Church Ideas Archives

Christmas Devotion

Dear Ladies: I prepared this devotion a few years ago. Feel free to use it.

It’s that time of year again. Christmas is here again… of Christmas. Is it the gifts under the tree, the lights in the windows, the cards in the mail, turkey dinners with family and friends, snow in the yard, and memories of the music on the radios and in the stores that we hear…but will it really seem like Christmas for everyone.

For some people this year will be a time of sorrow because they might have lost someone who was very dear to them. For others, this will be a miserable time because they don’t have money to buy gifts for their family. Yet for others, it will be a gloomy time for many sons and daughters who are serving in the military in a far-away place and wishing they were home.

If people only think that Christmas is gifts, lights, cards, snow, and memories, they will be sadly disillusioned and disappointed if they don’t experience those things.

Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Hundreds of years after Isaiah died, his prophecy was fulfilled through Mary and Joseph. Can you imagine Matthew’s excitement when he wrote, Matthew 1:22-23 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

The people who lived during Isaiah’s time and Matthew’s time experienced many of the same things we are experiencing today…political upheaval, natural disasters, and failed leadership. There are preachers and godly Christians still trying to tell people about a Messiah who will give them peace, but just like people who lived during the Old Testament and New Testament periods, people today rebel and don’t want God telling them what to do. Malachi 3:12-16

But the prophets faithfully proclaimed God’s words. Those who listened and believed were encouraged. They knew that no matter how bad things got, God had a plan. In the prophecies, they saw God’s sovereignty and His faithfulness. They understood that one day God would send a child to save them from their sins.

As we read the Bible today, it’s like we’re standing on the top of a mountain looking down at the past and the future of God’s people. We are able to see God’s plan unfolding right before our eyes.

1. Wars and rumors of wars. (Matthew 24:6,7) Many countries are building up massive arsenals of conventional and nuclear weapons. In addition to potential nuclear war, we have war we face every day with terrorists.

2. Famines, Pestilence, Earthquakes (Matthew 24:7,8) And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. Food supplies are low in many countries because of floods and droughts. Infectious diseases are spreading faster around the globe than ever before. Earthquakes are increasing everywhere.

3. Deceivers who claim to follow Jesus…” Mt. 24:4,5 At the end of the Church Age, many people will be teaching things that are not consistent with the Bible and will deceive many. Churches are falling away from sound Biblical teachings. The goal of most churches today is to increase church attendance. This is put ahead of the authority of the Bible. The Emerging Church has become so pervasive that most of them tolerate abortion (murder), fornication (premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality) and almost any other violation of God’s law

4. People of Israel return to their land…Amos 9:13-15 The LORD tells His people … I will bring my people back to My land from other nations…they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards…they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them. (Ezekiel 37:21,22)

During the last 130 years Jews from 108 nations have migrated to the land of Israel. Israel has successfully defended itself against numerous Arab attacks. It has turned a desert into an agricultural success, and its technology industry exports cutting edge innovations. Today, Israel’s population is over 7 million. In 2018, it will celebrate its 70th anniversary…many of her Arab neighbors hate Israel and want to “wipe it her the map”.

5. Increased wickedness and love of pleasure. (Matthew 24:12) Today people are living primarily for themselves and their own happiness. The idea of denying themselves, taking up their crosses daily and following Jesus (Luke 9:23) is a foreign concept. What TV and movies show as “normal” has affected our values. Couples live together outside marriage. This leads to unwanted pregnancies and blood sacrifice (murder) of millions of innocent, helpless children by abortion.

6. Strong delusion…God will send a strong delusion and people will believe lies. (2 Th. 2:11)

The primary focus of the deception is through the media (the Prince of the Power of the Air) Deceptive ideas promoted on TV and movies keep people from believing the Gospel. The media lulls many people into a false sense of right and wrong.

