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Mar 31, 2009

Laughter Lives Tuesday

Laughter LivesLaugher Lives Tuesday is a day when we all get to look forward to a good laugh. No rules, no stress, just OPEN SEASON FUNNY!

Your post can be about whatever you want, just make it funny so we can all have a good laugh. I could use a good laugh. How about you?

Pics, videos, jokes, stories... stuff about you or your own family... stuff off the Internet... WHATEVER.

Our Laughter Lives (from Brent)

Samrawit Davis Jr.

A couple of days ago, Sami was "banging" (code for pretending to play) on the piano for a while until Michelle and I finally looked at each other with "that's ENOUGH" looks. I was just about to holler and tell her to quit, when she finishes her latest hit with a flourish, and a "Ta Dah!"

Michelle and I smiled and each other, enjoying Sami's funny creativeness, but RELIEVED that the piano pounding was finally over... when much to our chagrin we hear Landis call out from his bedroom: "Yeah Sami!!!.... ..... ...... ..... " (yep, you know what's coming don't you?) "... ... ... PLAY IT AGAIN!"

Tina Sami Davis Jr. Turner played to packed house: Landis.
Sami has never let us capture her "crazy hair" but I guess
she was feeling like a true pop star on this occassion.


Abby's Been Listening to Dad

Abby and I were sitting on the bed this morning. Landis comes tearing through the door wearing a one piece pajamas, closed feet, slick bottoms on a wood floor. Like a puppy on buttered ice, he starts spinning his feet ala Fred Flintstone trying to get his car moving. He wipes out, plows his head into the wood floor and crumples to a halt at the base of the bed.

Landis looks up at me with that "am I supposed to cry or not?" question on his face. Abby jumps in without missing a beat and takes care of business for me...

"Get up baby, be tough".

Somebody HAS been listening to Dad. This was one accident I would have had some sympathy for but Landis just pops us, declares "I'm tough" and takes off down the hall.

My New Ring Tone

Wanna hear my new ring tone? This is AUTHENTIC. I get to hear it every time my phone rings and I can hardly keep from laughing as I say hello. I recorded it myself, totally real. Can you guess who it is? Can you imagine the looks I get when my phone "rings"?



Okay, now it's YOUR turn.

Here's how you get your link on our blog for "Laughter Lives Tuesday!":

  • Go to your blog, create a new post for "Laugher Lives Tuesday!". Start by copying and pasting all the following HTML code at the beginning your post. (NOTE: Make sure you are in HTML mode or view when you paste in HTML code!):


  • Then, use the form down at the bottom of this post to enter the title of your BLOG (not your post, your blog), and the link to your blog, or the blog post, either one. (if you don't have a blog, feel free to leave a comment, but we would prefer you put up a post if you have a blog.)


That's it! You'll be linked in today's entries and we'll have a fun and inspiring list of "Laughter Lives" posts for everyone to read!


Can't wait to read your blog posts for "Laughter Lives Tuesday!"

Mar 30, 2009

Abby Update, Comments About Comments & the Next Two Years

News Flash 8:50pm CST

Holy cow... we just had an inch of hail dumped on us in less than 5 minutes. It actually was a little scary. I have a "drift" of hail a 6" deep outside my office door. I was trapped in my office and couldn't get in the house. The kids were terrified, then wondered where all the "snow" came from.


Inch of hail dumped in about 3-4 minutes with window
rattling lighting and thunder. Thrilling and scary.


From Michelle:

I am sorry it has taken me so long to update you. Things have been tough for Abby, Brent and I, but they are improving for Abby. I love and appreciate the prayers and encouragement we receive when we are struggling and honestly I have needed your prayers this last week and now.
Unfortunately when I talk about the harder things that are happening with Abby, I get numerous emails, questions and comments about how we need to just put her on hospice and let her die. Of course the word "die" isn't used but nicer phrases like "let her go". Most are written out of genuine concern for Abby just not really understanding the whole situation and where we are at, but others were just being mean.

This is an example of one comment that we went ahead and posted. I took off any identifying info, because I believe that even though it was hard for me to read, she was just saying what she believed was best for Abby, out of concern for her:

  • Okay, this just breaks my heart seeing poor Abby in that video begging to go to the beach. Awww she is too adorable! Have you ever considered taking her off all of this painful treatment and bringing her home , letting her enjoy the beach and be a happy kid for the little time she has remaining? I think that would be good for Abby. I know sometimes as parents we can be kinda selfish wanting to do anything to prolong our child's life yet when the quality of life is diminished and the child is suffering, sometimes its time to make some serious decisions and let our children be happy.
Obviously this commenter had nothing but good intentions, but it's still really hard to read stuff like that. We have NO ills feelings about the commenter. Brent and I are fully aware and have discussed at what point we will talk about ending treatment. Abby is no where NEAR that point. This note was innocent, but painful. Do people REALLY think we haven't discussed this? Most of the others, I would never post and we just delete because they are simply mean and cruel.

I know it is hard to read about a child who is hurting. Imagine how hard it is to hold them, care for them and watch them endure all this. We don't want Abby to suffer and we have to continually balance the potential for cure against the price of treatment.

The chemo Abby is doing now is to KEEP HER IN REMISSION. If we were to simply stop the treatments, Abby is not going to "die from cancer". Abby doesn't technically "have cancer" at this point. The chemo eradicated it, and the continued chemo is meant to give her the greatest possible chance of never getting it again.

Now, having said that, yes, Abby has been close to dying 3 or 4 times during her treatment. There was no way to foresee that, so there was no chance to even consider "not" treating her. Each time was from different compiling chemo effects.

In the end, we want our friends and family to know this: WE have seen her through every step of this. As you know, we are NOT hopeless or desperate, and in fact, we know that Abby will be quite happy waiting for us in heaven should she graduate early. If and when the time comes that we need to seriously consider "is the treatment worth the possible cure?", we will face that question and are quite able to do so. WE will know when it is time to say "enough!", and WE will know when comfort and quality time during her "last days or weeks" is more important than enduring further treatment. We do not FEAR that decision, though it would sadden us.

It hurts to have people leave comments implying or directly stating we are selfish and desperate, and will let Abby suffer any amount just so we can keep her around a little longer. I guess anyone who really knows us very well (personally, or by reading our blogs) will probably already know that... but these comments caused me a quite a bit of heartache and I wanted to write this, even though Brent's advice was to just move and on ignore it all.

What's Next...

The next treatment planned for Abby, is the LAST phase of chemo call "maintenance". It is usually an easier course of chemo, but it will last for 2 years, once a month clinic visit typically, daily chemo. The goal will be to keep her immune system suppressed enough to keep the cancerous white blood cells from coming back, without compromising her immune system to the point where it will be dangerous to her.

Because Abby has a history of handling chemo poorly, they are starting with lower doses and only giving her higher doses if her counts are too high, and she seems to be handling it. She will have weekly appointments until the right dose is found, then go to monthly most likely.

For the next two years Abby will receive 4 different kinds of chemo. The tougher ones will be at most once a month and the other chemo will be a daily pill. Daily chemo for 2 years sounds like a hard long road, and it is, but it will be easier than what she has done in the past. If we choose not to give it to her, then everything she went through for the last 9 months would probably be for nothing. If we stop, barring a miracle, the cancer will come back with a vengeance.

We have already let Abby go out to church and shopping, with a mask on, because her WBC (ANC 740) was adequate. She was very excited and enjoyed it. We would appreciate your prayers as we are making decisions for Abby.

We are shooting for a more "normal" family life, while still remembering that Abby needs to be protected from germs. It will take several months to find the exact doses that are best for Abby. Once we do that, she will have more freedom.

Abby should be able to do many more fun things, once her current wounds heal. Even though she is home, we are still administering round-the-clock antibiotics and morphine. Normally, a kid in her shape would still be hospitalized, but since we know how, we were able to bring her home and do her care and nursing at home.

