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Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

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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As many of you know, Emmanuel Fellowship has been praying for God to send us someone who will pastor our youth with energy and vision. We are so thankful He has answered this prayer!

It is my great joy to (re)welcome Loran and Tiffany Rule, the first youth pastors at Emmanuel Fellowship, back to Sweetwater as our pastors of youth, grades 6-12!

The Rules served here as youth pastors during the church’s early stages, under the leadership of Pastor Yancy Smith. They love Jesus and love youth, and we are looking forward to the life and creativity they will bring to EFC!

Loran also works as a flight paramedic, and Tiffany is a full-time stay at home mom to their two young sons, Jayden and Evan.  Tiffany is the daughter of Randy and Rhonda Wilks, founding members of EFC.

The addition of the Rules to the ministry team of EFC positions our congregation to provide vibrant ministry to families from the Nursery to Kid’s Church through the senior year of high school.  We desire to walk along side parents through every stage of family development to help establish a solid spiritual foundation in the lives of their children.

I invite you to connect with Pastor Loran on Facebook, and discover his vision for Youth Ministry in Sweetwater.

Podcast

Did you miss yesterday’s message?  Do you need to hear it one more time?  You can find Pastor Eric’s message, “SEND” on the church web site.  Click HERE to listen.

Links

Did you enjoy Max Lucado’s story of the candles in the closet.  Click the link to share it with your friends.

Click to discover more about the passion for missions of the Moravian church.

On the Radar

Membership Dessert is tonight!  Come let us feed you yummy treats as we share with you the vision of our church body.  Click to discover more about connecting with the ministry of our church in Sweetwater, Texas.

Our Lifegroups will be convening at the church for a NIGHT OF WORSHIP this Wednesday, February 3, at 7 pm.  Make sure you don’t miss this refreshing night of being in His presence.

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.

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 you children’s Bible lesson home to the kitchen table. 

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. “I Asked You for Life” Kim Walker version
  2. “I Have Found a Love” Kim Walker version
  3. “Here I Am to Worship” by Tim Hughes
  4. “How Marvelous” Chris Tomlin version

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, February 7, 2010, we will begin a new sermon series “Here is Love.”  This series will explore the connection of faith and love in the covenant relationship of the family.

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“If I had known I was going to live here so long, I would have planted better trees.”

It was just an off handed comment from a friend in the middle of a conversation, but it stuck in my head, or possibly my heart, and made a lasting impression. 

Planting a tree requires vision.  Planting an expensive tree requires vision and faith.  When you plant a tree, you make an investment into the future.  You plant in hopes of the shade it will provide, the fruit it will bear, or, if you have great vision, the tire swing your grandchildren will swing from some day.

The key to planting a tree is the start it gets in the early years.  You condition the soil to give the roots room to take hold.  You keep it watered and fertilized.  And, those of you here in West Texas know full well, you hold that newly planted tree in place with guide wires.  Those guide wires protect the young tree from the wind and provide a steady and consistent pressure that trains the tree in the direction it should grow.

In the book of Proverbs, King Solomon uses the analogy of a young tree as a picture of how to raise our children.  Every praying parent is familiar with those wise words.

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”  –Proverbs 22:6

This little proverb has given parents much hope over the years, but it has also been a source of frustration for those dealing with a child in rebellion, as many a mom and dad have questioned the future of their child.

Much like the planting of a tree, the raising of a child requires vision, faith, hard work, and strong guide wires.  But, understanding the truth of those guide wires is the key to the promise of the Proverb.

In which direction are we to train the child?  “In the way he should go.”

The responsibility of a parent is not to attempt to pour their child into a mold of what they want their child to become.  We have been called by God to discover the gifts and desires He has placed in our children and create an atmosphere that will allow them to grow in that direction.  We are to provide the kind of nurturing environment that will empower our children to follow their hearts in the grace of God.

