Showing posts from December, 2009

St. Nick's Tears by Greg Stier

The following is a poem by Greg Stier of Dare 2 Share Ministries. I follow him on his blog and really enjoyed this post. I always enjoyed Dare 2 Share Youth Conferences while in youth ministry. Greg has a great heart for reaching people with the gospel. Read on for great thoughts on St. Nick.

St. Nick's Tears

Can you hear St. Nick crying?
His tears fall softly on the ground.
They’re hard to hear beyond the hustle
Of holiday cheer and Christmas sounds.

Before we transformed him into Santa
He was a real man of flesh and blood.
Only one thing about him was different,
It was a heart that beat strong for God.

When he was young he lost his parents.
They left him all their worldly wealth.
But young St. Nick had no concern
About his own financial health.

He used his money to feed the poor
To help those in real need.
He chose a life of selfless service,
Instead of worldly greed.

He took care of impoverished children
By giving them coins of gold.
He slipped the gifts under doors at night
And from this act …

Martin Christmas Letter 2009

We decided to do things a little different this year and post our Christmas letter on my blog. Another difference will be that it is written by J.L. this year instead of Bethany. So, here goes.

Greetings Friends and Family,

The Martins have had a great year in Hesston, KS. Here are some highlights for each member of the family:

J.L.--I am loving my new ministry position of Associate Pastor of Family Ministry at Hesston MB Church. I don't know that any ministry has been as great of a fit for my passions and spiritual gifts. For those who are unfamiliar with my position, I oversee the children's ministry at the church by providing training, curriculum, and encouragement to a great group of volunteers who lead the specific ministries such as nursery, Sunday School, VBS, Children's Church, and our mid-week program. I spend most of my time focused on couples and families. I have personally visited with more than 30 couples over the last year to get to know them and see how the chu…

Books I Am Reading

Here are the books I am reading right now:

Think Orange by Reggie Joiner
Deep Church by Jim Belcher
Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel
God, Marriage, and Family by Andreas Kostenberger
Crazy Love by Francis Chan
Unfashionable by TullianTchividjian
Raising a Modern-Day Joseph by Larry Fowler
Parenting in the Pew by Robbie Castleman
They Call Me Dad by Ken Canfield

If you are thinking, he has been reading some of these books for months. You are right! Some I am reading a second time. Others I prefer to read a chapter each week and think about more deeply. Any of these would be good reads for you. Happy Reading!


This week, has been full of singing in our home and church. Last Sunday, Bethany and JenneaHeinrichs led our children in great music to worship Jesus as part of our Christmas program. The kids did a great job and they had so much joy singing the songs. It was great to watch each of them. That evening, we continued our singing as we went caroling at Schowalter Villa (our local nursing home). It was great hearing the harmonies and singing of multiple generations sharing the gift of song as an act of service to the elderly.

This week, our family has become hooked on Sing Off on NBC. It is a singing competition that started with 8 acappella groups. Each night some of the groups are eliminated. I have to admit it is the first time I have actually voted for anything on TV. The kids were so into it. These groups have tight harmonies and have all been great. It is amazing how all of the music is from their voices alone. Absolutely no instruments! We look forward to the finale on …

Daddy Tips by Mark Driscoll

"’Tis the season for Dad to drop the holiday ball, stress out as the money is being spent for presents, and miss yet another providential opportunity to lovingly lead his family. So, this blog is intended to help dads not fall into the same old rut of holiday humdrum, sitting on the couch watching football and eating carbs, but rather intentionally plan out the upcoming holiday season. Our children grow quickly and if we miss the sacred moments God opens up for us to connect with and bless our families, everyone suffers and we set in motion generations of missed opportunity.

#1 – Dad needs a plan for the holidays to ensure his family is loved and memories are made. Dad, what’s your plan?

#2 – Dad needs to check the local guides for what’s going on to make fun holiday plans for the family. In Seattle it’s here.

#3 – Dad needs to carve out time for sacred events and experiences to build family traditions that are fun and point to Jesus. Dad, is your calendar ready for December?

#4 – Da…

My son is 10!

I cannot believe that my oldest turned 10 today. I can remember clearly 10 years ago. Mitchell was due Jan. 3rd. Bethany had been to the doctor that day (Thursday, Dec. 9th) and they said it would be another 2 weeks before he was born. Bethany kept talking about her back hurting most of the day. She was busy vacuuming at the church that day as well as attending choir practice that night. I think it must have been mother's intuition because she decided to do some laundry before going to bed. In our apartment below the church office, we had a dryer that when it went into a spin cycle it shook everything in the kitchen. So, we went to bed and Bethany was awakened to a crash of dishes falling to the ground because of the dryer. She cleaned up the dishes. I slept through the whole thing. I know I am a bad husband! Bethany came back to bed and could not sleep and then it happened-her water broke at 11:30 p.m.

This put us into rush mode. We did not have a hospital bag compl…

Esther Ratzlaff

Today, I had the privilege of attending the funeral of Esther Ratzlaff. She was an amazing woman! I first met Esther the first week I was at work at Hesston MB. She was here during the day working in the library. She was faithful in keeping the library organized and up to date. Not only did she do this faithfully, but she also taught during Hide N Seek. In addition to these activities, she also filled our pew kits. She was so creative in making those kits paying attention to what the children would enjoy. One of her ideas was pipe cleaners which have always been my kids favorite part of the pew kit.

Around Easter last year, I was invited to Newton to speak at the Community Bible School that Esther was involved in. She taught here for 17 years. She worked here at least two days a week with these children from the public schools. She loved this ministry as well.

When she discovered she had cancer, she was heartbroken that she would not be able to continue teaching at Hide N See…

Snow & Sin

As I watched the snow fall last night and today, I had child-like excitement. I wanted to grab the kids and head to Mt. Hesston for some sledding. But not today. There is just something about the first snow. It seems to fall so effortlessly and so beautifully. It reflects light so magnificently. Someone told me that no two snowflakes are alike. Have you pondered that statement? How can you watch this beauty and uniqueness of every flake and not say, "Praise God!" Every time it snows it produces in me an awe of our Creator God. I am not sure exactly why. But I do know I serve a God who is awesome and creative.

This leads to the second thing I am reminded of by the snow. It is that my sin will be washed away through Jesus' blood-not my own effort. But through Christ, my sins are washed away. In Psalm 51, we read the following:

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away…

My favorite Christmas picture

I have posted a picture of my favorite Christmas decoration in our house. Bethany used to sell At Home America and this was one picture they sold. As I look at this picture, I am reminded that even if no gifts were exchanged, no parties held, no decorations-Christmas would still be great because it's not about those things, but about Jesus. So, if you are overwhelmed with shopping and staying under budget, stressed with all of the activities going on--remember it's about Jesus and all we need to know about the joy of the season is found in Him.

Using Christmas Specials

Bethany commented the other day that it seemed like there were a ton of Christmas specials this year. I agree. It seems like this year alone, in addition to the classics, there are at least two new 30 minute specials (Prep & Landing, Merry Madagascar). Last year, included the addition of Shrek the Halls (at least I think that was last year). We also have Charlie Brown Christmas (one of my favorites), How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and many more. It seems our kids (and maybe us too) could be watching a Christmas special every night.

While I am not advocating non-stop TV viewing, I do believe these specials can become a great opportunity to talk about faith and Jesus. When we watched the Grinch last night, I asked Megan about the Grinch compared to Jesus. What is different? Other than the obvious she replied, the Grinch's heart is small and Jesus' heart is big. She also said that Jesus likes to give not ta…