Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hostage to Bitterness

Bitterness is caused by nursing an unforgiving spirit and results in negative and critical attitudes. If left unchecked, it embeds itself deep into our lives and becomes a subconscious reality.

Bitterness motivates habitual complaining. (Job 7:11, 10:1) Bitter people find pleasure in gossip. (Psalm 64:3 KJV) Bitterness affects other’s lives as well. "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by it many be defiled." (Hebrews 12:15)

Bitterness is self induced misery-it produces chain sinning. The bitter person is his own worst enemy and always difficult to maintain a good relationship with.
It's important to regularly give yourself a checkup for roots of bitterness. Perhaps its the real silent killer, the cause of sleepless nights, ulcers, agitation irritability, angry words, lost friendships, ruined marital relationships, separated families and a host of other expensive consequences.

If you are like me, you have plans and dreams for your life and for the lives of your children, friends, families and your community. If they are significant, beautiful, Godly dreams, they can only be realized through the power of the Spirit filled life. Bitterness robs us of the power to achieve those dreams.

Peter told Simon that the Holy Spirit and bitterness cannot co-exist in the same life. One or the other has to go. For example, if we harbour a root of bitterness, we infect and damage our children, spouse and workplace. A root of bitterness will impact the bottom line of your business. It throws a wet blanket over the worship and sense of community in a church. It's important that we identify and deal with our bitterness.

I can't afford to nurse bitterness in my life. The consequences are too costly. I have two clear choices, I can choose bitterness and risk loosing everything I hold near and dear. Or, I can choose the Holy Spirit and His positive power (Grace) which I need for the fulfillment of my dreams. The choice is mine.

Monday, December 29, 2008


5 week series

We’re all held hostage by something...what is your captor? Maybe it’s past hurt, fear of the future, lust, or deception, or even anger. The good news is that our ransom has been paid in full. Join us for Hostage and discover how to break free, once and for all, from the traps of life.

Week 1-Contaminated by Bitterness
Week 2-Overwhelmed with Worry
Week 3-Trapped in Addiction
Week 4-Consumed with Anger
Week 5-Living in Lies

Don't miss any of the messages in this series and visit my blog often over the next 5 weeks. Prepare to break free!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Dinner Jesus Style

Luke 14:12-14 (NCV)
12 Then Jesus said to the man who had invited him, "When you give a lunch or a dinner, don't invite only your friends, your family, your other relatives, and your rich neighbors. At another time they will invite you to eat with them, and you will be repaid.
13 Instead, when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.
14 Then you will be blessed, because they have nothing and cannot pay you back. But you will be repaid when the good people rise from the dead."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I making gifts today

After my study time this morning, Michelle, Sam and I will begin two days of preparing for Christmas. Making gifts, writing letters, singing carols, doing a puzzle, eating, drinking........oh yeah and watching the snow melt. WHAT A GREAT TIME OF YEAR!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More Relational Giving Ideas

A few more ideas to get your creative juices flowing...

Spending time together:

Prepare a feast with candles, wine, and music for your family or friends.
Give your child a baseball bat for a trip to the batting cages together.
Wrap two copies of a used classic book to read with a friend.
Wrap a coffee shop gift card for a coffee date.
Help your neighbor put up Christmas lights.
Wrap popcorn, gourmet root beer, and a classic DVD for a movie night.
Cook a meal for some one's aging parents.
Take a friend to a concert or a play.
Create a scavenger hunt for your nieces and nephews.
Host Monday Night Football at your place and make homemade pizzas.
Go on a day hike together and take a sack lunch.
Have a food fight in the back yard with your kids.
Bake a cake to celebrate Jesus' birthday with children and tells God's birthday story.
Go night skiing with friends.
Bundle up with a thermos of hot cocoa and walk through a neighborhood with lots of Christmas lights.

