Thursday, February 6, 2014

Open Letter to American

 Judgmental, Gay-hater, Self-Righteous, Hypocrite, Fundamentalist, Bigot..... 

These are just some of the insulting labels that have been placed on me in the last week or two. Labels I have been given simply for standing firm in the faith, defending God's Law and His Word. Were such derogatory labels thrown on anyone else, we would call it bullying. We would call it hate speech, but it seems to be okay so long as its inflicted upon a Christian. As a Christian I am not surprised, nor am I angry at the opposition I have encountered from both unbelievers and believers alike, because Jesus warns us that this will happen...

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you."
-1 Peter 4:12-14
 ... but strictly as a blue blooded American Citizen, born with the same rights, freedoms and civil liberties as all my fellow Americans, I am appalled by the double standards I am encountering. It is completely unacceptable for me to stand up and say that the Word of God calls homosexuality a sin, because according to today's standards that is considered hate speech. It is unacceptable for me to say that abortion is murder. I am told I have no right to tell another woman that aborting her baby is murder and is therefore a sin before God, because in our society it is her right to choose. All of this is unacceptable, but apparently, it is acceptable for me to be routinely insulted, bullied and ostracized for my faith. You cannot stand on one foot and say that everyone has a right to live their life the way they want and then lean on the other to bully into silence those who speak their faith. This is a freedom that countless have fought for, sacrificed for and died to protect. So while as a Christian I am happy turn my cheek, forgive and forget, as an American Citizen I have to call into question this treacherous double standard. How do we fight for equal rights for everyone while stripping Christians of theirs? How do we fight against hate speeh and bullying, but allow it in instances involving Christians? This is a dangerous double standard that threatens to corrode our very rights, freedoms and civil liberties, simply because our faith.

What happened to the First Amendment rights to religious freedom and the freedom of speech?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Suggested Dividers for a Home Management Notebook

Dividers organize information within your Home Management Notebook and make it easy to access any needed information in a matter of seconds. Include these dividers in your Home Management Notebook to supercharge your home keeping tool:

Planning Divider

To start your Home Management Notebook, begin with the basics: planning and time management. Claim your time with a Planning Divider!

What belongs here? Calendars, schedules and to-do lists direct the course of family life. In-depth planning tools, like mission statements or goal planning worksheets, do the hard work of translating goals to reality.

Use a three-hole punch to add work schedules, school calendars and events lists for church and civic activities.

Phone Divider

Calling all phone numbers! The Phone Directory is the most useful, most-consulted section of any Home Management Notebook. The Phone Directory is a single place to put class rosters, take-out phone numbers, club directories, emergency phone numbers and phone messages. No more scraps of paper, missing numbers or scribbled phone books!

Family and School Divider

Family is where the heart is--and deserves its own divider. This section tracks information needs of family members and family life:

* personal information page for each family member
* clothing sizes tracker
* master occasions list (birthdays, anniversaries)
* gift suggestion list
* birthday party ideas
* recommended Web sites
* list of DVD/videos to rent
* list of books to read
* library information

Families with school-aged children will want to add a school divider to hold:

* school schedules and holiday list
* lunch menus
* carpool schedule
* school information page
* school reading lists
* homeschool records
* summer programs information.

Home Management Divider

Bring it all back home! The Home Management divider holds information central to house and home. Cleaning, entertaining, decorating and household storage information find a home here.

Consider these ideas for the Home Management divider:

* household cleaning schedule
* seasonal chore checklists
* children's chore checklists
* home inventory
* home decorating ideas
* party planners
* car maintenance schedule
* stain removal guide
* recycling locations
* home storage inventory
* yard sale checklist

Meals and Menus Divider

In the kitchen, the Home Management Notebook helps plan meals, create menus, and track inventory in pantry and freezer. Use this section to hold grocery shopping lists and price book forms for maximum savings at the super market.
Money and Finance Divider

Tracking dollars and cents makes sense, so add a Money and Finance divider to your Home Management Notebook. Keep track of household finances with budget pages, inventory sheets and household information.

