Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Children’

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.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »

Links

A Collection of MondayMorningReview Christmas posts:

On The Radar

Our youth will be rocking in the New Year at the Red Letter Rock Fest in Snyder, Texas, this December 31.  Check out the Salvage Yard website for more details.

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 Come All Ye Faithful” traditional version
  2. “Desert Song” by Hillsong
  3. “Let Heaven Shout Jesus” Culture version
  4. “Wonderful Maker” Jeremy Camp version 

Family Connection

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

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, December 26, Pastor Eric will present the fourth message in our “Christmas – The Divine Gift Exchange” sermon series.  The service will close with a special activity for families, so don’t miss this meaningful morning.

Read Full Post »

  1. I am thankful to be part of a team of ministers who are amazingly energetic, passionate, and creative.
  2. I am thankful to be part of an elder board that is wise, prayerful, and hands on.
  3. I am thankful for an army of EFC volunteers who love children, greet, welcome, usher, serve communion, and work hard to make every church gathering a joy and a success.
  4. I am thankful for the building renovations this year that have given us room to grow.
  5. I am thankful for those who gave their hearts to Jesus this year.
  6. I am thankful for the weddings I was able to officiate this year.
  7. I am thankful for the healing we have experienced this year.
  8. I am thankful to serve on staff with my best friend, my wife.
  9. I am thankful to be where I am, doing what I am doing, and for the people I get to do stuff with!
  10. I am thankful that 2011 will be even better than 2010.  The best is yet to come!

Links

If you need more encouragement to be thankful in the big things as well as the small things in life, check out www.aholyexperience.com.  Blogger Ann Voskamp has a ministry of exhorting her readers to gratefulness.

Wanting to make an Advent wreath to mark the season?  How about Scriptures to read and prayers to pray with your children as you light the Advent candles?  Check out one mom’s ideas at http://www.amazingmoms.com/htm/christmas_advent.htm.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

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.

 

Read Full Post »

In yesterday’s message, we explored the story of a man named Jacob in the Bible.  His life is woven together with the thread of “almost.”  Many times he found himself incredibly close to God’s plan for his life, but he would so very often pull up short before he reached the goal.

Here is a review of Seven Key “Almosts” in Jacob’s life:

  • Almost Never Happened: Jacob’s mother, Rebekah, was barren, but his daddy, Isaac, prayed for her, and she conceived twins.

Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife because she was barren. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.  (Genesis 25:21)

  • Almost The First Born Son: Even from the womb, Jacob was grasping for the blessings of God as he grasped at his brother’s heal when he was born.  Esau was still the firstborn, but Jacob connived his way into getting the firstborn son’s benefits.  He bought the birthright for a bowl of beans, and he stole the blessing with a bowl of soup.

After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob.  (Genesis 25:26)

  • Almost blessed By God: God appears to Jacob and speaks amazing promises over his life, but Jacob tries to connive God.  He tries to hijack the blessing and make a deal with God’s promises.  Jacob responds to God’s promises with a statement of, “If you will bless me, then I will follow you.”

There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will… Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will…”  (Genesis 28:13-20)

  • Almost Married The Girl Of His Dreams: In one of the most heartbreaking stories of the Bible, Jacob wakes up the morning after his wedding to discover he is married to the wrong woman.

When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”  (Genesis 29:25)

  • Almost Got Paid For Years Of Work For His Father-In-Law: Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, steals the flock of sheep he had promised to give to Jacob.

“Agreed,” said Laban. “Let it be as you have said.” That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark-colored lambs, and he placed them in the care of his sons. Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban’s flocks.  (Genesis 30:34-36)

  • Almost Leaves His Father-In-Law Behind: Jacob attempted to leave his father-in-law’s house and get a fresh start on life, but his wife, Rachel, stole her father’s idols and brought all of the spiritual junk with them.

When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household gods. Moreover, Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him he was running away. So he fled with all he had, and crossing the River, he headed for the hill country of Gilead.  (Genesis 31:19-21)

  • Almost Repents And Gets Right With God: In fear of losing his life, Jacob cries out to God for protection, but he ends up wrestling with God rather than surrendering to Him.  Jacob almost loses a leg in that wrestling match.

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.  (Genesis 32:24)

But something happens in the middle of Jacob’s almost life.  God steps in.  God doesn’t just almost step in.  God steps in.  And God fulfills His promise to Jacob, and His purpose for Jacob’s life.

I challenge you to leave your life of “almost” behind.  Allow yourself to fully surrender to God, and dare to discover what He can do through a life that is completely given over to Him.

 

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »