Sunday, September 17, 2017

Apples Make a Church

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Acts 2:41 KJV

The apples are in, here in the Carolinas, so apple butter is in the making. It's really quite simple when you have the right tools. I use a crank apple peeler. I can crank out a 1/2 bushel of apples in about an hour. Try hand peeling that many and see how long it takes. And I have a large turkey roaster that holds my apples. It will cook a 1/2 bushel of apples into apple butter while I sleep. The next day, all I need to do is put it in the jars. The apple peeler will take out the core, peel the apple and slice it into rings all at the same time. I use a large variety of apples so the mixture brings out the best apple flavors. Winesaps and Cameos are my favorites. I also added Mutsu, Golden Delicious, Fuji, and maybe a Gala or two. Add a little apple pie spice and sugar, a few splashes of apple cider and the apples have a new purpose, the makings of great homemade apple butter.

I was thinking about how we tell the kids about the salvation transformation with pumpkins, taking out the yucky stuff and putting the light inside to shine through the smiling face. That put me to thinking about apple butter and the church. Apples have a core with the seeds. The seeds contain a cyanide compound. It won't hurt us to eat the seeds. A person would have to eat a tremendous amount to cause harm but our mothers told us apple seeds were poison. We take out the core before we make apple butter.

We have a core that has to be removed before we can become a Christian. That core will kill us if left inside. You know I'm talking about our sinful heart. We have to allow Jesus to cleanse us of our sins if we want to be saved. That's the first step in becoming part of a church. Just as a rotten apple would spoil the whole batch so an unsaved person will spoil the witness of the whole church.

The appearance of an apple has to change before it becomes apple butter. The peel has to be removed. To leave it on would add a tough consistency to the butter.  It has to become soft, sweetened and spiced to have the right smell and taste. It needs to be cooked on low for several hours to get the tenderness and consistency needed to create great butter.

What do you think we might need to be a great church? With salvation our tough exterior will come off. We become the tender-hearted, loving person that desires to be like Jesus. We become part of a church where we can become that sweet odor of God to the world. Our lives are spiced with the truth of God's word. We are warmed to the things of God. We mix with others who may be of other races and cultures to create a wonderful mix that is able to reach out to a lost world, telling them, once, we too were lost but now we're saved. Once, we too were tough guys who didn't need help. Once, our attitudes stunk, but with Jesus we have a new life and a new attitude and a new purpose.

Apple butter is the best a mix of apples can be. Just put it on a little homemade bread and see how delectable it is. Apple butter on a foundation of homemade bread, that's another analogy in the making. Got it? The church on our foundation, Jesus Christ the Bread of Life.

Be the church sitting strong on our Foundation, Jesus Christ, to a lost world who is searching for truth and purpose.


Hey Kids
Apple butter can be as easy as pie. If mom has an apple peeler ask if you can help crank. 
Wash and peel about 12 apples.
If you don't have an apple peeler, have an adult peel the apples. 
Slice the apples into small pieces with a plastic picnic knife. 
Place the apples in a crock pot.
Add about 1 cup of apple cider, juice or water.
Add 2 cups of sugar (optional)
Stir in 2 1/2 tsp of apple pie spice.
Place the lid on the crock pot and turn on low overnight. Stir once in awhile, especially in the morning until the apples have cooked down to the consistency you desire.
Sterilize 4-6 jelly glasses (1/2 pint jars)
Spoon apple butter into glasses.
Bring to a boil in a water bath and boil 5 minutes.
If you don't have a water bath, place several table knives in the bottom of a large pot. Place the jars on top of the knives so they don't touch the bottom of the pot. Cover with water and boil the same way as with a water bath.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

In the Storm

And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? Mark 4:38-40

It seems we've been in the midst of hurricanes and fires for weeks now. The storm, whether fire or water or wind, has taken precedent over all other world events. 

When the storms happen in our lives, whether medical, financial, or sudden death, nothing else matters ... but God.
God is who we run to when there is nowhere else to go. Funny how that happens. Where is God when we think we don't need Him? 
Like the prodigal's father, He stands and watches, waiting for our return. 

In Mark 4:36, Jesus had been preaching from a ship so the people could see and hear. When he finished the disciples set sail on a calm sea with Jesus in the boat. Jesus lay down on a pillow and went to sleep. His earthly body was tired and needed a rest, but He knew, as Sovereign God, what would take place shortly. When the storm came up the ship began to take on water. The disciples ran to find Jesus. They even asked Him if He cared that they drowned! What a question. Don't be too quick to judge.

How often in our pleading for help do we ask God why He allows bad things to happen to innocent children, good people and really everyone. 
When the disciples called on Him, His answer to the winds and the sea was "Peace be still."

