Archive for the ‘For Your Edification’ Category

About a month ago, I started making Ephesians 6 a part of my daily prayer time for every individual in our family. I just begin with the helmet of salvation and move down to the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness, on to the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit and finally I end with the shoes of the Gospel of peace. I pray that everyone of us would be clothed in the armor so that we can “endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.” (II Timothy 2:3)

So, today when we were singing Stand Up for Jesus during our praise and worship time, the line “…put on the Gospel armor– each piece put on with prayer…” really jumped out at me. How is that that I’ve been singing that hymn since I was toddling around in the cradle roll room at church and never noticed it? It made me happy that the old hymn writer from long ago had grasped the concept and that I am doing nothing new by “praying on the armor.”

Stand up, stand up for Jesus;
Stand in his strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you,
You dare not trust your own.
Where duty calls or danger,
Be never wanting there.

Life is a spiritual battle. I tell my Sunday School kids this all of the time. I tell them to know their “Swords” because the devil hates them and wants to kill them. (John 10:10) I need the armor. You need the armor. Every Christian needs their armor. Pray it on!


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Today my pastor/husband preached out of Psalm 101 on the importance of godly companions. He especially emphasized this to the teenagers in our congregation. He and I are smack in the middle of this parenting gig, so by no means do we feel that we have it all figured out. (If anyone does, would they please give me a call??) The truth is, we are constantly looking to the Bible and prayer as we continue on this journey called “parenting.”

I Corinthians 15:33 says: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

Just this one verse alone, if heeded, could save many a parent some heartache. How does it play out?

1. Homeschooling is an option– but even if you don’t homeschool, you can still make sure that you are “home socializing.” In other words, make sure that most of your kid’s social time is spent with YOUR FAMILY. In YOUR HOME. Plan family activities and make your home a fun place to be. I was recently talking to a friend and she said, “My son can’t stand being at home. He’s always looking for somewhere to go on the weekend.” My teenagers are normal kids and enjoy spending time with their friends, but every Friday they come from school and say “What are we (as in our family) going to do this weekend?” There’s hardly nothing my sixteen year old daughter would rather do than curl up on the couch in our living room and watch old movies with us.
2. Know what they’re up to– This means, not letting your kids have unlimited cell phones and/or texting. This also means keeping tabs on their Facebook or Myspace pages. I actually joined Facebook so I could be in the “know.” (And it’s been a lot of fun catching up with some of MY old friends in the process!) I am always shocked at what’s being said on some kid’s pages.  I KNOW these kids wouldn’t be talking like this if their parents were standing in the room.  But on Facebook, they feel unchecked.  I even have the passwords to all of my kid’s email accounts and check them periodically. My kids understand that all of these things are PRIVLEGES and not rights and that I can suspend any of it at anytime if I feel that God has been dishonored or their testimony is in jeopardy.
3. Make sleep overs the exception and not the rule. Really, why do kids need to spend the night with each other? Late night gatherings often end in snarky gossip, mischief and hurt feelings. Let your son or daughter stay late at their friend’s homes and then bring them home at 10 or 11 to sleep under your own roof. I’ll occasionally allow a sleepover in our home, but very rarely do our kids spend the night somewhere else.  We’ve actually let the kids sleepover at a friend’s house a couple of times over the past few years and we’ve gotten burned.   One of my children watched a movie that we would have NEVER normally allowed in our own home.

4.  Don’t let your kids date until they’re old enough to start thinking about marriage. I’ve talked about this before.  You can read the old post because I still stand behind every word of it.

Junk food is delicious, but you would die if you were on a steady diet of it. Some secular music can be great fun, but your soul would shrivel up without praise and worship. Silly times with friends can be swell, but your parenting will take a serious hit if you allow your kid’s to consistently hang with kids who don’t come from homes that share your views on authority and godliness.

This is all hard work, but no one ever promised that parenting would be easy did they?  Stay the course, friends and never stop praying.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galatians 6:9

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As my kids have gotten older and more involved in all things extra-curricular, the mom in me started trying to figure out ways to make sure we were still getting plenty of “together time.”  Even church activities, while so good and worthwhile, can crowd out the much needed “family/chill” time.

So, when we homeschooled, we were more of a “breakfast cereal family.”  I reasoned that I couldn’t be spending a chunk of time cooking and cleaning in the kitchen each morning, because we needed to be hitting the books bright and early.  But once we entered the public school system, I figured that a yummy hot breakfast was a great way to send everybody off on the right foot.

