Here is a short synopsis of some lessons we learned while in Poland over last fall, winter & spring....(Use the button on the bottom right of the box below to expand the document for easier viewing.)
Deuteronomy 6:4-9, " “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
God's command to love him with everything is something that cannot be kept to ourselves. Not only are we to share God's love with our neighbors, but there is a high priority placed here upon passing it on to our children. The teaching is not forced upon them, rather, it is something that must take place during normal, everyday activities and happenings. People will know this is taking place because our kids will be as the doorposts of a house. Their lives will stand as markers to say that we are a Christ centered home. I want to bless other with Christ's love--especially my children. I desire them to live for Christ and to bless others with their lives. Lord, hear our prayers to have children who will bless Your Name and who will call upon Your Name for salvation. Help me to lead them to you, Jesus and I pray that they may accept You and love You. Amen.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken." Reading this, I am reminded of how weak I am spiritually. I find it easy to sin and to be weak against sin. Here we read some help in seeing God's plan for battles against sin and areas in which we are weak. Get some help. Two or more are not so easily defeated; if one stumbles, there are those who can help you up. God created us to be social and to interact with each other. Why is it so difficult to let others know of the sin that is in us? We need others to help us when we are weak. how can they help if they do not know what struggles we have? I need God to help me share my struggles with guys I trust.
It was Christmas Eve and thirteen year old Sarah was sitting at the window looking gloomily at the snowflakes falling outside in the sunset. Behind her, the Christmas tree was dazzling with lights and her older brother and sister were finishing the decorating. That was why she was so unhappy, her brother and sister. She loved them, most definitely, but she was tired of what they were doing. They quarreled, and not just some of the time, all the time. Sarah wished that she could help them, but she wasn't sure how. She wished she could bring peace to her whole family, but wasn't sure how to do that either. She finally decided she couldn't stand it anymore. "I'd like to go for a walk, Mama; would that be okay with you?"
"Of course, Sarah. Please don't stay out too late okay?"
" Yes Mama; thanks." She slipped on her coat and headed out the door breathing a sigh of relief as she did so. "It's awful to be glad that I'm out of there. I wonder what tomorrow will be like. Maybe I'll go over to the Christmas Eve service." Sarah thought as she wandered along. Soon she reached the church that she and her family attended on Sundays. Music floated out as she slipped in the door and took a seat in the back.
As she did so, the choir finished singing and the pastor came to the front. "I'm going to read from Hebrews today, and even though you may think it strange I think that it will be fitting for what I have to say." Then he began to read. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." There was a moment of silence and then he spoke again, "Jesus is the founder and perfecter of our faith, and with that faith we are to lay aside everything and run the race he has set before us. Look to Jesus, the only really reliable example that there is when you think about it. He endured all the pain, all the shame, and all the hardship that was set before him, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. The same goes for us too, despite all the trials and hardships in life, be joyful and endurant and then, if our faith is truly real, we will go to live in heaven with God forever!"
Sarah sat transfixed as she had never heard the Christmas story in this way this before.
The pastor was speaking again and his voice brought her back to the present. "This is why Jesus was born, this is why God sent his son to take away all our sin, so that we could be close to him once more! He loves us so much that even though we did not listen to him in the garden of Eden he already had a plan and was willing to send his son, his only son, to take away forever all the sin of the world! Ladies and gentlemen, this is what we celebrate on Christmas Day; this is what we are celebrating all the time!"
As the pastor closed in prayer, Sarah slipped out of the church and went a few steps down the road. Then she stopped and knelt on the side. "Lord Jesus," she whispered "I am a wretched sinner and am in dire need of a savior. Thank you for the wonderful gift that you offer to all who choose to accept it. Please give me your gift of life forever with you, and thank you so much for bringing me here so that I could hear the message of your eternal life." A sudden thought sprang into her head, "Please allow me to be able to share this message with someone else who hasn't heard it before. Thank you, thank you, thank you, in your name I pray Amen." There were tears in her eyes as she rose and started for home, tears of gladness and peace and thankfulness that she had never experienced before.
As Sarah stepped in the door of their house something seemed different, then it came to her, it was quiet! Wondering, she went upstairs to the bedroom that she shared with her older sister, Faith. She opened the door and then closed it behind her, Faith was sitting on the bed crying. "Why, whatever is the matter, Faith?" Sarah asked in surprise.
"Oh Sarah, I've been simply awful to Mark. I'm sure he won't ever forgive me for being so horrible, Oh Sarah, it doesn't seem like Christmas Eve at all." Faith broke down and cried bitterly.
