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“The Hands of God” by Lathan Watts

serving-handsLathan shared the following thoughts prior to our partaking in the observance of the Lord’s Supper.  He was gracious to take the time to share them with me so, in turn, they might be a source of encouragement to others.

Technology today has made mass production of most goods possible. This usually means lower prices and wider availability but it also means we have fewer hand -made items and less appreciation of true craftsmanship. Chances are if you purchase anything hand crafted today you’ll be paying a higher price for it because true craftsmanship is rare and because the time and work that went into making it is highly valued. There is probably a tag or a stamp on it somewhere with the words “hand crafted” or “made by hand” to remind you why it comes at such a price.

The writer of Psalms said of God, “The whole Earth is full of Your glory and the Heavens declare Your handiwork.” The Psalmist also said, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” You and I are the craftsmanship of God. We were hand crafted by God Himself. In Genesis we read of God creating the universe, “And God said ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.” God said it and it was. He spoke our world into existence, but with Adam Genesis tells us, “God formed him from the dust of the Earth and breathed into him the breathe of life.” He formed him. Adam was hand crafted by God. Eve was made by hand from Adam’s rib.

We know our Lord’s earthly father was a carpenter. Joseph worked with his hands and Jesus as any boy of that era would have been was an apprentice to his father, learning the craft. The Bible doesn’t specify what Joseph built – homes, furniture, or other necessities. It is possible some family in Nazareth or a nearby village could have lived in a home built Joseph and his son or sat a table hand made by Joseph and Jesus.

Among the miracles Jesus performed was the healing of a leper by placing His hand on him. Jesus could have just as easily spoken the words of healing but He placed His hand on the man. Being a leper meant being an outcast and there is no telling how long it had been since that man had felt the loving touch of another person. That leper probably went to his grave having told anyone who would listen about the time he was healed by the hand of God.

The night of the Last Supper, Jesus gave His apostles an object lesson in servant hood. The son of God got on His hand and knees and washed their feet by hand. As He transformed the Passover meal into the memorial we celebrate each Sunday as the Lord’s Supper, He broke the bread with His hands and gave it to the twelve. All of these instances were leading to the greatest work ever done by the hand of God.

Jesus Christ, God in the flesh stretched out His arms, opened His hands, and let a man whom He had knit together, drive a nail through those hands. He did it for you and me. Our salvation was hand crafted by Jesus Christ. May we all remember this each time take communion and live our lives each day in a way that reflects the wonder and miraculous work done at Calvary by the hands of God.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Six Foundations For A Strong Family

6.28 blog_imageIn the book “Fantastic Families, 6 Proven Steps to Building a Strong Family,” Dr. Nick and Nancy Stinnett describe the reasoning behind the foundation of their book. While embarking on a road trip across Oklahoma and west Texas, they began discussing some of the prevailing issues of the time: divorce rates were soaring, more women were entering the work force, and family violence was increasing. They discussed the consensus held in many circles that the family was dead, or at least dying.

As soon as they returned to Stillwater, Nick began a search for families that were doing well. He decided to pursue the characteristics of successful families. What were those families doing well that makes them strong and happy and keeps them functioning correctly?

After 25 years of extensive research, Nick and his fellow researcher and author, Dr. John DeFrain, concluded there were six primary traits within all of the 14,000 strong families they interviewed. They began sharing their results with the world, and stated that if families would harness these traits, it would bless them.

I applaud the time and efforts of these doctors; however, the Holy Spirit had the Apostle Paul to share these six truths with the church in Rome in A.D. 56-58.

Before I share with you these six traits, I want to establish one key truth. My family is not perfect. Your family is not perfect. Although there are those individuals who try to give an illusion of a perfect family, their family is not perfect either.

Now for the six traits…

Strong Commitment to the Family

Romans 12:10 states, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” I want you to see this concept of commitment to the family, which Paul puts on a pedestal. Look at this through the lens of your family. Successful families have a high level of commitment to each other.

How do we flesh out what this really means? Consider what the Hebrew writer pens in 11:7, “By faith Noah…constructed the ark for the saving of his household.” Noah worked on the ark for 100 years in order to save his family. Now that is commitment!

