Monday, December 31, 2012

Nature Study Goals for 2013

Well. This seems like a broad topic. We have learned so much as a family during 2012. It seems a little daunting to set down specific goals for 2013. There is so much to learn and so many options to study.
In random order, with no further ado is my list.

We added a new bird feeder to our back yard. It
is supposed to repel squirrels. So far, it is doing
a nice job of that. 

  1. We started a year long tree study in Autumn. We wish to complete the year. We did our Winter edition in December, so we only have 2 more seasons to go.
  2. My middle daughter wants to revisit birds. We have covered the subject twice. There is so much to learn about birds and we now have a feeder, so maybe we can participate in the Cornell University Great Backyard Bird Count in February 15 to 18, 2013
  3. In a post a few months back, my kids listed some things they would like to know more about.  We have started working on some of these things, but I guess we will revisit slugs and snails, leaves--especially how they change color and obtain food from sunlight, roots, roses, crystals, clover and pill bugs. 
  4. I have a personal goal of spending more time at some of our favorite hiking spots.
  5. Because the kids had such a great time at the horse field trip, I have plans to take them back to Wildoaks Arabians for some horseback riding lessons. We received money for this from my mother-in-law. I am so grateful for her.
  6. Barb offered a lesson on vines while we were taking a break from school. We missed it last year, so I would like to cover it this year.
  7. I would like to cover milkweed. I have finally figured out what it looks like. I bought some for my yard, so observation will be easy. 
I don't know. I am sure there is much more we could do. Each lesson has been a great blessing so far. I would be content to follow along with Barb's blog, but I don't know if she will continue it next year. Her youngest is graduating high school. If she doesn't continue the study, I will probably come up with 12 different nature subjects and cover one each month.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ron and Susanne Cox Visit Fountain of Life Church

A few weeks back, some of my favorite preachers in the world visited Fountain of Life Church near my home. Ron Cox was my preacher from the time I was 16 until the time I was 29. During the time I attended his church, his wife was sick with Huntington-corea. The debilitating and devastating disease eventually cost her life. Ron was faithful to her every day, caring for her needs, feeding her, and tending to her in every possible way, all while pastoring a vibrant, growing church and raising two beautiful teenage daughters.

After her death, Ron wasn't really looking for a new wife. But God had other plans. Another pastor in the area was visiting with a female missionary from India, when he called Ron. He suggested that this missionary and Ron go golfing. This other pastor then backed out of the meeting. Within a few months, Ron and Susanne were married.

That's been almost 12 years ago. Every time I see them I am overwhelmed with gratitude at what God has wrought. So many years of suffering, but now he has a wonderful, vibrant, happy, filled with the Holy Spirit wife who is the very picture of God's ability to restore what the canker worm has eaten.

I have been planning to write a summary of the meetings since the time they came down, but this has been my first opportunity.

From the first night:
1) God will make a way for a praying person.
2) Don't get enamored with stuff.
3) You can have as much of Jesus as you want.
4) God will speak to anyone who will listen.

Ron said that these things came from David Wilkerson.

From the second night:
Susanne Cox spoke on Never Never Never Give Up on Your Dream. There may be a dream that you had when a little child. Or maybe it is a heart desire that God gave you as an adult or after you were saved. Is it taking too long to happen? Never give up.

From the third night:
Ron preached a sermon that he said "didn't count against his time." It was a totally separate sermon from his main sermon. God will use those people who give God the right to empty them.

Jesus, in the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:21-48), said "But I say unto you." "But I say unto you." He wanted to empty the knowledge they had so that He could bring them to a new knowledge.

He also wanted to empty the man who had been sick for 38 years. (John 5: 1-15). He emptied him to fill him with healing.

Then there were the men with 5, 2, and 1 talents. (Matt. 25: 14-30). The man with five talents emptied himself by investing it all. The man with two talents emptied himself by investing it all.  Each one of them was given as much again as they invested.

Then there was the man with one talent. We have always thought of him as a non-Christian. But what if he wasn't? What if he was a man who had all of God he wanted? A man who had been saved and spent the next 50 years of his life polishing his one talent? How long is the church going to polish its one talent while the world goes to hell?

