Cinnamon roll recipe

By popular demand here is my homemade cinnamon roll recipe.  The thing that I love about this recipe – besides the taste – is that it can be very versatile.  I have let them rise the second time in the refrigerator overnight and then bake fresh in the morning.  I have frozen and then let rise the second time as they thaw and baked with no ill effects.

1/4 cup warm water

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 pkg of instant vanilla pudding

1 cup of warm milk

1 egg at room temperature

1 tablespoon of sugar

1/2 tsp of salt

4 cups of flour

1 pkg of dry yeast

Dissolve sugar in warm water.  Sprinkle yeast over the top in a small bowl.  Combine remaining ingredients and then stir in flour.  Knead for 8-10 minutes until dough is elastic.  Allow to rise in greased bowls in warm place covered with saran wrap and damp tea towel.  After risen to double punch down and let rest for 10 minutes.  Roll into a 17 x 10 inch rectangle.  Spread with 1/4 cup of softened butter.  Mix 1 cup of brown sugar with 4 tsp of cinnamon and then sprinkle over butter.  Roll up dough and cut into 1 inch to 1 1/2 inch slices.  Place in greased pan for baking.  Seal with saran wrap (at this point you could refrigerate or freeze).  Allow to rise 30-45 minutes or until doubled.  Bake at 350 degrees uncovered 15-20 min.  Serve warm with icing!  Yumm.

D6 – Love of God

Vicki Courtney is a gifted speaker and writer from right here in Texas!  Wow, did she have some powerful insights into what can “bust” the faith of our children.

1.  Modeling something other than “love of God” as your ultimate affection.  God does love us but first and foremost we are to love Him.

2.  Failing to acknowledge our role as the primary discipler of our children.  Church staff is there to support us and for those children who do not have Christian parents.

3.  Focus more on behavior modification rather than heart inhabitation.  Behavior is just a symptom of the condition of the heart.

Wow – did you cringe as you read those?  I know I did as I listened.  Especially #1 up there.  How many times do we place something else in a place of priority over our relationship with God?  When was the last time you stayed home from church to watch a game on TV?  When was the last time you chose to watch a TV program instead of doing daily quiet time?  How about…and this one really hurts…played bejeweled blitz on facebook instead of investing in the lives of your children?  Ugggh!  Let me cut this post short so that I can go read my bible and spend some time with my children.

Esther – Lesson 2 – The Wrong Answer

Ancient queens did not enjoy the same benefits as modern day female heads of state.  While chosen to be the queen it was often because of her royal heritage and not her personal merits.

The queen was not allowed to be in the king’s presence except by special invitation.  She would often not be summoned for months at a time.  The king was allowed to keep a large harem or group of young ladies that were for his sexual pleasure.  He didn’t really even need her for those needs let alone that of company or advice.  The queen as well as these groups of women would be attended to by eunuchs.  Eunuchs were men that the king could trust because they had been surgically castrated therefore posing no risk around the ladies and also as they would never bear children they were not a threat to his political power.  They wouldn’t procreate and create a dynasty of their own.

An ancient king would often be surrounded by men in his court that would offer advice on matters of both personal and political significance.  In Persia these men were appointed strictly on the merits of who they were – not necessarily because of their tremendous wisdom.  These men would have been at the party and would have definitely been partaking in the alcoholic refreshments.

Queen Vashti was known for her beauty and some speculate that this was Ahasuerus’ last show and tell of the party.  After all, wouldn’t a beautiful wife and queen be the crown jewel in his cap so to speak?  Ancient custom would have forbidden Vashti from appearing in front of a group of all men and yet it also would have demanded her obedience.  She was in a bad position.  There have been other thoughts surrounding her refusal – perhaps she was pregnant with Artaxerxes and would not have wanted to be seen in that condition, the expectation was that she would appear in nothing but the royal crown or perhaps she simply had no respect for her husband.  Regardless of her excuse Vashti paid the price for her disobedience and was banished by her inebriated husband and his advisors.

Ahasuerus found himself in a bad position as well.  As ill-advised as his demand was he  now found himself  in a position where he had to act or be seen as a weak man in his own household without the respect of his wife and queen.

As you read today, what do you think the effects that the prolonged partying, peer pressure and traditions played in the outcome?

What was Ahasuerus’ response to queen Vashti’s refusal to appear at the party?  What does this tell us about his character?  About his relationship with Vashti?

What was the suggestion made by Memucan in response to Queen Vashti’s actions? What was inherently wrong with this line of thought?

How much responsibility did Ahasuerus’ advisors bear over his rash decision and decree?  Have you ever been in a place to offer advice?  Do you think your advice was wise or reactionary?

DIG DEEPER!

What other references can you find in the Bible related to the marriage relationship and respect?  How would these principles have helped Ahasuerus and Vashti’s relationship?

