Category Archives: celebration

Pentecost: Celebrating Two of God’s Gifts

This Sunday, June 4, is Pentecost.

We have just had a big holiday weekend here in the United States, so you may not feel eager for another “event.” But Pentecost does not require a lot of preparation, and it is too wonderful to miss!

Very simply, Pentecost is a day to thank God for the Scriptures and for the Spirit. God gave these marvelous gifts to guide,  strengthen, and comfort us.  Pentecost is sometimes called the birthday of the Church because, according to Acts 2, it was on the day of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit came like a rushing wind, appeared like flames of fire, and filled the believers.  (Read more about Pentecost HERE.)

Be sure to celebrate!

Your celebration can be as simple as sticking a birthday candle in a muffin and then taking time to thank God for His gifts. Or you can celebrate with a meal and use some of these ideas, below. (The following is an excerpt from Simple Celebrations.)

Here is a simple menu for a Pentecost meal:

  • barley soup
    You can easily add barley to vegetable soup or to beef-and-vegetable soup.Pentecost
  • bread
    Two loaves of braided bread are great because the ten strands can represent the Ten Commandments.
    Pentecost
  • honey
  • something prepared with oil
    You might try latkes, but anything that your group likes is fine.
  • birthday cake

How to Celebrate

Explain that Pentecost is a special celebration of two of God’s fantastic gifts to us: the Scriptures and the Spirit.

As you serve the barley soup, explain that Pentecost occurs seven weeks, or fifty days, after Passover. In Biblical history, this was the time of the spring harvest. Barley was a spring crop.

Explain that fifty days after the first Passover, when God brought the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt, God gave a wonderful gift to His people at Mount Sinai: the written Word of God. This was a covenant gift of the first—or “old”—covenant.

Serve the bread, and talk about how the Scriptures nourish us. Have someone read Matthew 4:4. Serve honey—or jam for children under 2—and talk about how the Scriptures are sweet to us. Read Psalm 119:103.

Pentecost

Light the candle as you discuss how the Scriptures are like light for us. Read Psalm 119:105. You may also want to read Psalm 19:7-11.

Serve the food that represents oil. Say that we are celebrating the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit, who was given to God’s people as a covenant gift of the new covenant. The old covenant was the covenant of earning God’s acceptance, but the new covenant is the covenant of receiving God’s acceptance and friendship.

Tell your group that just as the gift of the old covenant came fifty days after Passover and with loud noises and fire, so the gift of the new covenant came with loud noises and fire fifty days after Jesus became our Passover Lamb. On that day of Pentecost, the believers in Jerusalem received the Spirit of God. Scriptures you may want to read highlighting the Spirit are Romans 8:5-16 or John 14:16-17, 26.

Pentecost

At the end of your meal, celebrate Pentecost as the birthday of the Church! Read about it in Acts 2:1-4. With cake and candles, thank God for His Church, which is made up of all believers in Christ.

Have a joy-filled Pentecost!

Celebrating with you,
Tami

 

Spring Celebrations: Passover and Resurrection Sunday

Happy Spring!

spring

Soon, we will be celebrating the most important events in human history: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The first event rescues us from unending death, unrelieved aloneness, and the utter loss of every good thing.  The second event gives us friendship-filled, bursting-with-beauty Life forever.

And the brilliant spotlight in both events is on Jesus Christ, the One who rescues with power and who loves lavishly. He is the One True Living God, full of glory and goodness. We have much to celebrate!

spring

It has been a rich blessing in my family to celebrate Passover and Resurrection Sunday.  If you have not enjoyed Passover at your home or with your church before, here are some simple ways to do that with preschoolers, children, or adults. (This material comes from Simple Celebrations.)

Celebrating Passover

What it is:

Passover is a rich, multilayered celebration. On the first Passover,  the blood from a flawless lamb protected God’s people from death.

Fifteen hundred years later, the symbols of the Passover supper became reality as  the flawless Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, shed His blood on a cross to rescue us from spiritual death . And today,  every follower of Christ can experience a personal Passover, as we are rescued from spiritual slavery to enjoy friendship with God.

Passover celebrates the fact that spiritual death passes over us, not touching us, as we commit to following Christ as Lord.

How to prepare: 

  1. Set a festive, colorful table. You may want to include two long taper candles.
  1. Set a glass of grape juice at each place.3. Place the following on each plate:
    • a parsley stalk
    • a piece of onion, or a bite of horseradish
    • a small serving of haroset (Combine applesauce, walnuts, and cinnamon—or use chunky applesauce, if your group has a nut allergy. The idea is create something that resembles mortar and which reminds us of the Hebrew slaves’ brickmaking.)
    • a small bowl of salt water (It is not necessary for each person to have a bowl if people can share.)
    • a sheet (or piece) of matzoh (or plain cracker)
    • a bite of cooked lamb (I fry lamb chops.)
  1. If you are using a Haggadah (a program) with your group, make a copy for each person, and put a copy at each place. Click here for a PDF of a Christian Passover program.

