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Christmas Doesn’t Matter

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Wait, you think, did I read that right? Christmas doesn’t matter? And this coming from a Christian missionary? Christmas has been, as long I know of the biggest holiday of the year, especially for Christians. But should it be?

When most people hear the word Easter they think of bunnies, spring, chocolate, eggs and a big meal with family. But for Christians it’s the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord and Christ, the most important event in the history of our faith and undoubtedly in the history of the world . Without Easter “Christmas doesn’t matter” because if Jesus didn’t die and rise again then he was just a good prophet not the Son of God.

Yet as Christians we celebrate by going to church, having a big meal with family and maybe an egg hunt. Are these things bad? No! But it’s not enough! This is the celebration…

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Easter Advent Weeks 2 and 3

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Day 8 Sunday

John the Baptist Mark 8:1-8

Ornament: bug

As one looks toward the coming of the resurrection of Christ, Easter Sunday, John the Baptist told us to prepare the path of the Lord. The way John told them to prepare was by turning away from sin and turning to God! If our hearts are turned from sin and to God then one is rolling out the “red carpet” for the coming of the King!!

1. Where is your heart focused? On the world around us or on the coming of the King of Kings?

2. What sins do you need to confess before God?

3. How can you truly change your heart to prepare the way of the Lord?

Day 9 Monday

Jesus Baptized Luke 3:21-23 & John 1:29-34

Ornament: Dove

The testimony given by John the Baptist at the baptism of Jesus is that He is a Passover lamb, that is, a sacrifice. Jesus is no “run-of-the-mill” lamb. He is God’s lamb, the lamb provided by God Himself and confirmed by the Holy Spirit. Ordinarily sinners offer their own lambs to God. Here we have the reverse: God offers Himself, a sacrificial lamb, to take away the sin of the world.

1. Jesus is the special Passover Lamb, has the Spirit confirmed this to you that He can take away your sins?

2. Are you living in a way that shows that your sins are taken away & you are His child?

Day 10 Tuesday

Jesus Begins to Call Disciples Matthew 4:2-22

Ornament: Mouth

Jesus called people to follow after Him. They were not just people who “heard” the command but who would actually follow His lead wherever He wanted to go! A disciple is to be one who follows Jesus as the “number one” priority! Wherever we live or work we are to be His disciples. The primary job of His disciples is to be “fishers of men”. Thus wherever you are you should be “fishing” for people to follow Him also!!

1. Are you one of Jesus’ disciples who is continually following after Him? Is that your “number one” priority?

2. Who are people around you whom you need to be “fishing for”, who need to hear the call to follow Jesus? Pray for them!

3. Who needs your help to keep on following Jesus & fishing for others?

 

Day 11 Wednesday

Water into Wine John 2:1-11

Ornament: cup painted red

John mentioned that this miracle was a sign. It is the first of many signs! It was a miracle that had significance. Its significance appears to be that it showed that Jesus had the same power to create that God demonstrated in the Creation. Thus it pointed to Jesus being the Creator God who could transform things from one condition into another (2 Cor. 5:17). This demonstration of His power glorified Jesus in the eyes of those who witnessed it and heard about it. The disciples put their faith in Him. This initial faith would be tested and developed as they grew in their understanding of Jesus. At this point they did not understand His death and resurrection (John 20:8–9) but they did know His power.

1. Do you believe that Jesus has the power to transform things, even your own life?

2. Do you believe that Jesus has the power to use or change the present circumstances around you?

3. What needs to be placed before Him in faith & left there?

 

Day 12 Thursday

Feeding of the 5000 John 6:1-15

Ornament: Fish

This miracle is the only one which is recorded in all four gospels. Again John calls them signs because they led people to seek for Jesus. John is going out of his way to mention that the Passover is near, and he does so to associate the feeding of the five thousand with Jesus’ self-sacrifice for our salvation (John 6:25–58). Jesus used this time to demonstrate that He would meet not only the needs that people have for physical food but also the needs all people have for spiritual food! It is likely that the crowd’s main purpose was to secure through Jesus a constant supply of free food, rather than carefully seeing His potential as the Messiah to meet their spiritual needs also.

