampoo, Conditioner, or Hair Stylers 7 to 15 oz. (rebate limit up to $3.99)
  3. Oral-B Cross Action Toothbrush (rebate limit up to $4.49)
  4. Joint Juice Dietary Supplement 6 pack, 8 oz. cans (rebate limit up to $7.99) on sale for $5.99
I had $1.00 off coupons for the Chlorasceptic strips and for the Oral-B toothbrush, and a $2.00 off coupon for the Joint Juice (no, I normally wouldn't buy that, but I didn't spend any money out of pocket and it allowed me to earn $2 more dollars). So I spent $13.46 off my Walgreens gift card, but next month they will reload it with the full purchase prices, $17.46 = $4.00 profit!

There are lots of other rebates in the EasySaver as well. At first glance they may not appear to be that good of a deal, especially considering Walgreens' regular prices on items. But throughout the month, items will go on sale that will correspond with a rebate. Then you can use Walgreens and manufacturer coupons, and get household or grocery items for free or pennies after rebate.

That is the idea behind sending out a weekly email of deals, to share ways to make these rebates work to our advantage and allow us all to find the good deals without spending a ton of time pouring over the ads.

Here is an example of how a rebate worked a couple weeks ago: Rebate #9 in the January EasySaver says, "Buy $20 of Kimberly-Clark Products, get a $10 Walgreens gift card by mail" (and by the way, when it says gift card by mail, this will just come as a separate gift card).

There is a picture of all the items that are eligible for this rebate. Well, in the weekly ad last week there was a coupon for Kleenex 80 ct. for $.89 a box. And here is what I did to meet the rebate requirements:

Buy 10 boxes of 80 ct. Kleenex, reg. price $2.19 = $21.90
Use the coupon in the ad this week for Kleenex $.89 for each box.
Spend $8.90 for 10 boxes of Kleenex and get a $10 gift card back, which makes this a moneymaker!! Plus, I had 2 $.40 off coupons and 1 $.30 off coupon (these were manufacturer's coupons that came in my Sunday paper awhile back), so I spent $7.80 off my Walgreens gift card and will receive $10.00 back! That's $2.20 profit!

Now, not all the rebates allow for such savings, but several of them do each month. Just be willing to wait until you see an awesome deal!

Sometimes I will use my gift card to buy the extra things my family needs, provided that I can use a store coupon and a manufacturer's coupon to get a really good deal on it. This is one way that I've been able to buy some things that we absolutely need THIS WEEK, but still not have to spend much or anything of pocket.

Finally, little tidbits about Walgreens:

  • They take expired manufacturer's coupons (within the last month)
  • You can combine a Walgreens coupon (found in EasySaver or weekly ad) with a manufacturer's coupon on a single item.
  • You can use these coupons for clearance items as well (marked "Last Chance" with orange tags) to get clearance stuff for pennies. This is especially good for makeup items!
  • They refill printer ink cartridges for less than $10
  • Some stores are open 24 hours!
So anyway, hope this helps! Any questions?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Michelle's Wedding

So I hardly got any pics of the festivities, but I'll share the ones I did get. Recognize any of these old friends?

Exercise yourself towards godliness

This past year has been one of tremendous growth for me. At times I have felt so beaten down, so humbled by the realization of who I am before the Lord, but graciously the Lord has continued His work and watered the garden of my life. I am so thankful that I'm not the person I was last January 2006. There have been some painful moments, but it has been so worth it! The hope that the God of the universe might use me in some small way to bring Him glory is astounding! But I know from His Word that this is His desire.

One of the most amazing things to me has been the way the Lord has used people, circumstances, books, messages, emails, conversations, and my time in the Word with Him alone, to stir my heart towards godliness. It has been as if He were pursuing me, bombarding me from every direction, compelling me to live for Him.

Not that I wasn't living for Him before. Just in a deeper, more intimate way.

"If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.
But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.
For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come." 1 Timothy 4:6-8

What do you want from this life? Isn't that a good question? Do you want to be godly? I know I do. Even though my flesh struggles with these things, I want to be godly more than I want material wealth, security, the perfect marriage, children who turn out well, friends, you name it. It is the deepest desire of my soul, to know Him more and to be more like Him.

