Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Jesse Tree- Day 24

Tonight we visit the shepherds in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. These rough, lowly men were the ones that God chose to announce the birth of the Messiah. Christ came for all. He had no care for station, education or spiritual prowess. And so God announced his birth to shepherds in the field. And these lowly men responded immediately, searching out that which the angels had told them. And then they told everyone what they had experienced and seen from God. The first worshippers of the Messiah and the first evangelists- just a bunch of shepherds!

Key Passage- Luke 2:8-20

Symbol- Shepherd's Crook

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Jesse Tree- Days 22-23

Tonight we did days 22 & 23. We are almost the end of our journey in anticipation of Christ's birth. We are almost there! Tonight Caleb told Hayden about several of our ornaments and I was very happy to hear how much he has remembered.

Day 22- The angel visits Mary and Joseph

Key Passages- Luke 1:26-38, Matthew 1:20-25

Key Points- God is setting forth His Holy plan to redeem us. He sends the angel Gabriel to Mary to tell her that she has been chosen by God to be the one to carry His son. There is so much I could say about Mary- much I have already said in a previous post. But tonight, we see that this faithful woman of God willingly submits to God's will for her life.

And tonight we also see that the angel Gabriel also visit's Joseph in a dream. Joseph learns that his betrothed is pregnant and being an honorable, godly man makes plan to break the bethrothal quietly. I am sure he was hurting and there may have been part of him that want to do it loudly, vocally so as to humiliate the woman who was not faithful to him. But God sends Gabriel to tell Joseph of His plan and of Mary's purity. Another faithful servant, when Joseph awakes he goes and does what the angel told him to.

Symbol- Angel

Caleb colors the angel

The finished angel

Day 23- Journey to Bethlehem

Key Passage- Luke 2:1-6

Key Points- Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem to register for the census. When they arrive in Bethlehem there were no rooms available and so they find a place in a stable. And then the time came for Mary to give birth. Again we have the fulfillment of prophecy that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem (Micah 5).

Symbol- Donkey

Noah colors the donkey

Hayden helped color the donkey

Working on our Jesse Tree

The donkey ornament

Monday, December 21, 2009

Jesse Tree- Days 17-21

Whew! We have had a crazy few days around here. Between Christmas parties and such we have had several late nights. So, sorry for the delay- we've combined several nights together.

Day 17- David anointed as King

Key Passage: 1 Samuel 16, 2 Samuel 7

Key Point- God doesn't look at outward appearances, but judges the heart. And we also see God's covenant with David that the Messiah will come through Him. God's promise that David's throne will last forever is a direct prophecy of the Messiah- Christ was in the line of David and His kingdom is eternal!

Symbol- Crown

Day 18- Elijah and the prophets of Baal

Key Passage- 1 Kings 18

Key Points- Israel, God's covenant people, the people through whom He would send the Messiah and redeem the world, were worshipping idols. God used his prophet, Elijah, to bring the people back to Himself.

Symbol- Altar with fire

We did days 19-21 tonight. Since we had just driven up to see my family for Christmas, we included my nephew Hayden and each boy got to make an ornament. Here are some great pictures of the boys all listening to Jack teach the Word.

Day 19- Isaiah's prophecy of Christ

Key Passage- Isaiah 9:6-7

Key Point- Hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, God through the prophet Isaiah told His people about the Messiah. We learn here that the Messiah would be a child born of a virgin. He would be a King and a leader whose Kingdom will have no end. And His name shall be Wonder Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasing Father, Prince of Peace- He would be our counselor, He would be God, He would bring peace.

Symbol- the name of Jesus

Hayden coloring the name of Jesus

The finished product

Day 20- God's new covenant revealed by Jeremiah

Key Passage- Jeremiah 31:33

Key Points- In the Messiah, God will establish a new covenant with His people. He will write His law on their heart. At the Last Supper, Jesus shares that His blood will be the new covenant.

