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Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

ANOTHER CHRISTMAS BIRTH STORY

At Christmas time, we’re used to reading the story of a birth. Just maybe not this birth.

“When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.” But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said,“So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez.Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out. And he was named Zerah.– Genesis 38:27-30

What a bizarre story found in this tucked away corner of the Scripture. One son waves hello, gets a scarlet thread tied around his wrist, and then disappears. The other son… (continue reading at www.treasuretheordinary.blogspot.com)

 

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In honor of all of our Daddies, I have compiled a list of the top 12 Bible verses for Father’s Day.  If you are a Dad, or if you ever had a dad, I pray these verses will be a source of encouragement for you this week!

  1. Genesis 18:19 – “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”(NIV)
  2. Exodus 20:12 – “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”(NIV)
  3. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 – “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”(NIV)
  4. Joshua 24:15 – “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”(NIV)
  5. Psalm 103:13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; (NIV)
  6. Psalms 127:3-5 – “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.”(NIV)
  7. Proverbs 3:11-12 My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke,because the LORD disciplines those he loves,as a father the son he delights in.(NIV)
  8. Proverbs 14:26 – “Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.”(NIV)
  9. Proverbs 23:24 The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him. (NIV)
  10. Malachi 4:6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse. (NIV)
  11. Ephesians 6:1-2 – “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise”(NIV)
  12. Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (NIV)

May your Father’s Day and every day be filled with delight and honor in your family!

Links

Looking for Bible verses about God as our Father?  Click here for the Top 10 Bible Verses About Our Heavenly Father.

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What do you remember about Christmas?  No doubt, there are certain gifts or events that stick out as highlights, but the ingrained memories are found in the rhythms Christmas brings to our homes.

In our fast-paced, ever changing, highly disposable culture, we are finding fewer opportunities to establish family traditions.  Christmas, however, stands as an anchor, rich in heritage and overflowing with possibilities for every home to establish their unique pattern of memories.

Christmas traditions allow us to maintain a proper perspective on the meaning of this precious season, even in the madness of our holiday shopping and schedules.  Christmas traditions allow us to slow down and take a reflective pause, before we clutter our floors with ripped-up wrapping paper and empty boxes.  Christmas traditions allow you to give your children more than a gift each year, but a memory–a memory they, in turn, can pass on to their children.  Christmas traditions give your home a heritage.

It will be up to your family to determine which traditions you establish in your home, but I recommend you not neglect two basic essentials.  I encourage you to ensure that your Christmas traditions are designed to honor the gifts that are given at Christmas time.  First, honor the gift of Jesus every Christmas morning.  Before a single present is unwrapped, allow time for the Bible to be opened.  Read and remember the nativity story each Christmas morning.  Second, honor the gifts given to one another every Christmas.  Encourage your children to slow down, only allow one gift at a time to be opened, make sure appreciation is expressed to the giver of each gift, and do not allow anyone’s generosity to be lost in the mountains of wrapping paper accumulating in your living room.

The Christmas traditions of the von Atzigen house include:

  • We always wake up in our own home on Christmas morning.  We will travel all throughout the holidays, but Christmas morning is uninterrupted and undistracted.  It is our family moment.
  • Not a creature stirs before 7:00 a.m.  This builds anticipation and allows mom and dad to recover from their late night of “some assembly required.”  Too many Christmas mornings get lost in early unwrappings and the ensuing crabby sleepiness.  And the thundering of the herd as they break into our room at 7:00 has become a beautiful Christmas morning sound, as well!
  • The Christmas story comes before the gifts.  We circle up as a family to read the Christmas story (Luke 2:1-20).  We follow the Christmas story by receiving Communion together.  We use a slice of bread and sparkling apple cider for our Christmas Communion elements, and we always drink from the finest stemware we have in the house.  We follow Communion with a chocolate mint as we remember Psalm 34:8 and “taste and see that the Lord is good!”
  • Finally, we make our way to the stockings and the gifts.  Mommy directs traffic as gifts are opened.  We make certain the giver of each gift is recognized and gifts are opened one at a time, as we pause with each present to celebrate the groovy things each person has received.

There are many more traditions you can establish, many more ways of making Christmas morning a worshipful experience.  I pray that your home will find a way to give more than great gifts this year — but, to establish great memories for a lifetime.

What about your family?  I would love to hear some of the special traditions you have established in your home to make the most of the beauty of Christmas.