Well, over the last several months, we have been going through a series of messages at church about 4 spiritual disciplines in the Christian life:
  • Prayer
  • Time in the Word
  • Service
  • Evangelism
And this week Scott summed it all up with these points:
  1. Godliness is God's work - Isn't this good to remember?! He who began a good work, WILL complete it! We are responsible to strive towards godliness, to discipline ourselves, to give up other things that we might have more of a taste for Him, and yet the work is really His!
    "To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily." Colossians 1:29
  2. Laziness never leads to godliness - The book of Mark is filled with the word "immediately" because the Lord Jesus did not rest much. His life was full, but never frantic. There were nights of no sleep because He was up all night praying. Would I be willing to stay up all night to pray if the Lord asked me to? How far am I willing to push myself?
    "Do not neglect the gift that is in you...meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all." 1 Timothy 4:14,15

  3. Take inventory of your spiritual closet - What must go in order to be godly? What must I die to to bear much fruit? What is wasting God's time in my life? Are there going to be things that are burnt up at the Judgement Seat of Christ? Why?!!!
  4. You need fellowship or accountability - Spend time with others who are purposing to live this way too, and make sure that YOU are encouraging those around to change for God's glory.
    "The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray." Proverbs 12:26
  5. Expect struggle (on the way to success) - This is why so many New Year's resolutions don't work, because once we fail, we quit! But remember, it's not up to me, it's up to God unless I stand in the way.
  6. Application - Am I willing to discipline myself in these 4 areas (prayer, time in the Word, service and evangelism) so that I might be more godly?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

CVS explained...hopefully!

I have recently talked to several of you about my two new favorite places to shop, Walgreens and CVS. Some of you read Shawna's post here and here about the deals she was able to get at Walgreens last week. Both Walgreens and CVS run some awesome promotions each week, but most of the public is too busy to take advantage of the savings. And it can be confusing too, so don't be discouraged if you don't understand everything at first. We learned all this from another friend, and both Shawna and I are willing to answer any questions you might have... or even go shopping with you to get you started!

One of the most important things I can stress is find a way to get the Sunday paper coupon inserts each week. I subscribe to the Sunday paper only which is only a little over a dollar a week, deliver
ed to my door, and I have saved so much in the process! But most of you probably know someone through work or church who gets the paper but doesn't have time to clip and use coupons. So ask them to save them for you! Or, better yet, get your own paper and get their coupons too! The more you have of each coupon, the better. But you can honestly do all these deals with just getting your own paper each week. So there - that's my first recommendation!

Secondly, when you start doing these rebate programs, be prepared to spend a little money up front. Talk with your spouse about how much you are both willing to spend in the beginning and stick with that amount. The deals will always be there, so you can go at your own pace. But you do have to spend a little bit at each store before you start accumulating store credit. It is so worth it though! Now I can go shopping for household items and only spend a dollar or 2 out of pocket, sometimes nothing at all!

To get started at CVS, go to the store and sign up for a free ExtraCare card (basically like a Dillons card). I recommend signing up at the store because you'll get your card much quicker than if yo
u sign up online and they have to send it to you. You will hand your card to the cashier each time you make a purchase, and it will apply all of your purchases to your account for credit. Each weekly ad will advertise the current promotions the store is offering (yes, they do advertise these now! Check your ad!), so when you look through the ad, look for maroon circles next the products, advertising how many Extra bucks you will receive when you buy that product. Your Extra bucks (ECBs or Extra Care Bucks) will print at the register 2 days after you purchase the item. They will print after your receipt. You can also print your coupons online at

For example, this week on page 17 of the weekly ad, it says:
$5 Extra Bucks when you buy 2 Extra Strength Tylenol GoTabs chewable 6 ct.
You pay 2/$4.98
Extra Bucks Reward $5.00
After Your Extra Bucks Reward = FREE with card

Now if you collect coupons, you will probably have 1 or 2 coupons for $1.00 off Tylenol GoTabs, so you can use those when you buy them, spend $2.98, and get back $5.00!!!

This offer says limit 1, so you can do it once this week...but sometimes there are deals that are unlimited, and that's where you can earn a bunch of store credit. Remember, you accumulate the Extra Care Bucks if you buy the product, regardless of how much you paid after coupons.

Sometimes the offers for ECBs will be "Spend $___ on these products, Get back $___.

For example, this week on page 14 of the ad, it says:
$5 Extra Bucks when you spend $15 on these Crest and Oral-B items.
If you have coupons for these items and can spend less or close to $5 out of pocket after coupons, this would be a good deal! Sometimes they will even advertise "Spend $10, Get $10 back" and then when you combine coupons it is a Moneymaker! Remember, you accumulate the Extra Care Bucks if the regular price of what you are buying meets the amount specified, BEFORE coupons.