I came up with a weekly breakfast menu that has really worked for us.  It provides a little variety and everybody in this family of seven gets SOMETHING that they like SOMETIME during the week.  And I don’t ever have to think about what I’m going to cook–  I just do what the breakfast menu tells me to do.  For supper I plan a month’s worth of meals and the same concept applies.  I just cook what the menu tells me to do.

Mondays- waffles and fruit
Tuesdays- biscuits and sausage
Wednesdays- eggs and bacon
Thursdays- muffins and fruit
Fridays- cereal, and/or yogurt and/or granola bars
Saturday- THE WORKS (When we’re home- we eat a big brunch on Saturdays).  Eggs (scrambled or fried- your request), homemade biscuits/gravy, bacon)
Sunday- donuts at church (No, we don’t sit together for this one.  This is a grab and go to class kind of breakfast that I don’t have to fix!!!!)

So- somehow in between music lessons and youth group activities, the Rays are managing to all sit around the dinner table twice a day.  Sometimes supper has to be served REALLY EARLY to pull that off.   But I love to eat with my whole family whenever possible; so making the extra effort to ensure two meals around the table everyday really WORKS FOR ME!

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Sermon Rumination

Of course I thought that THIS was a good idea!  And I’m going to encourage all of you to do it to.

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I’m back.  I’m exhausted and exhilarated and I’m back.

It was stinkin’ hot y’all.  It was so hot I could have warmed up my morning coffee on my forehead.  None of the rooms were air-conditioned.   The heat was so stifling, that I started to panic on Sunday night.  Could I really endure seven days of this?  As we walked up the hill to my cabin (Rule #372 about camp:  all camps are built on hills.  I’m pretty sure this is verifiable.) I said silently, “One down, six to go.”

But the Holy Spirit met me.  Met all of us.  And the Spirit’s refreshment overshadowed the heat and the sweat and the dirt.  As we drove back on Saturday afternoon, I felt like my soul had had a true retreat.   The Lord knows I’ve done my fair share of camping.   As a kid, and then as a youth intern and as a ministry wife, I’ve been both camper and counselor at more camps than I can shake a stick at.  But it had been a while, because I don’t do camp if I’m pregnant, or nursing a baby or toting a toddler and I’ve been doing one of those three things for, well, for a long time.  It was hard for me to leave my three year old behind for an entire week and I wouldn’t have done it this year if my husband had not asked me to.  I went to be his helper and to be a blessing for our youth.  I did go into the week prayed up–  I had been praying over our kids for weeks.  But I did not expect the blessing that I personally received.

My husband preached on the need for solitude on the Sunday morning before we left for camp.  It wasn’t planned that way–  he’s been preaching on the spiritual disciplines all summer.  I was reminded last week that I don’t get enough of this kind of solitude.  My soul needed a week of Bible preaching and prayer and time to think and reflect. Yours does too.  A week away from the world and from the daily grind was good for the soul.  A week to meet new friends who love the Lord and love His Word was good for the heart.  A week away from a demanding toddler was good for the mind.  It was a good week.

I think I may even go back next year.

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Vacation Bible School 2008 is over. Whew!

I’ve been leading children’s music for Vacation Bible School for what seems like forever. This year makes fifteen years for me. I think. I’ve taught the theme songs and accompaning songs for Kingdom Capers (2003), Rickshaw Rally (2004), Ramblin’ Roadtrip (2005), Arctic Edge (2006), Game Day Central (2007) and this year’s Outrigger Island, just to name a few. I am completely and utterly exhausted more tired at the end of the week than I used to be when I was younger, but I don’t ever get tired of teaching the children.

The thing I love about children’s music is that you can teach these young ones to express themselves physically in a way that most adults are too timid. I teach them to reach their hands to the sky and to their Lord and to express their love for Jesus with their eyes and with their faces. One little boy (a fourth grader, I think) stood out in particular. Every time he would sing The Word, (by Jeff Slaughter– http://www.jeffslaughter.com) and we came to the line: “The Word is… unbreakable… unshakable…” you could see the emotion written all over his face. Unabashed love. Precious.

