Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Mystery

My bible study group is studying John and we are currently on John 6:22-59. I am so glad this passage is included in scripture. It has become a very dear passage to me because it "explains" the mystery of God's sovereignty and our free will existing simultaneously. In my "logic" this does not compute , but I'm glad for John's words to illustrate the outworking of "believing", or as Christ describes, eating the "bread of life."

Here's a brief summary of John's statements:
v.37 "All that the Father gives me"
v.39 "all that He has given me"
v.44 "unless the Father draws him"
v.45 "and they shall all be taught by God"

2. HUMAN RESPONSE INVOLVED (verbs committed by believing people)
v.35 "he who comes to Me... he who believes in Me"
v.37 "the one who comes to Me"
v.40 "everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him"
v.44 "come to Me"
v.45 "everyone who has heard and learned from the Father... comes to Me"
v.47 "he who believes in Me"
v.51 "if anyone eats this bread"
v.53 "unless you eat the flesh... drink His blood"
v.54 "whoever eats My flesh... drink My blood"
v.56 "He who eats my flesh... drinks My blood"
v.57 "he who feeds on Me"
v.58 "He who eats this bread"

Verse 44 highlights the fact that God is ultimately behind the process, "No one can come to Me unles the Father who sent Me draws him," but I'm interested with the many verbs John uses to describe the human involvement in this mystery called "believing".

Bottom line for me is that I am so grateful that God has drawn me, taught me and given me to Jesus. This gives me great security. And at the same time, I am fascinated with my responsibility to come, believe, eat, drink, and feed on the "bread of life", Jesus. It's a true mystery (Eph.1:9) and a wonderful reality.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Let The Sun Shine In

My mom loves sparkling windows. I actually didn't realize this growing up. She did wash the windows of our house, but I don't think I noticed how frequently she did this. Nor did I perceive the joy she had from looking out her dazzling kitchen window at the beautiful maple tree outside.

When my husband and I were first married, we were living in Edmonton, miles away from my home in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario. (For readers south of the border, that's like Niagara Falls to Montana). Anyway, my parents came for a visit - their first in our new "home" (it was a condo.) They were excited about our new place and we enjoyed their visit very much. Of course, I had been sure to make everything spotless, cleaning the stove, the toaster, the mirrors, etc. until everything shone. However, I didn't even think to clean my windows.

Well my mom was there about 2 hours, when I noticed her cleaning the window on our front screen door. "Mom, what are you doing?" was my question. To which she calmly replied, "Just cleaning the window. It was a little dirty."

A little dirty. I have to admit, I don't think I had cleaned it since we had moved in. It had never occurred to me. Well, since then, I too have come to enjoy clean windows, although I have a lot to clean in our present house and they aren't always as gleaming as I would prefer.

To achieve sparkling windows, I have come across some great tips that work well for me. First, I use 2 tablespoons of corn starch in a bucket of hot, hot, water. (As hot as I can bear. When the water starts getting cool, I change the water and prepare a fresh batch of starch water.) Then I use a window washing "system" from Lee Valley tools. It includes an extendable pole (great for the 2nd-story windows), a sponge tip, and a squeegie tip. This system, combined with the hot starch water make washing the windows quick and relatively painless.

I now also enjoy the view out my kitchen window, though my tree is a Hawthorne tree. It's really a small thing, but somehow I enjoy the sunshine just a little more when it sparkles on my windows.

Flash Freezing Add-On

I posted about flash freezing 2 weeks ago and would'nt you know, Martha wrote about it in her latest Martha Stewart Living magazine. She added a wonderful idea, though. She suggested flash freezing scoops of cookie dough, so you can have just a few fresh baked cookies right out of the oven. This is a great idea if you want just enough for your family for afternoon snack, but don't want the whole batch kicking around to tempt you throughout the day. I'm sure there are many more ideas that can use the "flash freezing" principle. If you have any, pass them on in my comments section.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Power of a Praying Wife

Yes, this post is referring to that popular book from a few years ago.

Can I just start by saying that title bothers me.

I, as a praying wife, do not have power. At least, I hope not. Oh yes, sometimes I wish I had power, but that is usually my sinful nature wanting to take control of my life rather than leaving my life in my Father's hands.

"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (James 5:16) The prayer is powerful, not the pray-er, that is, not the one who is praying.

So where does this power come from? From the one that we are praying to... God Himself.

Psalm 147:5 says, "Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit."