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Fasting can be a mysterious concept, and you may be reading this today with several questions about what fasting is, what it does, and how to go about it.  Richard Foster says in his book, The Celebration of Discipline, “The central idea of fasting is the voluntary denial of an otherwise normal function for the sake of intense spiritual activity.”  He also goes on to describe just how many heroes of the faith fasted in the pages of Scripture:

“Abraham’s servant when he was seeking a bride for Isaac, Moses on Mt. Sinai, Hannah when she was praying for a child, David on several occasions, Elijah after his victory over Jezebel, Ezra when he was mourning over Israel’s faithlessness, Nehemiah when he was preparing the trip back to Israel, Esther when God’s people were threatened with extermination, Daniel on numerous occasions, the people of Nineveh – including the cattle (involuntarily no doubt), Jesus when he began his public ministry, Paul at the point of his conversion, the Christians at Antioch when they sent off Paul and Barnabas on their mission endeavor, Paul and others when they appointed all of the elders, and on and on it goes.”

That intense spiritual activity that Foster is referring to is most typically prayer and intercession and usually includes extended periods of time spent listening for the voice of God.  The voluntary denial of normal functions can include a variety of activities.  I’ve outlined a few for you:

  • Food:  Whether it’s a partial fast (not eating certain kinds of foods or at certain regularly scheduled times) or a complete fast (abstaining from all foods altogether), this is the most common form of fasting.  A common method for a first time fast would be to go without food from sundown to sundown the next day.  [Note:  Make sure your body is healthy enough to do this.  If you are not sure, talk to your doctor beforehand.]
  • Media:  Another version of fasting that can be highly effective at helping to direct our attention to the Lord is to give up all forms of media.  This would include television, computers, social networking, smart phones, etc.
  • Social Activities:  Many people find that withdrawing for a set amount of time from interaction with people is a wonderful way to focus on their relationship with the Lord.  These are often labeled as “spiritual retreats” and are just simply a time to remove yourself from normal conversation with those around you and get alone with God.  This often works best if you travel to a location away from home and stay in a place where you can have solitude and quiet.

The most important part of fasting is to make sure you keep God in the center of it.  It should have nothing to do with making you look spiritual and everything to do with sharpening your ears to hear God’s voice and heightening your commitment to obey what He tells you.

May God’s grace cover you, as you seek Him this week.

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All the backpacks are lined up by the front door. The first day of school clothes are waiting on their hangers. The crayons are pointed and unbroken.

My birds are asleep in the nest, ready to fly away tomorrow. And it’s this hour that a Mama kneels and prays… (Discover more about how you can pray for your children as they head back to school on Mindy’s blog, “Treasure the Ordinary.”)

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Have you ever dreamed about opening the mailbox and finding a check written to you for a large sum as an inheritance from some distant, never-met relative?  How about a British estate left to you by a long-lost great-uncle?

Those dreams may seem far-fetched, and probably are as far as your hopes of a mailbox treasure go.  But, you would be completely within reason to expect an inheritance of a different nature.

“A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous” (Proverbs 13:22).

While most people rightly tie this verse to the handling of personal finances, it should also be applied to spiritual inheritance.  Have you ever stopped to consider what was passed down to you from previous generations in the way of Godly heritages and foundations?  What did the people who came before you pray for, sow into, and work towards that you are now reaping the benefits of in your own life?  Perhaps more importantly, what are you praying for, sowing into, and working towards in order to leave a Godly inheritance for your grandchildren?

Our Bible heroes weren’t perfect, but quite a few of them did a good job of modeling what this could look like for us.  Abraham is known as “Father Abraham” because he sowed faith into future generations by believing God, and seeing that credited to him as righteousness (Galatians 3:6).  Esau sowed forgiveness of his brother into the heart of his nephew Joseph, and Joseph harvested those seeds with his own brothers a couple of decades later (Genesis 33 and 45).  King David was told by God that he could not build the temple, but he didn’t let that stop him from storing up everything needed for his son, Solomon, to do so (I Chronicles 22-29).

It’s usually pretty easy to find things that are wrong with our families; after all, they’re made up of imperfect people.  And it’s true that if generational baggage has been handed to you, you’d better go to the Lord and see those bags unpacked.  But, it’s also just as important to recognize the beautiful and the holy that God has been building in your family and learn to cooperate with Him to see that carried on to completion.  Your actions today could mean that those who follow after you get a spiritual “check in the mail.”

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Yep!  It really is “National Marriage Week!”  Bet you didn’t even know that one existed!  But, the week of February 7-14 is set aside in our nation to invest in the fundamental building block of healthy families—good marriages.