What would you do to save your family? The level of commitment we have to something is equated to the extreme means to which we will go to rescue that being. Noah built an ark. He rearranged his financial assets, went against the stream of the culture, in addition to other life priorities. Why? Because Noah had one mission – to save his family. How far are you willing to go to save your family?

Spend Time Together

These families spent time together. Time equals worth. Paul writes in Romans 12:15-16, “Rejoice WITH those who rejoice, weep WITH those who weep. Live in harmony WITH one another. Do not be haughty, but associate WITH the lowly (emphasis mine).” You have to be with each other to carry out these truths.

Sadly, we see families being pulled in different directions and unable to spend both quality and quantity time together. Too many kids are given money and possessions because the parents don’t want to invest the time. Other families spend time in the same room but do not communicate as a family. Don’t believe me? Take note the next time you go to a restaurant and notice the number of electronic devices being used by each member of the family while “enjoying” their meal together.

Parents need to understand they are the greatest source of influence in their child’s life. You are not an out-of-touch dinosaur. They enjoy being with you they are not being constantly preached to, picked on, or put down. Stay in harmony with your children and remain connected. When you do, you will begin to develop shared memories as you share common experiences together.

Good Family Communication

Communication patterns are better in those solid families than those who are not. Paul wrote in Romans 12:14, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Our words are powerful. They have the ability to bless, uplift, and edify. The book of Proverbs is filled with the impact of our words. They have the power for life or death.

I bet you can think of someone who recently said something to you and it hurt and broke you. Those harmful words entered your ears and pierced you straight through the heart. I recall as a teenager my dad arriving to one of my basketball games. It was rare for him to be able to attend due to his overwhelming work schedule. Instead of receiving praise, he offered criticism. No matter what anyone else said to me about that game, there was only one that I cared about… I longed for affirmation from my dad.

When was the last time you put your arm around your children and told them that you loved them and were proud of them? YOUR words have a profound ability to bless your family more than you will ever know.

Expressed Appreciation to Each Other

Paul continues in Romans 13:7, “Show respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” The gift of honor keeps on giving.

If you spend much time with me you will quickly notice two things: (1) I hold doors open for people, (2) I get upset when someone walks through a door I am holding open for them and they not show appreciation by saying, “Thank you!” I normally get myself in trouble by saying, “You are welcome!” as they walk away.

Look for opportunities for show appreciate for the members of your family. Share a simple note of gratitude for all the contributions each member brings to your family.

Problem Solving Skills in Crises

Crises are going to happen (business, financial, health, death, etc.). Every family will go through it. We must have a rock solid foundation with the Lord and our families to be able to ensure those storms. Paul writes in Romans 12:12, “be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Our trust in God’s sovereignty allows us to navigate the curveballs of life.

I know some of reading this is going through a difficult time. Your emotions are frayed. God gave you your family for such a time as these. Lean upon them and allow them to aid you and support you.

Strong Faith in God

They discovered deeply faithful families are strong. These families have a deep faith and trust in God. These were not just religious people, but those who have a deep confidence in God. In Romans 12:1-2, Paul writes about presenting our bodies as living sacrifices, and not being conformed to this world, but being transformed. Relationships done by His book it is the only way to do life in Him!

I want to plead with you to work to develop a family faith. Develop a faith in God so strong that it is passed on to your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Implement the necessary steps to build a family legacy of faith. If you don’t know how, don’t be afraid to ask. It is never too late to start living and impressing faith on your family.

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Stooping to a Higher Level

lightstock_128867_medium_user_6984625-blogFor the past few months, our Sunday morning Bible classes have been examining what it means to be a servant. We live in a day and age that promotes self-love, self-awareness, and self-promotion. Due to these reasons and others, our education ministry felt this topic to be of value for deeper study.

I can remember being a youngster and hearing my grandfather, dad, and uncles all circled around talking about boxing. My grandfather taught all five of his sons to box because “a man needs to know how to defend himself.” It was in this circle that I was introduced to one of the best self-promoters of all time – Muhammad Ali. You can recall his phrase he made famous, “I am the greatest! I float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, and you will get killed by Muhammad Ali!” Today, numerous “stars” in the media go to extremes in order to get free publicity in their quest to promote self.

