A Week Of Firsts

Turning 50

This last week has held two different firsts in my life. The first was that I turned 50. That did not really seem like that much to me. It is just a natural part of life. I have been bald on top since I was 17, so that did not mean much to me. And I have had some grey hair for several years already, nothing new either.

Getting older has never bothered me in any way. I guess having eight wonderful children has kept me young, even though I am getting older and slowing down. I can no longer run as fast, or as long as I used to be able to.

The other first for me this week did have a major impact on me. My oldest daughter got married and I had to be the one to give her away.

I am not one to cry very easy or at every little thing that comes my way. Although there have been movies that have brought tears to my eyes, and I am not ashamed or afraid to cry, when needed.

Over the last few months, since she got engaged, I have been ready for this wedding to happen. I never cried or was sad about it. I was very excited that she was getting married. It never bothered me that she would be leaving the house now, after 23 years.

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However, Saturday, when I began to walk my daughter down the aisle, the emotions started to overwhelm me. It was tears of joy, but tears none-the-less.

One of the things I had to do, as part of the ceremony, was to stand up in front of everyone and pray for her new marriage. She and her husband held hands, the pastor had his hands on them also, and I put my hands on top of hers when I prayed.

I have spoken in front of many people, many times over the years. I have also acted and sang in front of hundreds of people. I have even been the pastor over a wedding and over a funeral. Never once have I been afraid, or unable to speak, till that day.

As I was getting ready to speak, my mind went blank for the first time ever, another first in this past week. What I planned to say completely left me speechless. When I tried to speak, I had to really force the words to come out of my mouth. At that moment, my heart was overwhelmed at what was happening. It was overwhelmed with joy and pride. I also knew the value of the prayer that I was getting ready to pray. It was to be a blessing upon the new marriage.

I knew that the man she was marrying was the one God had for her. If I were to list everything that I would want in a man to marry her, he had it all, and then some. Over the last ten years, I have watched him grow up and become a great man of God. He has a heart to pray for and be a witness to anyone and everyone, anytime and every time. He has a servant’s heart to serve any person in need, no matter the cost to himself. He came from a family that serves God with all of their hearts, souls, minds, and strengths.

My daughter had desired to be married since before she graduated high school. She had continually prayed to God for the one that she was to marry. She constantly asked God where that man was and when would she get him. Although my daughter and her husband had grown up together, for most of that time, they were not together or even considering each other. God, however, was building both of them up to be who each one needed the other to be. They are the perfect helpmates for each other.

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As I prayed that prayer of blessing upon them, I knew that God is going to bless their marriage and ministry together. I am looking forward to the ministry that God will do through them, now that they are together in marriage. Both have great ministries of their own, but now together they will work together building God’s kingdom for His glory and honor.

I did pray a blessing over them. God filled me with His overwhelming peace of His Holy Spirit to say the words I prayed. As I prayed, I also had tears of joy welling up in my eyes. Afterwards, my wife was very surprised, because that is not something normal for me.

While I was watching the wedding, and watching it again on video, because it was recorded, I had the same feelings I had when I married my wife 25 years ago. I knew then that my wife was the one God had for me beyond any shadow of doubt. And I still know that to this day with no doubts. As I knew my wife was the one for me, I knew that this man was the one for my daughter. I also know that they will keep God at the center of their lives and their marriage.

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For those who are still single and want to get married, keep your eyes focused on God. He will bring the right person to you at the right time. Wait on His perfect timing.

For those of you who are married, also keep your eyes focused on God. Keep your marriage centered on pleasing God and He will do great things in and through your marriage.

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Staying in the center of God’s will, will always have many firsts in it, but God will strengthen you to do whatever comes your way or make it through whatever comes your way..

 

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Regrets

Burden of regret

Burden of regret

Regrets are something that most people have. Regrets are a sadness or disappointment over something that had happened in the past. The past might be the immediate past, or something that had occurred many years before.

Young children may have some regrets. They regret taking that cookie they were told not to take. Or maybe regret getting caught taking the cookie. Others may regret something they said or did to someone that got them in trouble. Many of these regrets are quickly forgotten and the child moves on.

Later, when in the middle school and high school years, the regrets stay about the same. Not really changing, not having much of an impact upon the person. When the regrets really begin to happen is when the person gets a little older, or into the middle years of life.

Most people look back on their lives and have a lot of regret for things that they had said or done in the years past. Some of those things were done in the name of fun. Others were done because of a lack of knowledge or wisdom. Still others were done on purpose at the time of being done, but had a lasting negative impact on the life of someone.

