Wednesday, December 20, 2017

I Am Simeon -- A First Person Christmas Story

The place: Jerusalem. 
The time: during the rule of Caesar Augustus. 

And I know what your Bible says about me. The first phrase is quite accurate: There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. That’s me, the man named Simeon. 

Your Bible also says that I was “looking for the consolation of Israel.”  What's that mean? The world was so dark with sinful, despotic, self-seeking, godless people (it’s nothing new to your time) that I knew we desperately needed the Messiah to come and save us. He would be our comforter, our consolation, our salvation.

Doctor Luke also wrote that I was “righteous and devout.” Well, I know I sought to live rightly toward my fellow man and to give God His proper place in my life. Although that was always my goal, I didn’t know if I succeeded. 

There was one thing special about me that I was, and am grateful for: God deigned to place His Holy Spirit upon me. Back then, God chose who He would give His Spirit to. Because of Him, I knew that during my life I would see the Messiah. In His way of speaking to a person inside their minds—I still can’t explain it—the Holy Spirit had revealed this to me.

And so it was that one day I felt prompted to go to the temple. It wasn’t just the thought I should go to the temple sometime today, but an urgent need to go right away. Of course, I used to go often, but this time it seemed very important. I know now that the Holy Spirit was leading, but at the time that was not obvious to me. I am so glad that I recognized the urgency and obeyed.

While I was there, I saw a poor young couple come in with their firstborn son to present Him to God. I knew they were poor not only by their dress but by the offering they brought, two turtledoves. People with any money brought a lamb. I knew something else about them, too. How did I know? Again, I can’t explain it, but in my heart and mind God let me know that this baby was His Salvation. The Messiah I had been waiting to see!

I walked up to them. Then. I. Took. Him. In. My. Arms. I held God in my sinful, human arms! I spoke to God, “It is enough. I can die at any time in peace because I have seen Your Salvation, just as You promised I would.”

At that moment, I knew I was filled with the Holy Spirit because I said things I could hardly believe. I knew they were not my own thoughts, but words God was giving me.  “Your Salvation is for the whole world. Gentiles will learn of Him and understand.” Yes! I said, “Gentiles.” Even though I had built in, cultural prejudices, I also knew the Bible talked about Israel being a blessing to all nations. Now I could see some of what God was doing. He was going to offer forgiveness of sins to non-Israelites as well as to us! And I didn’t stop there; I knew that the arrival of Messiah meant glory for Israel.

Mary and Joseph stood there amazed at what I said. Here was a stranger telling them about the significance of their Son, not only for Israel, but for the whole world! I’m pretty sure they were continually trying to grasp Who their Son was. The look on their faces compelled me to try to fortify them. But the Holy Spirit took over my words again as I spoke to Mary. “This Child,” I said, “Is going to cause division. Some will follow Him, but many will oppose Him, and your mother-heart will ache because of what your Son must endure.” 

I had no idea my words would be remembered, much less recorded for centuries on earth and for all time in the Word of God. I knew that this baby was God With Us, Emmanuel, but I thought this was a personal revelation that God had, in His extraordinary mercy, given me to know. It was the fruit of hours of prayer, reading, study, and meditation.

The years that I waited on earth for the promised sight of Him seemed so long at the time, but from the perspective of eternity they were just a blip in time. I’m ashamed of how faithless I was so many times, how often I pled with God for a sign or a further promise, which in His graciousness He would give me through the Scriptures. I was faithless. He was faithful.

It was a privilege to know I would see God’s plan in person. It was a delight to hold the Christ in my arms. It was an honor to have my words recorded in the Bible for all time. But it is my eternal joy to be the recipient of that salvation that came through Christ’s death on the cross and to live  forever in Heaven with Him.