Here are some examples of the kinds of information that can be included behind this divider:

* budget/spending record
* bills to pay
* credit card list
* online service/online account information
* home inventory
* insurance information
* safety deposit box inventory
* utilities/services directory
* magazine subscriptions
* warranty information
* vehicle records

Health and Fitness

Organize family health care with a Health and Fitness divider. Have a medical emergency? Grab the Household Notebook on the way to the Emergency Room. Visit to the pediatrician? Use this section to record illnesses, medication and medical history.

Types of information to file in the Health and Fitness section include:

* diet trackers
* blood pressure record
* first aid kit checklist
* medical information sheet for each family member
* emergency directory
* medical authorization form
* prescription drug record
* insurance information
* pet health records

Travel and Activities

Time for fun! The Travel and Activities divider covers the extra-curricular activities that make life worthwhile. Hobby, church, club, sports, volunteer, vacation and travel ideas are included here.

Your Home Management Notebook may have several dividers for this purpose. Are you part of a musical chorale? Give it a divider. Do the children play serious soccer? Divide it up!

What belongs in these sections? Any and every piece of paper pertaining to that activity. Prayer chain lists. Sports information sheets. Lists for travel and camping.

These sections will vary from family to family, but here are some ideas:

* picnic planner
* travel packing checklist
* before-we-leave checklist
* camping checklist
* vacation idea list
* house-sitter information sheet
* PTA newsletters and rosters
* church prayer circle list
* Scouting or PTA materials

How to Create a Home Management Binder

"She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness."
-Proverbs 31:27

In an effort to improve productivity, organization and family cohesiveness I would like to talk about the use of a family Home Management Notebook. Unlike a personal planner, which is designed for use by one person, a Home Management Notebook or family organizer serves as "command central" for an entire family, a one stop shop for all of your necessary information.

While each family's Home Management Notebook will be unique, most are simple three-ring binders with several divider sections. Most Home Management Notebooks include a telephone number directory and message section, a divider for church, clubs or volunteer activities, travel, home management, budget/finance sections, medical information, and personal records like gift list and clothing size charts.

Ultimately the contents of your Home Management Notebook will come down to what your family currently needs. Over time your needs will change and as a result so will the contents of your Home Management Notebook.

A family with school-aged children involved in dance, music and sports will include organizer sections for rehearsal and practice schedules, and summer activity ideas. A two-career couple with pre-school children may add babysitter and day care dividers and an emergency telephone list to their household notebook. Empty nesters will rely on packing checklists for vacations, home repair records and event schedules for various activities or concerts.

Why A Three-Ringed Binder, And Not A Spiral Notebook Or Bound Book?

The advantage of a binder over a spiral notebook, for example, is the ease with which you can add and remove pages. Especially at first, when you are learning what works best for your family, and building schedules and routines for the first time, you will change and edit the contents of your homemaking notebook a lot.

This makes insertion and deletion of pages quickly and easily a big plus.

In addition, life circumstances always change. Your son signs up for tennis lessons, which changes your weekly schedule, or you have a new baby, or your child's class schedule changes, etc., so you will always be modifying and tweaking the contents of your household notebook.

Page Protectors Can Be Helpful For Recurring Checklists and Schedules

I recommend plastic sleeve page protectors for at least your most referenced pages in your household notebook. These page protectors help the pages from getting dog-eared or accidentally ripped out, for one thing.

More importantly, though, for pages such as your daily household chores, or your child's morning routine and checklist, having a page protector and a dry-erase marker is a way to check off your accomplishments without ruining the paper.

At the end of the day you can just wipe the page protector off, and check everything off again tomorrow without having to rewrite the whole list.

Kids love to check things off too (and so do I, and I am sure at least some other adults), so it also helps keep everyone more motivated when they can use a dry-erase marker.

Binder Tabs Can Also Be Helpful If You Have Lots of Sections

If you have several sections in your homemaking notebook that lots of family members need to reference, putting tabs in the binder can be helpful to allow everyone to find the area they need to reference quickly.

