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Showing posts from November, 2011

Jesus Christ is Born

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21 I love music. I say that my life has a soundtrack because for every event, major and minor in my life, I attach a song. Now the Christmas season is here and with the Christmas season comes Christmas music, which I love. Every year one song becomes my favorite, the one I have to hear over and over again. Last year it was a tie between “Sing Mary Sing” and “Go Tell It On The Mountain.” Whether it is my current favorite or last year’s fave or just one I really like a lot, all of the Christmas songs speak to me. We’re not talking Jingle Bell Rock here, I mean the ones you’d sing in church. Earlier tonight I was listening to Christmas CDs as I prepared some food for a gathering at work. During that time in the kitchen I heard two different versions of “Go Tell It On The Mountain.” As I listened I kept hearing, make that hearing , Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ.

Clothes Don’t Make the Faith

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15 At church this morning our pastor spoke about appearances. It was a small part of a bigger message but it really hit me. He showed a picture of some Amish or maybe Mennonite people and a picture of Catholic nuns. Though he didn’t use these exact words, his point was, clothes don’t make the faith. We are not wholly based on how we dress or what emblem we plaster on our vehicles, backpacks etc. We can wear the t-shirt, have the bumper sticker and wave the flag without believing one single word or living out the ones we do believe. He is right of course, although I do believe that the habits worn by the nuns are more about purity than anything else. Anyway, I was quite taken with the sermon and especiall

Believing

Immediately the boy’s father answered, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24 Boy can I relate to this guy! For years I have thought that this verse was about not having enough faith, believing deeply enough. It may be, but today I am wondering if all these years I’ve gotten it wrong. The man has just asked Jesus to heal his son, “if you can.” To which Jesus replies by repeating the, if you can and telling the dad that everything is possible for people who believe. Which elicits this famous, to me at least, response, that he does believe but maybe not enough, or as I’m seeing it today, maybe not in the right way. I believe in God. In fact I’m fascinated by the arguments of people who don’t. I find it remarkable that they can’t see the holes in their theories. Believing in God is easy. There are signs and evidence of His existence everywhere we look or in the fact that we exist and that we can look. That part is quite simple. I believe God can do anything He chooses

Thanksgiving

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4 There is no school today or tomorrow or the next day…. For which I am extremely grateful. I’m so blessed to have a job and I’m thankful for that as well. The job, however, is a bit stressful at times and very tiring. It is also incredibly rewarding. Still, it’s just lovely to be home, to sit with my Father and not have to check the clock to be sure to leave on time, to sip my tea and to look over the hours in front of me knowing they are all mine. Today is Monday, this is my day. Tomorrow afternoon three of my grandchildren will arrive for a sleepover that puts them in position to help Grammy and Uncle Paul in our annual Thanksgiving prep. We are all quite excited about that, as usual. Right now I am just happy to have this time to be able to think about all the things for which I am thankful. On Thanksgiving I will pass around our family notebook in which each pe

Being Myself

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48 I’m one of those people who is always reminded of songs. Any word or phrase, circumstance or situation can remind me of a song. Earlier, thinking about Thanksgiving, I found myself humming that old Sly Stone song, “Thank You (for Letting Me Be Myself Again).” Which was spelled, Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin. As it hummed through my head I started laughing. It seemed so ridiculous. I get his point, he was a bit out there, showing us all his non-conformity and he was giving kudos to the people who were letting him do it or as we say to today to the people who “got” him. To me it just was hilarious to have that in my head because I spend a portion of my prayer time every single day praying for God to change me. I see my faults, well, some of them, I know there are more I don’t see, and I want them to change. No, thank you I prefer not to be myself. In fact the lyric was thank you for letting me be myself ….again~~~~

“It Duddn’t Maddah”

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father know that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:31-34 A few years ago I met a little boy whose smile could light up the darkest room. In the first few minutes of knowing him, he asked me and then two other people if we knew Jesus. Maybe that doesn’t seem terribly remarkable but at the time that boy was ten years old and he has Down syndrome. Still upon meeting a new person his first thought was to ask about Jesus. In the years we spent together I tried to make sure that somewhere on my person I had a necklace, earrings or a pin that was a cross because each day he would look me over, searching for one. His eyes wou

A Sinner is a Sinner

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7 Earlier today I was listening to some songs that have really touched my life and enhanced my faith experience. They are performed and were written by an amazingly talented young woman who according to her songs, has great faith. She is also a sinner. She made her sin a very public thing a few years ago. Before that we, in the world, knew nothing about it but she was painfully aware of it, all too painfully aware. Her songs take on a richer, deeper meaning to me when you know of her struggle. Other people find them invalid because of what she has done. If you are one of those people stop reading right here because while my sins may be very different from hers they are still sins. That makes me a sinner and if you can ‘t appreciate the perspective of one sinner, you most likely won’t appreciate the perspective of another. The difference between that woman and me is that I am better able

