The Greatest Gift

your-word-is-a-lampBeing a new mom, I’ve definitely been thinking about the legacy I want to leave and the kind of gifts I want to give my children. I think the greatest gift I could give to John and Jeremiah is to be a wife and mother who is consistently in God’s Word. Here’s why:

1.) God’s Word penetrates the heart- changing us. While the places you go, the people you meet, and the books you read do that too, it is His word that  is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). Through the Holy Spirit, God’s word speaks to us, showing us how to walk and revealing the love story of Christ.

2.) God’s Word helps us see our sin, leading us to confession. Jonathan Edwards said, “Confession is the detergent of the soul.” While we must be careful not to be legalistic or ritualistic about confessing our offenses to God, a daily acknowledgment of our sin is critical so that it doesn’t harbor day after day. God’s word is like a mirror showing me who I really am. Helping me see the sin I don’t always see.

3.) God’s Word encourages us to be all that we can for Christ and His glory. While worship, church, prayer, and fellowship with others do that, it is His word that gives us the greater hope and perseverance to continue on in this difficult life. To glorify him with my heart, body, soul, and mind. His Word is my number one fan, helping me to press on and reminding me that I’m not crazy!

4.) God’s Word Challenges me to Selflessness and to Serving others. When I see that I am nothing a part from Christ, and that only he can make me self-less, I’m encouraged all the more to be the person I need to be for my family. I long to serve them through my actions and words. To build my house, and not tear it down with my  hands.

Growing up, my Mom was a woman who meditated on and loved the Bible. That was the greatest gift she gave to me… and to my whole family.

How has His word been a gift in your life?

Recap: Interviewing Christian Authors

img_8971img_8972img_8977This past weekend, I had the opportunity along with Marc McCartney to interview some really gifted writers at the Christian book expo here in Dallas. The questions in our interviews focused on small group ministry and what it looks like to put our faith into action. Each author answered the questions with their particular message and passion in mind. The interviews will go on SmallGroupExchange.com and RightNow.org as free video training.

On Friday, our line-up was Andy Crouch (see 1st photo), Alex & Brett Harris (2nd photo), Max Lucado (3rd photo), Sue Edwards, and Dawn Herzog Jewell. On Saturday, we interviewed JI Packer, Kevin Leman, Jimmy Dorrell, Ron Hall, Denver Moore, Steven Arterburn, and Bill and Kathy Peel.

I helped with the Friday portion. It was great to hear from Andy Crouch about his passion in creating culture rather than criticizing it. He has some great insight in his book Culture Making: Recovering our Creative Calling.

I got to personally interview Alex and Brett Harris. You may initially know them from their brother, Josh Harris (Author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye). These guys were exactly what I thought they would be. Full of passion for this generation of teenagers and mature beyond their years. Their book Do Hard Things and the conferences they are putting on are encouraging teens to live above culture’s expectations. It was also neat to hear that the person with the greatest impact in their life has been their parents. I definitely figured that!

Max Lucado was a joy to meet as well. When he walked in the room, he had a smile on his face and was genuinely interested in who we were and what we were doing. He talked about how God can use ordinary people for extraordinary purposes and he helped define what “missionary” means in our culture today. He remembered all of our names at the end. I think every Christian on the planet knows who Max Lucado is so it was definitely an honor for him to offer his wisdom to us.

I also loved meeting Dawn Herzog Jewell, author of Escaping the Devil’s Bedroom: Sex Trafficking, Global Prostitution, and the Gospel’s Transforming Power. She answered questions as to how people can get involved in the heavy topic of sex trafficking and how God gave her the passion to write on the topic and inform others.

I’m really excited that each of these authors will be on SmallGroupExchange.com and Rightnow.org.

Time with Max Lucado, Randy Alcorn, Andy Crouch, and more

cast-1On Friday, I’ve been given the opportunity to assist in interviewing Max Lucado, Randy Alcorn, Alex and Brett Harris, Andy Crouch, Sue Edwards, and Dawn Herzog Jewell at the Christian book expo here in Dallas. We’re shooting the interviews in a private room which makes it all the more exciting. The day will probably be crazy and really fast paced but I hope to interject some good questions and take some pictures. We’ll be asking questions specifically related to who they are, what they’re doing, and how it relates to small groups and twenty and thirty-somethings.

Max Lucado and Randy Alcorn specifically have impacted me through their writing when I was in high school. I was given Lucado’s book Just Like Jesus from a friend and it radically changed my view towards what it means to look like Christ. He is a master-storyteller. In college, Alcorn’s fiction book The Ishbane Conspiracy, couldn’t be put down by mom, sister, or I. It reminded me a lot about the C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters in that Satan is real and will do anything he can to destroy us even in the tiniest every day things.

The Harris boys are doing great things in their ministry with their blog TheRebelution.com and their book Do Hard Things is influencing teens and young adults everywhere. I am so proud of them.

As for Andy Crouch, Sue Edwards, and Dawn Herzog Jewell, I look forward to learning even more about them.

