The Gratitude Experiment


Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

For the last several years, I have been conducting an experiment in human behavior, unbeknownst to all the world but me.
Upon meeting a friend, co-worker, or acquaintance on a nice day, I will say, “Hey, nice day, huh?”
By my purely unscientific methods, fully eighty percent of people hearing that comment will respond with, “Yeah, but it’s supposed to rain tomorrow.”–or something else in the negative.
Why are we like that? Even people with a fairly positive attitude will immediately point out the negative aspect of any positive comment.
I fully realize that this is Minnesota and if you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes and it will change. But it goes way beyond the weather.
“Man, it’s great to be on vacation.”
“Yeah, but we have to go back to work in a week.”
“I’m glad to have a job to go back to.”
“Yeah, but it is soooo boring at work.”
Sometimes I think we’ve been infected with the Eeyore virus.
“Don’t blame me if it rains.”
It’s tempting to blame the media on this one, what with our daily dose of killings, war, car crashes, and on and on and on. It really makes it seem as if there is more evil in the world than good.
But that’s not true. There is more good than evil. It’s just that bad news sells. Which is why you never see the headline “Family Prays Together Each Night” or “Man Says Kind Word to Stranger.”
The fact is, we have soooo much to be grateful for.
At the risk of sounding like an old man who walked three miles through hip deep snow (uphill both ways) to get to school, consider the following:
In 1900, the infant mortality rate was 14%. That’s one in seven children who didn’t live to see their first birthday. In the 1950’s, it was about 3%, or one in 35. Today, infant mortality is less than seven-tenths of a percent, or one in 142.
In 1900, average life expectancy of men in the United States was 45. Women lived to an average age of 49. Today, those figures are 76 for men and 81 for women.
Somewhere between 20 million and 100 million people died of the flu in 1918. Today, that number is so low it’s difficult to know for sure. (The Center for Disease Control estimates somewhere between 3,000 and 49,000 deaths per year.)
Even though indoor plumbing has been around for over a thousand years, it was only for the very rich and even then it wasn’t truly perfected until the 1920’s because we had not figured a way to keep sewer gas from backing up into homes. Leprosy and scores of other diseases which are virtually unheard of today were caused by sanitation issues.
Approximately two million children die each year in developing countries as a result of improper waste disposal.
Most urban homes didn’t have electricity until the 1930’s and many farm homes didn’t have electricity until the 1950’s or 1960’s.
People in the United States didn’t even understand the role of germs in disease and infection (and the importance of washing their hands) until after the Civil War.
Even today, over three million people still die each year from disease which could be prevented by washing one’s hands with soap and water.
So, dear Christian, when was the last time you praised God for a bar of soap?
Or the S-trap under your sink which keeps sewer gas out of your house?
Or clean water uncontaminated by your own outhouse?
Or for the wholesome food in your electric refrigerator and freezer?
Or for your very life and the lives of your children?
Truly, we are greatly blessed.
Praise be to God!

Today’s post written by Dan Jones

Today’s Praise

James 1:17 

 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

What is YOUR favorite Kinship Christian Radio song?

I recently traveled to Brainerd and back. It was seven hours of driving with Christian radio accompanying they whole way up and back.  It got me to thinking how much some of the songs played on Kinship Christian Radio have truly touched my heart.
Here are some of my favorite lyrics:
When the hands of time wind fully down
And the earth is rolled up like a scroll
The trumpets will call and the world will fall
To its knees as we go home
Singing blessing and honor, and glory and power, forever to our God
Singing blessing and honor, and glory and power, forever to our God
(from “When the Stars Burn Down” by Phillips, Craig, and Dean)

I lift my eyes onto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
The maker of heaven and earth
I lift my eyes onto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
The maker of heaven and earth
I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
 (From “Praise You in This Storm” by Casting Crowns)
We will overcome by the blood of the Lamb
And the word of our testimony,
 (from “Overcome” by Jeremy Camp)
Shine your light and let the whole world see
We’re singing for the glory of the risen King, Jesus
Shine your light and let the whole world see
We’re singing for the glory of the risen King

You’re my Savior, You can move the mountains
God, You are mighty to save
You are mighty to save
Forever, Author of salvation
You rose and conquered the grave
Yes, You conquered the grave
You are mighty to save.
 (from “Mighty to Save” by Laura Story)
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
 (“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”—lyrics by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, sung by many artists over the years since it was written during the Civil War. Longfellow’s wife died in an accidental fire and his son died as a result of injuries sustaind in the Civil War. This hymn was written shortly thereafter)

What about you? What songs or lyrics touch your heart? What does music mean to your faith and your praise of the one and only true God?