I believe this promise and principle applies to the training we do in every area of our life.  At home, when wives are training their husbands, remember the direction of their hearts in the process of “domesticating” them.  At work, when we are training employees, do not let the personality of your workers get lost in the pursuit of productivity.  In the mirror, when you are giving yourself the pep talk about the person you want to become, remember to listen to your heart, to listen to your body, as you train yourself in the direction God has designed you to go.

Determine today to live your life with a vision for the future.  Plant trees that will last.  Invest in those you love in a way that doesn’t just provide convenience for the moment, but in a way that will bear fruit in the days and years to come.

Podcast

Did you miss yesterday’s message?  Do you need to hear it one more time?  You can find yesterday’s message from Pastor Eric von Atzigen on the church web site.  Click to listen.

Links

We are so excited to announce the return of Loran and Tiffany Rule, back to Sweetwater and to EFC!  Visit the website to learn more about this awesome couple who will be ministering to our youth in Sweetwater.

On the Radar

Make plans to join in the after church Fellowship Meal this Sunday, January 31.  It’ll be a great day of fun and family time.  More info (and even recipes!) at www.efcsweetwater.com. Click the FELLOWSHIP MEAL icon.

Looking to find a church in Sweetwater, Texas?  We invite you to discover the joy and friendship of a Lifegroup this week.

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.

A Membership Dessert is just around the corner for those of you who are new to EFC, or are interested in joining.  Come let us feed you yummy treats as we share with you the vision of this Spirit-filled church in Sweetwater!

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 you children’s Bible lesson home to the kitchen table. 

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. “Beautiful One” by Tim Hughes
  2. “I Adore You” Chris Quilala version
  3. “A Little Longer” by Jenn Johnson
  4. “Your Love Never Fails” Chris Quilala version

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, January 31, 2010, is the last Sunday in January, a time we set aside for the annual State of the Church Address.  We look forward to sharing a report from 2009 and looking ahead to 2010 as a congregation.  We will conclude our Vision 2010 series with a look at the mission of the church to “Send.”  Make plans to stay for the fellowship meal after church and get to know our new Youth Pastors, Loran and Tiffany Rule.

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spaghetti

Discipleship never tasted so good!

The kitchen table has always been a place of joy for my family.

Sitting together around the table, we seize the opportunity to discuss our day.  We solve problems together and role play solutions to the great dilemmas of life, such as what do you do when a boy in class keeps calling you an old lady.  (Our solution was to acknowledge him by name and ask how he was doing today — we figured he just needed a little attention.)

No other venue offers such an excellent opportunity to learn how to make a bid for a conversation, how to hold everyone’s attention when telling a story, or the ever important how to control the volume level of an excited dialogue.

Life happens at the kitchen table.  Valuable lessons are learned somewhere between the passing of the peas, sharing the last cookie, and not forgetting to clear your place.

Of all the benefits of the kitchen table, I believe its greatest potential is the opportunity it affords for spiritual discipleship.  We discuss the practical application of our faith at the kitchen table.

As far back as I can remember, we have played versions of Bible Trivia while eating dinner together, continually inviting our children to know and understand the Word of God.  Recently we stumbled upon a simple, yet amazingly powerful version of Bible Trivia that has upped the level of discipleship at the von Atzigen table.

“Where in the Bible does it talk about…?”  This is the simple question that is asked, and then my jaw drops as we go around the table and I listen to my children recite Old Testament Bible stories and relay the teachings of Jesus or the letters of Paul.

This simple question allows them to analyze what they have learned in their years of Vacation Bible Schools and Kids’ Church and then apply those lessons to the question at hand.

Right now our questions are simple.  “Where in the Bible does it talk about swords, scrolls, water, or honey?” have been some of the questions we have tackled.

But, a day will come when the question applies to a more serious topic.

  • Where in the Bible does it talk about broken hearts?
  • Where in the Bible does it talk about forgiveness?
  • Where in the Bible does it talk about God’s healing?
  • Where in the Bible does it talk about wasting your gifts?
  • Where in the Bible does it talk about what you are going through today?

