Monday, April 30, 2012

Shine Your Light

Meditation Monday: My Journey Through the Sermon on the Mount

{Matthew 5:14-16}
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

While working at a public school, I had started a prayer group that met before school once a week to pray for our coworkers, students, community, etc. I had asked another teacher to join because I knew he was a Christian. He responded he wasn’t sure if he would and said “I never tell people I’m a Christian, that way, if I mess up, it doesn’t make God look bad.”

As I’ve been studying through the Sermon on the Mount and thinking about what it means to be salt and light, I can’t help but realize in these passages Jesus says:

You are the salt of the earth . . .
You are the light of the world . . .

As Christians, we get no choice to be salt or light, we are. The only choice we have is whether our salt will be savory or tasteless; whether we hide our lights or shine.

There’s no choice in being salt & light, there’s only duty . . . delightful duty to share who we are and whose we are.
To sprinkle and shine Christ.

We don’t need to hide our lights from others. It is this light that illuminates and helps guide them through darkness. We do however need to make sure our light isn’t dim and doesn’t flicker.

Perhaps that’s why Jesus words here tell us to shine, to go out and tell AND to make sure our deeds reflect what we say. Our lives should shine as much light as our words. We are to preach Christ to people in word and deed.

If we mingle with darkness, walk in the ways of the world, how can we help others see their way out? Our light is no brighter than theirs!

If we hide our lights, if we’re too afraid to share, how will others ever see? Imagine being in a dark room and trying to help others find their way out, holding your flashlight and never using it! What good is that? How is keeping your light hidden helping others see Christ and His way of life . . . the path that leads to fullness of JOY? (Psalm 16:11)

Don’t you see why it’s so important to “flesh out” our message to the world? Others are walking in pain, darkness, sin, destruction, and death and we have the lamp to light the path to the Way out.

Go! Shine! Live brightly that others might see . . . see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Funny Things My Kids Say #2

"Eh, Mrs.Danisi, you watch the cartoon "Tippy Toes"? You know the one with the cat and mouse Tom & Jerry?"

"Mrs.Danisi, you scared us." Why? "You scare us when you talk to us and your eyes get all big."

"All teachers do is just get the kids in trouble and make you have detention and get spendid. They always tell you to sit down and be quiet and get your reading book."

"Uh-oh, something's wrong with my stomach. It's bouncing."

"I'm not gonna rest until I have freedom!"

"Mrs.Danisi, did you watch the movie the Smurbs? It's kinda like about little blue people?"

"Oh dang! It smells like snails out here!" What do snails smell like? "You know, poop."

"At recess, I had a really lotta fun."

"Mrs. Danisi, how old are you? 19? Cuz you talk like you're 19." No I'm ___. "Daaaaaaamn, that's old."

"Mrs.Danisi were you 5 when you were in kindergartner? Did you go to this school, or a different school in Tennesse?" (I've never lived in Tennesse??)

"Mrs.Danisi, did you buy your shoes with your own money? When you bought them from the person, did you talk in them spanish or english?"

"Okay, are you seriously? You really have a husband?" Yes, I really have a husband. "OH yeah, I seen him on tv. His nose is really tiny, huh?"

Teaching my kids that "y at the end of a short word says 'i'." Jose: Oh man, that makes me scared when you teach us that."

"Mrs.Danisi, I always make my baby sister laugh. You know how? When I play "Peek-Boo".

Jose has been using air quotes a lot. I asked him where he learned to do that. "Oh, learned that in 1955, when I was born."
David: My teacher taught me I was borned from the monkeys, in 1980."

Taking my last bite of my morning snack while giving directions and Donaven yells: "Don't talk which your mouf full!!"

"Mrs. Danisi, do you have the angies?" Angies, what are angies? "You know like when you sneeze and sneeze, and you have to take the medicine." OH, you mean allergies? "Yea! The angies!"

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tips for Sharing Your Faith

{Sharing Your Faith Starts in the Most Unexpected Place}

Sharing your faith can be terrifying, for many reasons: you don’t know how, you don’t know why, you feel inadequate, you feel incompetent, you feel guilty because you know you’re “supposed” to, etc.

I think when we understand why sharing our faith is so important, it makes it easier for us to know how to share our faith.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Apart from Christ, people have no chance at spending eternity in heaven with the Father. They will remain far off, in broken relationship, without hope. If we don’t share, they can’t hear. If they don’t hear, they can’t believe. If they don’t believe, there’s NO hope (Romans 10).

Sharing brings hope.