You will need someone to be the leader, who will read most of the program. You may assign the shorter sections to others in your group–however you like. There are 23 reading sections. (Blank lines are provided so that you can write in the reader’s name at each numbered section.) The leader reads each section that is not otherwise assigned.

How to celebrate with preschoolers:

I like to begin by saying this: “I know that you have eaten a meal before. And I know that you have listened to a story before. But today, we are going to EAT A STORY!” 

In a way appropriate for your children, tell the story of the Exodus. When you talk about making bricks, eat the haroset, which reminds us of the mortar used in building.

As you tell about the suffering of the slaves, dip the parsley into the salt water, and then have the children taste or eat it. Explain that this reminds us of tears because the Hebrew people were very sad.

spring

Have the children eat (or simply smell) the green onion, explaining that this, too, reminds us that the Hebrew slaves were sad because of the cruel things that Pharaoh did to them. Explain that we also are sad if we don’t know God and if we don’t know that He loves us.

Explain that God sent Moses to rescue the Hebrew slaves. Moses told the people what to do, and God helped them to escape from Pharaoh.

Let the children taste the lamb. Explain that everyone who belonged to God had a Passover lamb, and God took good care of everyone with a Passover lamb because they were His people.  We belong to God, and we have a Passover Lamb, too, because Jesus is like a Passover Lamb for us. God takes good care of us because we belong to Him.

Show the children the “flat bread,” the matzoh. Explain that when God rescued the Hebrew slaves, they had to leave Egypt so quickly that they could not wait for their bread to rise; they had to eat flat bread. As the children eat the matzoh, express gratitude to God for helping us because He loves us.

Explain that grape juice reminds us that God loves us so much that He would die for us! Say, “This juice is red (or purple), just like a valentine. This juice is like a valentine from God because it reminds us that God loves us very much.”

Conclude with a short prayer, thanking God that He loves us very much, that we can belong to Him, and that He helps us because He loves us.

Celebrating Easter

In Marriage

As we reflect on the Scriptures concerning the death and resurrection of Christ, we can learn valuable truths for our marriages:

With Children

With my children were younger, we enjoyed making Resurrection Cookies. This is a creative and fun way to talk about the Easter events as you make cookies together. Click HERE for a Family Life PDF of the recipe and instructions.

May God bless you with much joy as you celebrate His lavish love!

Reformation Day: A Day to Celebrate!

A Holy-Day to Celebrate

You probably know that today is Halloween. But did you realize that it is also Reformation Day?

reformation day

And did you know that Reformation Day is a fantastic thing to celebrate?

Reformation Day
from the movie “Luther”

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the wooden door of the cathedral in Wittenberg, Germany. This was the spark which fueled the Protestant Reformation and some remarkable changes for the world.

Posthumous Portrait of Martin Luther as an Augustine Monk
Posthumous Portrait of Martin Luther as an Augustine Monk

God used Martin Luther in a dramatic way to restore freedom and truth to His people. Luther had some significant flaws in both his doctrine and character. However, God gifted Luther with many profound spiritual insights, as well as the courage and conviction to defend those Biblical truths.

As he studied the Scriptures, Luther re-discovered this glorious truth:

We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. Salvation is a free gift. It cannot be earned, bought, or sold.

This wonderful news, like a precious jewel, had been buried under thick layers of distortion and corruption within the Church. Luther retrieved this valuable gem, dusted off the deception, and held it up so that others could experience its beauty again.

Luther also re-discovered the key doctrines of the priesthood of all believers and the authority of the Scriptures. He taught that Church leadership was not infallible. For his refusal to recant some of his convictions, Luther suffered excommunication from the Church and threats to his life.

Luther Before the Diet of Worms, by Anton von Werner (1843–1915)
Luther Before the Diet of Worms, by Anton von Werner (1843–1915)

Reformation Day reminds us to thank God for the free gift of salvation, for the Scriptures that we hold in our hands, and for the direct access that we have into the Presence of God Almighty.

