Using The Corn Harvest to Share the Gospel–Taste and See Sunday

indian corn

This morning I had the opportunity to share a short message in our church’s main service as part of what we like to call “Harvest of Praise Sunday.” The service is centered around our praise and thanks to God for all He has done in our church through the year. My portion of the service centered around giving God thanks for the baptisms and decisions that took place. Having the double advantage of coming from a farming area and having a harvest theme service, I tied in the “wordless” book idea to corn.

It started with, what else? Yellow corn.

yellow corn

Yellow corn represented heaven, and the home Jesus is preparing for us there. (John 14:3)

black corn

Black Corn represented the problem–sin, and how our sin, if not dealt with, can keep us from heaven. (Romans 6:23)

red corn

Red corn represented the blood of Jesus which was shed for the forgiveness of our sins. (Hebrews 9:22)

blue-corn

Blue corn stood for the waters of baptism that wash us clean. (Acts 2:38)

White Corn

White corn reminds us that when we accept God’s offer of salvation, we are washed clean and pure. (Isaiah 1:18)

green corn

Green corn represented the growth that needs to come after we have been saved.  (2 Peter 3:18)

indian corn

We finished up with a picture of mixed corns to remind us that we need to go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey all God has commanded. (Matthew 28:19-20)

It was just a short, simple message,and I’m sure that in one form or another had been heard before by many. Then tonight, at our 6th grade discipleship group as we began our New Testament study, we got hung up on a question about sin. The kids were struggling to come up with answer to what we called the “problem,” because they weren’t sure what the problem was. When I uttered the words, “Black corn,” immediately they responded, “Sin!”

We were all pretty excited to realize they remembered practically every word of the morning’s talk, (I was really excited!) What I thought was so simple had stuck in their hearts and minds.

Why do I so often forget that the message doesn’t have to be complicated or flashy or entertaining? The message, quite simply, just needs to be the message. The message combined with the power of God, is all we need for a great harvest.

Corn? Who knew?

God did.  .  . Taste and See. . .the Lord is good.

 

Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho and the Rice Krispie Treats Came Tumbling Down

rice krispie treats

I haven’t posted a Taste and See Sunday in awhile. Well, the truth is I haven’t posted much of anything lately. But as the busy season winds down for me, it’s definitely time to pick up the laptop again.

Truth is, I’m a Rice Krispie Treat lover. My friend Kathy’s husband Stan, is not. He swears they taste like cardboard, and if you just mention the words he launches into the most amusing monologue of why these gooey, chewy treats should not be part of anyone’s diet. So I let him rant, thinking all the while, “Oh well, more for me!!”

Today our preschoolers and toddlers got to share in my love for the treats while they were learning about God’s power at work in a man named Joshua. Joshua, you may know was the leader of God’s people after Moses died. He was the commander of God’s army and led them into the Promised Land. There are a few things I’ve often wondered about Joshua, mainly after the whole “Twelve men went to spy on Canaan. Ten were bad and two were good,” thing. Like, what were the next 40 years like for him? I mean, while almost everyone around him was dying off, or waiting to die off, what was doing in the waiting period? The 40 years time out was his punishment, too, and he hadn’t even done anything wrong.

I suppose he and Caleb spent their days learning from God and being prepared for the days of Promise Land taking that were to come. It seems he must have still been a little nervous when the time came to start marching, since God encouraged him at least three times in the first 9 verses of his book.

“I will be with you. Be strong and courageous.”

“Be strong and very courageous.’

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

 

And strong and courageous he was. The Israelites followed Joshua’s leadership and took Jericho by simply marching around the city as God directed.

Enter Rice Krispie Treats.

Today our preschoolers used Rice Krispie Treats turned Jericho walls as a visual reminder of their story. Teeny tiny pieces of goodness became the stones in the wall and as God’s people marched around them, they tumbled down first onto their plates and then into their bellies!!!

It was a super fun, super tasty reminder of God’s faithfulness to lead, deliver, provide and faithfully keep His promises to His people. Even better, there were some left over!!

Hmmmmm!! Taste and See–the Lord is good!