A Day at the Park

On the days I’m at work, Jeremiah and John get to have “Daddy day-care” together. When daddy’s present, John gets thrown high up in the air, gut laughs after daddy blows on his belly and tickles his armpits and feet over and over again, and loves looking up at the birdies and breathing in the air on their walks together.

Yesterday, they went to one of our favorite parks a few blocks down from our apartment. And here is their beautiful creation. John is mastering his poses.

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Video: You’re Beautiful

No matter how eloquently I try to describe the beauty of the Lord through words, they would never do justice. One thing I know for sure is that as the years pass by, the more I realize just how badly in need I am for a Savior. As I’ve drawn closer to him in these 20 years of being a Christ-follower (since I was 6!), the peculiar thing is that the more I see my sin and ugliness.

But because of his beauty, perfection, and holiness I continue to see who I really am– absolutely nothing apart from him. I’m a sinner saved by grace, nothing added. Nothing taken away. But yet I am everything because of him alone and what he does through me.

It’s truly the place we all must come to grips with- that a life lived a part from Christ is really no life at all.

The video below was produced by a very gifted guy at our church and captures just a glimpse of the perfection and beauty of God. The song put to the video is “You’re Beautiful” by Phil Wickham.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DEL0R32eU8]

SmallGroupExchange.com: The Place for Small Group lovers

PrintIt’s hard to believe it’s been a year since Scott (our Director of Operations) and I got on the phones and started calling small group pastors and leaders across the country to see how they might contribute to SmallGroupExchange.com.

I like to say that SmallGroupExchange.com is the place for small group lovers. It’s our desire for small group leaders, pastors, volunteers, and more to exchange their ideas about small groups and to share from their own wisdom and experience. My role in the site is communicating with all the contributors and collecting their articles and editing them. I love my role because I too, am passionate about the life-change that occurs within the small group setting.

I was immediately plugged into a small group of 6 women at Liberty as a freshman on the dorms. My leader, Kristie, had a tremendous impact in my life (still today). Her love and devotion to our group made me want to become a leader. So I did the next year and the next. Jeremiah and I were leaders earlier in our marriage. And today, we’re involved in one focused on young married couples. Our leaders John and Pam mentor us and take us through key issues in marriage like communication, finances, sex, past/present baggage, and more. We just love getting together with them. I think all of us in our group can say our marriages are stronger because of the haven it provides to reveal life struggles and the accountability to help overcome them.

If your church presently does not have a small group model, I would encourage you to be the catalyst to help usher them in. If you have them, are a leader, or interested in becoming one, please check out our site’s plethora of free video training, resources, reviews, and articles. You’ll also find that this is an unbiased resource so we have quite a variety when it comes to the teachers, authors, and writers you’ll see.

You can also become a fan on facebook.

Save, Save, Save

samanthakrieger.com

376-savings-jarI was in conversation with a girl my age this weekend about finances and the economy (as it seems to be the hotbutton of late!). I shared with her some of the research I had been doing about where certain people think we’re headed as a nation. I proceeded to say how much my family and I are really trying to save, save, save.

She looked at me in disgust: “Save? I’m not saving. I work hard. I’m going to spend what I want, when I want. As long as I’m being responsible, I’ll be fine. Who needs a savings account?”

Her expression and gestures kind of made me laugh under my breath. She didn’t care at all about what was going on in our economy. I am wondering if she’s even watching the news. But then I began to think more about her response and the fact I have had the same attitude before. In fact, growing up with a father who was extremely successful and not having to worry about finances, early on in our marriage I would spend like I was still under my dad’s roof. It was scary. My credit card proved it. So in essence I lived out her words in some way, shape or form.

But now things have changed. My whole mindset is radically different. While I’m still far from perfect, I really value saving more and spending less. Last year around this time, we were about $40,000 in debt. Thanks to the help of Dave Ramsey, we’re now $10,000 in debt with just a small student loan left and Jeremiah’s car. We’re so thankful that our mindset and behavior has changed. I know we can all admit as Americans that we love living above our means. I mean, who doesn’t love it? But the  better way is to be wise and to be content with what we have. I wish it was easier done than said.

Wasteful Time Online

www.samanthakrieger.com

Last weekend, we had our CARES core team over for a brunch. Jeremiah and I get the privilege of serving alongside friends who share in the same vision we have to bring the love and hope of Christ to our community. Our core team helps us set up for our resident events. They clean, cook, and engage in meaningful conversations with our residents. They truly make our ministry what it is.

Joe faithfully serves alongside us. He’s a bachelor, has a cushiony job, a well-decorated apartment, and comes from a good family. Around the table, we got on a conversation about the internet in our culture today- how we live and breathe technology.

Joe chimed in unexpectedly, “I just did away with internet completely.”

We all gave him the look.

“I just didn’t want the temptation to even be in my presence.”

