Friday, November 30, 2012

The Friday Focus

Unforgiveness Separates us from God
But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:15
Some of you have unforgiveness in your heart. You may have been carrying this hurt from as far back as your childhood. Holding onto the pain robs your joy, peace, and your relationship with God. A holy God has to turn his back on sin. Forgiving is not saying to your offender that it’s ok. Instead, you are releasing him/her and all offences to God. You hold the key to the prison door. Swing that door open wide…
This is how it feels to be FREE!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Q & A

Q and A
By Amy Gentry

Q: What is the God story behind the first Thanksgiving?

A: God’s finger prints are all over the formation of our country; hearts of men as well as the structure to come. Before the first Thanksgiving was even on the horizon God began to lay a foundation.  An Indian man named Squanto was kidnapped by an English Captain, taken to England, forced to learn English, escaped, and returned home to the reality that his whole tribe had succumbed to a fatal plague.
   Squanto heard from a local tribesman that new settlers were trying to settle his tribal land, but to no avail.  It was then that Squanto discovered his purpose; he wanted to see his tribal soil rich and prosperous again.  By God’s blessing, he could speak English to communicate with the Pilgrims.  Squanto taught the Pilgrims what they needed to know to survive in his land.  He worked alongside the Pilgrims to demonstrate how to make that land produce, what and how to plant crops that would sustain them, which herbs could be used as medicines, and how to stalk the living prey of the land.

   The Pilgrims were planting seeds too.  Squanto watched how they loved one another and how they loved him.  He listened as the bible was read every morning and every evening.  He attended their prayer meetings and saw how God was moving in the lives of the Pilgrims and how their seemingly impossible prayers were being answered.  Squanto’s heart was grabbed by God and he asked Jesus to save him.

   There is no doubt that as a result of the evil done to Squanto the lives of the Pilgrims were spared.  I wonder if one of the stories that Squanto heard was the story of Joseph.   “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”  (Genesis 50:20)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dances across my mind...

Dances across my mind…
by Tracy Sewell

Once in a blue moon we get a chance to glimpse into the window of our child’s heart and know what is really important to them.  And when we do, it can be astounding.  I recently peered through this window when I read my 9 year old son’s paper which he wrote at school that was shoved into a pile with all of his other work.  It would have been so easy to miss if I hadn’t taken the time to sort and actually read the things he brought home.  I found a gem among all the rubbish. 
At the end of his essay, he wrote “Most importantly in my bag I brought a photo of my sister.  I got her from my mom’s body.  I play with her at our house after school.  I feel good because she is always happy.  Sometimes as I drift off into sleep at night my baby sister dances across my mind, and I smile.”  I still can’t believe my son who is a boy of few words could clearly communicate his feelings through writing.  Now if I had asked him what he thinks about right before he goes to sleep, I would probably get the famous shoulder shrug or a grunt of “don’t know.”

As a mom we need to be aware of our children’s thoughts even if they can’t express it verbally.  You have tremendous influence over what goes into that little developing brain.  We must be sensitive to the nonverbal cues our children give us in everyday interaction in order to see their inner thoughts. 

Make a conscious effort to teach them  “… whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  (Philippians 4:8).  When they know these biblical truths it will be easier later in life for them to “… take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) 
I encourage you to ponder the question “What dances across my mind?”  And once you’re aware of your own thoughts then you can help shape and mold what dances across your child’s mind.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
By Jen Hatmaker
Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed with all your stuff, life, media, noise, stress, etc.?  Do you want to simplify and slow down, but don’t really know what that means or how to do it?  Are you ready for a real life-changing experiment that you will never forget?  T2W was certainly feeling that way and we recently read this book, while engaging in the “7 fast” and loved it!  (Of course we admitted earlier this fall that we aren’t half the woman Jen Hatmaker is and so we only did two weeks on each area of fasting.  Yeah whatever, we really wanted to be done before Thanksgiving, so there! J)  For more information on how we did or if you’re bored and want to read a bunch of whining, “like” and checkout our Facebook Page!  So, read on our friend!  