Those who wait for the Lord
will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
Isaiah 40:31 

To read a first person account of Mary click here.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Family Christmas Pageant

The blond haired, brown eyed, twenty-two month old shepherd held onto his staff and looked serious as five year old "Mary" placed the doll in the box. Four year old "Joseph" bravely stood by her side, his pillowcase headpiece slightly askew. Three grown men with yellow construction paper crowns on their heads followed the star held at the end of a yardstick by Great Grandma to come and bow down before the baby, while a chorus of "angels" stood in the corner, silver pipe-cleaner halos on their head, singing praises to God.

Sounds pretty much like a typical Sunday School Christmas pageant, doesn't it? But this one was different. We were in our living room with our family on Christmas day. This was our devotions for the day and everyone was involved.

I wrote a simple, gospel filled "play" to narrate while the others acted it out. Since there were twenty of us, including six children five and under, there wasn't a lot of room to move, but we got enough actions in to make it fun. Although we had three babies under one, they were 11, 6 and 5 months so we used a doll to represent the baby Jesus. More important than having fun was the message we wanted everyone to remember. 

Here is the simple play I wrote. Maybe you can use it as one of the ways you keep Christ in your Christmas picture. If you don't have this many people, some can play multiple parts. We had everyone from twenty-two months to eighty-nine years involved, so no one has an excuse! (We gave copies to each person or "helper" for young ones. Speaking parts were whispered into children's ears.) Get creative: add carols at various places for everyone to sing!

Have a Merry, Christ-filled Christmas!

Our Family Christmas Pageant

Narrator: Me
ANGEL - Youngest Aunt
Extra Angels - Other Aunts
Mary - Oldest Granddaughter (helper Mommy)
Joseph - Oldest Grandson (helper Daddy)
SHEPHERD - Second Grandson (with helper an Aunt)
Extra Shepherds - Grandpa and Uncle
Wisemen (Kings) - Great Grandpa, Uncles
Star - Great Grandma 

Way back at the very beginning God made the earth and put everything on it and around it that people would need to live. Then He created people, a man and a woman. He only gave them one rule, but they broke that rule. That made God very sad because from then on all people would break his rules and they couldn’t be friends with God.

But God knew that would happen and He had a plan so that people could be His friends again. In order for people to be forgiven someone would have to be punished for breaking God’s rules. But the punishment was too hard. No one could pay it for anyone else and it would take forever, literally, to pay for themselves. 

So God’s plan was that He would take the punishment Himself for people. God the Son came to earth so that He could take the punishment and that is the exciting Christmas story:

One day an ANGEL appeared to a young woman named, Mary, and told her, “God has a special plan for you. You are going to have a baby that is God’s Son.” 

Mary didn’t understand how this could be. “But I can’t have a baby. I’m not married yet.”

But the ANGEL told her, “Don’t be afraid. God will do a miracle in you. Nothing is impossible with Him.” 

Mary said, “I will do whatever God wants me to do.”

When Joseph, the man Mary was engaged to, found out she was pregnant, he was upset. But God’s ANGEL came back and talked to him one night and told him, “Don’t be mad at Mary. God is doing this special thing through her to finish what He said he would do. You and Mary must name the baby, Jesus, because He will save His people from the punishment of their sins.” 

So Joseph agreed to marry her. “Ok. I’ll keep her.”

When the time came for the baby to be born, the king of the land had decided that everyone had to go back to their hometown so he could count them all and charge them more taxes. So Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem. By the time they got there all the hotels were full, so they had to stay in a stable! And that’s where Mary’s baby, Jesus, the Son of God was born!

God sent an ANGEL that night to tell some SHEPHERDS the great news. The SHEPHERDS were watching their sheep out in fields when suddenly an ANGEL stood in front of them and said, “Have I got the most amazing news for you! Today in that little town over there, the Savior has been born! You can go see him. He’s wrapped up in swaddling cloths and he’s sleeping in a manger!” Then hundreds of ANGELS appeared and and said, “Glory to God in the Highest! He is providing a way for men to have peace with Him and each other!”