(And by the way, for those two or three really nasty comments about how Brent doesn't help me, uses our blog as his own ego trip, thinks he's "god" and that we adopted Sami to use her as a slave to care for Abby.... go find another blog to read. We, and our blog friends, have no use for you here. Brent is the hardest working person I know, and cares for our entire family relentlessly, doing more than his share of house work, kids, work, ministry and helping others. Everyone that knows him, know this about him. And for those hand full of people who don't like Brent "giving his intolerant religious views" on our family blog, you can either ignore them, or join the others who need to move on. Brent has been teaching, ministering, guiding, mentoring and discipling people his whole life. It's who he is. It's an integral part of our family and relationship. To say it is an "ego trip" for him is senseless and hateful. It is an act of service that Brent freely gives his time and energy for when he could be using that time and energy out making money or pursuing leisure.)

Today, Abby is still healing. The wound on her abdomen is still red and has an open area in the middle. It is much better than it was, but it still needs to heal. We are almost finished with the IV antibiotics, but have been warned she may need another round of them. We are willing and ready of course, but Brent and I would love not to have to get up all hours of the night.

Abby's pain is pretty well controlled at this point. She is getting her energy and spunk back. Brent and I are really, really tired, but little Miss is recovering quickly and hopefully we'll get some sleep soon. Kids are amazing, aren't they?

Thank you so much for all of your prayers and encouragement. Thank you also for loving Abby enough to be concerned about her and pray for her.

In the future Brent will be moderating the comments and questions. He is able to read and delete, without giving rude comments a second thought. I love him for shielding me from comments that are written by people who say hateful things for sport. Other comments on harder subjects, but written out of caring, we will talk about and pray over before deciding how/if to respond.

From Brent:

Well I had to add a little to Michelle's comments. Just to many of my own thoughts to keep them quiet. For you heartless people who accused Michelle of exploiting our children, adopting Sami so we could have a "slave", and implying that we "use" our children for personal gain and labor... GO AWAY.

No really... go away. And if you think you are "getting to us" because we wrote these comments, think again. We are just letting our blog friends know you are out there in case you wander off to their blog to harass them. We'll take your harrassment first, so they can ignore you when you visit them.

I have set up approval/moderation systems on the lists, comments, questions and other reader submitted information on our blogs. From now on, your nasty comments will never make it past me. Michelle won't see them, and they will never get on the blog. They don't bother me... so don't bother wasting your time. Delete, delete, delete will be the only response a nasty comment, question or list submission will ever get from now.

Now, for our true friends on this blog, we WELCOME genuine, loving, respectful disagreement, questions and even criticism. We always want to grow, and if we make a mistake we HOPE you'll kindly tell us. If you disagree, we hope you'll tell us why, because we may be misinformed or ignorant. We WANT to learn. We really sincerely want to know why people disagree. Mature people learn MUCH by discussing disagreements. If we receive your criticism or disagreement and we still end up disagreeing, then guess what? We disagree. Big deal. We disagree. How earth-shattering... we don't question your sincerity or motivations... and hopefully you won't question ours. We just disagree. Big stinkin' deal... if we agree on everything, all the time, then I say we don't have much of REAL connection anyway. If you genuinely want to discuss a disagreement, include a name and email, even if you send it to me privately. Anonymous disagreements/criticisms will be ignored.

I plan for this to be the last post about nasty, cruel, hateful comments because they will never make it past me from now on. In reality... IT IS WASTE OF TIME AND ENERGY. Out of the hundreds of thousands of visitors we get each month, four or five are hateful jerks, another half dozen are rude and leave gutless, ugly, comments, and only 3-4 more leave any sort of genuinely negative and always anonymous responses. So why waste time on them?

If I receive a genuine criticism or correction that is accurate and needs to be heeded, I'll be the first one publicly to admit it. Being teachable and correctable is a sign of maturity, not weakness. I have no problem admitting when I'm wrong, or was ignorant about some facts or information.

Whew... glad that's over with. Someone leave us a nasty comment for wasting your time talking about our nasty comments.

The many faces of Little Miss Abby.

Mar 29, 2009

Updated - Some Serious Stuff & Abby Update Coming

From Brent:

Michelle is writing an Abby update that we'll be posting later today. I know we were kind of quiet this weekend. More on that in the update...

Encouragement & Prayer Blog

Originally I set up the Encouragement & Prayer Blog intending to have it focus on just one person/family at a time but there are just too many people out there needing our encouragement, and some sort of word of blessing during tremendously hard times.

So I've changed how the blog works, and there is ONE EMAIL address to use to send a POST anytime, for anyone. All I ask is that you put the intended FAMILY OR PERSON IN THE SUBJECT LINE, so that I can moderate and group them easily.

Again, if you send an email to: brent143.encourage@blogger.com ... your email will be posted on the blog when I approve it. Put the person or family's name in the SUBJECT LINE, so I will know who the note is meant for.

If you have a couple of minutes today, please send a note of encouragement via email to brent143.encourage@blogger.com for these situations (put the BOLD name or words in your Subject line):


Maddie - fighting Leukemia; in intensive care, septic; http://maddiegorman.wordpress.com/

Maddie is still fighting for her life. Please keep praying. http://maddiegorman.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/thanks-and-keep-praying/

Abducted Boys - the Connelly boys who were abducted; http://www.amw.com/missing_children/case.cfm?id=64031

I just received word that the Connelly boys have passed away, too. Their bodies were found this morning. Please let their mother and friends know that we are praying for them. This touched a family that I have cared about for a long time. Jenny I am so sorry.

Mary Kate - dying from Leukemia, family doesn't think she'll make it through the week. UPDATE: Mary Kate passed away last night. Please send a note of comfort to her family.
http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/marykaterushing

Please take a minute and email a note of encouragement, prayer or blessing to these families. Email to: brent143.encourage@blogger.com , put the bold words above in the SUBJECT LINE.

~ Brent

Open Season Answers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9


Kristen and Abby were fascinated by a special visitor at the hospital.
We'll have some new pics and video to share this week about
this wonderful meeting Abby had with...


Answers by Brent...

Kimberly asked:
Hi - we struggle with whether to bring the *Easter Bunny* in our house with the kids. They are 4 and 2 and this is the first year the 4 year old has really been influenced by peers. What are your thoughts? Does your family recognize it in some way? Thanks!

As with most things, we think there is an extreme on both ends. One extreme is just going with the flow and treating what used to be Christian holidays (ie. Christmas, Easter, etc as practiced for centuries by Christians) as commercial holidays where we fall for all the marketing hype, spend lots of money on needless stuff and candy, and just have yet another day to line the pockets of Madison Avenue while taking a day to indulge ourselves.

The other extreme is to see paganism and Satanism in every symbol of the holidays and throw out all holidays as holdovers of Roman influence from the days of Constantine (much of which is true by the way but that doesn’t in essence make our celebrations of holiday inherently and automatically “worshipping devils”.) It is a question for us much like the question of “eating meat sacrificed to idols” was for early Christians. Some Christians saw it as wrong, and some did not. Paul said to follow your conscience, and the strong in faith should not be a stumbling block to those weaker in the faith.

We see ANY celebration or time set aside to remember something about God as GOOD. No, Jesus was not actually born on Dec 25th, nor does most of what we not see publicly for Easter anymore have anything to do with Jesus' resurrection. But if we can set aside days to think about these events and celebrate them, then those are good celebrations. To the degree we commercialize them and leave God out is the degree to which they become useless as “Christian” holidays.

Now, having said that, IDEALLY we would simply weave the celebration of all things Christian into our ongoing life, and well, we should. But for those who focus on Jesus during Christmas, there is hardly anything wrong with honoring the Savior any time, whether a “Biblical holiday” or not. It is a matter of liberty. To the degree that the world and Madison Ave and political correctness have hijacked and bastardized our Christian holidays, is the degree to which they become worthless to society as a whole (detrimental in fact).

But in the end, it is a matter of Christian liberty because there IS NO DIRECT COMMAND in Scripture telling us “thou shall” or “thou shalt not” about Easter or Christmas, bunnies or Santa.

Miranda asked:
Brent - My husband is Muslim and I am Christian. His faith goes as far as just observing the holidays. He doesn’t pray 5 times a day or any of the other things. We have been talking about the differences in Muslim vs Christian. He says the Bible was altered. Do you have anything of Scripture that I can give him?