 

 

 

 

 

Five Reasons Why You Should Help Your Kids Learn The Books of the Bible–Taste and See Sunday

group final
Six of our eight Bible Book Champions!

Today was a celebrating day!

This summer HiSKidZ in our 9am service have been working to learn the books of the Old Testament and a key word for each book to help them understand what the book is about. Our first service class is a relatively small group of kids (maybe 15-20) in the 1st-6th grade. About half of them memorized the O.T. books and recited them today. Woohoo!

Next week, they will recite the books and the key words. I am so proud of those who dedicated themselves to the task. Age was not a determining factor, there were kids in every grade who accomplished their goal and they were rewarded today after church with a pizza and ice cream party.

morgan and jackson2

It would be awesome if we could get all our kids on board with this, and we are quick to note it’s not just about memorizing 39 book titles. We repeatedly remind our kids that learning the books of the Bible isn’t just so they can eat pizza and ice cream or to be able to say, “Hey! I know my books of the Bible.” There are 5 top reasons we think a child (or an adult) should know the books of the Bible.

Here they are:

1) It’s God’s Word. We need to know all we can about it. Knowing God’s Word helps us to know God.

2) Learning the books of the Bible helps those little Bible tabs we buy make more sense!

3) When we learn the books of the Bible, we can become more familiar with what’s in the Bible, which gives us confidence, rather than insecurity, when we need to use our Bibles.

4) When you know the books of the Bible, you can begin to find things in the Bible. When you can find things in the Bible, you can grow and you can help others to grow.

5) Learning the books of the Bible helps you understand God’s purposes for His people. (For example: Almost 1/2 the Old Testament are books of the prophets which reveals to us how much time God spent warning us of the consequences of our behavior. This, in turn, reveals to us how much He loves us.)

Learning how to use the Bible–whether in paper or as an app on a phone or a tablet–is a skill we, as believers, need to acquire if we are going to be able to utilize the gift we have been given in having God’s Word at our fingertips.

Youtube has a zillion great songs, rhymes and raps that can help you help your family gain knowledge, skill, and confidence in beginning to handle God’s Word. One of my favorites right now is The Bible Book Bop by the GoFish Guys.

Taste and See!

aubrey2

Transformed–Taste and See Sunday

angel food cherry 2

I love cake!!! I made an angel food cake recently. Not just your ordinary angel food cake–a transformed angel food cake. Nothing fancy, but different nonetheless. I used to make it years ago, and had sort of forgotten about it. Then thanks to Rebekah the intern, and our “Cooking with Ms Dawn” lessons, it was back in my life once again.

Let’s cut to the chase-lol-I know you want to know how to make it. Here the thing. It’s super simple. Simply take a box angel food cake and a can of cherry pie filling–nothing else. Mix them together (it gets all pinky and foamy like), throw them in a 9×13 pan, bake for about 30 minutes and tah-dah! Cake!

A normal angel food cake transformed! I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it is. What started out as something really simple was transformed into something that is now simply better!

Now my little angel food cake keeps coming back to my mind. You see the topic of transformation has been coming up a lot lately in my life, and it makes me really thankful. Thankful to be reminded of Christ’s power to transform us. Thankful for the truth of Romans 12:2 which says,

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

When I allow God’s word to renew my mind, I am transformed. I am renewed and transformed as I allow truth to take the place of lies. Honesty to take the place of deception. Humility to take the place of pride. I am transformed when I choose to take the risk to trust God, take Him at His word and let Him take me and transform me into someone I could have never imagined.

Evan as God transforms me, I’m still a pretty simple girl. But with the power of Christ at work renewing my mind, I am simply better–more joyful, more patient, kinder. . .

Taste and See. . .the Lord is good!

And Sow It Goes–Taste and See Sunday

sower_1
Popcorn. It’s a pretty incredible food. I mean this little hard kernel becomes a big fluffy snack. It’s totally incredible how big it gets, and so fast, too. So are some of the thoughts and thinkings of one of the elementary classes at church anyway.

Today we used popcorn to help us understand a parable. Parables, we shared are “earthly stories with heavenly meanings.” Our parable today was about the sower from Matthew 13. The popcorn was a great addition to the lesson. After all, few things liven up a class of elementary students like a microwave full of corn popping!!

