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Things Above

Have you ever heard someone say, “You can be so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good.”? The only problem with this cute little saying is that it goes completely against scripture. Colossians 3:1-3 says,

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”

More important than this silly saying is the mindset that goes with it, the mindset that assumes once you are saved that is it. End of the road. Is the innocent Christ who suffered bled and died that we might have that salvation not worthy of more than this? We owe him so much more than the first step. Can it really be possible to be too heavenly minded? Is it possible to be too spiritual? I hope your answer is no!

We know these verses are not telling us to lie around all day dreaming about what heaven must be like and never doing anything. That would clearly contradict many other passages in the Bible and these verses themselves are about action! It says to “seek those things which are above,”. Seek here means, “to seek a thing in order to find out by thinking, meditating, reasoning, to inquire into, aim at, strive after, require, to crave”; this is active! It also tells us, “Set your affection on things above,”. “Set your affection” is from the Greek word phroneo meaning, “to direct one’s mind to a thing, to seek, to strive for”. Obviously, God doesn’t want us to be useless in this world, he has sent each of us into this world to be lights and witnesses for him. His last words recorded in Matthew began with, “Go ye therefore…”!

God has given me many things to do for his sake in my own little realm as a daughter, an older sister, a member of the body of Christ, and a light in this world. He has also given you many things to do for his sake in your personal realm. As different as our lives may be, our purpose is the same: to live for the God who created and saved us. That begins with obedience to his Word, no matter how bizzare his commands may seem to our selfish, worldly little minds!

While reading in Exodus a few days ago, Mommy was pointing out to us the “if/then” pattern in certain places. Where God would tell the children of Israel, “If you do this, Then I will do this.” Since then I have been seeing more patterns that I hadn’t really thought about before, such as these verses I have been talking about in Colossians. The pattern in this one is “if A then B because C”. (Don’t worry algebra haters, this isn’t really math.) This pattern caused me to look at these verses differently.  Do you see it?

If ye then be risen with Christ,” Then “seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Because “…ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”

What purpose this passage gives us! If I am a Christian, if I have been raised with Christ from spiritual death: he has given me purpose! He wants me to seek the things above. What is above? Not just my heavenly home, Chirst himself is there. He wants me to seek him, to set my affection on him. Why do I need to do this? Because the old man, my fleshly self, is dead (Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:22) and my life now belongs to the Lord. Knowing all of this, we ought to be constantly in the Word seeking out God’s will and yearning for his presence in our lives.

For as long as I can remember, Mommy has read the Bible to me (and my siblings as they came) every day. There have been some days here and there that we have missed but for the most part it has been daily. As each of us learned to read, we began splitting it up and reading a few verses each. She has always explained what we read according to what each of us could understand. I love to hear her explain a verse to the little ones, it brings back all those memories of her animated readings out of our children’s Bible she would read to Sara and me before bed, and all the stick figure illustrations she drew on the marker board to help us understand. Mommy has a special knack for finding the simplicity in a difficult passage and applying it to a child causing him or her to think, “Hey, God wrote this for me too!” As we have become Christians ourselves, she encouraged each of us to read the Bible daily on our own. All that to say, Mommy saw the importance of the role God’s Word plays in our lives and wanted to be sure we were always seeking.

Living as we are in a world permeated with wickedness and false doctrine, it is so easy to be distracted and thrown off course. God’s Word is the water to wash us from all those distractions and the light to keep our focus on the right things… the things above. We need to be consistent in our time in the Word so that our minds will be filled with things that honor God, only then will we be of any real earthly good.

– Ashley

 

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom… And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus…”
Colossians 3:16a-17a

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Visiting

Baby Noah has had some visitors!

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Aunt Diane came to hold him for a while…

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so did our friend and neighbor Dr. White.  He and Noah had a lovely conversation. :)

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The Storers are another homeschool family we know that live a few minutes away, it is always nice to have a visit with them.  Mrs. Storer held Noah for a long time…

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then he got fussy and was passed to Mr. Storer. 😉

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A visit from families with children has to include playtime….

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and a good story!

Thank the Lord for friends.

-Ashley

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Happy New Year!

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness;
but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish,
but that all should come to repentance.”
II Peter 3:9

Not long ago our oldest son, Jesse, came to me with words I will not soon forget…

“Mommy, I have something sad to tell you.” he said.

It came in a tone that caused me to immediately stop and ask, “What is it son?”

“Well, I’m not saved.” and with those words tears rolled down his 7 year old face.

It is truly amazing that the gospel is so simple it can touch the heart of a child and fill him with the understanding of the Savior and guilt of his own sin; yet the gospel can also touch the hearts of those much older.

