The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Friday, December 19, 2014

Merry Christmas

Luke 2:11   Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:14   Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men......


Jesus was born in order to open the way for us to have peace with God.  He is also the door through which we have peace within ourselves.  Through His love, we have the opportunity to be at peace with others.  

This Christmas season, may your hearts spill over with the peace and joy that comes from knowing our savior.  May you enjoy that peace which passes all understanding.  May you find new peace where chaos might exist in your life.  May you offer peace where you are able to make a difference.

Merry Christmas to each of you and may the season be filled will love, laughter and a deep appreciation for the meaning of Christ's birth. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Seventy times seven

Matthew 18:21-22  Then Peter came to him and asked, "Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me?  Seven times?"  "No, not seven times," Jesus replied, "but seventy times seven!"

Forgiveness is multifaceted. 

Forgiveness is tough.

One of the toughest parts of forgiveness involves fear---the fear that comes with feeling vulnerable to being hurt again.  For as many times as we are hurt, we must forgive.   Non-negotiable. 

Worrying about subjecting ourselves to the possibilities of hurt is not fun.  It is also NOT forgiveness.  Forgiveness is letting go of the actions or words that caused hurt in the first place; the decision that we will not allow the actions or words to affect our inner beings and service to God.  Forgiveness pertains to things in the past, no matter how recent or distant.   

The fear of being hurt again is a trust issue.  It pertains to the future.  Fear is anticipation of something that might happen.  Fear is not of God, it is a tool of the devil.

We are required to forgive over and over and over.  Think of it from God's perspective, He forgives us over and over and over.  The offer is always good.  

Do not allow fear to prevent you from offering forgiveness.  Trust in God to protect you from hurts and decide to live in forgiveness.  

The Christmas season is a great time to offer forgiveness.  After all, Christ was born in order to die and offer forgiveness for us.   Christmas stirs our hearts to deal with forgiveness-I believe this is no coincidence!                   

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Children's Christmas plays

Luke 2:11    For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

One of my most favorite things of the Christmas season is the play presented by the children.  There is just something so special about such a play.  During the children's play this weekend at our church, I was flooded with memories of all the different presentations of the story of Jesus' birth that I have seen throughout the years.  Some plays have a modern presentation, some are musicals and some are very traditional with the acting out of the story. 

There are some memorable moments to most every children's Christmas play.  There is usually a wardrobe malfunction of some sort (wings or halos that fall off), a wedgie that needs attending to, a nose that needs picking, or a line that is forgotten and requires a prompt.  Many times there are bath robes and baby dolls involved.  Occasionally, there is a case of stage fright and a child runs to mom or dad, declaring an end to his/her acting career.  I call these the precious moments of the children's  Christmas play!

One thing that we can absolutely ALWAYS depend on during a children's Christmas play is an uninhibited, plain and simple presentation of the birth of Jesus.  Children singing from their hearts, huge smiles and sparkling eyes are always found at these plays.  They proudly wear their costumes and jump into their characters to spread the word of the savior.  They give it their all!! 

I want to be more like the children in the Christmas play. I want to be uninhibited about proclaiming the news of Jesus Christ.  I want to give it my all.  Let us all pray that more of us can be like the sweet children in Christmas plays everywhere-ready and willing to present a great message of the wonderful story! 





Thursday, December 11, 2014

Swarms of locusts

Joel 1: 4-5   After the cutting locusts finished eating the crops, the swarming locusts took what was left!  After them came the hopping locusts, and then the stripping locusts, too!  Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you wine drinkers.

When locusts swarm in an area, the can quickly devour a large amount of vegetation in a short amount of time.  In the book of Joel, the locusts represent devastation.  Joel used the description of the locusts to alert the people and call upon them to repent of their sinful nature and turn to God for mercy. 

Our nation today is being swarmed by plagues of locusts that are destroying the vegetation.  Sin and rebellion against God has a profound presence at this time in our existence.  Moral senses are dulled which leads the awareness of sin leading into an oblivion.  We all should awaken from our complacency.  When we have times of peace in our lives or when there is no impending crisis, we must not allow ourselves to slack or become complacent in our spiritual lives.  We must remain on guard spiritually.  

May we wake up from spiritual sleepiness and pray.  Pray for all those who are lost.  Pray that we will not live in rebellion.  Pray that we will never become oblivious to the destruction around us.  Pray in times of peace as well as times of crisis. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Regret

2 Corinthians 7:10  For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation.  There's no regret for that kind of sorrow.  But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. 

We all have regrets.  Coulda, woulda, shoulda, and if I had only are thoughts that we all have somewhere throughout our lives.  Dr. Charles Stanley said this about regret:  "If you do not have regret, you have either not lived or you have not learned".  Either you have been sitting on your couch wrapped in bubble plastic or you have not realized how God expects us to treat our mistakes.

Satan wants to magnify regrets.  He wants to put them right in front of your face and cause you to experience worldly sorrow.  God wants to put regret in its place.  He wants you to experience only the sorrow for your mistakes that will cause a realization of the mistake which will lead to repentance.  God wants us to improve our behavior in order to grow spiritually.  He wants us to become wiser and closer to him.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

A renewed attitude

2 Corinthians 9:7  You must each decide in your hear how much to give.  And don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure.  "For God loves a person who gives cheerfully."

