Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Excuse my construction- help wanted

Have I ever told you I can be a tad bit compulsive?  At 3 am I found myself obsessing over the layout of my blog.  I've been at this blogging thing for almost a year now and all of a sudden I'm not happy with its design.  Could this be yet another manifestation of my nesting?  Kind of silly since the baby won't be living in my blog, but nevertheless I'm determined to revamp it. 

Here's what I've done so far...

1.  Added a horizontal bar of tab-like links for "About Me", "Our Homeschool", and "What's Quiverfull?"  I'm sure there will be more to come.  Hopefully this will better introduce my blog to new visitors.

2.  Added a big picture of the kids.  Can you read the title on the picture, or is it lost?  Should I keep the picture or ditch it?  Please help.  I'm not creative AT ALL!  I don't know what looks good, just that I want change.

3.  In an effort to make my commenting system a bit more interactive I added a reply widget, but I'm not so sure how effective this will be. 

Here's what I still want to do:

4.  Revamp my tabs in the sidebar.  I've posted on too many topics and I think it's a bit overwhelming.  I'd like to find a way to showcase one or two posts from each selected tab.  Know of any good widgets?

5.  Add a pic and short description of each of my kids in the sidebar.

6.  Maybe change the background.  I'm getting kind of sick of this one.


Any suggestions from my experienced blogging friends?  I sure could use some help! 

Our pre-K curriculum

American Boy (4) is a pre-schooler this year.  He's just so smart and eager to learn!

Here's our pre-K plan:

American Boy (4) will actually go to a pre-K two mornings a week.  I know this is taboo with many homeschoolers, but we love this preschool that's a ministry extension of a nearby church.  And it gives our energetic boy two mornings a week of not being shushed all morning (I require him to play quietly while the big kids are studying).

Reading- Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons-  I highly recommend this book.  I've used it for American Boy's three older siblings and he's already well on his way to reading since we started this summer.  I love that my part is scripted for me!  This helps me to stay patient and calm with my budding reader even when I'm bursting with frustration on the inside.

Bible-  American Boy just started on his TAG memory work this spring when he turned 4.  Last year we did morning devotions while the two younger children were still in bed.  This year American Boy will get to participate.  We use various resources each morning such as TAG books, Institute of Basic Life Principles character booklets 1-6, and other books such as Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends

Five in a Row-  I love the Five in a Row curriculum and will be doing volume 1 with American Boy this year.  He is such an active boy and is just now wanting to sit patiently while I read him a story.  The FIAR curriculum helps to develop listening comprehension (wish I'd used it with my 7 yr old!) as well as providing a spring board for varied learning and discussions of first-rate picture books.

Art-  Private art lessons.  (This is American Boy's first year for art- as you can probably tell.)


Learning stations-  I've learned so much from so many of you on how to do this.  My sweet friend Noelle at Triplesmiles sets up fun learning activities for her kids each day.  Kimberly at Raising Olives has great wisdom to offer on multi-level homeschooling and Tara at Too Many Kids in the Bathtub has actually given me some wonderful pre-K learning activities.  Learning stations will help keep my American Boy and Baby Lu productively occupied during "school".  Learning stations will include puzzles and games such as rainbow road, counting games, color sorting, etc.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sonlight 3/4 American History, here we come!

I can't believe June is over and the school year is around the corner again!  I'm so excited that we'll be starting Sonlight Core 3/4 American History in August!  The 3/4 core is a one year condensed version of Intro to American History, but ours is only going to be condensed in time, not scope.  Yes, that's right, I just couldn't pass on all those marvelous books in core 3 and core 4 that we would have missed out on.  I inherited the core 3/4 books from my sister-in-law so I only bought the additional books that I knew we just couldn't live without.  My thinking is this:  My 9 and 11 yr olds are very good readers and even using core 6 this year (a year or two above their grade levels) I added 4 or 5 books to our curriculum.  My 7 yr old will not be reading all the books in core 3/4 with us.  I was hoping she'd be up to it, but we're just not there yet.  She'll do read aloud with us and also read independently the 4-5 books in the core that appear to be closer to her 2nd grade reading level.  I've found a few other picture books and chapter books on her level that will supplement her readings in American History. 

One of the reasons we're so excited to be starting American History is because we're planning a trip to Washington DC this year!  I was able to travel there a few years ago at cherry blossom time and I'm hoping we can time it right so the whole family can enjoy that beautiful sight.  We're shooting for April, but I guess we'll play it by ear.  It's a good thing we're all set for cross-country trips now with our RV!

I've been working on a series of posts on our 2010-2011 curriculum and schedule.  I love reading what others are doing, so if you haven't posted on this yet, please do so.  If you have posted your curriculum for next year, I'd love to have a link to it in the comments section.  I love learning from the wisdom and experience of others!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Homemade Pizza Pockets!

You might remember I learned to make the best pizza ever about a month or so ago.  So when I saw this recipe for pizza pockets at Amy's Finer Things I had to try it.

I stuck to her dough recipe, but used my bread machine dough cycle to knead it. 

I made my pizza sauce (recipe included in best pizza ever post) instead of buying it and I used turkey pepperoni instead of regular pepperoni. 


OK, I know they don't look like Amy's, but this was just my first try and they tasted great!  They were a huge hit!  I was hoping to freeze some, but I'm going to have to try again tomorrow.  My older son had a friend over and we had a friend from church working on our house.  But, the main reason my pizza pocket making was cut short is BigD finished off the pan of pizza stuffing while I was eating my lunch.  I guess he thought he was saving it from going to waste.  Oh well, I'm excited to try again tomorrow.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Organization with a Purpose

Big D works on Saturday nights and occasionally I succomb to turning on the tv.  Last night I watched about 10 minutes of Hoarding, Buried Alive and it frightened me.  I found myself thinking what in the world is the matter with those people, but at the same time I recognize some of those same tendencies in myself.  It's so sad when your things end up owning you instead of the other way around. 