7. One world government… Daniel 2:40. God will send a strong delusion. Most religions expect a savior or a man who will bring world peace, justice, and unity. Muslims are waiting for the Mahdi or the 12th Imam. Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stated that his mandate is to pave the way for the coming of this Islamic messiah. Buddhists are waiting for the Buddha of compassion, Maitreya, or a world teacher and unifier, the 5th and coming Buddha of the present era. Hindus are waiting for their completer and savior, Kalki, the name of Vishnu in his tenth and last avatar. According to the Usborne Encyclopedia of World Religions, “The tenth and last avatar has not yet appeared.

But what will happen? A false prophet will emerge to assist the world ruler and claim to be their savior. (Revelation 13:11-15)

8. Technology will control the world… Revelation 13:16-18) Today, think how you react when you lose your debit or credit cards…you panic! People will be convinced that it will be much safer to receive an implantable RFID chip or some form of high tech tattoo on the right hand or forehead than carry around cards or cash.

Because we see these things happening, we know God’s truth, and we understand His plan for the future, we should make this season even more special. Here are a few ideas to make this season more special.

• Avoid making this season commercial, expensive, hectic, pressured, impersonal, and materialistic.

• Spend time making memories with your families. It is sad that today many old traditions have been replaced with moneymaking events. Years ago it was more important to play games and sing with their families than to take them to sporting events or shopping trips to decorated malls.

• Don’t think you have to make Christmas an elaborate and expensive production. The world wants you to think that if you spend more and do more, you will get more satisfaction.

A survey was taken by talking with children, parents, and child specialists and the survey revealed that children really three basic things for Christmas:

1. Relaxed and loving time with the family. The greatest need of all children at Christmas–just like at any time of the year–is the assurance that they are very much wanted and loved by their parents.
2. Balanced attitude toward gifts. Watch any child plow through a huge stack of gifts on Christmas morning, and then look he will look around the room…it this all? He acts as if he has lost his best friend. Why? Because all his focus has been on getting gifts.
3. An evenly paced holiday season. Today, the commercial interests pack up their special decorations and holiday music on December 26 because there is no more chance to sell. One mother found her daughter crying in the closet on Christmas Day–just after her daughter had opened all the gifts that she had requested. The mother asked her daughter, “What’s the matter?” Her little girl replied, “If this is all there is to Christmas, why did I have to wait so long?”

Here are a few ideas to help make your Christmas more relaxed and evenly-paced.

Hold off doing important family traditions until a week or so before Christmas. Dec 10: Do not get your Christmas music out until Dec. 10.
Dec 15: Put a wreath on your front door
Dec 20: Put up your tree
Dec 25: Save your favorite traditions for this day

Strong family traditions are important because they give children the opportunity to do something they enjoy year after year. Believe it or not, they give children great comfort and security. When everything is their lives seem disrupted by the holiday season–school is out, their parents are extra-busy, and everyday routines are not the same…children enjoy having well-defined traditions to hold on to. Traditions let them know exactly how the season will unfold and bring back memories of past Christmases. Here are a few ideas.

FAMILY TRADITIONS
1. First one out of bed puts on the Christmas music
2. Prepare the same holiday food your family really enjoys
3. Display your Christmas cards
4. Make your Christmas gifts
5. Play games, sing carols by candlelight, pray together, and just have fun!
6. Make a recording of each year activities. Have a child sing, play a song on the piano, or read a verse or quote a poem. Play recording back the next year.
7. Divide Christmas gifts by givers instead of receivers. One at a time each giver gets to take a gift to its receiver. This custom keeps the focus on giving instead of receiving.
8. Read Luke’s accounts of the Christmas story.
9. Request the name of a person in a nursing home without family or adopt a needy family.
10. On Jan 1 place your basket of Christmas cards on the table. Before or after each meal, a family member draws out a card and offers a prayer for that person or family. You could even drop a note to the family saying, “Thank you for your Christmas card. We read it today, March 6, and we prayed for you.
11. Be a witness to others by inviting adult friends and children’s friends to your home to share a December evening of dinner or dessert. Plan songs, games, and read Scripture. (To give others an example of Christ’s love and the atmosphere of love in your home)
12. Cut your own tree.
14. Hang Joy stockings during the month of December. Each family member puts his thoughts, prayers, and love notes in the “joy stockings”. On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, pull the notes out and read them.