1. How has Jesus meet your physical needs like food, clothing, shelter…?

2. In what ways has Jesus also met your spiritual needs?

3. Do you have any needs that should be lifted up to Him now?

 

Day 13 Friday

The Transfiguration Matthew 17:17:1-13

Ornament: White cloth

In Matthew 16:28, Jesus said that some of His disciples would not taste death before seeing the Son of Man come in His kingdom so that the transfiguration fulfills the prediction. Three disciples caught a glimpse of the intersection between heaven and earth and observed Jesus in His heavenly glory with the Moses and Elijah!! This is most likely Jesus’ post-resurrection body. This vision of Jesus would have strengthened the disciples’ faith that He was the Messiah. It would also have helped them understand that the sufferings He said He would experience would not be final! Thus these disciples and we ourselves have a hope that we all will see Him in glory having risen from the dead!

1. The disciples had hope even when things were difficult. Do you have the hope that you will one day see Jesus?

2. What gives you the hope you need when times get “bumpy”?

Day 14 Saturday

Lazarus John 11:1-3, 17-27, 38-44

Ornament: Tear drop

Physical death is the divine object lesson of what sin does in the spiritual realm. As physical death ends life and separates people, so spiritual death is the separation of people from God and the loss of life which is in God (John 1:4). Jesus has come so that people may live full lives. Lazarus’ death and restoration to life also foreshadows the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus has shown His power in many ways and now with Lazarus He shows His power over death! This story contains a strong personal command to believe in Jesus in a crisis, when such belief would be most difficult. Martha believed that Jesus is the resurrection and the life and that he who believes in Him will live even if he dies. The question before each of us is, do we believe & live like Jesus is the resurrection & life?

1. What was a time when you needed to trust in God even in the midst of a tragic situation?

2. How did God meet your needs during that occasion? How did your belief hold?

Day 15 Sunday

The Triumphal Entry John 12:12-19

Ornament: palm branch

The waving of the palm branches was a sign of honor for a victorious person or royalty. The chant of Hosanna means “save us now” from Ps. 118:25–26. The title King of Israel shows clearly they wanted the Messiah but they wanted Him to politically take over now. Jesus rode a donkey as a king of peace. Jesus allowed all this now because it fulfilled several prophecies. He was the King of Israel and the One who would save them. However, Jesus was operating on God’s time and in God’s way! All this is true even today! We need to be waiting for what God desires in God’s timing!!

1. Jesus is the resurrected King and will return to rule over all! Are you ready & waiting for Him in His timing?

2. What should you be doing to prepare for the day when Jesus does come again? (Hint: 2 Peter 3:11-12, 14)

Day 16 Monday

The Greatest Commandment Matthew 22:34-40

Ornament: Heart

The kingdom life that Jesus started is summarized in these two commandments. The love of God, the greatest commandment, flows into the love of man. All the commandments of the Law & prophets flow out of these two commandments! Jesus loves God with His whole heart, for he is blameless in his loyalty to God. Jesus loves God with His whole soul, for He is prepared to surrender His life should God so will. And Jesus loves God with His whole mind, for He lays claim for Himself neither to the worldly power nor to the security of family, home, and possessions.

1. Are you willing to love God as Jesus did?

2. How might you grow in your love for God so it flows more into a love for all mankind?

3. How might your life show the loyalty & surrender to God and a mind controlled by Him?

Day 17 Tuesday

Jesus Clears the Temple Mark 11:15-18

Ornament: Picture of a temple

Jesus wanted to communicate a lesson both in word and in deed. He was cleaning out the temple because of the abuse and selfish focus of the leaders and merchants. He said “My house”. So “my house” appears to mean Jesus’ house. If it does mean Jesus’ house, he’s claiming authority to cleanse it of the commercialism that has taken away its proper use for prayer by all the nations. God’s house is to be clean, open to all and is for worship and prayer with Him!

1. Christians are now God’s temple and He dwells in each one who knows Him. Does Jesus have the authority to do any “Spring cleaning” in your temple?

2. Do you talk with Jesus much in “your temple”? Take a few minutes…

Day 18 Wednesday

Jesus Washes the Disciples Feet John 13:2-17

Ornament: feet

Jesus showed His disciples an example of His humility and servant’s heart. However, Jesus’ words suggest that the feet-washing was more than an example. Jesus’ self-humiliation in washing his disciples’ feet symbolized his self-humiliation in accepting death upon the cross to bring about their cleansing from sin. Peter and the rest of the disciples including us must accept what Jesus did for them, for if they did not, clearly they could have no part with Him. Not only are we to accept what Jesus has done for us but to follow His example with others!