2 Corinthians 12:9 is also a good reminder, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

And then we can look at Ephesians 6:10, "Be strong in the Lord, and in His mighty power."

We do not have power but we know the one that is all-powerful, omnipotant. Let us remember that our prayers can move mountains, but only with God's power.

Having said all this, I am revisiting Stormie Omartian's book right now. Despite the title, it has some good thoughts on how to "stand beside our man" by praying for him. This is one of our chief jobs as wives. We are to be helpmates to our men, and as such, our source of greatest help comes in God. Let us pledge again to be faithful in supporting our husbands in prayer. We all know they need it :)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Tagged in Fours

I've been tagged so here goes:

Four jobs I've had:
- radio mid-day host (really fun job)
- accountant
- florist (university)
- receptionist at a car dealership (when I was 16)

Four places I've lived:
- Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario
- Edmonton, Alberta
- Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Okotoks, Alberta

Four vacations I've taken:
- Puerto Vallarta
- Florida
- Germany
- Montana

Four vehicles I've owned:
- Honda Accord
- Honda Civic
- Honda CRV
- Kubota tractor

Four blogs I want to tag:
- Coloratura Christian
- martha_martha
- Spud Files
- In Search of a Wild Frontier

Let the fun continue!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Next PM

We have a new Prime Minister in Canada. A conservative. Opinions about him vary tremendously, but time will show his ability to lead our country. As the election results were streaming in last night, there was a small feature about his upbringing and childhood years. This made me reflect on a home-schooling seminar my friend went to. It talked about raising the leaders of tomorrow. One of their main thoughts was that you need to be an example of "greatness" to inspire "greatness". They discussed the idea of raising "statesmen" by studying the founding fathers of confederation: their ideals and methods for building the New World.

Not that I'm suggesting we all focus on bringing up the next prime minister, or senator, but I needed this reminder that my sons have a purpose in God's grand plan. Whether it be prime minister, missionary or carpenter, the "greatness" is not in the profession, but how we use the profession to affect this world. I have been challenged to do the very best I can to raise men that look beyond themselves. Men that are used of God to do His work.

This causes me to raise my bar of expectations just a little higher. No longer do I simply want my children to get a job, be a faithful citizen, be a good father (though these are aspects of their character that I do want to develop), but I want them to be faithful to the calling God has placed on their life. As I read Eph.2:10 and consider that text for my sons in ten years or so, it encourages me to be diligent with every moment they're under my care. I am a part of enabling them to "do the good deeds God has prepared" for them. By teaching them various aspects of "living", I will ultimately help equip them for God's work as they choose to follow Him.

And this leaves me at the feet of God, begging for wisdom for today. It's an "important" day. Part of God's design needs to be accomplished. Oh how I dare not squander my time. And yet, I can rest in the power of the Holy Spirit to work in spite of me. What a wonder that God uses us to do His work. What a wonder, what a privilege, what a responsibility. All the best, my fellow mothers as you raise the next generation to do the work of Almighty God.

Monday, January 23, 2006


"Delayed obey is no obey."

This is a gentle reminder that can be heard at our home when there is hesitancy in obeying. I am often challenged by parenting "experts" when they express the need to expect obedience the first time an imperative is given. There are days when this happens in my house, and there are days when it does not.

Last night I was doing a little "self-examination" and struck by my own slow obedience towards God. Aha. Maybe this could be a contributing factor to the slow obedience problem with the children. I hate to admit it, but I have been dragging my feet about some issues that God has been placing His finger on, in my life. Although I have been wanting to change some of my bad habits, I have not been jumping at the opportunity to obey my Abba. Face to face with my rebellion, I had to bow in confession and contrition. I am so glad that I have an Abba that forgives. A lot of guilt was weighing me down and I hadn't even been realizing it.

Today, I am striving to be quick to obey His leading. It's amazing how much easier it is once I get over the initial attitude problem. I know that His commandments "are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3), but for some reason, when my attitude is rebellious they can seem that way. My prayer is that all of us will learn to be "quick obey-ers"... speedy to do as God asks us.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Cleave-ers and Other Stickiness

In doing a study on divorce and remarriage, I am studying Matt 19:5, which is actually a restatement of Gen. 2:24, "For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh."

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, cleaving means "to adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly". It is linked to the German word: kleben. I use klebich (though it's not really a proper German word) with regards to my 2 year-old... his fingers are often klebich - sticky.

