Sunday, 8 June 2008


Worthless No More!
By Jackie Casey

“You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord's hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.” Isaiah 62:3 (NIV)
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, and I know that full well. Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

“You are absolutely worthless! You can’t do anything right!” It seemed that everyone in the entire neighborhood overheard her shrill, piercing voice and waited for my response. I could feel my face flush with embarrassment as all heads and eyes turned in my direction. I let out a nervous giggle and muttered, “Oh well at least I’m cute.” I thought a little comic relief would soften my mother’s ever present anger, and the tension of the moment. Well, that’s what I got for thinking! Boy was I wrong. My mother screamed, “You’re not even cute! You are a useless human being!” Then she turned and proceeded to pull up all the plants I had just bought and planted in the garden and tossed them in a nearby garbage can set aside for weeds – all because I “dared” to take a chance to surprise my mother. Once again, all eyes were on me as I prayed for the ground under my feet to open and swallow me up whole. I smiled back at the watching eyes, apologized for the disruption of their day, and silently went into the house to clean up.

This scenario was one that was typical in life with my mother, and being her daughter required me to be gracious and merciful and forgiving no matter how uncomfortable the situation might be. Towards the end of her life, my mother became increasingly difficult to please. However, the Lord allowed me to see my mother through His eyes over and over again which truly softened my heart and my mind towards her. During her last year, I found myself as her caretaker and boy oh boy did the Lord work on creating a new Jackie. You see, my mother had suffered an entire lifetime from emotional problems (thus her frequent outbursts of uncontrollable anger), but when she suffered a major stroke, the stroke exacerbated her emotional frailties. Oftentimes, she would curse at me and try to hit me with objects while I was trying to bathe or clothe her. If the same situation had occurred five years earlier, my reaction would have been radically different. I would have completely fallen apart and broken into uncontrollable crying, for I would have believed her words and placed them on my shoulders like a wet and heavy blanket … wearing them for all to see.

Perhaps some of you can relate to the fact that I’ve spent much of my life looking to people to validate my self-worth, relying on their words as truth and not relying on the words of truth from my Heavenly Father. Friends, I’m here to tell you that looking to people for validation and self-worth has been exhausting and fruitless. Perhaps it’s my increasing age, or maybe my spiritual maturity is catching up with my age. Whatever the reason, I’ve discovered it is better to walk in the confidence of my value in Christ, than worry about other people’s opinions. Being secure in my Father’s love for me and finding my worth in the pages of His Bible equips me to let situations like these “roll off my back.”

I wonder how many others struggle with self-worth and value? I use to be a charter member of the “secret sisterhood of low self esteem.” In fact, I probably invented the secret handshake. Friends, if you’re still a member of that secret sisterhood (or brotherhood), let me encourage you to resign. Being a member only brings you heartache, heartburn, and ulcers. When I took the time to discover God’s truth about how valuable His children really are, I resigned and stepped instead into the glorious light of self-worth and value in Christ. You can too – and that’s a promise!!!

Dear Lord, I’m grateful to be Your daughter (son) and to experience the benefits of finding my worth and value in You, my King. Help me to encourage others to do the same. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application Steps:

· Begin to record Scripture verses that confirm your true value and worth.
· Choose a different verse and meditate on it each week.


· Who can I encourage to find their value and worth through God’s Word?

Power Verses:

· John 15:15, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
· Luke 12:24, “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!”

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

10 Important Educational Activities for Preschoolers

Amelia Harper
source: CW

1. Teach them to say the alphabet.
One of the best ways to do this is by using the old "Alphabet Song." I like to add my own touch to make it more special. (It would never fly in a classroom these days, but that is the beauty of homeschooling.) My kids loved this version:
A-B-C-D-E-F-G. H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P, Q-R-S, T-U-V, W-X, Y and Z;
Now I know my abc's; can I have a hug now, please?

2. Recognize a few letters of the alphabet.
Use games and simply point out letters everywhere you go. Children love to learn the letters in their own names.

