Monthly Archives: October 2011

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Making the most of Halloween…

How many nights a year do children from your neighborhood (and beyond!) knock on your door, hold out their hands and receive whatever you put in them? Each year Halloween provides an opportunity many of us crave the other 364 days of the year…a chance to make a difference in the life of a child who has never seen the inside of a church or heard about Jesus (except as a swear word).

A mom recently told me her story about a Halloween night when she was in grade school…

Decked out in their costumes, she and two friends went trick or treating by themselves. House after house they yelled, “Trick or Treat” and held out their bags for the bounty. One house, however, was different. The smiling face that answered the door gave them more than just candy. Into the bag went something for their sweet tooth and something sweet for their soul.

The trio stopped at the bottom of the driveway and looked at the gospel booklet in dismay. Her friends threw it in the yard, but she couldn’t do it. She dropped the booklet back in her bag and forgot about it.

Later that night she dumped her candy bag onto her bed and spotted the booklet. Curious, she picked it up and read it. The truth of the Gospel of Jesus pierced her young heart and she accepted Him as her Lord and Savior right then and there.

The family who handed out the booklets may have been discouraged to find the discarded ones in the yard the next morning. It’s so easy to feel like our efforts aren’t making a difference. If they only knew the difference it did make in the life of one little girl! They may not meet her until Heaven, but what an incredible introduction it will be!

Dear friends, don’t let the enemy have control of this night. Give the precious souls who come to your door a warm smile, a generous amount of candy and a booklet that tells them about Jesus. It’s not too late! Your local Bible Bookstore will have some. Tonight you could be God’s instrument to change a life that may have no other way to hear about Jesus!

Jess Alex Steph 2

Halloween…

Long before Ariel captured the hearts of young girls in The Little Mermaid, I dreamt of being a mermaid… at least for Halloween. My mom is a master seamstress, but did I ask for her help in creating my costume? Nooo, I had to do it myself. Fortunately I’m not in touch with most of the people who saw me parade down the halls of Aurora 7 Elementary School that year! The costume was more reminiscent of a dead guppy than a mermaid… I don’t think my parents even took pictures. Sad.

Here’s what I love about that Halloween day back in 19… My mom could have stepped in and made the costume for me, and it would’ve been AMAZING! Instead, she held back and let me create my own (biting her tongue I’m sure). I remember trying to figure out how to make the mermaid tail out of fabric and experimenting to see just how much glitter really was too much. (The janitors were sweeping up blue/green glitter for days after the parade!)

Although I was a little embarrassed by the obvious homemade quality of the costume (and the fact that I kept tripping over the fins), I was more thrilled with the fact that I had done it! A dream in my head became reality and my passion for creativity was given wings. Thanks mom!

I’m sad that Halloween has become more about evil than about dressing up in fun, happy costumes. I’m a big fan of the Fall Festivals and All Saints Day celebrations… especially when they incorporate costumes! Why should our kids have to lose the wonder and creativity of dressing up? A lot of groups have “Bible character” costumes as part of their celebrations. One girl dressed as the “tree” in Psalm 1! Talk about creative!

One of our team members did a puppet show about Halloween at AWANA this week. To watch it click on:  dg4kids.com. It may give you some ideas for how you can have a fun conversation with your kids about Halloween and the character of God. This weekend will provide many opportunities to compare and contrast who God is and who the enemy of our soul is. I pray we will all capitalize on those teachable moments.  Halloween is a great time to be thankful for who God really is!!!

child's eye pic

Hope for the future starts today…

What started out as a glorious experiment called America is on the brink of crumbling into a Godless abyss; devoid of morals and crushed beneath the weight of her own selfish, insatiable desires. We abuse alcohol, drugs and loved ones at an alarming rate. Many of our young people experiment with sex, cheat on exams, and steal from their parents while declaring they’re satisfied with their personal moral standards. Most parents spend more time getting ready in the morning than they do talking with their teenagers (the average time kids and parents say they talk is 15 minutes a day, Revolutionary Parenting). Meanwhile, young children spend 40 hours a week soaking up what the media world feeds them… and parents wonder why they have so little control.

How did we get here?

