Quality Time

You will have many opportunities to spend quality time with your child. But in the "busyness" of life, these opportunities often slip by us. Establishing a routine that includes special times with your child can do much to instill security and a sense of self-worth in your child. Even in a busy household you can and must make time for your child. Quaility time does not just happen. It often must be planned and worked toward. But the rewards are well worth the effort.
Take time to pray with your child throughout the day to help him learn that we can talk to God at anytime. Allow your child to take a turn praying at family meals if he wants to do so.
Work together in the evenings to complete necessary household tasks. Children can learn to do many jobs that can help the household run smoothly. As you work together, look for opportunities to share Bible truths with your child.
You may want to esablish a daily read-aloud time. After dinner but before bath time might be a good time. Just 10 minutes of reading stories to your child can be a special time for both of you. Let your child help you plan a famiy outing. The weather may not permit a lot of time outside, but you may be able to go for a walk around your neighborhood. Bundle up if necessary and enjoy the cooler weather. Take time to notice the changes this season has brought to your area.
If it is too cold to go outside, consider having an indoor picnic. Do not let bad weather take away an opportunity to have fun with your child. Spread a picnic cloth on the floor near a window or glass door. Let your child help pack the picnic lunch for you to share. Sit together on the blanket. Thank God for the food, for the cool (or warm) weather, and for your special time together. As you eat your picnic lunch, talk to your child about all the ways God has blessed your family.
Talk about the things she is learning at church this month. Listen to her ideas about church, family, and God. These special time of being together and talking can give you insight into what is going on in your child's mind. As you listen, look in your child's eyes and let her know that you are interested in what she has to say. Rreally listen to what she has to say. Let her know how important she is to you and how important she is to God.

Thought for the Day
Plowing Through Life

But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (NAS) Luke 9:62

Have you done any good plowing lately? Well lets put our hands down on the plow handles for a moment and visualize plowing up a field, preparing the soil for seed that will be sown and produce (hopefully) a huge harvest! But, what happens when you look back? The plow goes crooked! No neat rows, but a hodgepodge of lines dug up in the field. How do you look back? Do you look back longing for an old way of life? Do you look back with regrets over past sins? Do you look back trying to relive past accomplishments? How are you looking back? Other times we may not be looking back into our pasts, but instead looking side to side at what's around us? Again the plow will go crooked if we're not looking straight ahead. What distracts you from looking straight ahead, focusing your attention on Christ? Is it relationships? The pursuit of becoming comfortable? The attractiveness of what society has to offer? Ambition? Self-indulgence? Competition? Desiring what your friends and neighbors have? What's turning your focus away from purpose ahead of you? Jesus didn't allow distractions in His life. He put His hands down on the plow with a fixed purpose and completed His task. Jesus doesn't want followers who are half-hearted or lukewarm. . . He doesn't want followers with a distracted or divided focus! How's your plowing? What needs to change so you can plow straight ahead and follow Jesus?

                            Do It Now!             In a class I teach for adults, I gave the assignment to "go to someone you love, and tell them that you love them."
            At the beginning of the next class, one of the students began by saying, "I was angry with you last week when you gave us this assignment. I didn't feel I had anyone to say those words to. But as I began driving home my conscience started talking. Then I knew exactly who I needed to say `I love you´ to. Five years ago, my father and I had a vicious disagreement and never really resolved it. We avoided seeing each other unless we absolutely had to at family gatherings. We hardly spoke. So by the time I got home, I had convinced myself I was going to tell my father I loved him.
            "Just making that decision seemed to lift a heavy load off my chest.
            "At 5:30, I was at my parents' house ringing the doorbell, praying that Dad would answer the door. I was afraid if Mom answered, I would chicken out and tell her instead. But as luck would have it, Dad did answer the door.
            "I didn't waste any time - I took one step in the door and said, `Dad, I just came over to tell you that I love you.
´             "It was as if a transformation came over my dad. Before my eyes his face softened, the wrinkles seemed to disappear and he began to cry. He reached out and hugged me and said, `I love you too, son, but I´ve never been able to say it.
´             "But that's not even my point. Two days after that visit, my dad had a heart attack and is in the hospital. I don't even know if he'll make it.
            "So my message to all of you is this: Don't wait to do the things you know need to be done. What if I had waited to tell my dad? Take the time to do what you need to do and do it now!"
                      By Dennis E. Mannering
        from Condensed Chicken Soup for the Soul
Copyright 1996 by
Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen & Patty Hansen

