Monthly Archives: April 2013

Cross Training

cross-trainingTreasure Hunter

“The lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his innermost being.”(Proverbs 20:27)

I love the scene in the movie, National Treasure, when the team has been trapped underground and left for dead by the bad guys. Ben Gates and company enter a dark room. He finds a spot with oil and ignites it with his torch. Immediately, a vast chamber full of treasure is illuminated by the fire. The scope reaches beyond any they could have imagined and the objects there are priceless.

God is also in the business of treasure hunting.

His treasure? You.

God has walked the rooms of your heart. He has searched every corner. He has catalogued and documented every gift He ever gave you. He knows the masterpiece that is you because He crafted you Himself. He knows what you’re thinking and why.

And He loves you.

Sometimes, it’s easy to feel frustrated or misunderstood–that stand alone feeling that nobody “gets” you. God gets you. He knows. He understands. He has searched you out and is content to stay.

So, when no one understands, when the blank looks abound, draw near to Him.

He gets you. You are His treasure.

Questions:

What would be treasure for you?

Why is God’s perspective different? Or is it?

What would God find in your treasure room?

What would be there that is of value to Him?

Are you encouraged to look for treasure in others now? How would you do it?

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Cross Training

cross-trainingBalancing the Seesaw

“Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or I may become poor and steal. And so dishonor the name of my God.”(Proverbs 30:7-9)

When was the last time you rode a seesaw? Do you remember trying to find a friend about your size, then pushing off to go high before slamming back down with a thud?

Up. Down. Up. Down.

Agur, in this passage of Proverbs, steers us away from the extremes. Too high and we may forget God, caught in the grip of self. Too low and we hit the bottom looking for a way out—debt, dishonesty, bankruptcy.

Instead, Agur encourages balance: be content with our daily bread. Know when enough is enough. And where is our enough? It’s different for everyone and only God can show you. Once He does, obedience becomes a choice.

High, low, or balanced? Where are you on the seesaw?

Questions:

What are your tendencies when finances get tight? Do your kids pick up on your stress?

What are your tendencies when there is abundance?

What does your enough look like?

How do you determine that?

If you have kids, how would they describe the financial climate of your home: high, low, or balanced? Why?

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Cross Training

cross-trainingBaby Steps

“Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?”(Proverbs 20:6)

Well, it’s April. How are those New Year’s resolutions coming? Have you lost weight? Read the entire Bible? Memorized the book of Romans?

Nah, me neither. Let me encourage you to step away from January’s lofty vows and instead, try some baby steps. The proverb above asks the question: “a faithful man who can find?”. Faithfulness consists of believing God means what He says and backing it up with some action. Lace up your cross trainers and let’s start walking.

1)    “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”(Deuteronomy 6:5)

Listen to one worship song today—in the car, in the shower, or in the kitchen while you fix dinner.

2)    “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”(Matthew 22:39)

Greet, hug, and kiss every member of your immediate family today and tell them you love them–even if the trash is overflowing and their dirty, stinky socks are on the floor. Again.

3)    “ . . . but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work…”(Exodus 20:10)

Start planning now and make Sunday a family day. No laundry, shopping, or work, house or otherwise. Don’t think about touching that computer. Use paper plates and have fun.

Faithfulness. One step, one choice at a time.

Questions:

Did you make a New Year’s resolution? If so, how is it going?

In what area would you like to see change?

What is a basic command God has given that you find easy to avoid?

What baby step of obedience can you take this week?

Discuss as a family or with your spouse and have some accountability.

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Zuno’s Pick

Here are Zuno’s picks for April:

Samuel’s Baby Written by Mark Elkins, Ill. by Amy Wummer (5 paws)

Willoughby the Lion by Greg Foley (3 paws)

Jack’s Fantastic Voyage by Michael Foreman (3 paws)

No More, Por Favor Written by Susan Middleton Elya, Ill. by David Walker (3 paws, great bilingual book)

My Side of the Car Written by Kate Feiffer,  Ill. by Jules Feiffer (3 paws)

Barefoot: Escape on the Underground Railroad  Written by Pamela Duncan Edwards, Ill. by Henry  (3 paws)

President Pennybaker Written by Kate Feiffer, Ill. by Diane Goode (3 paws)