Although there’s plenty of research that shows marriage does indeed help people become healthy, wealthy, and wise (see http://www.nationalmarriageweekusa.org/Marriage-Provides-Better-Health.htm for the statistics), by far the best case to be made for marriage is that it was God’s idea.  His ideas are quite unlike mine.  While I might have a good idea every so often (my wife says usually 1 out of 3), ALL of His ideas are good.  Every single one.  He never misses.  And if marriage was dreamed up in the heart of God, you can rest assured that it not only CAN work, but can work BEAUTIFULLY.

This week, I encourage you to check out the following resources to invest in your own marriage.  If you’re not married yourself, then pray for the marriages of the people in your life and consider sharing the info with them.  We need healthy marriages in our church family and in our city.  Let’s do what it takes to see them built!

Marriage Links

Podcast

“What Snuck In Through the Garden Door,” Pastor Eric’s message from February 2nd, will be available online soon!

On the Radar

Emmanuel Fellowship is now in TWO SERVICES. Our Sunday morning worship times are 9:00 and 11:00.  A pre-school nursery only is available during the 9:00 service, and full children’s ministry is offered in the 11:00 service.

Night of Worship – After being postponed last week due to weather, we’re starting Family Foundations month off with a bang this Wednesday, February 9th, with an object lesson, fun activities, and of course, food!  Parents, make sure you’re ready to party with your kids this week and come join us.

Sermon Series – Each Sunday, during the month of February, we will be looking at different aspects of healthy Family Foundations.  From marriage to parenting to grandparenting, there’s something for everyone.

Valentine’s Couple Dessert – We’re going to have an evening to remember at the church this Sunday, February 13th, at 7 pm.  Join us as we learn how to “Keep the Sweet in Sweethearts.”  Tickets are $5 per couple and are on sale now in the church foyer!  Childcare will be provided.

Youth Led Service – Our youth are going to get in on the action by blessing us with leading every aspect of our Sunday morning services on Sunday, February 20th.  You won’t want to miss this special time.

Kingdom Principles for Raising Children Seminar – All parents are invited to attend our parenting seminar, Sunday, February 27 at 6 pm and Monday, February 28 at 7 pm. Session 1 will cover how to discipline effectively and speak your child’s love language.  Session 2 will cover how to impart Godly principles into your child’s life.

Family Connection

Check out these resources to connect with our ministry to children and youth.

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “Blessed Be The Name” by Matt Redmand
  2. “Mighty to Save” by Chris Tomlin and Matt Redmand
  3. “Fire Fall Down” by Hillsong

(This song is our theme song for the month as we pray for God to come and fix the broken places in our families.  Take a listen to it.)

Sunday Preview

Join us next Sunday as we continue our Family Foundations Series!

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Does God still heal?

Can I pray for the sick?

Why do some people not get healed?

Where does sickness come from?

 These are the questions we are looking at during the current sermon series at EFC, Healing: The Children’s Bread.

Once you have an encounter with the amazing power of God and experience healing first-hand, you usually don’t have a problem answering the first question.  However, many people stumble on the second one.  Is praying for the sick only appropriate for a few, select people?  Maybe just the pastors?  Possibly just the really special people who haven’t taken an aspirin in ten years?

I’d like to encourage you today, my friend, with the truth that Jesus not only invited YOU to pray for the sick, He fully expected you to do it!  The Great Commission is an invitation for us to do what He himself had already done—heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons, and raise the dead.

Whew!  Sounds kinda intimidating, doesn’t it?  How about this—follow Jesus, do what He asks you to do, when He asks you to do it, learn from your mistakes, and try again.  Can you handle that?

If you need some help getting started, here’s a few pointers:

  1. Find someone sick to pray for (shouldn’t be too hard!)
  2. Find out what the problem is.
  3. Put your hand on them and pray for their healing.  Pray outloud.
  4. Stop and ask them if they feel God doing anything in their bodies.
  5. If they feel something, thank God for what He’s doing and ask for more.  If they don’t, pray again.
  6. If you’ve prayed for awhile and do not sense anything happening, pause and ask God if there are any other directions you need to follow.  Obey what He says.
  7. Repeat until breakthrough comes.

 

 

 

 

 

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The von Atzigen house is full of some pretty interesting and often times hilarious conversations.  I vividly remember a mother/daughter chat in our home which left me both saddened and encouraged.

  • Brenna: “Mommy, guess what?”
  • Mindy: [Obligatorily] “What?”
  • Brenna: “A girl at school told me I couldn’t be a princess anymore.”
  • Mindy: Stunned silence.
  • Brenna: “But, that’s not true.  I am a princess.  I’m glorious.”
  • Mindy: [Sigh of relief] “Yes, Baby, you are a glorious princess.”