Linny at A Place Called Simplicity wrote about purging ourselves of our stuff yesterday and Amy at Raising Arrows has been getting rid of half her stuff in one room each Saturday.  I've decided I need to follow suit.  It's time to simplify!  And the timing couldn't be better.  Our church is raising money for a playground and we're having a churchwide garage sale in about 3 weeks to help pay for the costs.  This means I'm highly motivated to do some major organizing and simplifying over the next 3 weeks!


I couldn't quite bring myself to take pictures of the before, but you can get an idea of how awful it was by noticing the pile of stuff on the counter that will be headed to the garage sale.  Some of this stuff is great- electric knife, espresso maker, Pampered Chef cookie press (never used!!!), Pampered Chef apple corer/slicer.   It's hard for me to get rid of stuff that is new, barely used, or high quality, but I've vowed to get rid of everything we don't regularly use.


OK, I know this looks like a cabinet crammed full of glasses, but our cups and glasses used to take up another half cabinet, too.  I kept a lot, but got rid of a lot, too, as you can see.


This is the cabinet that used to be half full of coffee cups, creamers, sugar bowls, etc.  I'm a little embarassed to tell you I threw out many bottles of vitamins that expired long ago, several in 2004!  You can tell we don't take vitamins often.  I guess we're not exactly health nuts. 

Anyway, this is just the first installment.  I hope to have time over the next 3 weeks to go through the rest of my kitchen cabinets, storage room, kids' closets, the closet under the stairs (yikes!), our closet (double yikes!!), and maybe even the attic.  And dare I hope to tackle the bookshelves, too?  Maybe not.  I like taking my books to a local bookstore that issues credit for buybacks.  (Then I spend the credit on mochas and frapuccinos:).

Anyone else tackling any big organization projects this summer?  Do you feel better when you simplify your life, even in one small area?


Saturday, June 26, 2010

A biblically balanced prayer



It's a struggle to pray in a biblically balanced manner.  I don't know if you're like me, but when I go to the Lord in prayer there's usually something in particular on my mind.  And in the same way that I blurt out whatever's on my mind to my husband when he walks in the door, I tend to blurt out the need that's on my heart when I go to the Lord in prayer.  I remember learning the ACTS model as a young believer and trying to actually spend time during each prayer in Adoration, Confession, and Thanksgiving before moving onto Supplication.  But this is a discipline and all too often I find myself rushing to the supplication part.  I know God loves us and that we are told to make our requests known to Him.  It's just that I struggle to keep this in balance with the other important purposes of prayer.

Last night I was reading Solomon's prayer of dedication of the Temple to the Lord.  I was struck by the repition of the requests for God to hear and forgive His people.  (8:30, 8:34, 8:36, 8:39, 8:50) 

"And may You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place.  Hear in heaven Your dwelling place; and when You hear, forgive."  (1 Kings 8:30) 

Once they have God's ear, the first request is for forgiveness.  Solomon also asked that God:  act (8:32&39), judge His servants (8:32), condemn the wicked (8:32), justify the righteous (8:32), bring Israel back to the land (8:34), teach Israel the good way in which they should walk (8:36), send rain (8:36), give to everyone according to all his ways (8:39), do according to all for which the foreigner calls for (8:43), maintain the cause of Your people (8:45), and grant Your repentant people compassion (8:50).  But he asks for forgiveness first.  Solomon seems to understand that forgiveness is 1.) our greatest need and 2.) the prerequisite for all other supplications.  He also seems to understand that 3.) the ultimate goal of our supplications is not our felt need, but God's glory.

1.)  Forgiveness is our greatest need-  During the course of a 32 verse prayer, Solomon asks that God forgive His people under various circumstances no less than 5 times.  I should also mention that in Solomon's if/ then scenario, He asks that God forgive His people only when they confess their sins and turn back to the Lord.  Forgiveness cannot be divorced from repentance.  Solomon acknowledges the fact that we all sin and therefore are all in need of forgiveness. 

"When anyone sins against his neighbor..." (1 Kings 8:31)

"When Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You..." (1 Kings 8:33)

"When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You..." (1 Kings 8:35)

"...when each one knows the plague of his own heart..." (1 Kings 8:38)

"When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin)..." (1 Kings 8:46)

This priority of forgiveness reminds me of the time a paralyzed man is brought to Jesus to be healed and Jesus does something no one expected of Him.  "When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven you.'"  (Mark 2:5)  By this time Jesus has healed many people of various diseases.  Everyone, His disciples included, was expecting Jesus to physically heal this man (which He eventually does.)  But Jesus addresses the most severe problem the man has first.  Jesus forgives his sins first in verse 5 and then in verse 11 He addresses the man's physical plight and enables him to walk again.   Jesus didn't always do this when He healed people, but He does it here to make a point.  A man who can walk is still dead... in his sins.  We all have a terminal disease, it's called sin.  And it's more serious than any other problem we take to the Lord.  I think Solomon recognized this same truth.

2.)  Forgiveness is required for right standing with God and right standing with God is required for Him to grant our other supplications.  Notice there is a certain order of events followed in these verses.

v. 34- hear... forgive... bring them back to the land.
v. 36- hear... forgive... teach them... send rain. 
v. 39- hear... forgive... act, give to everyone according to all his ways
v. 49- hear... forgive... grant them compassion

I don't think it's a coincidence that Solomon puts his request for forgiveness first rather than tacking it onto the end of each supplication.  As believers, we understand that Christ died once for the forgiveness of our sins, yet we are told in the NT to confess our sins.

