Archives For April 2011

Image courtesy of Nicolas Hennette

By Lisa Cherry

We had a three hour time window before our flight home, and we were determined to see some of the Big Apple. We walked down the subway stairs and my heart was racing. I knew that none of us knew what we were doing.

Kalyn, Adam, Nathan and I were there for the greater New York City Acquire the Fire event, and it had been a great success.  With 11,000 guests, this was a super-sized effort to ransom a young generation.   After two days of effective ministry, we had just a few hours to get to Manhattan and figure out what we could see.

Someone had suggested that an all day subway pass would be our best bet to zip around town and see some of the hot spots.  Perhaps that someone had succeeded in New York before; I am not sure.  But at the subway terminal we tried, the all day pass was nowhere to be found on the poster of choices.  

In the eyes of the native New Yorkers we must have appeared to be the goofiest of tourists as we tried to trace the complex route on the wall map with our fingers.  After we lost our first $10 in the ticket machine, a kind gentleman noticed our ineptness and offered his advice. We needed the R route to get to the Statue of Liberty, he said.  So with scan-able tickets in hand we hopped on the R route and headed for Manhattan.   

We were giddy with excitement as the train railed through the first two stops.  Then the subway operator made an announcement that troubled us:  “Last stop for upper Manhattan coming up.  This is an express route to Brooklyn skipping all lower Manhattan destinations.”

Skipping?  Oh no! We quickly jumped off the train. 

We were newbies and we knew that we needed more help.  Too bad we didn’t think to ask for it before we left the turnstile area.  Frustrated, we found no live person to help us. 

So Kalyn decided to try the passenger assistance button.  She pressed the button and spoke into the little hole in the wall at the station.  

“Hello, we would like to get to the Statue of Liberty and we’re a little lost here.  Can you help us?” 

I was shaken when a voice answered us from the hole.  “Buy a ticket and get back on the R route” was the response.  So what else could we do? We went back for a second try.

By this time, Kalyn had assumed command, determined that she had cracked the code.  Our fearless leader confidently pointed out the stops on the wall map with a triumphant smile on her face—until the subway announced the next stop. 

With a startled look on her face, she sprang to her feet and her finger went back to work on the map. “Quick!” she shouted, “Everyone out!”  We jumped off the train just before the doors closed. 

Our tour guide wasn’t sure what had gone wrong, but we had somehow gotten on the route to Brooklyn again.   We stood on the platform for a moment, exasperated.  Maybe we weren’t cut out for the subway, we decided.  Not feeling the confidence to try another train, we headed for the steps. 

At that point Adam called our attention to the giant rat sitting on the side of the tracks.  One glance at that thing and we were up those stairs in a New York minute.

Our heads broke up to street level and we found that we were lost in Chinatown.  Don’t ask me how. We felt like we were in one of those crazy Escape from New York movies!

With only Chinese writing on the signs around us, we were not left with many options.  So we set out walking. Care to know how many blocks it is from Chinatown to the Statue of Liberty Park?  29. And as city blocks there are 1/20 of a mile, our trek was exactly 1.45 miles. 

But we were determined and would not be denied.  We would finish strong in the Big Apple and see Lady Liberty even if we were walking in boots and loafers.

From the pictures you can see we made it.  But I will say we retired our subway tickets and hailed a taxi for our trip back.  This proved to be our best and most sensible move of the day!  Our taxi was cheaper than our $30 subway ride!
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Image courtesy of John Boyer

By Beth Groh

Catch me  first thing in the morning—or late in the evening—and you’ll learn my secret. I need glasses, the nearly “Coke bottle” kind, too!

I hide the fact pretty well, spending 95% of my waking time in contacts.  But, thanks to my inherited nearsightedness and now late-40s farsightedness, I wouldn’t survive long without major correction to my vision.

As Christians, we often need that “correction” to our vision, too.

We’re called by Christ to have a “biblical worldview”—to use His Word as the lens through which we observe and react to events around us.  That biblical worldview is ultimately shaped and formed by the Holy Spirit as His inspired Word speaks to us through Scripture.  Left in our own hands, our worldview “glasses” would be as useless as the plastic Groucho Marx ones we might see at Halloween!

That doesn’t mean, though, we don’t bear responsibility to keep our biblical worldview glasses as clean and sharply focused as possible.

