Advent 2014 v1.0 – Week 3

Hope you’re enjoying your family’s Advent celebrations!  We are “refining” ours ;)  Maddie’s biggest qualm was that we were sitting on the floor (cold tile floor!) to do ours – Pah!  Here’s week 3’s Jesse Tree lineup.  Not as many Jesus Storybook Bible matches, but it’s not a bad thing to mix it up and include some ‘grown up’ Bible reading or another version from another children’s Bible!  Jesus’ birthday is almost upon us!

3rd Sunday – The Prince of Peace (Crown with dove) – Is 9:2, 6-7

Monday – The New Covenant (Heart w/ Scripture inside) – Jer 31:31-33, Heb 9:13-15

Tuesday – Bethlehem Prophecy (Bethlehem silhouette) – Micah 5:2, Luke 2:4-7

Wednesday – The Fiery Furnace (Fiery Furnace) – Daniel 3, Matt 5:11-12

Thursday – Return to Jerusalem (Brick wall) – Neh 1:3, 2:18, 6:15-16

Friday – Daniel & the Lion’s Den (Sleeping Lion) – Daniel 6:2-29

  • Can read “Daniel & the scary sleepover” in JSB

Saturday – Jonah’s Special Message (Fish) – Jonah 1-4, Heb 1:1-2

  • Can read “God’s messenger” in JSB

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Advent 2014 v1.0 – Week 2

2nd Sunday – Joseph’s Forgiveness (Coat of many colors) – Gen 37:1-36, 45:4-15

  • Can read “The forgiving prince” in JSB (Jesus Storybook Bible for those just tuning in!)

Monday – Moses and the Burning Bush (Burning bush) – Ex 2:1-4:20IMG_8250

  • Can read “God to the rescue!” in JSBIMG_8251
  • In later years we will combine the Burning bush ornament w/ Passover & the Red Sea (Door w/ blood on post) – Ex 12:1-14:31 (Can read “God makes a way” in JSB) and The Ten Commandments (Tablets) – Ex 19:1-20:20, Deut 5:1-22 (Can read “Ten ways to be perfect” in JSB)

Tuesday – Ruth’s Loyalty (Wheat) – Ruth 1:15-2:13, 4:13-22

Wednesday – Jesse’s Descendants (Stump of Jesse from 1st Sunday) – Is 11:1-5

Thursday – David is Anointed as King (Water being poured on head) – 1 Sam 16:1-13

  • Can read “The teeny weenie true king” in JSB

Friday – God’s Forgotten Scroll is Found (Scroll) – 2 Kings 22:2, 23:1-3IMG_8252

Saturday – The Good Shepherd (Shepherd w/ sheep) – Ez 34:2b, 4-5, 10-12, 15a, 16a, 23-24IMG_8253

  • Can read “Operation no more tears” in JSB
  • In later years we will combine the Shepherd ornament w/ Light of the World (Sparkly star) – Ps 27:1-3, John 1:9, 8:12, and The Suffering Servant (Cross) – Is 53:4-7, 9, 12b

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Advent 2014 v1.0 – Week 1

haha…I called it v1.0 b/c I KNOW that over the years, this year’s NEW Jesse Tree Advent study will morph into something our family will love and anticipate! At least that’s what I (Beth) hope! I made the ornaments over the Aug-Sept months and am pretty pleased with the way they turned out. I made a few extra ornaments, while I was at it, (partly b/c I couldn’t decide which to cut from certain websites and which to keep) that we will probably just wait and incorporate in later years…but we will start off w/ the traditional 25 ornaments this year.

Ideas from here and there. Even a way to incorporate the Jesus Storybook Bible, which my kids (and us!) love. So, here’s this week’s…b/c Advent starts today! (Sunday, Nov 30)…hope it blesses you all this year!