Choices made

Actions and words that a person can do and say can have an impact for many years upon some people. How many people can remember a harsh word said by someone they loved and trusted when they were young, and now they are much older? How many can remember being the one who said that harsh word when they were much younger and to this day regret ever having said it?

Many believers in the church have the same problem of living with regret. They regret their former way of life. They regret failing God time and again. The regret not taking the opportunities that God had placed in front of them out of fear.

While it is good to regret doing wrong and sinning before God or others, it is not good to stay in that regret. Regret keeps a person living in the past. Regret does not allow a person to move on. Regret does not allow a person to live the abundant life that God had planned for them.

One thing that regret does that most people do not see is that it tells God that He is not big enough to forgive the past.

1 John 1:9 New International Version (NIV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

It is true that every person has made a mistake in his past. There are things that both you and I have done that now we regret. All those things that we did wrong fall under the category of sin. Sin on purpose, or sin by accident, or sin by omission, all is sin.

As a believer in Jesus, you have to confess all those sins and repent of them. That is you must admit that you had done wrong and strive to never return down that same path again. If you have not confessed your sins or repented of them, then you are not really following Jesus, which means you are not saved.

I'm Sorry

If you have confessed your sins, God in His great love and mercy is willing to forgive you and purify you of all those sins.

Psalm 103:11-12 New International Version (NIV)

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

When God purifies you of your sins, He casts them out as far as the east is from the west. Think about that. No matter how far you travel east, you will never meet the west. You have to turn direction to meet the west. God has gotten rid of those sins, never to be remembered any more.

Micah 7:19 New International Version (NIV)

19 You will again have compassion on us;
    you will tread our sins underfoot
    and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

God has so much love and compassion for you that He will get rid of all your sins forevermore. They will be cast out to where no one can ever get to them again.

Now you may ask, what does all this have to do with regret? Glad you asked.

Going back to what was said at the beginning: regret is a sorrow, sadness or disappointment over something that was had happened in the past.

Many Christians have repented of a past sin, but have not forgiven themselves or gotten past the regret of doing it. They are constantly going to the altar asking God to forgive them of some past sin or regret.

If you believe the words found in the bible, you will know that Jesus has already paid for that regret and forgiven you of it. If God can forgive you of your sin, why can’t you forgive yourself? You are not better than God.

Let It Go

Let go of the past and look forward to now and the future. The past is already done, good or bad, and there is nothing more you can do about it. Once you seek forgiveness it is gone and done away with. God no longer remembers it.

Stop living with regret and start living for God. Jesus said that He came to give you a full life.

John 10:10 New International Version (NIV)

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

The world and Satan wants you to live in bondage to regret of your past. God wants you to live a full life in forgiveness, mercy and grace.

Every time you are reminded of something in your past that was wrong that you have already repented of, remind the devil that Jesus has forgotten that sin, and you do not need to regret it anymore. You have a future as a child of God, an heir to all that heaven holds. Do not live in the past. Live for today and the future.

No Regrets

Take all your regrets and mistakes and give them to Jesus. Let Him cast them out. And don’t pick them up again. Do not live with regrets anymore. Jesus has paid the price for them.

Being Busy

Too Busy

Busyness is something that people say is common today. Although it may seem like it is a relatively new concept, it is not. When Jesus went to the home of Mary and Martha, Martha was very busy with tending to things around the house.

Being busy is something people have been since time began. There is always something to do.

This month is starting out as one of those months that a proving to be extremely busy. My work alone as a teacher takes up 50-60 hours per week. Along with that I have a daughter getting married this month. In between all of that I have a son who is having a birthday. That is the big things going on this month.

Outside of those things are the smaller things of the huge list of things that I need to do around my house and property, repairs, upkeeps, and cleaning. Along with those things there is church. There will be some revival services going on at our church the weekend of the wedding.

Husband multitasking

Then to cap the busyness off, a friend, who was my best man at my wedding 25 years ago, is coming for a visit. It was not known when he was planning to come, nor does he know how long he will stay. Life is busy.

Psalm 46,10

One of the things that we need to do is stop and know God. Take a few minutes to breath and connect with God.

Psalm 37:23 King James Version (KJV)

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.

God is watching your every step. Everything that you do must be ordered by God.

Ask yourself if what you are doing is what God would want you to do. If it is, He will give you the strength and grace to complete it.