So how do we offer hope??
I don’t think sharing your faith starts with knowing “5 points of Evangelism” or an index card with good questions or any other list of “how to’s”. Those are helpful along the way, but not a starting place. So where do we start? What do we do?

#1) Be Compassionate
I think the place to start when sharing your faith is a place of brokenness, a place of compassion. Sharing your faith starts with a broken heart.

“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:35-38)

Jesus looked on people with compassion. He was out teaching and proclaiming the gospel . . . with compassion. He hurt as He healed. That is where sharing starts. We are to feel mercy for the lost and love them so much that we look past our fears, to offer them hope.

#2) Pray Intentionally
"Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak." (Colossians 4:2-4)

We are to actively seek out opportunities through prayer to share Christ. The gospel is a message that must be spoken, it’s good news that must be announced! We must pray for open doors and for boldness and clarity when we speak.

#3) Live Authentically
"Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:5-6)

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[b] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-14)

We are to live in a way that is authentic and honest. Our lives should bring credibility to the gospel and glorify the LORD. Our lives should be what attract's people to the gospel the most.

#4) Know Your Bible
"but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15)

We are to be people who know our bibles. The reliability of the bible, the story of redemption in the bible, places to take people to see the beautiful work of Christ and Christ crucified. We need to be fluent in our bibles to be able to explain to people what we believe.

#5) Preach it!
"For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:3-7)

Share your story of how you were once foolish, disobedient, and far off. Then share the message of the gospel, the good news, that Jesus died so that we may live! Share about His forgiveness of sin and His power to redeem.

Sharing your faith is NOT always easy, but hopefully these tips will help you to reach out to others the same way Christ reached down for us.

See compassionately.
Pray intentionally.
Live authentically.
Speak knowledgeably.
Preach boldly.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

When Crazytown Meets Grace

I was crazytown this weekend. I mean I'm talking like a full on lunatic who had an entire fight with my husband, in my own head, all by myself, and he had no idea. I'd like to say it was hormones and get some sympathy. And though it probably was, my attitude and actions were not hormones, but choices. I was cranky, psychotic, and feeling now just like an all out terrorist in my own home.

So how does my husband respond . . .

With grace.

I found these waiting for me last night after life group.

Grace: unmerited favor, giving what you don't deserve.

My attitude towards my husband should've earned a lump of coal or a time-out, not flowers. That's when I realized how much my husband teaches me about grace, God's grace, and shows me Jesus. I know that with the LORD, it's the same. I've run from Him, questioned Him, threw tantrums, and had a bad heart-attitdue many times. But he doesn't respond to me with what I deserve, he responds to me with grace.

A loving husband who gives his wife flowers when she is mean is a reflection (and a fraction) of what Jesus did for us on the Cross. We were his enemies, who mocked him, sinned against him, chose other gods, and yet he says of us "forgive them Father, for they know not what they do". And He loved us through our ugliness, our sin, all the way to His death.

I learn more and more from this man about Jesus every day. I did not deserve these flowers AT ALL. But through my nastiness and craziness, he looked beyond and saw what I really needed . . . love.

And as I think about devoting Wednesdays on this blog to share reflections from what we learned at our marriage retreat, I laugh (and repent) now. I have a plan on Wednesdays to write about what I learned, my husband just does one better and puts it straight into action. So I guess you could say

Santino: 1
Melissa: 0

No, we won't keep score. We'll just show grace. We'll try to out serve each other and take what we learned into real life.

Lesson #1: Give each other grace. Without condition, when the other person doesn't deserve it (or is acting crazy) show grace. It stops you in tracks, leads you to repentance, and encourages you to be a better spouse. I promise.

"But he gives more grace . . ." James 4:6

"And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Ephesians 5:2)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spring Cleaning & Spring Giving

If you've been to my house, you know us Danisi's like to keep a tidy home. But, actually, I rarely do a deep clean. I mop 1-2 times a month, dust/vacuum once a month, and try to get to bathrooms monthly as well.

So over these next few weeks, I'm taking my cleaning seriously. I mean I'm talking about organizing cabinets, drawers, cleaning baseboards, and everything! I don't have an official plan but I have found so many spring cleaning blogs that I'm going to visit for good ideas/check lists. Here are a few you may like (click title):

Spring Cleaning Check List

4 Weeks to a More Organized Home

7 Day Cleaning Plan

Source: via Melissa on Pinterest

Spring Cleaning the Toxins

My goal is to cover one room/living space a week.

