Sunday, January 8, 2017

Back to the Basics

My favorite place is in a church. I anxiously await each church visit longing for the security, warmth and peace that envelops me like a warm blanket on a cold day.  Could certainly use that today with the temps at 14 degrees feeling like 7! My home church, First Baptist Chatsworth, is a beautiful building full of beautiful people who love on me and my family as if we are precious jewels. It is no wonder I started my 2017 at Sunday Worship. Will Linginfelter didn't disappoint. He inspired me through God's Word to get back to the basics. The following is my interpretation of his message: 

What do you think of when you hear "Back to the Basics"?

Do you think of a basic wardrobe? I would say basic clothes include black pants or skirt, khaki pants, something navy, a must-have white shirt and who doesn't own a pair of black shoes that goes with everything (I own four basic pairs of white Pumas with different colored stripes that I wear with just about everything). The key to making a basic wardrobe work for your style is the ability to mix and match.

The best basic biscuit recipe I've ever eaten or cooked was given to me by my friend Tony. The recipe has three basic ingredients; flour, butter and buttermilk. He says to knead and roll the dough precisely six times for the best biscuit. The other day I had an idea to knead the dough only once and see what happens. The biscuits didn't rise as high or taste as good. For best results, follow the recipe!

If asked what pops into your head when you hear the word basic, you might say reading, writing and arithmetic or the abc's. Army Basic Training is what I see in my mind. Everyone knows before you become a soldier, you must complete ten weeks of grueling combat and mental training. Many enlistees do not complete the course while others finish and exemplify the branch's slogan "Be All You Can Be!"

Our world accepts and encourages a lot of basics. Some basics are good, some bad, some are forgotten or worse, never known. The Bible explains the basic gospel in John 3:16. What Christian cannot recite the verse by heart? God's Word will never allow us to forget his gift to humanity for everlasting life. God's love for us is the basis for his gift. Jesus is the foundation of Christianity. The basic fact is you must believe in him.

After you become a Christian, what ARE the basics? The Bible has 66 books with 1189 chapters. So how you pick out the simple basics? Matthew 22:37-39 states Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' Two basic commandments that encompasses the entire gospel.

The basic wardrobe of Christianity is love. Can others see you have it on? Do you wear it? The gospel doesn't require a mix and match ability but a daily putting on of the body of Christ. The basic recipe of Christianity is love. Do you prepare it, eat it and serve it to others? For best results, you'll need three ingredients; The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. The basic training of Christianity is love. Are you trained? Staying the course as a soldier in God's army takes more than ten weeks, it requires a lifetime of devotion and spiritual acuteness. There are enemies on every hand. Loving your neighbor as yourself WILL BE GRUELING at times. But, don't you want to be all you can be, all that Christ wants you to be? Our slogan - "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith"!

Sometimes we have to look at where we came from to get to where we're going. This new year, let's all get back to the basics that rewarded us salvation and freedom. Get back to our first love, Jesus.

Determined to return,
The Happy Handicap

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Walking Dead Reaches Out

Pastor Allan Taylor with Lifeway Christian Resources is a guru on Sunday School. He preached at my church this past Sunday. It was an eye opening depiction of just how important Sunday School is to the church and the believer. I want to share a few of his points that I found very inspiring:
  • Sunday School is for reaching people and teaching people. What? I've never considered Sunday School as the gateway to the church. However, after listening to him, it started to make sense to me that lost people are oftentimes confused or don't understand preaching (unless the Spirit reveals it to them). The Bible is like reading a foreign language and worship might be equated to going to a concert to listen to someone you have no idea what they sing. I wouldn't attend a concert like that, would you? Let's commit to get someone to Sunday School so they can learn about Jesus.
  • Are you on mission? The Great Commission to reach people for Christ. Pastor Taylor asked if we were on mission. I thought about it and wondered, Am I? Then he said, "If you don't have a phone number, email or address of someone you're trying to reach, right now, for Christ, you're out of God's will." OUCH! OUCH! OUCH! Did someone make a voodoo doll of me and start sticking my heart? It feels like it! I pray for people but how often do I call, text, message, email or even visit someone to really REACH them? Answer = not a lot.
  • Births vs. Deaths. Pastor Allan shared with us God's reproductive plan for the earth and his people in Genesis. Plants and animals are to reproduce after their own kind. The trees we see today are not originals to the Garden of Eden, they have survived due to seed and the reproduction of life. Same theory is true for animals and humans. We all know what happens if death rate exceeds birth rate, extinction. Statistically, the church is burying more Christians than we are birthing. Pretty soon at the rate we're experiencing, Christians will be extinct. That, my friends, is an eye-opening, heart-wrenching statement. 
The Walking Dead must have been a crazy episode this week. Everyone on Facebook was talking about it. I don't watch the show. I cannot listen to that raspy breathing sound the zombies make. I can relate to the zombies though. Everyone of us are "The Walking Dead" until we accept Jesus and our souls are born again to new life. Luke 20:38 says For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him. I shutter to think the world might envision a sign like the picture above on our church doors; afraid to come inside because the people trying to grab at them and reach them are dead. The saved look much like the unsaved anymore. On the outside, we may appear alike but on the inside, one thing separates us, the saving grace of Jesus Christ. 
Wanna come to Sunday School,
The Happy Handicap

Thursday, September 29, 2016

We're a Basket Case

apple basket
Happy Fall Y'all! Good news...this article is not about a basket but I'm glad to be a basket case. Let me explain. This past Sunday, Sloane and I taught Little K at church. Here I am again, in a room full of Pre-K and kindergarten boys! Go figure. :)

I asked the young guys to share a Bible story. Urban raised his hand and said "Noah and the Ark". Good answer! I received some other "stories" some from the Bible and some made-up just to give an answer. Then they asked me for a Bible story. Moses immediately came to my mind. I was surprised that many of them couldn't relate the story of Moses to me. They also seemed perplexed that a child was put into a "basket" and sent down the river alone. I quickly shared the miracle that happened to Moses being raised by his mother and then the Pharaoh's daughter. As I was telling the story, I saw some grown-up things about the Moses story I never noticed before.