Thanks to the folks at 252basics, we took their original premise of comparing popcorn to the things that happened to the seed planted in different types of soil. We helped kids make the connection to their own lives, ultimately recognizing that we need to take care that the “soil” of our hearts is ready for the word of God when it gets planted in us.

We want to grow like popcorn. We want to “pop” with the passion of God. Just like popcorn pops because of the water inside of it, we, too, are filled with the living water of Jesus. It’s this living water which changes us into something completely different than when we were at first.

sower1

As the kids spent time drawing out the different parts of the parable, we, of course, snacked on a bit of popcorn taking note of the fact that as we are changed and begin to grow, we need two share what we’ve been given just like we shared our popcorn.

And sow it goes. . . .We sow God’s truth into the lives of the children He brings our way, praying for good soil in their hearts and He grows them into believers who in turn sow the truth into someone else’s life.

There is work to be done, and seed to be sown. So c’mon, let’s get poppin!

popcorn

Taste and See. . . .The Lord is good!

Hey Cupcake–Taste and See Sunday

cupcake4a

Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m becoming a cupcake addict.

And like all addictive behaviors, I can’t explain how it’s happening. Seriously, I want to try them all (well, not the mocha ones). I Google “cupcake stores” when I travel, and for some crazy reason I am willing to pay $3 or more for one little cupcake, when I would never dream of shelling out that kind of money for a whole box of Hostess cupcakes (back in the day when you could still buy them). Last week, I spent two days reminding the fam that “we had to go to the cupcake store” before we left Spokane. Cupcakes were on my mind ALL THE TIME!

I’ve been posting pictures of them. Telling my friends about them. Sharing them with others. I’ve found a good thing, and I’m not afraid to tell someone!

So, pardon the pun, I’ve been chewing on this whole cupcake thing for awhile, and what I’m thinking right now is this: I will pay the price and I will seek out the store because it’s worth it to me. I love the way these little guys look. I love the way they taste. (Maple bacon, need I say more?) I love how the frosting is somehow creamy and fluffy all at once. I love the sugar. I love that they are portion controlled. I love how each one is unique, even when they are the same.

cupcake3a
My maple bacon cupcake from Love @ First Bite in Spokane Valley, WA. (Well, what’s left of it anyway!) If you are ever in the Valley be sure to check them out!

Yet. . .
They are basically worthless. They feed my flesh, not my spirit, and even then, not in any particularly healthy sort of way. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think it’s wrong to occasionally indulge in a tasty treat, and as much as I am currently infatuated with cupcakes, I know something worth way more of my time, attention and money.

And that something is someone–Jesus. The Kingdom of Heaven, like a pearl of great price is worth everything I have. He’s worthy to be on my mind, in my heart and to be shared with those around me. Do I care if someone laughs at me because I’m cupcake crazy? No! Do I mind spending a few extra bucks for something special? No? Do I mind spending those few extra bucks on someone else so they can know the joy of the cupcake? Of course not. Am I willing to go out of my way to . . . ?

You get the picture. It’s incredible what we will do for something that means nothing, but how little we will do for something that means everything.

Hey Cupcake! It’s time we seek out the One who is sweetest; start spending our time with Him; and share Him with a friend whenever we can. Taste and See that the Lord is good.

cupcake
Love at First Bite Cupcakes

cupcake2a
Cupcakes from Small Cakes in Joplin, MO

www.Hypersmash.com

Root Beer and Kettle Korn–Taste and See Sunday

root beer2

It’s a Sunday. It’s re-enactment weekend. It’s not raining. These three things in and of themselves can make me pretty happy, but to have all three together in one . . . marvelous!

In the town where we live we are fortunate to host a yearly Civil War Re-enactment. People who live here know without a doubt it will rain that weekend so we are careful what we plan. But a little rain doesn’t stop us from getting out and getting together at Rand Park to watch the re-enactors, catch up with old friends and get some great food to eat.

Two of our family’s absolute favorites are kettle korn and Dr J Fogworth’s root beer. It’s quite a big deal. I don’t have a big kettle korn story today, but I do have a few thoughts on root beer.