1st Sunday – Introduce the Jesse Stump ornament and read Isaiah 11:1 (but don’t hang just yet)IMG_8245

  • Explain about hanging the ornaments and reading the verses.
  • Creation (World ornament) – Gen 1:24-31 (full account Gen 1:1-31)
  • Can also read “The beginning: a perfect home” from Jesus Storybook Bible (JSB)

MondayAdam and Eve and the Fall (Apple w/ serpent) – Gen 3:1-24

  • Can read “The terrible lie” in JSB

Tuesday – Noah’s Ark (Ark w/ rainbow) – Gen 6:11-14, 7:17-18, 8:8-22, 9:9-17

  • Can read “A new beginning” in JSB

Wednesday – Abraham’s Faith (Camel w/ tent) – Gen 12:1-7

Thursday – Abraham’s Descendants (Green star) – Gen 15:1-6

  • Can read “Son of laughter” in JSB
  • In later years we will combine the star ornament w/ Isaac’s Birth (cradle) – Gen 21:1-7

Friday – Protection for Isaac (Ram w/ leaves on horns) – Gen 22:1-4

  • Can read “The present” in JSB

Saturday – Jacob’s Ladder (The ladder) – Gen 28:10-22

  • Can read “The girl no one wanted” in JSB

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Celebrating 10 years with Beth J!

photoIt was 10 years ago today that I first met the Beth J (then it was Beth Parker or later became Smyrna B).  Either way, I had traveled down to Florence, SC to speak at the BCM there about missions in South Asia.  One of their students (Christina…see picture to the right) was on my summer team that year and wanted me to come speak.  So we checked calenders and made plans for the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  I had been traveling a lot that month and was really just ready to go home and hang out for Thanksgiving.

When I arrived, Christina took me around to meet any and everyone.  It was just slightly annoying since I really just wanted to speak and head home, but that was my selfishness.  So at lunch, she says that she wants to take me to meet her friend who just happens to be from right near my hometown in Murfreesboro.  To tell you the truth, I really wasn’t interested.  The other girl driving us wasn’t the best of drivers (sorry to offend) and didn’t like to turn left.  So she would just make multiple right turns…anyway I digress.  So we head down to the Bank of America to meet this friend.  As I walk in the bank, I turned to my right and saw my future wife.  The most beautiful smile I had ever seen; just amazing.  She said hello…and here is where our stories differ.  I say that I absolutely said hello back.  Beth says that I just stood there and said nothing.  Either way, I was thankful I made the trip!  As we were leaving the bank, a voice in my head said, “That’s the girl you’re going to marry.”

Now, I kid you not that this is indeed what happened.  I too was a bit caught off guard as I didn’t even really know much about her.  That night at BCM, I made it a point to sit near Beth and just get to know her a little.  I knew that it was a crazy long shot as she lived there and I was traveling.  After BCM, I went out to dinner with Beth and Christina and Anna (all 3 best friends).  As we entered the booth, Anna and Christina sat one one side and Beth and I were both sitting on the same side of the booth, yet you could have put a semi between us as she sat so far away, it was amazing!  We all continued to hang out throughout the night and had a blast.  I was now definitely interested in this Beth Parker.

The next morning, I called Christian to ask more about this Beth Parker, but I was told to stay away for awhile.  Anyway, the story will continue on another milestone date in the future as I celebrate 10 years with Beth J, leading up to our 10 year anniversary in 2015.

FLL Danger Run results – Northside edition

For the first week of November, 2 teams from Northside Baptist in Rock Hill, SC, took their turns at the FLL Danger Run.  They decided to break up into 2 teams: adults and teenagers.  After the judges review of all the score sheets, here are the results:

Adults – 88% (44/50)
Teenagers – 85.4% (41/48)

Being that there are not a whole lot of rules for the FLL Danger Run, the adults decided to add 2 new animal items to the list, snake and donkey, which made their percentage of victory higher.  However, even without these 2 additions, they still would have beaten the teenagers by 1!

Credit to both teams for being the first to find the “carpool” entry.  It was this discovery that now puts the Adult team in 1st place overall.  Congrats to both teams for a well played Danger Run.