The Christmas Pledge

Believing in the wonder and beauty of Christ’s birth, I commit myself to the following:
1. To find people who are less fortunate than my immediate family and give to those who truly need my gifts
2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways that presents
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family
4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends

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Are We Living Intentionally?

Whether we are old or young, we all have to deal with our own character defects. It might be our bitterness, our selfishness, or our pride. When we were young, we tried to cover up those character defects with our makeup and clothes, our natural abilities, or our personalities. As we get older, those outward things fade away. If we have not sanctified those defects in our younger years, those defects will become more pronounced and visible during our senior years.

There are days when I see my own short comings, temptations, and struggles and wonder to myself…will I make it to the end of my life more sanctified than when I started?

I look around and see other pastors’ wives and Christian leaders who gave up living the Christian life. Because of selfishness, greed, and thoughts, “I deserve better than this.” They start searching outside their marriages, families, and ministries for easier and more prosperous lives…ultimately these women lose their ministries and testimonies.

Although I have my own temptations and struggles, what a joy it is to watch older pastors’ wives and Christian leaders who have stayed faithful into their senior years. Listening to their testimonies and seeing them stay faithful to the Lord all the way to the end is such an encouragement to me.

Ladies, if we don’t live intentionally, our days become weeks, our weeks become months, our months become years, and our years become decades…then before you know it…our lives are over.

We have all watched Christian women, who over the course of their lives, fail to get more spiritual. They become more narrow, more bitter, more selfish, more whiny, more fearful, and more petty. But Praise the Lord, I’ve seen other women, who over the course of their lives, become more mature, more godly, more gracious, more dependent on the Lord and His blessing on their lives.

This morning, let’s determine to live our lives intentionally. Let’s set our eyes on Christ and press on to become more like Him.

Our prayer today should be…“Lord, by Your grace, help us to be more godly and gracious as the years go by. Help us to be the kind of women that encourage others as we grow older. We don’t want to just drift through our Christian lives. Help us live intentional about the way to the end for You. Although there are days in all of of our lives when we have things to do; places to go; people to check on, lessons to prepare, work to do, cards to send, emails and texts to answer… help us live the remainder of our years intentionally for You. Help us to become more gracious and kind to everyone all the way to the end.”

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Making Our Time and Talents Count

 Until the Lord returns, each day holds within it exciting unique opportunities for us to serve the Lord! Let me encourage you to begin each day with prayer! Take time every day to spend some time alone with God, read your Bible and pray about the activities before you.  Give God the opportunity to guide your thoughts and your actions, to align them with His Divine purposes.  When we consecrate our time and talents to the Lord, He is able to show us how to redeem the time.

Colossians 4:5: . . . walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

Ephesians 5:16  Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Art Demoss, the insurance executive, was a great soul-winner. When he died, hundreds of people attended his funeral. During that service, the pastor asked the audience, “If you have come to know the Lord as your Savior as a result of Art Demoss, would you please stand.” Over 500 people stood up that day at his funeral. What a testimony to a man who used his time and talents for the Lord.

Think about this! If we invest 30 minutes a day each month in the Lord’s work, we are investing 15 hours a month. If we take 15 hours times the number of years we have left to live—there is no telling what we can accomplish for the Lord!

Whatever our position may be…whether we are a homemaker, a musician, a teacher, a speaker, or a cook, God has entrusted each of us with special gifts and talents. When we commit our hearts to serve him, He is able to use our personalities, interests, and life experiences to transform us into His image. His purpose for our lives is for us to use our gifts and talents to accomplish His will while we are on this earth.

On days when you are unsure of what you should be doing…stop and pray. Allow the Lord to guide you ‘step by step’ ‘minute by minute’ throughout your day.  I guarantee you, by the end of the day as you reflect and give thanks, it will amaze you what the Lord was able to accomplish through you by being obedient to His leading.

God did not give us time and talent to just serve ourselves.  He tells us in Revelation 4:11 that He created us to bring glory to Him. He guides us and gives us discernment to know what His perfect will is for us.  For some of you, the Lord may be guiding you to learn a new language so that you can communicate your faith with more people. For others, He may be guiding you to learn new ways of organizing your lives so that you will have more time to minister.