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  1 John 1:9

"Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."  James 5:16

So in order to be heard, or avail much, we must be righteous.  And in order to be righteous, we must confess our sins.  I don't think this is referring to the righteousness that is imputed to us by God at the point of salvation.  If that were so, the passage in 1 John wouldn't make much sense.  The context of the exhortation to confess our sins is that we all sin and "if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." (1 John 1:8)  Even though we have been justified, we still struggle with the flesh and we still sin.  When we sin, we grieve the Holy Spirit of God (Ephesians 4-5), so we must confess our sins and repent.  We shouldn't concern ourselves with less important matters (health, job situation, family) with unrepentant sin in our lives.  It's majoring in the minors.  God is primarily concerned about His glory and when His people are in sin, that reflects poorly on Him.  It is with this understanding that Solomon requests forgiveness first and then moves onto other requests from the Lord.

3.)  The reason to which Solomon appeals to God for answering the prayers of His people is totally wrapped up in the glory of God.

v. 29 "... that Your eyes may be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place which You said, 'My name shall be there'"
v. 36 "...that You may teach them the good way in which they should walk..."
v. 40 "...that they may fear You all the days that they live in the land which You gave to our fathers."
v. 43 "...that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You..."
v. 51 "...for they are Your people and Your inheritance, whom You brought out of Egypt, out of the iron furnace...
v. 53 "For You separated them from among all the peoples of the earth to be Your inheritance..."

David prays along these same lines in Psalm 6 when he cries out to the Lord, "Oh, save me for Your mercie's sake!"  We've been listening to Jamie Soles CDs of the Psalms and the ESV version says, "Save me for the sake of Your steadfast love."

Paul's beautiful prayer for the Philippians also has God's glory in mind.  "And this I pray, that your love may abound... being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."  (Philippians 1:9-11 emphasis mine)

And of course, the Lord's prayer is all wrapped up in God's glory:  "Hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come.  Your will be done... For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever."  (Mathew 6:9b, 10a & 13b)  In fact, the Lord's prayer begins and ends with the glory of God. 

I'm certainly not claiming to have this all figured out, but the more I study the Scriptures with prayer in mind, the more I see that my generation has an imbalanced view of prayer.  We see prayer primarily as a way to ask God to change something about our circumstances, instead of as a means of giving Him glory.  He gets the glory when we praise Him for who He is and what He's done (Adoration and Thanksgiving).  He's also glorified when His people are in right standing with Him (Confession).  And He glorifies Himself when He shows through granting our Supplications that He alone is the One, True, God and nothing is too difficult for Him. 

We're supposed to take all of our concerns to the Lord, but we should keep in mind 1.) that our sin is more serious to Him than our felt need and 2.) that praying with right motives is wrapped up in seeking God's glory in every situation.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Help bring Hudson home from China!

I haven't written lately about adoption, but it means so very much to my family.  Adoption is such a blessing, a miracle, and an act of love.  I've been so inspired and moved by following the adoption stories of others in the blog world like Adeye at No Greater Joy Mom who recently returned from Ukraine with two little girls with Downs Syndrome.

Today I learned through Jeanette at Threads of Faithfulness about a precious family who is adopting for the third time in five years and needs to raise a few more thousand dollars to bring their newest blessing, Hudson, home from China.  He's 3 and is in need of surgery.  Please go to their blog Bringing Home Hudson Samuel and buy a raffle ticket to help them welcome their son home to his forever family.  They have over 20 awesome prizes that have been donated and you can buy a raffle entry for only $10.  Maybe the Lord has laid the plight of the orphan on your heart, but you just aren't in a position to adopt.  While not everyone may be called to adopt, anyone can take advantage of this incredible opportunity to help bring together a forever family.  Please do what you can to help.



Our new speaking guidelines

I love the added freedom in our schedule that summer brings.  I love that the kids get to play more with friends and one another.  But I don't love the way I've been overhearing them talk to one another.  We've instituted some new speaking rules, well guidelines really. 

1.  Is someone else talking?  If yes, then wait.  If no, then proceed to next question.

2.  Is what I want to say true and important?  It's not that my children are all pathological liars, but I've been noticing this trend toward talking just to be heard, especially among my younger children.  What they say may be completely absurd, they just want everyone's attention on them.  And the important part is to remind them that mindless chatter devoid of any substance is more noise than communication.

3.  Is what I want to say kind and encouraging?  We spent almost an hour yesterday role playing different situations because almost anything that needs to be said can be said in either a kind and encouraging way or a defensive and ugly way.  I hope they're beginning to get the idea.  For example, let's say American Boy (4) has failed to pick up his room.  One could say something simply awful in an accusatory tone like, "You're room is trashed!  What have you been doing all this time?!"  Or the same important information could be conveyed in an encouraging way by saying something like, "Your room is looking a bit better, but I see  you still need to put your books away.  Do you remember how to do that using two hands so that you slide each book into your shelf neatly?"  You get the idea.  And by the way, I really need to work on this, too!

Last night during family worship rather than scouring Proverbs for every verse on the tongue (Big D has a 5 page Word document on this that he's promised me he'll bring home), we decided to focus on a few passages that the kids already know by memory.

"Therefore, putting away lying, let each one of you speak truth to your neighbor, for we are members of one another.  Be angry, and do not sin:  do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.  Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.  Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you with all maliceAnd be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.  Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children.  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.  But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints, neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks."  Ephesians 4:25-5:4 (emphasis mine)

Then Measle Bug recited 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 for us and we talked about what it means that "love bears all things".

I find myself getting frustrated that we study these verses, learn them by heart, but then don't obey them.

My prayer is that the Word of God that we hide in our hearts really will keep us from sinning against God (Psalm 119:11).  Our desire as parents is not to fill our kids with theological knowledge so that they can be experts in Bible trivia or impress others with their sharp minds.  Our goal as parents is for the powerful Word of God to change their hearts and minds (and ours, too) and conform them to the image of Christ.  I know this part is a work of God that I cannot do in my children.  But rather than being frustrated which is not profitable, I need to be all the more diligent to keep them saturated with the Scriptures so that God's Word can do it's work.