I knew exactly what he meant. Pornography. It’s always there. Just one click of a button. Well, Joe proceeded on and said that he didn’t want that kind of temptation being a single guy and living alone, but also the temptation of wasteful time. He also said he’s the kind of guy that can’t get on Facebook for just a few minutes. He’ll be on there for hours and hours and never know it. He said because he’s done away with the internet, he has so much more time. He can still check what he needs to online at times, but when he’s at home, it’s not a choice.

I know I have the tendency to be addicted to checking email, facebook messages, or whatever else, but lately I’ve been overwhelmed by it. I can’t get to everyone’s requests and I can’t answer everyone’s questions. Having a newborn son, however, often makes it easier not to. But I decided a few days ago to challenge myself with a goal I think is attainable: After the days I’m at work, when I’m at home, I’m not going to spend any more than one hour online. The same goes with the days I’m home with John. The rest of my time will be spent offline enjoying the relationships God has given me. We’ll see how it all goes.

After I decided what I would do, the next day  I was on Anne Jackson’s blog, who is a renowned blogger who I’ve been in communication with some at work. And she is actually doing a technology fast. She isn’t blogging until Easter and she’s turned off her comments (for various reasons). After seeing her commitment, I didn’t think I was so crazy after all!

So, I want to challenge you. What is a goal you think you could have when it comes to your technology habits? What things could you replace with online time?

America becoming an undeveloped nation?

celente

www.samanthakrieger.com

I was doing some research today and ran across some startling info. I don’t know what to take of it yet. Gerald Celente–who I’ve never heard of before today– is the CEO of Trends Research Institute. He’s renowned  for his accuracy in predicting future world and economic events. He accurately predicted the 1987 Stock market crash, the Fall of the Soviet Union, the 1997 Asian currency collapse, the sub-prime mortgage crisis, and what’s happening right now in our economy. His track record is at trendsresearch.com.

Well, Celente is now forecasting revolution in America, food riots and tax rebellions – all within four years, cautioning that putting food on the table will be a more pressing concern than buying Christmas gifts by 2012.

According to his recent Fox News interview called “Predicting Obama’s Impact” (posted on YouTube on Nov. 10, 2008), by 2012 America will have become an undeveloped nation. There will be a revolution marked by food riots, squatter rebellions, tax revolts and job marches, and holidays will be more about obtaining food than gifts.

This all just seems too crazy! Doesn’t it? For some reason something in my heart tells me I wouldn’t be surprised if this happened though. I’m not at all saying I believe this guy. I’m really cautious of wacky people who try and predict the future but Celente has made his life following trends. He knows and understands history. His track record is insane.

Regardless if we think he is on to something or not, I really think all the more that it’s time for America to wake up and begin seeing what’s at stake. Is the media blowing a lot of this up or are we in denial as to what America’s future could  look like? Right now, I am trying to ask myself what changes I can make financially on a day to day basis to better prepare for the future. For our family, since we’re just about debt-free, it means saving, saving, saving. And of course praying nothing like this would happen, but still preparing for a potential rainy day. Would love to hear your thoughts.

My Dad’s Surgery Approaching

In my first year of seminary, I was taking a break from classes to visit my parents at our lakehouse in VA. That weekend, my dad came down with an awful sickness. He was throwing up, felt dizzy, couldn’t see or barely walk. He was looked at by a doctor in the small town our lakehouse was in. The doctor didn’t have much to say. He and my mom decided to travel to Lynchburg where my school was for a second opinion. I was standing in our kitchen when I heard the news. My mom called me to say that dad either had an aneurysm or a brain tumor. They would know soon. She sounded anxious and a bit fearful. I knew it was serious especially in the way she relayed everything.

At that moment, I broke down into tears and was tempted to call all my friends and spill the news. Instead I set the phone down and headed over to our big comfy chair that overlooked the peaceful water. I grabbed a pen, my journal, and Bible and spilled all my fears and frustrations out on the pages. In that time, I felt God’s peace and presence like never before. Several hours later, I heard the news that thankfully dad had a brain tumor and not an aneurysm and would be operated on soon. I packed my bags for the hospital.

My family camped out in the hospital for several days praying for dad and awaiting his return out of surgery. I was joyfully overwhelmed by all the calls and emails we received from friends and the seminary faculty praying for my dad. Through it all, he made it out and recovered well- even though it was tough.

Fast-forward five years later and we are in the same place again. Dad’s tumor has returned and he’ll be operated on tomorrow at 11AM at Baylor University Medical Center here in Dallas.  Many thoughts and emotions run through my mind right now. Why must he do this all over again? Why the pain again? Will the doctor do his job correctly? How will his recovery be?

Yet through it all, like what I learned in the chair at our lakehouse– God is sovereign over everything and he cares deeply for me and my family. Despite everything, He’s in control. He is with my dad and knows all the circumstances. So the question remains: Will I trust him again?

May my dad rest in your care tonight as he prepares for this surgery tomorrow God. Comfort his heart and may your glory be made known all the more. Calm his spirit as I know he is nervous. In your awesome name. Amen.

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