The two talent man and the five talent man said to the Lord, "Fill me and I will pour it back into Your kingdom. I just gotta have Jesus. I want more of Jesus." But the one talent man hid his. He went to church. He never backslid. He would pull out the one talent, polish it and describe the very day of his salvation. But he never poured anything back into the kingdom. 

Jesus was not impressed with the one talent man, even though he never backslid. It is very serious not to invest what God has given us. The one talent man had the talent taken from him and given to the hungriest.

We don't want to be empty, because we want to be in charge.

(This begins the transition to the second sermon he preached that night. Remember, the first one didn't count against his time. lol.)   We don't do very well when we're blessed. I wish Christians would seize the opportunities and do God's will when we're blessed. That's the way God wants it. But that's not often the way we do it.

Next, he started his "real sermon."  He started preaching the Moses story. You know the one, where Moses is out in the wilderness and he sees a bush in the wilderness. And the bush is burning. But the bush isn't being consumed. So Moses decides to go and see this thing. And God meets him there.

First, Ron pulled out a beautiful polished sword--a real sword. He waved it around dramatically. He said that early in Moses' life, he experienced sword days. He had power and authority of the Egyptian kingdom. He was positioned to lead. But he blew it. He killed an Egyptian and hid his body. He was discovered. He fled. (Ron dropped the sword.)

(First Ron pulled out a staff, but then he dropped it, too. He said that Moses didn't have anything so nice. It was just a stick. And he pulled out a stick --one that looked like he had pulled it out of someone's burn pile.)

He spent the next forty years regretting what might have been. Now he lives stick days. He lives in the desert with a bunch of smelly sheep that aren't even his. And all he has is a stick, not even a staff. It is just a stick. He has a bunch of regrets. How can God use me now when all I have got is this stick? The next revival just might come from those with sticks.

Once a prince in Egypt, now he is only in charge of smelly sheep that aren't even his. When you try to be a somebody, you will end up a nobody. Some time in the desert you'll realize that you are a nobody. Then God can be the Somebody in your nobody.

You are not really going to encounter a God on fire unless you are willing to ascend. Moses saw some common bush burning, and ascended to get a better look. And he encountered God.

Deity's fire didn't invade a towering tree, but a common everyday bush--so ordinary. But when God invaded the bush, God made it extraordinary. God invaded Ron's life, a little boy of a single mom, living in the housing projects. Yes, God invaded Ronnie Cox, but He didn't destroy Ron. God delights in using unusual instruments.

Why are we waiting on some advantage when He is I Am? What's in your hand, Moses? Isn't it amazing how we refuse to get empty?

And Moses looks down at his hand. This? (Ron holds up the stick.) This thing? Yes. What is in your hand?

A stick.

Throw it down. It's so hard to get empty.

Moses had a stick, an 83 year old brother and a one line sermon: "Let my people go." Is it so hard to understand why this 80 year old man was reluctant to go?

So now I ask you, what's in your hand? What regrets are you holding on to? What losses? What bitterness? What hurt? What pain? Throw it down. I know (said Ron) that the Holy Spirit is showing you what it is. Throw it down.

He had everyone come to the front. He gave everyone sticks. He told them to hold those sticks up and confess what it was that they were holding on to that the Lord wanted them to release. Then we all dropped those sticks. What freedom! What a moment. Hallelujah! I will never be the same again.

God knew that there was a serpent in that stick. We don't know it. But God does. Throw it down.

Then Ron had everyone lean down and pick up the snake/stick we had thrown down. But he said, you are not picking up the old thing. No. Now you are picking up what God wants us to have, picking up God's authority for our situations.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Review of Unashamed to Bear His Name By R T Kendall

I have never read any of Dr. Kendall's work. The author description says that he has written more than 50 books. This was a surprise to me, since I haven't even heard of the author.

I liked what the author had to say about the stigma of following Christ. I liked the way he pointed out the different stigmas associated with different parts of the God head. From page 158, "The truth is that all three persons of the Trinity have their own stigma. The stigma of God is that He is the most maligned person in the universe. He refuses to clear His name in advance of the Final Judgment. ... Second, there is the stigma of the Son of God--Jesus Christ. ... [W]e examine the stigma of the Holy Spirit--the Third Person of the Godhead."