American life can be excessive, to say the least. That’s what Jen Hatmaker had to admit after taking in hurricane victims who commented on the extravagance of her family’s upper middle class home. She once considered herself unmotivated by the lure of prosperity, but upon being called “rich” by an undeniably poor child, evidence to the contrary mounted, and a social experiment turned spiritual was born.
7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.
Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress. They would spend thirty days on each topic, boiling it down to the number seven. Only eat seven foods, wear seven articles of clothing, and spend money in seven places. Eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe “seven sacred pauses.” So, what’s the payoff from living a deeply reduced life? It’s the discovery of a greatly increased God—a call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that transcends social experiment to become a radically better existence.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Learning to Be the Light

Learning to Be the Light
By Stephanie H.
After about 3 days of rainy, dreary weather, I start to feel very gloomy.  I am so thankful for sunshine and God’s physical “light.”  I am also thankful that unlike the weather God’s “light” is always shining on and in us.
God’s light is an outward display of His love, power and majesty.  The same God who spoke light into creation speaks light into your life.  Psalm 4:6 “Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.”
His presence is “light” which will never leave us and there is evidence all around us that He was here and always will be here.  Walk with Him and talk with Him.   Psalm 89:15 “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD.”
His Word is a source of “light.”  The Bible was written for us, a message to you from God…a love note to His Bride.  God not only provided everything we would need, but gave us an instruction manual.  Psalm 119:105Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”
Do you know His light?  God loves you and has the power to turn your darkness into light.  Maybe you know His light but you need to take something to the Lord for Him to shed His light on.  Take the darkness of anxiety, fear, jealousy, anger into His light.  Psalm 18:28You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”
Challenge:  Be the light!  Reflect God’s light in this very dark world.  Darkness is all around us every day.  Speak God’s word; it will shed light in someone’s life.
Luke 11:33-35 "No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.  Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.  See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.”

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Friday Focus

Don’t Look Back

You can’t change the past so refuse to dwell there.

Start fresh today and look ahead, better yet, look upward!

Onward and upward, such a difference it will make.

Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18,19

Book Club: 7

Thursday, November 22, 2012

An Intimate Message From God To You

An Intimate Message From God To You

My Child…
You may not know me, but I know everything about you. Psalm 139:1
I know when you sit down and when you rise up. Psalm 139:2
I am familiar with all your ways. Psalm 139:3
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in my image. Genesis 1:27
In me you live and move and have your being.  For you are my offspring. Acts 17:28
I knew you even before you were conceived. Jeremiah 1:4-5
I chose you when I planned creation. Ephesians 1:11-12
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psalm 139:15-16
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. Acts 17:26
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
I knit you together in your mother's womb. Psalm 139:13
And brought you forth on the day you were born. Psalm 71:6
I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me. John 8:41-44
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. 1 John 4:16
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. 1 John 3:1
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. Matthew 7:11
For I am the perfect father. Matthew 5:48
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Because I love you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3
My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore.  Psalms 139:17-18
And I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
I will never stop doing good to you. Jeremiah 32:40
For you are my treasured possession. Exodus 19:5
I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. Jeremiah 32:41
And I want to show you great and marvelous things. Jeremiah 33:3
If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. Deuteronomy 4:29
Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
For it is I who gave you those desires. Philippians 2:13
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Ephesians 3:20
For I am your greatest encourager. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psalm 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:3-4
And I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. Revelation 21:3-4
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus. John 17:23
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. John 17:26
He is the exact representation of my being. Hebrews 1:3
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. Romans 8:31
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. 1 John 4:10
I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. Romans 8:31-32
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me. 1 John 2:23
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again. Romans 8:38-39
Come home and I'll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. Luke 15:7
I have always been Father, and will always be Father. Ephesians 3:14-15
My question is…Will you be my child? John 1:12-13
I am waiting for you. Luke 15:11-32


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving & Leftover Recipes


Thinkin' Things

Thinkin’ Things
By Amy Gentry

What does worship look like to me, you ask?  For me, worship happens when I am praying on my knees, listening intently to a Sunday sermon, journaling my prayers, praising with the congregation, or making the bed while singing off key listening to Phillips, Craig and Dean.  These are external forms of worship. I always try to be mindful that my worship is always to begin in my own head.  My internal dialogue and the way I think is my highest form of worship.  “The LORD has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does.” (Isaiah 8:11 emphasis mine) 

How am I to think???

  • “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 emphasis mine)  I often have to remind myself when I am pondering the “what if’s” of life to THINK ON THINGS THAT ARE TRUE.  The “what if’s” of life are not my truth today.  I also have to keep an eye on making assumptions.  Assuming others have ill motives or think poorly of me is purely my own creative thinking, not true.
  • “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28 emphasis mine)  Our God is faithful to produce an outcome in my impossible situation that will ultimately bring Himself glory.  I am just one little part of His plan. 

  • For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 emphasis mine)  God is for me!  All of the time.  Nothing slips past Him or flies under His radar.

  • “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,  I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Phil. 3:13-14 emphasis mine) What do Moses, David, Peter, and Paul have in common?  They have all had to forget the wrong, ‘should have known better’ choices that they made in the past and press on to do God’s will here on earth.  If God can work mightily through them and their biblically epic sins than God can certainly use me today with all of my baggage.

