Category: Random Thoughts


Creative Block or Wall

stone-walls-avila-500

I sat down to write a blog post and nothing comes to mind. I think about the current series of messages we are on and think there must be something to write about…nope!

Have you ever had one of those moments that you believe there is nothing creative left in your body?

As a congregation Gloria Dei went through a 31 week journey through God’s Word. It was a fantastic journey as we witnessed together God’s redemptive work that has been happening from the beginning of time. We personally witnessed God coming to us and speaking to our hearts through his Word and message. All good things that came from a great journey. But…

I do have to tell you though, and honestly it is not complaining or throwing a pity party, I poured a lot of myself into creating blog posts, coordinating people and making it an overall enjoyable online experience…but I was left feeling extremely drained. Which explains the reason I started his post the way I did. I have been sitting at my screen for the last three weeks, since we finished, trying to figure out what to write next. Trying to figure out how to continue to engage the reader and be creative about it. I came up with nada, nothing but a blank page with no thoughts to produce.

And so I wait…

Waiting is not easy. I always think there must be something I’ve done wrong. There must be a three-step process for me getting back on track. I don’t think it is going to be that easy.

What am I really waiting on? Am I waiting on my creativeness (yes its a word) to kick in? Is my waiting centered on me?

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:14

I’ve waited on my strength and power to return, but I’ve been waiting on the wrong thing. The day of Pentecost should have given me a clue, but I remained clueless. Jesus tells his disciples to wait for power that would come from on high.  When I trust in my own power I end up failing every time because I will eventually run out of energy.

So today I will wait, I will wait on God to give me the strength and courage to move in the places he would have me go.

What are you waiting for? Have you been placing too much waiting time on you and your power and not enough on God?

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

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Easter Traditions

Easter

What Easter traditions do you have?

As we approach Easter I thought I would post a couple of items that adults could use to teach about the great day of the resurrection. You may already have traditions but these could be used in addition to what is currently done. I will talk about four in particular that you can use.

Resurrection Eggs

Resurrection eggs teach the story of Christ’s resurrection with homemade eggs.  You can purchase a set for around $15 if you choose, but the homemade eggs will work fine. You will need a dozen colorful fill-yourself plastic Easter eggs that will eventually fit into an empty egg carton for safe keeping.

Number your eggs 1 through 12 with a Sharpie permanent marker. Place an item and the corresponding Scripture reference (written on a small piece of paper) into each egg.

Ideally, you would begin 12 days before Easter Sunday.  However, since it is only a few days to Easter, open multiple eggs per day.  Starting with egg #1, discuss the object in the egg.  Read the message and Scripture, then discuss it with your child.  If your child is old enough, have him or her find the Scripture in their Bible and read it.  Leave each egg open in the carton to recall its contents.  The next day quiz your child on the previous items before opening the next egg.  On the last day, egg #12 is empty, like Jesus’ tomb!

Egg #1 

Message:  Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and the people waved palm branches.

Scripture:  Matt. 21:1-11

Item:  A small plastic leaf, a piece of palm branch, or a blade of grass.  An alternate item is a clipart picture of a donkey.

 

Egg #7

 

Message:  Soldiers divided up Jesus’ clothes and cast lots for them.Scripture:  Mark 15:24-25Item:  A die (or two dice).

 

Egg #2Message:  Jesus ate the Last Supper with His disciples.

Scripture:  Matt. 27:17-19

Item:  A small piece of cracker to represent the Passover bread.  An oyster cracker or the newest miniature saltine crackers work very well.

 

Egg #8Message:  Jesus was nailed to the cross and they pierced his side.

Scripture:  John 19:18, and 33-37

Item:  A nail

Egg #3Message:  Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

Scripture:  Matt. 27:3

Item:  A dime or two, or plastic “silver” coins.

 

Egg #9Message:  They gave Jesus vinegar to drink on a sponge.

Scripture:  Matt. 27:34

Item:  A small piece of sponge.

Egg #4Message:  They scourged Jesus.

Scripture:  John 19:1

Item:  A small piece of rope or thick string.

 

Egg #10Message:  They used spices to prepare Jesus’ body for burial.