Week 1: Kitchen
Week 2: Living Room
Week 3: Garage
Week 4: Bedrooms
Week 5: Study/Laundry Room
Week 6: Bathrooms

I figure in about 6 weeks, I'll be done with all of my spring cleaning. My hope is that as I clean, I'll collect the "stuff" that I don't use and have a big garage sale. I have really been examining the area of stewardship in my life and I realize that I consume much more than I need. I also realize that I have much more "stuff" than I really need. How did we fill up a 3 bedroom home with so much stuff? We used to live in an 800 square foot apartment!

So yes, I want my house to be spic and span. But much of this spring cleaning project will be to purge my excess and sell it/ give it away to someone who needs it.

How about you?

Want to join the spring cleaning/spring giving challenge?

We can all have garage sales at the end of the 6 weeks and report how much we purged and how much we gave!

What do you do to help with spring cleaning? Please share!

Happy cleaning :-)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Salty People

{My Journey Through the Sermon on the Mount}

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet." (Matthew 5:13)

I have been on a journey through the Sermon on the Mount for the past 3 months. Friends, I can't chew on more than 1-2 sentences a week.

This week was no different.

What is the purpose of salt?
Why is it used?
What benefits does it have?
And why, oh, why would Jesus call us "salt of the earth"?

Here are some definitions of salt from my commentaries: flavor, preserve, season, freshen, sweeten to taste
Uses/benefits: means of purification, delays decay or physical corruption

What is the purpose of salt? Why is it used?
"Ministers are to dispense the Word, both Law and Gospel, in such a way as to express the qualities of salt. Now the properties of salt as applied to raw flesh or fresh meats are principally these: first, it will fret and bite, being of a hot and dry nature; second, it makes meat savory to our taste; third, it preserves meat from putrefaction by drawing out of it superfluous moisture.
(Pink, A.W. (2011-06-28). An Exposition of The Sermon on The Mount)

Salt . . .
Frets and bites
Makes a savory taste

Frets and Bites
We are to be just like this to the world arounds us. Our message of Christ and Christ crucified may sting (fret/bite) a bit at first. For some, it may be offensive. It may cause pain to hear that they way they do life or understand life is wrong. It may hurt a bit to hear that Jesus is THE only way to eternal life and reconciliation with the Father. The message can be painful in the beginning. But that's okay, salt on flesh stings at first in order to disinfect and fight disease. Pain comes before purification.

Savory Taste
However, it shouldn't stop there. After the salt is poured onto the flesh, it begins to make a savory taste. We should be able to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ in a way that causes others to have a good taste in their mouth. One that leaves them craving more. We should share Truth in a way that is flavorful, delightful, and tasty. Not in a way that causes people to spit it out, but in a way that causes them to chew on it more.

Salt helps keeps things alive longer. Salt keeps things from decay (corrupting), it can keep from harm, illness, or disease. So just as salt preserves food, we as salt of the earth are to help preserve people. We are to help people along the path of of everlasting by showing them Christ. We are to help keep others from harm, moral decay, spiritual illness or disease by pointing to Christ and His word.

We are salt of the earth. Jesus tells us so. But not all salt stays "salty". The rest of this scripture warns that we are supposed to be the kind of salt that does not lose it's taste. If we don't remain salty, remain fresh and pure ourselves, when we offer our "salt" to others, it will do no good. It will be useless, "thrown out and trampled under feet" as Jesus said. The way we live our life can either be as a preservative for others, or it can be meaningless and thrown out.

We've all come across these kinds of people. Those who talk about the redeeming work of Jesus and yet their lives are anything but redeemed. They lose credibility, people begin to toss them aside, throw out their message, because it is not reputable. It's meaningless. They're salty people who have lost their taste. Their salt is good for nothing.

Friends, will you work hard at protecting your saltiness? Will you remain in Jesus, the ultimate Preserver, so that your salt provides others with a savory taste? Let's be people whose salt has a purpose and good flavor.

Let's be people who allow our salt to sting, savor, and save!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Weekend to Remember {Lake Tahoe}

We spent last weekend in Lake Tahoe with my sister & her husband at a marriage retreat put on by Family Life.

It was one of the best weekends we've ever had! We were in Lake Tahoe, we spent the whole weekend with my sister and her husband, who are our favorite people to vacation with, and we got to talk about our feelings A LOT!! Hee hee

Off we go!

We spent the night at my sister's in Lodi, and surprised our nephews in the morning! They were so happy to see Uncle Tino (they could care less about me :-)

But first thing's first. He just had to read "Momma's bible book" before playing.

Now the fun can begin!