The etymology brings more perspective to our word, cleave, especially when considering some derivatives such as cleavage or meat cleavers. Interestingly, the english word has come to mean both "to split" and "to adhere". This makes simple translation a little more difficult. Apparently, cleave has changed in meaning, so that it can encompass opposite definitions: to stick and to separate.

When there is peace and unity within a marriage, the idea of "cleaving" to one another is not a difficult concept. However, it seems that when life becomes difficult in a marriage, maybe even impossible, suddenly the idea of "sticking together" begins to look like "separation".

This is when it is helpful to go to the original languages. The greek word, cleave, in Matthew 19:5 has the idea of glue or unite. In Genesis 2:24, the hebrew word suggests: to cling, to keep close. Both words are definitely a word picture to help us understand the marriage "unity" that we are to pursue. In both references, the man is told to "cleave". It is an imperative. This is not simply something that happens, but something which he is to do.

We know that we are to pursue this oneness... and we are also warned, "What God has joined together, let no man separate."(Matt.19:6) Therefore, let us pursue those things that "stick" us together.

Flash Freezing

My mother taught me a neat trick, that we have called "flash freezing". Essentially, it is freezing an item for a short length of time, just until it is solid. This allows you to manipulate the item with greater ease.

For example, I flash freeze bacon in single layers (not overlapping) on a cookie-sheet, so that I can lift off the slices into my Tupperware bacon keeper. Once frozen, I quickly return the bacon slices to the freezer, and now if I need just 3 or 4 slices, I can easily remove just what I need without defrosting the entire package of bacon. This makes it really easy to add a little bacon to whatever you're cooking.

I also have done this with blueberries, strawberries, peaches, etc. The great benefit is being able to take out the items without them being frozen in a mass. It is great for making muffins, and helps a lot if you just want to sprinkle a few berries into something (like pancakes).

Lemon slices also work really well. I pick up bags of lemons when they're on sale, slice them, flash-freeze them, and then I have lemon slices for tea or ice-water all the time.

This trick has many applications, and I have found it to be a simple way to freeze items that otherwise I wouldn't even think of freezing.
Hope it's a helpful trick for you!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Talking About Spiritual Things

Sunday's sermon was based on Romans 1:11-17, where Paul gives his reasons for preaching the gospel to the citizens of Rome. Based on Paul's motivations, we were challenged to share our faith. Our pastor encouraged us to give people "a glimpse of the hope that we have" - to be ready to explain the hope that lies within us.

As I have been mulling this over in my mind, and discussing it with fellow believers, it has been interesting to note some of the "methods" of witnessing. Some people believe that "sharing the faith" with their neighbour would mean telling them, "I go to church." Other people suggest saying "I'll pray for you" or "I don't believe in homosexuality because of the Bible" could be a way to communicate the gospel. I would like to suggest these to be conversations about spiritual things which may be a way to enter into deeper discussion. However, I wonder if we are actually more often "skirting" the truth.

Could a person come to see their sinfulness from such a conversation? Can they understand their destiny - hell? Do they understand why Jesus died on the cross and what actually happened when He willingly hung there until His last breath disappeared? Have I given them any true hope, which I now have because Christ overcame death and was resurrected?

Dear sisters, I fear that, too often, we are talking about spiritual things with our non-believing friends without taking the conversation to the main points of the spiritual - the gospel. When all is said and done, the critical topic to be addressed is our spiritual state: are we still covered in our sinfulness or are we pardoned under Christ's blood?

I have been convicted this week. Sadly, I have not always been faithful to the cross and therefore not been sharing accurately the truth. My goal is to make my dialogues with friends go deeper into the spiritual and honestly share the truth - the whole truth. My hope is hope because I know that I was a sinner and now am forgiven. My hope is hope because Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, died a sinner's death when He didn't have to... and did this on my behalf. My hope is that I will someday be in heaven with Him, worshipping at the throne of Almighty God, singing with the angels.

Let us not stop short in our conversations of things spiritual. In Romans 1:16 Paul says, For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. May this be true of us as we are faithful to share that gospel with those around us! !

Monday, January 16, 2006

Days Of Our Great-Grandmothers

I have this photograph of my grandfather's mother, Margarete Weinert, in my bathroom, on the vanity. Many days I don't notice it. Some days I do. Often it makes me thankful for the days we live in.