Scripture:  John 19:38-40

Item:  A few whole cloves, allspice or other whole spices and/or a piece of linen cloth.

 

Egg #5Message:  They mocked Jesus as the King of the Jews.

Scripture:  Mark 15:16-20

Item:  A small piece of purple cloth.

 

Egg #11Message:  The angels rolled the stone away that covered Jesus’ tomb.

Scripture:  Mark 15:46-16:4

Item:  A small rock.

Egg #6Message:  Jesus carried His cross.

Scripture:  John 19:17

Item:  A thin popsicle stick that is cut and glued into the shape of a cross, or a cross from a necklace or earring.

 

Egg #12Message:  He is risen!  The tomb is empty!

Scripture:  Mark 16:5-6, or John 20:1-18

Item:  None.  The tomb is empty.  As an alternative, you can use a piece of linen cloth to represent the burial clothes that were left empty.

Resurrection Cinnamon “Tombs”

1 can Grands biscuits (OR frozen bread dough, thawed)

Melted butter or margarine

Cinnamon / sugar mixture

1 large marshmallow per “tomb”

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Have each child flatten a biscuit until it is about 5”  across.  Then brush melted butter on it, and sprinkle some cinnamon/sugar mixture on it.  Explain that the spices represent the spices used to anoint Jesus’ body for His burial.

Then give each child a large marshmallow to place in the center of the flattened biscuit.  Fold the sides of the dough around the marshmallow to form a “tomb.”  Pinch the sides of the tomb closed and place it seam side down on a baking sheet.  The marshmallow represents Jesus.  It is white because it represents His purity and sinlessness.  Then you may brush more butter and sprinkle more cinnamon-sugar on the outside of the tomb.  Discuss with your child the sweet taste of the spices and how Jesus gave us the sweetest gift we will ever receive.

Bake the buns until golden brown, according to the package directions.  Allow them to cool awhile before eating.  The children will be surprised to bite into the “tomb” and discover the center is empty.  The marshmallow has melted.  When the children discover the empty tomb, say together, “He is not here; He is risen!”

Easter Story Cookies

This is BEST done on Saturday night before Easter morning!

1 c pecans (halves or whole; NOT chopped)

1 t vinegar                               1 c sugar

3 egg whites                            Zipper baggie

Pinch salt                                 Wooden spoon

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Place pecans in the zipper bag and beat with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces.  Teach your children that Jesus was beaten after He was arrested by the Roman soldiers.  Read John 19:1-3.

Let everyone smell the vinegar before placing it in a medium mixing bowl.  Explain that Jesus was given vinegar on the cross to drink when He was thirsty.  Read Jn. 19:28-30.

Add the egg whites to vinegar.  Eggs represent life.  Jesus gave His life to give us life.  Read Jn. 10:10-11.

Sprinkle a pinch of salt into each child’s hand.  Let them taste it before brushing the rest into the bowl.  This represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’ disciples, and the bitterness of our own sin.  Read Luke 23:27.

So far the ingredients are not very appetizing.  Add 1 cup sugar.  The sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us and wants us to belong to Him.  Read Ps. 34:8 and Jn. 3:16.

Beat the mixture on high for 12-15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed.  The color white represents the purity of those whose sins have been paid for (forgiven) by Jesus.  Read Isa. 1:18 and Jn. 3:1-3.

Fold in the broken nuts.  Drop by teaspoons onto a wax paper covered cookie sheet.  Each mound represents the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid.  Read Matt. 27:57-60.  Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF.  Give each child a piece of tape and seal the door like Jesus’ tomb was sealed.  Read Matt. 27:65-66.

Go to bed!  Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies overnight.  Jesus’ followers were also sad when the tomb was sealed.  Read Jn. 16:20, 22.  On Easter morning, unseal the oven and give everyone a cookie.  Notice the cracked surface and take a bite.  The cookies are hollow!  On the first Easter, Jesus’ followers were surprised to find the empty tomb.  Read Matt. 28:1-9.