How do you worship?

As a teenager, when I had strayed from the Lord, I remember seeing an old school bus cruising around my home town that had been repainted purple and white. Up on the top, above the windshield, were printed the words “JOY BUS.”
I remember chuckling to myself, envisioning the bus filled with people waving their hands out the windows and singing.
I had been brought up in a Christian denomination where I can never remember using the word “joy” to refer to our relationship with God, even though the Bible uses the word over 200 times. To be fair, it may have been mentioned in my up-bringing, but we certainly never would have painted that word on a bus.
No, the focus when I was raised was on what awful sinners we all were—or at least that’s the way it seemed. I’m sure the joy of the Gospel was in there somewhere…
Later in life, as I grew closer to the Lord, I seemed drawn to churches outside my denomination. The first time I was in a church where people were raising their hands and singing, I had a feeling that is hard to put into words. It was like I was happy for them and embarrassed for them all at the same time. I sure wasn’t going to raise MY hands, no-siree– but I sang right along with “How Great is Our God.”
Then, during the sermon, people were shouting “AMEN!” while the pastor was talking!  
This was very different—very different indeed. People were emotional about God.
Then, I began reading things about how churches “like that” were all about entertainment and there was no depth to them.
I was conflicted. The happy church sure felt good. But, things that feel good are something I was taught to associate with guilt.
So, I checked the Bible:
John 15:11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
Those words are in red. Jesus wants us to have not just joy, but complete joy. Hmmm.
But, then there is this:
1 Peter 4:7 —The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.
That “sober” word pops up quite a few times. Paul even writes about seeing to it that we have orderly worship.
But then:
Psalm 33:3 —Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.
Oh, but let us not forget:
Luke 18: 9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
 I went back and forth on all this in my mind for quite a while.
Then, I remembered the first words in Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose-Driven Life”:
“It’s not about you.”
Or to put it another way, Kinship Christian Radio Executive Director Matt Dorfner recently shared a Max Lucado quote:
“It’s not about me. It’s not about here. And, it’s not about now.”
And,
John 4:24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
So, after all that, I am left to wonder if all of the differences in the way different denominations worship are part of the devil’s plan to divide and conquer, or are they examples of God’s glory in that there as many different ways to worship Him as there are people? Is all worship acceptable as long as it’s done in truth and in the Spirit? Or, is it not about us at all, but about God?
Author: Dan Jones 
Today’s Praise 
Isaiah 12:4

 In that day you will say:
“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done,
and proclaim that his name is exalted.

Are you a worry wart?


“Where have you been? We’ve been worried sick about you!”
“He about worried himself to death.”

Worry afflicts many Christians. It’s so easy to worry. As one of our Kinship staff recently confessed, there was a moment in her young life when she was worried that she would have nothing to worry about.
Now, let’s be clear. We’re not talking about legitimate concern here. Your teenage daughter said she’d be home at 10:00 p.m. and it’s now 11:00. You’re driving your car and the oil light comes on and you hear a knocking noise from under the hood.  Those are legitimate causes of concern that require immediate action.
Nor are we talking about people with anxiety attacks. These are the result of a medical condition and are the reason God gave us doctors and trained professionals who can and do help.
No, were talking about those nagging thoughts that something bad is about to happen or could happen just because, well, bad things happen to good people.
The Bible tells us hundreds of times not to be afraid and not to worry. But for some people, they just can’t seem to help it. In some cases, it seems people worry because if they don’t, it seems like they don’t care. For others, it’s like an addiction.
Various studies have been done to determine how much of what we worry about actually happens. The best information I can find indicates that about 92% of the time, what we worry about never happens. So, 92% of the time, worry is a lie and a waste of time. And the other 8% of the time does worrying about it actually change the outcome?
Worrying undoubtedly steals the joy we have in the Lord, and worrying certainly steals praise and glory from God. Worry is the opposite of faith.
Numerous studies have shown worry is bad for the body. One such study in Australia found that people who worry excessively about their health make up somewhere between four and seven percent of those who need surgery and those people have health care costs ten to 13 times higher than people who don’t worry so much!
In fact, our English word, “worry” comes from a word that describes how a wolf clamps his jaws on the windpipe of his prey and kills it. It means, “to strangle.”
I’m sure we can all think of more than one Bible verse that tells us not to worry, but let’s look at Mark 4 where Jesus had just finished preaching to the crowd on the shore of the Sea of Galilee:

