Thursday, October 15, 2015

No Greater Joy

Hi Friends! It's been such a beautiful, chilly fall day in southwestern PA. I got to enjoy coffee with a sweet new friend today. It's amazing what a couple hours out of our home and in someone else's can do for me. It's a cycling lesson in my life. The more we focus on caring for others and reaching out to others, the happier we become. That's where some of our deep joy can be found... serving and doing life with others. I say that to say that I was encouraged by my friend and her precious kiddos and felt excited to write today, so here comes week 3!:-)

Our memory verse for this week gets at the core of why we're raising our kids the way that we are... Why we're teaching them to memorize God's word, why we long to teach and train them well in who God is and why that matters.

Our verse for week 3 of this month is, "I have no greater joy then to hear my children walk in the truth." 3 John 1:4 
The truths in the scriptures are timeless. The principles, unchanging. The life-changing movement of the Savior in our hearts, undeniable. We long to look at our children in 25 years and be able to say, they're walking in truth. A good family friend of ours, Pastor Chris, likes to call it C.A.S.H... Character, authenticity, substance and humility... but that's for a different post.:-)

 As we hide His word in our hearts and minds, our prayer is that TRUTH shines through in our lives! When we walk in truth, we are able to impact every single human being we encounter because, at base level, we all need the same things. Under all of these layers, it becomes quite simple. So simple, that people tend to doubt the truth of this "gospel" because it seems too easy. It's too straight forward to actually be true. The fact that Jesus came and lived a perfect life, died for our sins and rose again for us; all we have to do is believe in that to be saved to an eternity in heaven with God, our creator and Father? No, it couldn't be, right? Yes, it is. But it's not too simple to be true. It is too simple to deny. If you've been denying it, it's time to believe. Today is the day! It's time to be forgiven, handed a new life to live and live it on purpose... for Him. The One and only Lord of all. It's time to walk in TRUTH and swim in grace. If you want to read about when I made the decision to believe with all of my heart and surrender my life, you can read the My Story post here.

There is no greater joy!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Week 2
Memory Verse: Psalm 16:11
"You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

I absolutely love this verse! It's so true! At one point in my life, I thought I had everything I needed to be happy. Then The Lord opened my eyes to the depth of joy and purpose found in Him and let me tell you there is nothing better... nothing even compares to the pleasure His presence!  When I realized who I really was and who He really was, I was heart broken over the amount of time I had lived without knowing Him and being on His agenda, rather then my own.
  You have probably heard it before...that J.O.Y. stands for Jesus, Others, You. You remember in our verse from last week that Jesus tied joy and love. Last month when we focused on love we learned that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and the second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself. When we love as Jesus loves, not only will we have Him first, but we will prefer others above ourselves. In doing so, we will have joy, which we define as, "being excited no matter what." All of our definitions will carry an unconditional quality because we are talking about the fruit of the Spirit, and His production is not based upon our circumstances. Therefore, we want our children to know that God's presence is the first place where they need to find joy. If Jesus is not first, others are certainly not second, and we forfeit our joy. But when Jesus is first, we will desire to see the best in life and in others, regardless of the circumstances.  
I've got this one down! Psalm 16 is one of my favorites so it was very familiar to me. The kids are super close. Today will be the last day for them to get it!:-)
I'm curious to know if anyone else has strategies on scripture memory that are working for you? One other thing that has been great for us are scripture songs! We love Steve Green's "Hide 'em in your heart", Linda Biery's "Living Lyrics" and Jamie Soles "The Way My Story Goes". I'd love to hear and learn from you!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Joy of October

One of my dearest friends is named Joy... I love it! Hopefully I'll get the chance to use it as one of my children's names in the future. :-) I have to remind myself not to get it confused with happiness. Happiness is circumstantial. Joy runs deeper than circumstances. It's unavoidable when you run into it. I find myself thinking, "There's just something about... so and so..." There's a peace that goes along with it and a touch of humility. Joy is not something we look outward for, but something we reach inward for. As Christians, we have UNLIMITED reasons for joy and hope in our lives.

October is the month for JOY! We will focus on teaching our children that we can possess joy, even when we aren't happy and the things going on around us aren't what we would like them to be. We have joy, simply because of who Christ is, who He says we are, and the future that He promises. Nothing can take that away. It's protected by God's covenant with us. We'll spend our time pointing them to the reality that when we love one another, as Christ has loved us, and abide in that freeing love, JOY will flow freely.

Some questions I'm asking... What does joy look like? When you think of joy, what do you see in your mind? How does Jesus love us? What can we do to show others that same kind of love?

Some cute answers I've gotten... What does Joy look like? GOD (Kayla-with the Sunday school answer;-)) Jumping up and down and smiling.... it looks really nice. (Simeon)

October - JOY
Definition: "being excited no matter what."

Week 1
Memory Verse: John 15:11-12
"These things I have spoken to you that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."

When Jesus said this, he had just finished teaching about abiding in Him and His love, keeping His commandments and bearing fruit. We have the most joy when we abide in Him. During that time, I feel the most free and the most loved. They haven't been the easiest times-not by a long shot. But they have been the best. Jesus shares His love for us and reminds us that when we abide in that love that our joy will be full and complete. When I start looking elsewhere for joy, I may find some happiness, but will always end up lacking in the end. In the deep places of my heart, there will be no joy. Joy is completely wrapped up in knowing Christ and His love. As the pastor at our church said, "We mistake a pursuit of pleasure for happiness. And in our pursuit of pleasure we often forfeit our happiness."

This week, the kid's were not successful at memorizing the verses completely, without prompting. They were very close! But, guess what, I GOT IT DOWN... and I got my candy.;-)