Creative activity coupons:

A "use-our-house-while-we're-on-vacation" coupon for the young married couple living in a cramped apartment.
A house-project coupon to help your friend finally build that tool shed.
An out of town adventure coupon for you and the kids.
A babysitting coupon for some worn out parents.
A back rub coupon for your spouse.
A change-the-oil coupon for a busy friend.
A breakfast in bed coupon for your spouse.
A yard work coupon for an elderly person in your life.
Ask yourself: What can I do? What can I give? What do they like? Make time to do it with them.

Things to make:

Record a "Best of 2008" mix CD for friends.
Create a photo album of the kids for the distant relatives.
Cut up old magazines to make funny Christmas cards.
Compile your favorite recipes.
Knit a scarf.
Record an interview with the grandparents on the history of their life to give to the family.
Build a raised garden bed.
Write a meaningful letter of appreciation.
Paint a picture or make a sculpture.
"Publish" a story written and illustrated by the kids.
Make a memory book for a friend of a trip you took together.
Bake Christmas goodies.
Make aromatherapy oil:
Make herbal tea:
Find something else to make:

Give around the World:
Participate in NCC's Advent Conspiracy giving project by bringing a water bottle back full of change to dig a well.
Give some extra money or write an encouraging letter to missionaries.
Buy something tangible like a goat or a fruit tree in some one's name for a person who needs it (World Vision and Samaritan's Purse have catalogs).
Visit to exchange ideas with people around the world.

This isn't about creating a bunch of new rules to follow for Christmas. It's OK to spend some money. Don't create a new set of pressures, worry, and guilt by feeling like you can't spend a dime. Just step out of the consumerism, be thoughtful, and enjoy the celebration!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Give Presence with Presents

The holiday season is fast approaching and many parents are concerned about the family financial situation and the money problems they may be experiencing. Many parents are wondering what they will give this year as they tighten the money belt and attempt to weather the financial storm through the holiday.

Perhaps the answer lies in the gifts that are given. Give children what they really want from their parents, presence not presents. All children spell love T-I-M-E. What we can give to them is our attention, our availability, our mindfulness, our closeness, our time.

Consider the following suggestions as a way to give the most important present, your presence this holiday season.

1. Be there regardless of what you are doing. The holiday season requires an added measure of balancing kid’s schedules, work responsibilities, visiting family, cooking elaborate meals as well as regular requirements of keeping up with the laundry, etc. When feeling pulled in several directions, many parents turn to multi-tasking. We’re suggesting that you avoid the urge to multi-task and strive to stay focused on the moment at hand. When you sit with your children, whether it’s to play a game or read a book, give them your undivided attention.

2. Make a “Be” choice. How you choose to “be” affects whatever you choose to do. When you are with your children choose to be interested in what they are interested in. Choose to be happy that you have the time to focus on their needs and wants. Choose to be excited about the time you have with them. Even when misbehavior occurs in your children, choose to be glad that you have the opportunity to help them learn a new behavior or a new way to communicate a desire or express a feeling.

3. Focus on listening rather than telling. Children spend a great portion of their day following directions such as, pick up your clothes, make your bed, sit down, be quiet, go play, chew with your mouth closed, stop picking on your brother, hang up your coat, brush your teeth. The list of commands seem unending. Remember, children have valuable things to say too. Many times parents get so focused on telling that they forget to listen. Value your children’s opinion. Allow opportunities to vent. Embrace their point of view. Invite suggestions. Listen to their voice.

4. Connect physically. Touch is a powerful way to communicate “I love you.” Get close and touch your children’s heart with a warm embrace or a gentle squeeze of the shoulder. Snuggle under a blanket and read together. Go for a walk and lock hands. Wrestle on the living room floor. Distribute hugs, smiles, winks and an occasional high five.

5. Connect emotionally. Feelings are always more important than things. Create an environment where it is safe to be emotional. Encourage the expression of feelings. Allow your feelings to extend to your children as you share traditions, reflect on holidays past and gather as a family. Have empathy, compassion, and understanding.

6. Unplug from the electronic world. The television, computer, video games, and ipods have the potential to create a disconnect from personal interaction. Unplug, turn it off, and walk away. While riding in the car unplug the headphones, turn off the DVD player and tell your children a story about the day they were born or about a favorite holiday memory. Shut down the computer, turn off the Xbox and play a game of chess, checkers, or monopoly together. Stand up, walk away from the TV and go shoot baskets, skip rope, or ride bikes with your child.