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

Legend has it that the coloring of Easter eggs originated from Mary of Magdala who presumably brought eggs to share with the other women at the tomb of Christ.  When she saw the Lord, the eggs in her basket turned bright red.  Thus, the true meaning of dyeing eggs is to show the miraculous transformation of the whole world by the resurrection of Christ.

Consider dyeing eggs the old-fashioned way – with natural substances rather than store-bought kits.  Except for spices and juice, place a handful of dye material in a saucepan (more for more intense color).  Use liquids as is.  Cover with water to at least an inch above the dyeing material.  Bring the water to boil and reduce to a slow simmer for about 15 minutes, longer for deeper color.  Remove from heat and pour the liquid into a measuring cup.  Add 2–3 teaspoons of vinegar for each cup of the colored liquid.  Pour into a bowl deep enough to immerse your eggs.  Lower your eggs into the hot liquid and leave them till they reach the color you like.  Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and dry on a rack or strainer.  For a textured look, dab the wet egg with a sponge.

Blue

red cabbage leaves OR purple grape juice

Green

spinach leaves

Light Yellow

orange or lemon peels; OR carrot tops

Golden Yellow

ground tumeric

Red

lots of red onion skins; or canned cherries w/ syrup; or pomegranate juice

Purple

small amount of red onion skins; or red wine

Pink

beets; or cranberry juice; or red grape juice

Orange

carrots; or yellow onion skins

Enjoy these great recipes with children, grandchildren or anyone that might enjoy hearing and learning about Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Let us know if you have traditions you have found to be meaningful for you and your family.

Happy Easter!

2012 in review

Everyone has a review of 2012, so we decided to do the same. Take a look at how we have done the last year. We are constantly trying to improve so let us know how we might be able to serve you better. Hope you all have a wonderful 2013!

The GloriaDei Team

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 16,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 4 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

When Samuel came to Jesse to anoint the one to replace the failing King Saul, it was assumed that the father would know which of his sons was best qualified. He did not. Nor did Samuel. All Samuel knew was that he wasn’t getting the high-sign from God in his heart as he looked at Jesse’s boys. There is a lesson for us here.

Never assume anything about your children. Their wisdom can exceed our own; their faith almost certainly can exceed our own; their trust in our ability to answer the most obtuse questions possible is amazing. The one that you are sure will qualify for Harvard may choose to go to trade school and become a mechanic. The one you assume will be a mechanic may turn out to be an MIT graduate.

Watch your children without any assumptions except that they need your love, guidance, and trust. They need your faith that God will guide their feet and minds. Our job as parents is to show our love to them equally, guide them equally, treat them equally, trust them equally, and show our pride in them equally.

sue wilson

Chapter 8: Judge Gideon

I admit it. Gideon is my favorite judge because he had no idea why God would come to him with major instructions.

Here was young Gideon, minding his own business, threshing the wheat as quickly as possible–before the oppressing Midianites could get it. (The Midianites and others would camp in the croplands and ruin the yield just as it ripened.) Gideon was just popping along when “The angel of the Lord” appeared and gave Gideon the news–“The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Gideon must have thought, with his heart beating hard, “What warrior?”

Gideon was a faithful believer. He loved God, but he was also curious. “Pardon me, my lord, but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” The young man was certainly not sure that this call was not some vision brought on by fermented wheat! He was part of the weakest clan and he was the “least in my family.”

God, knowing that it was His wisdom and strength, not Gideon’s, that would win the day showed great patience with this loyal but doubtful youngster. Gideon did not doubt God, you see, he doubted himself.

After building an altar to God and some more discussion, Gideon set out on his task. Then Gideon again wondered if he was really doing what God wanted him to do, so he asked God to not cause the overnight dew to gather on a sheep’s fleece, “If you will save Israel by my hand.”  This is not a request for victory, but a question as to whether Gideon was really the guy to do the job. God did as Gideon asked. The young man was still too astounded to believe that God would really use him, and asked God to reverse the “fleece process” if you will allow that description. God did.

So Gideon was convinced that he was indeed chosen by God. Then God did something even more miraculous. Through a very logical process, He had Gideon whittle down his army from 32,000 to 300 men.