Don’t be ashamed to worship the Lord with abandon. Jesus told us we had to become like little children to enter the kingdom of Heaven. If you want to really become like a child, come watch the children worship at VBS next year and mimic them

“Because He lived His life perfectly, but He chose to die upon the tree, so that you and I might live eternally…” (lyric from Jesus Is by Jeff Slaughter–  http://www.jeffslaughter.com)

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My husband preached on prayer last Sunday and then I found this article on line via Everyday Becky entitled “31 Things to Pray for Your Children.”  (That’s one thing for each day of the month.)  So helpful!  Check it out!

31 Things to Pray for Your Children

1 salvation “Lord, let salvation spring up within my children, that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory” (Isaiah 45:8, 2 Timothy 2:10).

2 growth in grace “I pray that they may ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ'” (2 Peter 3:18).

3 love “Grant, Lord, that my children may learn to ‘live a life of love,’ through the Spirit who dwells in them” (Ephesians 5:2, Galatians 5:22).

4 honesty and integrity ” May integrity and honesty be their virtue and their protection” (Psalm 25:21, NLT).

5 self-control ” Father, help my children not to be like many others around them, but let them be ‘alert and self-controlled’ in all they do” (1 Thessalonians 5:6)

6 a love for God’s Word ” May my children grow to find your Word ‘more precious than gold, than much pure gold; [and] sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb'” (Psalm 19:10).

7 justice ” God, help my children to love justice as you do and to ‘act justly’ in all they do” (Psalm 11:7, Micah 6:8).

8 mercy ” May my children always ‘be merciful, as [their] Father is merciful'” (Luke 6:36).

9 respect (for self, others, authority) ” Father, grant that my children may ‘show proper respect to everyone,’ as your Word commands” (1 Peter 2:17a).

10 strong, Biblical self-esteem ” Help my children develop a strong self-esteem that is rooted in the realization that they are ‘God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus'” (Ephesians 2:10).

11 faithfulness “‘ Let love and faithfulness never leave [my children],’ but bind these twin virtues around their necks and write them on the tablet of their hearts” (Proverbs 3:3).

12 courage “May my children always ‘Be strong and courageous’ in their character and in their actions” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

13 purity “‘Create in [them] a pure heart, O God,’ and let their purity of heart be shown in their actions” (Psalm 51:10).

14 kindness “Lord, may my children ‘always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else'” (1 Thessalonians 5:15).

15 generosity “Grant that my children may ‘be generous and willing to share [and so] lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age'” (1 Timothy 6:18-19).

16 peace, peaceability “Father, let my children ‘make every effort to do what leads to peace'” (Romans 14:19).

17 joy ” May my children be filled ‘with the joy given by the Holy Spirit'” (1 Thessalonians 1:6).

18 perseverance ” Lord, teach my children perseverance in all they do, and help them especially to ‘run with perseverance the race marked out for [them]'” (Hebrews 12:1).

19 humility ” God, please cultivate in my children the ability to ‘show true humility toward all'” (Titus 3:2).

20 compassion ” Lord, please clothe my children with the virtue of compassion” (Colossians 3:12).

21 responsibility ” Grant that my children may learn responsibility, ‘for each one should carry his own load'” (Galatians 6:5).

22 contentment ” Father, teach my children ‘the secret of being content in any and every situation. . . . through him who gives [them] strength'” (Philippians 4:12-13).

23 faith ” I pray that faith will find root and grow in my children’s hearts, that by faith they may gain what has been promised to them” (Luke 17:5-6, Hebrews 11:1-40).

24 a servant heart ” God, please help my children develop servant hearts, that they may serve wholeheartedly, ‘as to the Lord, and not to men'” (Ephesians 6:7, KJV).

25 hope ” May the God of hope grant that my children may overflow with hope and hopefulness by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

26 the willingness and ability to work hard ” Teach my children, Lord, to value work and to work hard at everything they do, ‘as working for the Lord, not for men'” (Colossians 3:23).

27 a passion for God ” Lord, please instill in my children a soul that “followeth hard after thee,” a heart that clings passionately to you (Psalm 63:8, KJV).

28 self-discipline ” Father, I pray that my children may develop self-discipline, that they may acquire ‘a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair'” (Proverbs 1:3).

29 prayerfulness ” Grant, Lord, that my children’s lives may be marked by prayerfulness, that they may learn to ‘pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18).

30 gratitude ” Help my children to live lives that are always ‘overflowing with thankfulness,’ ‘always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ'” (Colossians 2:7, Ephesians 5:20).

31 a heart for missions ” Lord, please help my children to develop a heart for missions, a desire to see your glory declared among the nations, your marvelous deeds among all peoples” (Psalm 96:3).

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