Do any of you have speaking guidelines in your home?  What are they?  Have they worked?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Winners of the 90 Day Bible Giveaway!!

I was so excited that 31 people brave enough to try the 90 Day Bible Challenge commented for a chance to win a 90 Day Bible that I decided I'd throw in 2 more 90 Day Bibles. 

The 3 winners are...

Commenter #5- Laura

Commenter #22- Cindy

Commenter #27- Marcy- Please leave me a comment on this post with your email address so I can get your Bible to you ASAP.

Congrats!!!   

To everyone who entered, thanks so much and please let me know if there's any way I can encourage you before or during the 90 day challenge. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

While the big kids are away, the little kids will play.

Monk (11), Twinkle Toes (9), and Measle (7) have gone blueberry picking with Nana in East Texas, so we're down to just two kids!  I wanted to do something special with the little kids while the big kids were away, so I asked American Boy (4) what he wanted to do.  The first adventure on his list was going through the car wash.  Little kids are so easy!  This worked great for me since I also needed gas and a new inspection sticker.  Next it was my turn to come up with something fun and when I saw Smockity Frock's Tutorial Tuesday post on making jumbo recycled crayons I knew that was it.  I've always wanted to do this, but never have.  Connie linked to Make and Takes for the actual tutorial and I followed the instructions step by step. 

To make this little project both fun and educational I thought I'd ask the kids about their colors.  When I asked big brother if he knew his colors he proudly rattled them all off to me.  When I asked Lu (20 months) if she knew hers, her matter-of-fact reply was, "No."  She didn't seem too interested in learning them, either.

As you can see Lu was a little confused about what we were doing.  She must associate unwrapping with lollipops, so naturally while big brother and I were popping crayons into the muffin tin, she was popping crayons into her mouth!  I decided it was Lu's naptime.

Doesn't he look proud?  We had company pop over while we were working and American Boy repeatedly described our important mission to them.


I know, I know, totally boring, right?  I just couldn't bring myself to mix the colors.  Maybe I can work up to that.

I did try to go a little crazy with this alternate version of the jumbo crayons, mixing shades of green and pink.  As you can see I either had a warped cookie sheet, warped cookie cutters, or both.  Too bad, but then you can't win them all.



Doesn't that smile just say it all?  He's so proud of his muffin tin crayons!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lessons from Leviticus part IV- God's way is the only way.


In this day of political correctness it’s extremely unpopular and even considered arrogant to assert there is only one way to anything, much less salvation. Even Christians have become so tolerant that practically anything goes in churches these days. Orthodoxy is disdained in an age where truth is considered either unattainable or irrelevant. One of my lessons from Leviticus, although it can be found throughout the Bible, is that there is only one way to please God, and that’s His way.

Nadab and Abihu were Aaron’s two oldest sons and had been trained by Moses, the mouthpiece of God, in their priestly duties. We don’t know much about Nadab and Abihu, like what kind of people they were, whether they were honest, or whether they took their role as priests seriously. All we know is that they attempted to worship God their way and it cost them their lives.

“Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu put coals of fire in their incense burners and sprinkled incense over them. In this way they disobeyed the Lord by burning before Him the wrong kind of fire, different than He had commanded. So fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and burned them up, and they died there before the Lord.” Leviticus 10:1-2

That seems a harsh punishment, doesn’t it? After all, they were worshiping the Lord. Wasn’t God pleased with their intentions? Shouldn’t God have been happy they were worshiping Him at all? Evidently not! God sent an unequivocal message to Israel that day that He wanted to be worshiped exactly as He commanded and only as He commanded. No deviation would be tolerated.

Moses was prevented from entering the Promised Land for a similar incident. You can almost sympathize with his presumption since the first time God gave the Israelites water from a rock He told Moses to strike the rock with his staff (Exodus 17). The second time God merely tells Moses and Aaron to speak and the water would gush out (Numbers 20). Moses strikes the rock anyway, either thinking surely God meant him to follow the same protocol as previously or possibly he struck the rock out of anger at the complaining Israelites. Regardless of his motives, God means what He says and disobedience is punishable by death. Moses would die in the wilderness and not live to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. Again, the stiff punishment exacted served as a message loud and clear to Israel to do things exactly as God commanded them.

The Lord, Himself gives this warning to Joshua after the death of Moses:

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or the left.” Joshua 1:7a

Disobedience is no small matter to God. Leviticus 16 gives the protocol for the high priest to follow on the Day of Atonement. Verse 13 adds that “if he follows these instructions, he will not die.”

Disobedience equals death, however, obedience brings life.

“If you obey my decrees and my regulations, you will find life through them. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 18:5

When God decided to flood the earth and wipe out almost every living thing, He provided one way to be saved. He told Noah to build an ark. He gave Noah specific instructions and Noah followed them. There was only one way to live through the flood. It was God’s way.

Noah could have tried to build a "better" boat. He could have made "improvements" to God’s blueprints or he could just as easily have taken short-cuts, trying to save time. Why didn’t he build two or three arks? Because, Noah understood that God’s way is the only way.

“So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” Genesis 6:22 (emphasis mine)

Moses gives the Israelites the same advice. “And now, Israel, listen carefully to these decrees and regulations that I am about to teach you. Obey them so that you may live, so you may enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. Do not add or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you.” Deuteronomy 4:1-4 (emphasis mine)

“So be careful to obey all the commands I give you. You must not add anything to them or subtract anything from them.” Deuteronomy 12:32

And lest we think this high standard of obedience to God's Word is an Old Testament thing, outdated and irrelevant, the last chapter of the Bible echoes this same directive.

“And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book. If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.” Revelation 22:18-19

Again we see that God's Word must not tampered with in any way.