Why? Who would get the credit today if our nation was attacked and we repelled the enemy with 100,000 troops to the enemy’s 500 troops? We, of course, would take the credit for the victory. But, if God’s army won the battle by sending 300 against the enemies that “had settled in the valley, thick as locusts” who would be the obvious bringer of victory? God, and God alone.

God is a marvelous tactician. He divided the 300 into three groups of 100. In the middle of the night, they attacked, banging pots, yelling, and generally creating total confusion among their enemies. Under God’s leadership of the young and wondering judge, God had saved HIs people again.

The Bible indicates that Gideon did serve until his death, when the “Israelites did evil int he eyes of the Lord” again!

Sue Wilson

Deborah is one of the most interesting if the judges because her presence and her leadership of the men of Israel confounds many males in churches today. Yep, she was a woman; she was chosen by God; she was even the Commander in Chief of a general of God’s army.

The Bible doesn’t explain how God called her. It just says that God was allowing an enemy of Israel to push the nation hard because they had again turned from God to idols. The Bible says of the time, “Now Deborah, a prophet, … was leading Israel at that time.” The Bible adds that she held court and settled disputes among the Israelites.

When the time came for rescue, God directed Deborah. She was instructed to tell Israeli general, Barak, to take the army to a place named by God, where God would deliver the enemy into his hand. It is obvious that Barak did not receive the message from God personally, because his reply to Deborah was, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”  So, Deborah, General Barak, and ten thousand Israeli soldiers set out. This tells us that not only was Deborah the only woman to serve as a judge, but she was respected by the common people and the military leaders.

To finalize Deborah’s position as God’s chosen leader of the people, we see the climax of the day of battle.  “Deborah said to Barak, ‘Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera (the enemy leader) into your hands. Has not the Lord gone on ahead of you?'”  God delivered Sisera and his army into the hand of General Barak, as He had promised.

This victory under the leadership of God and his chosen leader brought a return by the people to God, and the nation enjoyed forty years of peace.

We don’t know if judges served for life, or if they melted back into their former lives when the danger to the nation had passed. We do know that none tried to take over as king (or queen), nor did they try to establish dynasties.

sue wilson

What were judges almost four thousand years ago? They were not the robed figures that inhabit the courts today. In fact, they were more military leaders than judges. The way in which they were judges was that they led God’s people and carried out God’s instructions.

In addition, judges were not permanent fixtures on “the bench” as they sometimes are today. One of God’s judges would be lifted up by God as a short-time leader of the people, to get them back on the right path.

The reason that they wandered was the same as ours–times were good, crops were plentiful, so who needs God.

Let’s look at what is called the Cycle of the Judges:  1) Times are good, so who needs God. We’re doing fine on our own. 2) a powerful neighboring nation arises and puts Israel under pressure to pay tribute (blackmail) in order to remain at peace. 3) The people remember God and beg for His help. 4) God helps by raising up a person as a military leader with character and a focus on God. 5) Through that leader God defeats Israel’s enemies and restores her prominence.

Here’s the sad part–this cycle reoccured about six times in a little over three hundred years! Talk about patience on the part of God!

One judge was pretty much a selfish failure who God continued to use anyway. Another was a woman. All were imperfect, but used by God for His glory and His people’s rescue.

This was the time just before God allowed the people to have an earthly King.

sue wilson

After all that God had provided His people; after all the times that He had shown them His power to protect and bless them, the spies sent into the promised land came back and said that it would be suicide to do what God had commanded. All but two–Caleb and Joshua, who begged the people to obey God and enter the land. They would not, which led to another forty years of desert education.

It’s easy to criticize the spies who came back saying, “There’s giants there!”  I wonder, though, how many times we do the same thing.

I was sitting in my favorite fast food “office” the other day and noted a very scruffy man in his 50s sitting with a backpack and a cup of coffee. I had seen him there before, but this time something urged me to go over to him and say “I don’t want to offend, but would you like to have a McMuffin to go with your coffee?”

Another something inside me said, “There’s giants there!”  I listened to the wrong voice, and after awhile he hoisted his backpack and walked out the door and down the street. I wasn’t very proud of myself for fearing giants in the land.