Ways to Celebrate

Here are several ways you may want to celebrate Reformation Day at your house:

  1. Watch the movie Luther. (The entire movie, in two parts, is posted on youtube. The movie is rated PG-13 and is not appropriate for children. )
  2.  If you have young children, they will enjoy coloring pictures of Luther’s shield and learning about its interesting symbols. You can find fun activities for children at these sites:
    *http://www.blessedbeyondadoubt.com/reformation-day-activities/
    *http://theroadto31.com/2013/10/celebrating-reformation-day-like-christian.html
    *http://www.sojournkids.com/blog/2010/10/reformation-day-party-plan
  3. Sing or read the lyrics to A Mighty Fortress is Our God, written by Luther in 1529.
  4. Prepare a German supper. (I think German-chocolate cake qualifies, don’t you?)
  5. You can read more about Luther through many resources, but this website is unique in giving an easy-to-understand translation of the Ninety-Five Theses: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/the-reformation/the-95-theses-a-modern-translation/
  6. Enjoy some great Luther quotes (below).

Quotes by Luther

Prayer

To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.

Pray, and let God worry.

Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance. It is laying hold of His willingness.

All teachers of Scripture conclude that the essence of prayer is simply the lifting up of the heart to God. But if this is so, it follows that everything else that doesn’t lift up the heart to God is not prayer. Therefore, singing, talking, and whistling without this lifting up of your heart to God are as much like prayer as scarecrows in the garden are like people.

I have often learned much more in one prayer than I have been able to glean from much reading and reflection.

Scripture

The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.

Faith

This is true faith, a living confidence in the goodness of God.

The heart overflows with gladness, and leaps and dances for the joy it has found in God. In this experience the Holy Spirit is active, and has taught us in the flash of a moment the deep secret of joy. You will have as much joy and laughter in life as you have faith in God.

Faith is the “yes” of the heart, a conviction on which one stakes one’s life.

We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.

Therefore, when some say good works are forbidden when we preach faith alone, it is as if I said to a sick man: “If you had health, you would have the use of your limbs; but without health the works of your limbs are nothing” and he wanted to infer that I had forbidden the works of all his limbs.

The two chief things are faith and love. Faith receives the good; love gives the good. Faith offers us God as our own; love gives us to our neighbor as his own.

Marriage

Katharina von Bora, Luther's wife, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526
Katharina von Bora, Luther’s wife, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526

Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.

One learns more of Christ in being married and rearing children than in several lifetimes spent in study in a monastery.

Other

You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.

Every man must do two things alone; he must do his own believing and his own dying.

Temptations, of course, cannot be avoided, but because we cannot prevent the birds from flying over our heads, there is no need that we should let them nest in our hair.

Happy Reformation Day!

What Are You Celebrating?

Interested in a FUN way to strengthen your relationships, including your marriage?

Through an extensive review of studies on productivity and relationships, blogger Eric Barker discovered a common factor. He realized that this one thing strengthened friendships, boosted success in the work place, increased happiness, and strengthened motivation:

celebration!¹

celebrating

In summarizing his findings, Eric made this unexpected suggestion:

Want a better relationship? Spend more time celebrating the good things.

He explained further: “Studies show divorce isn’t usually caused by an increase in problems. It’s often caused by a decrease in positive feelings.”

Here is how Eric summed it up:

Stop trying to fix the bad and focus on relishing the good. That’s what makes marriages last.

birthday-cake-380178_640

Of course, there may be things in your marriage that must be addressed and boundaries that must be maintained. However, we can easily become consumed with problems and fixated on the negative.

We forget the core of marriage: delighting in one another.

God delights in us, and He longs for us to delight in Him. When we forget to center our lives on enjoying Christ and savoring Him, we become spiritually dry. The Christian life becomes one of effort and plodding duty. But when we relish the generous goodness and lavish love of Christ, we thrive. We gain spiritual radiance.

Our marriages are similar. When our relationships are all effort and duty, we become unbalanced, and we snuff out the sparks of joy.

WHWZKYQSDR

I love seeing how much God values celebration! The words “celebrate” and “celebration” appear in the NLT version of the Bible 131 times. God created many amazing feasts for His people to celebrate every year, and He is preparing for us the most incredible celebration of all, “the wedding feast of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:7, NLT).

You weren’t about to say that you have nothing to celebrate, were you? That’s good because

you can always celebrate!

celebrating

All you need is a grateful heart. Add a balloon, or a bit of confetti, a handmade sign, a plate of cookies, or even a single candle in a muffin, and—viola!—you have a celebration.

pastries-756601_640

Celebrate the good things you have received from God. Celebrate daily victories, little joys, small steps, warm smiles.

celebrating

Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day … (Ecclesiastes 9:9, MSG).

celebrating

Celebrate the big stuff, and celebrate the little things, too. Celebrate with gratitude to God, who is the Giver of every good thing.