We are the same "basket case" as Moses. Moses was born a commoner just like us. He was adopted by a King. We are adopted by the King of Kings! Afterwards, Moses was chosen by God to "free the people". We are chosen to share the gospel so people may be freed by the saving grace of Jesus. Romans 8:15 says "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." The children of Israel were blessed to have a boy from a basket to be their escape from bondage. We are blessed to have a boy born in a manger to be our Savior! Please read the book of Exodus and email me with how the story speaks to you.

Bible stories, as we call them, aren't just for kids anymore...

Woven by Him,
The Happy Handicap

Sunday, September 18, 2016

All I Have Needed

What moves you? A big hairy spider that crawls up beside you! That would move me too, but I'm talking about genuinely emotionally being stirred. I'm one of those people who seek to be music, by movies, by relationships. My greatest desire is to be moved by God. Have you ever experienced God moving you to lift your hand in praise? Have you ever testified of his love and power to someone because he moved you to do so? Have you ever listened to the same song for the last ten years and really hear a line in it for the first time when it moves you? I did this very thing this past weekend. I love the song Great is Thy Faithfulness. I was moved by the following lyric.
All I have needed thy hand hath provided. WOW! Just.Wow! I can truthfully say, "All I have ever needed God's hand has provided it to me"! Can you say that of anyone else? My answer is no. Some of the things I've needed a mere human can't provide. God has provided me with great parents, a nice career, a loving husband, fabulous daughters, sweet son-in-laws, grandchildren, house payments, money when I didn't have any, gas for my car, a car, two cars, three cars, awesome church family and the greatest provision of all, calling me into his saving power! He's provided forgiveness when I'm wrong, mercy when I didn't deserve it, grace that is more than sufficient and peace I sometimes don't understand. Take a few minutes and think about what he's provided for you. Does that move you? 
If it does not move you, please ask yourself why? 
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside. Great is thy faithfulness, Great is thy faithfulness, Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed thy hand hath provided. Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Thomas Chisholm, who penned the hymn in 1925, explained toward the end of his life, “My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now.  Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”

I believe Thomas Chisholm was moved!

Be moved,
The Happy Handicap

Monday, September 12, 2016

Trunk or Treat Idea

Disclaimer: Oriental Trading Inc. sent me these products for review.  All opinions and experiences in this post are expressly my own. 

Fall is in the air. Halloween is just around the corner. If you're like me, you are already googling Trunk or Treat Ideas. Decorated trunks have become a favorite at many Halloween festivities and especially churches. Kids are always excited to get candy.  I'm always excited to see the elaborate trunk themes! We work long and hard on these trunks but finding the items to create them isn't hard at all with Oriental Trading as our Halloween Headquarters for decorations.

Let me share the details of  Noah's "ARK"cade trunk. Everyone loves amusement parks, especially children. Most amusement parks have game arcades where you play the game and hopefully win a prize. At Noah's Arkcade, you play the game and ALWAYS win a prize! How cute are these Color Your Own Heart Bubble Bottles for a prize? These Mini Marker Sets are a must to color the hearts. You might get the chance to witness about how God's love is always "bubbling" up!

May I suggest these animal-themed games for your arcade? You can even buy two of each to make your Noah theme more realistic and easily accessible to more kids! The Inflatable Alligator Ring is fun for all ages trying to "ring" the alligators nose or tail. The Going Bananas Monkey Bean Bag Toss gives you a chance to have some fun with your little players by asking them to scratch their head and make monkey sounds before taking a turn. Don't forget extra bean bags! One of my favorite games is Pick up Ducks. Place these cute duckies  in a tub of water. Take a permanent marker to place a number corresponding to a prize on each duck. Kids simply "pick up a duck" to win a prize. Use these or find many more at Oriental Trading Halloween Headquarters.

Your trunk might look something like this with your games in front of the ark and off to the sides.
Simply make this ark-like structure from cardboard and use these Jumbo Zoo Animal Cut-Outs for the animals in your boat. You might also want to add a balloon arch similar to the picture below to create an arcade-like arched entrance way.
balloon arch
Photo Credit:
A rainbow-colored arch is perfect for a Noah's Ark theme. Balloons are fun, pretty, add tons of color AND are super easy to decorate with. My family and I plan to dress up like different animals to add more excitement to the ARKcade! A Printed Animal Face Mask would also do the trick!

I hope this has stirred some creativity for your Trunk or Treat Idea. Whatever theme you decide on, (see my Alice in Wonderland theme from 2015 here) be sure to check out Oriental Trading for all your Halloween needs.

Happy Trunking,
The Happy Handicap

If you have a clever Trunk or Treat Idea you've done using Oriental Trading products, please share it with us in a comment. I'd love to see a picture too!