Testing

Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Galatians 6:4-7 I spoke to two different friends about this verse yesterday without even realizing that this was what I was talking about. We were talking about a common acquaintance I’ll call Nancy, and how obtuse she can be about her own behavior. Before you judge me for judging her, let me say, she is what I would consider an acquaintance but I treat her as a dear friend for many and various reasons. This is not a person I hold in any kind of contempt. I love her, exactly the way Jesus advises us to love. I get a lot wrong but with her I believe I get it pretty close to right. Back to the story…. This woman was extolling the oddities of a person we often observe, none

Noah and Timing

So Noah came out together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. All of the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on the earth—came out of the ark, one kind after another. Genesis 8:18-19 Do you know about Noah? I’m sure you do. Noah is a fairly illustrious guy. I’ve read his story a few times in my life including earlier today. What hit me during this reading was timing. Noah sent out the raven…. not yet. Okay, then he sent out the dove. Nope, still not dry. Then he sent the dove again, and received signs that the land was drying up. After that he still had to wait for God to say, “okay Noah, now get out of the ark.” That’s patience and a firm reliance on God’s timing. Not my strong suit. A year or so ago one of my favorite Christian bands released a new CD. The first song from the CD was all over the radio. I never listened to the whole thing. I would hear a few bars and decide that oddly enough, I just didn’t lik

Courage

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 Sometimes terror is the only thing that wants to register on our emotional radar. All those phone calls that bring bad news, from family members, from friends, from the doctor or the police, terror is sometimes our first response. Sometimes it shows up right after shocked disbelief has gone off to look for a new victim. In all of it our Lord counsels us “be strong and courageous”. Those words repeat several times in the first chapter of Joshua. The Lord begins by promising Joshua that He will never leave or forsake him but He does not promise a bed of roses. Neither does He promise us an easy road. It is a common mistake among new believers the supposition that once we have given our lives to God He will make it all smooth sailing. He promises to be our strength, our hiding place and our refuge. Why would we need all tha

The Past

Forget the former things: do not dwell in the past. See I am doing a new thing. Isaiah 43:18-19a One day I am going home. I have no idea when that will happen but thanks to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ I know that I am going home eventually. In my prayer time this morning I realized that the last thing I want to do is bring my dirty laundry. Twice today I heard or read messages about letting go of the past. Sounds simple, but then we read that God allows some suffering in our lives for the benefit of others. My most intense suffering is in my past which means I would have to remember it, relive it, in a sense to help others, right? Lately I’m beginning to think the answer is no. What happened to me, what I have experienced has defined my personality and my choices. I can help because I understand. I can bring empathy to the situation without revisiting my past. I can encourage and offer support because I know there are brighter days, better opportunities ahead. Our Fath

Clean Up

Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine of nakedness or danger or sword? Romans 8:35 While I was praying for a friend one of our students came to my mind. In any study of child development one is taught that a child is never bad. His actions may be bad but the child himself is not inherently bad. To those who penned that teaching I would say, “You’ve never met Stevie.” But that would be facetious because while the better part of Stevie’s behavior is beyond bad and straight into deplorable, Stevie is not bad. He is a product of other people’s bad choices. Stevie came into the world with more than three strikes against him. When I am praying for him, when he is finished terrorizing the people around him and has given himself over to tears and when he is sleeping or sitting quietly I can easily remember that his behaviors are not his fault and for that I thank God. That knowledge, that merciful view of Stevie gets me throu

Fall Back

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 24-25 Given my early life experiences it is no shock to me that trust does not come easily, when it comes at all. Today looking at these words “to him who is able to keep you from falling” I thought of that stupid (to me) exercise people do in various groups, self-help, youth group, mission planning etc. where one person is supposed to fall back trusting another person, positioned behind, to catch him. I hate it! The idea is to trustingly collapse into the arms of another person to illustrate how you can count on each other in other circumstances. It’s not a huge leap of faith really. If it were just the two of them in the room the one in back may or may not catch the one in front. However, in a group of people if you

Blessings

“ I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19 We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19 Some weeks are busier than others. I was in the middle of a particularly hectic week rushing home from work to make a dessert for a small group that was meeting in my home that evening when I got a phone call. It was from a member of the group just letting me know that she would be bringing some goodies for the meeting. “Oh bless you!” I said as I drove. As I finished the phone call I thought how truly I meant those words. If I were literally in the business of bestowing blessings, she would absolutely have been a recipient at that moment. She had just taken a task off of my hands that I didn’t quite have time to accomplish. It was a blessing to me and I wanted to return the favor. I thought about it for quite awhile as I drove home, prepared dinner for my husba

The Church

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Matthew 16:18-19 The church my husband and I attend has as its subtitle, “the Church of Second Chances.” We have a set of defining and hopefully motivating values that we go over every week. It’s a lovely little church and the concept is great. The idea of being “the” church of second chances just struck me as odd today. Shouldn’t all Christian churches be places where people are given not only second chances but endless chances? Shouldn’t the tenets of forgiveness, renewal and mercy be a major part of any group that claims Jesus Christ as its leader? With absolutely no malice toward my own church, a church I do appreciate, I wonder how far we’ve strayed from God’s original idea? When Jesus said to Peter, “