God's Early Edition

     Did you ever watch that TV show 'Early Edition' (it ran on CBS from 1996-2000).  Ok, me neither. But I love the premise. This normal guy starts getting tomorrow's newspaper delivered today. Wow! How great would that be? 
     Knowing the winning lottery numbers in advance.  Which football team would win the Superbowl - a day early.  Which horses end up in the Win Place and Show positions.  Which shoes go on sale. (wink, wink)

     Turns out this guy reads about the disasters and tries to prevent them.  You know, the car wreck, the house fire, the exploding gas tank.  He runs around trying to save as many lives as he can. 

     Now how we would respond to that same information is a subject for a whole other post. 

     What occurred to me recently when I was studying predestination -(our home group is in Ephesians and you can't really gloss over the idea of predestination when you're studying Ephesians.) Is that God has the ultimate Early Edition.

     He knows in advance which horse to bet on - so to speak. 

     I went to the passage in Romans that gave me this insight - 

      "For those whom he foreknew, those he also predestined. . . " Romans 8:29

     And looked up the word for foreknew. It's proginosko and sure enough, it means "to perceive or recognize beforehand, to know previously" Keyword Study Bible NASB 1990

     This resolved for me the apparent conflict between all the predestination passages and this simple, lovely, and in many ways, more appealing truth. 

     "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9

     See - there He is. That's the big hearted God I fell in love with. 

     He didn't create anyone 'to perish'. He just knows in advance who will choose it. 

     But rest in the knowledge that there is a choice.  Keep praying for your beloved unbelievers and have faith in a "compassionate and gracious God slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin." Exodus 34:6 (related post)

     How about you? Have you struggled with the idea of predestination? How did God resolve it for you? Are you discouraged in praying for your beloved unbelievers? 


The "Set Apart" Scissors

   If you are, or you know, a person who loves to sew, you know they own at least one pair of really expensive scissors.   Wanna give them a heart attack? Break them out and pretend to cut cardboard with them, or sandpaper, or any other thing besides cloth material. 
     AAAAAAAH! They HATE that. 
     Why? Well, for a couple of reasons. First of all, those scissors were expensive and, second of all, because they need good tools, when they need them, and they need them to work properly.
     You know, that's what "HOLY" is. Set apart. You see, we are like the special scissors to God. Not only were we expensive (just ask Jesus Christ how much it cost), but God needs us when He needs us and He needs us to work properly. 
     Look at the "Thou Shalt Nots" as -"Hey - You don't have time for all this stuff, I have a special job for you and I need you when I need you and I need you to work properly." 
     Look at the "I Have Commanded Thees" as "Hey - do this stuff, so you will be available to do the special job I have for you and work properly when I need you. "

"Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine." Leviticus 20:26



Cowering and Faith

Our current shelter dog, Chama
     We adopted a shelter dog several years ago. He was a black lab mix, real kind and nice. However, he had been mistreated, you could tell. Any time we approached him, he cowered and whined, like we were going to harm him.  It took all the fun out of approaching him. We wanted to love him and pet him and play with him, but he made it impossible. We tried and tried for months to get him over it, and finally gave him to some friends who seemed to have better luck with him. 
     Sometimes, I feel myself cowering and whining too. Afraid something bad is going to happen. I can feel myself bracing, internally, for the impact. 
     You see, I forget who holds my future, and to whom I belong. He says: 
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord,"Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
    Don't get me wrong. Bad things DO happen. And to good people. I don't know why. When I don't know something about God, I fall back on what I DO know about Him. 
     Here's something He said about Himself: 
And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. " Exodus 34:6
     Does that sound like Someone to cower from? Nope. Let him love on you today. After all, He adopted you. 


Who do you walk with?

Just walkin'
     I got to spend some quality time today with my parents. Getting their horse trailer repaired. I don't know how much time you've spent in the waiting area of repair shops, but I've spent plenty. Not really the types of places most people go out of their way to hang around, but I have to admit, I've had some of my best conversations there. 

   And one thing I notice after I've spent time around my family - I leave a little more like them.  Maybe you can relate. Do you have a southern accent? A Texas 'drawl'. You know how it is, one short visit home and you come home twangin'. 
     My folks don't have an accent, but there's still a distinction. A trace of them that ends up all over me. Most of it I like. A lot. Some of it I'd like to - well, er, edit. 
     It reminds me of this verse from Proverbs:

He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20(NIV)

     Walk with the wise - ditch the fools.  So. . . who are YOU walking with? 
(For more wisdom, study Proverbs.  You can get started here.)


How to Take Amazing Snapshots of Your Kids

      I want to be able to take better snapshots of my kids, so I thought I’d ask my friend the WONDERFUL professional photographer for some tips.  She is Jasmine, owner of Mosey Photography.  
I’m not sure I even know enough to ask good questions, but here goes. 

1) When’s the best time of day to photograph your kids? For lighting. 