The SHEPHERDS decided to go see the baby and found Jesus just like the angel had said. The SHEPHERDS were so excited they told everyone they saw about the baby Jesus and they praised God.

After Jesus was born some kings from other countries came to find him. The kings knew about him because they had seen his STAR in the east and had followed the STAR to find him. Eventually the STAR led them to Bethlehem and stood still right over the house where Jesus and his parents were living. The kings were so happy that the STAR had led them to Jesus and they bowed before Jesus and gave him presents.

Jesus grew up and eventually became a man who went around from town to town teaching people and making sick people better and blind people see. He told everyone about God and he taught his disciples about God’s plan for Him to pay the punishment for sins so everyone who believed could become friends with God.

God’s plan wasn’t easy for Jesus. It meant he had to die on a cross, a very painful way to die. But because Jesus is God, and He is eternal, and He never sinned, when He was punished it wasn’t for His own sins, but for the sins of the whole world. So Jesus was punished by God. He died. That was a very sad day for his mother and his disciples.

But it was sad because they didn’t understand that this was part of God’s plan and that the best part was still to come! Jesus didn’t stay dead! After He was dead for three days, He became alive again! After lots of people saw Him alive, He went back to heaven so that He could make it ready for all the people who believed that His death was punishment for their sins. Everyone who believes doesn’t have to be punished for their own sins. God took the punishment for each one of us.

And that is the wonderful story of why we celebrate Christmas.

*For more ideas on keeping the true meaning of Christmas click here.

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Keeping Christ in Your Christmas Picture

One year we watched a Christmas program at church in which a photographer and advertiser were getting a photoshoot ready for Christmas. They brought in a Baby Jesus, Joseph, and Mary. Then they decided it needed something more, so they added some barn animals--each played by some of the Sunday School kids. That wasn't enough so they called for shepherds, then angels, and a star. They didn't feel it was complete so added a Christmas tree, a candy cane, several large wrapped presents, some sugar cookies, a few carolers, and finally Santa. Looking at the tableau they decided they needed to take the Baby out. Then they declared it perfect and said, "Take the picture." Just then we heard a baby's plaintive cry.

Do you ever feel like that's what happens to your Christmas. The rush to make cookies, buy and wrap presents, attend parties, concerts, and events has taken Christ out of Christmas? I have felt that way at times. There have been times when the reading of Luke 2 has seemed like an obligatory part of the festivities to be gotten done with quickly so we can get to the "real" fun.

So I thought I'd share with you some of the ways we have been proactive in keeping Christ in our Christmas Season. Maybe some will work for you.

Our own Advent Calendar -- When my oldest son was three I cross stitched a ten day advent calendar with a passage to read each day, a Christmas carol to sing and a cross stitched figure to put up. As we got more kids we had to make sure every one got their fair turn at putting the figures onto the calendar. That was our devotions for the nine days before Christmas and Christmas day. I made one for that son's four children to use now. (I am way behind on something for my other grands!) But it doesn't have to be cross stitched. Just hiding a figure from a nativity scene in a small box for kids to open and reading a corresponding few verses can get the message out.

Traditions that Focus on Christ -- When we lived in Lima, Peru we started attending the Union Church's Christmas Eve service that always ended with everyone holding candles which we lit passing the flame to one another and then  singing Silent Night with the electric lights off. When we moved to Bogota, Colombia, the Union Church there performed the Messiah and we attended with small children (two, three, and seven years old). The British Ambassador's wife complimented us on their behavior! The church we worked in had an early Christmas Eve service at 5pm because Colombians all celebrated that evening. Later, our church quit doing that and the Union Church started a Christmas  Eve with the candlelit Silent Night.  These, along with attending the Christmas program at church were some of our favorite activities.