35 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” 36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”

Peter, James, Andrew, and John were commercial fisherman. They were very, very familiar with boats and were also familiar with the Sea of Galilee. These were not a bunch of tourists out on a pleasure cruise.
The Sea of Galilee is eight miles wide, 13 miles long, and 150 feet deep. This is no little farm pond. Waves are beating into the boat and it is filling up with water. There are no life jackets, no bilge pumps, no life boats, no radio to call for help. The boat is moments away from sinking.
Cause for legitimate concern?
You bet! In fact, they didn’t just wake Jesus and say, “Ummmm Lord, we’re taking on a little water here, so you might want to get ready to swim.” No, they said, “Hey! We’re dying here! Don’t you care?!?!
Then, in one of the moments from the Bible that has engraved itself in stone in my mind, Jesus utters three words:

“Peace, be still!”

And the wind stops and the sea goes flat.
I can’t help but think that He intended those three words to be the same three words we think of when worry comes crashing over the sides of our boats and threatens to sink us.
I also think He went back to sleep on that pillow, but we don’t know that for sure.

Where is the line between legitimate concern and worry? How do you cope with the temptation to worry? What calms your crashing waves and brings peace to you? 

Today’s Post written by Dan Jones


Today’s Praise:
Psalm 66:2
Sing out the honor of His name; Make His praise glorious.

Miracles

Psalm 91:
1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
In the Spring of 1940, over 300,000  British troops were trapped on the beaches and in the harbor of Dunkirk, France. The German Army was less than 12 miles away and the British and French troops were backed up against the English Channel with nowhere to go. On May 26, 1940, the King of England called the entire nation to pray fervently for the trapped soldiers.
Winston Churchill told the British public that they would only be able to rescue less than one-tenth of those soldiers. The Nazis had sunk so many British ships in the harbor, destroyers and large military vessels could not get into the harbor and the beaches were so shallow that large ships could not get even close to swimming distance from the beaches. Hitler’s army was advancing rapidly and all seemed hopeless.
And the nation prayed.
Then, a funny thing happened.  One of Hitler’s generals ordered the advancing army to halt. The plan was to send in the Luftwaffe to shoot the soldiers from the air. Hitler validated the order. Then, another funny thing happened. A dense fog rolled in, grounding most of the Luftwaffe’s planes. At the same time, yet another funny thing happened: the 21 miles of open water separating England from France suddenly went a flat and calm as a small pond.
Every boat that would float was sent from England to Dunkirk to rescue those soldiers. Over 700 fishing boats, pleasure craft, and merchant marine craft participated.
In the end, 338,226 British and French soldiers were rescued form Dunkirk over a period of nine days.
Yes, there were periods when the Luftwaffe was able to bomb and strafe the beaches. The soldiers there didn’t just pray Psalm 91—they shouted it at the top of their lungs. A chaplain was among them and told how he laid on the open beach for what seemed like forever as bullets and shrapnel rained down all around him. Stunned and dazed by the deafening roar of the concussions around him, he stood up in amazement to find –not a scratch on him and the perfect outline of his body in the sand. It was, to quote Psalm 91 God’s Shield of Protection “the only smooth and undisturbed spot on the entire bullet-riddled beach.”
Last Thursday, my 17 year-old daughter was driving home when a strong storm came up. There was no driving around it or turning back to run from it. I prayed the protection of Psalm 91 over her. She arrived safely home and reported that there were clouds of pink and brown around her. (This indicates dust suspended in the air very strong updrafts.) She noted that she had driven past more than one tree which was still smoldering after being hit by lightning.
Kinship Christian Radio is no less a miracle. If Maury Schwen had stepped into a local bank in the early 1980’s and asked to borrow money to start a radio station in Blue Earth, Minnesota, financed entirely by donations because he had been given a vision by God, the only result would have been a good laugh at the local café when the banker told the story to his buddies.
But Maury and other believers prayed. From the beginning, Kinship Christian radio was “bathed in prayer.”
Yes, Kinship Christian radio is a miracle and the glory and praise goes to God, just as it should for Dunkirk and for my daughter’s safe return last Thursday night.
Thank you, LORD!
How about you? Are you in need of a miracle? Has there been a miracle in your life you could share here to encourage other believers? Are there “little miracles” we all take for granted but which deserve praise to God?
(Thanks to Sherry Wegner for the book Psalm 91 God’s Shield of Protection by Peggy Joyce Ruth and Angela Ruth Schum. This is an excellent book for any believer.)
Blog post written by Dan Jones
Today’s Praise
Psalm 71:8
Let my mouth be filled with Your praise And with Your glory all the day.