Remember Satan is our ever-present enemy, and he wants us to get our eyes off the Lord. God’s desire for our lives is for us to grow into a deeper relationship with Him and to have a greater understanding of His ways.  It is only when we begin to understand this principle, that we will begin to experience true fulfillment, joy, and peace.

Let me encourage you to:

  • Not be weary in well doing, for in due season you shall reap if you faint not!’
  • Pray and ask the Lord to reveal to you opportunities to bless and encourage others with your gifts and talents.
  • Be assured that a day is coming when you will rejoice and be glad for those times that you sacrificed your will for His.
  • Join me in redeeming the time before our Lord returns.
  • Proclaim as Jesus did: “nevertheless, not my will, but Thy will be done!”

Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

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Do you find yourself always getting frustrated or angry with others? Maybe it’s a driver in traffic…or someone failed to do something that you asked him to do…or possibly you thought you were not consulted on a certain project for work or church.

When we make a plan to accomplish something, and this plan goes well, we have a sense of satisfaction because our need for a sense of control has been satisfied. When things don’t go according to our plan, we quickly become frustrated and angry.  When things happen over which we have no control, we tend to vent our frustrations verbally to those around us? Why? Because people haven’t lived up to how we tried to control them.

Why do we get frustrated and angry with those who don’t live up to our expectations? Because we want to show others how hurt we are because they haven’t followed our plans. We want to show others that they have refused our status and power. When others block our actions or refuse our permission, we get frustrated.

Frustration is a key source to all of our stress. We sometimes direct our anger inward, criticizing ourselves for lack of planning or preparation, but most of the time, we direct our frustrations to others, even those who are clearly innocent, yet just happen to be nearby.

The causes of our frustrations and anger have less to do with what happened to us than our interpretation of the causes.

Common negative thinking patterns that trigger the causes of our frustrations:

  • Over generalizing. EVERYONE disrespects me. I NEVER get the credit I deserve.”
  • Obsessing on “shoulds” and “musts.” Having a rigid view of the way things should or must be and getting frustrated when reality doesn’t line up with my vision.
  • Mind reading and jumping to conclusions. Assuming I “know” what someone else is thinking or feeling—that he or she intentionally upset me, ignored my wishes, or disrespected me.
  • When anything bad happens or something goes wrong, it’s always someone else’s fault. I blame others for every negative event that happens to me.

When I begin to feel myself getting frustrated about something, I should take a moment to think about the situation and ask myself.

Will this frustration have any impact in the framework of heaven?

Is this frustration really worth ruining the day of those around me?

Does my response to frustration display my pride and need for control?

The Lord calls tells me to:

  • Be merciful
  • Overlook the sins of others
  • Not to take revenge
  • Treat people with love and grace.

Our anger and frustrations must be overcome by the power of God’s Word and His Holy Spirit.

How Do I Deal with Everyday Frustrations and Anger?

  1. Face the real issue. “I’m not walking in the Spirit.” I must accept the fact that my frustrations and anger are really actions of my flesh. If I really want to live out God’s love in my life, I must beg Him to help me walk in the Spirit.
  • Do I really want to live as God desires for me to live?
  • Do I really want self-discipline on my life?
  • Do I really desire to love one another as God’s Words tells me to?

Galatians 5:25-26 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

  1. Deal with my frustrations and anger.
  • I must realize that my frustrations and anger will not accomplish the righteousness of God.
  • I must confess that I have been responding to my own selfish desires and have been more focused on my own will and not on God’s will and purpose.

James 1:19-20 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.)

  1. I must die to self and live by Christ’s faith.

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Although it’s difficult for me not to live according to my old “self”  life and allow Christ to live His life through me, I know it is possible. I must begin my day with a “Die to Self Prayer”.