On The Lighter Side

We had the privilege of witnessing the comedy and the drama that is the Skit Guys.  These two men were both funny and yet got across the point of their message.  They have DVDs as well as a book of skits.  I really don’t know how they do it with a straight face.  Take a look.

D6 – Faith At Home

Mark Holmen has written several books around the concept of Faith at Home.  He doesn’t discount the church’s role in teaching our children but states that the role of parents must be elevated.  The #1 reason young adults say they are leaving the church is because of hypocrisy – actual or perceived – in the church.  What they see at church is not being lived out at home (either their parents or others within the church).

The church must support parents in their endeavors to teach and live out their faith – at home!  Churches do not need to completely revamp their programs and ministries but rather just take a different approach or a different focus.  Faith at Home does not just mean the traditional nuclear family.  Single adults need to be able to live out their faith at home, seniors need to live out their faith at home – everyone needs to live out their faith at home!

Mark offered many practical steps to churches trying to change their focus or trying to really highlight this concept.

1.  Approach using the language of your church – your senior pastor will play a critical role.  If you currently call it Sunday school it doesn’t have to change.

2.  Language matters – do not use the word “family”.  Everyone who doesn’t have a “family” will think you don’t mean them and check out.

3.  Must be a part of the strategy of the church.

4.  Long-term commitment – give it time.  It may take a generation to see a difference.

What can you do in your current ministry to support parents in their challenge to live out their faith at home?  What is your church currently doing to support you as a parent?  do you take advantage of it?

D6 – The Take Away

Wow!  It was a busy and thought provoking few days at the D6 conference in Frisco developed by Randall House Publishers.  wjcollier3 and myself were challenged and taught like we haven’t been before.  We also laughed til we almost wet our pants (thanks to Tim Hawkins and the Skit Guys) and cried til I didn’t think my eyes would ever be the same (thanks to Tim Hawkins and the Skit Guys).

First of all, let me explain what D6 is.  D6 refers to Deuteronomy 6.  “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

When I was considering what to share with my readers (I have pages and pages of notes) I decided that I wanted to do two things.  One was to share with you the “big” things that I learned and then also a simple way you can incorporate some faith at home (Mark Holmen told us we could steal his phrase) activities to enhance your and your children’s faith.  So, over the next couple of posts (maybe more) I will be sharing what each speaker had to say to us.  I hope that you can learn vicariously!

Ed Stetzer is a numbers guy for Lifeway Christian Resources and he shared with us some startling statistics.  Our children are leaving the church at an increasing rate once they reach the late high school and early college years.   He told us what the data shows are effective parenting practices of families whose adult children are spiritually mature.  The child regularly spent time in prayer, achieved good grades, not rebellious as a child/teen, connected with pastor or youth worker, parents did not use “time out” for discipline and they (as a family) regularly served at church.  Try taking that little quiz and see how you stack up as a parent?  Kind of convicting isn’t it?  I loved Stetzer’s line “You cannot outsource your relationship with God and you cannot outsource the mentoring of your child”.  The D6 tag line is that you are responsible for the spiritual upbringing of your children, not your pastor, not your Sunday School teacher and not your Children’s Pastor.

Verse 7 of Deuteronomy 6 shows us the necessity of sharing our faith with our children on a regular basis – the text says “repeat”.  This means more than once and it means that it should be ongoing.  “Gospel is new life lived out, not sin management.”    It also tells us that we are to talk to our children while “living a life”, through the rhythms of life.  We also need to mark our homes, make your faith your own and own your faith.

We thoroughly enjoyed hearing what Ed had to share.  Within a generation we could be a church in crisis.  What will you do to make a difference in your own home?

D6

Today wjcollier3 and myself headed to Frisco, TX to attend the D6 conference.  A special thanks to Ron who made this possible.

We’re excited to be able to sit in on some sessions related to equipping churches to building faith @ home.  I’ll be blogging about some of the topics covered so stay tuned.

I feel much better about this conference than I did about the denominational event attended earlier this summer.  I think I feel better because it is a much larger crowd and I don’t feel like I’m under a microscope.  Of course, it may also have something to do with me feeling more confident and sure about my role as a pastor’s wife.

Looking forward to a few days with my husband too.  We’ve had a very busy summer and haven’t had much time to connect.  One of the repercussions of a life of ministry – one we’ll have to work on.  More tomorrow!

Esther – Lesson 1 – If You’ve Got It, Don’t Flaunt It

King  Ahasuerus (Xerxes) was the king of Persia which was a vast empire during this time in history.  He had enormous wealth and influence and liked to throw it around.  The book of Esther refers to the fortress of Susa – most scholars agree the reference to fortress is really the palace.  If we were to compare the palace of King Ahasuerus there would be no modern equivalent.  The Pentagon is the world’s largest office building with more than 25,000 employees.  King Ahasuerus’ palace was believed to be 10 times that size.

Persian kings often held grand banquets before going to war.  The length of the party was significant because it displayed his great wealth and vast resources.