Good News after life

After living a "decent" life my time on earth came to an end. The first thing I remember is sitting on a bench in the waiting room of what I thought to be a courthouse. The doors opened and I was instructed to come in and have a seat by the defense table. As I looked around I saw the "prosecutor," he was a villainous looking gent who snarled as he stared at me, he definitely was the most evil person I have ever seen. I sat down and looked to my left and there sat my lawyer, a kind and gentle-looking man whose appearance seemed very familiar to me.
The corner door flew open and there appeared the judge in full flowing robes. He commanded an awesome presence as he moved across the room and I couldn't take my eyes off of him. As he took his seat behind the bench, he said "Let us begin."
The prosecutor rose and said "My name is Satan and I am here to show you why this man belongs in hell." He proceeded to tell of lies that I told, things that I stole and in the past when I cheated others. Satan told of other horrible perversions that were once in my life and the more he spoke the further down in my seat I sank. I was so embarrassed that couldn't look at anyone, even my own lawyer, as the Devil told of sins that even I had completely forgotten about. As upset as I was at Satan for telling all these things about me, I was equally upset at my representative who sat there silently not offering any form of defense at all.
I know I had been guilty of those things, but I had done some good in my life... Couldn't that at least equal out part of the harm I've done?   Satan finished with a fury and said "This man belongs in hell, he is guilty of all that I have charged and there is not a person who can prove otherwise. Justice will finally be served this day."
When it was his turn, my lawyer first asked if he might approach the bench. The judge allowed this over the strong objection of Satan, and beckoned him to come forward. As he got up and started walking I was able to see him now in his full splendor and majesty.
Now I realized why he seemed so familiar, this was Jesus representing me, my Lord and my Savior. He stopped at the bench and softly said to the judge "Hi Dad" and then he turned to address the court.   "Satan was correct in saying that this man had sinned, I won't deny any of these allegations. And yes the wages of sins is death and this man deserves to be punished".
Jesus took a deep breath and turned to his Father with out-stretched arms and proclaimed "However, I died on the cross so that this person might have eternal life and he has accepted me as his Savior, so he is mine. " My Lord continued with "His name is written in the book of life and no one can snatch him from me. Satan still does not understand yet, this man is not to be given justice but rather mercy." As Jesus sat down, He quietly paused, looked at his Father and replied "There is nothing else that needs to be done, I've done it all". The Judge lifted his mighty hand and slammed the gavel down and the following words bellowed from his lips- "This man is free-- the penalty for him has already been paid in full, case dismissed."
As my Lord led me away I could hear Satan ranting and raving "I won't give up, I'll win the next one." I asked Jesus as he gave me my instructions where to go next "Have you ever lost a case." Christ lovingly smiled and said "Everyone that has come to me and asked me to represent them has received the same verdict as you, Paid in Full."
Oh what a blessing! There is no greater commandment than to love your neighbor as yourself! PRAYER
Father, I ask you to bless my friends reading this right now! Lord, show them a new revelation of Your love and power.
Holy Spirit, I ask You to minister to their spirit at this very moment. Where there is pain, give them Your peace & mercy. Where there is self-doubting, release a renewed confidence in Your ability to work through them.
Where there is tiredness, or exhaustion, I ask You to give them understanding, patience, & strength as they learn submission to Your leading.
Where there is spiritual stagnation, I ask You to renew them by revealing Your nearness, and by drawing them into greater intimacy with You. Where there is fear, reveal Your love, and release to them Your courage. Where there is a sin blocking them, reveal it, and break its hold over my friend's life. Bless their finances, give them greater vision, and raise up leaders, and friends to support, and encourage them.
Give each of them discernment to recognize the demonic forces around them, and reveal to them the power they have in You to defeat it.
I ask You to do these things in Jesus' name! AMEN Passing this on to anyone you consider a friend, as I have done here, will bless you both. Passing this on to one not considered a friend is something I know Christ would do.
                Be Blessed!