No. I have no specific verses for you. Just the Bible as whole which your husband as a good Muslim will belief is corrupt and inferior to the Quran. In truth, neither he nor you have been true to either belief. You have ignored the Bible’s teaching not to be unequally yoked (married) to an unbeliever, especially one diametrically opposed to any belief in salvation through Jesus Christ. And your husband has ignored his faith by marrying an "infidel", which you are, according to Islamic teaching.

The only advice I have for you now is that you need to get serious about learning and living Christianity so that through your example, your husband MIGHT see the truth and come to know the True and Living God of the Bible which means he will face a choice concerning the teachings of Islam.

You could be the light by which your husband finds Jesus, but only if you get serious yourself about your own faith so that you can live it, demonstrate and if needed, give up your own personal happiness or life for it to be a living example for him. But flashing a few Bible verses in front of him is unlikely to have any effect on him until he can see and “hear” the Word of God being lived seriously in your life. If he is truly interested in exploring the evidence that proves either the Bible or the Quran to be the real “book” from God, there are plenty of authors he can check into: Dave Hunt, Chuck Missler, James Kennedy, Ray Comfort to name a few.

Emma asked:
Slightly out of season, but what are your opinions on telling kids about Santa? Do you feel it is telling lies? What do your kids think about Santa?

I think it is a LIE if you present the “tale” as anything but a “tale” based loosely on the real life of person who lived long ago. Santa is a “tradition” to be presented (if you want) as a fun tradition. As the kids get older, they need to understand that some stories are actually true (Bible stories for example), and some stories are just “fun” but not true. But to call it a “lie” to “make believe” with a three year old that “Santa” came and left presents last night is simply to foist our adult hang ups on to the care free world of a child.

As they grow, appropriate to their age (and that’s a fairly young age in my opinion), kids need to know that Santa, elves, and Rudolph are just a fun holiday tradition while Noah, David & Goliath, and Jesus are REAL, true, actual characters and stories. They “get it”. Don’t underestimate them. I knew Santa wasn’t “real” by the time I was four or five and no one even had to tell me.

megan.light@gmail.com asked:
This kind of relates to your post on anger - how do you feel about being angry at God? I certainly feel that He is our Father, Provider, Healer, and sooooo many things...that part of having a close relationship is the ability to say “Hey God, I’m really mad”. And then you work through it. My parents disagree completely. What are your thoughts?

Saying “hey, God, I’m really mad” and knowing WE are the cause and source of anger is fine. Saying “hey God, I have a right to be mad at YOU” just betrays a lack of understanding about God’s perfection and goodness.

We have lost a LOT of the respect and reverence for God that we should have by decades of OVER emphasis on God as “Father Daddy” a term I myself am reluctant to ever use even though many do while praying. I think it is just TOO casual to address the Almighty Creator of the Universe as "Dad".

Do I believe God is “Father”? Of course. Do I believe He is as intimate, close and loving as “Daddy”? Of course, in it's purest essence. But I’m careful not to then think of the True and Living God on the same human terms as I think of my own human father. I think of God with ALL of the best and perfect qualities of a human father AND, AND, AND all the qualities of the All Powerful & Awesome Mighty God. Combining those two, it keeps me from casually approaching His Throne and declaring “hey Pops, I’m angry at you.”

When I am angry, I have to first acknowledge that my anger cannot actually be AT GOD, or ABOUT GOD because this would imply that God has done something for which a frail and sinful human has the right to be “mad” which of course I know as a mature Christian is completely ludicrous. I can approach God with humility and awe, tell Him honestly “I am angry” and ask Him to reveal in MY HEART the flaw, weakness, sin, lack of knowledge or misunderstanding that is causing my anger. But we should never be “angry at God” because this implies HE let us down, did something wrong, made a wrong choice, etc which can NEVER be true, ever.

You are right that we can, in great humility, approach God in honesty and tell Him, “God I’m angry”. But your parents are right if they mean you, as a Believer, should never dare to affront the Almighty Creator with such an grievous error as saying “God I’m mad at YOU.”

Mandi from Montana asked:
How is sex education handled in your home? When did your older kids start dating? What are your views of premarital sex? Do you guard (for lack of a better word) your older daughter more closely with relationships and dating? Just wondering because I know I was treated different than by brother in our house growing up in relation to sex and dating even though I grew up in a very Christian house hold.

We teach our children about sex and relationships. Often we have to counteract what they have learned from friends or at school. It’s just a part of parenting. The whole world strives every day to teach our kids WRONG about sex, so in this day and age parents should be making a monumental and extra special effort to combat that by talking and teaching their kids often and comprehensively the right information and attitudes about sex according to our Christian faith. Both boys and girls are to be equally guarded and taught. To think that a reckless boy is less in danger simply because they cannot get pregnant or raped, is folly.

The Knitting Basics asked:
Do you guys have a garden? Do you like to grow your own veggies? We save about 300 to 500 dollars each summer growing our own food.

We do not have a garden at this time but want one. We have rabbits, birds, squirrels, armadillos, possums, raccoons, skunks and guineas that make it almost impossible to keep a garden unless it is well fenced off.

Marie asked:
Me again...can you please explain Gods Will vs Free Will? I often see you saying everything is in Gods hands, he knows what will happen etc. But obviously you also believe in free will - the ability to sin, make choices etc. So...if God has a plan and he controls everything, and you choose to do something wrong...was that his will or yours...oh the confusion! What do you think Brent?

God’s will comes in two forms: His written Will (the Bible) and His ongoing Will (whatever else He desires). Free will is the quality God (according to His Will) instilled in humans as the ability to choose from a human viewpoint, which direction, desire or action they want. (Note: not going to argue about Calvinism here. Just see my answer as addressing what we experience humanly as “choice” or “free will” and we’ll leave the deep theological discussions for another time.)

God is sovereign which means He knows all and is in control of all. From a human perspective, and from our vantage point, part of God’s sovereignty includes giving us the ability to “choose” on a daily basis pretty much everything about our life: what we do, what we eat, whether we believe in God or not, what our life is about. Of course, our circumstances and social positions appear to give us MORE choice to exercise our free will. Money appears to give us more choice. Freedom appears to give us more choice. And it is our “free will”, our mind, our ability to think and make a choice, that gives us our human experience as persons, not robots.

We could ramble around and discuss philosophy, Calvinism and other religions all day but on a purely human level, the basic experience of “free will” is the universal characteristic of our existence that makes us “human” and not “animals”.

God's Will is whatever God desires. Our free will as Christians is the ability to choose our desires within the framework of God's Will.

Marie asked:
Do your older children follow your faith as strongly as you do? What would you do if any of your kids chose to follow another religion, or none at all?

It would be unreasonable to think that teenagers or twenty-somethings would follow the Christian faith as strongly as their spiritually mature parents who have been following God for decades.

Each of our children follow God with their own understanding, commitment and maturity appropriate to their age and spiritual development. I quit worrying about whether they were “faithful enough” a long time ago. That’s in God’s hands, and He is much more able than I am (understatement) to take care of them spiritually. We help, but God is in charge.

We have some kids who appear to be more interested in God than others, but all we can do for each of them is teach them and be an example. They will eventually have to grow into their faith on their own terms being drawn by God just as we were.

God does not call parents to be RESPONSIBLE for the children’s salvation. He calls us to be examples of it and to teach them. It is hard to watch any of our children appear to be disinterested in God, or at times, even question Christianity completely but there is no need to be anxious or worry because their salvation is squarely on God’s shoulders, not ours, even if we are terrible parents who neglect our children spiritually.

And thank the Lord it’s NOT our ultimate responsibility... what guilt and worry would crush us if we thought WE could fail our kids eternally.

Brent Riggs asked:
Why are you the way you are? Can’t you be the way you should be? Or is it impossible to change the possible?

I am the way I am because I’m that way. I would be the way I should be if I could but I can’t so I shan’t. I’ve never found it possible to change the impossible even when the impossible is possible though we believe impossibly that it’s possible. So what you see is what you get even if what you see is not what you want to see or get even if you aren’t looking.