I find it interesting that Jesus Christ is the most famous individual to ever walk this earth, and he was anything but a self-promoter. In fact, the only time Jesus describes himself is found in Matthew 11:28-29, and he describes Himself as HUMBLE and GENTLE. Jesus demonstrated His humility and gentleness clearly in John 13.

As John 13 opens, Jesus is a day away from His betrayal and crucifixion. Jesus knows that He came from God and is about to return to God. Therefore, He wants to display the full extent of His love to His disciples. So Jesus does something so simple yet extreme, that the disciples must have wondered if He had lost His mind. As the disciples were eating supper, Jesus stands up from the table, takes off His outer garment (like rolling up our sleeves), walks over and picks up a towel and a basin of water. He wraps the towel around His waist, pours the water into a basin and began (one by one) to wash each disciples feet.

Why would their Rabbi and Lord (vs. 13) do such a thing? Because Jesus knew that these men needed to fully understand one key truth – the path for true greatness is not by self-assertion but by humble service. The account continues with Peter feeling anxious and proclaiming, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus rebukes Peter by stating, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Then Peter has a sudden change of heart and basically says, “Give me a bath!”

As Jesus finished washing each of their feet, He put on his outer garments and resumed His place at the table. The text doesn’t say, but I imagine there was total silence with several heads bowed low. Jesus now gets ready to discuss with them the lesson to be learned. He asks them, “Do you understand what I just did?” “Do you know what just happened?” “Can you grasp the life lesson I want each of you to understand?”

I wish to share three observations for our lives today.

THE GREATEST ACT OF LOVE IS SERVICE

Jesus is showing the full extent of His love. The towel became the symbol. But don’t miss the point that this encounter might seem to be about the dirty feet, but it is really about the heart. It is from the heart that one elects to get down on their knees and begin serving. Jesus wants all of His disciples to have a heart filled with love as we go about serving others. Has your heart become purified and softened to His will that you only want to serve?

What heart are we to display while we serve? It’s not about duty, it is about delight. Far too often we gripe and complain about the opportunities, which lie before each and every one of us. When the spirit of God gets hold of you, all you want to do is serve! Our goal in life should not be about trying to climb the corporate ladder to get bigger offices, more perks, and more people to serve us. Our goal in life should be to develop a heart of humility and gentleness to bless the lives of others.

AIM HIGHER BY STOOPING LOWER

Some view true success as having others serve you. Jesus states that true success is learning what it is to be low. When you do so, you will be exalted in the eyes of God.

In Mark 9, there is a big discussion occurring with the disciples. In verse 33, we learn that they are going to Capernaum. Jesus asks the disciples what they were previously arguing about. They remained quiet because they had a fight over who was the greatest. They were fighting for position, and I can envision them saying such things as, “I followed Jesus first!” “He chose me to go minister with him on such and such occasion.” “I know the Scriptures better.” Jesus seems to just shake his head at their lack on selflessness and understanding.

In verse 35, Jesus sat down and began to speak. “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last.” Then Jesus takes a child and shifts their focus to His ministry and says if you want to be great, that you must have a heart like this child. If you welcome one of these little ones, then you welcome me, and if you do not welcome one of these little ones, you do not welcome me. Then he challenges them to care about the children and those who are defenseless.

Jesus teaches that upside down is really right-side up. He is reversing the success pyramid to the way it ought to be. Jesus asks His followers to be a humble servant.

DO WHAT I DO

“Now that you KNOW these things, you will be blessed if you DO them.” It is always one thing to KNOW the truth, it is another to OBEY that truth. Jesus says, now I want you to put these teachings into practice.

In Acts 3, we read where Peter and John show that they finally put these two together – knowing and doing as they healed the lame beggar located at the temple.

Think about Peter’s feet. Where did they go after Jesus washed them? They walked up to a man named Malchus and cut off his ear in an effort to defend Christ. Then they took him to a young girl who asked, “Do you know this man Jesus?” Those feet led him to a place where he denied Jesus. The feet that Jesus washed ran to violence and to denial.