King Ahasuerus was 35 years of age at the beginning of the book of Esther in the third year of his reign.  From outside sources we know that he was dark and handsome – arguably the most physically appealing man in the kingdom.  He was of royal blood and not afraid to act like it.

As you read this week were you trying to picture the party as described?  What sort of mental image did you get?  What impresses you the most about this royal party?  Why do you think the author took such pains to describe it?

Think about what kind of man and husband Ahasuerus would have been.  What would it have been like to live with him in the palace?  What would it have been like to be married to a man with no limits to his power or wealth?  Jot down some of your thoughts.

Do you know someone who handles their wealth and/or power responsibly or biblically?  What aspects of their life would you like to model?

King Ahasuerus obviously placed a very high priority on his wealth and position.  What misplaced priority or priorities do you have?  What can you do today to rectify this situation?

Read Psalm 49:5-9.  What do these verses have to say about money and power?  What are they not able to do for us?

Esther – Introduction

I have spent the last number of weeks working on a Bible study for the ladies at our church.  I had asked the world wide web for some suggestions for our weekly study.  Beth Moore was a suggestion that came up frequently.  On our limited budget – both personal and church wide – I felt like her study guides were a little pricey.  So, I wrote my own.  As we go through the study I will be posting for your enjoyment as well.  So enjoy!  I entitled it For Such a Time as This.

This week’s read:   Try to read the entire book of Esther in one read.  It’s just 10 chapters – you can do it!

The Old Testament tells the story of a people chosen by God, the Israelites.  The Israelites repetitively did evil, disobeyed and mocked God.  Yet they were repeatedly forgiven by their merciful protector.  Leading up to the book of Esther we learn of the constant rebellion of God’s people to His laws and commands resulting in their exile from Israel.  God allowed two powerful nations, Babylon and Assyria to conquer them in a horrific punishment.  You have only to read some of the Old Testament prophets to realize the extent of the destruction.

The Assyrians scattered the northern kingdom and the Babylonians took those who survived into exile.  The temple was destroyed and the land was left barren.  The Israelites were to remain in exile for 70 years.

During those 70 years God was not silent or idle.  The political landscape changed and the Babylonians were conquered by the Persians.  The Persians ended the exile of the Israelites and they were free to move around the nation.  It was under the reign of King Cyrus that God brought about His promise to restore the Israelites to the land He had promised them.  During Ezra we learn of a remnant of Jewish people, under the leadership of Zerubbabel, returned to rebuild the temple.  King Cyrus and his successor King Darius are instrumental in making this reconstruction happen.

The book of Esther takes place during this time.  Although thousands of Israelites have returned to Israel, many more have stayed behind.  History books and the Bible confirm that many did not even speak their native language anymore and many of them had assimilated into the culture that surrounded them.  Persia is now under the rule of King Ahasuerus or Xerxes (486-465 BC) and the book of Esther opens with the throwing of a lavish royal party.  Many scholars believe that this was an attempt to garner military support from surrounding nations and leaders in an effort to overthrow Greece.

The book of Esther has all the makings of a great novel – romance, suspense and intrigue.  Did you notice?  God’s name is not mentioned even once.  Why do you think the book of Esther was included in the Bible?

What are your first impressions about Esther?  Is she a woman to be modeled?  What characteristics do you find admirable?  Not so admirable?

Can you think of a time when God put you in a position to make a difference?  Did you act or remain silent?

One of the themes of Esther is the hidden hand of God.  What references can you find in Esther to God even though not named by name?  What events have His signature on them?  Write the chapter and verse reference along with the idea that represents or alludes to God or event that He controlled.  If you need a hint try looking at these references:  2:7, 2:21, 6:1, 6:4

Book Review – 10 Things Every Minister’s Wife Needs to Know


I was excited to read this book by Jeana Floyd given my recent transition into the role of pastor’s wife. This is a well-written book, thoughtful and thought provoking based on over 32 years of experience as a minister’s wife. Jeana covers many important topics such as the importance of the marriage relationship, your relationship with God, balancing responsibilities, relationships within the church and how to be yourself and not conform to people’s expectations. Each chapter also has an interview with another pastor’s wife offering another perspective.
Jeana does tend to speak to those who are in large church settings with multi-staff roles. While her early beginnings were in a small church she seems to have left that mindset behind even though that is where the majority of pastor’s wives find themselves today. She admonishes wives to put their husband’s schedule ahead of their own and to use wise time management principles in order to give the pastor the time he needs to fulfill his roles. In an ideal world where a church can afford to pay a pastor a living wage and his wife can stay home this makes perfect sense. However, if the wife is bringing home the family’s income almost exclusively, her work schedule needs to take a priority for the welfare of the family. I understand that I am probably in the minority here.
Overall I was able to draw several helpful hints and pointers. I just wish she would have addressed some of the challenges facing wives of pastors in the small church.

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