However, I hesitate to mention this, and all the other ways to make your notebook more user friendly or attractive, because I really feel like your household notebook needs to be simple.

The more elements you add to it, and the prettier you make it, all of which is fun as a craft project (and who doesn't love those) become a way to procrastinate or a distraction to what the home management binder is supposed to do for you -- be command central for your household.
Keep Your Household Notebook Simple And Utilitarian At First

Therefore, a Home Management Notebook, to actually be useful, does not need to be complicated. In fact, the more complicated it is the less likely you will make it and use it. Simplicity is the key.

Don't worry if it isn't beautiful or perfect. Build it, and they will come.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Fruits of The Spirit vs. Works of The Flesh

The Bible says in Galatians 5:22-23.
 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law."

The moment you gave your life to God, He planted seeds within your Christian life, seeds that grow and are nurtured with the Daily Bread and Living Waters. Through your walk with God, the proof of your spiritual growth is in the fruits you produce. It is by these fruits that we will recognize our brothers and sisters in Christ, and by those same fruits or the lack there of that we will know false prophets and those who wish to lead astray.

The Bible says in Matthew 7:15-20 (ESV):

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits."
 If someone claims to be a Christian, but does not bear the fruits of the Spirit...  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control... then we know they do not belong to Him (Romans 8:9). They may appear to be following Jesus, but without these fruits it is clear that they are walking in the flesh rather than the Spirit of Christ.

By this same standard, we are also given an opposing view with which to judge actions... the works of the flesh. The Bible says in Galations 5:19-21...

"Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."
With knowledge and discernment you will recognize them by their fruits and this is vitally important. Far too many people know verses of the Bible, but not the heart of God. They pick and choose which Bible verses support their personal opinions, values and morals, but do nothing to seek the Will of God. They instead have chosen to create for themselves an idol, a God which suits their needs and allows them to live comfortably just as they are, but being a Christian is not about personal comfort. Far from it. Jesus calls us to take up our crosses and follow Him. By taking up our cross, we are daily crucifying our fleshly desires, our works of the flesh along side Jesus and we too die to the flesh. Christianity is not a call to comfort, it is a call to change. We cannot follow Jesus and walk in the flesh, we cannot continue in our sinful nature and expect God to be satisfied with our lukewarm faith. God knows our hearts. If our profession of faith is not evident in our daily living it is clear we are not walking in the Spirit of Christ. In doing so we are not only fooling ourselves and others, but we've gone so far as to attempt to fool God Himself.

"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." -Galatians 6:7
 If you are sowing works of the flesh, that is precisely what you will reap. However, sow the seeds of the Spirit and you will reap the fruits thereof... love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

May God draw you ever closer to Himself, fill you with a fiery passion to follow Him and a deep unquenchable hunger to know Him, to truly know Him.

God Bless,

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Book Review: The Expanded Bible

Recently I got my hands on a copy of The Expanded Bible put out by Thomas Nelson. This is an modified version of the New Century Version with a ton of valuable extras, all in one handy location. The Bible has, in bold, the main text of the New Testament. Using brackets and a non-bold font, it then “expands” the text to include various notes and study helps to deepen your understanding of the passage. These expansions include:

    [...] expanded understanding of the text
    [L] literal renderings of the text
    [T] more traditional translations of the text
    [or] alternate translations of the text
    [C] commentary on the text

Overall, I love the concept of this Bible and the information it contains. I am in love with the idea of the text, other translations, commentary, and study notes contained in one volume. With The Expanded Bible, it is not necessary to have multiple other Bibles or commentaries littering your desk as you study the Scriptures.

When I first started reading The Expanded Bible, it took some time to really understand the flow of how it works. There is so much information and so many brackets and notations, my brain tended to get bogged down at first. Once you get into the flow, though, this resource is incredibly valuable.

But, these drawbacks are minimal when compared to the wealth of value found in these pages. I would highly recommend this Bible to any serious student of the Bible.

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