Symbol- Heart

Even though Noah's ornament required no coloring, he HAD to color because Hayden and Caleb were!

Noah's heart ornament

Day 21- John the Baptist prepares the way for Jesus

Key Passage- Luke 1

Key Points- John the Baptist was the final prophet sent to prepare the people's hearts for the Messiah.

Symbol- Dove (which was present when John the Baptist baptized Jesus and also because John was filled with the Holy Spirit which is many times symbolized by a dove)

Caleb colors the dove

He colored it so well you can hardly see the dove!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Caleb's Christmas Program

This morning was Caleb's Christmas Program at school. He did a great job. All of the classes dressed as different animals in the nativity as they read together "Who's coming to our house?" all about the animals getting ready for the birth of Christ. Caleb's class was dressed as lambs and their line was: "Sweep the floor, said the lamb." Then they sang Jingle Bells, Happy Birthday Jesus and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. He was absolutely adorable.

This time the program was in the sanctuary so I could only get so close- we took a video with our new camera. The original copy is quite good- better than the one here. For the blog I had Jack zoom in closer so you could see him better since the picture is so small and he also had to make the file smaller to upload so it is a bit pixelated. But I hope you still enjoy watching him.

PS- If you subscribe via email, you have to go to the actual blog to view videos like this one and the one I put up last night.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

For your viewing and listening pleasure

Here we are, today after nap, boys with no pants on and the silliness abounds!

Jesse Tree- Day 16

Tonight we looked at one of my favorite people in the Bible- Ruth. There are so many things to love about her- her devotion to God and her family, her work ethic, her faithfulness, the way she symbolizes us and Boaz symbolizes Christ, the fact that she is another one of the five women named in the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1. Ruth is not a Jew, but a woman from Moab. When Naomi and her family leave Bethlehem to go to Moab in search of food during a famine, Ruth marries one of Naomi's sons. Then Naomi's husband dies and then Ruth's husband, Naomi's son, also dies as does her other son. Naomi, now a bitter and angry woman, leaves Moab to return to her family in Bethlehem and her two daughters-in-law travel with her. Naomi though has compassion on these woman and gives them permission to return to their families in Moab. Orpah does just this. But Ruth remains with Naomi. Ruth tells Naomi that she is her family now- that her people (the Jews) are now Ruth's people and that her God is also Ruth's God. And so Ruth travels back to Bethlehem- to a foreign town, a foreign people and with an angry and bitter woman. When they arrive in Bethlehem, they need food and so Ruth goes everyday to the fields of a man named Boaz and collects the wheat that is left on the ground after the workers finish in the field. She works all day gathering grain and then goes home to take care of Naomi. Eventually, Boaz hears about Ruth and Naomi, particularly about Ruth's faithfulness and kindness to Naomi. Long story short, Boaz is a relative of Ruth's husband and so has the responsibilty and the right to marry Ruth and take care of her- called her Kinsman Redeemer. There is another relative more closely related, and although Boaz wants to marry Ruth, he offers the opportunity to this man, who turns it down. Boaz redeems Ruth- he marries her, loves her and takes care of her. And they have a son named Obed, who has a son named Jesse (who our tree is named after) who has a son named David. And eventually, a son named Jesus.

Ruth was faithful- even when it was hard- hard to love Naomi, hard to leave her family, hard to work in the fields- but still she was faithful. And God was not absent or unaware. He provided a wonderful man named Boaz to redeem her from the life she was condemned to as a widow and as a foreigner. And He allowed her to be in the line of David and thus in the line of the Messiah. In the same way, God calls us to be faithful- even when its hard- hard to love the unlovable, hard to work as He has called us to. But He has not left us alone. He has provided a redeemer in Jesus Christ to love us and redeem us from the life was are condemed to by our sin. And we are His bride and so He loves us and provides for us and calls us His own.