You see, we purchase our beverage in an old fashioned looking glass bottle, and then save it from year to year so you can bring it back and buy your refills at a discounted price.

And each April weekend, people come out of nowhere carrying their empty bottles in to be filled. Yup! I was there today filling not one, not two, but three bottles. I’ll be hauling them down to Joplin, MO, in a few days so that son #2 can enjoy what may be his last opportunity for some Dr J’s before he moves out west. (Sorry son #1, I can’t send Dr J’s to Russia!)

So here’s the thing:
Today I couldn’t help but think how our lives are a bit like those root beer bottles, meant to be emptied and refilled year after year (or day after day). I love how God fills us up just to pour us out into someone else’s life. We are to be in the business of pouring out, while He is in the business of filling up.

When we do that, really do that–pour our lives into others in big and small ways, it’s a cool and refreshing thing. It makes us thankful, it makes those around us thankful, and it, I believe, honors God and makes Him smile.

Today while I was out filling my bottles, next to me in line was a boy who needed $6 to buy a new bottle. He only had five. I was spending $9, and only had a ten. Exactly, pouring out. Although my offering to the boy was small, it was huge to him. I’m still smiling as I think of how he and his buddies couldn’t believe this “lady” was doing this for him. A dollar is a pretty small thing to some people, but it was a really big thing to him. He told me thank you at least three times (I’d love to meet his mama–good job mom!) and even later as I was leaving the park, I saw him again with his bottle of root beer and another, “Hey! Thanks again, thanks!”

Pouring out made me thankful. Pouring out made him thankful and pouring out honored God, and I believe we were all smiling today.

Taste and See–the Lord is Good!

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,” Matthew 25:35

kettle korn2 Maybe next year I’ll have a good kettle korn story!

Fish Tales–Taste and See Sunday

fish dish

Martha Stewart says she has these 16 seafood dishes your kids will love to eat. Hmmm. Really? Check out the link and let me know if these fishy foods look like things your picky eaters will be happy to sink their hooks into. http://www.marthastewart.com/339169/kid-friendly-fish-and-shellfish-recipes/@center/344318/fish-and-shellfish-recipes

No offense, Martha, maybe you’re right. I’m not much of a fish lover myself. But whether it’s one of these recipes or you just trust the Gorton’s fisherman, you might take some time this week to put your WWJD on and follow His example of serving your family followers. When you do, take the opportunity to share this famous fish tale featuring Jesus, Peter and the boys.

John 21 tells of another time Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection. Peter was hanging out with the guys when he declared, “I’m going fishing.” And they replied, “We’ll go with you.” So they all went out and got in the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

There is a lot of speculation that could be made about these short couple of verses. Like, were they just going out because they didn’t really have anything to do? Were they restless since Jesus had risen and they weren’t with Him 24-7? Were they falling back into the old patterns they were comfortable with? I don’t know, and the Bible doesn’t tell me.

But I do know that early the next morning Jesus was standing out on the shore. They couldn’t tell it was Him. And He called out to them asking about their catch. Finding out they were coming up empty netted, He told them to let their nets down on the other side. Strangely, perhaps without thinking, they did what they were told and when they did their net was filled with more fish than they could haul.

Immediately, my man Peter declares, “It’s the Lord!” and jumps out of the boat– How can you not love a guy with that kind of passion and excitement??–The others follow in the boat, towing the net of fish–153 in all–I’d remember, too, if I’d caught my fish that way!

When they got to shore, they found the fixins for the first filet-o-fish sandwich prepared by Jesus Himself.

They have breakfast together and immediately afterwards Jesus spends some time talking with Peter about his love and his calling. Beyond fishing for men, Peter is now challenged to feed the sheep, and take the challenge He does, by preaching that first Pentecost sermon, baptizing the crowd and leading churches as the power of God exploded throughout their world.

As you take time to share a meal with your kids, take time to challenge them as to their calling. Talk about what God has called all of us to do: Go into the world, make disciples, baptizing and teaching; feeding His sheep, loving His people, speaking the truth with love and boldness.