Non-traditional Giving -- We had our kids use their tithing money to give gifts to children who probably wouldn't have anything to open on Christmas. We would choose a family from church that we knew had needs (this was fairly easy to do in Latin America) and our kids would go shopping and pick out presents for each child. My husband and I would add to the fund so there was enough money and we also bought some food for them. If you don't live where you know needy people, there are always ways to help others. One idea is missionary friends of ours in Burundi, offer the possibility of buying "Living Gifts" to help provide a living for the African families around them. You can buy some chickens or a goat or two! There are many other ministries that offer ways to help those who don't have as much as we do.

Invite Friends to Christ Centered Events -- This will be the fourth year we take our next door neighbors to a Christmas concert at Emmaus Bible College. We always have pie afterwards so we can visit with them. We've been able to have some good conversations with them.

Host a Carol Sing -- Most years our brother-in-law does this. He has everyone bring snacks to share and we sing carols in his living room. What a great way to join with others to sing out God's praises!

Have Nativity Scenes -- I was grew up thinking that having a Nativity Scene was a "graven image". But when we were married and decorating for Christmas, I looked around at the tree, Santas, stockings, and candy canes and realized that I had something to represent everything but the real reason for Christmas. We decided to break with our tradition and buy one. We have added to our collection over the years from different places we have visited. Having a plastic or wooden scene that children can play with is a good idea. Some friends even have the wise men come closer each day from the farthest room to arrive after Christ is born. We don't pray to the figures, they simply serve as visual reminders of the reason for the season.

Reenact the Christmas Story -- if you have creative kids, maybe they'd like to come up with their own version of Christ's birth either as a play, a puppet show, songs, or a story. If not, you can help them act it out. For a simple script to read (no lines to memorize!) click here.

Play Games that Tell the Story -- play charades, pictionary, or even hangman with words from the Biblical Christmas story and the titles of carols. This was always a hit with our kids.

Personal Devotions -- Each year for several years now I have studied one of the persons in the Biblical story and then written a first person account of their part in the Christmas story. Here are links to my stories of Mary, Elizabeth, and my husband's account of Gabriel. This year I'm studying Simeon.

The gifts, lights, parties, and movies are lots of fun, but never let them take Christ out of the picture.

For more of my ideas on enjoying the season click here.
Some other ideas for keeping Christ in your Christmas.
And another idea from a fellow blogger for giving kindness is here.
More ideas for a simpler Christmas from another blogger here.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

It Happens Every December

I need a reminder of this every year. How about you?

Just as sure as the leaves change color and fall off the trees.

In November Facebook friends begin using #30daysofthanksgiving hashtags and talk about a Thanksgiving Challenge. At churches and in homes paper turkeys and trees boast of all the things for which we are thankful.

And then it is all undone in December.

But in December we begin to make lists--mental, written, or on Amazon--of the things we want. 

Does that strike you as incongruous? 

I did it with my kids every year, but a couple of years ago I was asked to speak to some college girls on "contentment" and it gave me a whole new perspective on thankfulness.

The world thinks we'll be content if we have a little bit more. 
Or if we learn to want a little bit less.

Is that what the Bible teaches?

Or how about:

In other words: God is enough.

How can we teach our children this? I am not sure I succeeded with being the one who taught this to my children. I'm not sure I have come to truly believe this in my own life. But I'm working on it.

I'll give you a few of my ideas of how we can teach this to our children, but I would love to hear from you and know how you are working on this. Please let me know.

  1. Be an example. Are you someone who is always talking about wanting the newest, the better, the improved? Or do you exhibit contentment? What do you talk about?
  2. Talk about contentment. If you look online you will find all kinds of quotes about contentment. Read one to your kids each night at dinner and ask if they think it's true. Is this is a clever statement or the path to contentment?
  3. Read what the Bible says. Look at the verses I have mentioned here and others. What does the Bible say is the basis for a Christian to be content? Ask who they can think of in the Bible that lived contentedly...or didn't.
  4. Look for real life examples. Talk about people who are living life content with having God in their lives. Ask your children, "What would true contentment look like in your life?"
  5. Be thankful. That year I challenged the college girls and myself to not just list things they are thankful for, but start their thanksgivings with "I'm thankful for God's presence in my life because..."
Leave me a comment and let me know your ideas for living and teaching true contentment.

