Wednesday, January 27, 2016

All In Devotional by Stacy Davis - God is Omnipresent

Family Fun Icebreaker: People can be funny; share a funny experience when you were watching someone and they did something funny.

Topic Question: How is God Unique?

Today’s Big Idea: God is Omnipresent

Another unique characteristic of God is His omnipresence. God is
everywhere at the same time. God is not stuck in one place at one time,
like you and I. God doesn’t have to walk from one person to another to
know what they are doing. God is in all places at the same time. No one
else is like Him. He is present in the depths of the ocean, at the top of a
mountain, with another person across the world, and with you, all at the
same time! No matter where you go, God is present and sees you. Matthew
6:1-6 shares that God actually wants you to do certain good things, like
praying or giving to the poor, in secret. He desires for you to do certain
works for His favor and not the favor of men. Since He sees all things in
secret and in the open, He sees your actions. God then rewards you for your
choices, but you need to trust Him and His timing.

Talk with God: Read the scriptures aloud.

I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your
presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the
grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by
the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your
strength will support me. (Psalm 139:7-10 NLT)

You are the God who sees me. (Genesis 16:13 NIV)

Walk with God: Read aloud and discuss.
If you are in need, it is good for God to see you. He sees everything that
happens to you. He sees every good deed you do, along with every bad
deed. When you make a mistake you probably do not want God to see you,
but He does. He keeps notes of all of your behavior. Later, in heaven, He
will ask you about your actions. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Discuss with your family: Knowing God is always present should comfort
you. Does this information alter your behavior at all? How?

Prayer suggestion: Pray for God to help you see Him.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Grateful - John Morgan

Have you ever had your world turned upside down? Have you had your peaceful life of monotony, that drives you crazy at times, but also lulls you into a sense of security with its syncopation of task and plans, disrupted by an event of total un-known? If you have, you know this storm can be strong and hard. If you have not, take heed. Hard is not always bad. A life without storms may just be a desert.

I am a summer camp director at Sky Ranch. I had been planning a surprise getaway for my wife and me the week before we would start staff training. I had thought that this trip would be the perfect form of relaxation to get me ready for a great, but busy summer. Things did not go as planned. (do they ever?)

A week and a half out from our highly anticipated get away my 7 year old son, Boston, got sick during one of his baseball games. Being a family with three kids we are no stranger to the stomach bug.  As Boston began to complain of his stomach pain we began to re-plan the week to cover the two days of missed school and our friends avoiding us like the plague. But this did not meet our expectations. It destroyed them.

After a day and a half of progressively getting worse we realized this was no bug. We finally gave into our overactive imaginations of what could be wrong with our son’s stomach and we found ourselves rushing to the clinic and then to the ER.

By 2am we found ourselves in ICU with a child that had become so weak he could not stay awake between times that he would vomit. The scans they preformed showed massive infection throughout his entire abdomen. The doctors were trying to get him stable enough to transport to Children’s Hospital in Dallas. We were told that we should prepare ourselves that this could get really bad really quick.

A sleepless night for his mom and me led to a morning of decisions. (perfect combination)  After a night of IVs of Antibiotics the doctors felt he was safe for transport. We decided to make the flight to Children’s.  The brilliant staff at Children’s whisked him into surgery and within a matter of hours we had an answer to the only question we cared about for the last 2 days. Our son had a large hole in his intestine due to what they call a “Meckels Diverticulum”. Essentially, everything from his intestine was spilling out into his gut and poisoning his body from the inside. They were able to remove the damaged section of intestine with this procedure. 

The storm for us was not over yet. We spent a week in recovery at children’s. At times I was scared, grateful, confused, hopeful, inadequate but always dependent. I had no other choice. I had to depend on the Lord. The storm brought clarity of His control and my lack there of.

My son taught me so much through his faith. Never feeling the illusion of control at such a young age he had a great perspective. The day we got home from the hospital one of my friends asked Boston to sum up his time in the hospital in one word. Now, before I give his response, I want you to remember his experience.  My son had 2 IVs in both arms and then one in his hand. He could not go an hour without throwing up for 2 days straight. He had a catheter put in and then pulled out. He also had a tube shoved down his throat not to mention everything that went into the surgery and recovery.  Even after all of that, my 7 year old’s response to summarize his experience was “Grateful”.