The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst

Nuts to You! by Lois Ehlert (Great illustrations)

Possum Magic Written by Mem Fox, Ill. by Julie Vivas

No More Hitting for Little Hamster Written by Bernette Ford, Ill. by Sam Williams

I. Q., It’s Time by Mary Anne Fraser

The Cow Who Clucked by Denise Fleming

Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert

Slop Goes the Soup: A Noisy Warthog Word Book Written by Pamela D. Edwards, Ill. by Henry Cole

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Cross Training

cross-trainingOpen Hands

“One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.”(Proverbs 11:24)

Spring’s bright colors chase away the browns and greys of winter. Bradford pears decked in bridal white send showers of petals through the streets as an unrelenting north wind refuses to leave for its summer sabbatical. Blossoms dress grey limbs in pink and purple, but green leaves are coming. Promises of strawberries, nests of baby birds, and warmer temperatures lift my heart and beg me to come outside and play.

Examples of God’s withholding? Hardly.

Instead, He lavishes us with color, warmth, and a hope in future things. Summer’s watermelons, lemonade by the pool, and sweet Texas peaches followed by autumn’s golden leaves, orange pumpkins, and crisp red apples.

God throws down a challenge in Proverbs. Give freely, and just watch what you will gain. Withhold, and when you finally open those tight little hands, you’ll find them empty.

So, how do we give? What do we have to lavish on another? Where do we begin?

Is there an elderly person or a single parent in your neighborhood that could use some help with yard work or spring-cleaning?  As school winds down, chances are supplies are dwindling too. Perhaps extra pencils, paper, and crayons would help. How about cleaning out closets and drawers? Gently used clothing can be a huge help for a single parent family.

Now, let’s kick it up a notch. What about sacrificial giving? What are you willing to give up, say, for a week, in order to fund some extra giving? A Starbucks or Sonic habit? Time?

Or, how about doing something for fun like baking cookies or cupcakes and sharing them with your neighbors, just because? How about hosting a neighborhood car/bike wash with the proceeds going to a local charity?

Spring into action and give. Freely.

Questions:

How would you describe God’s generosity?

As His child, what attitudes can you develop that will model and reflect God’s generosity?

What keeps you from being generous? Is it a struggle?

Brainstorm. What will your first step be?

Are you willing to go to the next level and give sacrificially?

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Cross Training

cross-trainingGuard Duty

Judea. Not the best assignment for a Roman legion. Nor for a governor. These men entered a hostile country with a culture and religion vastly different from their own. Temples and sacrifices, they could relate to, but one God? A coming Messiah?

Seriously?

Yet numerous Romans are drawn into the Easter story:

  • Pilate and his wife with her strange nightmare (Matt. 27:19)
  • The soldiers at the Praetorium responsible for Jesus’ flogging, his crown of thorns, and royal robes (Matt. 2:27-31)
  • The centurion at the cross who not only experiences an earthquake, but proclaims, “Surely he was the Son of God.” (Matt. 27:54)
  • The soldiers posted at the tomb who witnessed yet another earthquake and an angelic appearance. Scripture records they shook from fear and became as dead men. (Matt. 28:1-4)

Think of the conversations over the next week: Friday afternoon soldiers with Sunday morning guards, Friday afternoon soldiers to Friday afternoon centurion, Friday afternoon centurion to the legion commander, the legion commander and Pontius Pilate, Pilate and the missus. Up and down the chain of command, eyewitness reports flew. Was the information just another briefing, a report to be filed (or scrolled?)?

Or was it life changing?

Questions:

Look at Matthew 28:1-4 and 11-15. Note, not all of the soldiers on guard went to the chief priests. How do you think the scene played out when both sets reported to their CO? (That’s Commanding Officer for you civilians.)

Look at Matthew 27: 50-55. Why would the centurion and the other soldiers identify Jesus as the “Son of God”? Was it a term they heard from the crowd (vs. 36-44) or did something in their own religion connect with what they witnessed?

Pilate also struggled with Jesus: who He was and how he (Pilate) should handle the case. What made this case a special challenge for the Gentile governor? Normally Pilate would not have cared. What changed?

Do you identify with any of these groups?

Have you seen similar struggles in people you know?

What has made this same information life changing for you?

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