Archive for December, 2011

Unplugging For the Holidays

The week between Christmas and New Years is typically pretty quiet around the church.  So, I have chosen to take some time and spend with my family and also getting some things done around the house.  I will be in the office some this week, but I am unplugging a bit.

So all that to say, unless God impresses on me to post something else this week, the next post will most likely be next week.

I hope your holidays are glorious and filled with joy, peace and happiness!

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We are only a couple of days away from Christmas.  In some of my reading this morning, I reflected on the holiness of the season.  We celebrate, at this time of year, the birth of a holy and pure baby, just over 2000 years ago.  None had ever been born like him and no baby since can compare.  He was completely different – because he was God in flesh.

People came from all around to see this miracle.  Shepherds were visited by angels who gave them the news that the savior of the world had been born and so they came to see.  Religious men from Persia followed a star for days to see this child.  Not only did they travel a great distance, they brought gifts with which to honor him.

As we move through the final days of getting ready for Christmas – as make sure we have purchased all those last minute gifts and made all the last minute arrangements, take a minute today to slow down and think about your gift for the King.

We think about God’s gift of Jesus to us at this time of year, but how often do we think about what we can give back to a holy child?

What gift will you bring for the King this year?

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Peace Through Presence

Last week I talked about the peace that God can offer when we simply trust.  You can read that post here.

This past Sunday was the fourth Sunday of Advent.  This season, we chose to tie the four descriptions of Jesus found in Isaiah 9:6 to each of the respective Sundays of Advent.  That being the case, this past Sunday we looked at Jesus as the Prince of Peace.  The pivotal point I made in the sermon and the one that I would make today is this:

True peace is not the absence of struggles and strife, but rather the presence of God that brings comfort and strength in the midst of them.

Regardless of what you might be going through today, Christmas should serve as a reminder that even in the midst of your struggles, God is with you – God has this!  Rest in God’s presence today – rest in God’s peace!

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Lesson at a Red Light

This morning I was third in line at a red light as I headed to the office.  As I sat, waiting for the light to change, my mind was on all the things I need to get done today.  I reviewed my appointments and To Do list in my head.

As I sat there, the turn arrow came on, and had there been any cars in the turn lane, that would have been their signal that it was safe for them to proceed through the intersection.  The two cars in front of me took off – heading straight through the intersection.

Now, as I said, the arrow had come on for the turn lane, but the green light had not come on for my lane.  Luckily, there were no cars in the oncoming turn lane trying to turn or we would have had a fender bender right there.

I have had the experience of sitting at a light before and seeing the arrow light up out of the corner of my eye.  My reaction was to start off through the intersection until I realized it was the signal for the turn lane and so I stopped.

I say that to say, I understand the driver of the first car making the mistake and heading through the intersection.  But it is harder to understand why the second car followed suit.

As I drove on to work, I began thinking about how many people miss the signs all together and simply follow the crowd.

In this particular instance this morning, no one was hurt, but it could have been ugly.

Isn’t this true in life as well – particularly in our spiritual journey?

Jesus calls us to a personal faith – a one on one relationship.  We must own our faith and not just accept the faith of our parents and others.  I am not saying the faith of your parents and other people of influence in your life is wrong.  But I am saying that your faith must be your own.

Your relationship with Jesus is just that – yours.  Live it intentionally.  Not just following the crowd.

Be blessed today!

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I subscribe to several blogs and news sites by email.  So each morning, my inbox is overflowing with information begging to be read.

This morning, the subject line of one of the emails was simply – “Make a Difference.”  I clicked on it to see where this subject line might take me and it was a plea for donations to an online news site.  It is a worthy cause I know but the subject line is what has kept my mind churning this morning.

One of my foundational goals in life is to make a difference.  I want my life to count for something.

But as I have thought about these three simple words, I have been reminded that while I do want my life to matter – that tends to be a broad, “some day” idea.

The reality is, having our lives count for something will take making a difference in small (and occasionally big) ways on a daily basis.  So maybe, my motto for each day should be “Make a Difference – Today.”

How about you?  Care to join me in making a difference today?

Be a blessing!