I am the way I am because you see what you see even if you should see what is impossible to see or not see. See?

Mar 28, 2009

Sunday Morning Ministry: March 29, 2009

Blessed Lord's Day morning to you!

For those of you who may be at home with sick children or some other reason you are unable to meet with other local Believers, I've prepared a message for your encouragement and edification.

For those who would like to listen, here is an audio version, and the written version is below. It's not professional quality, but I hope it will suffice.

  • Be sure to sign the GUEST BOOK so we evaluate how useful this ministry tool is over time.

  • There is a blog badge below for the "Riggs Family Sunday Morning Ministry" if you want to post it on your blog so others can find out about it.


Do You Not Know? Part 1

2 Corinthians 13:4-5 For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. (NKJV)

Seventeen times in the New Testament you come across the phrase "do you not know?". Those four words carry with them all sorts of possible implications and unspoken commentary:
  • You should know this!
  • I can't believe you don't know this!
  • Are you kidding me, you should know better!
  • I know you know, but you're choosing to ignore...
  • Good grief, how many times do I have to tell you...
  • I'm concerned, you need to know...
  • You better listen up...
  • Ignore this at your own risk...
As a parent, it's easy to understand this expression. I couldn't begin to count the number of times I've said to my kids, "didn't I tell you?" or "you should have known". Whenever I read the phrase "do you not know?" in the Bible, it now causes me to stop and really look at that passage because the writer is emphasizing it's something we SHOULD know as Christians. Obviously, you could say that we should know everything that is in the Bible, but that is neither practical nor possible. A lifetime of study still leaves a person far short of knowing all there is to know about Scripture.

"Do you not know?" means
"you better know this!"


Given that, there are things that every Christian should know, and certainly those who have been Christians for a while. While the list could be long of what those things are, we can be sure that if the Bible itself says "do you not know?" that those are a few of things we should put high on this list. So with that in mind, let's look at half the list today, and half next time. As we go through these, I'm not going engage in a full scale exposition of each verse, but simply point out the fact or concept that we are being encouraged to learn or be reminded of.

John 19:10 - Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?”

Here Pilate is speaking to Jesus, so these aren't really things that God is telling us we should know. However, there is a good point for us to consider in Pilate's declaration. First, Pilate obviously didn't know who he was talking to. Pilate foolishly thought he was in control. We should be careful what we say to God and about God, lest we foolishly think that we are really in control and not Him. Another lesson to learn is that we don't ever have to wonder if God knows or not, He does! "God, don't you know how much I'm hurting?" "God, don't you know my needs?" He does. We don't have to wonder.

Rom 6:3 - Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

In this verse Paul is reminding the Romans that they should know longer live in sin. It would be like me saying to you, "why are you sinning like this? Don't you realize you are a Christian now?" In context, Paul is not even speaking about the physical act of baptism but more the concept of being immersed into or totally a part of the Christian life. He is chiding them for overlooking or ignoring this obvious fact. How about you? Are you sinning as if you have forgotten that you are now part of Christ's body? Do you not know that sin is no longer a part of your life?

Rom 6:16 - Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

Continuing his instruction, Paul reminds the Romans of the obvious: whoever you obey you are a slave to. This simple truth would not seem to be one that we need to be reminded of, and yet, as we see how often and how easily we sin, we find ourselves needing this reminder constantly: do you not know that whoever you obey (Satan or God) you are a slave to them? Most people would never admit "I'm a slave to Satan" but when we obey our sinful desires, that is exactly what we are doing. Who are you obeying today?

Rom 7:1 - Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?

Speaking to those who should know better (those who "know the law"), Paul has to remind them that the law has power over man his whole life. What does he mean by that? Clarified in verse 4, Paul is saying that while a person is alive to the sinful nature, they are under the condemnation the law brings to sin. Only after death in Christ are you freed from the law and its dominion. It is in essence yet another knock on the head to those sinning Christians presenting what should be obvious to them: "do you not know that your old self is dead in Christ, freed from sin, and freed from the law that condemns you?"

1 Cor 3:16 - Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

In a running theme, we find Paul now bouncing his finger off the forehead of the Corinthians trying to wake them up. Corinth was reknown for its immorality and the Corinthian Christians were struggling with leaving their old lifestyle. Paul had to remind them in his familiar parental manner that their body was now the temple of the Holy Spirit and that they could not be sleeping with temple prostitutes while indwelled with God's Spirit. Their body was no longer their own. Christian, your body is no longer yours. It is indwelled by the Spirit and belongs to God. What are you doing to His temple today that He would disapprove of or would bring dishonor to Him?

1 Cor 5:6 - Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?

In today's Engish we might say "you need to quit bragging about what you are doing good and pay attention. Allowing a LITTLE BIT of sin in your life will affect your entire Christian walk. Don't you know that?" We cannot be content with ANY sin in our life. We will never reach a point of sinlessness in this lifetime but cannot allow that as a reason to excuse it. We need to constantly strive to remove all sin and never lose sight of the fact that just a little bit of sin gets into our whole life just like a little bit of yeast makes the whole lump of dough rise.

1 Cor 6:2-3 - Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?

The point being made here is that it is shameful for Christians to have to turn to the ungodly world to solve our disputes. Someday, we will sit and judge matters for the whole world and the angels, and yet we can't judge matters now amongst ourselves, particularly about money. Paul is saying "this shouldn't be! Why are you going to the world to solve your disputes? Are you nuts? Don't you know that we will judge the whole world and the angels some day and that it is shameful that we cannot even judge these insignificant matters of money, property and fairness amongst ourselves?"
Next week we'll look at the other half of the list. I hope when you see "do you not know" in Scripture, it will scream out to you, "STOP! you should know this!".

Mar 27, 2009

Please Email Some Encouragement: Sage Eldredge

Would you take a minute to email some encouragement (note, prayer, scripture, well wish, etc.) to the Sage Elderedge family?

Here's a snapshot of the request:

This morning they went to get their 8 month old son, Sage, from his crib and take him to Crystal (Mom) to be nursed. Spencer (Dad) found Sage was not breathing. He rushed him to their bedroom where he began CPR. He continued CPR until medics arrived and were able to take over.

We are saddened to say that little Sage passed away. The first responders were kind enough to allow Teele to bring Sage down stairs after they had completed their investigation and let the family hold him one last time.

You can find his blog here: http://spencer-crystal5.blogspot.com/

Post Via Email:

Post encouragement for Sage's family on our Prayers & Encouragement Blog by sending an email to: brent143.sage@blogger.com

Put "Eldredge" in the SUBJECT LINE.

Open Season Friday - March 27, 2009 & Blog Directory

Serious.Life Magazine - Blog Directory APRIL ISSUE

It's not too late to get into this months blog directory. We've had about 900,000 page views of the March issue!

Remember, you have to enter your information EACH MONTH... that's how we keep the directory fresh and change up the order. Sign up here, and hurry:
http://www.seriouslifemagazine.com/blogdirectorysignup.asp

We “rebuild” the directory each month to keep it fresh, updated and to give you a chance to use different descriptions to get attention. A little pain I know, but it only takes about 5 minutes each month, and keeps the directly FRESH.

The top 20 blogs that refer readers to our blogs/magazine get a free quarter page banner in the front of the directory. We know from our statistics tracking who those folks are. We count the traffic for the whole month, so you might want to put out another shout to your readers about the March issue because many people who intended to check it out, probably forgot never got around to it, TRUST ME. Its helps the magazine, and gives you a better chance to get a big banner ad, and possibly become a featured blog too.

Open Season Friday

Open Season Friday's are when you ask us anything you want, and we post up several answers today and over the weekend.

How many we answer really depends on how lengthy some of the answers are, and of course, what is going on with Abby.

The list of submitted questions will tag along with THE NEWEST ANSWER POST, so that new questions can be added, and existing questions can be viewed.

Ask your question using the form below. Obviously we won't be able to answer all questions... we'll just randomly answer whatever grabs us.