Dear Father,
I realize this morning that to die with Christ simply means that I no longer allow my flesh to rule over my will, my thoughts, and my feelings. Through your power I  want Your Spirit to control my body, soul, and spirit. Please show me how to obey the life of Christ within me. Father, I understand that unless  self dies, I’m not able to obey the Holy Spirit.  Please, Father, help me today. I know I can’t completely eradicate my old man, but I do now commit my body, soul, and spirit to Your control. May Your will be accomplished this day. In Jesus name…

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Do You Have a Vision Statement for Your Life?

In order to reach your full potential, you must have a vision for your life, for your family, and for your ministry.

Three things to consider about having a vision

  1. Vision is looking at things through God’s prospective. You must use the Bible as your lens to view all the circumstances of your life.

Esther saw the great need put before her…her response”If I perish, I perish.”

Luke 1:37… with God nothing shall be impossible

  1. Modern-day Christians tend to be think inward. They think about their trials, their battles, their responsibilities.

First century Christians dealt with their own frailties while seeking the welfare of others.

       3. Nothing worthwhile happens by accident.

Your vision statement might be as simple as “I want to  love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love my neighbour as myself,” or  it could be, ‘I want to honor Christ in all that I say and do…no matter the cost.'”

Once you decide on your vision statement, be sure to remember it as you are interact with the lost, your spouse, other family members, your friends, your pastor, and other church members.

Get a vision! Get a plan! Act upon it! With God’s help, you can reach your fullest potential. 

Where there is no vision, the people perish…Proverbs 29:18

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Do You Struggle with Being a People-Pleaser?

If you are  a people-pleaser, you might need to redirect your focus to become more concerned with what pleases God than with what pleases others.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

 Remember If I WANT to Keep My Focus on Pleasing God

  • Seek to know His will in each situation of your life.
  • Don’t think that you have to do everything you are asked to do…even in the church!
  • Remember when your heart’s desire is to please God, you will be able to put others’ needs and desires in a healthy perspective.
  • Learn to budget your time by prioritizing your life and determining how much time you will allot for specific people and activities.

                           Priortize by Order of Importance

Your relationship with God
Your family (marriage, children, parents)
Your employment (If you work outside the home)
Your  personal time (time alone with God, time alone with self)
Your church

God should always be number one in your priority list. The problem is that if you’re a people-pleaser, you think that being “a good Christian” means that you must please everyone. You tend to believe that you are putting God first when you say yes to every good cause, especially if it is a church-related.

How do I figure out how to budget my time commitments?

1. Recognize that God wants our families to be number one under Him. When we get over-committed to the point that it robs us of our time that we should be giving our families, it is time to say no.

2. Make sure that we budget some time for ourselves. Jesus was a person who had a vision, a purpose, and a consuming passion, yet when He needed time for Himself, He took it?

Luke 4:42 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them.

The Lord had been up all night healing the sick and casting out demons and was exhausted. Instead of expecting His Father to give Him supernatural strength to continue, He recognized His need for rest and rejuvenation.

In order to nurture our relationships with our heavenly Father, we must budget a quiet time with Him every day. Unless we feed on His Word and allow the Holy Spirit to energize us for the work He has called us to do, we won’t be able to recognize the opportunities He sets before us. It is during our quiet times that the Holy Spirit can help us put things into perspective and guide us into making wise decisions concerning the demands others put on our time.

When God reigns at the top of our list of priorities, we can trust Him to show us where to place other people, ourselves, and all our other involvements. When our relationship with God is right, our relationships with others will fall into place.

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I was watching Fox news and I wondered, “Why do all those women wear dresses?” What I discovered is that by wearing dresses, it is like a death blow to the left and the feminist movement.

Hadley Freeman, of The Guardian, wrote about the news women on Fox News, “The uniformity of this style suggests a political statement which, indeed, it is. Theirs is a look that defiantly embraces the most conservative notions of femininity and firmly rejects any idea of modernity, let alone feminism.”

Wow! They want their women to dress so that they look feminine. I must agree their dresses are short and form fitting…but the network wants the world to know that there is a difference in dress between the right and left.

Years ago when Gloria Steinem, the feminist activist, voiced her opinion…women are just as important as men…be the woman who wears the pants in your family. She was basically saying, “You don’t have to be submissive to any man in your life.”  What she implied was a typical slam against wearing feminine clothing and looking feminine. Think about the left…look at Hillary….she is never seen wearing a dress. She always wears a pantsuit…no matter what interview or what audience she speaks.