7. Play by the kid’s rules. Play with your children at their level. Build mud pies, jump in rain puddles, roll down a hill, spray shaving cream on the kitchen table and join in the creation of artistic designs. Cover the driveway in sidewalk chalk. Let your children take the lead and change the rules of a game if they want. Know that play, no matter how childish or silly it may appear, is an investment in connecting with your children. Play regularly and remember the reason for play is to play, not to win.

Make a commitment this holiday season to give the best gift you can give by being present in your child’s life. Be active and interactive on a daily basis with your children. Be the parent you were called to be. Give your presence.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Give the gift of you

"relational giving" - a concept that deals with us giving of ourselves more than stuff.

Because, after all, Christmas is about the best relational gift of all... YEAH!

Listed below are some ideas I wanted to pass along... gifts that in some way increase the relational capacity you and another person could share over the course of a year.

52 packets of gourmet hot chocolate with a personal coffee cup: So that you can share a special time together once a week.

Two journals: You each write in one for two months and write down various things you see in the other person during that time - steps of growth they're taking, outstanding qualities, any blind spots, and so on. Then at the end of two months you switch.

Deck of cards and book of card game rules: This gives you an excuse to do something to hang out together.

Collage of special photos: Highlighting your favorite memories together.

Bottle of sparkling cider and a picnic basket filled with deli cheese and fruit: Make plans to have a picnic together, even if it's inside.

Disposable camera or rolls of film: Devoted for the sole use of capturing future memories together.

Craft supplies: Geared to help you do something creative together.

Gardening gloves with a plant or flower seeds: Indicating you'll work on a garden together.

Homemade cookie mix with instructions for baking: Take turns making each other a round every couple of weeks.

Fancy magazines tied together with a pretty ribbon: Read them together and talk about the articles.

Gourmet popcorn and video rental gift certificates: Movie nights every week for a month - 'nuff said.

Locally made barbecue or steak sauce with basting brush: Use this as a way to not only spend time together but also invite some new friends into your relational circle.

Pancake or waffle mix and a bottle of real maple syrup: Sometimes you just need to start the day off together right... use this to guarantee the food is good.

Movie theater gift certificates: Take turns picking movies to see together - no complaints.

Board games: Draw people of all ages and backgrounds together through the games you play together.

Books: There are still a few for under $10 that you can read through together.

Basket filled with kitchen gadgets: Decide you'll spend some extra time finding recipes that force you to use them and cook for each other.

Prepaid long distance phone cards: Especially helpful if you are separated by miles.

A watch with an alarm on it: When it goes off you pray for each other.

Colorful Post-It notepads: Give each other permission to leave encouraging notes in unexpected places around the house

Puzzles: There's nothing like the good old fashioned task of putting the pieces of a puzzle together... and it gives you plenty of time to talk.

Got any more?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Making Meaningful Christmas Memories

Check an article by Lynne Thompson helping us turn Christmas right side up...

Regardless of age, it transports us back to our childhood: tinsel on the tree, stockings hung by the fireplace, colorful packages needing to be shaken, and traditional celebrations with faithful friends and relatives. For our children, this holiday is still being written upon their future memories. This is why we as parents need to make sure that what they remember is packaged in precious truths about how God's love reached out to a dying world, one silent night in a town called Bethlehem.

How shepherds watching their flocks received a surprise visit from heavenly creatures, showing that God is for everyone, regardless of their social stature. How angels announced peace for mankind, on whom God's favor rests, proving that our Intelligent Designer isn't the kind to create things and then walk away. How good news about our savior spread throughout the world, explaining why we still celebrate today.

So this Christmas, as you reveal the greatest love story ever told, try these fun-filled age-appropriate activities that will direct children, and adults, back to the true meaning of the holiday, when we celebrate Emmanuel, God who is with us.