There were many points I could agree with, and much to ponder in this book. It is well written and fairly concise at 200 pages.

I did find that many of the things were so deep or heavy that it bogged me down and I would have to put the book aside for a few days until I was ready to continue.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Bethany House for free in exchange for an honest review. I received no other compensation.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review of Called to Controversy by Ruth Rosen

I have really been lucky in my most recent review books. First, I had the great privilege of reviewing Call to Wonder, and now I have the wonderful privilege of reading this book.

I chose this book, because I spent several years in a Messianic Jewish congregation. It was a watershed time in my life. Through the Messianic Jewish congregation, I met some of the most amazing people--people who had a lifelong influence on me. Through that period of my life, too, I learned so much about the Jewish base for Christian beliefs and deepened my understanding and appreciation of the Bible, both Old and New Testament.

Many of the experiences from that time in my life are such a blessing to me, so I really wanted to read the book about the founder of Jews for Jesus. Jews for Jesus was not very active in the community where I was a member of the Messianic Congregation, but we were aware of their mission and admired it.

And the book does not disappoint. It is beautifully written.

This is the story of the life of Moishe Rosen, founder of Jews For Jesus. It goes through his normal Jewish upbringing, his marriage and the eventual process that opened his eyes to the understanding that Jesus was the Messiah for the Jews, as well as the Gentile's Savior. After his conversion, he attended a Baptist church and learned a great deal. He also experienced a huge culture shock, because some of the expressions used in the church caused him consternation.

He went on to attend seminary at a conservative college. Then served on the staff of the New York missions board. The experiences he had there were instrumental in leading him to the next step: Jews for Jesus. At first, this was just a catchphrase, but eventually the work of Jews For Jesus outgrew the missions organization with which it was associated and became a separate entity.

Jews for Jesus was a controversial group, but their work was always founded on and saturated in Scriptures, both Old and New Testament.

This was a fantastic book. I enjoyed learning more about this group I have heard of for so many years. Highly recommended.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review. I am grateful for the opportunity to read it. I really enjoyed it. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Review of Call to Wonder by R. C. Sproul, Jr.

RC Sproul Jr's book studies the scripture, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."

He looks at this scripture from the personal perspective of a father with eight children, one of them a special needs child. In this very personal and deeply moving book, he discussed some of what he has learned about this passage from his role as the father of his children. He covers God's call for us to trust Him the way a child does. His next chapter is about God's call to wonder, especially as it relates to nature. He also discusses the desire that children have to please their fathers and how we should respond in this manner to our Heavenly Father. Children, as a general rule, unless given reason to do otherwise, trust in the love their fathers have for them. We should do the same. Then he goes a little way down a different perspective, that we should by no means remain children, but should mature in the faith. Fathers delight most in their children when their children are happiest, and so we should be filled with joy.

 I found this book to be a book that I could not quickly scan through, but felt it needed time to ponder. It really moved me and challenged me. It caused me to pray about how God would have me to apply it to my life. These are all things I treasure in a book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Tyndale.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Review of A Garden of Love

In A Garden of Love, Thomas B. Clarke shares his personal observations about the flowers he grows in his work for the Gethsemane Prayer Garden at Faith Chapel in Syracuse, New York. The purpose of the garden is not that it just be a pretty place to enjoy "lots of beautiful flowers. Rather, the flowers are intended to help soften our hearts so that we may be more effective in speaking to and hearing the voice of the Lord." (unnumbered page preceding the Acknowledgments page).

I liked that there were full color pictures on each two page spread. I enjoyed reading about flowers, many of which I have never seen growing in Southern Alabama gardens, and none of which I grow. I enjoyed the author's encouragements for the Christian faith, relating each to scripture.

I had a hard time relating the particular plant chosen to the characteristic he wanted to emphasize. For instance, he chose Coneflower (Echinacea) to relate to patient endurance. He said that he chose it because it looks like a crown. I don't see any crowns in that flower even after reading the entry. I also don't really follow the idea of crowns for patient endurance. It seems that it would have been more appropriate to use a flower that endured over a long season or was perennial. I don't know. It just seemed a reach to relate this flower to this spiritual characteristic.