  • "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34 emphasis mine)  This verse in particular is powerful to me today.  My husband is working for an employer in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings and his future job might not be in our hometown anymore, we might have to move to New York City.  (I am a true southerner and those people walk way too fast for my taste)  But I cannot worry about where his job will be next year, TODAY I have a husband, 3 children, a job, a ministry, a church that I serve in, a high school booster club that needs my administration.  I share my heart every morning with the Lord and I have to trust the future of my family to Him.  All of it.
CHALLENGE: Just for today - take your thoughts captive, compare them to scripture and then make them obedient to Christ. 

“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge!
How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!”
(Romans 11:33)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Celebrating Christmas with Jesus

Celebrating Christmas with Jesus: An Advent Devotional By Max Lucado
Do you get overwhelmed, frustrated and tired at Christmas?  Do you feel like because of this you are sometimes missing the true meaning and all that Christmas stands for?  Start your day during the holidays right!  T2W has found a sweet little Christmas devotional book from Max Lucado!  For the next 30 days in December, open this book for some great reminders for you and your family slow down, ponder and pray about the gift of Jesus during the holiday season.  
Let Advent come alive in your life this Christmas.
“Every Christmas, Christians all over the world celebrate the Advent season, recognizing the love, hope, joy, and peace that is found only in Jesus Christ. Through this 30-day devotional, Max Lucado brings to light the many events in the life of Christ from birth to ascension that demonstrate His omnipotence and the gift that God has given each one of us to enjoy during this Christmas season. Experience each moment as our Savior becomes the center of this Christmas for you.”

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Purposeful Pinteresting

Thankful Tree
Inspiration from
The Thankful Tree is a great craft for so many reasons.  This is a practically free craft, you can personalize it to your own taste and available supplies, it will be a beautiful centerpeice and you can get the whole family involved Thanksgiving Day.
Arrange branches in a vase or jar,
fill it with acorn, coffee beans, mini pumpkins, etc..,
cut out paper leaves, circles, tags, etc...,
punch holes in your paper cut outs,
put ribbon or yarn through the holes,
and hang them on the tree!
As people arrive for Thanksgiving festivities have them write what they are thankful for.  During lunch have everyone take a tag off the tree and read it out loud.
Simple, but meaningful!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Book Club: 7

The Friday Focus

When people show you who they are - believe them.
"A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart." Luke 6:45

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Following His Lead

Following His Lead

By Carri P.

Quite often I can feel over whelmed thinking about what it is God wants from me. My stomach gets knotted up and a heavy curtain of anxiety lay upon me.  I feel a prompting here or there to do this or that and I cringe at the thought of placing these requests on my already crammed schedule.  I feel over whelmed and under prepared.  I feel inadequate and scared.  My conclusion is that my own sinful flesh is working against me.  As Mark 14:38 puts it, The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” HSCB

I was recently standing in a grocery line when I felt a strong prompting to speak of spiritual matters with the young cashier waiting on me.  The young man put his “Lane Closed” sign up.  This was a confirmation that God was giving me the time I needed and to get on with it.  I had the typical struggle within me for about a minute and finally just jumped in.  After a few questions I had found out that this man had been in the military and had come from a church that had experienced corruption.  He was broken and told me he actually prayed for Jesus to leave him alone!  I allowed the Holy Spirit to take over and shared the Gospel with him.  He tried to laugh it off and we parted but I know that God had laid that opportunity at my feet and asked me, “So what are you going to do with this one?  This boy that I love?  Are you broken for him?”

Most of the time  when these opportunities arise my first reaction is a feeling of being fearful of my own inadequacy.  However, there is mighty power in God’s Word!  2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us that “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness but one of power, love and sound judgment.” HSCB

I feel as though it is time I acquire a new perspective.  This past week I had three different service opportunities that God presented to me.  At first I could feel my calendar overload screaming “absolutely not!  You can not handle one more thing.”  Thankfully I was able to tune in to the Holy Spirit who intervened in a calming tone and stated, “You just walk through it and I will handle the details.  Just be willing to show up and I will handle the rest.” 

Proverbs 3:5 tells us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” NIV  God is completely trust worthy, faithful and has allowed everything to work out perfectly.  As each item was completed I could see that God really was in the details of each moment.  I am not to fear the opportunities God presents to me.  I am to trust in His power to bring me through to His glory! 