Don't be bashful, ask anything you want... questions about:
  • our family, our life, adoption, cancer, parenting, marriage, marriage, family
  • blogging, photography, technology
  • marketing, personal finance
  • the Bible
  • what we do professionally...
  • ask for advice
  • WHATEVER.... hey, it's OPEN SEASON!!


Mar 26, 2009

About Nine Months & One Kid


July 2008


March 2009


I don't know... what do you think? Is cancer hard?

We're on the way back now.

Anger & Getting Offended

If you don't struggle with getting easily angered or easily offended, you probably know someone who does.

We have become a people who gets offended over just about everything. There is a reason for that.

I wrote about anger and getting offended over on Serious.Faith:

http://www.seriousfaith.com/dvo/devotion.asp?teachingnumber=645

~ Brent

Please Email Some Encouragement: Ian Lyons

Would you take a minute to email some encouragement (note, prayer, scripture, well wish, etc.) to the Ian Lyons family?

Here's a snapshot of the request:

Ian is a bright and active 13 year old boy, the 6th of 7 children. He has 4 brothers and 2 sisters. He loves soccer and video games and reading. And he has a very aggressive form of cancer, Aveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma.

His family is a blessing - their faith is inspiring through the storm they are in right now!

And an excerpt from their latest post:

Today Ian showed responsiveness and core strength that we’ve not seen in weeks. At times his eyes would follow people speaking to him. At one point he sat up in a chair without leaning back for several minutes. At another point Renee was reviewing God’s promises with him, and when she went to change a music CD he grabbed her hand and would not let go. His immune system is even more depleted today, so no visitors yet. Now it looks like next Tuesday before we’ll be able to bring him home. Thanks to those who are writing and calling encouragement to Ian. It helps! Please pray for wisdom regarding my roles as my team is gathering from around the world to meet all next week.

You can find his blog here: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/ianlyons

Post Via Email:

Post encouragement for Ian's family on our Prayers & Encouragement Blog by sending an email to: brent143.ianlyons@blogger.com

Put "Ian Lyons" in the SUBJECT LINE.

Hi/Lo Thursday

Last Last Mention:

Hey, this is Heather one last, last time. We sold all the original shirts and printed a new batch. So those of you with orders out, they will be shipped pretty quick.
And if you haven't gotten we, like I said, we have a new batch! The Riggs still have two years of chemo and medical bills coming, so if you want to help them, it will be greatly appreciated. Abby is home and past the "hell phase" but there's still a LOT of journey left.
If you want to help the Riggs, more information here.

Hi/Lo Thursday

When you participate in things like "Laughter Lives Tuesday", "Hi/Lo Thursday", or suggest a photo caption, you get links on our site to your blog, chances to be in our magazine and a lot of laughs and tears.

Hi/Lo Thursday is where we get to know each other by sharing our emotional/spiritual HIGH and LOW for this previous week. It's a great way to get to know each other!

Only in a very special home do you find a little girl playing with
I.V. bags and Diego cards. Go figure!

Our HIGHS:

Abby is home now. We are slowly but surely getting her stronger and healthier. She is starting to smile again a little bit (without being asked), and interacting with the other kids more. We are so happy to NOT be in the hospital.
We are entering the "maintenance phase" that lasts for two years and it is SUPPOSED to be much easier. We pray this will be true for Abby who has had NOTHING easy since this started.
Our LOWS:

Abby still feels very rough. She still has a lot of the chemo effects and has to take a lovely load of pain meds every day. She is suffering some withdrawals as we wean her off.
We were sad to hear about and continue to read the updates on baby Stellan. Please pray for Jennifer and her family. We know all about trusting our kids to God, and we know they trust God just as much.

Okay, now it's YOUR turn. Here's how:
  • Go to your blog, create a new post for "Hi/Lo Thursday!" Copy and paste ALL the HTML code below at the beginning your post.
    (NOTE: Make sure you are in HTML mode when you paste HTML code!):
    Then, use the form at the bottom of this post to enter the title of your BLOG and the link to your "Hi/Lo" blog post. (if you don't have a blog, feel free to leave a comment)

That's it! You'll be linked in today's entries and we'll have a fun and inspiring list of "Hi/Lo Thursday" posts for everyone to read! Can't wait to read your blog posts for "Hi/Lo Thursday". By the way, did you know it really helps YOUR blog to have a link on our blog (because of how much trafffic we get)?



Mar 25, 2009

New Demo by Brent - Basic HTML Stuff

I've been asked several times about basic HTML, what is HTML, how to do things like strikeout text... so I just put up a very basic demo on HTML. It shows a few basic things, but more importantly EXPLAINS what HTML is.

Here's the demo: http://www.brentriggs.com/online_demos/

After you get a basic understanding, you can go to one of these references and begin to figure out your own tricks:

If you've never seen my online demo's, there are a bunch of them there about all sorts of things. Be sure to check them out.

http://www.brentriggs.com/online_demos/

Correction, Blog Themes & New Pics

CORRECTION: I fixed the email address in the previous post about sending encouragement notes to the new blog. Sorry about that:

Please EMAIL your encouragement to the following address and it will automatically be posted on the new blog: brent143.mckmama@blogger.com

Start your subject line with: MckMama...
Write your note.
Put your name.
Put your link (email or blog; optional)


Themes on our Blog

I do a little design work on occasion, and we thought we'd start having some fun with the blog changing the theme to fit seasons, holidays or events. Should be fun.

Abby

Abby is at home now of course, but she's still pretty rough. She is on a lot of pain meds still. Today she smiled for the first couple of times with being asked. She's starting to play some, and interact with the rest of us. For the first couple of days we really got not much more than blank stares.

Please continue to pray for Michelle as she juggles all of Abby's meds and schedule. She is up and down all night taking care of Abigail. Besides rubbing my back, keeping my snacks prepared and being my personal assistant especially while I'm golfing or out with my friends, she stays pretty tired. She's having a hard time getting my clothes back from the dry cleaner and last night my bath water wasn't warm enough. She's not trying to slack off, but the added stress of doing the bills and mowing the lawn is probably making it harder on her. I may give her a break and help her paint the house, but only if I'm not sleepy.



Abby is coming back to us, slowly but surely. We are starting
to see some genuine smiles, and she is interacting with us more
and more. Please continue to pray for her healing and strength.

Sami is a joy. She helps us with Abby and continues
to do her schoolwork every day.

SpideyLandis admires his mask as he contemplates what
adventures he will launch into once he dons it..

New Blog for Encouraging & Praying Others

I've created a new blog where you can easily and quickly send an email (encouragement, prayer, scriptures, blessing, etc) and your note will appear on the new blog automatically. Here is the blog: http://wouldyouprayfor.blogspot.com/

I will let you know about different people or situations that could really use your encouragement and a note of blessing.

I'm going to start with Stellan, the youngest child of MckMama (mycharmingkids.net). Many of you know her, and I know that she will already get a gagillion comments and emails anyway.

But, it will be a good way for me to "test" the new blog, and let you know how it works. There will be other people who will never a get a single email or comment on their blog, and we hope that our loving blog family can become a source of encouragement for those families and kids who don't have a big blog readership to hear from.

Please post encouragement for:

Stellan... Stellan is MckMama's youngest baby, and he is dealing with a dangerously high heart rate that the doctors are having trouble stabilizing. It is a very situation. They've been in the hospital a couple of days trying to figure it out. Mom has a bad cold to makes things more fun.

Please EMAIL your encouragement to:
brent143.mckmama@blogger.com

Start your subject line with: MckMama...

Write your note.
Put your name.
Put your link (email or blog; optional)

Resting & Learning

Every day I get emails and notes from people who are laboring (striving, stressed, tired) and under heavy burden.

A child is about to die. A job is lost. A husband's committed suicide. A kid is doing drugs. Money has been stolen. A house about to be foreclosed on. A tumor found. A car wreck left a woman paralyzed. And that was just this last week.

I wrote a message over on SeriousFaith about "rest" and "learning" that I hope will be an encourage when (not if) you go through some tough times.

http://www.seriousfaith.com/dvo/devotion.asp?teachingnumber=644

~ Brent

Mar 24, 2009

Pray for Me... Pray for Others... March 25, 2009

Brent: Facebook - Twitter . . . . . . . . . . . Michelle: Facebook - Twitter

Landis prays so sweetly for everyone in our entire family.