Resisting the Devil…

In my previous two posts, I focused on the power of praise. For me, a big part of the power of praise is resisting the adversary. If you think about it, there’s probably nothing the devil hates more than good, honest, glorious praise of the LORD.
That’s one reason I’m a fan of Kinship Christian Radio. There’s a lot of praise on Kinship Christian Radio, and it helps me take delight in the Lord—both with the music and the teaching.
I’m sure many of you are familiar with James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
“Resist” means to stand firm and oppose—to not back down. When it comes to temptation, I cannot do that alone. I need Jesus. Years ago, when I was struggling with trying to be free of a persistent sin, I would say out loud, “Satan, get behind me.”
I said it out loud because the devil is not omniscient. He doesn’t know my thoughts like God does. And, I chose that verse because that’s what Jesus told Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness. (Luke 4:8)
Then one day, it occurred to me that I really didn’t want the devil following around behind me all day. So, I began saying, “Satan, go stand behind JESUS.”
That worked a lot better.
Not only does it resist the devil, it brings Jesus into the picture, which is the only way it works for me. When I say it, in my mind’s eye, I picture Jesus standing between me and the adversary and the devil taking a spot far, far behind the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Now, I have to admit I’m not perfect. Praise God, I have been freed from the bondage of that sin, but for some reason the most difficult test of my Christianity is often when I’m behind the wheel of my car. When the guy behind me tailgates me for seven miles trying to decide whether to pass me or not just because it says B-U-I-C-K on my rear bumper, I have great difficulty remembering, “Bless and do not curse.”
I confess that even though I love the Lord and I am not ashamed of the Gospel, I cannot bring myself to put a Jesus fish on the Geezermobile because it seems that’s the place I am often the worst Christian I can be—even though the radio is tuned to Kinship Christian Radio.
How about you? How do you resist the devil? Do you have a way of putting on the full armor of God that works for you? Do you have a certain place or situation where you find it the most difficult to be a good Christian?  How do you cope with that?
Author: Dan Jones 