There are probably many things that you do, at least I know that I do, that are not necessarily ordered by God. There are many times I do things to just relax or forget everything else. Often I like to procrastinate and not do the things that I should do.

There are times I put off praying or reading the Bible, when I know I should be doing those things. I put them off in order to play or watch a movie or tv, or some other thing.

focus on god

If my focus is on God, I will be focused on doing what He wants me to do. It is then that I may be very busy, but I will not be too busy. I will be doing His work, not the meaningless work of this world. It will also take your mind off the circumstances that you are in.

As you go through your days, going into a season of holidays and extreme busyness, take time to focus on God. Ask God what He wants you to do. Ask God what He does not want you to do. Allow Him to order your steps and not be busy spinning your wheels doing nothing of value.

Autumn: A Time Of Change

Autumn house

Autumn or Fall, depending on where you live, is a time of a lot of change. The further north you are, the more you will see the change in the season. The temperature will start to drop and the leaves will begin to turn many colors, other than green. The grass will start to turn brown and slow down on growing. Many plants will begin to die off until spring comes around. Change is occurring.

As the temperature starts to drop, people start bringing out their sweaters or coats. Occasionally one will have to start to turn on the furnace in the house or the heater in the car. Some people will start packing up all their summer clothes and pull out the winter clothing, changing their whole wardrobe out. Change is occurring.

Fall coats

Along with all the weather changes, school has started up again. From elementary school, all the way up through college, students are going back to school. In college towns the traffic is picking up, new drivers everywhere. Teachers are working again hard after having a summer off. Change is occurring.

Some people love the change that is happening. Those who live up on the New England states love the beautiful colors of the changing leaves. College students are often excited to be starting a new year, closer to graduation. Students in school are usually excited to see many of their friends who they have not seen all summer.

back to school

While many love the changes that are occurring, there are also many who do not like the change. Many love the flowers that grow during the summer and will miss them as fall happens and winter is coming. Many do not like the cooler weather (though I don’t know why). Some students don’t like the idea of school coming again because of all the tests and projects to be done. And many just do not like change, they like things to stay the same.

Change is something that is supposed to happen. God talks about change. People are supposed to change and become more like Jesus each day.

2 Corinthians 5:17 New International Version (NIV)

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

If you are a believer in Jesus, you are to change and become a new creation. Your old life is to pass away. The way you used to do things must come to an end. All the sin that you had done, must be thrown away. This is done by the death of Christ upon the cross.

John 12:24 New International Version (NIV)

24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

Kernel of wheat

You must die to your old ways of living. The good thing is that if you allow your old self to die, many new things can come out of it. Just like a kernel of wheat that has a seed fall to the ground and die. After a time, the seed will produce a new plant of wheat, which then will produce more seeds and more wheat

One of the hard parts about change is not always knowing how things are going to change. What will they change to? How will it affect you?

Hebrews 13:8 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Jesus has never changed and never will. God is the same today as He was during the time of Abraham and will be forever more the same.

Change in your life is often see in dying to self. Going through that type of change is not always fun or easy. However, when you die to self and begin to show Jesus to others, life will begin to happen. Other people will see the change and want to be a part of it. Others will see the love of Jesus in you and want to have that same love.

As you are going through some change, regardless of what the change is in your life, allow God to use it to build His kingdom. Trust that God knows what He is doing. God is there for you, not against you. He will walk you through the changes in this life.

time for change

Do not fear any change that God may be bringing into your life. God is using all change for your benefit. Ask God to reveal to you how to change and how to use that change for His glory. Make a change in this world by being His witness and bringing another person to Jesus. Be the change that God wants you to be.

Year round God is in the season of change–changing lives from an old one of sin and death, to one of righteousness and life. As you go through this season of autumn, think about the change God is making in your own life.

What Are You Watching?

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Watching television and movies is a favorite pastime of many people. People love to watch something. It allows them to escape into a different world for a short time. It allows them to step out of reality into a fantasy world.

The things that people watch cover an extremely broad band of categories. Many of those categories overlap each other, creating new categories. Fantasy, drama, horror, and comedy are the base line of movies. Then they broaden out to fantasy/drama, or comedy/horror, or some other combination.

Movie Types

It is very interesting to watch what most movies are about. If you really look at them closely, most of them tell the same story that has been told a dozen times before. The only real difference is in how it is told. One time it is live action, next time it is with fantasy, next time it is with anime, the next is with puppets, the next is with music, and the variations of the same story keep going.