Sarah sat down on the bed next to her and spoke gently but excitedly. "I went to the Christmas Eve service this evening and was really blessed by the message." She launched into a full account of the sermon, how amazing the news was, and how she had asked Jesus into her heart. When she had finished Faith was silent for a minute, then she said brokenly,
"I'm sorry Sarah, I've been a bad sister to you too, please forgive me."
"Of course I will!"
"And would you please pray with me, Sarah? I want to ask Jesus into my heart too." Faith turned toward her pleadingly.
"I'd love to," Sarah said, giving her a hug.
When Sarah left the room a little while later her heart was singing and there was a smile on her face, "Thank you Jesus for the opportunity to share" she prayed quietly as she went downstairs. When she reached the kitchen she found Mark, her older brother, sitting at the table with his head in his hands.
"What's wrong Mark?" She asked.
"I've been awful to Faith lately, Sarah," he replied looking up. "Do you think you could help me?"
"Gladly." Sarah smiled as she sat down at the table and prepared, for the second time, to share about God's wonderful gift of salvation to us. This was how she could bring peace to her family, and with God's help she would do it with all her heart.
Written by Bethany who is twelve years old and a follower of Jesus, the King of Kings. She is part of a family of seven and is homeschooled along with her other siblings. She is the second oldest with two brothers and two sisters. Some of the things she enjoys doing include singing gospel and classical music, playing her recorder, knitting, crocheting, mending and sewing small things, swimming, writing stories, playing with her brothers and sisters and spending time with her family.
"Wake up everybody! It's Christmas!" Four year old Peter was waking everyone up on Christmas morning by yelling enthusiastically at the top of his voice.
"Don't yell in the house, Peter, it will wake up baby Patsy," scolded ten year old Olivia.
"Too late, she’s already awake," noted fifteen year old Katie, hearing the baby crying and their mother, Elise, comforting her.
"Well, since we are all up, we should do the morning chores now before breakfast," their father William declared.
"Could we open some presents before we do the chores? Please?" pleaded Sunny, who was one of the eight year old twins.
"No, we'll open them later."
William Smith lived with his family outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, and worked for Babbitt Ranches. It was Christmas Day, 1925, and the past year had been quite eventful on the ranch because of an outbreak of Scab among the cattle. The treatment had involved dipping the cattle in a medicated bath. Now that the trouble was past, it was back to the regular chores which included feeding their animals, milking the cow, collecting the eggs and cleaning out the stalls. They also had to shovel the snow that had accumulated in abundance the night before.
"I wish we didn't have to do chores on Christmas," Olivia groaned, going into her room to get dressed.
"Well, I for one, don't think it would be very Christ-like if we didn't feed the animals on Christmas Day," remarked thirteen year old Timothy, going downstairs to get his coat and start shoveling the snow. With that thought in mind, all the children did their chores cheerfully and willingly.
When the chores were finished and the family had enjoyed a deliciously satisfying breakfast, they all went into the living room. Before they opened any presents, they read and discussed the Christmas story from Luke 2 and prayed together. Finally, they opened the gifts, which was a huge relief to Eddie and Peter, who had feared that they would have to wait until after lunch to open them.
Once everything under the Christmas tree had been unwrapped, William said,
"I have a surprise for all of you children, including Patsy, and I need you to shut your eyes and not peek until I tell you that you can open them."
The children tightly shut their eyes and heard their father open and shut the door.
"What is Papa doing?" wondered Joy upon hearing the door shut.
"You’ll soon find that out," Elise promised them.
Presently they heard the squeak of the door again and the whimper of an animal.
"You can open your eyes now," William said. When they did so, they saw their father holding a squirming, fuzzy, yellow lab puppy!
"Ooh, a puppy!" they all exclaimed with delight.
"Is it for us?" Peter asked soberly.
"Yes, it is for you," William said. "Mr. Bradley at the ranch found it and suggested that I give it to you as a Christmas present."
"Oh, do tell Mr. Bradley that we said to thank him," said Sunny sincerely.
"What are we going to name it?" asked Timothy, as the puppy ran all over the room.
"How about Frisker?" suggested Katie.
"That's a good name," agreed Olivia.
"Frisker is his name," Eddie solemnly declared.
Katie and Olivia prepared a light lunch that the family enjoyed before a relaxing afternoon spent amusing themselves quietly. Timothy worked a puzzle while Katie, Olivia, and the twins were knitting scarves for the ranch hands. Eddie and Peter crafted a road for their cars out of blocks which Frisker sniffed suspiciously. Deciding that the blocks were not going to harm him, he curled up in front of the fire. William read aloud from Rudyard Kipling’s Just-So Stories and Elise carefully stitched on a new dress for Baby Patsy who was upstairs taking a nap.