Key Verse: Ruth 3:11-13

Symbol: Wheat

Noah glueing the wheat- aka dead house plant :)

Our wheat ornament

Caleb hangs it on the tree

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jesse Tree- Day 15

Tonight we learned the story of Gideon and his small army in Judges 7. The Midianite and Amakelite armies had been oppressing Israel for seven years which God had allowed to happen in judgement of Israel's idolatry. God spoke to Gideon who destroyed the altars to Baal and assembled an army to drive the Midianites and Amakelites out. The Israelite army numbered 32,000 and God told Gideon to reduce the size of the army, for if they defeated the Midianites and Amakelites with such a large number they would only boast in themselves. So Gideon told those who were afraid to go home- 22,000 did. Now their army numbered only 10,000 but still God knew they would only boast in themselves. By the time God was finished, Gideon's army numbered only 300. In a dream, God told Gideon the battle plan. The army divided into 3 groups and each man had a jar, a torch and a trumpet. On Gideon's signal they all broke their jars, blew their trumpets, raised their torches and shouted. The Midianite and Amekelite armies fled in fear.

Tonight's big lesson- God uses us when we are most weak to display His power and strength. He used only 300 men to defeat two armies. And had He used a strong Israelite army, they would have received the glory. But because their victory was so unexpected that only God could have done it, He got the glory. And that is still how He works in our lives today. Just like He took a simple teenage girl to bear His son, a simple carpenter to be His earthly father, simply shepherds to announce the arrival of the Messiah, simple fishermen to spread the Gospel and start the church. He uses us in ways that we don't expect and cannot predict so that it is He who receives the glory for the great things He has done!

Key Verse- Judges 7

Symbol- Jar and torch

The boys with the torch and jar ornament- acting like their crazy selves!


Yesterday at church a soloist sang the song Here with Us by Joy Williams and I was deeply moved. I am not sure I can put my feelings into words, but I will try. This is the first Christmas that I have had an infant son. Caleb and Noah were both almost a year old and walking at their first Christmases, but this year Josiah is just 3 months old. As the words of the song flashed on the screen, I was overcome with emotion. I was moved at the thought of my savior as a tiny baby just like my Josiah. Like the song says, His tiny hands that were the same that measured the sky, His infant eyes that saw the dawn of time, His little ears that had heard an angel symphony. But I think I was most moved by the thought of Mary rocking her savior to sleep, the same way I rock Josiah to sleep. Mary, a young girl, as our pastor preached on yesterday, an ordinary girl who God used to do the extraordinary. But also a mommy. A mommy who loved her baby, a baby who was her little son but also God of the Universe, Messiah, God with Us. I can't imagine the difficulty of the path God chose for her to walk raising her son, knowing He was God's Son, unsure of what that really meant. I've always wondered how she has become one whom many wrongly worship, but I can see just a glimpse why now. She willingly surrendered to the plan God had for her and for her son, no matter the consequences or pain. It occurs to me that when God calls people to extraordinary paths, they are rarely easy ones. And in Mary's case that is so true. Maybe she has been exalted because in our weakness we cannot fathom her strength.

I wondered yesterday as I pondered all of this if I could have done what she did. And then I realized that in a way, I must. My children are not mine, they are His. I pray they come to know Him and love Him, that they will follow Him always, no matter the cost. I must learn the complete surrender that Mary had as she rocked her baby, her savior to sleep. She didn't know what God had in store for His son, how exactly He would be our Savior or the sacrifice it would require. But she was all in. And so I want to be a mommy like that. Completely surrendered to God, and able to let go of my children and give them completely to His hands. This is my prayer this Christmas.

And this Christmas, I don't want to get caught up in all of the busyness of the holiday or even with friends and family who I love. What I want to do the most is worship the King who was born a baby, just like my Josiah- with tiny hands, infant eyes. But also born a baby whose hands measured the sky, whose eyes saw the dawn of time, a baby who was my Savior. A baby born to save, to save the souls of man. My heart sings Hallelujah! Hallelujah, heaven's love reaching down to save the world! Son of God, servant King, here with us.