Ages 0-3
In order to avoid making Christmas a "don't touch holiday" for little ones, give them fun things they can touch.
Move glass ornaments and lights up to higher branches on the Christmas tree, and help your child make fun decorations for the bottom.
String pieces of colored tissue paper cut into squares onto shoestrings to hang as garland.
Get out the glitter and make paper ornaments.
Mold a nativity scene from clay dough and display in a prominent place. Tell the story of Christmas while you do this.
Decorate cookies and build gingerbread houses together as a family.

Ages 4-7
Help your little ones focus on others this season by making use of those Christmas cards received in the mail. Place the cards in a basket on the dinner table; taking turns each night drawing one out. Then pray together for that person or family.
Also, start a family tradition by picking out a new holiday picture book to read each Christmas Eve. Some of my favorites are:
10 Minutes to Showtime, by Tricia Goyer
The Crippled Lamb, by Max Lucado
The Stable Where Jesus was Born, by Rhonda Gowler Greene
The Christmas Rose, by William H. Hooks

Ages 8-12
Ring in an international Christmas by assigning a country to each child. Besides reporting about how that country celebrates the holiday, he or she can prepare a seasonal dish to share, or demonstrate a song or folkdance. Then pray for the people of that culture so that they too might understand the meaning of God's love.

Ages 13-18
This age group is old enough to bundle up and go caroling. During each visit allow for a few seasonal songs and readings from the scriptures proclaiming the birth of the newborn king. Besides visiting the neighbors, teens may want to stop by the local convalescent home, hospital, or homeless shelter.

All Ages
Many families choose to celebrate Advent – the days leading up to Christmas Day. There are fun Advent calendars on the market, some with doors that open and play songs, others that hide chocolate candies or other treats. Consider making each Sunday leading up to Christmas special by lighting a candle, reading passages from scripture, and serving a yummy dessert. A great resource for Advent celebrations is the book, Just 25 Days 'Til Christmas: An Advent Celebration for the Entire Family, by Rebecca Hayford Bauer.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Advent Conspiracy news from
Rick McKinley Pastor Imago Dei Community

Here at Advent Conspiracy [AC] we get lots of questions about “How?” people can become co-conspirators. … it is an important question! But what I would like to do is frame that question with a much more important question. “Why?” would someone join the conspiracy?

At the heart of the Christmas story is one of the greatest theological mysteries. God with us. The very birth of Christ has led us down the road to deep theological inquiry as to the nature of the incarnation. At the heart of it all: God is now with us. He is present among us, loving, redeeming, saving, reconciling, convicting and displaying the glory of His Kingdom in a world that is sin swept and heartbroken.

The reason that any of us would go through all this work: being more thoughtful and creative in giving gifts so we spend less and give more; re-distributing funds to well water projects where the least of these live in such great need the reason we do all of that has one simple answer… To Worship Christ More.

The Advent Conspiracy is not just about fixing the world’s problems or becoming activists by resisting consumerism. At the heart of what we are doing is worshipping the God who is now with us. The point of the story of Christ’s birth is profound and transformational. The birth of Christ gave us access into knowing God through Jesus. We can solve lots of problems and live different lives in our culture but if it is not aiming at this one thing then we may be missing everything. God gave us a son so we could know Him and worship Him.

As Christ followers we get to enter that mystery this Christmas. Somehow between spending less, giving more and loving all, we keep coming back to why we are doing it. And there we find the answer. An answer that hushed the shepherds, angered the rulers, and caused the Angels to start singing in a blaze of glory. Because lying there in a feed trough among the steaming dung and smoking nostrils of farm animals, lay the greatest gift the world has ever known. God in the flesh, coming to put our lives and world back together.