He did not use herbs and flowers that have traditionally been associated with different characteristics. For instance, sage has long been associated with wisdom. Every flower he chose was chosen because he personally likes the plant. This is fine. It just seemed that some of the choices were made not because of the plant, but because he likes the spiritual characteristic and wanted to discuss it.

I would rate this book as readable. This one problem should be noted, because it really took from the power of the book.

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Review of Then Sings My Soul by Robert J. Morgan

I read this book on the suggestion of a fellow blogger.

This book contains a short history of hymns through the ages, from Biblical, Ancient, and Medieval hymns through the much more familiar German, English, Gospel Hymns and Contemporary Praise songs. In the German hymns, the author features a hymn by Luther and one by Zinzendorf, two great reformers of the church. Luther's was familiar to me and I expect it would be familiar to you--A Mighty Fortress is our God. Though I was familiar with Zinzendorf, I was not familiar with the hymn quoted in these pages.

That was the way of things in this book: I was familiar with one out of every two or three hymns, especially in the older hymns. The newer hymns were more familiar to me. With entries by William Gaither and Darlene Zschech, I suspect that most Christians would be familiar with these hymns.

After this, he offers a section in which he goes into much greater detail about six hymns. Each of these hymns are given about a chapter each.

I liked this book. I liked learning the history of hymns I have heard all my life. I enjoyed reading his opinions about the place of hymns in modern worship. I enjoyed reading the hymns (and singing the ones I was knew.)

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Seeds Family Music New Album- Purity

One of my very favorite CD series has a new CD out!

Several years ago, I was looking online for scripture memory CD's and happened (by the grace of God) to find this wonderful website: Seeds Family Worship. I first bought the above CD. I loved it! My son loved it. My daughters, after they were born, loved it. It is so well-written that I will listen to this music even if the children are not in the car. We have since bought every CD they have written, and all of them are excellent. The other titles are The Power of Encouragement, Seeds of Faith, Seeds of Character, Seeds of Praise and Seeds of Purpose. 

Because all these scripture memory songs are the exact words of scripture, set to wonderful music, my children and I have have learned about 60 scripture memory verses from this CD series alone.

I have other scripture memory CD's. We have tried lots of them, but these are my favorites. They are wonderful, singable, toe tapping songs.

For the release of their newest title, they have asked parents to read through the Purity Pledge and make this pledge for their families. I encourage you to read through the list of scriptural things they are challenging you to implement in your families, and then implement these things. The list of things are all things we need to see in society and in our lives. I took the pledge this morning. May God grant me the grace to live up to these commitments.

The link to the new scripture memory songs is here.  For some reason, it seems to be only available as a digital download this time.

I received no compensation for this promotion. I just really like and believe in these products. They are a great way to plant some seeds of the Scripture into the lives of your family.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review of Switched! TJ and the Time Stumblers Book by Bill Myers

I haven't read any of the other books in this series. This is the fifth book about a girl named TJ and two time travelers from the twenty-third century, and their misadventures in the course of a middle school in the present time.

This is a chapter book for children with 156 pages and no pictures, a fact which concerned me a little when I first received the book. Would my children like this book? Would they be able to follow it?

I read it to them while they drank hot chocolate in the mornings. I decided that if they couldn't follow it or didn't like it, I would read it to myself. The first day, both of the older ones liked it a lot and laughed through the entire passage we read.

After the second day, my middle daughter no longer liked the book.When I asked her why, her answer was because TJ became bald. (I can understand this. Bald is a hard condition for a girl.)

My son laughed through the entire book. He enjoyed the silly problems that complicated things for the characters. He liked that the book was funny. He liked the characters. He liked the way the author wrapped up everything in the end.

I liked the book with only a few draw-backs. The book is entitled "Switched!" Well, it seems that the author wasn't content to switch the main character with her arch enemy, but had to switch many other characters as well. I personally felt that there were too many switches to make the story line easy to follow, but it didn't seem to cause problems for my children as they heard the story read aloud.

The book was good enough that we ended up reading one day for over an hour, because we were lost in the story and wanted to find out what happened next.

Recommended, but with the caveat that there are lots of characters who switch bodies, making it hard to keep straight who is talking.

I received this book free from Tyndale Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Tyndale. It opened an entirely new series to my family. We will probably read some more of these books.