The drive was beautiful! It snowed a little on our way up to Lake Tahoe, and the mountains we're covered in white. If I was alone, I would've cried at the beauty and awe of the LORD. But I had to hold it together because the 4 of us we're all in one car.

We stayed at the Hyatt in North Shore. Probably one of the nicest hotels we'd ever visited. 3 restaurants inside, heated pool/spa, and they are renovating the rooms so we got to be the first one's to stay in a new room!


Santino losing a bet. This man never loses a bet. We bet him that the conference ended on Saturday at 4:30pm and the rest of the evening was meant for a date night. He bet it was 5:30pm. We won, oh yeah!

Dinner at Riva Cafe. This was where my sister and her husband had their rehearsal dinner! (Did I mentioned they were married in Lake Tahoe?? Super romantic to be back nearly 5 years later.)

(Steve, you're so funny!)

Girl time! The next morning we had some girls only time, to talk about what it means to be a wife and mother.

And would you believe it?? I won a new bible study! Out of 150-200 women, I had been leading a small group the longest so I won! Woo too

Back home . . . babysitters club waiting. My mom & Aunt Vicki (aka Mary and Martha).

These pictures are fun, but do not even do justice to what really went on that weekend. We learned so much, grew closer, and feel so refreshed.

You know what, let me just put it this way. These retreats will take your marriage . . .

From this:
(Beginning of Marriage)

To this:
(At the retreat)

Hahahahaha! We love that picture! Really though, so much to process from this weekend that I'll share a little each Wednesday on the blog. Wedding Wednesdays?? I think so. Check back soon!

And if you have time, check out the website below. I wish every married couple we know could go to one of these retreats. There's one in San Francisco next month, ooh la la. It's worth the time & money, I promise! A Weekend to Remember

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Practical Tips for Studying the Bible

This month in life group we've been talking about the bible.

I know, weird, right? A bible study talking about the bible.

But we're talking about it in a different way.

Why is the bible reliable?

If it's reliable, why don't we rely on it?

And most recently, how do we rely on it?

That's today's post. Some practical ways to get into the Word, stay in the Word, rely on the Word, and live on the Word!

The bible should be so much more than something we read. It should be something we live. It is meant to be a book that points to Jesus Christ and the redemption of His people. It is meant to be a book that helps us to see who God is and who we are, as well as who we are not. It is meant to lead us to worship. It helps with practical, daily living. It's a source encouragement, comfort, and peace.

But many do not view bible reading this way. We view it as a task, boring, guilt-driven chore.

Hopefully some of these practical tips will breathe life into your time in the Word and most importantly, grow you closer to the LORD! They have certainly brought me freedom, excitement, and delight in my time reading the bible.

1. Pick one book to read through.
I have tried the reading plans where you read through a few chapters each day to try and get through the bible in one year. I have found that going slow through one book is much more meaningful and deepens my understanding more than devotional type reading.

2. Dedicate a block of time to read.
For some, they read daily for __ mins. I however, was much more consumed with checking the box, than reading and understanding the bible. So I pick 1-2 times a week and have a much larger chunk of time to study/read. I read through smaller portions of scripture, look up words in a dictionary, use commentaries, and journal.

3. Stay in the same book for the month.
Pick a book of the bible and read through it the whole month. Read a chapter a day until you get through the book. Then reread it! Try to summarize each chapter in one word/sentence. (Oh yes! Ephesians 1 is all about our blessings in Christ!). Take out what you're learning and meditate (think) on a few scriptures each week. The more you read through a book, the more you'll start to remember where things are in the book.

4. Journal/write what you're learning.
This is powerful for memory, reflection, and understanding. Write out what you're learning, a verse that stood out to you, etc. Record what God is impressing in your heart. Deepen your understanding by writing what you're learning.

5. Pick some scripture to meditate on or memorize.
Many of us think we have to read the bible daily. The bible talks about "meditating" on the Word daily. That doesn't mean you have to read something new every day! It means to think about what you're reading, what God's word says, and keep it on your mind often. You need to be in the word to do that, but you also need to spend time "chewing" on the Bread of Life not just ingesting it!

6. Accountability
Get in a small group that holds you accountable. Join a bible study that keeps you in the Word. Join our Scripture Memory Team. We memorize a new scripture on the 1st & 15th of every month. Join here!

7. Obey what it says.
You've heard it said "The bible is not just for information, but transformation." Reading the bible should challenge you to think and live differently. As you obey little by little, step by step, your faith and discernment will deepen. The more you obey, the more you grow. The more you dismiss and disobey, the less fellowship and intimacy you'll have with the Father which will hinder your relationship with Him. Obey what you know to grow!