If they can answer the question with lambs, princesses, and crowns today, then maybe they can answer the question of life tomorrow.

The book of Deuteronomy gives us some practical instructions for discipling our children.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates… (Deuteronomy 11:18-20 NIV)

And at the kitchen table, talk about them at the kitchen table!

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Jake 2Growing up the son of a motorcycle rider, I was very familiar with the platitude, “If God made anything better than a Harley, He kept it for Himself.”

Harley owners love their bikes.  As I shared in a previous message, my dad didn’t carry a rag in his back pocket to keep his hands clean; he used it to polish his chrome.

Bikers also seem to have a sober understanding of another familiar saying, “You can’t take it with you.”

Their curiously optimistic spin on the disappointing “can’t take it with you” news is: You don’t have to take it — obviously something better is waiting!

But, the point of today’s writing is not “Will my Harley be in Heaven?”  I am trying to get to the most common question children and adults have about the afterlife, the teary eyed question asked at the funeral of many a cat, dog, fish, hamster, parakeet, or whatever other animal a person has affectionately loved, “Will my pet be in Heaven?”

My Biblical response to every parent out there needing some reassuring words for their children is, “I don’t know.”

Rats.  Is that all you’ve got to offer, pastor?

Let me elaborate on my display of uncertainty by adding. “But, I hope so.”

All through the pages of Scripture we see animals coexisting with mankind and providing a wonderful opportunity for companionship.

In Eden, we see Adam surrounded by the marvelous animal kingdom.

And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so.  God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.  Genesis 1:24-25 (NIV)

In the ark, Noah was instructed to preserve animal life for the new earth he and his family would pioneer.

Then God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives.  Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it.”  Genesis 8:15-17 (NIV)

And the prophets give us glimpses of creatures existing now in Heaven beyond anything we have ever experienced.

I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, but each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze.  Under their wings on their four sides they had the hands of a man. All four of them had faces and wings, and their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved.  Ezekiel 1:4-9 (NIV)

So, we know with certainty that animals (or creatures) will be part of Heaven, though I’m not sure about playing fetch with one of those living creatures.  But, the question that burns in our heart is, “Will my animal, my beloved pet, be in Heaven.”

For me, it’s, “Will I see Jake in Heaven?”  Jake was a buddy who left my life as abruptly as he entered it.  He was an 80 lb Rottweiler that got hit by a car in front of our home.  We let him into the back yard to recover, and he just stuck around for a while.  We got the ticks and fleas off of him.  Fed him well and got some meat back on his bones.  And we all fell in love.  I even prayed for that boy’s healing as I would place my hands on his back hips and speak restoration from the combined pain of dysplasia and the car accident.

But, just as Jake was acclimating into our home and becoming part of the family, he snapped at my daughter during a family movie one night.  He was gone the next day and is now happily paired with a man who loves big dogs and has no children.

How does your heart get so attached to a simple animal?  I loved Jake.  As the country song says, “He was a good dog.”  Will I see him again in Heaven?  Will his hips be free of pain?  Will we snuggle in a heavenly field?

I don’t know.  But, I hope so.

In Revelation 21, we get a glorious glimpse of Heaven.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  Revelation 21:1-5 (NIV)

“All things new.”  That sounds promising.

In the book, Heaven, author Randy Alcorn pioneers modern thought regarding the promise of eternity.  Concerning my reunion with Jake he writes, “If we believe God is their Creator, that He loves us and them, that He intends to restore His creatures from the bondage they experienced because of our sin, then we have biblical grounds for not only wanting but expecting that we may be with them again on the New Earth.”

Even the beloved evangelist, Billy Graham, has weighed in on this wonderful question.  He says, “Heaven is the place of final and complete happiness God has prepared for us—and if animals are necessary to make us happy in heaven, then you can be sure God will have them there.”

What about a Harley, Reverend Graham?  That would make me happy.  😉

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