P.S. I took these photos a several years ago while on a "leaf crunching" walk with my youngest daughter when she was a college sophomore. Today she is a college graduate working at her first full time job and serving in many ways at our local church. Her desire is to go overseas to serve God.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

10 Questions to Find Out What You are Really Thankful For

I'm repeating this post from last year because it has good questions to talk about around your Thanksgiving table. Many people are grateful for these questions! 

What do you do at Thanksgiving to remind yourselves what you are thankful for? We have done a variety of things to help our kids learn thankfulness at this time of year and to remind our family and guests about the true meaning of Thanksgiving. But going around the table to say one or even two things you are thankful for might make you miss out on some of the things that happened in the past year that you do want to be thankful for. 

That's where specific questions come in. If you have specific questions to ask people, that will open up memories that they might not have thought of otherwise. And as one person begins to share their answer, others around the table will have their memories jarred as well.

It also helps keep the conversation upbeat. After the food has made its way around the table or everyone has gone through the buffet line, ask someone (preferably someone who has been a bit forewarned) to read their question and answer it. Tell everyone that the "rules" are 1) no one can make fun of anyone's answer and 2) everyone who wants to can answer the question. Let the conversation flow. But if it starts to flag or degenerate, pipe up and ask the next person to read and answer their question. 

I've made the questions below available in printable format. If you buy printable business cards such as Avery® Business Cards 28878  (Avery®  Template 8371they will print just right or print them onto cardstock and the guidelines will show where to cut to get cards of uniform size. 

You might want to turn them over and print your guests names on the back to use as name cards.

Here is the link to the printable format.

Here are the thanksgiving questions:
What teacher are you thankful for this year?

What unexpected event came into your life this year that you are thankful for?

Tell about a Bible verse you are thankful for this year.

What are you most thankful for about your family?

What memory did you make this year that you are most thankful for?

What food on this table are you most thankful for?

I'm thankful for my job because __________________.

One thing I am thankful about my parents is __________________.

What place have you been able to visit this year that you are thankful you got to go to?

What event that made the news are you thankful for?

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

For more unique ideas to prepare for the holidays, click here for a Thanksgiving Challenge and here for a real life illustration of how much we have and here for the things I did right for our family gatherings last year.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

15 Things I Did Right for the Holidays Last Year

Last year we had a wonderful Christmas. I had ten days of all my kids and grandkids in town. Bliss! But there were six kids under six, three of them were under one, and anywhere from five to twenty-one people at a meal. So here's what I did right that made it a wonderful time. (I will spare you all I did wrong!)

Overshop -- When I was in the store and I thought of something, like TP, I bought extra. Butter was on sale for 60c less than normal a pound and since the store was around the corner I eventually got 10 pounds of butter, even though there was a 2 pound limit per checkout.

Easy Entertaining -- I learned from a friend who is 25 years younger than me: To have an easy party have everyone bring a plate or two of appetizers. We had one get together like this and everyone had food they liked and no one had to work too hard, especially not me.

Delegate (verb) -- Get everyone to help. They may look like they are busy on their computer or phone, but if you ask nicely they will set the table, unload the dishwasher, or make a salad. It might not be done exactly the way you would do it, but, hey! If the dishes get into the dishwasher dirty and then into the cupboard clean because someone else did it, I can spend a few more precious minutes with my grandchildren!

Menus, menus, menus -- making menus for 3 meals a day for 10 days for anywhere from  9 - 21 people and making a comprehensive grocery list is a job of about 2 hours for me, but it is two hours well spent. I checked every recipe, the fridge, freezer, and pantry and bought everything I could in one enormous, expensive shopping trip. But everyday I could just look at my list and know what I was going to make and that I had everything to make it. 