God gives us a simple and clear advice about how we as Christian women should dress. I Timothy 2:9: “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel…” The word “modest” is defined in Collin’s English Dictionary:

Having or expressing a humble opinion of oneself or one’s accomplishments or abilities; not pretentious;  not extreme or excessive, moderate

I believe that a woman’s clothing should be suitable for different situations. For example, we should want to wear a respectable swimsuit for the pool or beach, to wear jeans to work in the garden, and to wear a proper outfit to church, to weddings, or to funerals.

The Bible’s greatest prophecies are being fulfilled.  God instructed the nation of ancient Israel in Deuteronomy 22:5 as follows: “The woman shall not wear that which pertains unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD your God.” Clearly, God is referring to a woman dressing to look like a man or a man dressing to look like a woman.  My how things have changed since that was Scripture was written…a section of our society wants to break down all distinctions between male and female. (masculine and feminine)  Lawmakers are in the process of making laws to make women’s bathrooms neutral.  In some states, men are already allowed to use the same  bathrooms as the women.

As Christian women, we must learn to find a balance between today’s style and tradition…between looking masculine and looking feminine. Whatever we wear, we must wear clothes that reflect Christ’s light into this lost and dying world. We should want to present a good testimony and show others that we have a heart that wants to please the Lord.

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Recipes for Cheesecake, Banana Bread, and Lasagna

Someone asked me for one of the following recipes, and I noticed that these 3 recipes were in my first book, but I failed to put them in my second book.

Italian Cheesecake

1 lb. ricotta cheese
1 lb. cream cheese
1 ½  cups sugar
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 t. vanilla
1 t. lemon extract
3 T. flour
3 T. cornstarch
½ melted butter (cooled)
2 cups sour cream
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 T. chopped lemon peel

In large mixing bowl cream ricotta and cream cheese. Add sugar, eggs, vanilla, and lemon extract; Mix well. Add flour and cornstarch. Add melted butter. Fold in sour cream.

Grease 9″ spring form pan and sprinkle generously with graham cracker crumbs. Pour cheese mixture into pan. Bake in a preheated 325 oven for 1 hour. Turn off the heat and leave cake in oven for 2 hours. This is very important. Do not open the door for 3 hours after the cake is placed in the oven. After 3 hours, remove cheesecake from oven and cool completely.  Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Best Banana Bread (350º for 60 minutes)

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 bananas, finely crushed ( for a very moist bread, use 4 bananas)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and crushed bananas and blend well. Sift together flour, soda and salt, add to creamed mixture, and add vanilla. Keep well if refrigerated.

Santino’ Lasagna 

8 oz. olive oil
2 large diced onions
2 lbs. chopped carrots
3 lbs. ground beef.

Cook ground beef, onion, and carrots in olive oil until done. Add 5 cans of kitchen ready pastene tomatoes and 3/4 T. salt.

While this mixture is cooking in an open pan, make a roux with 2 sticks of butter, 4 T. flour, and 2 cups milk.

Have a pot of water boiling for noodles. Dip noodles in and out of boiling water. Layer noodles, spaghetti sauce, and milk sauce in pan.  Bake for 20 minutes and then add mozzarella cheese on top. Continue baking another 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

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Satan Wants to Defeat You and Your Church Today

Have you ever thought about this? “Satan is very organized with his team of demon. He has assigned certain demons to you, your church, and your people to try to defeat your church and everything you do.”

As we begin this New Year, we must be aware of Satan’s tactics as He tries to defeat us.  He will try to deceive us by targeting our minds and the people we serve. He will use his weapons of lies.  His whole purpose is to make us doubt God and be ignorant of His will for our lives. His goal is for us to believe his lies instead of God’s truth.

You might be thinking, “You just don’t understand…there are times in my life when I feel so helpless and weak that I don’t even have enough energy to read my Bible.”