Other times it is the same type of story, such as boy meets girl, falls in love and after a time of rejection from her they get married. This story has been told hundreds of different times in different ways. Or the hero saves a person, city, nation, or the world. Or the flip side the bad guy does not get caught or die in the end, and they come back with a sequel.

Billions of dollars are spent every year watching movies, whether in the theater, pay-per-view, paid channels, television, or online rentals. People love to watch movies.

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Now you may be asking why did I say all of this. Where am I going with all of this?

During this past week the movie, “It,” came out as a remake of this classic movie. Many of the students I teach in 6-8th grade had went to see it. Several had seen it several times. Along with those in my public, non-Christian school, I know of several in the church that also went to see it or want to see the movie.

During one of my classes, one of my students asked me if I was going to see the movie. I had told the student that there is no way I would go and see it. The question was then raised as to why. The answer to that is what led me to write this post.

People who study movies and plays will always try to point out the good in a movie. They want to point out how the bad guy loses in the end. How good always triumphs over evil. They point out the good moral points of the story. It is true that in every movie there is usually some good moral point in it, no matter how bad it appears as a whole.

Christians will be very quick to point out that the bible does not say that a person should not watch movies. Many will be also quick to point out all the immoral stuff that is written in the bible. With both these arguments they want to say that it is acceptable to watch anything that they want to watch.

The first thing I would like to say is look at what Paul had said:

1 Corinthians 10:23 New International Version (NIV)

23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.

Paul says that you may do whatever you want, but not everything is beneficial. There are things that do not benefit you at all. It does not help you in any way.

Free To Do

Romans 8:28 New International Version (NIV)

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

God does not work that way. Everything that God does has a purpose. Everything that God allows has a purpose.

Many people think that God is just a great big ogre out to make life miserable for them. That He will not allow them to have any fun in life and is always out to get them or punish them.

God has given you the right to do whatever you want to do. However, what many people do not like to hear is that there are consequences to the choices made. If you want to make a choice to sin, God will allow that, but the consequence is death. God allowed Adam and Eve to make that choice, and He still allows people to make that choice.

Ezekiel 36:26 New International Version (NIV)

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36,26

God wants to give you a new, living heart of flesh. He wants you to live life to the fullest.

John 10:10 New International Version (NIV)

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

With God giving you a new heart and a new life, you should live the way He planned for you to live.

Going back to watching movies.

Philippians 4:8 New International Version (NIV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.

Paul says that you are to think about certain things. These things are what are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.

When watching a movie, the movie may be excellent in the way it was made. It may have excellent acting and excellent filming, but that does not finish out what Paul said to think about. Does it fit the pure? Is it admirable? Is it praiseworthy? Is it lovely?

Watching someone or something just go around and kill does not fit the description of what Paul said to think about. Watching a couple or a person be unfaithful in their marriage is not pure. Watching the thief or crook be honored as good, is not praiseworthy.

Time To Decide

And of each of these few examples, how do any of them really benefit you? Do any of them bring you closer to God? Or make you more like God? If not, why watch them?

What you take into you will eventually come out. If you fill your life with garbage, that garbage will come out in the end.

Everything that you say, do, watch, or listen to should be done for the benefit of God and to bring you closer to God, or to bring others closer to God. Yes, you are allowed to do whatever you want, but there is a price to do it. If you choose things that bring about death, then it will be death that you will receive.

Take a moment and think about the movies or shows that you watch. What benefit is there in watching those movies or shows?

If Jesus were standing right next to you, would He choose to watch them with you? Would you be comfortable with watching them with Him next to you?

Ask God what He wants you to see or watch before you watch something. See what He has to say about it.

Slow Cooker Homeschooling

This was originally posted on the Sped Homeschool website. My wife, Cammie, wrote this and has been homeschooling for over 20 years and is still homeschooling several children.  If you homeschool and have special children in your home, please go to their website. The group has been started to help homeschool parents with children who have special needs at a national level. The organization was originally started in Texas and has now been able to go national.

Slow Cooker Homeschooling

By Cammie Arn

Have you ever wondered just why spaghetti sauce tastes best when simmered for hours over low heat verses just mixing all the ingredients up as fast as you can? Or why a roast is more tender and juicy when it’s slow cooked on a lower temperature than cooked on high for a shorter time? It has to do with being patient for everything to break down and come together in its own time.

Complex Parts Come Together with Time

It’s the same with homeschooling. We all have different ingredients in the form of employment, family size, level of special needs, appointments, therapies and curriculum. So why do we compare our family with that of another and try to recreate their recipe for success in our own homeschool?