The Power of Praise- Part Two

In Haggai we saw how the Lord urged the Israelites to consider why their efforts to prosper themselves came to so little while they lived in fancy homes but the temple lay in ruins. As Haggai goes on, (and I urge you to read the entire book) we see that the Lord told them to go up into the mountains and bring back wood to rebuild that temple. (Chapter 1, Vs. 8) We further see that the Lord assured the people He would be with them (Vs. 13) and He encouraged them, stirring them up and gave them an enthusiasm for their work. (vs. 14).
Then, in Chapter 2, the Lord tells them to be strong and work for He is with them. (vs. 4) He tells them that He will not break His promises to them, that His Spirit will be with them, and not to be afraid. (vs.5) Then, He tells them He “will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; 7 and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations,[b] and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. 8 ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts. 9 ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.” So, they will lack for nothing to build a glorious temple and they will have peace.
The Lord cautions them not be defiled, not to sin, for their sin will defile their work. (vs. 10-14.)
Then, as the book ends, the Lord promises to overthrow all the enemies of Judah and make their governor, Zerubbabel like his own signet ring!
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, I submit to you that the story of Haggai has as much to do with our spirits as it did with that temple thousands of years ago.
Jesus said he would tear down that very temple described in Haggai and rebuild it in only three days. When he died on the cross, the earth shook, the rocks split, and the curtain in that temple separating us from God was torn in two.

Consider 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NKJV)

16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

The temple destroyed at Jesus’ crucifixion was rebuilt in us through His resurrection.

We were designed and created as God’s greatest work on this earth. God created everything on earth by simply speaking it into being—except for human beings, which He formed out of the dust with His own hands and breathed the breath of life into with His own breath. (Genesis 2:7) We were created as creatures of praise to His glory! So, praise is our natural relationship with God.
When we live unnatural lives, lives of sin and striving to enrich ourselves with the things this world tells us will bring us happiness, we find ourselves trying to fill a bucket with holes in it. It is, as Solomon says, “vanity and chasing after wind.” The idea that the riches of this world enrich us is a lie that steals our joy and kills our souls. (Does the description of anyone in the Bible as a liar, a thief, and a murder ring any bells?)
True joy is found when we scale that mountain of Calvary and bring down the wood of the cross of Jesus Christ to build temples of praise in our spirits that bring pleasure and glory to God. It is then we find the Lord is with us, that He encourages us, stirs us up, gives us enthusiasm,  assures us He will be with us, that He will never break His promises, that He guides us with His own Spirit, that we need not be afraid, and that He gives us peace. These truly are riches far greater than we can ever gain from gold or silver or fancy cars or houses. It is then, when we take delight in the Lord, that we find the true desires of our heart are His desires for us because the God of the abundant life can grant greater gifts than we can ever imagine.
Yes, we will have trials and trouble and temptation (and maybe even migraine headaches) but praise of God has the power to overcome the adversity in our lives and leave the signature of God on us. To the praise of His glory!
Does it seem backwards to praise God when things in your life are not going well? Are there other things in the Bible that seem backwards to the way the world works? Are you willing to try spending one day focusing on praising God and letting us know what happens?
Today’s praise:
Psalm 105:3
Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD!

The Power of Praise – Part One

The headaches started when I was in the fourth grade. 
Initially, they were so bad they made me nauseous. It was always the same: a sharp pain over my eyes, wrapping around  my head to the back of my neck. Light and sound actually hurt. All I could do was find a quiet, dark room and hope to go to sleep until it passed.
Mom took me to the doctor and he diagnosed it as migraines. Many things were prescribed, but I always got the headaches. Stress, worry, too much sleep, not enough sleep, sleeping in a bed too soft or too hard, caffeine, sugar, chocolate, cheese, riding in cars, too much heat, too much cold, even certain smells—the list of triggers and causes went on and on.
I tried many things for the pain. Some helped, some didn’t.
I prayed many times for the Lord to take the pain away, but it seemed I would get one about once a week no matter what.
About 4 years ago, I noticed that if I praised the Lord when I had a headache, the pain would subside or at least I would fall asleep more quickly.  I praised the Lord more and more each time I would get a headache. And, I began to try and remember to praise the Lord every day throughout my day, not just during my morning or night-time prayers.
Then, my wife told me they now have a prescription drug that prevented migraines. As a child, I had doctors try many things to prevent the headaches, none of which worked.
Still, I firmly believe my wife is a gift from God, so I took her advice and went to the doctor. He prescribed a drug called Propanalol.
And the headaches went away!
After forty years of suffering that I took as a fact of life, the headaches were gone. My prayers had been answered. My pain is gone. Sure, I occasionally get a hint of one of those old headaches, but it’s nothing compared to before.
I call it a miracle and a great blessing. Of course, there would be those who say I owe praise to the medical profession, not to God.
Well, here’s the thing: Propanolol was NOT invented or developed to prevent migraines. It was designed to lower blood pressure, but it really doesn’t work very well at all for that. Preventing migraines is a side-effect of this drug. So, all praise and glory goes to the Lord who gives men and women knowledge.  And, I know the Lord gave me my wife.
Haggai is a tiny, two-page book near the end of the Old Testament. It’s set in a time when the temple in Jerusalem has been destroyed. The people stated to rebuild it, but gave up because others made fun of them. Here’s how Chapter One begins:
1 In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, 2 “Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.”’”