Paul must have known that his fellow Christians had those same feelings when he wrote 1 Thessalonians 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

If you want to defeat Satan…YOU MUST STAY IN GOD’s WORD! The only defense you have against Satan is God’s Word.  How do you do it?

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

  1. Present your body. The first thing to do when you wake up and set your feet on the ground is to tell the Lord, “I surrender my body to You, and I am preparing for today’s battle.
  2. Present your mind. The next thing to do is do reach for your Bible. Present your mind to God for spiritual renewal. It is only through God’s Word that we can renew our minds and transform them.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t read long chapters. As you are reading…, stop…when you get to a passage that speaks to you. Meditate on that passage. Memorize a verse that will help you in your battle for the day. I came across a wonderful app for memorizing Scripture. (Scripture Typer)

  1. Present your will. You do this by prayer. The Word of God and prayer always go together. Acts 6:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. Whatever you pray, always pray according to God’s will…not your own will.

Now it’s time to put on God’s armor. My husband and I got matching T-shirts for our Christmas pajamas that said, “Put on the armor of God…in smaller print below that it said…put on the whole armor”

Sometimes we go out of the house with partial armor on, and Satan attacks us in an area where we are not protected.

  • Girdle of truth: Since Satan is a liar, we must oppose him with God’s truth.
  • Breastplate of righteousness: Since Satan is our accuser and reminds of us our past sins, we must remind ourselves that we are justified through Christ’s righteousness. The breastplate covers our heart. Often Satan uses people—including Christians—to slander and accuse us, and we are tempted to fight back. But we must not allow these fiery darts to penetrate our armor.
  • Shoes of peace: Our shoes help us keep our footing…helps us from falling down. Psalms 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
  • Shield of faith: We have the promises of God to quench those fiery darts. That is why it’s so important to memorize Scriptures. When Satan hurls those darts…hold that shield up reciting a promise!
  • Helmet of Salvation: 1 Thessalonians 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. Depression and discouragement comes to all of us but…Praise the Lord…we are saved and we have the hope that soon Jesus will return and take us home.
  • Sword of the Spirit: The Word of God is our defensive weapon. A material sword must be handled with physical power, but the Spirit of God enables us to use the Word of God effectively to defeat Satan. Our Lord always said, “It is written!”

 I came across a prayer in Warren Wiersbe’s book The Strategy of Satan that is a great prayer for us to pray every day:

Father, thank You for the provision You have made for victory over Satan. Now, by faith, I put on the girdle of truth. May my life today be motivated by truth. Help me maintain integrity. By faith, I put on the breastplate of righteousness. May my heart love that which is righteous and refuse what is sinful. Thank You for the imputed righteousness of Christ. By faith, I put on the shoes of peace. Help me to stand in Christ’s victory today. Help me to be a peacemaker and not a troublemaker. By faith, I take the shield of faith. May I trust You and Your Word today and not add fuel to any of Satan’s darts. Thank You that I can go into this day without fear. By faith, I put on the helmet of salvation. May I remember today that Jesus is coming again. Help me live in future tense. Protect my mind from discouragement and despair. By faith, I take the sword of the Spirit. Help me remember Your Word and use it today. Father, by faith I have put on the armor. May this be a day of victory.

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I remember when we were living in Rhode Island, I planned some pretty intense Christmas plays. The nice thing about it, we had a Christian school, and we could practice every afternoon for several months. It took much  planning, hard work, and commitment for me and the children. Most smaller churches don’t have the resources or time to this.

Don’t feel that you must have months to plan and rehearse a children’s program to be a blessing to your church. Here are a few suggestions to help you plan a simple children’s program.

  • Keep it simple.
  • Don’t be too intense with the children…have fun with them.
  • For very young children, use a few inexpensive musical instruments like bells, drums, etc.
  • Begin your program by letting the children enter the auditorium carrying battery operated candles and singing a Christmas Carol.
  • Have an adult or teen narrate the Christmas story by reading it from Matthew or Luke.
  • Use power point slides as the children sing.
  • Download some of the Christmas Carols from a Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. Use the picture on the sound tract as a slide and play the music as the people are entering the auditorium.
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