I love the last verses of the book of John and I try to share them often.

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them was written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” John 21:25

I love that no matter how much we learn about God or how much we share about Him, we haven’t even touched the tip of the (fishing) pole of when it comes to things God has done.

I love even more that as we begin to live out the truth of who He is, and as we continue to live out our calling to fish for men, we will have fish tales of our own to tell.

Donut This Look Fun–Taste and See Sunday

taste and see tomb

Last week our church hosted a week of revival meetings. Some people think of it as a bit old fashioned to still have them. I’m not so sure. We could call it a conference or a seminar week, but the fact remains that no matter how you promote it, or what you call it we had the privilege of meeting together on 4 consecutive nights for some teaching, encouragement, presentation of the gospel and edification of the body of Christ–and we did this from ages 0-99. (Well, I’m not sure if anyone there was 99, but they could have been!) And it was great!!!

As a team, we did a lot of tasting and seeing that the Lord was good through evening and lunch meals together, a ladies’ luncheon and a men’s prayer breakfast, but it’s what we did in our preschool classes that has me excited today!

During the week, while our adults studied Philippians, and our elementary students centered in on lessons on prayer, our preschoolers were taught the Easter story. Each night they heard a different part of Jesus’ story in the order of its actual occurrence, and each night we had a super fun snack to connect to their teaching.

Jesus rode in on a donkey on Sunday night, and so we had sugar cookies baked by one of our awesome volunteers Diana. They were in the shape of donkeys!!! The kids loved them and had fun walking them across the table like Jesus riding into town (before chomping their heads off, of course!)

On Monday night, we learned about the last supper with biscuits (that we could break and share with each other) and grape juice (white, of course, to be careful of the carpets!)

Jef Puffed marshmallow eggs
Then on Tuesday night we shared those big Kraft marshmallow eggs that look an awful lot like giant (or tiny, depending on your perspective) tombstones as we talked about how the stone was rolled in front of Jesus’s tomb.

And we finished up on Wednesday night with the empty tomb snack you see above, prepared Gwen, another one of our awesome volunteers! She found the idea on, what else, Pinterest, but it was the perfect finish to our Easter lessons. As the kids put their snack together, they could retell the story of how Jesus did not stay in the tomb, but that He came out and He is alive!!!

I can’t help but love how we can use the goodness of all things God has created to remind us to “Taste and See” how good He is, and to help both kids and adults alike recognize and rejoice in the joy of Jesus!!

The Lettuce People–Taste and See Sunday

lettuce heads2

How do you know God likes salad? Because He put so much “let us” in the Bible!

Since posting the picture of my lettuce head creations on Facebook recently, I’ve had several people ask me just what in the world I was doing with those little lettuce people. I don’t know! Seriously, where I came up with this one, I’m not sure. I just know that I wanted something to help a group of young college women I was sharing with this weekend remember the “let us’s” of Hebrews 10. So those five beautiful lettuce heads were just a silly and simple reminder of the five powerful instructions given to us in this call to persevere.

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.
Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but
Let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:19-25

Beyond these important words, we talked about understanding our hope, our calling and our identity. Things I think I’m going to save for later blogs because they are a dish in their own rights, and these words are so powerful in the context of which they are written.

Verses 16-17 remind us of why need need to live out the let us’s.

“This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds, “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.”

When we realize, recognize and remember what has been done for us, it should be unfathomable that we could want to live any other way than for Him. However, when we choose not to live out the “Let us’s,” opting for something seemingly tastier, but not nearly as good for us, we quickly fail to realize, recognize and remember those precious things.

When we loosen our grip and stop holding on unswervingly to our hope, when we choose to simply spur one another rather then spurring one another on, when we give up meeting together, and we fail to encourage, we are in danger. God knew it, and He loves us enough to warn and remind us what we need to do to guard what has been given to us.

The next few verses remind us of something completely different–what happens when we choose not to live as “let us” people. Something I’d rather not taste and see, but are definately worthy of a “Mama Mia.” (That will be Monday’s post!)

So break out the lettuce heads, and “let us” begin living out the words God has served up for us.

Taste and See–The Lord, He is Good Indeed!