Late one evening my mother-in-law (Judy) who is in her seventies, called us and said, “I have something to tell you. I got saved tonight.” We were surprised, yet so very happy for her. The surprise came because she had been in church most of her life and had even taught Sunday school. She told me later of how she had struggled for a long time knowing her heart wasn’t right. When I asked her why she hadn’t told anyone she said, “I didn’t want anyone to tell me I was alright because I knew in my heart that I wasn’t. This was between the Lord and me.”

Such humility must make the Lord smile!

As we begin this new year may I ask you…
Do you know the Lord?

“Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?…” John 14:8-9

I wonder if Philip was surprised by this question. He had been with the Lord for a while, and now the Lord makes a comment that he doesn’t know him. It must have been something that made him step back and reevaluate. Would God’s people be surprised if He asked us that today? Is it time for us to reevaluate? Do we, who claim to follow the Lord, know Him or do we just know about Him?

My son and my mother-in-law have both heard the gospel all of their lives. They could each tell you most Bible stories in great detail, yet they needed to know him as Saviour. Each humbled themselves before Almighty God, repenting and confessing Jesus Christ. They had each in different ways reevaluated and found themselves in great need.

We recently met a man who knew a lot about the Bible. He could quote God’s Word better than many Christians and yet he didn’t know the Lord. Just because you go to church, you grew up in a Christian home, you have read the Bible, or are an American living in the Bible Belt doesn’t make you a Christian.

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith;
prove your own selves.”
I Corinthians 13:5

Instead of starting this year making resolutions that you may never keep, spend time in God’s Word and examine yourself. Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? If so, get to know him more every day by reading and studying His word. If not, please don’t wait another day.

~Angella

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Completing the Block

Here we are!  This is the covered over window that we are about to… well, cover!

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Daddy started by painting the wood with exterior paint to seal it.

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Da, da, da, dum!  Here comes Mommy with the quilt block!

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A little to the right please.

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More measuring.

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Mommy and I held it in place while Daddy drilled the middle screw.

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A couple more screws.

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Here I am touching up the paint, last step!  Daddy was sure to place the screws so I only had to use one color.

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Yay!

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Kentucky Star

Hello everyone!  Thought you might be interested to see what we’ve been into lately.  We recently started working on a rental property as a family project.  When the house was previously updated a window was taken out and the outside was covered over with particle board.  It didn’t look too bad, but we thought it might be nice to give it a little more curb appeal.  Mommy came up with the idea of painting a quilt block over top of the old window… you know, the kind you see on the side of a barn.  It turned out pretty nice!  Here is how we did it….

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Of course, the first step was to select a block and decide what size we wanted it.  We bought a sturdy piece of plywood cut to the right measurements and set it up in the garage where it wouldn’t be disturbed.

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We picked our paint colors being sure to use a good exterior paint so it wouldn’t need to be sealed.  Stir the paint….

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Mommy rolled the background color over the entire board.  Front, back, and edges.

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Daddy used a heat gun to speed the drying process.

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Next was to map out the block.  We used a tape measure and chalk line for this step.

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Here is the grid for a Kentucky Star!

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Now for the green… I marked the pieces that were to be filled in with a line of paint so I wouldn’t get confused.

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You need a steady hand for this part!

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More heat gun.  Each color took two coats.

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Next color…

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Still filling in.  I was a little worried about the burgundy but it darkened as it dried.

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My support group… :)  Of course, Sara is the photographer here.

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Wow, getting close!  This is the next morning…

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Last color!

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The blue is my favorite, what do you think?

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Finishing up…

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Done and dry!  Isn’t it pretty?

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Time to load it in the van… along with our mountain of luggage!  We’re headed for a family trip to work on the rental property.  See you there!

Build Grow

Lessons of the Heart

We have all witnessed it… You are in the store trying to find the best buy on a product when a parent and child come down the aisle. The child sees something it’s little heart just can’t live without…. The candy in the car-shaped container or the doll made in China that will probably fall apart before they get home. It could be any old thing that just captures the eye of the wanting child, so the child picks it up and starts the “Can I have this?” The parent says, “No, not today.” Some children cry, some complain, some will scream, and others will ask again, and again, and again. Then there is the child that will try to slip the item of choice into the cart or his or her pocket. Many adults give in to the child either to keep from making a scene or because they believe giving the child what it wants is the way to show love.