3. Let your children see you read, and read to them often.
As you read, put your fingers under the words sometimes. This helps children understand the concept of reading from left to right and also helps them learn to associate words on the page with words that you say.
Don't worry if they are not actually reading yet, but if they do pick up a few words, pause and let them read them. When my children learn simple words such as a, an, the, and God, we let them "help" read a verse at devotions. The use of Rebus books is a great way to introduce pre-reading as well. In the text of rebus books, little pictures function in place of certain words (like a picture of a cat instead of a cat). Even nonreaders can "help read" these books. Ask the librarian in your library's children's department to show you where they are. The most important thing is to help them develop the love of reading.

4. Teach the shapes and colors.
Shape puzzles are a great way to teach the shapes, such as circle, square, etc. Have your children identify shapes in daily life. Colors are even more fun. I know I will get mail for this, but here is a great way to teach basic colors. Get a bag of M&MS ® or other colored candies. Let your preschoolers eat the red ones if they pick them out correctly. Then look for the yellow ones, etc. Candy is a great motivator. Also, discuss names of colors as they use crayons. Older siblings are great at teaching this one.

5. Teach them to sort objects.
A great many sorting and matching games are out there, but you can do this in real life too. Let them help sort socks. As you unpack groceries, let your preschoolers sort the canned veggies from the canned fruit. Let them sort the M&MS® by color. (M&MS® are very educational!)

6. Teach them about spatial relationships.
This is a fancy way of saying to teach them concepts such as "over," "under," "in," and "out." An introduction to "opposites" often works well as you teach these concepts. Stuffed animals are great tools with which to teach this skill (e.g., Is Harvey Hare over or under Martha Mouse?).

7. Teach them to count to 10.
Again, you will have opportunities to do this every day. "How many plates are on the table? Let's count them!"

8. Help your preschoolers develop motor skills.
Throw balls; color with crayons and markers; cut with children's scissors. Many of these simple childhood activities build fine-motor skills that are essential when your child later learns to write.

9. Develop a good vocabulary and use it around your kids.
According to the Children's Defense Fund, by the time a child from a middle-class family enters first grade, he has a vocabulary of about 20,000 words. However, a child from a low-class family knows only about 5,000 words.1 The truth is, class should not matter. If your vocabulary is not large, expand it and talk to your child as you would an adult--within reason.

10. Use good grammar around your children.
Many children are handicapped educationally because they did not have good grammar models in the home. You will make the teaching of English so much easier if your child knows what proper grammar sounds like. If you are not sure yourself, then get a book on the topic and learn. Listen to good books on tape, and listen to intelligent, excellent media. You will soon get the hang of it, and your child will too.

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Amelia Harper is a homeschooling mother of five and pastor's wife. She is the author of Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings, a complete one-year literature curriculum for secondary level students. She is also a freelance writer for newspapers and magazines.


Ever notice that when God is blessing your ministry the most, troubles follow? Your church is growing, but you desperately need a new building. New people are coming to Christ, but you now need to disciple them. You're tackling some of the greatest evil giants of your community, and now they're starting to tackle back.

Maybe you're feeling like Joshua. As God was leading Israel into one of the greatest eras of its history – the conquest of the Promised Land – Joshua was chosen to lead the charge. Yet in the midst of this great time of success came one of the greatest challenges of his life. There were seven larger and stronger nations already there. If he was going to fulfill God's call on his life, he'd have a big obstacle to overcome first.

That's when God gave Joshua a five-point strategy for success that still works today.
Be clear in your direction.
In the first four verses of Joshua 1, God specifically outlines when and where Joshua is going. He knew exactly what God wanted him to do.

If you're going to be a leader that God can use, you must first be clear in your direction. I talk to pastors all the time who say, "I really don't know what I want in my ministry." They tend to just drift along. They don't know what they want for their church or family. When you ask them to tell you what their vision is for the church, they respond with something fuzzy and not specific.

We all need a goal, a dream. But those goals must be clear and specific. Nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific. And the more specific you are in your direction, the more you'll find a magnetic pull that'll take you along.

Every time I've presented Saddleback with a specific goal, the church has responded in a big way. In 2002 when I challenged the church to start 3,000 small groups, it was a nearly impossible goal. I was as specific as I could be, and the church responded. We started more small groups than we ever had before. Two years later I challenged the church to feed every homeless person in Orange County. That's no small task. But Saddleback reached the goal once I made it specific. When you get specific, people get excited.

Be confident in your desires.