Staying in God’s Word DAILY and keeping active in His Body through regular church worship are two great ways to start in keeping that biblical worldview vision sharp.

But here’s another important step—one often overlooked in today’s “modern” church movement: Knowing and memorizing the foundational creeds of the Early Church, such as the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed.

Why, you might ask, do we need to know these sayings written by men nearly two thousand years ago?  Learning the history and purpose of those creeds will help to answer that question.

Each creed emerged in times of spiritual—and physical—warfare against the early Church.  False teachings were being promoted, which undercut the very authority and accuracy of Scripture.  That’s why certain church leaders fought vehemently to assert common, foundational supports based on Scripture that could be recited, memorized and handed off to successive generations as a means of preserving sound doctrine and teaching.

Relevant today?  You bet.

Just think of the first few words of the Apostle’s Creed: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth…”

Does society accept the idea of God as the “Maker” of heaven and earth? Or that they result from the Big Bang and natural processes over millions of years?

The confusion over biblical truth doesn’t just hover over the issue of creation either. You can quickly find conflicting messages within churches that profess to be Christian over the truth of the Bible, doubts about Christ being the only path to Salvation and a reverence for the earth and things of man over the sovereignty of God.  Many in church circles express doubt of the very existence of truth (called “post-modernism”).

Is that a danger?  Absolutely—to you, your family and the very Body of Christ in His Church.

Consider this dire warning from author John MacArthur, in his powerful book, The Truth War: “The Church today is quite possibly more susceptible to false teachers, doctrinal saboteurs and spiritual terrorism than any other generation in church history. Biblical ignorance within the church may well be deeper and more widespread than at any other time since the Protestant Reformation.”

As a Frontline Mama, you can’t keep that biblical worldview clear from distortion if you don’t stand on the truth of Scripture. And that’s a tall order for anyone today, when we live in an age when many don’t even believe there is such thing as “truth” anyway.

So periodically give yourself an “eye exam” by taking the following steps to keep your biblical worldview sharp and in focus:

  • Read and reflect on the foundational creeds of the early Christian truth.
  • Encourage your church to incorporate these fundamental creeds as a periodic element of worship and basis for Bible study.
  • Teach your children these creeds, if not being taught in your church.  If they are being taught, reinforce them in the home.
  • Read (and then reread) the book of Jude as a warning against the spiritual distortion waging war against your faith.
  • Learn the history of the early Church and its fight against Gnostic influences and other heresies.  One great resource is The Truth War, an eye-opening glimpse into the spiritual warfare being waged against, and from within, the church.  Another one is The Last Christian Generation by Josh McDowell, who presents the shocking research about the current generation of churched youth, many of who do not believe in Christ.

Just remember to ask yourself, too, every time you squint to see or find yourself cleaning your glasses or contact lenses: Am I striving, with God’s help and prayer, to keep my vision clear with a biblical worldview, or am I allowing Satan to cloud my vision by neglecting to study God’s Word and his Truth in Scripture?

apples addition 185px-Addition01.svgBy Lisa Cherry

This tip comes out of our family’s homeschooling experience, but it’s something any family might use. I hope some of the rest of you dear readers will be able to snap this one up too.

Do you have a list of educational routines and drills that you know your children should be practicing on a regular basis, but you feel guilty because there is never enough time to get them done?

For 21 years I have lived with those daily pressures, wondering if I am doing enough. Fortunately, three successful college careers have helped to calm many of those fears. But still juggling all my routines is a constant management challenge.

One of the best tips I can offer is to make the most of your family’s time in the car. I have discovered that we can recite the entire multiplication table—one child per set of facts—between our house and the church, with enough time left over for some counting drills for the younger ones. With all of us facing forward with seat belts fastened, attention is often captive for some grammar rule review too.

Sometimes I leave a book or resource in the front seat of the car that I know we need to review. A few seconds of study time while everyone is settling in allows me to grab the moment of instruction effectively.

Scripture verse memorization is also easily tucked into car time with CD’s of scripture set to music. Some of our favorites have been Hide ‘em in Your Heart by Steve Green and those from Seeds Family Worship.

While you’re driving, be sure to use caution and not take your attention away from the road. Put the drills on hold when traveling through a high traffic area or busy intersection. Or have an older child monitor the drill work of the younger ones.