Jesus says, “Serve!” You may be ridiculed and mocked. People may distance themselves from you. Always remember, “Whatever you have done to the least of these you have done also unto me.”

Now, go make a difference…

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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How to Pray for Your Children and Grandchildren

blogI pray more now than I ever have before. The reason is simple, I have taught my children to pray, and they constantly remind me to stop and pray. We pray together at each meal, we pray together before we depart for school and work, we pray together following our evening Bible study before going to sleep.

As parents, I am convicted there is no greater task or challenge than to teach our children to love God, His Word, and His church. Therefore, we do our very best to teach and to impress faith upon the next generation of believers. Part of our strategy is to pray for our family and especially our children (or grandchildren). Every child is a powerhouse of potential for God. We never know who we are tucking in each night – a future surgeon, teacher, preacher, missionary, mom, dad, parent of your grandchildren, or even president. The golden key to unlock the potential of each child is daily prayer. You see, I believe in prayer because I believe in God.

In Ephesians 6:10-18, we, as children of God, are called into battle. As parents, we face the daily battle of protecting our children physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Parents (and grandparents) must be prayer warriors, for prayer changes lives.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God…” The Greek word translated supplication in both Ephesians 6:18 and Philippians 4:6 is transliterated deesis by Strong’s Concordance and means “a petition or a special request of God.” So the question I want us to consider is, “How can we effectively pray for our children and grandchildren?” Notice with me some key principles from Matthew 6:9-13.

Adoration (Our Father…) – We should praise God for the children given to us. They are a heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). We need to begin seeing ourselves as spiritual priests interceding for our children. We should strive to pray that they, like us, live lives which will glorify Him. We must spend time giving thanks for the church family we are blessed with, which also blesses our children in numerous ways.

Submission (Thy kingdom…) – This one is key…we should pray that they fall in love with Jesus and that He will rule their hearts and lives. The goal of parenting is to conform to His image. At the church camp I attended as a young man, their motto was Luke 2:52, “And Jesus increased in wisdom (mentally) and in stature (physically) and in favor with God (spiritually) and man (socially).” What a great model for us as parents today. To solicit God’s will be done for our children.

Supplication (Daily bread…) – This is where we pray for the needs of our children. Each and every child is different and therefore has different needs. As we pray, we need to be as specific as possible. I believe there are too many generic and general prayers being presented before God. God wants us to be specific and to remember that if we ask, we will receive. When we are specific, both you and your children begin to see Him working in their lives, thus building faith.

Confession (Confess…) – This portion of prayer is not to confess the children’s sin (per se), but to lead them to develop repentant hearts. Jesus stated, “Let the little children come unto me” (Mark 10:14). Our children will stumble and fall, and as they do, they need to recognize their need to repent. As they trespass against others, they need to seek forgiveness, just as others grant forgiveness when trespassed against.

Protection (Lead us not…) – Children are already facing terrible temptation. Many are the same temptations we faced as children, but often at a much earlier age. The lion is loose (1 Peter 5:8) and looking to destroy our children. In prayer, we do our best to build a shield of protection around them. Our children might be in danger, even when we are unaware. May the Lord protect our children!

Celebration (Glory…Amen) – When we pray at home, it sets the temperature of the home. Prayer expands our heart and attitude because we are trusting in God. Too many kids live in negative homes and filled with terrible attitudes. This is part of the reason that too many kids are leaving the faith – they live in a home that is negative. They experience too much criticism of the Lord’s church and of other Christians. There is not enough praising and rejoicing experienced and witnessed in their lives.

We find some additional truths for which to pray for our children in Ephesians 6:18.

Confidently (Pray in the Spirit) – God’s Word is a powerful thing! We acknowledge the need for God to work within our lives. The means by which He works on us is through His Word. We in turn complete the cycle when we pray back to God. It has been said, “When parents pray in Jesus Christ, that God moves!”

Continually (on all occasion) – This idea does not mean moment by moment by that we develop an attitude of prayer. That our view of life and godliness is God- conscious, for God does business with those who mean business. It is interesting to me how in tune mothers are with their babies and their needs. As I grew older, I always thought I could get away with anything, but never did because my mother was always in tune with me and what I was doing. Our Heavenly Father knows us better than we know ourselves, and hears the faintest cry or need of all His children.