How many times have you had opportunity to help another person, but ringing in your ears was the phrase, “There’s giants there!”

If You Wonder

Is this book really true? Many critics today claim that the Bible cannot be true as written, or that it just carries ideas that Jesus taught, not his real words.

The Old Testament is doubted for one major reason–it contains miracles. Some say that you cannot go against the laws of physics. Isn’t it ironic that the latest winner of the Nobel Prize has proven that we can do just that? If we can begin to conquer the laws of physics, why could not the God that created them do the same? Why couldn’t the earth slow during a battle if the creator of the world chose? Also, if you believe that a man crucified DEAD walked out of his tomb (and if my reader is a Christian, you do believe that) why is it hard to believe that God did strange and wonderful things in the Old Testament times as well?

As far as the question of whether we can believe all that is said about Jesus, I cite two passages. The first is from John as he concluded his account of Jesus’ life:

“This is the disciple [John identifies himself] who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.  Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

The second is from Peter, who was at Jesus’ transfiguration with John when He spoke to two long-“dead” leaders of God’s people:

“We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty [when the Father confirmed His Son]. We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.”

Why does the world not question the words or veracity of other ancient books? Because only the Bible threatens our own godhood by proclaiming that there is one greater than we; that we are sinners who cannot save ourselves–who will not evolve into gods; that we need a Savior if we are to continue into an afterlife of joy and peace. These concepts fly in the face of our sinfulness and egos. We want to be our own gods, but the Bible keeps getting in the way, telling us that there is a Ruler of this universe and of our lives. A Ruler who battles evil in us and for us; who fights an unseen battle against evil that will culminate with the return of His Son, who died so that we might live eternally.

sue wilson

“Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is finding his place in it, while really it is finding its place in him.”
― C.S. LewisThe Screwtape Letters

Jesus talked about the man who built his house on the sand versus the man who built his house on the rock. He said, “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” The sand-based house, of course, fell. (Matthew 7:24-27)

On the other hand, the man who builds his life upon Jesus, and acts upon Jesus’ teachings will be “like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.”

Which is the easier house to build? The sand-based house of course. That is the temptation that tears into our hearts every day. Even as believers we want to lapse back into shoveling sand instead of digging through the root tangles and black soil to reach the rock.

Cheating on an exam is easier than studying, doing your best, and taking what comes. Did you know that the majority of our students headed for medical school cheat because it is “necessary” in order to make it into the best institutions? They see no problem in their actions, because that’s what they had to do in order to get what they wanted.

The cheating spouse might feel a twinge of guilt, but will continue to build his life on sand because it’s what he or she has to do “to be happy.”

How many of us remain silent when one of our group spends some conversation time denigrating faith in “fairytales” (that is, Christianity). Silence is safe. It does not embarrass. It does not bring retribution, but is it building a life on the Rock and his teachings?

Satan’s threats to us–his little, continual, irritating voice aimed our “practical” side–never stop. Perhaps that is why the Holy Spirit chooses to take up residence within us. He is closer than Satan’s minions. They can only dance around on the outside, hoping that we will follow their temptations into building a life on sand; a life that will eventually crumble and let us fall far and hard.

Luther says that the Holy Spirit “calls, gathers and enlightens.” Luther was speaking of coming to faith in Christ as Savior, but to be called by Christ, according to the lives of the apostles, entails more than believing that He has given me faith unto salvation.

According to all that we read in the Gospels, being called also involves living every day. As Jesus pointed out in the the story of the house built on sand and the house built on rock–being called is also about acting on the words of our Lord. The Holy Spirit has direct access to our brains and hearts, if we stop to listen and stop to consider whether we want to be of this world, building on sand, or travelers through this world to our real home.

C.S. Lewis looked at our attitude toward what makes a successful life and found it to be lacking. What is success in your life? is it a big house, fenced in yard, a two-car garage, good job with good pay, great benefits from your company, a prestigious school, lots of friends? Or, is it representing Jesus Christ in every area of your life. Is it living and thinking in ways that you would willingly share with Christ?

One success is built on sand; the other on the Rock of our salvation and our lives.

sue wilson

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