1. Have you been willing to allow Jesus to wash you from all of your sins?

2. How could you follow Jesus’ example and serve others around you? When will you be doing it?
If you would like to feel free to wash each others feet after the devotional on this day.

Day 19 Thursday

The Last Supper Luke 22:7-8, 17-20 and Jesus Arrested Luke 22:47-53

Take communion and/or celebrate passover

Ornament: Lamb

At a Passover meal unleavened bread that has been pierced through is broken and shared. There are four cups used. The third cup is called the “cup of redemption”. These elements remember the unleavened bread used at the exodus from Egypt and the cup is a symbol of the blood of the lamb who protected the Israelites from the angel of death. Jesus said they also represent His body as a sinless (“unleavened”), pierced, broken man and His blood, the blood of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. It is after this last supper that they went to the Garden of Gethsemane where Judas betrayed his friend and Jesus was arrested.

1. When you partakes in the Lord’s Supper you is proclaiming the Lord’s death to cover your sins! Are you truly His child and ready & willing to proclaim His death until Jesus returns again or will you betray Him?

2. Paul said that believers are not to take the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner (1 Corinthians 11:27-29). Truly examine yourself to be sure you are right before God!

*You may think this is only celebrated by Jews but I grew up celebrating Passover, it helps you understand communion and the symbolism is amazing. I recommend it!
Here is an very simple and fun passover for kids: http://childrensministry.com/articles/a-time-to-remember/2/

Here is a more in depth but still kid friendly passover: http://sharonglasgow.com/2013/03/a-simple-family-passover-seder-supper/

If you want to celebrate the full passover as Jesus would have done here is a downloadable version: http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Spring_Holidays/Pesach/H4C_Passover_Seder.pdf

Day 20 Friday

The Crucifixion Matthew 27:11-20, Luke 23:32-38, Matthew 27:45-54, Luke 23:50-56

Ornament: a nail; everyone in your family who can will hammer a nail into the cross

Jesus, the Son of God, was willing to be nailed to a cross so that your sins might be paid for. Your sins were covered by His blood, the blood of the Lamb, that God might “passover” them and begin a real life relationship with you! If you have accepted Jesus’ gift and begun a relationship with Him, you have been bought with a price and you are not your own but belong to Him! You are His child and He is your Lord! (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

1. Give thanks to Jesus that He paid for your sins with His blood!

2. What does it mean that you are not your own but belong to Jesus?

3. Are there any “closets” or “rooms” in your life that do not belong to Jesus? Are you willing to give them over to Him?

Day 21 Saturday

A Guard at the Tomb Matthew 27: 62-65

Ornament: a guard

The chief priests and Pharisees were not satisfied with Jesus’ death and burial! They remembered that while Jesus was alive He said “After three days I will arise”! They wanted to be sure to keep the dead man dead! Thus they asked for a Roman seal of security to be placed on the tomb & guarded! They did not want any of his disciples’ coming and stealing the body and telling people that Jesus has risen from the dead!

1. The Jewish leaders wanted to be sure that their ways were secure and no one would be deceived. Have you ever wanted your ways secure?

2. What power is more secure than God’s power?

3. Do your ways need to be set in line with God’s ways? Then they will have His power!

Day 22 Sunday

The Resurrection, Ascension & 2nd Coming Matthew 28:1-10, Acts 1:1-11

Ornament: Cloud

Jesus was laid in Joseph’s tomb with a seal and guards. The Jews & the Romans did not want Jesus to rise. The disciples were sad, afraid and in hiding! On the third day the tomb was empty. The question you need to ask is who moved the stone? Was it the Jews? The Romans? What about the disciples, who would later be martyred? Who showed the power to create new wine? Who showed the resurrected body? Who showed the power over death by raising Lazarus? Jesus, the living God, moved the stone and He has risen from the dead!! As sure as Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven fulfilling numerous prophecies so also will Jesus return to take us home!
1. Who do you truly think moved the stone?

2. If you believe that Jesus has risen from the dead, do you believe that He will come again? Do you live like that?

3. How can you prepare for and roll out the “red carpet” for the second coming of the King?

Titus; To God be the Glory!