Jesus Himself, inaccurately portrayed by many to be tolerant of religious pluralism, boldly claims to be the only way to salvation.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) It doesn’t matter how nice or well intentioned a person is, the only way to the Father, and therefore eternal life, is through Jesus Christ. There is no other way. I know that’s offensive to many, but God’s way is the only way.

God’s holiness is displayed when we obey Him. And when we presume there is a better way or just a different way than the way He has given us, we fail to display His holiness.

The only words of explanation Aaron received after the death of his two oldest sons was this reminder from Moses that “this is what the Lord meant when He said, ‘I will display my holiness through those who come near me, I will display my glory before all the people.’” Leviticus 10:3

The same reasoning is given for why Moses and Aaron were not permitted to enter the Promised Land, but instead were condemned to die in the wilderness over the seemingly insignificant incident of striking the rock for water.

“For both of you betrayed Me with the Israelites at the waters of Meribah at Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin. You failed to demonstrate My holiness to the people of Israel there.” Deuteronomy 32:51 (emphasis mine)

God’s way is the only way. Whether we're talking about salvation, worship, or anything that He has instructed us in.  His way is the only way.

90 Day Bible Giveaway!!

I told you I was planning on doing another giveaway in the near future, but I didn't know the future was this near!  And I said I'd probably offer a book, but I didn't know it'd be The Good Book!  I just learned I get to host a giveaway for an official 90 Day Bible!

I've already challenged you to read the Bible in 90 days with me, but now I have an exciting offer that I hope you can't refuse. 

I signed up with Amy at Mom's Toolbox to be a 90 Day Bible Challenge mentor this summer.  There's a new crop of bloggers beginning the 90 Day Bible Challenge July 5, so if you didn't get started June 1 with me, it's not too late to read the Bible this summer!  And the best part is if you're interested in trying to read the Bible in 90 days, you can enter here to win a free 90 Day Bible.

Here's why I loved using the official 90 Day Bible my first time through:

1.  Easy translation.  I normally use the NKJ version, but loved reading through in the NIV.  I think it made the reading go a bit faster and made it more interesting.

2.  Great for writing in.  Don't you feel almost guilty drawing or writing notes in your big leather-bound, onion skin thin and gilded page Bible?  I do, but I didn't feel bad at all writing in the margins of my 90 Day Bible, which really looks and feels more like just a book.

3.  Light weight.  Most Bibles have maps and dictionaries, and many also include study notes or pictures.  The 90 Day Bible is so thin my husband and I first thought it was abridged.  (I have no idea what parts of the Bible we thought had been left out- imagine that job!)  Anyway, we couldn't believe it was the WHOLE Bible.  It seemed much less intimidating than trying the challenge with my big, thick study Bible.

Comment below if you're interested in doing the 90 Day Bible Challenge and want to enter to win an official 90 Day Bible.  The winner will be announced Wednesday June 23rd to allow plenty of time to get the Bible to you before July 5th.

Friday, June 18, 2010

And the winner is...

And the winner is...



Anita!

Congrats!  Hope you find something wonderful to spend your $50 Lowes giftcard on!

Thank you to all of you who entered.  I'm going to try to get back to more frequent giveaways. 
My next one will probably be a book.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lessons from Leviticus- part III The Forgiveness of Sins

I imagine the twice daily offering of burnt sacrifices, not to mention the sin offerings required when made specifically aware of a sin, were enough to keep the Israelites’ guilt always before them. I’m always struck when reading through Leviticus how seriously God takes sin. Of course, the gravity of sin coupled with an awareness of the pervasiveness of our own sin nature would be quite hopeless in the absence of an understanding of forgiveness. That’s why I love the picture of forgiveness we get from the annual ceremony on the Day of Atonement.

“Then he (Aaron) must take two male goats and present them to the Lord at the entrance of the Tabernacle. He is to cast sacred lots to determine which goat will be reserved as an offering to the Lord and which will carry the sins of the people to the wilderness of Azazel. Aaron will then present as a sin offering the goat chosen by lot for the Lord. The other goat, the scapegoat chosen by lot to be sent away, will be kept alive, standing before the Lord… When Aaron has finished purifying the Most Holy Place and the Tabernacle and the altar, he must present the live goat. He will lay both of his hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the wickedness, rebellion, and sins of the people in Israel. In this way, he will transfer the people’s sins to the head of the goat. Then a man specifically chosen for the task, will drive the goat into the wilderness, it will carry all the people’s sins upon itself into a desolate land.” Leviticus 16:7-10 & 20-22

The first part of this ceremony was quite familiar since it was a daily occurrence. The Israelites understood that their sin required death and that atonement for sins was only made possible by the shedding of blood. It’s the second part of the ceremony that must have been a sweet reminder of the forgiving God they served. I love this picture of the symbolic transfer of sins to the head of the goat and then rather than just letting the goat drift off or hang around the camp, they actually drove it far out into the wilderness, illustrating how far the Lord had removed their transgressions from them.

I think David may have had this ceremony in mind when he wrote the following words found in one of my favorite Psalms:

“He does not punish us for all our sins; He does not deal harshly with us as we deserve. For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:10-12

Of course, the Day of Atonement wasn’t the only time the Israelites were reminded of God’s forgiveness. The annual celebration of Passover would also remind them of God’s passing over their sins and sparing their lives out of His great love and mercy. I just especially love the visual picture of the scapegoat being driven away from the camp carrying Israel’s sins away with him. Even more meaningful to me is that the scapegoat finds its fulfillment in Christ. Actually both goats offered on the Day of Atonement are types that are fulfilled in Christ.