Consistently (with all perseverance) – Start something that will live long after you. Our children will live and pass along what we taught them to do and model. I can clearly recall my grandparents praying at the dinner table each evening. When I pray, my grandparents prayers are still being answered today! What a great family tradition and memory to pass along to future generations.

May God forever be glorified and be praised!

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

A Time of Thanksgiving

It is by far one of my favorite times of the year.  I absolutely LOVE Thanksgiving!  Think about it, most of us will be gathered with our close friends and family members as we eat from a huge buffet of turkey, dressing, gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce while watching America’s team, the Dallas Cowboys play the Philadelphia Eagles.  Anytime we get to enjoy the 4 F’s (family, friends, food, and football) it is always great day!

History of Thanksgivinglightstock_96168_small_user_6984625

However; have you ever considered the origin of America’s annual Thanksgiving Day?  The Pilgrims left Plymouth, England, on September 6, 1620. Their destination? The New World. Although filled with uncertainty and peril, it offered both civil and religious liberty. For over two months, the 102 passengers braved the harsh elements of a vast storm-tossed sea. Finally, with firm purpose and a reliance on Divine Providence, the cry of “Land!” was heard.

Arriving in Massachusetts in late November, the Pilgrims sought a suitable landing place. On December 11, just before disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they signed the “Mayflower Compact”—America’s first document of civil government and the first to introduce self-government.

After a prayer service, the Pilgrims began building hasty shelters. However, unprepared for the starvation and sickness of a harsh New England winter, nearly half died before spring. Yet, persevering in prayer, and assisted by helpful Indians, they reaped a bountiful harvest the following summer.

The grateful Pilgrims then declared a three-day feast, starting on December 13, 1621, to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends. While this was not the first Thanksgiving in America (thanksgiving services were held in Virginia as early as 1607), it was America’s first Thanksgiving Festival.

Thanksgiving was started as a way to express gratitude and to serve as a reminder of the blessings bestowed upon us.  On an even grander scale, how often do you take the time to truly consider all the ways the Lord has blessed each of His children?

Scripture conveys the following:

  • He’s the ultimate promise keeper (Genesis 9:12-17)
  • He takes care of our needs (Deuteronomy 8:10)
  • His wonderful acts (1 Chronicles 16:8-9)
  • His righteousness (Psalm 7:17)
  • He’s just plain good (Psalm 107:1)
  • For the gift of Jesus (Luke 2:10-11)
  • For the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)
  • For the gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9)
  • For victory over death (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)
  • For Christian friends (Colossians 1:3)

Making It Personal

  1. Write about each passage in a journal or notebook. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
    1. How does this passage help you appreciate God more? When has this passage’s promise meant a lot in your life?
    2. What are three questions you have about the passage? Write down your answers, then ask a Christian friend or your youth leader how they would answer. Write down their answers.
    3. Write a poem, a song or a prayer that expresses your feelings about the passage.
    4. Write out your own devotion based on the passage.

We are to be a thankful people.  Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  The psalmist penned in Psalm 107:1, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”  James added, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (1:17).  We have so much for which to be thankful but far too often many of us do not take the time to meditate on all the ways we have been so richly blessed.

If you spend much time on social media you have probably noticed several of your friends partaking in the challenge to post something daily for which they are grateful.  It is so encouraging to be able to read of the personal reflections made by so many about their faith, family, and daily observations.  Although November is coming to an end, it is not too late to begin spending time counting all the numerous ways your life is so deeply and richly blessed.

As we approach this Thanksgiving; some things we all should remember…

  • If we have food in the refrigerator, clothes on our back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, we are richer than 75% of this world.
  • If we have money in the bank, in our wallet, and spare change in a dish somewhere … we are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.
  • If we woke up this morning with more health than illness … we are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week
  • If we have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation… we are ahead of 500 million people in the world.
  • If we can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death … we are more blessed than three billion people in the world.
  • If our parents are still alive and still married … we are very rare, even in the United States.
  • If we hold up our head with a smile on our face and are truly thankful … we are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.
  • If we can hold someone’s hand, hug them or even touch them on the shoulder … we are blessed because we can offer healing touch.

