31 December 2013

First report card - December 2013

On Avery's last day of school before Christmas break, I was surprised to find a report card in her backpack. It never occurred to me that she would get a report card at preschool. But I shouldn't have been so surprised. We are so very pleased with her preschool, the staff and the curriculum.

As we expected, Avery seems to be on target for all of her learning milestones. It looks like we need to work on some of the letter sounds, buttoning her clothes and tying her shoes. But none of her shoes have shoestrings! Even though it says she doesn't know her address or telephone number, she certainly does. I'm sure she just didn't feel like repeating them when asked. :o)

I'm so proud of how well she is doing in school. Let's hope the second semester is a good one, too!

(Click on the pictures to see the larger images.)

27 December 2013

A perfect proposal

Ten years ago today, Chris blindfolded me and took me to a jewelry store lobby. He handed me this note, the last in a series of clues he had given me during the previous few days. Then he left the lobby. He returned, after what seemed an eternity, and sat next to me.

He read this note aloud to me and then said, "I love you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. You've been with me through good and bad. I'm ready to start our lives together." Then he dropped on one knee, pulled out the most beautiful ring I've ever seen and said, "Will you marry me?" I immediately said yes. And we sat together, hugging and crying in the jewelry store lobby.

Chris, I love you more now than on the day you proposed. Thank you for choosing to share your life with me. Together we've created countless memories and a pretty awesome family. I love you! ;o)

26 December 2013

20 December 2013

19 December 2013

12 December 2013

10 December 2013

BSF 2013-2014: Matthew 13:1-30, 34-43

Now that opposition has grown against Jesus, He begins speaking in parables. A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Parables compel listeners to discover truth while concealing truth from anyone who is too lazy or stubborn to listen.

Jesus taught in parables for three reasons:
  • The kingdom secrets were given to the disciples, not the crowds. The secrets were for the people in the kingdom.
  • The people were slow to respond to Him. They were not willing to listen to God’s truth.
  • To fulfill prophecy.
Jesus blesses the disciples. While the Old Testament prophets longed to see the Messiah, Jesus says His disciples are blessed because they see Jesus perform miracles and hear His teachings. Christians today also are blessed because we have the complete Bible and the Holy Spirit in us to teach us the truth, among many other benefits to living after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Jesus teaches two parables during this section in Matthew: the parable of the sower and the parable of the weeds.

In the parable of the sower, Jesus explains different responses to His Word. The seed represents the Word of God. The different soils represent our hearts and our responses to God’s Word. The seed was the same in all four instances, but the responses were different. The seed was snatched away, was scorched, was choked out by weeds or produced a harvest.
  • The hard ground is a hard heart. The path was trampled on and was most traveled. Here the devil snatches away the seed.
  • The rocky ground is a shallow heart. These people hear the Word but fall away during trials and testing.
  • The thorny ground is a distracted heart. It is distracted by the world and its pursuits.
  • The good soil is a receptive heart. These people are willing to change and respond to what they hear.
Then Jesus tells the parable of the weeds. In this parable, an evil farmer sows weeds among his enemy farmer’s good seeds. The weeds are sons of the devil, and the seeds are sons of God. The weeds look similar to the wheat just like counterfeit Christians look similar to true Christians.

The devil plants counterfeit Christians in the church today. These counterfeit Christians believe a counterfeit gospel (Galatians 1:6-9), encourage counterfeit righteousness (Romans 10:1-3), develop a counterfeit church (Revelation 2:9) and produce a counterfeit Christ (II Thessalonians 2:1-12).

The counterfeit Christians will be revealed on the judgment day when Jesus will separate true believers from people who have rejected Him. The judgment day is real, and it is coming.

Things to Think About
  • Which truths has God revealed to me in the book of Matthew? How have I responded?
  • Which of the four soils represents my heart? If my heart is hard, ask God to soften it. If my heart is shallow, ask God to dig up the rocks and give me good soil. If my heart is distracted, ask God to narrow my focus. If my heart is receptive, ask God to continue to nourish and cultivate my heart to produce more fruit.
  • Am I an authentic Christian? Can others see this in the way I live my life?
That concludes the first part of this BSF year! I'll be back with more weekly lessons after the Christmas break.

05 December 2013

03 December 2013

BSF 2013-2014: Matthew 11-12

Doubt. We’ve all done it. Doubting itself isn’t a sin. God says when we doubt or question Him and His will for us, we should take our concerns directly to Him for honest answers. Jesus demonstrates this truth when He answers John the Baptist’s doubts in Matthew 11.

John is the prophet spoken about in the Old Testament. He is the one who pointed others to Christ and prepared the people for the Messiah. But John doesn’t see some Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled. And then King Herod puts John in prison. John begins to doubt God and question his part in God’s plan to bring salvation to the world. John has honest and sincere questions, so he sends his disciples to ask Jesus if He really is the Messiah.

Jesus answers by telling John’s disciples that the evidence is in the miracles they are seeing Jesus accomplish. And He also commends John’s faith and devotion. John only had partial knowledge. He was looking forward to the Messiah’s death. But believers today have the full knowledge. Believers now have a greater understanding than John did (Matthew 11:11).

Next Jesus speaks woe (grief, sorrow, regret, judgment) to the cities who have seen His miracles first-hand yet still reject Him. Then Jesus says to come to Him and get away from your heavy burdens. You will receive rest when you trust in Christ. Take His yoke, which helps us obey Him. Jesus never promises to take away our burdens, but He will walk beside us as we go through those situations.

The Pharisees keep attacking Jesus!

  • They think His disciples are working on the Sabbath when the pick grain. Jesus condemns this. The disciples weren’t disobeying God’s commands but the things the Pharisees added to God’s law.
  • The Pharisees are concerned that Jesus is healing on the Sabbath. Jesus condemns this. He shows mercy and compassion to a man with a shriveled hand. Jesus says it is right to do good on the Sabbath.
  • The Pharisees think Jesus receives His power from Satan. Jesus responds by saying He is the Lord of the Sabbath.
  • The Pharisees ask for a miraculous sign. They already have seen more than enough signs to prove that Jesus is who He says He is! But they reject Him.

The Messiah is right in front of the Pharisees, yet they refuse to believe Him. Instead, they plot to kill Him.

Things to Think About

  • What are my questions and doubts? Will I bring them to Jesus?
  • What consumes my thoughts? Come to Christ for rest. The alternative is worry, fear and anxiety.
  • Coming to Jesus is essential for this life and for the life to come.