“But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all.” Isaiah 53:5-6

“The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. That is why when Christ came into the world, He said to God, ‘You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But You have given Me a body to offer. You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin. Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do Your will, O God- as is written about me in the Scriptures.’’” Hebrews 10:1-7

Sometimes I wonder if we get the cart before the horse in our churches today- always stressing forgiveness and seldom dwelling on the severity of our sins. Both are true. I can only imagine the bliss felt by the Jewish believers in the early church when they realized Christ was the permanent answer to their sin problem. In this day and age of self-esteem parenting, I wonder if we do our children a disservice. I wonder if they can really appreciate what Christ’s sacrifice means without having a realistic view of the seriousness of their sin. Can any of us? Perhaps we should spend more time reflecting on our sins and confessing them to one another so that we can glory in the incredible forgiveness offered to us by God through Christ.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lessons from Leviticus part II- Water and blood

Don't forget to enter my $50 Lowe's giftcard giveaway by Friday!




The next lesson I learned from my recent reading in Leviticus has to do with blood and water, purification, and ceremonial cleansing. As a Reformed Baptist, baptism is of great interest to me. There are many views on the ordinance of baptism. Some sprinkle, some dunk, some do it at birth, others after a profession of faith. Some believe baptism is necessary for salvation, others view it as a symbol of our union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection; an ordinance to be obeyed and important for demonstrating what Christ has done on behalf of the believer, but not salvific in and of itself. It’s this later doctrinal debate that I think Leviticus may shed some light on.
Beginning in about chapter 11 of Leviticus, there is much talk of what is unclean and the procedure that must be undergone in order to be made clean again. It didn’t take me long to notice the repetition of the words wash, bathe, and purify, but then I began to notice that washing and bathing (with water) was always related to being made ceremonially clean, whereas purification was made by sprinkling the blood of a sacrifice offered as a purification offering. Sometimes the blood is sprinkled on the altar for purification such as for purification after childbirth or purification of the altar, itself, or purification of the high priest on the Day of Atonement, and sometimes the blood is sprinkled on the unclean person such as when a person is seeking to be purified of a skin disease, or in the case of the ordination of priests. Both washing to become ceremonially clean and the sprinkling of blood for purification is made in each case, but the order in which they are performed varies.

During my reading the first question I asked myself was this: What is the difference between being made ceremonially clean and being purified? There must be a difference since a different protocol is followed for each, yet they sound almost indistinguishable to me. If someone had asked me to define purify, I probably would have answered along the lines of to make clean. I also noticed that the purification ceremony involved only the person, the priest (representative of God), and the blood of the animal used in the purification ceremony. The washing, however, seemed to be more public. It involved washing the clothes worn at the time of contamination (I’m assuming the wash was done in a somewhat public location), as well as bathing the body and sometimes shaving the head. The final and most important observation was that the washing did not actually make the person clean. In the case of skin diseases, the purification ceremony was performed first followed by instructions in washing of the clothes and bathing. In the case of coming into contact with bodily discharge, washing and bathing is performed first (logical), but it is specifically stated that said person is to remain unclean even after the washing. So the washing and bathing with water didn’t actually make the person clean. Then after seven days (the period of purification), he washes his clothes and bathes himself again in fresh water and is made ceremonially clean, but on the eighth day, “the priest will offer one bird for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. Through this process, the priest will purify the man before the Lord...” (Lev 15:15)

“I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the Lord. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.” (Lev 17:11)

I think that verse is significant. Now we know from Hebrews 10 that the blood of animals was never sufficient to take away sins, but was a shadow of the blood that would be shed by the Lamb of God, which would be sufficient to take away sins. So please don’t think I’m saying that the purification ceremony described in Leviticus actually made a sinful person clean. What I’m saying, is that this whole obsession with not touching anything unclean in Leviticus was to show the Israelites that they couldn’t stay clean. This constant purification process served as a reminder that they were unclean before God. It symbolized and reminded them of the pervasiveness of their own sin. Furthermore, the shedding of blood was required for purification (again this is a shadow of the ultimate purification to come).

So, getting back to the issue of the ordinance of baptism… I see water baptism as a continuation of ceremonial cleansing (John 3:25 shows John’s disciples connected the two). Water as a means of ceremonial washing is not something that just pops up in the NT, but is present in the OT too as we’ve just seen. Baptism symbolizes how a person has actually been made clean by Christ’s work on the cross, just like ceremonial washing and bathing in the OT showed that a person was undergoing or had undergone purification. The actual purification process requires the shedding of blood on behalf of the person being made pure (remember Leviticus 17:11 quoted above). It is actually Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross and the application of His shed blood on our behalf by the Father, that saves us. He paid the debt that we could not. We cannot purify ourselves from sin any more than the Israelites could. Salvation comes only by the blood of the Lamb of God. Water cannot wash away our sins and it cannot make us pure. Baptism instead is a beautiful picture of the purifying work of Christ.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lessons from Leviticus- part I

Don’t forget to enter my $50 Lowe’s gift card giveaway by Friday.


Lessons from Leviticus- part I

The 90 day Bible challenge took me through Leviticus last week and I absolutely loved my reading. I know Leviticus is not the book of the Bible most people think of when they want to soak in doctrinal truth, but I was amazed at what I learned this time through. I think Leviticus may be much more rich in doctrine than I’ve previously given it credit for. Probably no one else out there is interested in this, but I want to record a few of the lessons I’ve learned from Leviticus in a mini-series.

The first lesson I learned from my reading of Leviticus this time was about the pervasiveness of sin.

Leviticus 8 gives specific instructions concerning the ordination of the priests.

“Then Moses presented the other ram, which was the ram of ordination. Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the ram’s head, and Moses slaughtered it. Then Moses took some of its blood and applied it to the lobe of Aaron’s right ear, the thumb of his right hand, and the big toe of his right foot. Next Moses presented Aaron’s sons and applied some of the blood to the lobes of their right ears, the thumbs of their right hands, and the big toes of their right feet. He then splattered the rest of the blood against all sides of the altar.” Leviticus 8:22-24

God had established from Genesis that sin can only be atoned for by blood. And Hebrews 10 reminds us that the blood of animals was never sufficient for the forgiveness of sins, but only served as a type or shadow of the forgiveness that was to come from the death of Christ on the cross, the Lamb of God whose sacrifice is sufficient to atone for our sins.