Then He asked them why they were so fearful. The disciples were terrified even more because they saw the power of the One they had just questioned.

Jesus is our Sovereign God. Do you understand that no matter what, He is always in control, working things for our good? This storm was for good, to awaken the disciples to who He is. 
He did care about them. He does care about us, about YOU! 
So whatever storm you are in, let Him whisper "Peace, be still" for you. 
John 3:16


Hey Kids:

With all the hurricanes, it's a great time to practice your map skills. 
Can you tell someone what direction the hurricane will move? (I'm not sure the weather man can either. Remember God is in control).

Why do you think a storm slows down when it makes landfall?

If you have a topographical map, notice what land structures will continue to slow the storm until it finally dies out.

What other factors might contribute to the demise of the storm?
Hint: What about other weather fronts? cooler air in northern territory?

What do you think would be the most fun part of being a meteorologist?  
What would be the most scary part? 
Whatever field of study God leads you into, remember He is in control. You don't have to be afraid of what weather or man can do to you. 

Be all He has called you to be.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Inspecting the Fruit

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6:8
My garden is small, so I don't grow many vining fruits or vegetables, but occasionally something comes from a seed that may have ended up in the compost pile. This year a moon and stars watermelon vine sprouted in among the pole beans.The yellow dots on the leaves and melon let me know the variety right away. 

I have a hard time judging when a melon is ripe. My daddy always thumped them. I never learned how to listen to a watermelon. Others say look for the tendrils to dry up. Others say it will slip easily from the vine.  Usually when I grow a watermelon, I pick it too soon. Produce managers in stores tell me to look for a yellow bottom. I wondered if that would hold true for this type of melon since it has yellow spots anyway. 

This melon and another grew all summer in my little bean patch. I was amazed at the size of both. I waited as long as I could. After weeks of inspection, I decided today was the day. I didn't see any tendrils. The bottom was yellowing. If I picked too early, at least there was one more to give some more time. 

I was surprised at how easily the thick stem came off the vine, no tugging or twisting. So far so good. It was really heavy, carrying it up the hill to the house. After wiping it clean, I took my largest and sharpest knife and began to cut. "Craaack!" The melon split! I could see the red meaty heart and juice was running on the counter top. I knew I had a winner. I finished cutting it open. My patience was rewarded with the sweet taste of a sun warmed, fresh from the garden, Moon and Stars watermelon. Sweet success. 

People are a lot like watermelons. Most people will say they are Christians, but we can't see their heart. The only way we can know, is by inspecting their fruit. Christians will allow themselves to be "split open". Their hearts show their love for Christ and others. Their goodness spills out wherever they go. Their kindness and compassion leave a "sweet taste" for those they have touched. They may look just like everyone else, but their hearts show, not just tell, a different story. 

We should never shun those who talk the talk, but don't walk the walk. They may just be beginning to ripen. They may be confused themselves and still need salvation. As Christians, we need to demonstrate the love and compassion that will help weak Christians grow. We need to demonstrate true Christian love that will help deceived people see Christ in us. Others are inspecting us. 

In what way can we as Christians, demonstrate to others who are inspecting our fruits, that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life?  

Hey Kids:
It's that time of year for visits to orchards and pumpkin patches. 
Do you know how farmers can tell when to pick their crops? 
How do they know when apples are ripe? 
When are watermelons ready?
Are pumpkins always ripe when they turn orange? 
How do you know if a fruit is a winter squash or a gourd?

How about your own "fruits"?
Do your actions show that you know Jesus?
Are your friends Christians too, or do they need your love and kindness to show them the truth? 

Fall fruits are ripening now!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Faith To Fulfill Our Purpose

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. II Timothy 3:15

We often wonder if God has a purpose for our lives. We think we have wandered about life aimlessly. Perhaps we need to reexamine our circumstances and see what God is trying to do through us. 

Today I want to examine a story in II Kings 5:1-19. Most of the story is about Naaman, a leper. The part I most want to concentrate on is the little maid. Not a lot of information is given about her, no name, no age, no duties as a servant (read that "slave"). The one important thing about this little girl is her care for others. She told her mistress that she wished her master was in the land of Samaria with the prophet who would heal him. That's all. The message gets passed along and mixed up. Naaman ends up at the King of Israel's doorstep and upsets the whole kingdom because the king can not help. When Elisha hears of the visit, he sends for Naaman. Even when Naaman returns home a healed man and a saved man, nothing more is said of the little maid. She was second only to God in this story because had she not started the ball rolling, Naaman would have never gone to Elisha or been healed or gained faith in the one true God. Join the kids in jotting down a few notes to help us understand how God uses even us in the worst of circumstances to bring others to Christ.

