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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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More Noah Pictures

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:….”

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“…marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”  Psalm 139:14

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“…Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” Genesis 6:1

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And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.  Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.  And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.  A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.  And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.  But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.  And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.  Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.  And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.  Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he..”

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Pretty little head!
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Noah is such a good baby…IMG_2414

Stephen loves little brother.

Can you blame him?

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Little People

I helped Abigail get dressed for playing out in the snow the other day. She looked down at herself and giggled, “I look like a Moca-mo!” she said. “You mean an Eskimo?” I asked. “Yeah,” she said, scrunching up her little nose and nodding her head, “a Moca-mo.”

Another day I was laying Abigail and Stephen down for their naps. Stephen was very upset, he didn’t want to go to sleep and kept crying, “Mommy!” Abigail laid down beside him and wiped the tears off of his cheeks. “It’s okay Stemum,” she said, “’cause I’m a wittle mommy! Can you tell me ’bout it?” To my surprise Stephen stopped crying for Mommy and laid his head on Abigail’s arm. He began to “tell her ’bout it” which consisted of babbling, sniffing, and repeatedly mentioning “Mommy”, “Tayuh” (his name for Sara and me) and “No, no, bed!” In the end, Abigail’s sweet motherly intervention resulted in a little boy much calmer and more satisfied who was asleep within the next twenty minutes.

-Ashley

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Happy Birthday Daddy!

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We celebrated Daddy’s birthday yesterday.

 

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With his favorite banana split cake!

 

 

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Is it good Jesse?

 

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Josiah thinks so!

 

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Sure, we had a present for him but the most important is the heartwarming card.

 

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Enough said.

We love you Daddy, Happy Birthday!

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Loving God

I am going to ask you a question and I want you to answer it truthfully. Here it is: Do you love God? Surely your answer was yes, but do you really mean it? “Of course!” you say? Now hold on, stay with me… the question may not be as irrelevant to yourself as you think. William Wilberforce once said, “Mankind are apt to be the dupes of misapplied terms;” and this is certainly the case with the word “love”. If you are like the majority of Americans you probably love God, love your family, and love pizza… really? It is no longer enough for us to like a meal, or a color, or a book; we have to love it! If you are given a gift and fail to say that you absolutely love it, the giver is very likely to walk away thinking that you didn’t care much for it.

So, is it wrong to say that you love pizza? After all, a man may tell his wife that he loves her then after supper exclaim that he loved the meal and she will understand that he means two very different things. It would be plain silly if she were offended and burst out saying, “You loved the meal? But I thought you loved me!” God understands what we mean to say, the important thing is that we love him the way he wants us to love him. When I say something such as, “I love chocolate!” what I really mean is, “I enjoy chocolate, it makes me feel good!” Here lies the issue, because this is the definition of the love people generally refer to: is this the kind of love you have for God? Do you love God the way he deserves to be loved or do you really just enjoy what he does for you? We need to be careful that we aren’t using the wrong definition of love in reference to God, the way we ought to love him is above any other love. 1 John 5:3 says,

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments:”

The way we love God is through obedience to his commands! (John 14:15) A person who truly loves God will be always striving to obey him: not to earn God’s love for him but to prove his love for God. This is a hard task, too hard for someone who does not truly love God.

“Love is a commitment that will be tested in the most vulnerable areas of spirituality, a commitment that will force you to make some very difficult choices. It is a commitment that demands that you deal with your lust, your greed, your pride, your power, your desire to control, your temper, your patience, and every area of temptation that the Bible clearly talks about. It demands the quality of commitment that Jesus demonstrates in His relationship to us.”
Ravi Zacharias

When you commit your life to God, you are committing to love and obey him for the rest of your life. If you are not sincere in your commitment, it will show in your lack of obedience. This is not to say that you will always obey perfectly because you most assuredly will not. There are times that a Christian will do wrong and times that an unbeliever will do right; just because the Christian makes a mistake doesn’t mean he isn’t saved and just because the unbeliever does something good doesn’t make him a Christian: it is the heart that matters. Ah, we delve a little deeper! The heart, the motives: this is where God judges. He says, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven;” (Matthew 7:21) He is listening to your heart not your words, the mouth can lie the heart cannot! If my heart is not right with God, nothing I say or do matters!