I love that Aaron and his sons first lay their hands on the ram’s head, symbolically transferring their own sin and guilt to the ram that is to be sacrificed. What a vivid reminder of the gravity of sin this would be.

But the new thought to me from this passage in Leviticus was about the sprinkling of the blood from the sacrifice on their ear lobes, right thumbs, and right big toes. We have an expression in English that conveys the idea of something being all pervasive. If someone is a little bit wet, you might say they’re damp. If they’re quite wet in some or most parts of their body, you might say they’re wet or even soaked. If they’re completely wet all over their body, you might say that they’re wet from head to toe. This is the expression that came to mind when I read the above passage in Leviticus. I’m no theologian, but I think this may be the idea here. It wasn’t enough to just apply the sacrificial blood to the hands of the priests, although this would be logical since it is with their hands that they minister to the Lord in the tabernacle. But, it wasn’t enough because they were completely depraved, totally affected by sin from head to toe. And so are we. That’s the bad news.

But God … (I love those two words). But God, in His infinite wisdom and love has had a perfect plan from eternity past to redeem for Himself a people that He would set apart as His own. A sinful people. And not just a little sinful, but a people with a sin problem so pervasive as to be terminal, barring the Lord’s intervention. But intervene, He did.

“Healthy people don’t need a doctor- sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Mark 2:17

That’s the good news.

Jesus is saying there is no salvation for those who fail to recognize the depths of their own sin. The self-righteous Pharisees who were so quick to criticize Christ for associating with a tax gatherer (a sinner indeed!), neglected to see how serious their own sin problem was. They hadn’t learned the lesson of Leviticus 8.

Coming to terms with our total depravity is the first step in understanding the depth of God’s love for us. The more in touch we become with how completely depraved we are, the more grateful we become for God’s love for us that caused Him to stoop down from His holy hill and rescue us. There is no appreciation for the sacrifice of Christ, apart from the realization of how very damned we are by our own sin.  I know this isn't popular preaching today, but I think it's one of many lessons from Leviticus we would do well to take to heart.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sold out at the cost of a slave


I have long loved these words from Philippians about Christ's great humility:

"Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.  Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.  When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminial's death on a cross."  Philippians 2:6-8 (emphasis mine)

The long awaited Anointed One took the humble position of a slave.  He was poor, though He owned everything.  He washed His disciples feet, though they weren't worthy even to sit at His table.  He suffered death on a cross, though He was Sovereign Lord of the universe.

He took the humble position of a slave and was even sold out at the cost of a slave.

"Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests and asked, 'How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?' And they gave him thirty pieces of silver.  From that time on, Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus."  Mathew 26:14-16  (emphasis mine)

"But if the ox gores a slave, either male or female, the animal's owner must pay the slave's owner thirty silver coins..."   Exodus 21:32 (emphasis mine)

So a slave's life was valued to be worth 30 silver coins according to the law of restitution. 

But, "a man between the ages of twenty and sixty is valued at fifty shekels of silver..."  (Leviticus 27:3) based on the redemption value of gifts offered to the Lord.

So a slave was valued to be worth a little over half that of a free man. 

I don't know whether the leading priests had this insult in mind when they paid Judas to betray the Lord, but I do know that it wasn't a coincidence.  Christ willingly came to earth as a suffering servant.  This is not what most of the Jews were expecting.  It's not what most of us look for in a Savior, either, but it was God's perfect plan.   Of course, it wasn't the end of God's plan.  The next three verses in the Philippians passage quoted above tell the rest of the story.

"Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  Philippians 2:9-11

Friday, June 11, 2010

Great home improvement giveaway!!! $50 Lowes giftcard

It's been almost 4 months since my last giveaway!  I'm way overdue!

I don't know about you, but summertime is home improvement time around our house, especially when I'm pregnant.  I've shared with you about our bedroom switching schemes which will involve building a closet and will most likely also involve building a loft bed for Measle and Baby Lu to share.  What do you think of these ideas?

From The New Kidspace Idea Book by Wendy A. Jordan, p. 90.  The complete package looks
a little busy to me considering our small space, but I like the general set-up of loft bed over toddler
with maybe a desk underneath.  I also like the storage space for books or toys adjacent to the loft bed.
 

We might have to overlap the beds a bit more than this, and I shudder to think what my
girls would do with closed cabinets, but I like the general lay-out.  Photo from
I don't know if you can tell, but the above two pictures are of the same loft bed system. 
I was thinking we could use it folded up as in the first picture while Baby Lu is a toddler
and then unfold it when Measle has a friend spend the night or if we wanted to keep
using it when Lu graduates to a twin bed.  Big D would also paint this loft bed.   


Now, to cut to the chase...

Here's how to enter to win a $50 Lowe's giftcard:

1.  This contest is for followers of my blog only, if you're reading this you probably already follow, but if not, now's a good time to sign-up.  (I feel I owe a little something to my faithful followers now and then.  If you've been reading me for long you understand why :).

2.  Comment below either on which loft bed idea you like best and why or tell me about your summer home improvement plans.

3.  For an additional chance to win, blog about this giveaway and tell me in a second comment.  Please link to your blog from the comment.

4.  For yet another chance to win, tweet or facebook about this giveaway and tell me in a third comment.

The winner will be randomly drawn and announced on Friday June 18th.  Please make sure I can contact you through your comment so I can notify you if you win.  Good luck and I can't wait to see what projects you all have going on!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

90 Day Bible Update- Fun for the whole family!



I shared with you in my post on Summer Goals that I wanted my two older children to spend an hour and a half or more reading each day this summer.  I pre-selected a bunch of biographies that I thought would be great fun and educational for them to read, but they decided they'd rather read the Bible.  I was thrilled they wanted to try the 90 day challenge with me, but skeptical.  I mean, after all, they're just kids.  Guess what?  They're WAY ahead of me!  (They both had plans for summer camp and wanted to get at least a week ahead early on.  As it turns out, only Twinkle Toes is going to camp now.)