For outdoor shots, the best time of day is early morning and evening. If you shoot in the middle of the day outside the light is harsh, puts shadows across the eyes etc., or if you are trying to shoot under a tree you get a lot of dappled light/shadow which also distorts the face.
2) Should light be coming from behind, or in front, or to the side of them? 
This is where personal style and creativity comes into play… Have fun with this and experiment with what your favorite look is.  I generally like to have pretty natural soft light. But sometimes love to play with adding a sun flare into my shot to give a whimsical feel. 
3) Should the kids be posed, or natural?  
  BOTH!  Capture your children as they are. Though many of my shots look posed, most of them are just playing with kids, I get them to stand and play with me where I like the background etc.  This way I get shots (if the child relaxes enough) that look both posed and also natural. 
  For posed shots, try to make the child look and feel natural, don’t ask them to bend in weird positions because they will be making silly faces trying to “hold” the pose and they will look awkward in the shot.  
  For natural shots, just follow them around and shoot!
  I think one of the biggest mistakes parents make in trying to capture pictures of kids both at a portrait session with a professional photographer working and on their own getting snapshots is trying to have all the shots of their child looking at the camera smiling big and so they tend to “parent” during picture taking. 
This isn’t to say don’t fix their clothes or that big strand of hair covering their face, but also don’t constantly yell over the photographer telling your kid to do things either.  Relax… If you're relaxed your kiddo will be relaxed and enjoy the exploration and playtime that taking pictures should be!  It’s all about capturing life as it really is! (of course I am more of a lifestyle photographer when I’m working with young children)
4) Should you get down to their level to take the shot? Or from up above? Or from down below? What about angles? 
My general rule of thumb is everything except from below. I personally don’t like the look from below because it makes your child look bigger than they are, or it makes their feet look bigger than the rest of their body etc. Again this is up to personal style!  
When capturing shots from every other angle, as well as different distances from them you are able to capture and embody all of who they are in a series of portraits that you’ll look back on and admire! (yes even the goofy cheese shots) 
5) Is outdoor easier than indoor? Or vice versa? 
Outdoor is MUCH easier as long as it is done in the morning or evening, but indoor in a well lit area is great too! 
6) Any other helpful tips? 
  Pick the silly or even pouting poses too… Remember that photography isn’t about capturing perfection, it’s about capturing life.  My rule of thumb is “you can NEVER have too many pictures” 
  Our kids grow fast, our loved ones move away and pass away and we want to be sure to always have those precious portraits and snapshots around to cherish and remember. 
  AND… Don’t forget to include YOU in the pictures too…
Jasmine is the owner of Mosey Photography. You can see her work at http://moseyphotography.com/wp/ and her personal blog at http://moseyphotography.blogspot.com/


Manuscript Evidence for the New Testament

Heavy topic, eh? Don't worry, I'm no theologian or historian, but this is part of what our pastor covered this Sunday.

Here's just a snippet of the table he showed us.

Author           Written             Dates of Manuscript Copies              Number of Copies

Plato              450-385             1200 years (after original writing)            7

Aristotle        384-322              1400 years                                                      5

Testament     50-100                 30-225 years                                          5300 +

Now, what this says is that there are 7 manuscript copies of Plato's writings and those were copied about 1200 years after the originals were written (between 450-385). There are only 5 copies of Aristotle's and they date from 1400 years after the originals were written.  

Funny that no one doubts their legitimacy or if they are accurate copies.

Finally, there are over 5300 manuscript copies that are only 30-225 years after the original writing of the New Testament.

Want more information about all of this? I highly recommend Josh McDowell's book "Evidence that Demands a Verdict."


Jesus gladness and Holiness

Could not help but share this one. So glorious. So encouraging. What a great reminder. 

We might picture someone who has a passionate love for holiness and and intense hatred for sin as being joyless, uptight, and rigid.
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The result of Jesus’ holy life was overflowing gladness–gladness surpassing that of anyone else around Him. It was true of Jesus. And it will be true of anyone who, like Jesus, loves righteousness and hates evil . . .
To pursue holiness or to be half-hearted about its pursuit is to forfeit true true joy and to settle for something less than that God-intoxication for which we were created.
Sooner or later, sin will strip and rob you of everything that is truly beautiful and desirable. If you are a child of God, you were redeemed to enjoy the sweet fruit of holiness–to walk in oneness with your heavenly Father, to relish His presence, to rejoice in His mercy, to know the joy of having clean hands, a pure heart, and a clear conscience, and one day, to stand before Him unashamed.
Why settle for anything else?
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Holiness

Found it in this encouraging article about parenting teenagers


Don't put that in your mouth. Only put FOOD in your mouth.


Boy, what I learn from what I tell my kids. 

     My Dad drilled this one into us when we were kids. Mom would tolerate no thumbs, fingers, pacifiers, nada. So, between the two of them, I developed NO oral fixations.  Just yesterday, as my three year old was chewing on a toy, I heard myself saying what they had told me many times,"Don't put that in your mouth. Only put FOOD in your mouth."
     So, with the Superbowl on the horizon, I'm thinking. "What if I took that advice to heart?" Nothing but FOOD. Real food. So I'm reviewing my typical Superbowl Sunday fare. 

  • Doritos? Not food - some corn in there, but all that other stuff? Have you ever read the label on a bag? Scary, at best. Heck, even Frito's have only three ingredients.  
  • How about that lovely apple dip - it's made with cream cheese (food) and marshmallow whip? - NOT food. Bummer. Maybe apple slices with some peanut butter?  
  • OK, so I usually have veggies with dip, food with not food. Darn. Maybe cream cheese here. Not the fat-free kind, but real cream cheese. 
  • Chicken wings? Food - but what is that stuff slathered all over it? Not food. Surely I can find something that counts as food to make them taste good. 
  • Tortilla chips with salsa - food and food. Guacamole - food. 
     Well, not an all-inclusive list, but I'm sure you get the idea. Ok, so I know that it's an imperfect way to make healthy food choices, but it's definitely something to consider. What are you putting into your mouth this Superbowl Sunday? Is it FOOD?