So many women in the past have had hard lives. They had to get up very early to a cold house. Simple everyday tasks involved a great deal of effort, such as laundry, cooking, clothing the household, etc. I don't think I cherish my many "machines" enough.

Other benefits to being a woman nowadays include the ability to read, to vote, to contribute in intellectual arenas that were previously dominated by men. That first one, the ability to read, is a learned ability that I too often take for granted. How much more closed and isolated my life would be without the many words that enrich it. Most seriously, how desperately difficult (I think) my life would be without God's word to be read and studied.

Reading has opened up my life to great responsibility though. Do I really cherish this "gift"? Do I absorb God's gems as a sponge absorbs water, or am I like a freshly waxed car, on which the "water" simply beads off?

I pray that I would treasure God's word. Not simply as the treasure it is, but by pondering it after I read it and by letting it change me.
Psalm 119:103
How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Thank you God for granting me the privilege of reading. Thank you for your word, which I can read. Thank you for the Spirit which changes me because of what I read.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Warm Breakfast On A Frosty Morning

This morning we awoke to a beautiful white blanket of snow on the ground. My husband, native to Winnipeg, Manitoba, had a hop in his step. This joyfulness in demeanour usually fades once the mercury climbs above 0 degree. Of course, his first plan of action was to head outdoors at 7 am and shovel the driveway. We had 20 people coming for lunch, so I was glad he was considering their safety on our property.

About half an hour later, my eldest son awoke and came rushing downstairs, asking the usual, "where's dad?", to which I suggested he look outside. "Can I go help him, mom?" was the next request, which I was happy to oblige, since I had some last minute tidying to do in the kitchen. Next came my two year-old. He too wanted to go outside, so I quickly bundled him up and ushered him out the door.

Since it was Sunday morning, and hubby needs to be at church pretty early, I started on breakfast right away. I made one of my "warm breakfast recipes". It's something my mom and oma have made for years, and it's a nice alternative to oatmeal. The boys were hungry and happy to eat it this morning, although we had to eat it in a bigger hurry than usual. Here are the instructions:

Milch Rice

Essentially the recipe is simply rice, cooked in milk instead of water.
Then once it's finished cooking (be careful not to burn the milk :) ), add your choice of toppings: applesauce, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, raisins, nuts, etc. I used brown rice this morning, which makes it a little more "wholesome", but white rice is what my mom always used.
It's a pretty simple dish, but "hits the spot" and is quite filling.

Happy breakfasting!

Friday, January 13, 2006


"Keep it simple, sister!"

I paid good money to have a professor at university tell me this in Business 101. And I know this is particularly true when it comes to children. However, I had a good reminder of this SIMPLE truth at a birthday party yesterday.

It was a "princess party". Everyone had been instructed to dress up in costume for the affair - girls as princesses and boys as princes. Both of my sons had a grand time putting together their costumes. The anticipation of the event was half the fun.

My friend, "mother of the birthday princess", had planned a simple craft for the kids. She planned some games (like "Prince, Princess, Pauper", instead of "Duck, Duck, Goose"). The food was perfect for a mid-afternoon snack - cheese and crackers- and the menu was completed with a princess birthday cake. Throw in some balloons and you've got a kid-friendly birthday party.

The success of the party, however, came to light, as I was recapping the afternoon with my 5 year-old son. With glowing eyes, he talked about his costume, and how excited he was that the grandfather of the birthday girl had saluted him. (He was a prince after all!) This SIMPLE act obviously touched his heart.

Later at supper, we got the 2nd recap of the "event", as my son proceeded to describe the "Prince, Princess, Pauper" game, in great detail, to my husband. Again, the SIMPLE game somehow grabbed his attention with the amusing twist in names.

Finally, as I was tucking him into bed, my prince made the comment that he wished every day was as special as this was. As special as this was? It wasn't a "Martha Stewart" kind of special event. It was a fun, age-appropriate, not too long, not too fussy, SIMPLE kind of special event.

This "KISS" lesson has encouraged me to try and add more SIMPLE special events to our life. Maybe in February it'll be a "backwards day", and in March a "green day", etc. Of course, they can't come too often, or they won't be special anymore. But with a little bit of dress-up, a little bit of games, and a little bit of heart-felt communication, these SIMPLE events will make my children's lives just a little more special.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Beef On A Bun

A friend gave me this recipe, and I have in turn passed it on to loads of friends, so if you like it, pass it on...