A Friend:

(A)ccepts you as you are
(B)elieves in "you"
(C)alls you just to say "HI"
(D)oesn't give up on you
(E)nvisions the whole of you
(even the unfinished parts)
(F)orgives your mistakes
(G)ives unconditionally
(H)elps you
(I)nvites you over
(J)ust "be" with you
(K)eeps you close at heart
(L)oves you for who you are
(M)akes a difference in your life
(N)ever Judges
(O)ffers support
(P)icks you up
(Q)uiets your fears
(R)aises your spirits
(S)ays nice things about you
(T)ells you the truth when
you need to hear it
(U)nderstands you
(V)alues you
(W)alks beside you
(X)-plain things you don't understand
(Y)ells when you won't listen and
(Z)aps you back to reality

"Flexible people don't get bent out of shape."


Fruits of the Spirit

It's Quiet. It's early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is still asleep. The day is coming.

In a few moments the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of the solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met.

For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day's demands. It is now that I must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I'm free to choose. And so I choose.

I choose love... No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness, I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.

I choose joy... I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical...the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.

I choose peace... I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.

I choose patience... I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I'll invite him to do so. Rather than complaining that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.

I choose kindness... I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.

I choose goodness... I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.

I choose faithfulness... Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question melon. And my children will never fear that they father will not come home. I choose gentleness... Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.

I choose self-control... I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control will drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. Will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. Icehouse self-control.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek his grace. And then when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.

Max Lucado
When God Whispers Your Name

Shower the people. . .

"Shower the people you love with love; show them the way that you feel." James Taylor

I've lived for 18 years in a small town and I attend a church where everyone pretty much knows each other, at least by sight, if not always by name.  At times over the years, someone in the congregation has passed away unexpectedly and the pastor of the church has allowed a time during the church service for members to stand and say a few words about what the person meant to them and how they touched their lives.  A few years ago, a man in our community died of a heart attack and as various members of the congregation got up to speak, I thought of how much I liked the man and how much I was going to miss him.  Then I thought, "Did you ever tell him how much you liked him?", and the answer was, no.

Growing up, like so many in adolescence and young adulthood, my relationship with my parents was difficult and strained.  As time went on, I became very worried about my father's health.  In my mind, he was a "walking heart attack" and I was convinced he would die at almost any given moment.  I thought he would leave and I would feel awful for the rest of my life, so I began to try to tell him each time we spoke that I loved him.  Every time we'd meet or speak on the phone, I was sure it might be the last time, so I tried to convey that I truly did care for him and love him.  I ended up doing that for eleven more years, so that when he finally did pass away, peacefully, I mourned but felt so blessed that God had given me the time and the grace to re-make our relationship and love with each other.

  I have since had the overwhelming sense, everyday of my life, that our time on earth is so short.  We have one life, a brief moment to show those around us God's love.  I tend to look at everyone I meet as though I might never see them again.  I try to make sure that the people in my life know how much I care for them.  As I see my children grow up literally before my eyes, I am filled with the feeling that this is my only chance, this short time to show them all the love I can before they grow and fly away.  Can you look over the people you know and think, if God took them away today, would you have missed your chance to show them his love?  Is there someone you've been meaning to tell how you feel, show appreciation, show a kindness to, but have been putting it off?  Is there someone you've been meaning to tell about God's love and salvation but felt you haven't had the chance?  Today is all you have.  Live and love as though it is your last.  One day, you'll be right.
Written by Gail Rodgers used with permission.