When our oldest daughters were still very young I trained them to not ask for things in the store. We prepared before entering a store so each trip would be easier no matter where we went. Instead of them always asking, “Can I have this? Can we buy that?” They were instructed to simply enjoy looking at all the different things available. If there was something they really liked then they could show it to me and even tell me it was something they liked. The girls started to really enjoy looking around and began investigating how things are designed. We would often take the time to talk about the item they seemed to find so captivating. If it was something worthwhile that they could use or I thought they would enjoy, I would get it for them if I could. For us it built our relationship instead of making us aggravated at each other. With two children that worked quite well. Now that I have four little ones going to the store with me we are training again and my older girls see the great benefits training brings. Peaceful trips to the store and strong relationships are not the ultimate goal; it is a matter of the heart… contentment, trust and faith in your authority, good stewardship, obedience, thankfulness and even love.

Philippians 4:11
“Not that I speak in respect of want:
for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am,
therewith to be content.”

Contentment is not something a person is born with, nor can you force a person to be so. The content heart is satisfied with what it has, when it has it and that is a character trait that can only be developed by learning and choice. Paul said he had learned to be content no matter what state he was in. It was not something that came naturally or even automatically after his conversion… it was learned. To learn is to gain knowledge or skill by studying, practicing, being taught, or experiencing something. (as defined by Merriam-Webster.com) That takes, diligence,perseverance and a willing heart.

Proverbs 17:22
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine:
but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”

This past week Jesse and I read a little story from the McGuffey Readers about a robin and a crow. The crow sat on a branch complaining about the cold weather while the robin sang and went about her work. When the weather turned pretty and warm the crow sat complaining about how hot it was and the robin was still singing. The moral of the story was focused on being content in your circumstances. The robin made a choice to sing during the good or the bad while the crow grumbled.

Have you ever been around someone who is never happy about anything? Have you ever been with a person who decided to make the best of life even in a very difficult trial? How does that affect the people around them? The contented heart is a merry heart.

Hebrews 13:5
“Let your conversation be without covetousness:
and be content with such things as ye have:
for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

When we are content it greatly shows our trust in the Lord. We can show by our actions and attitudes that we have faith He will be with us all of the way and He will provide what He desires us to have. This doesn’t just refer to stuff… it can include all areas in our lives. Are you content with the talents he has given you? When you see someone who can play an instrument or draw better than you, does that make you angry? Is your neighbor healthy while you lay sick? Does this cause discontentment in your heart? The list could go on and on. The contented heart is pure in word and full of faith and trust in the Lord.

I Thessalonians 5:18
“In every thing give thanks:
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

I know being content can be a struggle sometimes and nearly every area of our lives can be a target for those feelings and actions to come up. I remember vividly years ago I went walking down this beautiful street near our home where a lot of older, elegant houses are. At the time, we lived in a pretty yellow house with a covered front porch, two bedrooms and one bath room, yet it was small and on a busy street. I was walking along and thinking when I said softly, “Lord, I wonder if these people are even thankful for the nice place you have given them to live.” It was almost an out-loud response… “Angella, are you thankful for what I have given you?” I stopped in my tracks that day and had to ask for forgiveness. Discontentment had certainly filled my heart and it was not merry at that moment, yet the Lord taught me a very great lesson. I began to daily thank him for what he had given me and the result was a faith and trust stronger than ever before. Learning contentment can be painful.

1Timothy 6:6
“ But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

My grandmother was a godly woman who would have been 101 this year. I never remember hearing her complain or saying anything bad about anybody. She was a joy to be with for she seemed to have a deep-down happiness even when she was lonely, sad, or in pain. She trusted God and it showed in the way she lived. She was simple yet faithful, loving and content. She could be depended on to be the same loving person year after year. I’m not saying she was perfect, but her example has so often been in my thoughts as an adult that it cannot be ignored. I think of times with her and have many times even dreamed of being in her home. I wanted to mention her because when I think of a contented, thankful, merry woman, she comes to mind. I mention her because she is a very simple example of how we can affect others by the way we live our lives. She never had a lot of material possessions nor did she have a talent that others would boast about, and she suffered in many different ways throughout her life, yet I would describe her as being one who had great gain.

A few days ago at the store Josiah picked up a really nice toy airplane and said, “Mommy, isn’t this nice? I really like it. It looks fun.” I told him, “ I like it too and it looks like it would be fun to play with, but we can’t buy it today.” He smiled, hugged me and put it back.

Oh, that we would all learn to be content with what our Heavenly Father gives us.

~ Angella

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Merry Christmas!

We are honored that you have taken the time to visit our site!  If this is your first time with us, please go to the “About” page for a short biography on our ministry and family.  It is our prayer that what you read here would be a blessing and encouragement to you and your family.  Be sure to take a look at our NEW CHRISTMAS CD that is now available!

                                   Have a blessed day,

                                   Barry, Angella, Ashley, Sara, Jesse, Josiah, Abigail, and Stephen