Shredded Beef (On A Bun)

Take ANY beef roast and cover with spices, salt, pepper and a bit of flour. SEAR the roast in frying pan and place in roaster. Rub minced garlic into top of meat & then pour french onion soup mix over top of garlic. Pour one can/bottle of beer into roaster - soak soup mix without washing it off the roast. (I have been using the almost no-alcohol kind that you can buy in the grocery store and it works fine.) Add one beef bouillon cube to the liquid in the roaster. Bake at 300 degrees for at least 6 hours for maximum tenderness. Check after a few hours - add more beer or water if getting dry. Shred beef apart with 2 forks and mix together with the juices.
Serve with buns.

Two By Two Taglines

I've been tagged by The Upward Call, so here's some info about me that you may not know:

2 names you go by:
1. Mom
2. Mar

2 parts of your heritage:
1. German
2. German

2 things that scare you:
1. Driving in the winter
2. Being alone outside in the dark

2 of your everyday essentials:
1. My Bible
2. Chocolate (though I’m trying to quit this)

2 things you are wearing right now:
1. Jeans
2. Slippers

2 things you want in a relationship (other than real love):
1. Unity
2. Fun

2 truths:
1. My only hope is in Jesus
2. The word of God

2 physical things that appeal to you (in the opposite sex):
1. Muscles
2. Eyes

2 of your favorite hobbies:
1. Sewing
2. Scrapbooking

2 things you want really badly:
1. For my children to be saved
2. To be Christ-like

2 places you want to go on vacation:
1. Israel
2. Germany

2 things you want to do before you die:
1. Get to babysit grandchildren
2. Finish scrapbooking my wedding album

2 ways that you are stereotypically a chick:
1. I am weak (that's why I like muscles :) )
2. I like romance comedies

2 things you are thinking about now:
1. My children are quiet for 5 minutes coloring.
2. Oh no. One of them is crying.

2 stores you shop at:
1. Salvation Army
2. Baby Gap

I'd like to see answers from the following people, Sharon and Hiraeth, so they're tagged next!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Computers - Love/ Hate Relationship

This will be a quick note, since I've got 15 minutes in hubby's office to write a post. My computer's keyboard is frozen at home. It would make sense if it were freezing outside, but surprisingly enough we are experiencing exceptionally mild temperatures in Southern Alberta for mid-January.

Thank you to everyone who has been leaving comments. I didn't think anyone was reading my blog, since I've been having 0 comments since the 3rd week in December. I was attributing it to Christmas, my choice of topics, etc. However, today my husband phoned to tell me that he had done an "oops" when he was working on my settings a few weeks back. Turns out he had blocked my comments from showing up - some kind of preview option.

He fixed 'er up and now I'm glad to see that I've made some new friends in the blogosphere.
I know I have been enjoying this thing we call "blogging". I've stared at my computer screen more in the past 4 weeks than I think I have in the past 4 months. And best of all, I've read some very stimulating, helpful and inspiring things.

Well, that's gonna have to be all for today.
Hopefully my "techie" husband will figure out my computer problems, and I'll be able to share my latest recipe with you. It's for "Beef on a Bun". Super easy, feeds a crowd, and cheap too!
Plus, stay tuned for some "Freezing Tips", as well.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Am I A Good Friend?

The past few days I have been contemplating friendships. Not necessarily my friendships, but friendships in general.

We've all heard the expression, "You've got to be a friend to have a friend," and I believe there is some very sage advice therein. However, as believers, we do not simply want friendships for the momentary pleasures of good company, good conversation, or good times. We want, no we need, friendships that spur us on to become more Christlike.

As I reflect upon my life, I can recall specific times when my friends were God's key instruments in my spiritual journey. For instance, in junior high I was hanging out with people that were encouraging sinful behavior in my life. Thankfully, my parents recognized this and moved me to a Christian high school, where I made some friends that supported me in the things of God.

Another key time in my life were the university years. As I was being fed humanism and secular ideas in the classroom, I was very thankful for a small circle of friends that help me counteract those ideas with bible study and times of prayer.

There have been numerous people throughout the years which God has used to "direct" my spiritual path and I am truly indebted to them. Sometimes they have been soft and gentle - leading me simply by their example. Other times they have had to be very direct and almost painful in encouraging me closer to my Lord. Both methods have been needed and it is the Holy Spirit's guidance which has made them effective.