Once you know the direction that God wants you to take, you must have the confidence to move ahead. You can't doubt what God's called you to do. Doubt is the opposite of faith. The Bible says,

"Whatever is not of faith is sin."
Once you've set your goal the devil will get you to start questioning it. Is this really God's will? What if I'm wrong? Do I really deserve this? Am I just being selfish or prideful?
Evidently this was a real problem for Joshua. He lacked confidence. He felt inadequate in his leadership. Sound familiar? I've identified with Joshua many times. God had to keep giving Joshua a pep talk. Four times in Joshua 1, God says, "Be determined and confident."

Why? It isn't the obstacles that keep you in the desert. It's fear. Fear keeps you from being all that God wants you to be. It's fear that keeps your church from growing how God wants it to grow. You must be confident in your desires.
Be committed to your decisions.

Once you've started, don't look back. Joshua 1:9 says "Do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." God says stick with it. To be a success in life, you must outlast your critics. An oak tree is a little nut that refused to give its ground. Commitment is a key to accomplishment. If you don't have commitment to your ministry, you'll never finish anything.

What are you committed to? What are you willing to die for? Many people in your church are afraid to commit to anything. They begin one job and when it gets tough, they switch to something else.

When high achievers make a decision, they die by it. You can't just jump across a canyon with several baby steps. You have to commit yourself to your goal. If you're going to cross a canyon, you've got to go for it with gusto. It won't work until you commit to making it work.

Be corrected by your defeats.
In chapter 1, verse 7, God tells Joshua, "Be strong and courageous. Be careful to obey all the law. Don't turn from it to the right or to the left that you may be successful wherever you go." He tells Joshua not to get sidetracked. When you have a failure, get back on track. Let God's Word help you reorganize your ministry and your priorities. Mistakes are a part of life. You're not perfect. The pencil eraser industry was built on your mistakes. If there weren't such things as mistakes, we wouldn't have any need for erasers.

The difference between successful and non-successful people is not that successful people don't fail. They do. It's just that successful people learn from their failures. Corrections after defeats are the key to the future. Thomas Edison once said, "Don't call it a failure; call it an education." At Saddleback, our staff is highly educated! We've done more things that didn't work than did.

We're not afraid to admit it when we've made a mistake and to learn from it. The road to success is paved with failure. But we've learned from those failures.
Joshua did too. Remember the story of Ai, the little dinky town that the Israelites came upon after their great victory at Jericho. They'd just taken on the greatest, most fortified city in the land (Jericho) and God had given a tremendous victory. They were getting a little confident and cocky. Then they began to presume upon God's grace. When they had to take the little city of Ai, Joshua said, "Go out with a small battalion of troops." They went out and were absolutely wiped out. When the news came back to Joshua, he threw himself onto the ground and prayed. He asked God what happened.

God tells him to get up, dust himself off, and get the sin out of the camp. Don't just pray – do something. They later discovered that Achan had stolen three things even though God had said not to take plunder. Because he hid those things, his sin was causing the entire camp to suffer.
But Joshua had to discover the problem and take appropriate action. He learned by his defeats.
Be conscious of God's dependability.

God promises enormous benefits in his Word as we trust him and follow him. Joshua 1 is full of God's promises. He specifically promises Joshua four things:

Power: In verse 5 God says, "No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses so I will be with you. I will never leave you or forsake you." God tells Joshua to trust him and he'll provide all of the power he could ever need.

Protection: He tells Joshua that nothing can harm him. In verse 5 he says, "I will never leave you or forsake you." He'll be with him always and protect him.

Prosperity: God says in verse 8 "Don't let the book of the law depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night. Be careful to obey everything written in it. Then you'll be prosperous and successful." Prosperity is being everything God wants you to be, having God's blessing your life, and using the talents he has given you. God guarantees that you'll have more than you need if you trust in him.

Presence: That's the best promise of all. In Joshua 1:9 God says, "I will be with you wherever you go." Many times I've felt lonely in ministry, but God always gives me a new sense of his presence when I trust him.

God wants you to have success in ministry. He may not define it the way you do, but he wants you to have his best. As a pastor or key leader in your church, he wants you to help lead people to tackle the great giants of your community. Follow these five principles and he'll give you everything you need to succeed.


BetweenYou and Me

BetweenYou and Me