On Wednesdays, we do Pray for Me... Pray for Others to help build the sense of community for our readers. This particular feature is near to the heart of my dear wife, so you can know she will be praying for you. Please check back a couple of times today as the list grows. See which entries touch your heart.

Pray for Me... Pray for Others is where we all get to pray for each other. It is obvious, and we don't pretend otherwise, that we cannot give full attention to every request and comment we receive. This feature on Wednesdays is a time we ask YOU for help praying for others, as they pray for you.

Pray for Me... Pray for Others is pretty simple:

  1. List a short prayer request for YOU, and a link for more detail if needed.

  2. Then submit a prayer request for someone else, or some other situation that you know about. Include a link for them if available. Be specific.

Be specific... provide a link for more information if available. I'm sure that other people will be VERY blessed to have you request prayer for them, and include a link to their blog so that those praying can visit them.

Questions? If you have suggestions or feedback to make this work better, don't hesitate to email me: brent@brentriggs.com

Our Requests:

From Brent: Please pray for Abby to continue to heal. She is at home now, but a LONG ways from being comfortable or somewhat normal. She suffers from withdrawals, pain and lingering effects of chemo.

Please pray for Michelle who is getting up every couple of hours to juggle a dozen medicines and needs for Abby.

From Michelle: We are glad to be home, but Abby is still feeling pretty sick. . Abby is not getting any chemo right now, we are just helping her body heal. She is getting two kinds of IV antibiotics. We are working with the Pain Management team to find the balance between having her too sleepy or hurting. If I have to pick, I would rather her be sleepier.

Please pray Abby continues to heal, is pain free, and that she gets her energy back. After watching Abby have a severe reaction to an antibiotic while she was in the hospital, I would appreciate your prayers that she not have any reactions to the medications at home.

I would really appreciate your prayers for myself as well. I am giving her IV medication around the clock and pain medicine many times during the day and night. Please pray for strength, energy and a clear mind. I am very tired. That I can live with. My concern is that I don't want to make any mistakes, as I am giving medicine in the middle of the night.

We truly are thankful to be home, but Abby is still very tired and wants to be held most of the day. I love holding her, but I am praying she feels better soon.

Pray for these folks:

Please pray for the Barresi family in Oklahoma City as the learn to live with their loss and make decisions about the future.

Please pray for Joel and Dmea Green as they run the maze of adoption for the referral they've accepted.

Please pray for Stellan and his family.

Pray for Me... Pray for Others - Instructions:

  1. Use the form below to enter your prayer requests. You must enter an "identity", and put something in at least one of the "pray for me" or "pray for others" in order to be included (links to blogs are not required).
  2. If you link to YOUR blog, please include the following HTML in a post on your blog so that we can create a linked network of prayers (your link will allow others to find us, and be able to participate; make sure you are in HTML mode when pasting this code).

  3. Put out an email or post on your blog and encourage everyone you know to come and join us in prayer.
  4. Look over the list and pray as God leads. Come back and visit the list two or three times today as it will grow all day long.

Remember... if you don't take the time to pray for others, then on what basis can you really expect God to lead others to pray for you? I created this with "community" in mind - pray for you, pray for me, pray for others - so that we are both giving and receiving as a community which is far more spiritually productive than simply wanting everyone to pray on our behalf.

Truth is, many people do not have a community they can ask for prayer. We hope to become that community for them.








Let me know if you have suggestions or questions about Pray for Me... Pray for Others. If this is a blessing to you, please leave a comment and let us all know.

At Home Opportunity with Serious.Life Magazine

I know there are a lot of folks looking for a legitimate "at home" opportunity to makes either some extra income, or the equivalent of a full time income.

Most of you also know about our magazine, Serious.Life. It was always the plan to fire up the advertising sales when traffic reached a certain level. The February issue had about 700,000 page views, and the March issue is working on 900,000... so we have more than reached sufficient traffic milestones.

I have put together a very nice arrangement for 2-4 people who want to work from home on advertising sales for the magazine. Here are some particulars:
  • You'll send out information via email to potential advertisers and follow up with them as needed

  • Any business, individual, group, event or organization that does business online or wants to reach people nationwide is a potential advertiser

  • I'll give you all the information, files and have everything that you need to provide to potential advertisers

  • I'll give you answers to the most frequently asked questions you'll encounter

  • I'll help you brainstorm potential advertisers to contact

  • I'll take care of billing and working with customers on their ads
  • You'll find new advertisers, and touch base with your clients each month to renew ads and assure their satisfaction

  • You work your own hours, manage yourself as a sales contractor on commission

  • New ads receive a 50% commission on initial ad purchase (regardless of how many months purchased), 35% commission on future advertising from the same client

The purpose here is to offer an opportunity for 2-4 people to work from home, manage themselves, and make some extra money.

I could find people locally, but I know there are blog friends out there would could really use this opportunity. The commissions I'm offering are double or more what is typically offered. My philosophy is that well paid partnerships are much more reliable, professional and mutually beneficial. I believe you reap what you sow.

Now having said that, please only respond if you are serious, have 10-20 hours a week to adequately pursue this, and are comfortable working with people. How much you want to achieve is strictly up to the amount of time and effort you invest, but over long run you could have a nice monthly income with a low time investment after you've built up a client pool. I'm very up front with people: it's takes time to build up a client base, but after you do, it can result in a great and easily manageable residual income.

If interested, email me. Let me know your thoughts and why you think this would be a good fit for you. brent@brentriggs.com I'll let you know I received your email, but will only reply a 2nd time to those I'm offering the opportunity to. It can only be for 2-4 people, so please don't be offended if it's not you as I'll probably get a lot of interest. Be sure to tell me why you should be one of those 2-4 people.

~ Brent
http://www.seriouslifemagazine.com/

Mar 23, 2009

Laughter Lives Tuesday

Laughter LivesLaugher Lives Tuesday is a day when we all get to look forward to a good laugh. No rules, no stress, just OPEN SEASON FUNNY!

Your post can be about whatever you want, just make it funny so we can all have a good laugh. I could use a good laugh. How about you?

Pics, videos, jokes, stories... stuff about you or your own family... stuff off the Internet... WHATEVER.

Our Laughter Lives

Abby has the most hilarious routine when she takes a pill.

She takes each individual pill between her fingers, and looks at it and says "bye bye little baby pill. We're gonna miss you" and she kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss the tablet and tells it goodbye again before popping it in her mouth. We'll have to try and video it sometime.

Still Waiting...

I'm Still waiting... I did what you told me... I sent the email to 10 people like you said. 'm still waiting for that miracle. To all my friends who in the last year sent me best 'wishes', chain letters, 'angel' letters or other promises of good luck if I forwarded something, NONE OF IT WORKED!

New Seat Belt Law

Effective April 1, 2009, in ALL states. The National Highway Safety Council has done extensive testing on a newly designed seat belt.

Results show that accidents can be reduced by as much as 45% when the belt is properly installed. Correct installation is illustrated below.

Please pass on to family and friends. THIS MAY HELP SAVE A LIFE!


Okay, now it's YOUR turn.
Here's how you get your link on our blog for "Laughter Lives Tuesday!":

  • Go to your blog, create a new post for "Laugher Lives Tuesday!". Start by copying and pasting all the following HTML code at the beginning your post.
    (NOTE: Make sure you are in HTML mode or view when you paste in HTML code!):
  • Then, use the form down at the bottom of this post to enter the title of your BLOG (not your post, your blog), and the link to your blog, or the blog post, either one. (if you don't have a blog, feel free to leave a comment, but we would prefer you put up a post if you have a blog.)

That's it! You'll be linked in today's entries and we'll have a fun and inspiring list of "Laughter Lives" posts for everyone to read!

Can't wait to read your blog posts for "Laughter Lives Tuesday!"