Lists, lists, lists -- I also noted what fresh things might need to be bought for each day and could send someone to the store early in the day while everyone was still organizing themselves. Two caveats: this did not mean that everything went according to plan--some days got rearranged, but it's easier to rearrange than come up with an idea, and this did definitely not mean I remembered everything
There were also lists of favorite foods, special activities, times of events, photos I wanted--basically everything so my brain had a holiday, too.

Cook ahead -- two pans of enchiladas made ahead of time and in the freezer, meant dinner for one day only needed to be defrosted and heated. That means I could spend the afternoon out doing something even more fun than cooking.

Change the venue -- I like having the holidays at my house, but just having arrived back from a ministry trip India we asked my mom if she could host Thanksgiving Dinner and we would do most of the work. Then we did Christmas at our house.

Include everyone -- we invited the whole family. Some in-town, extended family, had their own plans or couldn't come to the activities we invited them to, but they knew they were loved and wanted.

Don't include everyone -- Our in town family has an age range of 0-91. Sometimes the oldest generation just prefers a quiet evening at home rather than the controlled chaos of a houseful. It's actually a gift to them to not invite them to everything. We chose the main events and ones that would be a bit calmer to include them in. Some activities were grown ups only. Some were kid centered.

Cherish the people -- I spent a day cleaning before everyone came, but after that I didn't fuss, just worked a little at keeping the clutter under control, after all this was the year we had three new grandbabies and there was lots of baby paraphernalia around the house. But next year they wouldn't be babies, so lets cuddle them this year!

Take time out -- the "girls" all went out for coffee one day, an hour and a half of blissful conversation. The coffee shop had conversation questions on the table--and you know I love conversation questions! Those got us started, but we had plenty to talk about on our own. And we enjoyed it so much that we encouraged the guys to go out another day. They took a board game with them and had a fun time together.

Be Progressive -- as in a moving dinner; I grew up living at least 1000 miles from my grandparents and only for four years did I ever live within an hour of any aunts, uncles and cousins. When we got married we moved to South America for 24 years, so this is the first time to have so many family homes in one town since our son married five years ago and lives in town and my parents moved here two years ago. So we did a progressive dinner. The plan was a salad at one home, main course at another, and dessert at a third. But one family got sick so we pared it down to two homes, and given the age of some and the cold weather, that was probably enough.

Activities -- Ask people what they want to do. I'm an idea person, but not everyone likes my ideas and I don't have to move four littles to get it done, so we asked, got some feedback and proceeded to make plans, plans that got changed, rearranged, and cancelled, but that's why we had to ...

Be flexible -- I am not a "go-with-the-flow" kind of person; it's just not the way I'm wired. (See "lists" above.) But when Christmas guests include six children five and under, three of whom don't have a year under their diapers yet, and all their parents, things are not going to go according to anyone's plans! So we don't sweat it.

Enjoy! -- I am never happier than when I have my whole family around. Sometimes I just stood back and watched them all interacting, picking up each other's babies, playing games, and I thanked God.

For more unique ideas to prepare for the holidays, click here for a Thanksgiving Challenge and here for a real life illustration of how much we have.

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Preparing for Thanksgiving: We Have So Much

Mother: “Eat your food, there are children starving in Africa.”
Child: “You can send them this food.”

Did your parents ever tell you about the starving children in Africa (or China or North Korea) to get you to eat? Even if you didn’t voice the answer above, maybe you thought it.

But the truth of the matter is 

  • At least 17 million children suffer from severe acute undernutrition around the world: severe acute malnutrition is the direct cause of death for about 1 million children every year.
  • 815 million people--one in nine--still go to bed on an empty stomach each night.

  • We have so much abundance that we have to limit ourselves so that we do not gain weight. We can begin this Thanksgiving season by eating famine portions one night and experiencing what many people in the world experience on a daily basis. 

    A few years back I watched this video in a seminar given by Nate Bramsen and his father Paul Bramsen.