8. Find someone to share with.
A lot of times, our bible reading is dry because we're not sharing what we're learning with someone. Find someone you can share with. Find someone to disciple-to teach about Jesus. There is always someone who knows less than you or someone you can "transfer truth through relationship" to. Let the Word flow through you, like a river not a reservoir. As you fill up, pour it out.

Just find something that works. Find a way to get into the Word and really spend time reading/studying. Someone said recently "A 10 minute quiet time 3 days a week isn't going to help you grow spiritually." And it's true! It's like trying to live on fast food, ya I guess it's better than nothing but it's not going to help you become healthy.

I hope some of these help. I'm praying that we become a people who not only "read" their bible, but understand it, delight in it, live from it, and fall in love with it!

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . ." (John 1:14)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kisses from Katie

"Kisses from Katie" by Katie J. Davis

Katie J. Davis is a young woman with a passion to make a difference in the world. This former senior class president and homecoming queen left home at eighteen for a short missions trip to Uganda. From that experience grew an overwhelming desire to do something more personal and more sacrificial than just giving up her Christmas vacation for Africa. Today Katie lives in Uganda, where she is the adoptive mother of fourteen little girls, some with special needs, and the head of Amazima, a ministry that reaches hundreds of other children in Africa. Katie is originally from Nashville, Tennessee, where her parents and brother live. She has been named Beliefnet's 2011 Most Inspirational Person of the Year.

If there is one book to read this year, one book to read right now, it's this book. Truly the most inspirational book I have ever read! It is also the reason I have been evaluating my own life and my faith in Christ.

This woman left all that she knew, all that was safe, all that was comfortable, to go. To go and serve, to go and live, to go and experience Christ and His fullness of grace. It seems so simple "go and love".

I mean there are times when I don't want to hug the students I work with because they haven't bathed in awhile or they have lice, and she's bathing children who have open wounds and HIV. Or at the end of the day when I'm tired and see the phone ring. I don't want to answer because I know the conversation will be long and emotionally exhausting. She has people knocking on her door about to die and she still serves them.

It has led me to ask questions like:
-Where can I say no to comfort, to say yes to Christ?
-Who are the people in my community that would be considered "unlovable"?
-Who am I not loving the way Christ would want me to?
-How can I be faithful to love and serve the people that the LORD has allowed me to interact with daily?
-Am I being wasteful with my time, talent, and tresure or faithful?
-How can I live on less to give away more?

This is one of the reasons I started thinking about the issue of stewardship (managing my time, talent, and treasure). Am I being faithful with all that God has given me?

Many times in this book, Katie shared how much of her life/day was interrupted by people and their needs. She was tired and exhausted and still served. She filled up on Christ and did this by the power of the Holy Spirit. How much of my life is spent tired and exhausted? Do I still serve? Do I view "interruptions" as an opportunity to serve?

What are the talents, gifts, and passions God has given me? Am I using the gifts God has given me to glorify Him?

This is the area I am evaluating the most. We are consumed with materialism, more things, new stuff, etc. How much food do we really NEED? New clothes, new things, more stuff . . . is it really necessary? Where can I live on less to give away more?

What changes do I need to make in my life to love God and His people more?

The reality is not all of us will move to Africa to serve the least of these . . . and God doesn't want us to. He wants us to be faithful right where He has us. Loving people, serving people, and proclaiming Christ.

I am seeking His power daily to do just that! And thanking Him for books like these that challenge and inspire me!

Friday, April 13, 2012

My Spring Break: People & Painting & Hot Rods

Last week was spring break, woo hoo! Here's what I did in a nutshell . . .

Celebrated my brother-in-law Gianni's birthday at Brick (downtown) with family.

Went to the park with some friends from life group. We were supposed to be taking the kids, but they decided to play too!

A surprise note left under my door.

Finished some paintings.

Went to our first Hot Rod show! Our dear friends launched Hot Rod Coalition this year and they're hosting shows the first Friday of each month. It was so fun and so awesome to see hundreds of people there!

And celebrated this lady's 30th birthday! She was my very first friend when I moved to Fresno, I've known her for 15 years! (Sorry about the pictures, but again, I'm the worst)

More friends from high school.

I thought this picture was funny! They didn't know I was taking it, I love Amy's face!

Another old friend, Jenn. She was in my wedding and everything!

We were probably talking about our feelings.

And we set up for the reopening of The Well's Clovis Campus sanctuary! Some friends from life group.

Fun-filled week with people, painting, and hot rods. And my favorite, I got to sleep in every day which I love the most. Happy spring!