Getting Closer

We are finally getting closer to getting to go home. We are praying that the last few details get solved soon. I will update twitter when we are going home. Thank you so much for praying!
Thank you so much for the care packages, cards and pictures. You guys made Abby's stay much more fun. Abby told her doctors that all of her friends love her VERY, VERY much. Thanks for making Abby feel special.

Monday....

We are sorta outta pocket today, though not by choice.

I (Brent) have been really sick for two days and continue to feel just awful today.

Michelle is busy packing up and hopefully getting ready to bring Abby home, although there may be a hitch in that too.

We'll try to post something later today. Thanks for all your kindness and encouragement.

~ Brent

PS. Many of you already know MckMama, but for those who don't, pop on over to her blog and pray for their youngest child who is having serious medical problems today.

Mar 22, 2009

Sunday Morning Ministry: March 21, 2009

Blessed Lord's Day morning to you!

For those of you who may be at home with sick children or some other reason you are unable to meet with other local Believers, I've prepared a message for your encouragement and edification.

For those who would like to listen, here is an audio version, and the written version is below. It's not professional quality, but I hope it will suffice.
  • Be sure to sign the GUEST BOOK so we evaluate how useful this ministry tool is over time.

  • There is a blog badge below for the "Riggs Family Sunday Morning Ministry" if you want to post it on your blog so others can find out about it.


The Walk of Love

2John 1:6 This is love: that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. (NKJV)

The Christian life is not nearly as complicated as we have made it. It can be difficult, it can be trying, it certainly is sacrificial, but it is never complicated. It is infinitely deep in application, as divisive as a surgeons knife; and though its full measure can hardly be comprehended even after a lifetime of devotion…. it’s not complicated.

This is the beautiful mystery of God; that His ways can simultaneously be incomprehensibly deep and yet so simple that a child can fully encompass and obey them.

Matt 18:2-3 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

The Christian life is simply two things: what God did, and what we should do. Here’s what God did:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

That’s how God showed love. How do we show love?

2John 1:6 This is love: that we walk according to His commandments.

God saved us. We should obey His commandments. That’s the Christian life. Over and over in the New Testament obedience is equated with love and with security in our salvation. Read 1st John.

Too simple you say? Why? Why is it our need to complicate what God has made so lovingly simple? Overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be.

Most of us live our Christian lives in phases of self-effort that last from several days or weeks, to many months or years. Then we look back and become overwhelmed at our failures and the weight of sin that has separated us from God’s presence. We take each of those periods or phases of our life and determine that we will “fix” it, or get it right “next week” or “next month” or “this new year”.

God is concerned with your obedience TODAY.

Matt 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Learn to live with a “daily” mindset. It has been said that there are only two days in a person’s life: today and judgment day.

You cannot change one instance of what happened yesterday. Jesus Himself commanded us to not worry about tomorrow for obvious reasons.

So we are left with TODAY. Pray that you will obey God’s commandment today without concern that you MIGHT fail tomorrow. And at the end of the day, confess your failures and ask for strength for your NEW try tomorrow.

Sin and failure separate us from God’s presence and rob us of our peace, joy and security. If you confess your sin each and every day, live one day at a time forgetting the past and leaving the future to God…

If you live with a “daily” mentality, you will never
have more than one day’s failure, sin or trouble
separating you from intimacy and peace with God.

We typically let days, weeks and months of sin build up in our lives bringing us to the point where we are ashamed to go to God; we’re embarrassed about how long it has been sin we “cleaned up” with God or had any real fellowship with Him.

Start with today. Confess your sins right this moment. Determine to obey God’s commands today. Then tomorrow you will be no more than one day from the peace, joy and security found in the intimate presence of your loving Savior and God.

Determine to obey God today. God is the Great God of New Beginnings. Tomorrow you get a new chance.

Contemplation: Is your life a roller coaster of spiritual failure with valleys of mediocrity followed by peaks of time "fixing" things? Has your life ever been marked with consistent Christianity?

Application: It's been said that every person only has two days in their life: today and judgment day. Live the former in light of the latter. It's not a corny sentiment. You can't change yesterday and you have no clue about tomorrow. Learn to truly live one single day at a time in obedience and life won't feel overwhelming.

Mar 21, 2009

Abby Update & Open Season Answers 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 & 20 and a Lesson... Whew!

From Michelle:

Abby Update:

Abby is doing absolutely wonderful. I have spent my day chasing after an energetic 4 year old. I am tired, but I loved it.

Abby's white count is so high, she doesn't need anymore of the shots they were giving her to stimulate their production. Abby is thrilled there will be no more of those pokes. Abby is not complaining of any pain, so they are weaning her off of her IV morphine, in order to prepare her for going home.

Abby's wound is healing, BUT it is only about half healed. The tentative plan is to discharge by Tuesday and continue IV antibiotics and wound care at home. Once Abby is switched to oral pain relievers, she will be ready to go home.

The biggest challenge will be getting 5 different specialty doctors to approve her discharge, in time to arrange home health.

Abby's wound still needs a lot of healing and has a big raw, open area. Please continue to pray for its healing and for protection from further infections. Keeping germs out of it at home with SpideyLandis will be as much "fun" as keeping the hospital germs out of it.

Please pray for wisdom for the doctors and for myself as we rap up this hospital stay. I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to be home soon, but I am not pushing for it, without the doctors' blessings.



Abby loves to stand on the base of her I.V. pole and go for a ride.
We have wood floors in our house too, so she often gets
rides around the house when she's hooked up.


Michelle Answers:

Kritter Krit asked:
What are your thoughts on changing a child's name to *Americanize* it after an international adoption? Does it depend on their age, their wishes?

From talking to older adoptees and other adoptive parents, I don't believe there is one "right" answer to this question. I can tell you what we have done with out first 3 adopted children's names, but I have no idea what we will do with our NEXT adopted child or children. (I wonder if Brent will read this. ;-)

All of our adopted children have a lot of legal names. We kept most or all of their birth names and then added a more American names. Abby's name is actually Abigail. Her birth mother named her after Abby's maternal grandmother. I love it that she is able to keep a name that meant so much to her birth family. Hopefully it will mean something to Abby, too.

Being older when we adopted her (nine), we originally intended to keep calling Sami, Samrawit. Samrawit is still her legal name, but she now introduces herself as Sami. We tried to say her name the way they did in Ethiopia, but hearing Brent and I say her name, with an Oklahoman accent grated on her nerves. She was hilarious when she talked about it, but we could tell it really bothered her. Most non-family members chose to not try to say her name and a lot who did try, butchered it. We all wanted to say it right, but couldn't get it close enough to be comforting to Sami.

We did want to add a name that would be easier for Americans to pronounce, but we didn't bring the subject up until Sami noticed her friends, who were adopted from the same orphanage, all had new names and their Ethiopian names. Of the names Brent and I liked, Sami LOVED the name Hannah. It is special to us not only because of its biblical origins, but because Sami lived at Hannah's Hope, Ethiopia.

Kelly asked:
I was wondering how Sami is able to be at the hospital so much? Is she homeschooled? Do you homeschool all of your kids? I bet Abby really loves when Sami is there to play with her :) I'm so glad that they can spend time together even when Abbys in the hospital!

Sami is our only child that we are currently homeschooling. We decided to homeschool her before Abby was diagnosed, and it has worked well during Abby's illness. We use a web-based curriculum that keeps track of progress, grades and time spent learning. Sami loves it and is learning quickly. http://www.time4learning.com/ I couldn't teach her, when Abby is sick, without it. With a laptop she can do school at the hospital or at clinic appointments.

Abby and I love having Sami at the hospital.

Michelle asked:
How is Sami doing with everything. She had just come to the USA and then Abby got sick.

Sami has wonderful coping skills. Skills she learned by enduring hardships. While, as a mom, it breaks my heart that she has gone through so many hardships, God has used those lessons to help her cope beautifully with the challenges Abby's illness brings.

Before Sami had ever met us, she decided to love us, trust us and embrace us as her family. The bond those choices allowed us to form, have made it much easier to continue to bond with her, parent her, teach her, and have fun with her, in the midst of our current challenges.