Slow Cooker, Not Instapot

We are in a slow-cooker mama. Homeschooling and parenting go hand in hand and neither are recipes to be put into an Instapot to rush to the end. It’s a long slow journey with amazing rewards, but we need to recognize we are on our own journey and it isn’t going to “taste” like anyone else’s recipe or have the same ingredients.

Differences in Ingredients, Measurements, and Cooking Time

So as you daily add your “ingredients”, carefully measuring and selecting each one, be sure to add a measure of grace and a double portion of love.  These two additional ingredients always make the recipe work out better.

Don’t rush, instead savor the smell of the beautiful unique recipe coming together in your homeschool today.  You will be glad you did.

Be Ready, Without Fear

hurricane harvey

Over the last few weeks weather has played havoc on the lives of many people in the United States and several island countries nearby. Two major hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, have hit the coasts and created a lot of damage.

damages harvey

The first hurricane, Harvey, hit land only a few hours from where I live in Texas. Houston, itself, is only about 1 1/2 hours from my place. I had many friends who live in some of the coastal cities and the Houston area that were hit very hard. Several completely lost their homes, others had their homes completely flooded out. It was a very bad storm.

flooded homes

During the last 2-3 days before the hurricane hit, people started running to the stores to purchase food and water. In the days before, till several days after the hurricane, many of the shelves in the store were bare. As fast as the stocker could pull water off a cart and put it on the shelves, the water was snatched up and purchased by someone.

bare shelves

Along with the shelves becoming bare of food and water, there was a run on gas. People quickly ran to the gas station to fill up. This occurred even more, once they heard that the oil refineries were broke down. There was a great fear of a shortage of gas. Gas and food prices started to rise in the fear.

Even now, after a week of Harvey being gone, there are gas stations that shut down nightly because they are out of fuel. People are still lining up at the stations to get gas. Talk is everywhere about the fear of the shortage of gas and prices going higher all the time.

I will not try to spiritualize the hurricane and say that God is judging America. He did not tell me that, so I will not say that either. It may or may not be true. God does use natural disasters to punish a nation. And there is sin in this world, so there are also natural disasters that will take a toll on human life.

What I do want to talk about is being ready without fear. Panic had risen in the hearts and minds of many people. This had caused the people to run to the stores and buy as much as they could, as fast as they could. This was all done out of fear and lack of preparation.

Many people live their Christian lives in the same way. They react to situations in their lives out of fear and lack of preparation.

Some negative situation happens in the life of a person and immediately he runs to God, crying out in fear and desperation for help. He then opens the Bible and scours it for verses of hope dealing with his situation. Prior to this situation, he never prayed, except at an occasional meal, or at church when the pastor asks everyone to bow their heads and pray, and he never opened the Bible, unless the pastor asked him to directly. The Bible sat on a shelf, collecting dust all week, until Sunday.

dusty bible

This is not a picture of someone who is ready. It is not a picture of someone who is prepared for whatever may come his way. It is only one of fear and desperation, just like those running to the stores to get food or gas during and after the hurricane.

2 Timothy 4:2 New International Version (NIV)

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

Paul had told Timothy to preach the word and be prepared at all times. Although Paul was talking about directly preaching to people the gospel message, it can be seen in preaching the Word of God to situations in your life.

As a believer you must study and know God’s word in your heart and mind at all times.

Psalm 119:11 New International Version (NIV)

11 I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you.

Hiding God’s word in your heart and knowing it all times will keep you from sin. Running in fear is not trusting God. Not trusting God is a sin.

Time in Gods Word

The only way you can know God’s word and have it hidden in your heart is if you spend time in His word. The only way you can know God’s will for your life is if you spend time talking with God about it. And if you talk to God about it, you must listen to what He has to say.

God is a God of peace, not fear and panic. He is always in control of every situation in your life. Whether the situation is of hurricane size, or a bump in the road, God is still there with you. Know this before you hit that situation and you will have His peace and comfort in the storm. Spend time with God and His word, before life gets rough with a bad storm.

Do not place yourself in a position of running in fear to God’s word, drastically searching for some help. Know it before the time of need comes. Then you will be able to confidently go before God with your needs, knowing that He is there and in control. You will be ready for anything and not have any fear.

Prayer

Today as you think about this, please be praying for those affected by the hurricanes in Texas, Florida and any other states or countries in their path. Pray for their peace, protection, and restoration.