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I am writing this because I feel compelled to publicly give glory to God for the health of Titus. So here is the story; When I get pregnant I get SICK, I mean more then one run to the bathroom per day and the rest of the day is spent on the couch trying to keep food down. So of course with Titus I was sick and this was to be expected but at my first ultrasound I found out I had placenta previa on top of being sick. For those of you who don’t know what that is it’s where your placenta is covering part or all of your cervix and if it doesn’t correct itself can cause some major problems. I also had an infection around this time too. Eventually I got over being sick, my placenta corrected itself and I got over the infection. Now we move ahead to when I was about 5 months along, I got giardia, giardia is a type of ameba that makes you very sick and miserable, the symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting with extreme nausea. My Dr told me there was nothing they could do b/c of the baby… so I suffered until it got really bad and I went to a night clinic and they did give me some meds, I got better, for a week, and then it came back. I got better again and it came back again!! 3 times I had giardia! It was terrible and very discouraging! After I finally got over all the giradia I got another infection, which thankfully resolved quickly. I was ok for a little while till my children decided to share a cold with me. Theirs went away, mine turned into bronchitis and sinusitis, I was once again miserable. I got on some antibiotics but had a terrible reaction to them to had to switch to another kind, they finally worked. Once again I was ok for a little while until I had a ultrasound and found out I had too much amniotic fluid. I went home and looked it up online and it could mean all sorts of terrible things or nothing. A week went by and I had another appt and my belly had grown two inches in a week! So my Dr said this baby needs to come out! So that evening we met our son. I just want to give God all the glory for giving me a perfectly healthy baby in spite of everything my body went through during this pregnancy!

Easter, How it Went

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IMG_3882      Our cross with all the ornaments on it!

Since my last blog was about how we need to make Easter and much bigger celebration I thought I would tell you all how it went.

I did the three week advent with all 23 girls, the house mom’s, my kids and Ryan. We all gathered in the multipurpose room every night at about 7. The girls had never done an advent before so this was very new to them. The first few times were at bit awkward; the girls were slow to come, and it felt like something was missing. It didn’t help that I am not a teacher or preacher and thus usually didn’t have much to say about passage we had just read. But after a few meetings I remembered that when the girls did devotionals in their houses they often sang first, so we started doing that and it really livened it up!

After a little more time I noticed that the girls were not lagging in coming anymore and that more and more of the teenagers were participating.( I had one girl come up and read the passage in front of everyone and then that person got to put the ornament on the cross.)

The last week of the advent was by far the best. By this time I had some girls coming up to me in the middle of the day asking “what are we doing at devotions tonight?” obviously excited! Things really picked up the wednesday before Easter. We had read about how Jesus washed the disciples feet. So following the reading every single person in the room got their feet washed! But for me the best part was not washing the girls feet but listening to them as they sang praises to the God of the universe the whole half hour it took me to wash. Then Thursday we read about Jesus celebrating passover with His disciples and the first communion. So we did a passover! It wasn’t the real two hour thing, it was a very simple version but everyone seemed to enjoy it and they learned a lot. Then friday, well friday did not go nearly as well as I had hoped it would. We obviously read about Jesus being crucified and then I had worship music playing softly, only the light of a few candles ( trying to set a more worshipful atmosphere) and everyone had to come and nail and nail into the cross. I asked them to really think about what Jesus did for them and that it’s because of their sin that he was nailed there. Anyway the girls don’t nail very often so they are not very good at nailing and the wood was very very hard so many of them did not get the nail in very far and then when the next person came up to nail in their nail the previous person’s nail would fall on the floor, thus resulting in laughter! I was so hoping for tears and a really special time of worship but that didn’t happen, I was pretty disappointed. If anything I learned that I can set the mood but I can’t get peoples hearts into a worshipful state, only the Spirit can do that. We also put Jesus in His tomb. Saturday we read about the soldiers put to guard the tomb and then I put a ban on all music and games being as it was “sad Saturday” but the girls did watch The Passion of the Christ. On Saturday night the girls went to their church because Sunday was pedestrian day and there would be no church. Three of our girls accepted Jesus that night! But I have be honest with you all, I was jealous I guess, why didn’t they make a confession of faith here at my devotions? What did I do wrong and what did the pastor do right? Stupid right? A person coming to Jesus has nothing to do with me but the spirit convicting them that they need a savior! And who knows maybe, just maybe, the devotions helped in the conviction process, I will never know.

