What Do You Really, Really Want?

By Velma Amundson

I’ve walked through the malls starting in October, and all the Christmas stuff is out. They’re all nicely displayed and designed to make you want things. The stores are saying they’re not even waiting for “Black Friday” to start holiday sales. The commercials on TV are designed to appeal to our vanities, and get us to want what they have. I even term those “infomercials” for things like Genie Bras, etc as “gotta have it” commercials. I’ll confess I’ve already begun to go Christmas Shopping. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we want. I could want a new computer, a tablet, a new sewing machine, new clothes, etc. And there is nothing wrong with wanting things…..except.

Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…” We need to put things in order. The Bible tells us the most important thing is to seek God. We need to seek His will, follow him, store up “treasure in Heaven”. We do that, not by seeking the “treasures” of this world, the material things that pass away, but by sharing the Good News of Christ’s resurrection and gift of salvation. We do that by putting others before ourselves and seeking their good. We study the Bible and bury its treasures in our hearts so that no matter what we go through, we can lean upon God to get us through.

After reflecting on these things, I’ve decided what I really, really want. I want, when I stand before Christ on his judgment throne, to hear the words of Matthew 25:21, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” I hope you want that too.

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In the Midst of the Whirlwind

by Sarah Langness

2200 miles. Fourteen days. Thirteen nights. One Annual Conference. Two family reunions. One of my best friend’s (aka brother’s) wedding. It was a crazy – but blessed – two weeks. We stayed in the same location no more than four days before traveling to a new one. We went from North Dakota to Minnesota to Wisconsin and to Minnesota to Wisconsin and back to North Dakota. We saw extended family on both sides. I played ultimate frisbee for the first time in probably four years and felt the effects for days. I cried as I saw the love in my brother’s eyes for his beautiful bride. My son touched his grandpa’s bald head for the first time and increased his fascination with mowers.

It’s been a crazy whirlwind of two weeks for this Langness family.

And now we’re home. I’m on my third load of laundry since yesterday evening with hopefully only one more to go. I’ve got a front flower bed that needs weeding. Somewhere in my vegetable garden are watermelons; I just can’t tell because of the plethora of weeds in that corner. I’ve got groceries to get and a few errands to run. The in-laws are coming on Thursday. Zeke has a doctor’s appointment in Bismarck on Thursday morning. We’ve got a wedding reception on Saturday evening. Jordan leaves for the FLY convention on Sunday. And then there’s the every day stuff of simply enjoying life with my toddler and husband, making sure that toddler doesn’t dive headfirst into his new pool, cooking, washing dishes, cleaning the bathrooms, and all the other joys of routine life.

Coming home has been a whirlwind too.

As I was making a to-do list last night, I felt overwhelmed with all that I needed to do, that I should get done in just a few short days. But this morning I was given a gift. The gift of sleeping in for all three of us — including my ever-active one-year-old. Because of that, I was given much needed rest and time. Time in the Word. Time with my Lord. Time to simply stop, sip my coffee, read the Word and be refreshed.

During that time, I was reminded of the importance of stopping. Of resting. Of putting the to-do list literally out of sight and praying that it will be out of mind as I spend time with my Savior. And I was also struck by how Jesus Himself took that time to be with His Abba – even in the midst of a larger to-do list than mine.

“And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.

When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city had gathered at the door. And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was. In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Simon and his companions searched for Him; the found Him and said to Him, ‘Everyone is looking for you.‘ He said to them, ‘Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.’ And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out demons.

And a leper came to Jesus . . . ”  Mark 1:29-40a, NASB, (emphasis mine)

The work – the to-do list – never ended for Jesus. Always He was needed. Always He was wanted. And yet He never complained. He served and loved because that is what He came to do. He spent time with His Father — setting an example for us to follow in.

I only wish setting aside the long lists and being able to truly focus on the Word and on Christ was as easy everyday as it was today. But I guess that’s what this whole learning to “set your minds” (Colossians 3:2) is all about.