Another bonus to the Extra Care Card is that they track your spending a give you quarterly 2% cash back bonuses in the form of ECB's.
They also award $1 for every two prescriptions you have filled in their pharmacies.

So how do you use these ECBs? Well, in 2 days from your original purchase, they show up on your account. You can check them on the CVS website,, on the left side of the screen. Look for the Check Coupons and Balances link, and follow the directions.
The ECBs can be used to buy anything in the store except for alcohol, cigarettes, gift cards, pharmaceuticals, etc. But anything else is okay. Which means that you can now use your new ECB to buy another item which will net you some more ECBs. And it just keeps going and going!

When your ECBs print after your receipt, often a CVS coupon or 2 will print as well, which may be for a specific kind of item, such as "Save $3 when you buy Dove hand lotion," or for a certain amount off of your total, such as "Save $5 on a $20 purchase." You can combine these with your manufacturer (from the paper) coupons and with your ECBs too, allowing you to tuck in those extra needs your family might have that week. And I often have 2 or 3 to use, so I can get $5-$15 worth of extra stuff, using coupons of course!

Another new thing in the CVS world is that you can now combine multiple ECBs, so you can potentially be handing the cashier quite a load of paper! They don't call me the coupon lady for nothing! But then again, I usually only pay a dollar or 2 max for a whole load of items, so I don't mind the nickname! :)

Okay, so as I read back through this, I can see how it might sound a little intimidating, but I can assure you, the people I know who have given it a try have figured it out within a few weeks. If you're interested, take a shot at it, ask a lot of questions, and see if it is something that will help your family budget out.

Addendum (added 4/7/07): So many of you have commented here or emailed me asking to be included on my email list. I really enjoyed being able to share the deals I was finding on a weekly basis, but recently I've been trying to simplify my shopping process and save time where I can. If you've started clipping coupons yet, you know it can take a little time each week, as can going to more than one store. So right now I'm trying to streamline the process and make it a little more effortless. :) That said, the emails aren't happening anymore. So sorry! But I will share my favorite site for CVS info on a weekly basis. It's,f533, a forum where people share the deals they are finding. You can even find info on upcoming weeks, for those of you who like to plan ahead! Check it out! I've found it to be very helpful!

Monday, January 08, 2007

I can't! I'm a mom!

I don't know about you, but I really enjoy a good read. Curled up in bed all day long with a steaming mug of hot cocoa, reading away the hours without any interruptions, this is my idea of The Most Relaxing Day There Ever Could Be. But who am I kidding? I am a mother now (I tell myself often). I don't have time for that kind of thing anymore. Sigh.

Except for when we have to drive long distances over the holidays, that is!

Granted, there are numerous interruptions and frequent potty/bottle/snack/carsickness breaks (don't ask), but good grief, I have been able to squeeze in more reading over the last couple of weeks than in the whole year combined! I feel so refreshed and renewed! Are you sensing how nice all this driving has been for me?

The most encouraging read I've had is a book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss called A Place of Quiet Rest, which is on finding intimacy with God through a daily devotional life. This is hands-down, one of, if not THE, best book I have read in a really long time. This book has been sitting in my bookshelf for at least 2 years, ever since my secret sister at church gave the book to me, and for some reason I happened to notice it while I was packing to leave for my parents' house. I Just Happened to Notice. Uh huh. But since I really do believe in the sovereignty of God, I have to admit that He WANTED me to read that book that very weekend, so He caused my secret sister to buy it for me 2 years ago! Is there anything more amazing than living the Christian life? I am constantly blown away by how personal and detail-oriented our God is!

I'd like to share some of what the Lord taught me through the book over the next several weeks, but for now, I'll leave you with some of the preface of the book.

"There are many morning when I have allowed the pillow, the phone, or piles of office work to win out, and have ended up spending only a few hurried moments with Him...but over the years I have come to believe with all my heart that this is something worth fighting for. I have come to understand that one of the reasons it is such a battle is that the Enemy of my soul knows if he can defeat me here, he will ultimately be able to defeat me in every other area of my spiritual life.

Satan hates God, and he works tirelessly to convince Christians that they can operate on their own, independantly of God. If we concede the battle to him, he knows that we will end up defeated, frustrated, barren, and useless to God. Worse, we will end up doubting God, despairing of His goodness, in bondage to our flesh, and resisting His will.

In more recent years, I have discovered another, even more important, reason for pressing on to protect this time alone with the Lord. I have come to see that "devotions" is not so much an obligation of the Christian life as it is an incredible opportunity to know the God of the universe. He has issued to you and to me an invitation to draw near to Him, to walk right into the "Holy of Holies" to enter into an intimate love relationship with Him...