Little routines done consistently over time can produce big results. Look for those bite size pieces, move them to the car, and watch the consistency amaze you!

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Linked to Modest Mondays

Photo courtesy of Ramzi Hashisho

By Lisa Cherry

When someone hurts me or steps on my toes in some way, there is a part of me that is eager to jump up and take action. My response is urgent, hot, and primitive. I want revenge!

“Hey, that’s not fair, what you said. Take it back…or else.”

“You were so mean to me. You hurt me and I am going to let everyone know what you did!”

“Just wait until I get done with you. You are going to wish you hadn’t hurt me!”

But revenge never works. It does not correct the wrong or stop the pain. It adds fuel to my negative emotions and destroys my peace.

Revenge just breeds more pain. I end up with anger, turmoil, and bitterness. Whoever said “Revenge is sweet” was mistaken.

There is a better way to deal with our hurts. God’s word warns us: “Do not say, ‘I’ll pay you back for this wrong!’ Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.” Proverbs 20:22

My life was radically changed when I learned to trust God when others have done wrong to me. It was a lesson not easily learned, but wrought in me by God in the midst of battle.

Waiting for the Lord is the key. He will take charge when we have been wronged, if we will wait for Him.

Sometimes the justice He works is overt, and someone will either repent, or make restitution. At other times He pours out to us a grace for our own healing while we never know what He does with the person who hurt us. His deliverance delivers our freedom!

Whoever or whatever has wronged you today, are you ready to cast it upon the Lord? Are you ready to repent of your angry words and turn your heart toward waiting for the Lord?

I have found a grace in waiting that is powerful. It is a spiritual force of forgiveness. And it is accessed only through the blood of Jesus and only for those who want it.

Let's take 30 seconds to meditate on this verse:

“Do not say, ‘I’ll pay you back for this wrong!’ Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.” Proverbs 20:22

Wisdom Wednesday posts are inspired by a verse from the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds to the posting date.

Photo courtesy of rdragan79

By Beth Groh

Ahhh… the end-of-the-school-year countdown…

A downhill slide?

Or an uphill climb?

Depends on who you ask, eh?

My kids may be counting down the days to summer.

But sometimes I feel like screaming, “Could I just have one more week here, please??”

Why?

Hmmm… could it be track meets? Field trips? Easter preparations? Mother’s Day? Spring programs? Awards ceremonies? Graduations? Prom? Baseball games? Etc., etc.

You would think--after 13 years of having at least one child in preschool, elementary school, junior or senior high—I would have this end-of-the-school –year thing down to a smooth science.  Hardly.

But I have learned to brace for it—and prepare for it—so, as we sail through these milestone moments, I can snag a few “Mama memories” along the way.

A few tips I’ve learned along the way:

--Prepare in advance for the “biggies”.

If you’re on tap for serving the big family meal for Easter or graduation, prepare what you can ahead of time and freeze it. Plus, avoid guilt trips at all costs. Gladly say “yes” when guests offer to bring something. Don’t feel obligated, either, to dig out every favorite family recipe—four or five dishes is plenty.

--Shop ahead of time in this season for the birthdays, Mother’s Day gifts, Easter cards, etc. Otherwise, they’ll either get (a) forgotten or (b) become a distraction amid other events.

--Simplify daily routines.  My biggest time-saver? Easy grab-and-go sack lunches. I spend a few minutes on the weekend to prep: 1) Put veggies in individual plastic bags. 2) Divide pretzels or other snacks in snack bags for the week. 3) Make do-it-yourself “uncrustable” peanut butter & jelly sandwiches (using a handy Pampered Chef gadget) so the sandwiches can be bagged and individually frozen in advance. 4) Grab an apple or fruit cup on a school day, and VOILA, lunch in one minute!

--Don’t just mark your calendar with events—but with the “to do’s” leading up to it, too. For example, mark the day to MAIL the Mother’s Day cards (or even to buy them!)—don’t just mark the day itself.

Do I heed my own advice?

Well, not always… even as I type I’m remembering that I need to schedule NOW to get our daughter’s prom dress altered—not something you want to remember the night before!

But my goal for this end-of-the-year season is this: emerge in June with a full supply of memories (and photos!)… not just a full calendar of crossed-off days from April and May.