Anyway so Easter was a HUGE party! First the girls came running to see that the tomb was empty! Then I sent them on a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood to find him. I split them into teams and had prizes for the ones who found Jesus. They had a BLAST! Since it was pedestrian day lots of people were out and at one point one of our neighbors asked one of the groups “what are you looking for?” and our little four year old shouted “JESUS!” Needless to say the neighbor was slightly confused 🙂

After Jesus was found we read about His resurrection, assention and 2nd coming. That was followed by a DANCE PARTY!! Not everyone danced but the ones who did had a great time! I even got a little teary eyed thinking as I danced, “ this is to celebrate you Jesus!” Then it was the making a eating of a great lunch, followed by an afternoon of games. In the evening the girls presented their dramas. I am always amazed at how creative they are in the drama it’s self and the costumes, everything! Anyway one of the houses did the crucifixion/ resurrection as it actually happened and the other house did it as they think it would happen if Jesus had died in 2015. This one was very interesting to watch! Both houses did a great job! Then we finished the night with fireworks to celebrate the freedom of our souls b/c Jesus rose!

I defiantly had doubts if the girls really liked it all and if they got anything out of it but Sunday I got quite a bit of positive feedback and lots of asking if we will do it again next year 🙂 We obviously didn’t implement all of the ideas I put on my last blog but I am hoping to add more next year. For those of you who are reading this I hope you are challenged to make Easter a bigger deal, you have a year to prepare.. no excuses 🙂

Christmas Doesn’t Matter

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Wait, you think, did I read that right? Christmas doesn’t matter? And this coming from a Christian missionary? Christmas has been, as long I know of the biggest holiday of the year, especially for Christians. But should it be?

When most people hear the word Easter they think of bunnies, spring, chocolate, eggs and a big meal with family. But for Christians it’s the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord and Christ, the most important event in the history of our faith and undoubtedly in the history of the world . Without Easter “Christmas doesn’t matter” because if Jesus didn’t die and rise again then he was just a good prophet not the Son of God.

Yet as Christians we celebrate by going to church, having a big meal with family and maybe an egg hunt. Are these things bad? No! But it’s not enough! This is the celebration of the most amazing event EVER and the foundation of our faith! I don’t think it’s coincidence that it’s been down played, for without Christ rising we have no hope, we have no power over the evil one. In Corinthians 15:17 it says “ If Christ was not raised our faith is futile and we are still in our sins” No wonder Satan doesn’t want it celebrated as it should be.

So my challenge to you as Christians to celebrate Easter as it was meant to be celebrated!! Let’s make it HUGE bigger then Christmas even! If you scroll down you will find many ideas, including an advent, to help make this Easter and those that follow a bigger and more purposeful celebration!

Advent

Instructions: Read the scripture,  devotional, and questions corresponding with each day and hang the ornament ( that you have made before hand) that goes with that day on the cross. You can make your cross out of two pieces of wood or If you like the more symbolic way save your Christmas tree; cut off all the branches, cut the top forth off and tie it crossways on the bottom half to make a cross. Because Jesus came to die!

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This is my christmas tree made cross.

Day 1 Sunday

1st Sin Genesis 3:1-13

Ornament: snake

Adam & Eve had been given all they needed along with the regular, intimate presence of God. It was very good!! Man’s disobedience is not so much depicted as an act of great wickedness as much as it is an act of great folly. They had all the “good” they would have needed, but they wanted more—they wanted to be like God. It seems like the essence of sin is to put your priority over God’s! When God asked what they had done. He knew what they had done. God desired them to confess what they had done and begin a long process of reconciliation. Sin has now entered the world and has separated us from God forever. And this is why Jesus had to die.

1. Ponder for a moment all the good things you have around you from people, possessions and situations.

2. Do you really need more above & beyond what God has given you? Whose priority are you placing on the top?

3. What do you need to confess before God?

Day 2 Monday

Passover Exodus 12:3-7, 12-13

Ornament: a door colored red on the top, bottom and sides

The final plague was about to take place, the slaying of the firstborn! If one wanted to be protected one needed to slay a male lamb, without breaking any bones, as a sacrifice and place the blood of the lamb on the top & sides of the door frame of the house. Everyone also needed to participate in the eating of the lamb & remain inside over the night. The angel of death came that night and “passed over” each home that was covered by the blood of the lamb! The next day they were freed and began the trip to their new home.