3 Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple[a] to lie in ruins?” 5 Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!

6 “You have sown much, and bring in little;
You eat, but do not have enough;
You drink, but you are not filled with drink;
You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;
And he who earns wages,
Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”
7 Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! 8 Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the Lord. 9 You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the Lord of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house.
Now, the part of this passage that jumped out at me is right there in the end of verse eight: “that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified.”
God wanted His temple rebuilt as a place of praise! The people were suffering and in want because of a lack of praise to the LORD!
When Jesus was asked which commandment was the most important of all, He answered in Mark 12: 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
Wouldn’t praise be the natural outpouring if we did indeed love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind?
Notice how the Lord begins when He speaks through Haggai: 4 Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?”
The people were putting themselves first. They were living in fancy houses and paying attention only to their own needs. Their primary goal was to create gain and pleasure for themselves. God explains that doing so results in loss and suffering.
Consider this verse:
 Psalm 37:4
4        Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Does this verse mean God is a big bubble-gum machine where we put in a prayer and get out whatever we want?  Does the lesson of Haggai mean we have to build a temple to God to be blessed with material rewards? How can we praise God when so many bad things are all around us?
Feel free to comment and discuss by clicking the blue “comments” word below and we will continue to explore the power of praise next week. Oh, and thanks to Pastor Betty Johnson for bringing Haggai to my attention.
Today’s praise:
1 Timothy 1:17
To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

What is your worth?

It was taken from my mom’s old musty attic,  the lamp was in my eyes–
simply hideous.
A primitive looking base that fit a standard 60 watt bulb with a glass etched front that said,
  New York’s World Fair
 1939
I put it up for auction on eBay for $1.00, no reserve. You never know who might want the ugly thing, I’d be surprised if it would even fetch a dollar.
As each day passed, I noticed the current bid price escalating at a quick rate
$80
$120
 $233
…at about the $440 mark I began to wonder what in the world I had in my possession. Suddenly, I was a little more careful with how I handled my neglected lamp.
On the last day of bidding there was a mad flurry of bids and next thing I knew it was purchased for over $800.
I emailed the winning bidder and asked him why he bid so much.
I had a very rare lamp that collectors greatly desired, he said. There were only a handful in existence.

I had no idea.

You see, on eBay,  an item’s value is decided by the highest bidder. 

May I ask, 
What is your value beloved child?
We lie with hands outstretched wanting to be told our value by those who have never paid the price for our lives, let alone bid for our heart and soul. We allow others to abuse, use, define and label us. We accept the neglect and walk in shame. We make choices that say to the world that our value is not rare, or precious or a treasure. 
But the truth is, 
You were worth dying for.
Jesus died for you and until someone pays a higher price than that, do not allow others thoughts and words about you to define you.
The law of eBay is that your product is worth what the highest bidder pays for it, all other bids are ignored except the highest.
The law of the kingdom of Heaven is that your worth is determined by the price that Jesus paid for you.
Jesus pressed Buy It Now when He obediently went to the cross.
 He paid the ultimate price with His precious blood. 
He did it because of His unconditional and passionate love for you.