Here is the song with the lyrics. I pray it touches you like it did me:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Jesse Tree- Day 14

Tonight we looked at one of the five women named in the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1- Rahab. In Joshua, before the Israelites march around Jericho, Joshua sends two spies into the city. The spies find refuge with a woman, a prostitute and a gentile, named Rahab who hides them in her house. It is clear from Rahab's testimony in Joshua 2 that she has heard about God and how He saved His people and she has put her faith in their God. Pretty amazing. Now only has she put her faith in Him, she believes in Him enough to hide the spies even if it means her life at the hands of the king. In return for her protection, the spies instruct Rahab to place a red rope in the window of her house and when they take control of Jericho everyone in the house will be spared.

There are so many things I could write about tonight, my mind is spinning. Rahab not only trusts in this God she barely knows, she is willing to put her life in His hand in complete faith. And because of this she is sewn into the fold of God's people and is a direct descendent of Jesus (Matthew 1)- the mother of Boaz, a great man of God who we meet in the book of Ruth. It is very unusual that women be named in geneaologies in the Bible. The Old Testament is full of geneaologies and very few, if any, include women. But the geneaology of the most important man ever born includes 5 women and one of them is Rahab- not only a woman, but also a gentile. Why? Becauses of her great faith in God? Because of her willingness to put herself on the line for Him? Becuase the fact that she is a gentile woman symbolizes Christ's ministry to all? Becuase she was protected by a red rope- and we are protected by the red blood of Christ? Yes! To all! I LOVE THE BIBLE!! God has so clrealy revealed Himself in His word- His unchanging character. I love seeing how the Old Testament and New Testament are so intertwined and woven together. I love seeing how God's plan has never changed. I love seeing Christ hundereds of years before His birth. So, so awesome. Just like the God who wrote it.

Key Verse: Joshua 2:1-15, Joshua 6:17 & 25, Matthew 1

Symbol: Red ribbon/rope

The boys point out Rahab's red rope in her window.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Jesse Tree- Day 12 & 13

Day 12-
Tonight brings us to the Ten Commandments. God, through Moses, has led his people out of Egypt. And as Moses meets with God on Mount Horab, God gives Moses the Law. And tonight as I think on this, I am simply filled with gratitude to Christ for His sacrifice. The Law condemns me because I cannot live up to it. I may be able to keep up one or two of God's law, but His word tells us that if we are guilty of breaking even one law, we have broken them all. And really, let's face it. I am pretty sure I can't even keep up one or two. But grace and mercy flow down from the cross of Christ for I am given what I do not deserve (forgiveness) and not given what I do deserve (condemnation). My heart sings- My chains are gone, I've been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me! And like a flood, His mercy rains. Unending love, amazing Grace.

Key Verse: Exodus 20

Symbol: Ten Commandments

Noah with the stone tablets

Day 13-

Tonigt's story takes us to Jericho. Moses has died and Joshua has become the leader of God's people. As they prepare to take the land that God has promised them, they must conquer the city of Jericho. God commands the people to march around the city once a day for seven days. On the seventh day they are to march around sevens times and then blow trumpets. When the people do this, the walls of the city topple and the Israelites conquer. The lesson for me tonight- clearly God's ways are not our ways. I wonder how stupid they must have felt marching around the city. I wonder if they doubted God knew what He was doing. I wonder if they were afraid that all this marching and horn blowing would leave them vulnerable to a counter-attack. But they obeyed. No matter what they might have felt or thought, no matter the doubts they may have had, their faith and trust in God was stronger. Oh I pray I would be like one who marched around Jericho- not perfect, feeling scared and doubtful, but feeling even more strongly trust and faith in my God and His perfect plan!