1. Who was called the “Lamb of God”? Who was killed with no broken bones? Who caused judgment to pass over the people because of His blood?

2. Are you willing to participate with the “Lamb” and place His blood over the “door of your heart”?

3. What changes should take place if you are freed and headed to a new home?

Day 3 Tuesday

10 Commandments Exodus 20:1-17

Ornament: a stone tablet

As the people stood in awe before the mountain (Exodus 19), they heard the very voice of God introducing Himself to them: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery (verse 2). Then follows a list of rules which were to form the foundation of their relationship with God (verses 3–17). They were to be devoted to God alone and out of that love for God they were to love & live right with the people around them! If we are to have a relationship with God we need to live within the same guidelines! But God knew we could not live that way and so he had to send his son so we would be seen as blameless.

1. Why do you think God wanted to have these guidelines?

2. Where do you need to step back into these guidelines for a right relationship with Him? What is stopping you?

Day 4 Wednesday

David Prophesies Psalm 22:7-8, 14-15

Ornament: pierced hands

David’s world was falling apart. He was scorned & despised by his friends. He felt that he was melting from the pressure placed upon him. Jesus’ world seemed to be doing the same thing. The people were sneering at Him and His bones were out of joint as He hung upon the cross. Kidner wrote “No Christian can read this psalm without being vividly confronted with the crucifixion”. The whole line of peoples’ experiences are pictured in this Psalm: from despair, hostility, pain and even death. Jesus was tested in all those ways. He has been there and can come alongside you as you walk through anything!

1. What pictures of Jesus do you see in this passage?

2. What are you going through now that you think Jesus cannot relate to? Ask Him to come alongside and intercede for you. Hebrews 4:15-16

Day 5 Thursday

Isaiah Prophecies Part 1 Isaiah 53:1-6

Ornament: black fabric (sin)

Isaiah 53 describes the life and ministry of Jesus Christ (vv. 1–4), His death (vv. 5–8) and beyond that even the burial and His resurrection and exaltation. It shows an innocent servant who dies in the place of the guilty. Jesus took the place of guilty sinners and paid the price for their salvation. Yet who has believed our message (vs. 1)? These words were quoted in John 12:38 and Romans 10:16. There is a big gulf between God’s message and people’s response. Yet the job of those who believe is to keep on telling others what was said before and happened later to Christ.

1. Have you ever asked someone who this passage in Isaiah is talking about?

2. What keeps you from telling others about Jesus?

Day 6 Friday

Isaiah Prophesies Part 2 Isaiah 53: 7-12

Ornament: white fabric (purity)

A servant is not permitted to talk back; he or she must submit to the will of the master or mistress. Jesus Christ was silent before those who accused Him as well as those who afflicted Him. Jesus was even illegally tried & sentenced to death but remained silent. He did so because He submitted His will to the will of the Father! Jesus did so as a Lamb so that He would pay the penalty for our sins! But God will prolong His days in that He will be raised from death and live forever in a relationship with those who follow Him!

 1. Are you ready & willing to follow His lead? If so, are you really building a relationship with Him? How?

2. Jesus was obedient to the will of the Father, are you ready to do God’s will even if it is not enjoyable?

  1. How do you overcome your will to do God’s will first?

Day 7 Saturday

We All Fall Short Romans 3:21-26

Ornament: gift

The word “sin” means “to miss the mark”. It could be similar to missing a bullseye when shooting an arrow. People do not hit a bullseye very often in archery. God is perfect and every person misses the mark of “perfect” in life. We all have fallen short of His glory because of sin and cannot have a relationship with Him. God wanted a relationship with us so He generously gave us a gift by sending His Son, Jesus, to pay for our sin so that we might be in right relationship with Him. Jesus went to the cross for us otherwise we would have died without a relationship with God.

1. Why did Jesus need to go to the cross for us?

2. What elements would you say is involved in a right relationship with a friend? How could those elements be involved in your relationship with Jesus?


Advent weeks 2 &3 can be found here:

https://godglutengringos.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/easter-advent-weeks-2-3/

 

Other Ideas

Fireworks: In the US we set off fireworks as a symbol of our freedom. If we confess and believe that Jesus died to save us then we are really free. So we set off fireworks to celebrate the freedom of our souls.