Challenge – The next time you have a fearful feeling about following the prompting of God’s Holy Spirit remember that you have God’s power within you and that God has given you His Spirit of power, love and sound judgment.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

6 Stones

6 Stones is an incredible community organization located in Bedford, Texas that serves the Hurst, Euless and Bedford suburb areas.  The vision of 6 Stones is to be a catalyst of hope that transforms lives, homes and our community.  They do everything imaginable for people living in their area, from collecting food, clothes and school supplies to partnering with the local city mayors, schools, churches, electric companies and Master Gardeners to restore and revitalize homes in major need of repair and updating.  Their mission at 6 Stones is building a coalition that provides solutions to meet the needs of their community.  Their values are that in all they do, they will be:

§  Christ-centered
§  Unified
§  Honorable
§  Respectful
§  Compassionate
§  Service Oriented
If you live in the area and have a call in your life to be of service to this amazing ministry, you can go to this website for more information or for monetary donations:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Delayed Obedience: What’s the Matter with Children?

Delayed Obedience: What’s the Matter with Children?
By Amy Gentry
Adrian Rogers once said, “We train our dogs and don’t train our kids.  Then we tie up the dog at night and let the kids run wild.”  Can I just talk straight with you today?  I have been trying to figure out why my son was struggling with the concept of immediate obedience.  That is code for ‘he was not listening to me.’  From polling my friends and working in a preschool, I know that I am not alone in this struggle.  What’s the matter with children?  Why don’t they follow directions when I ask?

I give my children soooo many warnings so there is no longer motivation to listen when they are told something. 

A typical conversation with my child looks like this:
Me:  “Pick up your shoes in the hallway.”
My kid:  “OK.”  (but they continue watching tv)
Me:  “Now, or ….(insert threat here)…!”
My kid:  “Yes, mom.”  (then they get up and go)

Ephesians 6:1-3 MSG “Children, do what your parents tell you.  This is only right.  “Honor your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, “so you will live well and have a long life.”

My revelation:  By giving them a warning before they get a consequence for their delayed obedience, I AM GIVING THEM PERMISSION TO DISOBEY ME ONCE BEFORE HE GETS IN TROUBLE.  Did you hear that?  I am giving them permission to disobey me.  I might as well plan on asking him everything twice from now on.

My solution:  There are some absolutes as well as some exceptions. 

ABSOLUTES: You may never hurt someone or call names, you show respect, and follow all requests given by mom and dad…. For these things there should not be warnings.  (P.S. these rules cover a lot of ground)

EXCEPTIONS: everything else.

CHALLENGE: Practice it.  Mean what you say.  Make a request of your child and if they do not obey immediately give them a consequence.  Just take baby steps, give yourself grace to try again tomorrow.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Cookie Bars

Cinnamon Roll Cookie Bars

Cookie Bar Ingredients:
1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

Icing Ingredients:
2 tablespoons milk
2 cups powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients together and pour in a greased 9x13 baking dish.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.  Mix icing ingredients.  After the cookie bars are baked remove from oven and allow to cool.  Pour icing over and spread.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Book Club: 7

The Friday Focus

All Sin Begins with a Lie
Lies are whispered to you at the precise moment by a skilled deceiver. The lie becomes a thought. To dwell on that thought until it becomes a reality paves a way for disaster. To act on that lie is where sin starts.
Whether it is adultery, murder, lust, or pride the choice is yours, but it started with a lie.
we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5b

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Scattering Seeds...

Scattering Seeds … The Car Accident
By Carri Pratt
It was my daughter’s fifth birthday.  We climbed into the car and headed for school.  We sang Happy Birthday to her and asked the typical birthday questions on our ride to the elementary.  The light ahead of me was turning yellow and I began to slow down and come to a stop.  Unfortunately, the car behind me failed to stop and plowed right into my trunk.

I looked around to see if my two sons and daughter were all ok.  Everyone was fine.  I then proceeded to get out of the car to see who it was that hit me.  As I approached the other vehicle I was met by a young girl who was obviously on her way to the high school down the road.  I immediately imagined if this were my daughter in front of me and thought about what a scary moment this must be for her right now.

I asked her if she was ok and the tears began to well up in her eyes.  The Holy Spirit inside of me could not be contained.  I reached out to give her a hug and told her it would be ok.  I am sure I was prompted because the next words out of my mouth were, “God was really watching out for you.  This may not have ended so well.”  She agreed.  I then asked her if she went to a local church.  She told me she did occasionally but that her parents did not attend.  She also admitted to me that she had never been baptized.  I told her I was being prompted to tell her that she should really talk to her pastor about salvation and being baptized.  She agreed and we exchanged information.  Both of our vehicles were able to be driven and we parted company.

Although I never spoke to her again I did mail her a Bible and an information sheet on salvation and baptism and I prayed for her several times.
In that moment God allowed me to see how I would have wanted my daughter to be treated.  He also showed me that this girl was either His daughter or would be soon.  He wanted me to show her compassion and I am so very glad I followed His promptings.