Key Verse: Joshua 6

Symbol: Horn or Trumpet

Caleb blows the horn on our ornament

Christmas Cookies

This morning we made Christmas cookies. We actually made sugar cookies, rolled them out, used our one cookie cutter and then we decorated them after they baked. It was so much fun. I found these food coloring markers at Walmart and decided to try them. They were really neat, easy to use even for the boys and helped our cookies have more than just sprinkles on them. Now here are some pictures of our fun!

All dressed and ready to bake

Noah mixes the ingredients

Now Caleb is our mixer

Josiah has to get a turn!

Rolling out our dough

Cutting out our Christmas trees

Josiah supervises from his bumbo seat

Yay! Baking is fun!

Ready to decorate

Our finished cookies

Friday, December 11, 2009

1,000 Gifts

28. lazy friday mornings with the family
29. cuddles
30. naked boys running to their room in giggles after bath
31. christmas cards
32. our new camera
33. family night at chick-fil-a
34. kisses
35. caleb and noah wrestling with each other
36. brotherly love
37. biscuits
38. a husband who loves me so much he write blogs about loving me

holy experience

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sweet boys

Thursday night is one of favorites every week. We always have dinner at Chick-fil-a where it is Family Night and so kids eat FREE! It is awesome. I look forward to it every week.

Tonight we went to Chick-fil-a and then drove around looking at Christmas lights. We had a very fun time. Noah yelled, "Bights!" everytime we saw some. Our pastor's neighbors rival the Griswalds with their decorations so driving through their neighborhood was especially fun.

Here are some cute pics we took of the boys tonight. I am just so in love with them!

Caleb working on his Jesse Tree ornament having such a fun time. I love the look of pure joy on his face.

This is Noah's tired pose- paci in mouth and playing with his own hair. It is absolutely the sweetest and I am so glad we got a picture of it before he grows out of it.

Mr. Blue-eyes at Chick-fil-a. I love the my boys have their Daddy's awesome blue eyes.

Jesse Tree- Day 10 & 11

Day 10

Day 10 of our Jesse Tree has us meeting a man named Moses as he meets God in a burning bush. A very cool story, especially to our 3 year old. Caleb thought it was so cool that God spoke in a fire. Jack explained that the family of Abraham, Jacob and Joseph who we have already learned about grew really, really big. "The family" (as we are calling the nation of Israel) ran out of food and went to another land called Egypt. After many years a mean king named Pharaoh took charge and was very mean to the family. But the family called out to God to save them and so God spoke to a man named Moses in a burning bush and told him to go save the family from Pharaoh.

A very simplified version of the story. But Jack also told Caleb an important lesson- that when we call out to God when we are scared, or hurting, He will hear us and take care of us, just like He did for the nation of Israel. I think tonight I am touched just by that simple yet profound thought. The God who we have been learning about each night- the one who is Creator, the one who spoke to Abraham, who made a plan for redemption from eternity past- that same incredible God hears my prayers and takes care of me- just me, no one special or important, not a pastor or Bible scholar, just me!

Key Verse: Exodus 3

Symbol: Burning Bush

Caleb with our finished Burning Bush

Day 11

Day 11 has us a littler farther into the story of Moses. Moses has gone to Pharaoh and warned him to let God's people go, but Pharaoh has not relented even as God has displayed His power and might in the plagues. To show His complete control over even Pharaoh, God is sending the final plague of death. Moses instructs the Israelites to sacrifice a lamb and spread its blood over their door frame. This blood is a sign of their place within the family of God and will protect them from the plague of death. This was a hard one to explain to the boys, but Jack did a great job. He glossed over each plague and Caleb thought they were all gross and a little funny and then said that the night before the family of God was free, they had something called Passover and they spread the blood of a lamb over their doorways to show they were a part of God's family.

As followers of Christ, we are members of God's family. And the evidence of this is the blood of the lamb spread over our sin. Christ was our sacrificial lamb and through His blood we are saved from the punishment of death. And this is why we worship the baby in the manger- He is our lamb.

Key Verse: Exodus 12

Symbol: Lamb

Noah with our finished Lamb.