William paused in his reading to add some wood to the fire and noticed that he had just used the last piece of wood from the woodbox.
"Timothy, would you please go get some more wood from the pile outside?" he asked.
"Yes, Sir. I'll do that," Timothy replied as he rose and walked toward the door. When Frisker heard Timothy open the door to go outside, he jumped up to follow. As soon as Frisker saw the open door he quickly dashed out, being curious and wanting to know what was beyond the door.
"Frisker! Come back here!" Timothy commanded, running after him and forgetting to shut the door. Suddenly, Timothy froze in his tracks and stared in astonishment.
"Pa, come look," he called softly, picking up the puppy and going back to the door.
"What is it?" William asked, heading toward the door.
"It's deer!" squealed Sunny, who had gotten to the door first.
"A whole herd of deer," observed Elise.
"They look awfully thin and hungry," said Peter with pity in his voice.
"Why don't we give them the extra horse feed we have," Eddie suggested.
"That's a great idea, Eddie. Let's go get that feed," William said, getting his boots and coat and heading toward the barn. Everyone else eagerly followed.
"Yes Eddie?" William was saying goodnight to the boys after they had finished dinner and Bible time.
"Papa, tonight at Bible time you had read something about Jesus being the savior of the world, didn't you?"
"Yes, I read John 3:16, 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.' We discussed how Jesus came to give life to the world and to take the punishment that we deserved which is death. Is that what you remember?"
"Yes, and I was also thinking that we were like Jesus today."
"Well, we were a savior to the deer from hunger, just like Jesus is our savior from death, isn't that right Papa?"
"Yes, you are right Eddie," William answered. "You are right."
Note: Babbitt Ranches is a ranch in Northern Arizona. In 1925 there was a disease called Scab detected among the cattle. Dipping vats were built in various locations, and a total of 27,000 heads of cattle needed to be dipped in a medicated bath.
Written by Paisley who is fourteen years old and loves the Lord Jesus. She is schooled at home along with her four younger brothers and sisters. Some of the things she enjoys doing include cooking food for her family, knitting little things for friends, reading, writing, playing celtic and classical music on her violin, and spending time and playing with her family.
Computers are everywhere. Even in our lives here in Poland. In our phones, the e- readers that we have, the iPad I'm using to type this and the old laptop that I have been using to prepare some Bible study lessons. With computers come some frustrations as well. One frustration that our family experiences is who is going to use which computer. The iPad is one of the favorites as it is very portable, but if you are using it there seems to be a little people magnet inside. No sooner do we sit down to use it than we become surrounded by little hands and fingers trying to touch the screen and play with it, moving things and disrupting our work. ;-) These interruptions I am trying to see as a blessing where I had not before. I am beginning to see that God is helping to teach me that all things belong to Him. How often am I doing the same thing to God? He begins to do a work around me and I get the urge to stick my hands and fingers into what he is doing messing it up. Why can't I learn that if I watch what God is doing and follow his leading he will let me "play" on His "computer" with his guiding. He allows me the opportunity to sit in his lap to enjoy what is going on in His world. I need to remember this so that I can do the same with my children. I need to find the time to let them sit in my lap and enjoy the things that I am working on and to let them do things that they enjoy as well. My prayer is that I can enjoy what God is working on, not just what I want to play with. That is my prayer for everyone as well.
This morning I read the following....
"Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me), I gain nothing."
I Corinthians 13:3
No matter what I sacrifice--if I don't have God's love in me, it's worthless to me. It's also worthless to God because my motivations are not honoring to Him. A true martyr is one who gives up everything for Christ out of a pure heart full of love for Him.
Oh, that my heart would burn for Him each moment of each and every day....
"What in the world will you be doing in Kwidzyn?"
We are planning to go to Kwidzyn, Poland for 8 months to "ministry-sit" for some friends. What does this mean? Their ministry is young and we'll keep things rolling by...
By nature, I think most of us don't like falling. My littlest man is 18 months old and because of his size and speed still falls regularly. Presumably because he's so close to the ground, it's easier for him to bounce back up and keep going....I personally don't bounce very well and I'm grateful that the plum picking pictured here didn't result in a fall from the top of the ladder....
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, "Two are better than one, because they have a good [more satisfying] reward for their labor; For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!"
At this point in my life, I feel like I'm falling...and it's a good fall into faith, because I know that the Arms that will catch me are attached to the same Hands that knit me together in secret....Is there a better place to be? So, really, I don't need to hang on to this life...I need to fall into His will....