This leads me to examine myself. Am I helping my friends along the narrow road? I know part of my responsibility is to "spur one another on to love and good deeds."(Heb.10:24) And I also long to be like Paul, "gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children."(1Thess.2:7) May this new year be one rich in friendship as we encourage one another "all the more, as we see the day drawing near."(Heb.10:25)

Friday, January 06, 2006

CD Review - Awesome God

Bob Kauflin, of Covenant Life Church, compiled a CD titled, Awesome God. It is targeted at children 7 thru 12 years, but I suggest it is enjoyable to all ages.

The songs are meaty in content, rich in instrumentation, and catchy for the memory. This makes listening to the CD a truly multi-sensory experience. My children were dancing around the kitchen to many of the songs (with their dad, though he may not want me to disclose that "charismatic" bit of his personality.)

Here's a quick summary of the content that I appreciated in each song:

1) Awesome God - Rockin' music highlights lyrics that are like an updated "O Worship the King". This song is a great way for children to sing praise to God.

2) Forever God - This tune describes how God goes "on and on and on and on..." A great look at the immutability of God in terms a young child can relate to. (I love the guitar on this one!)

3) You Are Always With Me - The omniscience of God is the topic of this song. Then the chorus echoes the psalmist's sentiment, "Where could I go? Where could I hide?" This one will surely be a favorite with the boys because of the instrumentals.

4) Who Is Like You? The musical introduction to this one makes me think of driving across the prairies, and the words would definitely describe that picture in my mind, "Who is like you, O Lord/ Clothed with splendor and light, Who is like you, O Lord/ Armed with Power and Might/ And who am I O Sovereign Lord, that I should know Your Love." It reminds me of W.O Mitchell, looking out over the vastness of the plains, saying he felt like a "pea on the edge of a saucer". Clearly no one is like God, and this song reminds us of that!

5) Sovereign One - Almost like a lullaby, this song gives great assurance in the sovereignty of God. I'll definitely memorize this one to sing to my 2 year-old when he wakes in the middle of the night.

6) Mighty, Mighty Savior - This is my favorite song! It starts with the depravity of man, "No one is good/ No one is holy before God" and continues to unfurl the entire gospel. I've been wanting a song for the Pioneer Girls that could stick in their minds and (maybe 20 years from now) give them the information they need to come to salvation. This is it!

7) Jesus Came to Earth - We often talk about Jesus with children and I think this song gives the complete character and works of Christ, in the capsule of a song. A helpful song with teaching in the verse and a response of praise in the chorus.

8) Your Love - 1,2,3,4!! This "screamin' acid" rock song is the stuff that dreams are made of! It's engrained in my mind, which is great, considering it focuses on God's love. Plus, it doesn't just speak of God's love, with regards to the cross, but continues to the discipline God gives us 'in love'. A really balanced look at the love of God.

9) Three In One - Great teaching on the trinity makes the lyrics of this number invaluable. It is a wonderful way to learn about God, as well as worship Him, through song.

10) For You Are Holy - By looking at the Creator's uniqueness, this song climaxes in the chorus, "Lord, You are Holy". Again, an opportunity for kids to ascribe worth to the Lord - the worth that He alone deserves.

11) The Gospel Song - Just 4 lines of lyric, but a great summary of the gospel found in those lines. The gentle guitar is a beautiful accompaniment to the simple truth.

12) Have You Heard? This song brought me to tears the first time I listened to it. It is an honest witness, "This is the best news that we could ever hear... by trusting in Jesus Christ, in His saving sacrifice, We can be made new."

In summary, this is one of the best children's CDs I have yet encountered. I find the music enjoyable and the lyrics stimulating. Thank you to the men who wrote the songs, and to the singers and musicians who produced it.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Awesome God

It arrived!

The Awesome God CD for children came today and it has been playing non-stop. Before I give a review, I’d like to share a small story affirming the "awesomeness" of our God.

It all began in October, 2005. I am the leader for our club circle at Pioneer Girls, which has been a real "ride" this year. You see, our attendance went from ~50 girls last year, to close to 90 this year. To add to the importance of this ministry, almost 75% of the girls do not come from our church – many from no church background at all. This means a lot of them do not know who God is, who Jesus is, what God’s redemptive plan is for them, what Jesus did on the cross and through His perfect life, etc. At times, I was feeling overwhelmed with the burden of teaching accurately the things of God.