Decorate your House: lambs, nails, crosses, bells, a sign that says “ he has risen!”, crown of thorns, color purple…. you get the idea.

Make resurrection buns to go with your big meal http://allrecipes.com/recipe/resurrection-rolls/

Or resurrection cookies: http://www.kintera.org/atf/cf/%7B8E975F2E-4C1C-4315-AAFF-34A97EB367B5%7D/Resurrection_Cookies.pdf

Play Easter music. Here are two good CD’s that I have: Ultimate Easter Worship Collection and Positively Easter

I also wanted something exciting to make Easter just as exciting as Christmas but didn’t want whatever it was to take the focus off Jesus so this is what I thought of:

 Easter Scavenger Hunt:   Buy a Jesus figurine; on Friday put it in a tomb ( or under a rock or in a bush). In other words hide it. But make sure everyone in the house knows where he is buried. Early sunday morning take out the figurine and really hide it. If you have young kids hide it in the house if you have older kids you could hide it somewhere in the city or at a friends house and make clues to have a scavenger hunt to find Jesus. Just like the women went to the tomb and Jesus was not there your kids or friends will do the same, then go look for Jesus. The person or team to find him gets a prize. You can make the clues whatever you want but I was thinking something scriptural like “ Jesus said I am the living water” go to _____ fountain to find your next clue.

Put on a Easter Pageant

Celebrate Lent; I know most of us reserve this for Catholics but it’s a good thing. Starting on Ash Wednesday and continuing on till Easter ( 40 days) you give up something, like ice cream or your favorite TV show and when you are missing the thing you gave up it reminds you to pray and think about what Jesus did for you.

Tell the Easter Story with Resurrection Eggs http://www.teachkidsthebible.com/biblelessons/resurrectioneggs.htm

Make a “Easter Scene” http://www.catholicicing.com/religious-easter-craft-for-kids-make/