Hey Kids - Go get a paper and pencil. We can make a few educated guesses about the little maid and cover a huge writing, math, geography, science, and history/ social studies assignment with the help of this one little maid. 

Science - What is leprosy?

History - When did Syria take slaves from Israel?

Math - How far would the Israelite captives have to travel to get to Syria?

Creative writing - using your 5 senses jot down the little maid's capture and travel experience. 
What sounds did she hear? Screams? Pleadings? Clashing of swords? Horses neighing?
What smells were there? Smell of sweaty animals, cooking fires, dust, etc.
What tastes? dry mouth, a sip of water (hot or cold?) what foods? dried meats, cheese, raisins or figs, yogurt from a pouch.
What did she see? wounded people, tear stained faces, dirt streaked faces, tangled hair, sadness
What did she feel? the heat of the sun, the cold of the night, fear
Was she still with her parents or had she been separated? Did she travel with a friend? Was she injured or mistreated? 

What about when she got to Syria? Was she sold as a slave or simply taken by Naaman for his wife? How long before she knew the language? How was she treated?

Through all of this the little girl kept her faith? How had her parents instilled God's word in her so that through all of this she was still able to see that her job in life was to serve God and serve others. 

Kids, what story can you write from these notes? What do you think happened when Naaman returned? Was she reunited with her family? Did she grow up and have a family? Did she die in a plague or from an injury? Was God's purpose for her life fulfilled in this one assignment?  What further research do you need? How is God showing you your purpose through this little girl? 

Parents, what ideas do you have to increase faith for your children? This little girl surely demonstrated her faithfulness in her daily work for the Syrian mistress to believe her idea that Elisha could heal Naaman. Her parents first instilled faith in their child. Then a witness went out to "all the world". Can we do no less? Is this not our purpose to love and teach our children to love and teach others of Christ?


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Was There an Eclipse During the Crucifixion?

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Acts 2:20,21
The eclipse on August 21, 2017 has eclipsed everything else in the Upstate of SC. Everyone is scrambling for a pair of approved glasses to view what is being proclaimed as a once in a lifetime event. But is a solar eclipse that rare of an event? Maybe not. 
In seven years there will be another solar eclipse visible in the US. That event will be from the southwest to the northeast. I remember a solar eclipse as a teen. A solar eclipse occurs on a regular basis but they are only seen in specific areas of the world. 
Some have speculated that a solar eclipse may have happened during the crucifixion. Luke 24:44 tells us that there was a darkness over all the earth from noon until 3:00 PM. Oh, but wait, Jesus was crucified during Passover. Passover only occurs at the time of the full moon. Take a look at the calendar. August 21, 2017 is the new moon, the exact opposite of the full moon. A solar eclipse can only occur on the full moon. Plus, a solar eclipse can only last a maximum of 7 minutes.
Several people have tried to pinpoint the exact date of the crucifixion. There are a couple of dates that most agree would be plausible. April 3, 33 AD is the most widely accepted. It does seem there was a lunar eclipse before sunset on that date. Sometimes a lunar eclipse appears red, often called a blood moon. When the moon became visible that evening, it was only in partial eclipse. However, God preformed a miracle that day in blocking out the sun for three hours. Whatever atmospheric conditions He caused to darken the sun over the whole earth may have caused the rising full moon to appear red like blood. 
Peter in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost quoted the prophet Joel (Acts 2:16-21). The great and notable day of the Lord had come; the resurrection of the Messiah. The Holy Spirit came upon the church at the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1,2). Jesus had already ascended to sit on the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:34,35). The crucified Christ had risen from the dead, seen for 40 days by more than 500 people (I Corinthians 15:6) and ascended through the clouds into heaven. When the Holy Spirit came down on the church both men and women went into the streets of Jerusalem proclaiming that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Friends, if you have called upon the name of the Lord for salvation, you and I can do no less than proclaim the gospel in our streets. Jesus said, And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. John 12:32.

Hey Kids:
Are you in the path of the solar eclipse? Do you have the right glasses for viewing? Do you understand what you'll be seeing? 
The eclipse may be like reading. If we don't have the background knowledge we may not understand. Here are some things to research before you view.
What is a solar eclipse?
When do they occur? Where? How often?
What is a lunar eclipse?
When do they occur? Where? How often?
You may want to make a model of the solar eclipse using a flashlight and three balls of various sizes to represent the sun, moon, earth. As you are preparing for the eclipse and listening to the news, begin to move your model into the correct positions. Notice the change in light, temperature, and animal habits in your neighborhood. 
We'd love to see your models and observations. Just add them to our comments section. 
Lastly, why not thank God our Creator for this amazing universe He so lovingly made for us. 
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Why God? Why? - Identity Crisis Part 2

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them. Psalms 139:16 NASV

A few days ago, I saw a feature on a husband and wife who designed fashions for the wheelchair bound. They were both paraplegic, so they knew the needs of those who spend their lives in wheel chairs. This couple was so vibrant and enthusiastic with life. They had found their purpose. 