I am convinced that few subjects evoke such feelings of guilt, failure, and frustration among believers as the matter of "daily devotions." Having talked with and listened to thousands of women across the country, I believe there is within most Christian women a feeling that "I ought to be more faithful and consistent in this area."...

There are those women whose lives bear the sweet, rich fruit of meeting with God on a consistent basis. I have been drawn to a number of these women over the years. The fragrance of their lives has deepened my own longing to know God...

Wherever God finds you, if you are His child, I believe there is within you something that will never be satisfied with anything less than intimate fellowship with your Creator, Redeemer, and heavenly Father. Until you see Him face-to-face, you will never cease to hunger and thirst to know Him more. I know that longing deep within my soul."

I too know that longing, that deep desire for more of Him. I have been working at being more consistent with my time in the Word, but I ache for an even deeper relationship with the Lord. Do you find yourself there too? I want to know His heart, what He's doing, what He desires, and how I can please Him more. Everything about Him.

This is what I am prayfully aiming towards this year. And you know, those of you who faithfully tune into this blog, I am praying it for you too, that you too would have a deepened longing to know God. My question is this: what if 2007 were the year that our hearts were revived and the Lord was able to work mightily?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Christian Service

"For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves." Luke 22:27

This Sunday at church, Scott spoke about service in the Christian life, and his thoughts spoke to me so profoundly that I thought I'd share them with you too. He started out by taking us through Exodus, where Moses said to Pharaoh over and over again, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me..." (7:16, 8:1, 8:20, 9:1, 9:13, 10:3 and so on). The Israelite's captivity in Egypt is a picture of the slavery of sin that holds each human born into the world in bondage. Yet the Lord's desire has always been to free us from sin, and He offers salvation to any who would come to Him. But the analogy doesn't stop there...God wanted the children of Israel to be freed, so that they could serve HIM in the wilderness. And so it is with us today, those of us who have been forgiven of our sins by salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ...we know the Lord has saved us with a purpose, to live for His glory and to serve Him while we're on this earth!

Isn't it interesting that the Bible records that those very people--who had seen the miraculous salvation of their God--dare to say this to Moses,
"Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians!" Exodus 14:12

Scott mentioned that he has noticed that many Christians today have a similar attitude, that they would rather not be bothered with Christian service, as they already have plenty to do for the world. The sinful world, which Jesus Christ shed His very blood to free us from, takes higher priority than the things of God. Why is this????!!!! Why are we content to give the majority of our energy and passion to our jobs or hobbies and give the leftovers to Christ?

We looked at several motivations for serving the Lord (I will share the ones I wrote down):
  • Obedience
    "You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him." Deut. 13:4
    "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" Hebrews 9:14
  • Gratitude
    "Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you." 1 Samuel 12:24
    Our appreciation for how much the Lord has done for us should lead us to lead a life poured out in service to Him!
  • Love for the Lord - (Question to ask yourself: If I could have $1,000 every time I taught a Sunday school class or every time I witnessed to someone, how often would I do those things? Why would I do for money what I will not do out of love for the Lord?)
  • Blessing - Just like the disciples in the verse at the beginning, our thinking may be skewed. We might think we just want to sit at the table and be served, but it is more blessed to give than to receive.
    "I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness." Psalm 84:1o
  • Forgiveness-not guilt! - guilt is not a Biblical motivation! In Isaiah 6:6-8 you see the sequence of events: forgiveness of sins, immediate willingness to serve in whatever capacity the Lord asked.
  • Humility - If we really view others as more important than ourselves and our own desires, it will be our natural response to serve them.
    "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself." Philippians 2:3
  • Love for one another
    "And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." 1 Peter 4:8-10
Scott reminded us of 2 Samuel 24:24 where David declares that he won't give to the Lord that which cost him nothing. Service may cost us! It costs time, money, sleep, and energy. But does He deserve any less?

4 Places to serve the Lord:
  • Home
  • School
  • Church
  • Work
My final thought is this one, from Joshua 24:14-16, regarding serving the Lord at home. In this passage Joshua led his family in serving God. It was a choice he made for the whole family, that they would serve the Lord together. But throughout our country today, the American way is to lead our family in serving the world. When we do things together as a family, are we pursuing worldly things (which may not be bad in and of themselves) or are we leading our families to choose to serve the Lord?

These thoughts were so convicting to me...what do you guys think? How can we encourage our children to serve the Lord? And how can we do this as a family?