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God’s Overwhelming Peace

In some of my reading this morning, I ran across these questions:  “What would the world look like if everyone took a few moments to let go of all or our worries and completely trust God?  There is a lot to be worried about.  If we don’t worry about all the economic issues, poverty, unemployment and crime in the world, who will?”

Then this answer was given – “God will.”

What would your day look like if you pushed your chair back from your desk right now and simply turned your concerns over to God?

It is a matter of faith – a decision to trust.

The God of the universe offers peace and contentment to those who trust.  And the amount of peace we receive is directly proportionate to the amount of trust we place in God.

Let go today – even just a little – and experience God’s overwhelming peace.

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Mary’s Courage

In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1, we read of preparations being made for Jesus’ coming to be born.  Accounts are offered in this passage of God sending angels as messengers to announce how all of this was to come about.

An angel appeared to Mary and told her she had been selected to bear the savior.  He explained that through the power of God, she would become pregnant and give birth to God’s son.

Now I don’t know about you but that might just be a little overwhelming for most of us to hear.  Not to mention the fact that an angel just appeared to give her the message.  I’m not sure how long I would have stuck around – or at least how long I would have remained conscious.

But the thing that amazes me even more about this account is Mary’s composure and response.  After a question or two, she simply says, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May your word to me be fulfilled.”

She completely submitted to what she was being told and offered herself as God’s servant.

I have to ask myself, would I have been that willing?  And honestly, the real question is – “Am I that willing?”

God has a plan for each of us.  God has given you specific talents, skills and passions to play a role in creation that only you can play.  How willing are you to say, “I am ready – may your plan be fulfilled in me today.”?

Mary showed great faith and courage.

May we do the same.

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Sometimes I need to be reminded that all of God’s children are precious and each and every one fits into God’s plan.

I wonder if the eyes of my heart are as open to God’s glory as this young man?  Watch this Godtube video and be blessed today.

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Today, I decided to do something a little different. It has been a while since I read much from the minor prophets.  So I turned to Habakkuk.  I read through his questions to God and the resulting answers God offered him.

I was moved by the prophets honesty and transparency before God.  I caused me to think about how the prophet felt and what he might have been enduring.  There are so many similarities between the environment in which the prophet lived and ours today.  There is so much injustice in the world.  Particularly, in our society, our priorities are so messed up that we don’t even see the true picture of what goes on daily in our own communities.

But God answered Habakkuk’s cries with this, “Look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed.  For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”

Do you ever think we need God to do something in our days that completely blows our minds?  I think we are there!

I think it is fitting during this Advent season, as we anticipate the celebration of Jesus’ coming to earth, that we lay our hearts before God, and join in with Habakkuk, asking God to move in a mighty way – not some day – now.

In Habakkuk 3, we are given a prayer that Habakkuk offered to God.  It begins, “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord.  Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.”

That is my prayer today.

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I have a confession to make – – it is December 7 and we still don’t have our Christmas tree up at our house.  I realize this would be a travesty in some homes and I am feeling the guilt even as I write this.  Tomorrow night will be the first time we have been home as a family in the evening since Thanksgiving so I hope to at least begin the process then.

As I think about the whole “putting up the tree” event, I have to admit, the part I dislike the most is putting the lights on the tree – wrapping each branch individually – it gives me  a stomach ache just thinking about it.

But I can say with all honesty, the best part of decorating the tree is getting the ornaments out and hanging them.  Why?  Because just about each and every one has a story or special meaning.  Most are tied to each of our kids.  So as we go through the ornaments, we see each child’s first Christmas.  We see ornaments that each of the boys has made either in school or at church.  It makes the tree special!

Last night, I had a very moving and unique opportunity to be part of a wonderful Christmas tradition that one of the funeral homes does each year here in Littlefield.  They call it the Service of Remembrance.  It is a time for families who have lost loved ones over the past year to come and remember.  A part of that service is a reading of the names of all who have passed this past year.  And each name has an ornament which is then hung on the tree in remembrance of the person.

It was truly a moving experience.  So often, holidays are difficult for those who have lost loved ones recently.

If that is you today, don’t fight the feelings but don’t focus on the loss.  Today, focus on the gain.  Focus on what an impact your loved one has made on your life.  You are a better person because of them and, as believers, we will see them again some day.

Be blessed today.

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