Let us count our blessings … and, Happy Thanksgiving!

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Taking Time To Be Alone With God

alarm_clock-11209To say that I was not a morning person is an understatement.  For the first several years of my marriage, my wife knew to wait 30 minutes before speaking to me.   Once I entered into the realm of parenthood, it is amazing how I normally wake up at 7:30am each day, ready to conquer the day.

I don’t know if Jesus was a morning person but I do know that He got up early so he could be alone to spent time with God.  Luke states, “But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:16).  The Greek word, ὑποχωρῶν (hypochōrōn) is used and implies He would often slip away to pray.  Matthew writes, “Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray” (Matthew 14:22-23).

Why would Jesus take time for private devotion?  If you read Mark 1:35-39, you see where Jesus used this time to refocus and reset his priorities.  The night before, Jesus spent the evening helping people by healing them and casting out demons.  The apostles approached Jesus and said, “Everyone is looking for you”.  Jesus replies, “Let’s go and preach – That is why I came.”  Jesus used time of private devotion to reset and refocus His priorities.

All of us are busy and live a hurried life.  What happens is we find ourselves not having the time to spend in private devotion with God.  No time to read, reflect, and meditate.  We are all there regardless of the phase of life in which we find ourselves.

The Bible states that we are to:

·      Matthew 5:6 – hunger and thirst after righteousness.

·      1 Peter 2:1-3 – Crave pure spiritual milk

·      Psalm 119:97-100 – how I love thy law; I meditate day and night.

·      1 Timothy 4:6-8 – nurture yourself on the law and sound doctrine. 

·      Luke 18:1 – men ought to pray.  Ought=obligation. 

·      Luke 11:1 – would you teach us to pray?

·      1 Thess. 5:17 – Pray without ceasing.

 Jesus used this time as a time of devotion.  You may not be a morning person.  The point is Jesus made time!

I challenge each of you (and myself) to create time this week for private devotion.  Spend time reflecting on God’s Word and allow it to change you into a better person.  There is some 15 minute daily devotionals FREE for you to use by clicking on the upper right hand tab of this blog.  Have a blessed day and continue to glorify Him!

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Recap from Winter Park Congregational Family Retreat

Winter Park Attendees

Originally I wrote this recap for our church bulletin.  Thought I would post it for others to enjoy. – Kevin

As I prepare to share with you the following article, I can hear the Mission Impossible theme song playing in my head. After all, how does one adequately express with words how great of a retreat 85 of us were able to experience recently in Winter Park, CO?

Our theme for the week was “Journey to the Summit.”The objective was to look at different spiritual encounters, which occurred throughout time with God and His people. Many thanks to Michael Miller, Jeff Jenkins, and Dalton Deffenbaugh for delivering great messages on their assigned mornings.

The reason I wanted to see this retreat come to fruition was simple. I longed to see an opportunity where our church family could get away from our part of the world and gather together to focus on our faith, our church family, and our immediate families. In the time I have been able to be at Lewisville, I have often found a need to strengthen the relationships I have with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I was prayerful that a week together in one of the most beautiful places on earth would benefit each of us greatly.

You may be wondering, “What did ya’ll do?” Each morning at 8am, we would assemble together for 30-45 minutes to sing, pray, hear a lesson, and discuss the day. Each family was given a Family Bible Study guide to use at their leisure throughout the day until we reassembled at 8pm to sing, pray, and share our studied conclusions from our family study. It was great to have an opportunity for our members of all ages to share their insights from God’s Word. You would have been deeply impressed with the quality of answers shared from our young campers (ages 10 and under). And yes… we learned that Batman is a great peacemaker by my 5 year old!

The remainder of the time was “free time” with a few scheduled events planned. For example, on Tuesday a large group of us rode a train from Georgetown to Silver Plume. A few of our number explored an old silver mine. On Wednesday, a third of our group went rafting while a large group traveled to Grand Lake to hike, fish, shop, and see several different species of animals. On Thursday, most of our group enjoyed the Winter Park Resort Base Park, where we rode the ski lift to the top of the mountain, enjoyed the Alpine Slide, along with several other family-friendly opportunities. Other activities included driving through the Rocky Mountain National Forest, going horseback riding, shopping, and visiting some of the surrounding towns and communities.