    I talked with Paul and his wife Carol afterward. The food given to these people might be all they had for several days so you can imagine why they were cheering when they saw the vehicles arrive! The boy you see Nate Bramsen pass over his head into the window was from a mother who wanted to make sure at least one of her children received some food. The mother herself was skin and bones.

    I have been hungry, probably because I hadn’t eaten in five or six…hours. There may have been a time in my life when I’ve gone longer without food, but I can’t think of when. In fact, for the last 25 years I’ve had hypoglycemia so I’m supposed to eat a little protein every two to three hours—and I usually make sure I do.

    Probably most of you reading this are like me, and your children also have no idea what it’s like to go to bed hungry even one night, let alone night after night. (Unless you’ve sent them away from the table for some reason, but that’s a different topic.) They might not realize why we should be thankful for every meal we have every day.

    So here’s the idea: Have a famine dinner.

    • Below is a basic recipe for lentils and rice for four people. Make this recipe for dinner one night.
    • Before you eat show them the three minute video and explain to them that these hundreds of children were so excited to get this rice and protein sauce meal—called a “manna pack”—because they had not eaten a meal in days 
    • Then have each one give thanks that they have plenty of food to eat every day.
    • Bring out the lentils and rice and divide among you. Tell them this is something like what these North African children would get, hopefully once a day. In non-famine times, perhaps they would get this twice a day.
    • Do not supplement this meal or serve dessert. 
    • If your children complain that they don't like the food, don't offer other food. One night of not eating will not hurt them. You can decide whether the rest of you should share what they don't want or you can save it for them to eat if they are hungry later.
    • Ask your children how they feel. They may still be hungry. Explain that there are thousands of children in the world who will go to bed hungry tonight and some of them will never wake up. 
    • Now tell them that 99% of the children they saw in the video are Muslims and have never even heard of Jesus. These children need our prayers that they will live long enough to hear the gospel and that they will believe it.
    • Here's why Christians feed starving Muslims: 50% of Muslims who have come to Christ have come because they saw Christians demonstrate God's love.
    • Spend some family time praying for the children of Niger and in many North African countries who don’t know about Jesus. Pray that the gospel will reach them in some way. Pray for the salvation of Muslims everywhere.
    • If your children come to you later and say they are hungry, tell them to use tonight’s hunger as a reminder to pray for the Muslim children who don’t have enough food and who don’t know Jesus. And take a minute to pray with your child right then. Then remind them that when they wake up, they can have breakfast, but those children probably won’t.

    For more information write to:
    Rock International

    North African Famine Recipe (serves four)
    ½ cup lentils
    2 ½ cups water, divided
    1  tsp salt, divided
    ½ cup rice
    1 Tbsp olive oil
    1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
    ½ tsp pepper

    1 large onion, halved and then thinly sliced to form semi-circles
    2 Tbsp olive oil
    1 clove garlic, minced

    Place lentils in large pot in 1 ½ cups water with ½ tsp salt. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 1 hour till tender but intact. When done drain and set aside.

    Meanwhile in another pot heat oil and fry rice over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup water and ½ tsp. salt. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer over low heat 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Remove from heat and uncover.

    In a non-stick frying pan prepare seasoning by heating the oil over medium high heat. Add onions and fry until golden. Stir in garlic and cook a minute longer, stirring continuously. Stir in diced tomatoes with liquid and pepper.

    Stir cooked lentils and rice together in large pot. Add seasoning mixture and stir together, cooking over low heat for 10 minutes.  Serve hot.

    For added authenticity, serve into shallow bowls and eat with your hands like the children in the video—but be sure it’s cool enough to touch!

    For printable version of the recipe click here.

    This would work for youth groups, Sunday School classes and even whole church dinners! 

    If you do this, please write to me and let me know how it went. Include photos!

    For more unique ideas to prepare for the holidays, click here for a Thanksgiving Challenge and here for a the things I did right last year for the holidays.

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