As the story was later related to me, I began to ponder, is that possible?  Can you really take someone’s princess status away?  And, though we dodged the tiara blasting bullet this time, the sad reality is that it is very possible for someone to take your princess title away.  In fact, it happens all the time.

On playgrounds and report cards, in the locker room and at parties, the identity of our children is always being challenged.  Psychologist Carl Jung put it this way, “The world will ask you who you are, and if you do not know, the world will tell you.”

Parents, one of our greatest responsibilities is to teach our children who God says they are before they believe the lies that others have to offer.  At age five it means we fight to hold on to their inner princess, but the stakes only get higher as they mature.

Are you taking an active role in positively identifying your children?  Have you planted the truth so deep in their hearts that the lies of others can’t root it out?  This is the power of the kitchen table and tuck-in time at night, this is the value of long walks and projects together.

I once heard Dr. Dobson share that the primary source of a young woman’s self-esteem is what she thinks her daddy thinks of her.  If this is true, then I have determined not to leave my daughter guessing — by God’s grace, may she have no doubt how much her daddy loves and respects her.

By God’s grace, may your children never doubt as well.

 

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The Bible is full of interesting lists and descriptions, but have you ever wondered about the “begots” and “son ofs” in the Bible?  What message do those lists of names tell us?

I believe those simple lists carry a powerful truth about the people begotten in them, and they communicate an amazing reality to a young person reading about their genealogy.

Those lists tell us that people have fathers; that my name means something; that my life is part of a much bigger story.  Those lists tell a person where they come from and the truth that they are going somewhere.  In a very real and powerful way, the begots in the Bible tell us what we are a part of and who we are.

I am intrigued by the genealogy of Noah.  He lived in a day unlike what any of us have experienced.  It was a brief time in history when people had not only their fathers, but their great, great, great, great, great grandfathers to love and instruct them.  In fact, as we look at the list of the first men to walk the earth, we discover Adam lived to see all of the pre-flood generation born, except for Noah.  I can only imagine what the conversations were like between Adam and Enoch or Methusaleh, as Adam described what it was like to walk in the Garden with God their Father.

And then, around the year 1656 of mans presence on earth, for the first time since Adam, we see a man living disconnected from his forefathers.  Noah is a man who knew what it was like to be fatherless.  And in that same year, a flood covered the earth.

I believe we are living in one of the most fatherless times in the history of our nation.  This fatherless season has brought a flood of insecurity and lack of true purpose upon our culture. 

It is time to build an ark, a safe place where people can discover they have a history and a heritage.  It is time for people to know again they have a place in the lineage of the saints.  Each of us has been handed a legacy, and it is up to each of us to pass that legacy to a future generation.

Podcast

You can find Pastor Eric’s message, “Bridging the Generations,” on the Emmanuel Fellowship Church web site.  Click to listen

Links

Laugh Your Way attenders, find your Flag Page here!  Don’t forget to schedule a visit with Pastors Eric and Mindy to review what’s right about you!

On the Radar

“Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage” BONUS NIGHT TONIGHT!!!  Monday, March 1, at 7:00 pm, we will watch the concluding video of the Laugh Your Way series.  This is the “yo mamma” session– one you don’t want to miss.

Don’t forget to vote in the primary election Tuesday!

Revelation Bible study this Tuesday from 12:00 – 1:00 pm in my office.  Everyone is welcome to join in, just bring your Bible and a lunch box.  Keep up with the progress at The Watchman’s Gaze.

Night of Worship and Art Fusion this Wednesday evening at 7:00 pm. 

Drum Circle this Thursday evening, 6:30 pm, in the church sanctuary.

Kingdom Principles for Raising Children this Sunday evening, March 7 at 6:00pm and Monday, March 8, at 7:00 pm.  Childcare is provided for both evenings.

Our Nursery is taking applications for a consistent Sunday morning Nursery Worker.  If you or anyone you know are interested in filling this position, please contact the church office at 325-236-9200.

Family Connection

Parents, be sure to check out the Worldchangers website.  We align our Bible curriculum from the nursery all the way up to our youth.  Access the Family Connection page on the website to bring your children’s Bible lesson home to the kitchen table. 

We also have all the info you need about RAMP, our ministry to youth in Sweetwater High School and Middle School and surrounding campuses, as well.

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “O Taste and See” by Brian and Jenn Johnson
  2. “By Faith”
  3. “’Tis  So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” – great new hymn album available at www.leahmari.com!
  4. “Here is Love” Brian and Jenn Johnson version

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, March 7, 2010, we will conclude our sermon series “Here is Love,” by taking a close look at the unconditional love of Godly parents.

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