Little Things for God

by Sarah Langness

I’ll be honest: when I hear about people like Katie Davis, I feel guilty. At 24, she is the mother of 13 orphaned Ugandan children. She has also started a child sponsorship program, a feeding program, and a vocational program for women. She also wrote a book, “Kisses from Katie” and started her own organization, Amazima Ministries International. Ya know, I’m also 24. And my list of life accomplishments isn’t nearly that impressive.

In fact, I live in little Beulah, North Dakota. I’m a wife and a mom (to one). My involvement in youth ministry and church ministry has drastically declined as I now have a little man to care for and a bedtime to meet. I  missed last summer’s mission trip to Haiti, and it doesn’t look like I’ll be going there or to Africa in the near future. I hang out with middle schoolers for a hour or so on Thursday afternoons, but the Bible teaching doesn’t come from me. On Sunday mornings I lead a group of elementary kids in singing songs and dancing around like a hippopotamus. No adopted orphans. No starting feeding programs or sponsorship programs. No book to inspire fellow believers.

By all appearances, I’m not involved in anything “big”; anything “significant”.

As Jordan and I wrestled with a difficult decision over the past weeks – a decision that would definitely lead us down the road of something that appeared “big for God”, I was reminded of an Adventures in Odyssey episode I heard back in November. It’s called “Something Significant” – and if you’re lucky, you may be able to go back in the archives and listen to it for free at www.whitsend.org.  If not, all you need to know is that Trent DeWhite found himself in a similar position as myself: wanting to do something big, something significant, for the sake of the Kingdom. After sending him on an Imagination Station adventure, Mr. Whitaker told Trent:

“I know you want to make a big difference for God, but often times that means doing the little things, whatever we can do – and letting Him decide if they ever become big. More than anything, He should receive the glory. Because anything good that happens, happens ultimately because of Him.”

Doing the little things. Letting God decide what becomes big. I needed that reminder. God calls me to be faithful with what He has entrusted to me. He has placed upon me a different calling than He has Katie Davis. He has gifted me to do certain tasks, to impact certain people.

“‘It is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his ability; and he went on his journey. . . Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents . . . His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”” – Matthew 25:14-15, 19-21 (emphasis mine)

The question is not “What big things will I do for God?”; the question is, “Will I be faithful in the little things God has called me to do?” May we all be faithful . . . no matter how small and insignificant the tasks seems to be.

Praying for Your Pastor’s Wife – Day 27

Pray that she will earnestly seek God’s will and be committed to instant and complete
obedience—ready for God to work powerfully in and through her life and ministry.

Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt  offerings and sacrifices  as in obeying the voice of the LORD?   Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, 
And to heed than the fat of rams.  1 Sam 15:22

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.  2 Cor 10:3-5

And Jesus was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.  Luke 9:23-24

Taken from Revive Our Hearts

Praying for Your Pastor – Day 27

Pray that he will earnestly seek God’s will and be committed to instant and complete
obedience—ready for God to work powerfully in and through his ministry.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.  2 Cor 10:3-5

And Jesus was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.  Luke 9:23-24

Taken from Revive Our Hearts

Waiting For God’s Will

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God:  that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us.”  1 John 5:14

By now, we are into the busy fall schedule at our churches.  We love summer and a time away, but it is good to get back into a routine.  What new or perhaps old responsibilities have you taken on for this coming year in your church? Are you enjoying the work you are doing for the Lord or do you already feel like you are overwhelmed or in a rut?  How many times do we decide to do something, try something new, or even do the same thing we have been doing for years without consulting God and His will for this ministry?  We might wonder why a ministry is not effective. Could it be because we do not pray in advance asking the Lord to mold us into the ministry, to equip us by the Holy Spirit and to submit to His leading?  Maybe we did pray but on such short notice that we did not give God the time to work answers in our heart.  Perhaps what is lacking is a freshness and joy in our ministry from the very beginning because we started what seemed good to us rather than  what was God’s will.   Sound like something you are experiencing?   Jesus says in John 15:5  “I am the vine, you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in Him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  Here is our hope, our existence for life and our provision for ministry; it is Jesus Christ and Him alone.  Is it not Jesus and His will upon which our ministries and we must rely?  May we return Jesus to His rightful focus in our desire to serve and be the Master of our ministries.