Last week, here on the blog, we were talking about God having a purpose for each of us. We are not all born perfect. Even if we are perfect newborns, that doesn't mean life will always be the same. We all have storms and face our own disabilities. We may be born with a disability or we may acquire one through injuries or accidents or disease. These storms in our lives are to make us stronger and let God make us into the person He can use for His glory. 

Remember the story in John 9 where the disciples asked Jesus why this man was born blind. Who sinned? This man or his parents? Jesus' answer was that neither the man nor his parents were responsible for his blindness. God had formed the man blind to show God's power through this man. God had a purpose in this man's blindness. Jesus made a mud paste for the man's eyes. He had him wash in the pool of Siloam. Then the man received his sight. The man wasn't mad at Jesus for making him blind. He was ecstatic that Jesus had healed his eyes and he could now see. 

I wanted lots of children, but God had a different plan. He gave me three healthy children, but their size limited my ability to have more. The doctors told me and my husband that I would not be able to carry another child to term. It broke my heart. All I had ever wanted was a big family and a garden. God had other plans.

As my children began to grow, I saw that God had given me the ability to teach them to read. I loved watching their little lights come on in their heads as they learned how letters and sounds worked together on a page. I began to see how God's plan for a family and being surrounded with children was falling into place. As my children reached school age already equipped with the ability to read and write, I went back to finish my degree. For the last 25 years I have had the privilege of having a classroom in a district where I could nurture children, teaching the fundamentals of reading and writing and showing them the love of Christ. My desire for children, unbeknownst to me, would be fulfilled in my mission field - a classroom.  

Hey Kids:
What does glory mean? 
It means to give the correct opinion or estimate of.

If you watch old movies or maybe Andy Griffith, you may hear someone say they want to do their family proud, or don't shame your family.
You want to give others a correct or good opinion of your family. 
Others will judge your family by your actions. 
King Solomon wrote: 
Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right. Proverbs 20:11
Not only do our actions give others an opinion of our family, but it also gives others an opinion of God. 
This week check out Galatians 5:22,23. This is a list of the fruits of the spirit. 
Make a list of the fruits.
Each day try to think of ways to show at least one of those fruits by your actions that others might know you are part of God's family.

 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Who Am I? - Identity Crisis

 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:27 KJV

How do we answer our children's questions or their silence about their identity? With honesty.
Satan is using every possible means to confuse our tweens, teens, and young adults as to their God given identity and their roles in society and their homes. But is this a new trick? 

Satan tells the same lies to every generation with a new twist. Think back to when you were beginning puberty. Did you ever wish you were the opposite of who God made you? I'm going to be honest. Yes, I wished I was a boy, prayed for God to turn me into a boy, and did things to try to help God make that happen. Had it not been for an aunt and grandmother who were wonderful female mentors and who were willing to talk openly about their experiences, I'm not sure how I would have turned out. I wasn't a Christian at the time. 

At fifteen, I received the Lord as my Savior. Then Satan hit me with suicide. I didn't want to die, but I was afraid to be alone, especially in the kitchen with the knives. No one knew about my anxiety, but my grandmother kept pouring her life experiences into me, helping me grow as a Christian. The Lord kept giving me a verse in a song. Finally a pastor said we all needed a verse of assurance. I realized the Lord had been giving me that verse all along, but Satan had me afraid to believe it, stealing my joy and my effectiveness as a witness. 

So how do we share these hard things with our children? We tell them what they want to know when they ask or when we see a teachable moment at the mall or in the park, or on TV, because they may not ask. In love, we help them understand that everyone has feelings of confusion and fear. Satan uses those feelings to lead people into sin and to disable Christians from being useful. Let your children know they are loved by you and by God. Let them also know the people being led astray are loved by you and by God. Christ never despised anyone. He shared with them honestly, but in love. Jesus tells us to go and do likewise. 

Hey Kids: 
Did you know God has a special purpose for each and every person? If you're a girl, God has a special purpose for you. If you're a boy, God has a special purpose for you. 

How can you know that purpose? You might begin by making a list of things you like about being a girl or a boy. 

Now think about all the ways God can use the things you like. Those are your talents. 

Maybe you like creating new clothes with your mom. God may use you to design modest fashions for young girls. 

Maybe you like working on cars with your Dad. God may use you to be a mechanic or design cars. 

God is preparing you right now to fulfill His purpose for which He created YOU!

Why not thank Him for making you who you are and giving you the talent to fulfil His purpose.