Buy childrens books about Easter and read them to your kids

Ryan’s Adenture

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Ryan here.  I am now back in CBBA after quite a trip.  I thought that as all of you partnered in praying (which let me get back here) you might be interested in knowing the story.
  As you have heard in the past I have had difficulty in my visa here.  Because of a mistake I ended up in country with a Tourist Visa.  This cannot be changed unless you go outside of the country and return with a different visa.  Last week I tried to do this but was rejected at the border because I had not paid some “fines”.  These fines of course seemed bogus to me but because I wanted to do everything right I came back to Cochabamba, paid the fines and went to the border this week.  That is where the story begins.
  I had a dual purpose in going to the border between Peru/Bolivia.  One was my visa.  The other was to guide some volunteers there on their way to Peru.  The first border crossing was fine.  The gals were from the UK and so their passports got them through no problem.  I went through no problem as I had paid my fines.  So far so good.  Having let me out of country this indicated that everything was good with my visas.
  From the first border crossing it was about two hours to get to another one.  We had decided that after I was across with the gals I would escort them to a town inside Bolivia where they would spend a day before going into Peru.
  When we got to this other border we found that there were blockades on the other side.  This was not a problem as the town was not to far from the border.  After getting our passports stamped we would just walk to town.  Again, the UK volunteers went through without a hitch.  When they got to mine though we had problems.  The first guy called his boss, who called his boss, who called his boss.  Until we got to the final guy each guy said everything was in order but that he should call and make sure.  We spent a long time waiting til the final guy called me into his office.
  Basically put when I got to this guy he told me that he would not let me come into Bolivia, period.  Said that my tourist visa expired when I got my new visa and that this new visa didn’t count.  All of which was a lie!  On my new visa it said explicitly that this visa was only valid upon entering Bolivia.  It has no effect whatsoever until it was stamped.  Which it wasn’t!  So in one blow because of his “power” he nullified both visas and told me to leave the country.  It was illegal and wrong but he had the power to do what he wanted.  So we left for Peru, again.
  Now at this point I was really low.  Thoughts were coming through my head like “I am stuck in Peru with no way to get home!”  I did not have a lot of money and no ATM Card to get more.  I might have had enough, maybe to purchase another tourist visa, but with the way the officals were on the border who knows if they would have accepted it.  Pretty crummy feeling.  There was however a bit of hope.  The boss official was the one who “booted” me out of country.  There was a military/police guard who was there the whole time.  After the whole thing (by the way, he was one that was saying that the visa looked fine to him) he took me aside and said I might have another option.  He told me I could go to Puno (a city the gals I was escorting were going to anyway) talk to the Bolivian consulate and see if he could help me.  Or go back to the previous border crossing and try there.  He then backtracked a bit, I think because he thought someone had heard him, and said I could go back to the other border, have them cancel out my exit stamp, and return to Bolivia and try and work it out there.  Anyway, a very kind man.  
  We went to Puno and I struck out because it was near the Easter holiday and the Consulate was gone.  So after saying goodbye to the gals I went back to the first border crossing.  Now at this point I need to give some background.  The blockades at the second border crossing had gotten worse.  So much so that they closed that crossing for anyone traveling that road.  So all people wanting to get to Bolivia had to pass through this first border crossing.  Also because of Easter there were a lot of people on the go trying to get to their families.  Needless to say when I got to the border there was a line like I have never seen to get through immigration.  The Peru side was fine.  I can tell you though that when I got to the Bolivian side I had massive butterflies in my stomach.  This was my last chance to cross, and if I was not allowed, what then?  There was one thing though that made me hopeful.  The immigration office was overwhelmed by people.  Perhaps they would just give me back my tourist visa (which they should have done at the other crossing if my new visa was not good).  So waiting in line sweating like crazy, and praying.
  I finally got to the desk and handed my passport open to the new visa.  The guy looked at it.  Found my tourist visa, looked confused, talked to a co-worker, seemed to find it ok and GAVE ME MY STAMP!  I could have almost cried, but not wanting to have him find something wrong and just took the passport and left praying thanks that at least I was back in Bolivia.
  Now here is the most interesting thing.  I do not know if this will work, only time will tell.  So, because I had entered and left so many borders the pages on my passport were very full.  Because of this the guy who stamped me in had to stamp the date of entry right next to my new VALID visa.  I think that we has stamping it to signify the entry of a tourist.  But because it is so close to my new visa (being as there was no room elsewhere) I think that it activated my new visa, on accident?  Of course there are no accidents with God.  It could be that he used a border crossing and the Easter holidays to create such a line that the public officials would not have time to find any fault with a young man’s visa.  I certainly think so.  And whether I have the visa I have been trying to get for six months or just some more time on a tourist visa, I don’t care. I give praise to Jesus for saving me from a seemingly impossible situation.  I wanted to share this with you to encourage you that your prayers are powerful, to give praise to HIM for answering with a “YES” and to thank you very much for your prayers.  Who knows if you hadn’t I might still be stuck in Peru with little money and almost no way to get home (except maybe sneaking across illegally, wouldn’t that have made an interesting story :).  )
 
 
 
 
PRAISE JESUS!

A Thank you? Yes Please!

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As I’m writing this we are having a fantastic thunderstorm! I LOVE the sound of rain on a tin roof and it’s raining HARD right, not to mention the loud thunder and bright lightening. This also means our dog (who is terrified of loud noises) will find some new screens to destroy tonight 😦

 

Anyway to get back on subject have you ever gone out of your way for someone and instead of them saying thank you they don’t say anything or worse they complain. This is what it’s like at baby washing. I LOVE washing the babies but sometimes it bothers me that the mothers never say thanks and more often then not complain about the clothes their child is put in and want more, always more. Entitlement is a big part of the culture here, it’s like yes I’m very poor and need a lot so I’m entitled to have whatever you have to give me and then some!

 

Another thing that is hard about baby washing is that I want to do more then just wash these babies, I want to “ rescue” them from their current situation and take them home with me b/c I think that would be better. But I must remember that God put them in their situation, and he is watching over them better then I ever could, not to mention I don’t have room. We ran out of water today, so there were some kids to didn’t get washed and seeing them left SO DIRTY just broke my heart!

 

Also(and most importantly) what about Jesus?! No one is evangelizing ( to the mothers and older kids) while we are washing. So do they think we are just nice people? What is the point if their hearts are not being changed! Someone needs to tell them! So if you could join with me in prayer that God would raise up someone to tell these women about Jesus so He can meet the needs of their souls which is much more important then the needs of their bodies!