Our Founding Fathers weren’t perfect, but they did get the most important thing right. They knew that this experiment called a Republic would only succeed if its people embraced a strong commitment to morality that flowed from an unwavering faith in God.

George Washington said:

Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

Washington also believed:

It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.

Our second President, John Adams, wrote:

Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.


Our Founding Fathers understood that the country they were birthing would never survive apart from Biblical, faith-guided principles. Have we made mistakes along the way? Absolutely! However, our guiding principles have been the catalyst for bringing the darkness to the light and motivating our people to stand up for what is right. Tragically, in the last 60 years the darkness has slowly been gaining ground. When we stop living by our guiding principles, everyone suffers…even those who don’t believe in God.
There are many who point to the day prayer was taken out of our schools as our nations tipping point. The downward spiral in our moral and ethical values since that day in 1962 is stunning. However, it wasn’t the absence of prayer that caused the fall, but rather, the message the silence has sent to our children. Positive conversations about the God of the Bible and the role of faith in society have been systematically removed from the public classroom and text books. The lesson our children learn is simple: God is irrelevant to the public dialogue.
Sixty years ago we began allowing our children to be taught that personal faith has nothing to do with daily life. Those children are now our leaders, parents, grandparents, teachers and preachers. Think about it, if George Washington were alive today it’s unlikely he would be allowed to speak at a school assembly because he would never agree to divorce his faith from his message on leadership and the success of our country! Is it any wonder most Americans feel our best days are behind us?
We haven’t been “killing God” over the past six decades as much as we’ve been declaring Him irrelevant. We’ve been reinventing the God of Abraham and Isaac, Peter and Paul, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, and most of us have slept through it. It’s time to wake up and begin fighting for our children’s future by fighting for their view of God. It starts in our home.
Our children will be the leaders of tomorrow. Teach them who God really is and why it makes a difference in everything they do. If you do, there really will be hope for America.
If you need some help and encouragement go to: dg4kids.com

Turkey stroganoff 3

A pinch of this and a dash of that…

I’m not a fan of Hamburger Helper, but Brad loves it. When I leave town he runs to the store and buys a box.  It was inevitable that my kids would become Hamburger Helper lovers as well!  The health conscious side of me rebels but hey, at least they’re not eating donuts and candy bars for dinner!

Last night I thought I would use whatever I could find in the kitchen to create a healthier version of their favorite Hamburger Helper.  This is what I came up with:

1 lb. Turkey burger

Pinch of salt kosher salt

Dash of pepper

Dehydrated minced onion

1 can cream of chicken soup

2 big spoons of sour cream

Red cooking wine

2 shakes of Worcestershire Sauce

Wide, whole-wheat noodles (cooked)

Brown the turkey burger.

Add salt, pepper and onion to taste.

Dump in the cream of chicken soup.

Use the can to measure the red wine (about half full) and stir into turkey mixture.

Add two big spoons of sour cream and a couple shakes of Worcestershire sauce.

Stir until all ingredients are mixed evenly.  If it’s too thick add a bit of water or a little more red wine.

Cook over med/low heat until mixture bubbles.

Keep warm over low heat until noodles are ready.

Pour sauce over noodles, mix together and serve.

(I wanted to cut down on pots so I added fresh green beans to the noodle water and cooked them with the noodles.  The result was an “all-in-one” meal!)

This is a very forgiving recipe!  The key is to test it along the way and add the ingredients to suit your taste… just be sure you leave some room for dinner!

My family loved the meal and so did I!

Food for thought:

A pinch of this and a dash of that works well for stroganoff but it is a dangerous way to approach God.  Many in our culture want God to conform to their preferences and tastes. They pick and choose what they like about God’s character and ignore, or deny, what they don’t.

I encourage you to be diligent to teach your kids who God really is and why it matters.  It’s the perfect recipe to set them up for true success!

“Our ancestors left us a foolish heritage, for they worshiped worthless idols.  Can people make their own gods?  These are not real gods at all!”  Jer. 16:19b

girls (Chinese & Black) hugging pic

In the mind of a child…

She was scared. She knew she wanted to do it, but her little mind conjured up a horrifying picture of what would happen when she did. In the end, she wanted Jesus in her heart more than she feared the consequences. She bowed her head, closed her eyes and began to pray,

Jesus, please come into my heart… but please, please… come in carefully!