Monk uses his Bible ipod, for lack of a better term.  It's really cool.  He takes it everywhere with us and when the younger kids are busy with an activity like art or playing at the playground with friends, he reads away.  When he gets to a word he doesn't know how to pronounce he simply turns the sound on and listens.  He loves his new toy and I love that he's reading the whole Bible this summer.

Twinkle Toes I'm still a bit skeptical of.  It seems to me she reads awfully fast, but then she can always tell me what she's been reading about, too (in general).  Maybe I should enter her in some speed reading contests.  Or maybe I should start quizzing her more specifically.  Anyway, I'm not making her do this and I want it to be a fun experience so I'll probably just let her go at her own pace, even if that is the speed of light.  (When she reads so fast she still has to make up her reading quota with other books, but I've been a bit more lax with what I approve of for her supplemental reading.)

Measle was trying to do the adapted 90 day Bible plan for the Real Life Devotional Bible which had her reading two chapters per day, but she's struggled to keep up.  I'm having a hard time getting her to read in her head.  She always wants an audience and well, we're all trying to keep up with our own reading.  She's not terribly behind and it is only two chapters per day, so she may catch up and finish with us after all.  I'll keep you posted. 

Over all this has been a fun family experience.  Of course, there was the time when Measle innocently told me she wanted to marry her daddy and Monk overhearing admonished her that that was a sin and its penalty was death.  He's always been a good little law keeper.  Measle burst into tears and I explained to her that daddy was already married, but that he loved her very much.  Then I explained to Monk that it's perfectly normal for a little girl to want to marry her daddy and for him not to worry.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The role of youth groups in the seeker-sensitive and emerging church movement

Don't you just love getting books in the mail?  Today my new 3rd edition copy of John MacArthur's Ashamed of the Gospel arrived and I immediately sat down and read the preface to this new edition.  I just love John MacArthur and he has helped me once again to see a connection I've somehow missed before.  My husband is a pastor and he and I spend a lot of time wondering how the evangelical church today came to be in the mess it's in.  MacArthur blames much of it on the influence of postmodernism.  But he also connected some dots for me about the role GenX youth groups have played.  I'm quoting below from pages 22 & 23 of the new 3rd edition of Ashamed of the Gospel:  when the church becomes like the world.
_______________________________________________

Coming from the age group then known as Generation X, these postmodernized youth were mostly products of a ministry style that kept young people sequestered in youth ministry, away from adults.  They and their peers had learned to "do church" in settings where the focus was mostly on games and activities.  Their music was a whole generation newer than the supposedly contemporary stylings their parents favored.  They sported fashions that were even more cutting edge than the slickest seeker-sensitive church would ever think to feature.  And the attitudes of youth and youth leader alike were shaped to fit the postmodern style:  deeply cynical.

The main problem for those young people was that their parents' churches were indeed pathologically shallow and worldly.  The students had grown up being entertained far more than they were spiritually fed.  When they began to move out of the youth group into the adult world, they were turned off by churches that simply could not keep up with the changing styles.  In reality, even the trendiest seeker-sensitive churches were still wedded to the tastes and convictions of a modern, not a postmodern, generation. 

That is inevitably what happens when churches abandon biblical ministry in favor of worldly trends. 

The discovery of postmodernism by Gen-Xers in seeker-sensitive youth groups culminated in precisely the kind of disaster this book foretold (he means when originally published in 1993).  It was a recipe for the perfect apostasy:  thousands of young people had been indoctrinated with pragmatism as a way of life, raised with the idea that worship must be tailored to please "Unchurched Harry" in order to be relevant, and taught to regard truth as unattainable.  Now they were embracing all those errors at once and attempting to blend them all into A New Kind of Christianity.
____________________________________________

I've written previously about the sinking ship of youth ministry, so I won't repeat that here.  I will however add as a disclamimer that while in college I was a member of John MacArthur's church and attended the College and Career class there.  He's not saying all youth ministry is bad, he has a youth ministry in his own church.  Each week I was encouraged by two sermons, one from Dr. MacArthur during church and the other from Scott Ardavanis, an excellent expositor of the Word in his own right.  Certainly, we can fill a room with young adults and feed them the Word of God and call it youth ministry.  No one is arguing against that.  The problem is very few churches are doing that.  MacArthur goes on to explain that postmodernism combined with the age of the internet has left people with shorter attention spans who are more interested in sound bites than the truth.  "Our culture has simply lost patience with reasoned discourse and careful exposition." (MacArthur in Ashamed of the Gospel p. 20)  Furthermore, it has "lost the ability to distinguish between what's trivial and what's profound."  (p. 20)

What does all of this mean to me?  It helps my husband and I to understand why our church will probably always be small.  It also reaffirms to us the significance of homeschooling in an effort to combat the postmodern mentality in our children.  And finally, it encourages us to stay the course in our church and not go the way of the world even though we understand it will limit the size of our church.  Yes, I've been told the Wednesday night Scripture memory class that I teach is boring (not by a homeschooled child by the way).  We do play games occassionally, but mostly we just memorize the Bible.  It's because we understand that only the Word of God will nourish and mature our children into a godly generation that will hopefully bring about Reformation in the evangelical church.  Our cry is the same as that of the Reformers.  Ecclesia Reformata, Semper Reformanda.  The church reformed, and always to be reformed.  Because we are morally corrupt and live in a fallen world, we must constantly endeavor to keep our churches and doctrine in line with the perfect standard of God's Word.  In the words of MacArthur's title, we must do whatever it takes to NOT become Ashamed of the Gospel so that the church will NOT become like the world.

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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.