All other attempts at telling us our worth are ignored. 
Jesus didn’t wait for others to bid. He just clicked on the Buy It Now button and paid the price without even looking. He didn’t shop around. He didn’t need other suggestions. He didn’t need to comparison shop. He didn’t read the condition or the fine print. He didn’t notice the crack in the foundation or the chip on the side. He didn’t care what color you were or how many others had you first. He didn’t care
He loved you so much
His desire for you, so passionate, 
His pursuit of you, to the ends of the earth.
Do you see? 
Your worth , your value, is 
priceless. 
You are His beloved.
It’s true!
What painful words defined and crushed you this week loved one?
What unhealthy choices did you make this week, forgiven one, because you believed you were worthless not priceless?
Will you allow Jesus to determine your worth?

Today’s blog post written by:
 Kinship Staff Member and Announcer Julie Busby

The Promise of Restoration

Over a decade ago, I bought my wife a beautiful flowering crab apple tree as an anniversary present. 

I planted the tree that spring day on the rise of a hill, right by our driveway, so she could enjoy it every time she drove past. It grew and prospered that first summer.

Unfortunately, we had a very cold and harsh winter that year.
When it came spring, even though all the other trees put forth buds and fresh green leaves, the crab apple was dead.
Or so I thought.
Some time later, I noticed sprigs and shoots coming from the base. The top was dead, but the root lived.
Over the following years, I let the tree grow, but it wasn’t a flowering crab anymore. It was some wild, straggly half-bush, half-tree kind of thing. It never produced fruit or flowers.
Still, I let it grow.
Now, I knew that the beautiful ornamental trees and the fruit trees in Minnesota are not grown from seed. The roots of these kinds of trees cannot withstand our harsh winters. So, nurseries grow tough, hardy trees with root systems that will live through the winters, then cut off the trunk and graft on a tree that will produce flowers or fruit.
What was growing on the crest of that hill was a tree that had sprung up from the tough and resilient root stock. The tree was ugly and useless, but still alive.
Meanwhile, in a more protected location in the backyard, I had planted two Honeycrisp apple trees. One was doing well, but the other had been reduced to a frayed stick by a buck deer rubbing his antlers on it. Maybe I could do some grafting myself and restore the useless crab to a fruit-producing tree.
So I studied grafting and watched videos of people doing it on the internet.
About three or four months ago, when the trees were still dormant, I cut four twigs off the good Honeycrisp, wrapped them in damp paper towels, put them in a plastic bag, and stored them in the refrigerator.
Then, when the straggly tree was just starting to bud, I took my twigs (called “scions” by people who do this) and cut the old crab off about one foot above the ground. All that was left of it was a couple of stumps. Then, following the instructions, I made a vertical slit through the bark of the stump, then carefully peeled the bark back exposing the thin layer where the tree was actively growing. I sharpened the twigs to a flat point, and inserted them into the gap I had created between the bark and the wood of the trunk. This was then wrapped with tape and the whole surgical site covered in beeswax to seal in the moisture.
I said a little prayer over my work, asking that the tree would be blessed and produce much fruit someday.
I drove past the lifeless twigs every day, constantly looking and waiting for life to burst forth.
Nothing happened.
Days passed.
Weeks passed.
Months passed.
All the other trees were full of leaves actively growing, but the twigs and the stump were lifeless.
I began to lose hope and wonder what I had done wrong.
Then, on the National Day of Prayer, as I drove past the tree as I returned form work, lo and behold, tiny green leaves were shooting out of all the twigs!
Now, it remains to be seen whether this new tree will produce fruit, but it’s alive and it has a chance!
In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
Throughout my life, I have been a lot like that crab apple tree. I came to faith in Jesus as a child, but as a teenager, I strayed away and the winter of my sin killed what was growing from me. The promise of the beauty in my soul died and was replaced by a wild, straggly, drug addict.
But when I came back to him, Jesus cut off the old man and grafted on a twig of hope and joy that produces fruit in my life to this day. Now, each day holds the promise of new growth and new fruit and new joy.
Jesus is the root in me that will never die no matter the coldness of the winter that blows over me. In Him, all things are possible and without Him, I can do nothing.
Was there a winter in your life and a restoring grafting of the Holy Spirit that saved you and blessed you?  Will you share your witness and your testimony here? Or, is now the winter in your life when you need to come back to Jesus and let him be your root and your source of life?
Today’s Praise
Psalm 150:6
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!

Author: Dan Jones