Read Isaiah chapter one. The children of Israel were doing everything God told them to do. They were following his commands for burnt offerings, incense, new moons, Sabbaths, calling of assemblies, etc. They had obedience in actions but rebellion in heart. God could see right through their formalism. He says, “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? …Bring no more vain oblations; …when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear:” They were following God’s commands and these were still things he wanted them to do but their hearts needed to be in the right place first. God is more concerned about the condition of our hearts than the actions; he is still concerned with our actions but the heart must come first!

It would be good for us to ask ourselves routinely if we truly love God. Jesus asked Peter three times, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” (John 21:15-17) Jesus surely did not do this for his own benefit, he knew Peter’s heart. He asked for Peter’s sake. Each time Peter answered that he did love him, Jesus gave him a work to do, he said, “Feed my sheep.” Jesus had known from the beginning that Peter would deny him, but he also knew that one day he would become one of the boldest preachers in the New Testament, he knew about all the times he would be beaten and imprisoned, and he knew that one day Peter would himself be put to death for his faith. Jesus saw all of this when he looked at Peter and in essence he was saying, “Peter, if you really love me, go prove it.” and he did.

God knows your heart but still he asks, “Do you love me?” We need to prove our love for him just as he said in John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” This ought to be our hearts’ desire, to live a life that radiates a love for Jesus! Not a selfish love that only enjoys the good things, but a self-sacrificing love that knows it is worth it to give all for him. May we have the same love for God that Peter did: a love that makes mistakes but never gives up, a love that is tested yet stands firm to the end.

– 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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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!

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Family Outing

Saturday we all went out for a nice walk in the woods and some target practice.  For everyone except Daddy, it was our first time to fire a gun… well, a real one anyway. :)  Daddy made sure everyone knew how to be safe.

Stephen was the only one that didn’t get to try, but I don’t really think he cared.  He was happy to be able to run around once we finally got to the top of the hill where we set up targets.  Talk about a work-out!  (I don’t think it even qualified to be in the category “walk”.)

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The little-ones were excited to be able to shoot for the first time.  Even Abigail kept saying, “I wanna shoot it again!”

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Isn’t she sweet?

Sara was enjoying herself, I only wish I had captured her dangly pearl earrings in the picture. :)

I know, Sara and I aren’t really little-ones but I had to show this one.  Just look at that shot… yes, I actually did it!  I was excited enough to be one of the little-ones.

Jesse's shot

Jesse should have won a prize with this shot.  It’s too bad a deer didn’t decide to walk in front of the target when he shot this one; although we did see a few deer on the way home whom Daddy cordially invited to come live in our freezer.  None of them accepted… snobs.

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I have named this photo “pioneer woman” which fits Mommy quite nicely, strength and grace all in one.  She looks rather lovely in this pose I think.

give me thine heart

This was my favorite picture of the day.  Josiah is looking up at Daddy so intently.  Isn’t it amazing how a child responds to you when you just spend time together?  It means more to them than any gift you could give them.  Sometimes we try to get a child to like us by trying to buy their affection, maybe giving them candy or a toy; but at the end of the day, it’s the people who have taken the time to just talk to or play with them that they really love.  In a way, our relationship with the Lord is like this.  Sometimes I think we try to impress God with what we can do for him or give to him: but what does any of that matter?  He doesn’t need us, our money, our talents, or anything!  He is perfectly capable of doing his will all on his own: he doesn’t need us – he wants us.  When all is said and done, all he wants is a people that will take the time for him, to read his word and find out what it is he has for them to do.  Nothing we do for the Lord means anything if our heart is not right with him, and our hearts cannot be right with him if we don’t take the time to search out his will.

“My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” – Proverbs 23:26

Does God have your heart?

-Ashley

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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