The main mission of The Sweet Stuff's clothing trailer is to give away clothing.  The other mission is to teach youth groups in various churches what service and giving looks like.  I have a program in place to teach the meaning of service and what God expects from us when we serve.  I enjoy teaching and this program is a joy to teach.  However, I think that I am learning more from the youth than they are learning from me.  I love it when God applies things to us in unexpected ways!

This weekend the ministry sponsored a clothing give-a-way with the youth of a local church.  The way that we set the day up is this:  The clients filled out cards that contain the sizes of clothing that they need and then wait in the fellowship hall of the church.  I stayed on the trailer along with a few of youth.   We searched through the clothing to find sizes to fill the lists and then bag the items to present to the clients. 

Saturday morning it was 40ish degrees with a biting wind blowing all day.  Several 9-12 year olds (boys and girls) worked on the trailer with me for around three hours, sorting, folding and filling orders.  I would like to share with you what did NOT happen. 

Whining did NOT happen.

Complaining did NOT happen.

Drama did NOT happen.

Conflict did NOT happen.

NOT once did I hear any of them complain about being cold, tired or hungry.  In fact, I tried to send some inside to have a snack or take a break and they would not hear of it.  NOT once did I hear any of them ask "how much longer".  I actually think they would have worked hours longer.  Now folks, I am here to tell you that I have worked in many arenas with many different people in my career span and I am hard pressed to think of more than a handful of adults that can work three hours in a row without a complaint, whine, bathroom trip or cigarette break! 

These children taught me, in the purest form, what it means to be a cheerful giver.  They smiled and worked together with excitement and energy that was contagious.  I left the event with more excitement that when I arrived.  They gave from their hearts.  Now, bear in mind that some of them never saw who they were gathering clothing for, yet it was important to them to pick out things that they thought matched and that the recipients would like.  Small details are important details!

It is pure joy to see God work in the hearts of young people.  While they filled bags with clothing and shoes, they filled my heart to the brim with a renewed attitude of  love, compassion and a genuine eagerness to serve the Lord. I thank God for our P-R-E-C-I-O-U-S children!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Clothing trailer events

Two stops scheduled for The Sweet Stuff Clothing Trailer for give-a-ways this weekend.  Please pray that needs will be met, both material and spiritual needs.  Pray that God's endless love will be projected within every interaction. 

If there is a need in your area or church for clothing, The Sweet Stuff clothing trailer is available to anyone.  The ministry is happy to travel in order to meet the needs of your area.  Feel free to contact me for arrangements. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Seasonal Discouragement

"It's the most wonderful time of the year".   I love that song.  It paints such a picture of happy hearts and fun Christmas time activities.  Christmas is a special and magical time.  However, for many it is a time that causes discouragement and disappointments to rear their ugly heads. 

The media portrays only the happy thoughts and events.  Pictures of the perfect decorations, an abundance of gifts, and flawless family gatherings.   This is purposed at selling merchandise or ideas.  In reality, many folks have families that are dysfunctional, broken or in distress, finances that are a mess, or emotional longings that go unfulfilled.   Discouragement threatens to set up housekeeping when our expectations are not met and we focus on the negative elements of the situations over which we have no control. 

Many of us, if we would be honest with ourselves, find that at the end of all the activities, we are left with an anticlimactic feeling.  Perhaps we compare the "perfect" movies and media to the imperfections of people in the real world.  We feel compelled to continue to participate in gatherings out of tradition, even if they produce stress.

How will you stay encouraged?   I have these inspirations to offer.  I plan to practice them myself this year!!
                  -God expects us to realize the meaning of Christmas  (Luke 2)
                  -God expects us to accept the meaning of Christmas  (John 3:16)
                  -All other expectations are worldly standards
                  -God does not expect us to attend a certain number of dinners or functions
                  -God does not expect us to spend an enormous amount of money on gifts
                  -If it produces stress or discouragement, it needs to be evaluated and perhaps eliminated
                  *Repeat the first 2 as much as needed.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Daily bread

Exodus 16:14-15     When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.  When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is this?"  For they did not know what it was.

Daily bread.  That is what it was.  The Israelites did not even realize that the manna which God sent them fresh every morning was their daily bread.  The manna rained from heaven onto the grass.  The interesting thing was that it could not be stored.  It only lasted long enough for the Israelites to eat and then it spoiled.  But, each morning, there was fresh, new manna to sustain the hungry people. 

Daily bread.  The Israelites had a literal "daily bread" with a symbolic meaning.  While they grumbled and wondered what they would eat and how they would survive in the desert, God was showing them that he would provide everything that they needed, exactly when it was needed. 

Same goes for us.  Daily bread.  What we need, when we need it.  Everything we need for the moment, for the day.

Several scriptures in the Bible speak of daily bread.  In the Lord's prayer, Matthew chapter 6, asks the Lord to "give us this day our daily bread".   Proverbs 30:8, "give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread". 

Daily bread means more than just our "manna" for the day.  When I think of daily bread, I think of these things as well:
                  -peace that God offers in the midst of tumultuous storms in our lives=daily bread
                  -protection from all the evils in our world=daily bread
                  -phone call from a friend at a moment when you needed it=daily bread
                  -an unexpected act of kindness that beams with God's love=daily bread
                 
Daily bread consists of those things that keep us filled up with God's love.  Daily bread sustains us when the world around us is chaotic.   Daily bread fills us until our cup runneth over. 

We should thank God each day for our daily bread, the literal slices as well as the figurative slices.  Daily bread is everything we need today. Tomorrow, new manna will be sent from above!