To add to the challenge, I have approximately 15 minutes in our opening to teach songs and 15 minutes to play games (then the girls head into small groups). So, naturally, my desire to teach biblical truths began to focus on the song time. I began praying for God to help me – thinking that He would inspire me, somehow, to write songs. The songs I was desiring, would teach of: 1) man’s depravity, 2) God’s Holiness, 3) Christ’s life and death and resurrection, 4) the character of God, 5) how we can know God… and of course, I wanted them to be fun musically. This truly felt like I was asking God for an incredible miracle, since I have only written one song (for my husband).

Then in November, the elder responsible for the spiritual care of the Pioneer Girls ministry approached me. He asked me if I had any prayer requests he could share with the elders to pray for. I told him about the things on my heart, adding my quest for "meaningful’ music to the list. A few weeks later, as I was Christmas shopping, I browsed through the children’s CDs at the local Christian bookstore. Nothing. Not what I was looking for, that is. Lots of nursery rhyme songs, adult worship songs sung by kids, bedtime lullabys, but nothing with real "teachability". I was again praying for God’s help and guidance.

December arrived and one day my husband came home to tell me he had placed my name on a list for a free children’s CD. One catch, though. I had to write a review on my blog about the CD. Sure, I thought. More of the same. But when I went to the website for the preview, I was amazed. I was staring at the screen… staring at a miracle. Here were the songs I was praying for. They had been around for a while, but the fact that my hubby "stumbled" upon this offer now, was clearly the hand of God giving me a precious gift.

We serve an Awesome God. My heart is encouraged by this CD, by the way it came to us, and by the opportunities we have to help the children in our lives know Him!

Tomorrow, I’ll write the review.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Moment By Moment

Recently I was reminded of Martin Luther's struggle with confession and sin. He would spend 3 to 4 hours in confession, trying to remember and list every thought, action, omission of behavior that did not line up with God's laws. Then he would return to the cell of his monestary and be tormented by something that he had forgotten to mention in the confessional.

Of course, this changed when his understanding of Christ's atonement and his justification became clear. However, the agony he felt over the sin in his life is something that is noteworthy.

I sometimes wonder if we have become rather callous towards the sin that we are so often "enjoying," as North American Christians. It may be because I am often slow to recognize, confess, and repent from my own fleshly desires, that I see this callousness so quickly in others around me.

How wonderful it is that Christ died and paid for our sins, "once for all, the just for the unjust." But let us resolve not to take this grace, this mercy, nor this sacrifice for granted. Let us make every effort to "live a life worthy of the calling we have received."

One great place to start this effort is by focusing our thoughts "on things above." Last night in my bible study I was challenged to "take every thought captive." This is where I want to mount my first attack against "casual sin thinking." My desire is to have a thought-life that is continually turned to God. I'm suspecting it will take a lot of habit-forming exercises and effort, but I pray that with the Spirit's aid, my thoughts will be properly fixed on Jesus. This Christian life is a moment by moment adventure, and just as Luther struggled with his momentary failings, we have the opportunity for victory in the Spirit's power, step by step.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Child's Song

Yesterday my youngest son, 2 years old, was rustling around in my closet singing "Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn King." This must be an overflow from the Christmas season of carols. But it caused me to consider making a more concerted effort in teaching the boys "meaningful" songs.

There are many wonderful songs, which can engage our children’s minds. However, my criterion of "meaningful" includes songs that ...
1. are musically interesting
2. are lyrically stimulating (ie. not the same line repeated 4 times)
3. give my children the ability to worship God

I believe this final characteristic of songs to be most important, since that is my goal in raising my sons. My prayer is that their artistic expressions will ultimately be expressions of praise and worship to their Creator.

Bob Kauflin, worship pastor from Covenant Life Church, has recently compiled a children’s CD, Awesome God, which has some excellent new songs that teach children about the character of God. I’ll be doing a review of the CD in the coming weeks. But for now, let me just say that it is excellent material for children (and adults).

Some other songs I plan to sing with my children include hymns of old, like:
O Worship the King; A Mighty Fortress Is Our God; Immortal, Invisible; Be Thou My Vision; My Faith Has Found a Resting Place; O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go; O For a Thousand Tongues To Sing; Take My Life and Let It Be; Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven; Man of Sorrows; Trust and Obey; How Great Thou Art; Fairest Lord Jesus; Beneath the Cross of Jesus; Holy, Holy, Holy.

This is around 1 per month, with a couple extra for Easter.

Maybe, just maybe, my two year-old will also add, "pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise" to his closet ramblings. I can only hope.