Northside Adults – 88%
Will P – 86.9%
Northside Teens – 85.4%
Dan R – 82.6%
Alyssa R – 80.4%
Dei C – 80.4%
Sarah P – 78.3%
Abbey C – 78.3%
Alan P – 39.1%

Scavenger Hunt – FLL edition

One of our favorite things to do in Louisville every year was the Danger Run.  It was basically a scavenger hunt to do in your car by solving riddles and clues to determine your next destination.  For our wedding, Beth’s parents put together a Nashville scavenger hunt for some of our friends who were in town.  Actually, I think Carl and Diana have about 4 or 5 of these up their sleeves.  So if you are ever in Murfreesboro, hit them up and they will send you on your way!  As you can see, we like some scavenger hunts!

So to help out our volunteers who come every year, Beth and I decided to put together a little scavenger hunt for each person to enjoy while visiting/working with us here in the FLL.  Over the past 20 days, we have had 2 groups in with us: Beth’s family and a team from Cedar Creek in Louisville (more to come from these trips next week).

While we would love to share the Hunt with you, it wouldn’t be fair to these teams if future teams coming out had a head start.  So without further ado, here’s the results from our first FLL Scavenger Hunt (46 total items):

Will P – 86.9%
Dan R – 82.6%
Alyssa R – 80.4%
Dei C – 80.4%
Sarah P – 78.3%
Abbey C – 78.3%
Alan P – 39.1%

Well, as you can see, our 13 year-old (and very observant) nephew currently sits atop the leaderboard.  He just squeaked out a win over Dan the youth man, and his wifey Alyssa.  While most everything on the list was seen by at least 1 person, the mysterious “carpool” continues to baffle our guests.  As for Alan P, he and Will were too busy talking church, theology, and missions to notice all that was going around and actually mark his sheet.

One of the more surprising things on the hunt was something not found.  Somehow, Dei C managed 8 days in FLL and never smelled some intense body odor!  How does that happen!?!

Congrats to all who played.  We can’t wait to see how the next group fares!

The Stolen Seed

Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it… The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. (Mark 4:3-4,14-15 ESV)

seed road

Yesterday, I experienced what I believe these verses mean.  Just a little background.  Earlier this year, *Peter and one of his disciples led a man to Christ, *Sam.  For those following our updates, you know a lot about Sam.  Ever since putting his faith in Jesus, he has been heavily persecuted by his family and community.  He has been kicked out of the village at least twice, is constantly verbally harassed by his family and in-laws, and has had to relocate his business shop.  Yet through all this, he has remained faithful to his new Savior.

So yesterday, Peter and I hosted a small training at the church where Sam attends.  The plan was to encourage the church to be faithful in sharing the Gospel with the empty villages and people groups around them.  I had heard that Sam was coming and bringing his wife with him!  This was very exciting since she is staying with him, but has not yet accepted Jesus.  Once we arrived, word came that Sam’s mother was furious about this training and refused to let them leave.  So we began our training, and about 5 minutes later Sam and his wife arrived!  “This is the day” both Peter and I thought.  This is the day that she will accept Christ and then we can baptize both of them!

I decided then that we should alter the training schedule just slightly to make sure that we have the opportunity to share the Gospel with Sam’s wife.  Just as we were approaching the time to share the Gospel, my phone starts to ring.  Earlier this month, I had ordered some Piper books translated in Hindi that were to be delivered this week.  Well, of course they show up while I am at this training, and the delivery guy cannot find our house.  I had Peter talk to him the first 3 times he called.  After the 4th call, I decided that it would be a good time to take a short break while I talk with this guy.  Also, I thought, let everyone get some air so they can be ready for the Gospel section.

Naturally, our 5 min break turned into 15 which is par for the course here.  When we started again, Sam and his wife were not there any more.  Turns out that she had gone back to their home and Sam’s mom was waiting there to let them have it.  Sam finally returned and joined us about 10 min later; his wife did not.  Later he told me that his mom was very mad and was yelling at both him and his wife for going against her wishes and attending this training.