Sami is a fun, confident, loyal, hardworking and loving daughter. We couldn't be more proud of her.

Shari asked:
First, let me say that I consider it a privilege to be able to read your blog and pray for your family. When you adopted your children, how did you start the process for overseas adoptions?

Once you determine it is God's will for you to adopt and that you are willing to obey Him, the next step is finding a great agency. A wonderful agency will hold your hand and guide you every step of the way, a bad one will torture you for years with empty promises. I know it sounds like I am exaggerating, but trust me, I am not. One of the very best resources out there is, http://www.redletterscampaign.com/adoption-411-2/

Kelli Bosarge asked:
Hi Brent and Michelle, one more question. A friend of mine has a son with Leukemia, and read my prayer request for Abby. He was wanting to know what form of Leukemia Abby has (ALL, etc). I didnt know what to tell him.

Abby is High Risk, Pre B ALL, MTHFR Positive, t/t genotype

Brent Answers:

An email to me asked:
Did you ever hear from Left Out?

Yes, I did. I’m glad he decided to contact me. He is a young man (14) who does not have a spiritual friend or mentor, and is looking for someone who can answer his questions about God. I told him I would be that person for him, and I hope to be able to disciple him to the degree I can via email. Sounds like a very nice young man.

Nadara asked:
I would love to know your opinion on parents in the workforce. Specifically outside of the home. Do you think one parent should be with the kids full time? I currently stay home with my 4 girls but have great respect for working parents as well.

There is no Biblical RULE about both parents working. I think a very substantial argument can be made for the benefit of a parent staying home full time with the children as well as an argument that NEGLECTING the parenting of our children would be an ungodly choice. However, we have Biblical precedent for industrious working women, ie. The Proverbs 31 Woman.

It is a matter of liberty and conscience for each Christian family. No matter how convicted any of us are about “man works, woman stays home” it remains just that: a personal conviction. If the Bible plainly stated that as a command, I’d be the first to say so. Our command is to raise our children to love and serve the Lord.

My personal opinion and conviction is that if both parents work outside the home AND THE CHILDREN ARE BEING PARENTED BY SOMEONE ELSE, that is a less than ideal choice. I realize that some parents have no choice, but far too often that “no choice” is because a certain level of lifestyle wants to be maintained. In those cases, we do our children a real disservice.

It is our duty and privilege to make sure, whether both parents work or not, that our children are genuinely parented by US, not other people while we work, if at all possible. If we have to give up “lifestyle” to be at home to parent our kids, then that is a sacrifice you’ll never regret.

As the kids get older and the opportunity arises for both parents to work without sacrificing parenting, then there is no Biblical reason to say “no” to it. And I’ll say on the flip side, it is in NO way a “lesser” choice or calling for a couple to decide that the wife never works outside the home, even after the kids are grown. It is a matter of personal liberty in Christ and like all matters of liberty, we should not elevate our personal convictions to “doctrine”.

Purple moose asked:
People read the Bible and come up with such different opinions, and are convinced that only theirs is right. How do I know who is right?

Fortunately, God will only judge me, based on me. I don’t have to worry about what other people believe. Each Christian has the duty to study God’s Word and to the best of their ability, be honest about what it says, and do their best to obey what they believe to be true.

If “perfect doctrine” determines salvation, none of us will saved. Fortunately, faith in Christ is the determining factor. Learning doctrine, studying the Bible, and trying learn what God says is part of our “sanctification”, that is, the process of becoming more and more Christlike every day.
I often tell people to quit listening to everyone else, and just get your Bible out. Forget the man-made systematic theologies and doctrinal camps… you are perfectly capable of opening your Bible, reading it, asking God what it means, and then other teachers like me become a “help”, not an authority.

Christy asked:
A few posts ago you added three new buttons of children to pray for, and Zoey was one of them. Then I noticed that she disappeared....where did she go?

Zoey’s mom requested we remove the badge.

Mandy asked:
Been wondering about this: I was asking for prayers for Grady not long ago. He did very well with the *clearance appt* and then got his tubes and all went well. The prayers worked. Or did they? Would that have happened even without the prayers? What if we had all prayed yet things didn’t go well. Did we not pray right? enough? Did God not want things to go well? Just some ponderings I’ve had and would like your take.

We pray. God hears. We trust in God’s sovereignty and providence. Would good things still happen if we don’t pray? We better hope so because I know we don’t pray for every single good thing that happens. Did you pray to wake up breathing this morning?

Sometimes we pray and things don’t go well. Does the mean we prayed “wrong”? Sometimes. But sometimes we just didn’t know that God had other plans. Sometimes we pray “right” and God has something better, or different. Sometimes we pray "right" but something in our life is hindering our prayers.

Here’s a post I did about prayer one time that I think might be interesting:
http://www.seriousfaith.com/dvo/devotion.asp?teachingnumber=347

When God Answers

Psalm 140:6 I said to the Lord: “You are my God; Hear the voice of my supplications, O Lord. (NKJV)

I was sitting in on a Bible study the other day when someone said, "God always answers our prayers. He either says 'yes', 'no' or 'wait'." I have heard that countless times over the course of my life from Christians in every stage of their walk with God, from the pulpit to books to Bible studies.

Over the years it has just become one of those "standard" Christian sayings that everyone nods their head to and passively agrees with. For some reason when I recently heard it, it caused me to stop and think about it. It dawned on me that it is not profitable to perpetuate overly simplistic cliches about Christian issues.

First of all, God does NOT always answer prayer. It is our assumption that God's silence equates to "no" or "wait". That is OUR assumption. God's silence may be for any number of reasons: We may not have met the conditions God requires for answered prayer:
  • Sin must be confessed (2Chron 6.26; Psa 66.18; James 5.1; Prov 1.28)
    Unforgiveness must not be present (Mark 11.25)
    We must be asking for the right reasons (1John 5.13-15; James 4.3)
    We have to have faith in Christ (John 15.7)
    We ask in Jesus name for His glory (John 14.14)
    We have to be obedient (1John 3.22)
    We must ask God in belief (Mark 11.24)
    You must be treating your spouse in a Godly manner (1Pet 3.7)
    God's glory may be increased through His silence
    God's silence might be part of a bigger plan we don't, or can't, know about
    God may have His own reason and choose not to reveal it (Deut 29.29)

Christians walk by faith and promises that frequently don't include answers or explanations. When God does answer, there are any number of variations to "yes, no or wait" that He may reply:

  • Yes
    Yes, with conditions
    Yes, with corrections
    No
    No, unless....
    No, except for...
    No, but if you will...
    Wait
    Wait, until I have...
    Wait, until you have...

Beyond that I can think of other ways God might answer us as well:

  • You should already know the answer
    I have already given you the answer
    You are not ready to hear the answer
    You don't want to hear the real answer
    You aren't listening, I'm already answering
    You aren't capable of understanding the answer
    I'll tell you but you still won't hear the answer
    You've already decided what you want the answer to be

By constraining God to three easy answers, we take alot of the hard work out of prayer. The "hard pursuit" of God is where much of our spiritual growth occurs. Remember the old "magic 8 ball" that had the answer window in it? You would turn the ball over, then turn it right-side up, and the "answer" would appear in the window.

Sometimes we treat God like a "magic 8 ball" when we box Him in with predetermined answers. We ask our prayer, spin God around, and get the magic answer. And we can predetermine the answer 33% of the time because we've limited God to three choices.

James 5:16b - The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (NKJV)

God is so far beyond our understanding there is no doubt many ways God COULD answer us that we would have no ability to comprehend. My feeble little list in this lesson surely does not even scratch the reality of the ways our Infinite and Creative God could answer our prayers.

When you pray, you have to meet the requirements God plainly requires in order for your prayers to be considered in the first place. Assuming those requirements are met, don't limit God to a few simple answers that we can compartmentalize. Stand in wonder and awe at the Almighty God who can answer our prayers in ways we cannot fathom.

And don't worry about if you get an answer that you don't instantly comprehend or understand. You have to believe and have faith that whatever answer God provides, whether or not you can hear it, grasp it or see it, it is BY DEFAULT the perfect answer!