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Here’s something to celebrate: Pentecost is coming up soon! This festive holy-day will be on May 15 this year.  Be sure to take a minute–or a meal–to celebrate the awesome gift of God’s Spirit to His people.

BookCoverImageMy family and I have enjoyed celebrating God’s good gifts to us through simple adaptations of the Biblical feasts. To share these activities with others, I recently wrote a book entitled, Simple Celebrations: Practical Ways to Enjoy the Biblical Feasts.

This book provides step-by- step instructions for celebrating God’s goodness through the symbolism and festivity of the Biblical feasts. Simple Celebrations explains how to enjoy Passover, Pentecost, the Feast of Tabernacles, Hanukkah, and Purim in meaningful ways. The book is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats.

 

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So … what you are celebrating?

Blessings to you,
Tami

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¹http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2016/05/way-to-improve/

 

Christmas Prayer

In Psalm 18:35, God says that He stoops down to make us great. Isn’t that incredible?

I think that also sums up the wonderful message of Christmas: God came down to lift us up. How amazing!

I wrote about Psalm 18:35, Christmas, and marriage in “A Christmas Prayer for Our Marriages.” Click on the image to read the prayer.

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Merry Christmas!

Blessings to you,
Tami

Merry Christmas!

Christmas

God saw
that His creation,
though beloved still,
was beautiful no more.

Broken,
it was
riddled with rebellion
and fractured with hatred;
and the great heart of God was
broken.

Like a tear,
the immense love of God for the people of Earth welled up
and spilled out,
descending
like a brilliant star
through the universe
before appearing
as a baby in a bed of straw.

And this was
Christmas.

Christmas

This God who loves us
loves us enough
to enter our sorrow and make it His own
that we would be His own
and that our comfort would be
this God-with-us.

As we behold Him
unceasingly
may we adore Him,
this Christ of Christmas,
this very Glory of God.

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Book Sale

Through the end of December,  the code  RF2D3P97 is valid for a 15% discount on any book purchased through the Books page on the Manna for Marriage website.

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Merry Christmas, everyone! 

I pray that the God of all comfort, Jesus Christ, will be more precious to us than ever before during this Christmas, and I pray that we will treasure Him as never before in the coming year.

 

A Gift to Celebrate

There is a birthday coming up soon that you will not want to miss!

Did you know that “the birthday of the Church” is on May 24 this year? You may know the day better as “Pentecost” or as “the Feast of Weeks.” There are many things that I love about this holy-day, but if I had to pare it down to just one essential, I would say this:

Pentecost is a special day to thank God for the precious, powerful gift of His Spirit to every believer.

On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit came to God’s people like a mighty rushing wind. (See Acts 2.) The Spirit is not only God with us, but He is God within us! As we yield to God, His Spirit fills us just as the the beautiful glory of God filled the Old Testament tabernacle.

It is the weaving of the Spirit that allows us to abide in Christ as He abides in us. The Spirit guides us, challenges us, and comforts us. What a wonderful Gift to celebrate!

Like Pentecost, our marriages also have one essential:
the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is the Mighty Rushing Wind in our marriages, too! It is through the Spirit that the glory of God fills our marriages. It is the Spirit who knits together one man and one woman within the one-flesh covenant. It is the Spirit who guides us to serve our spouses. It is the Breath of God who challenges us to love well and who comforts us in the painful places of our marriages.

The Spirit is the One who gives us power—the power to forgive, to honor, and to cherish (Acts 1:8). He gives us the ability to speak in other languages: He enables us to communicate love and respect in ways that our spouses can “hear” and receive (Acts 2:4). As God pours out His Spirit, there will be signs and wonders in our marriages (Acts 2:18, 19). There will be miracles of forgiveness, endurance, humility, and kindness.

It is the Spirit who oils our relationships with harmony. He is the Friend who longs to encourage the lover and his beloved, not only in the “Song of Songs,” but in every marriage.

Even if your spouse is not obedient to God, the Holy Spirit is able to pour redemption and goodness into your marriage through your yielded spirit.

What a wonderful Gift to celebrate!

LORD, I do thank You for the priceless gift of Your Spirit. How awesome that You would choose to live with me and even within me! I yield to Your rule in my marriage. Even if my spouse does not join me, I choose to yield to You. Fill my mind with Your thoughts; give me eyes to see what You see; and fill my heart with Your desires. Fill me with Your Presence so that Your glory radiates into my marriage. Amen.

A joyful celebration to you!
Tami

If you would like to learn more about Pentecost, I have written much more about it HERE and HERE.

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Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net