This Christmas here is the invitation. Never forget why we are doing all this. As your kids are making gifts, tell them about the greatest gift, as you avoid the crowded malls spend that time re-telling the story, and as we collectively display the love of God through meeting basic needs so others may live, we are telling the world that we give because God gave. And who God gave us was His Son the Christ. The invitation is simply-

This Christmas join us as we worship Christ more.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Zion I leave to go to Zion National park for a couple of days. That place is refreshing to my soul. Going with a friend who Pastors at Green Valley Baptist to plan our joint men's retreat to be held there early next year. Should be fun.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Spend less

During the Advent Conspiracy we are asking the church to:
Worship fully
Spend less
Give more
Love all

I have been on a spend less journey for over a year now. For me this is all about freedom. I want to be free to make the most of the money that is entrusted to me by God. After all, it all belongs to Him anyway. I want to be free to invest it in loving ways for my family and God's Kingdom. Simplifying my life has become an important expression of discipleship for the Bennett family. I must say, I feel a lot better having set a path of less debt and more generocity. I think God is pleased as well.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Christmas incarnated

This is a great story from one of our newer believer in our church:

Aloha Pastor Chris,

I pray that this letter finds you doing well this week and surrounded with an abundance of aloha spirit. I am writing to tell you how excited I am to find out that my ohana is part of a conspiracy and did not even know it. You may recall that last CHRISTmas was our first one since we were saved and we wanted to honor our Father by celebrating the true meaning. What an amazing, educational life changing experience we ended up with.

My whole life Christmas was about presents and stressing out over getting everything done before everyone arrived. Last year after the combination of some life situations paired with God’s word at your sermons we made a drastic decision to NOT buy presents for our ohana. Now when you have five kids it truly is a drastic decision. Now the theme of my parenting has always been “Break the Cycle” and I decided this tradition will be one of those to break.

First, we started by going through every closet in our house gathering coats, blankets and clothes that we could give to someone in need. Although, I had just been laid off and money was is a hardship we recognized that we still have food on the table, we have a home to keep us safe and warm; but most of all we still have each other.

Next, we purchased an Interactive Nativity set to learn and understand the story Jesus’ birth. We now know and understand why each person is there and what happened to them. It is no longer just another Christmas decoration. The more we learned the more every single decoration, song and even card took a unique transformation because for the first time ever I saw and heard GOD in it all!

We then took the kids to the mall for the Angel tree. Each one picked an angel that was their same gender and age to buy a present for. They had to choose a gift that they wanted for themselves but had to hand it over to someone else that was less fortunate. No problem for the toddler, no problem for the teen-ager but a challenge for the 6 year old dinosaur fanatic who just found the ultimate dinosaur set. Jordan struggled with it and even tried to bargain with us but reluctantly handed it over to the lady at the Angel Tree. I think he left some fingernail marks on the packaging in the process. After it was all said and done Jordan gleamed with pride to all who knew his experience and that was a gift to me as his mother.

We did not have a lonely Christmas tree stripped of its gifts though. Each one of us sat down and wrote out a prayer for each family member. We took those prayers, wrapped them up and placed them under the tree for Christmas morning. We now had priceless gifts to present one another and did not have to wrestle anyone down in a store and acquire more debt for it. Even up to this point I still heard the enemy’s whispers in my ear. He wanted me to think that I was robbing my kids of gifts and that they would be embarrassed at school. He almost convinced me a couple of times but I stood firm.

Of course we plan to do this again this year and even take it up a notch with service to others. It pleases me to know that we are not alone in this and that it is being promoted throughout the Christian community. Our new Christmas tradition even has a name too, Advent. I pray that this spreads like a wild fire on a gusty day and we take back the meaning of Christmas. No more consuming to show love but truly showing love through actions and not materials. The video for Advent Christmas makes me smile uncontrollably because I know for myself what they are trying to say. Having presence with your ohana (FAMILY) on Christmas morning instead of presents creates emotions that cannot be explained it has to be lived.

In closing, I will answer to your challenge for this Advent CHRISTmas with a simple…. ‘A’ole pilikia (no trouble)

Blessed wishes & Mele Kalikimaka,

Lani Hinkes

Monday, December 01, 2008

Good and bad

I'm sure you heard of the wal-mart worker who was trampled by materialistic shoppers in New York or the two men who angrily shot each other to death in a California toy store. Try this for some GOOD NEWS.