She was so relieved when she said ‘amen’ and her heart was still in one piece! The little girl had envisioned a full sized man trying to fit in her tiny heart! No wonder she was afraid!

Children are concrete thinkers. They have a hard time comprehending something they can’t see, feel and touch. This fact can make teaching our kids about faith a bit challenging!

A young boy refused to accept Jesus as his Savior. His parents were befuddled. After some gentle questioning, their son finally revealed the problem,

I want to go to heaven, I just don’t want to go right now!

He had heard that when you accept Jesus you get go to heaven, but no one explained the time line. He assumed it meant he would go to heaven right away!

The boys’ parents did some ‘investigative’ work to discover what kept their son from accepting Christ. They didn’t pressure him to make a decision. Instead, they became students of their child. They asked him questions and listened carefully to his answers. It was during one of those conversations that the obstacle came out.

Brad and I have been intentional about weaving spiritual conversations into our kid’s daily life. I’ve discovered I’m not nearly as good a listener as I thought I was! It’s so tempting to jump in with my own opinion or to seize the chance to tell them what they should do or think.

By God’s grace I’m learning to speak less, listen more and pray for insight into my children’s heart and mind as we talk. If I hear ideas about God or Jesus that might need some correction I try not to “react”. Instead, I look for a teachable moment to address the issue (it may be right away, it may take a few days).

There is no substitute for talking with your kids! If you’re like me, your kids will teach you as much as you teach them! It’s such an amazing adventure! I encourage you to use the Table Talk questions we post on dg4kids.com. Click on the calendar and find one question per week to help you jumpstart table conversations!

Rainbow in the desert

God could have, but He didn’t…

Have you ever believed God for something and it didn’t happen? A friend believed God would heal her of a terminal disease, He didn’t (on this side of Heaven). A businessman trusted God would keep his company afloat. It went under. What do you do when your expectations of God don’t mesh with reality?

We’ve had some major disappointments ourselves recently and two questions have made the difference between bitterness and joy, expectation and defeat, depression and hope.

1. Is this disappointment a problem, or is it an opportunity to see God work in a way I didn’t expect?
2. What attribute of God am I struggling to believe is true in this circumstance?

Recently I heard Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales, describe the rise and fall of his dream. He repeatedly used the phrase, “God could have, but He didn’t.”

Phil knew his dream was in jeopardy and believed God would provide the funds to save it. On three different occasions he trusted God would defy the economic outlook and bless his projects. Three times God could have saved the company. Three times He didn’t do it. I learned a lot from Phil Vischer’s talk but it was his view of God that has intrigued and encouraged me.

God could have.” The phrase reflects a confidence in God’s Omniscience (all-powerful) and Sovereignty (in total control). If God isn’t All-Powerful and in Total Control then we can have no confidence in His ability to do anything on our behalf. Have you ever longed to help someone but lacked the resources or power to do it? God’s good intentions mean nothing if He doesn’t have the power and the control to make them reality.

So, what happens when you know God could’ve done something, but He doesn’t? That’s where the rest of the attributes of God come into play. Do you believe…

God Loves you perfectly? He loves you so much that He will say ‘no’ to your expectations when they conflict with His perfect, love driven plan.
God Knows Everything. Because He knows the past, present and future, He knows that saying ‘yes’ to your expectations is not the best thing for you. (even if all your human knowledge and understanding says the opposite).
God is Everywhere. He has not abandoned you (even if you feel like He has). He is with you every step of the way.
God is Faithful to fulfill every promise. He didn’t promise that life would be easy. He didn’t promise to make every dream come true. He did promise to cause everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) It may not feel like it, but God is faithfully working to accomplish His perfect, love driven plan in your life.
God is Righteous. He knows what the right thing to do is and He won’t compromise what’s right in order to make us temporarily feel better (about Him and about how He works in our lives).

Are you disappointed because God could have done something on your behalf and He didn’t? You are not alone dear friend! We’ve all been there! God is not surprised by our disappointment. He wants to help us wrestle through the emotions and hold on tight to the truth.

Ask yourself the 2 questions above and filter your disappointment through the character of God. It won’t necessarily take away all the pain, but it will give hope for the future!