(Jeremiah 17:5-8 ESV)
Thus says the LORD:
Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.

Blessed (filled with God defined benefit) is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

I, too, find myself like my son being grateful for the time in the hospital close to the God I love. Not just grateful for provision but grateful for the storm. I am different because of it. May we all learn to be trees that are so planted by his water that we can withstand the storms and droughts and still produce the fruits that spell His name to the world.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget - Natalie Reed

Most people assume it’s virtually impossible to save money AND eat healthy. But a lot of times, you’ll actually spend less money on healthy food, than if you’re buying all that highly-processed, pre-packaged food. But it’ll take some planning and preparing, so follow these steps to help you get on the right track.

Make Wise Organic Choices
We’re all concerned with consuming unnecessary chemicals in our foods. But before you decide to go “all organic, all the time” and end up spending a ton of money, check out the Environmental Working Group’s “Clean Fifteen” list of fruits and vegetables with the least pesticide load. These are considered clean and perfectly fine non-organic items.
The produce determined to have the largest pesticide load are listed as the “Dirty Dozen” and are deemed the fruits and vegetables you should consider buying in their organic form. They’re mostly items with fleshy and tender skins, like fresh berries and lettuce, but surprisingly, you’ll find apples, celery, potatoes and other seemingly “tough” produce also on  the list.
Recently, Aldi, the chain of low-cost grocery stores, introduced SimplyNature, a line of all-natural or organic products ranging from cereal, honey, fruit bars and apple juice, to pasta sauce, pizza, salsa and other snacks. The prices of their organic items are comparable to the prices of non-organic items you’d find elsewhere. So, if you’re an “all-or-nothing organic” shopper, you should definitely be hitting your local Aldi.
Meal Planning is Vital
Knowing what to serve each day (and having the necessary ingredients stocked) will keep you from eating out, which is expensive and won’t give you as many healthy meal options. Don’t plan your meals based on what you want to eat that week, but instead look at your grocery sales ads and plan your meals around what’s on sale.
Buy In-season Produce
When you buy fruits and vegetable that are in-season, it’s cheaper and nutritionally beneficial.  For example, purchasing strawberries in the off-season month of January means the berries were picked before fully ripened and traveled a further distance to reach you, which means they’ve lost more nutrients by the time they get to you.
Get Friendly with your  Freezer
I say this all the time: Having a chest freezer is a HUGE way to save money! You can take advantage of loss leaders and deep discounts on meats, dairy, frozen veggies, breads and more. Plus, make double batches of meals and store the extras in the freezer for quick no-hassle dinners down the line.Watch the video here and take a peek inside my freezer.
Use Cheap Cuts of Meat 
Less expensive meats, which usually turn out tough in the oven or on the grill, are perfect for using in the crock pot. That cheaper piece of meat becomes tender and juicy after it cooks in the crock pot for 6 to 8 hours. Plus, using your crock pot is more economical than heating up a large oven!
Where’s the Beef?
When making your main course meal, occasionally skip the meat and add lower-priced protein sources, like, lentils, brown rice or quinoa. This is a simple and inexpensive way to expand a meal.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

All In Devotional by Stacy Davis - God is Omnipotent

Family Fun Icebreaker: If you had all the power in the world, what would you do with your power?

Topic Question: How is God Unique?

Today’s Big Idea: God is Omnipotent

As you journey through the topic of God’s uniqueness, notice how scripture
shares that God is all-powerful or omnipotent. God is powerful. Scripture
tells you that He speaks all things into existence. He is so strong that even
His words have power! Yet, it is difficult for us to even begin to understand
His power. God can do anything and everything. Even if a situation looks
hopeless, remember who God is and know that nothing is impossible for
Him. Remember to think of His great power and have hope through Him.
Romans 15:13 states, “May the God of hope !ll you with all joy and peace
in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in
hope.” This passage explains that God shares His great power, giving His
people hope, joy, and peace through trusting Him. Understanding the
existence of God’s power, which He provides through His Spirit, can help
guide you to trust in Him.

Talk with God: Read the scriptures aloud.

Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth
by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for
you. (Jeremiah 32:17 NIV)

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but
with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 NIV)

Walk with God: Read aloud and discuss.
God spoke and formed the heavens, all the planets and stars (Psalm 33:6).
Scripture shares that it can be difficult to believe that God spoke such
amazing things into existence and it is only by faith, believing God at His
Word, that you can finally have peace on the subject. Hebrews 11:3 explains
that the universe was made out of things not visible. This means that you
can’t see God, but He made all the things that you can see. When you accept
this difficult concept, it confirms your faith in God.

Discuss with your family: What is the benefit of knowing that you can
turn to God, with whom nothing is impossible, for help?

Prayer suggestion: Pray for God to help you turn to Him when situations
seem impossible.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Thoughts are Things - Lisa Clark

Have you ever heard the saying, “Thoughts are things”? I heard it recently and I really thought about it, no pun intended.

I get in trouble when my thoughts turn ugly, then I open my mouth.  My thoughts often become things and those things are WORDS.  And my words are often a direct reflection of my heart.  Ugh.  And those words are usually spewed at the ones I love most. 

If I want my words to be pure and holy, then I have to start with my thought life.  I have to take captive EVERY SINGLE THOUGHT.  HOWWWW??????? My brain is on overload most of the time and I’m busy! How can I think before I think? Anyone?

Here’s what The Message says:

2 Corinthians 10:5

            The world is unprincipled.  It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair.  But we don’t live or fight our battles that way – never have and never will.  The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture.  We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.  Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity. 

Don’t you love The Message? I do.  Here’s the King James Version – “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

Bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.  Pondering.  Pondering.  Take every thought captive.  To the obedience of Christ. 

When my thought life is devoted and obedient to Christ, my words fall into submission to Him as well.  Thoughts are things. 

How? Pray.  Read God’s word.  Fellowship with Believers.  Serve.  Meditate on His word.  Pray. Fellowship.  Love.  Serve.  Share the gospel.  Repeat.  Go. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Family Traditions - Tori Miller and Angie Tingle

This Christmas our family was blessed to spend some time at Sky Ranch Ute Trail in the beautiful snow covered mountains of Colorado.  This was a first for us to see Sky Ranch Family Camp covered in gorgeous mounds of pure white snow and all the trees perfectly flocked.  The time away was intentional to make some incredible memories without the fuss of tv’s, wifi, cell phones or internet! But the added snow created the perfect backdrop of us all spending time together snuggled by the fireplace with our quilts coloring, reading, painting, playing games, or cooking!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

All In Devotional by Stacy Davis - God is Sovereign

Family Fun Icebreaker: What area of your life do you need to control better?

Topic Question: How is God Unique?

Today’s Big Idea: God is Sovereign

To understand God’s uniqueness a little more, focus on another truth that
scripture teaches: the sovereignty of God. Sovereign means that God is in
control of everything all the time. You and I can’t control all things; we are
barely in control of our own actions. This fact makes God unique. In the
scripture passages listed, God shapes mountains, moves the wind, gives His
thoughts to humanity, and He moves mankind. All of this activity happens
exactly at the moment that He wants it to happen. Every event in life
happens according to God’s plan. Since God designs each person’s future,
He is able to assist in all possible outcomes; nothing is a surprise to God!

Talk with God: Read the scriptures aloud.

For the Lord is the one who shaped the mountains, stirs up the
winds, and reveals his thoughts to mankind…"e Lord God of
Heaven’s Armies is his name. (Amos 4:13 NLT)

The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.
(Proverbs 16:9 NISB)

Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God!
I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future
before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do
whatever I wish. (Isaiah 46:9-10 NLT)

Walk with God: Read aloud and discuss.

Some people today question God’s control of all things. They actually
believe that nothing is in control, which is a pretty scary thought. If nothing
is in control, you need to question all of the organization that you see in our
world. For example, think of the seasons; without God’s divine structure,
the seasons cannot exist. Our universe works like a clock, where every
creature has a purpose and a cycle of life. Therefore, God’s ability to control
is evident through both the instinct of creatures and the existence of seasons
in the world.

Discuss with your family: There is a comfort in knowing a divine, loving
God is in control. Do you think it is realistic to believe that God is in
control? What helps you believe this idea?

Prayer suggestion: Pray for God to help you trust His control.