As I reflect upon our week together, I must say that I lost count of the number of people who stated that they wished this retreat could last longer and/or how badly they wanted those of you who were unable to attend to be there with us. I was even challenged to “bottle up” this experience to share with our family back home and to remind all of us daily of our experiences together.

Here are a few of my observations I came away with from our time together, and long to better apply to my daily walk with our Father.

See the Omnipotence of God

Psalm 90:2 states, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Isaiah added, “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth (40:28).” It was great being able to see God’s creation in ways we don’t see everyday. We witnessed some of the most beautiful terrain designed by our Heavenly Creator. Although we are not able to see mountaintops, moose, and elk everyday, we can still see the work of the invisible through the visible things He has created for us to enjoy. We each should take the time to see the beauty in everything He spoke into existence.

Study His Word Daily

Twice daily we were able to assemble for devotionals, with all ages being able to meet together in a small setting to study the Word together. It was so refreshing for my family to have three generations sitting down to read and meditate upon His statutes. I know each of our lives are busy, but may we each make the reading of His Word a priority in our own lives. For those with children at home, our time with our kids is fleeting and we must make the most of the opportunities to instill the faith within the hearts of the next generation. Paul shared with Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Spend Time with Your Family

Most families are constantly on the go. We live in a very fast-paced society and as a result, many families are suffering for it. One of the greatest blessings in my life is when my stepfather entered the life of my family and instituted that each night we eat together at the dinner table. As I reflect back, I cannot express how grateful I am for that act. It allowed my family to spend quality time discussing the affairs of the day and to verbalize our experiences to each other. It was also a time of deep prayer and love. How much better would our society be if we learned to slow down and spend time together?

Seek to Know Our Church Family Better

As one family stated, “We liked being able to get away from the Metroplex rush/daily schedules/demands and go somewhere that is quite different than what we’re used to. We loved being able to spend time with your family as well as others we didn’t know as well.” As I read the “one another” passages found in Scripture, I am quickly reminded of the need to spend time with my church family so I can minister and be ministered to. My family realizes we need to create time and make it a priority to have more people within our home to foster deeper relationships together.

Here are what a few others had to say:

“We loved the beauty which surrounds us; the smell of pines which envelopes us. The power and sounds of rushing water splashing down hillsides are everywhere. We enjoy the wonders God created for us and yet as we look at Abraham and Isaac we understand that all of this is of no consequence. Nothing in or of this world should come between us and our relationship with our Father. God tested Abraham to see if he would faithfully give all. and the good news is Abraham was willing.
We face so many distractions each moment and sometimes those moments are an endless strand. God calls us to be holy, to stop, and put on hold the busyness of this world and worship him. This past Family Retreat at Winter Park gave us the opportunity to be still, focus on God’s word and God’s family. We enjoyed the opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We cooked, rode trains, hiked mountains, rafted rivers and we marvelled at God’s creation.”

“Quality time with other members, having fellowship and fun together, which draws a greater closeness to our brothers and sisters in Christ of all ages.”

“Our devotionals were done by Kevin Langford, Michael Miller, Jeff Jenkins, and Dalton Deffenbaugh that were timely for today and should be applied to our Christian lives today, with great lessons, with question and answer period, and fantastic singing.”

“Great location set on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Forest, only 1 hour and 45 minutes from Estes Park, and 30 minutes from Grand Lake Colorado ( the largest natural lake in Colorado).  Our condos in Winter Park were equipped with kitchens and all amenities needed, with beautiful scenery all around.”

“There were a variety of activities for all ages, with numerous children’s activities right in Winter Park, with shopping, restaurants, horseback riding, and wildlife all around us.  At Grand Lake there were a variety of activities including Kayaking, boating, horseback riding, shopping, restaurants, and if your were fortunate you would see Bruce the Grand Lake Moose!”

It was an incredible retreat! I look forward to next year’s retreat at the Red River Family Encampment on June 27–July 1, 2015!

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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