After the training was over, I was thinking more about this “missed opportunity” when the above parable came to mind.  I was reminded that the Gospel is sown among every type of soil; we don’t always know the condition of the soil before we share.  In this case, we didn’t even get to share.  It’s like the seed was snatched out of the air before it even had time to land.  These are hard situations to understand.  How is it that we didn’t see the thief coming?  Why did I wait so long to share the Gospel?  Why didn’t I change my schedule more?  What if we hadn’t started 45 min late?  What if I hadn’t ordered these books?  What if the delivery guy had come at any other time?  I could go on and on.  But ultimately, I don’t get to chose the soil.  I don’t actually cause the seed to grow.  Later in chapter 4, Jesus tell the parable of the farmer where the harvest is growing, but he knows not how.  It’s the Spirit that causes the growth.  It’s the Spirit that prepares the soil and removes the obstacles, allowing the word of God to plant deeply and cause new life.  The enemy is always working to prevent the spread of the Good News.  He throws obstacles our way, even when we don’t even realize it.  Yet, our God is greater than this enemy.  He is working His plan according to His Holy Will.  He will accomplish His plans for Sam and his wife and, hopefully, their family and community.

Continue to pray for Sam and his wife.  Slow progress is happening.  He is faithful and energized to continue sharing the Gospel among all peoples and all places where God’s Name is not yet known!

Image Credit: http://cometoourtable.blogspot.in/2010/06/lessons-in-dirt-picture-parables.html

Jaymashi! We are Christians.

Maddie and Mahaney are in a play at school on Saturday, and these are their lines.  When we were first approached about the play, we were told that they would only have to say these lines and to “dress like Christians.”  When I asked what that meant, the teacher said, “You know, like the long black dress and cross around the neck?”  She then proceeded to tell me that the other students would be saying things like “we are Bengali”, “we are Nepali”, “we are Muslim”, etc.

That’s when it occurred to me what (I think) was happening.  Christianity is like a caste to them.  Or it is at least something that you are by birth, not by choice.  You are born into a family that is of both a caste (think people group) and a religion, and that is who you are and forever will be.  It is there assumption that both Maddie and Mahaney are Christians now because their parents are Christian!

But really, how much different is this culture from my own?  How many kids grow up with Christian parents who take them to church every week.  They “do good” because they are supposed to, sing because they are supposed to, pray a prayer because they are supposed to.  Then they reach a certain age, are released to college, and realize they never had any faith to begin with.  So while there are some deeper differences in the thought process of this teacher about the “religion” of our girls and how some in America think (or used to think), it’s not really all that far off.

377580269_74deeb11c4_oNeedless to say, we are not dressing the girls as nuns…even though here they dress more like Mother Teresa than say, Beth in this picture.  We are, though, enjoying the opportunity to talk to the girls about what is going on; and we have enjoyed explaining to the teachers more about the fact we are not Catholic, but followers of Jesus.

Who is your Mario Kart character?

Seems like, these days, that questions like this are all over Facebook.  Which state are you?  Which country are you?  Which food are you? etc….

So why not join the crowd and ask “Who is your Mario Kart character?”

Well, I have always thought that when it comes to productivity, I am Donkey Kong.  You remember Mario Kart, right?  I’m not talking about the modern, fancy version.  I’m talking about Super Mario Kart for Super Nintendo, the original.  Each group of characters had a different strength and weakness.  Some had quick acceleration, but not super fast (Princess/Yoshi).  Others were average all around (Mario/Luigi).  And then there was Donkey Kong.  You knew that if you picked him, you would never be the first one of the blocks.  However, if you could catch a straightaway, there was no one that could catch you.

Ah, the memories of Super Mario Kart…..joy, anger, throwing controllers, victory, defeat, accusing other person of cheating by watching your side of the split screen…..

Anyway, back to my point.  Here’s how this applies.  Which character is your work style?  I am definitely Donkey Kong.  If I have a project or work that needs to be completed, it takes me forever to get started.  There’s always something online to look at or an article to read or another small task to complete.  I guess we would call this procrastination?  However, once I can finally get down to business, everything seems to roll quite smoothly.  The project is almost always completed on-time; sometimes it just takes a while to get off the blocks.  Worked this way in high school with homework.  Worked this way in college and seminary with papers.  And it is working it self out these days with reading, writing, and email.  Some things just don’t change.

So, who is your Mario Kart character?

 

Image credit: http://www.mariowiki.com