Saturday, December 29, 2018

Influence


 
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called  children of God. 1 John 3:1

Last night my husband and I were watching a TV show where a young woman told a group of her friends that she planned to change her name to avoid using her famous father’s influence. She wanted to make it on her own merit. An older, more experienced woman in the group told her not to do that. “Forget that! Use whatever you’ve got to help you get ahead.”

This morning I read a devotional message about Mary. It said that at the time she was chosen to be the mother of Jesus she was “ordinary, unqualified and young.” Hm, I’m not young but I immediately related, ordinary, check, unqualified, check, and old, which in these times is as bad or worse than too young. But wait, I have a pretty influential Father and I am not afraid to use his name. More to the point I embrace his name.

I pray that everything I do is for God’s glory. Very often I ask for opportunities to share my faith and talk about my Father, Brother, Counselor.  Far from wanting to hide my identity, I want to wear it like the prize that it is. I am a Christian and my Father is God. I call him Abba and you can too if you get to know him.

There is no denying my age, ordinariness or lack of qualifications. I have no letters after my name nor do I carry any significant accomplishment about which to boast. I can however tell you this. None of that matters. Who or what I am in the view of the world means nothing. My Father loves the ordinary, unqualified types. He’s looking for people who know they can’t accomplish anything on their own.

Don’t take my word for it. Ask Gideon, Moses, Noah, Peter, Esther, Mary, Joseph and so many others. God loves the underdog. He routinely chooses the ordinary and unqualified. The key is being willing to use his name, his power and his influence. Who are you? If the answer is, a child of the King, then you have no worries. Use Abba’s name, the results are amazing.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

A Tale of Two Grinches


When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity that were two years old and under in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
Matthew 2: 16

 Every year the children in our family watch the Grinch. This year there was a new version that I saw in the theater with my sweet daughter-in-love and two of our precious grandchildren.  The draw of the Grinch story is redemption.  It is wonderful to see that love is the answer. The Grinch is evil! Or is he? It turns out that maybe he was just sad and lonely.  He didn’t feel love because his life was devoid of it. He is shocked when he sees that the Whoville citizens are still full of joy even though all of their celebratory finery is gone. The key is in the line that says they are happy as long as they have “hands to clasp.” In other words, all is well as long as they have each other. 

Hearing that loving sentiment, seeing it lived out before his very eyes, the Grinch is a changed man.  His heart grows by leaps and bounds. Look at that love!  He wants to be a part of the beauty he sees before him.

Then there’s Herod, the original Grinch.  He sees joy and happiness and perceives a threat. He sees love and immediately wants to annihilate it. When he can’t absolutely identify the threat to his sovereignty and power, he decides that the best course of action is to wipe out anything and anyone that could potentially be the source of his demise. Herod is evil. Unlike the Grinch he isn’t looking for love, he’s trying to kill it and he does. He orders the death of all boys two years old and younger. Then he sits back to wait for his path to stardom to be clear again.

While he waits he rots. Instead of looking toward the marvelous light in the night sky, he looks inward and inside of Herod things are decaying. Biblical scholars say that Herod’s body became gangrenous and that he rotted literally, from the inside out. Gross! But fitting. Evil makes us feel awful. Even a little anger can cause headache or stomach distress, not to mention heartache. There is huge truth in the saying, no Jesus, no peace.

We can learn from the tale of the two grinches. Choose joy, choose love and life, and look for the good in people and circumstances. I want the big heart, the one bursting with love. How about you?

 

 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Say Yes


 

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Luke 1:28

Uh-oh. The greeting starts with flattery. Shouldn’t Mary be a little suspicious? Have you gotten those phone calls or greetings? When my children start out with some form of flattery I know I’m in for a request. Any version of “Hi wonderful Mama” and I wait for the follow-up favor.

So there’s an angel in the room and he says, “Greetings you who are highly favored.” Now we know that Mary is a bright young woman because the next verse, verse 29 says this, “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.”  Keep in mind, Mary is not married yet, (oh honey, you look so pretty today) nor does she have children (there’s my sweet mama) so she is not familiar with this type of greeting... yet.

In the history of all the favors/requests I’ve had come my way, none, not one, not a single request comes anywhere near, “we’d like you to be the mother of Jesus.”  I have been inconvenienced, irritated, annoyed and surprised by some of the requests that have come my way. I have also been terrified and thrilled and that is what I think, after the reality of what was happening set in, is how Mary felt.

I wonder how many times, as she headed to see Elizabeth, as she did her daily chores, certainly as she set out to tell Joseph, how many times did she stop and wonder what was happening.  “WHAT? The Son of God? Me? Mary the nobody? Is this a prank? Nope, there’s a kick, there’s a baby in here.”

Over the years I have done favors, said yes to requests from family and friends and thankfully, blessedly from God that have turned out so well. I have said yes and wished I hadn’t. I’ve said no and wished I’d said yes. Mary, so much wiser, more open and obedient than I, said yes to the biggest, best request ever made of anyone. She said yes and the world changed.  She said yes and the words that Elizabeth spoke to her are still spoken of her today.

“Blessed are you among women.”

Say yes to God. You never know where that yes will take you.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Impossible


 

Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.  Luke 1:36-37*

What seems like “old age” to you? Most likely it depends on how many birthdays you’ve enjoyed. How about this, how old is too old to be pregnant?  Add quite a few more years to that and you’re probably at Elizabeth’s age. For Elizabeth and Zechariah the baby train had long since left the station. Except for… it hadn’t! It’s one of those circumstances that I dearly love when two words, “but God” change the whole picture.

Elizabeth is entirely too old to have a baby, but God had other plans.  Zechariah was so shocked he questioned the angel and was mute from that moment until the birth of his son John. Elizabeth most likely was equally shocked but her thrill at being pregnant surpassed all else.

Just a bit later Elizabeth’s cousin Mary would hear the same news, “you’re having a baby!” What? Impossible.  Can you picture Mary? “Um, I’m so sorry. I don’t mean to be rude, begging your pardon and all. I can’t actually be pregnant.” Then she hears the explanation. Do you think for one second that changed her reaction? “Oh sure the Holy Spirit! God’s baby, oh yeah, okay.” No! The word that had to be in her head is the  Hebrew version for impossible, vying for attention with the Hebrew words for, “yeah, right.”

Impossible! I love the old Rodgers and Hammerstein version of Cinderella. I’ve shared it with my granddaughters who weren’t quite as thrilled with it. It is a little dated. For me, even now, all these years after the first time I saw it the song, “Impossible” is one of my favorites. I think it sums up perfectly a life lived with our God. “Impossible things are happening every day.”

 Indeed they are. We call them miracles and quite honestly I think we miss more of them than we acknowledge. Look around you today. Think about your prayers. What seems impossible? Maybe it is.  Or maybe it’s about to be But God time.

Impossible things are happening every day!**

I highly recommend reading all of Luke chapter 1. It will definitely increase your awareness of how impossible things can happen, if we give them to God.

In our family we have two, about to be three, children whose conception was said to be impossible. Those children are just three examples of the impossible things that our family has experienced as quite, miraculously possible. Impossible things are happening every day! Believe it, not just for other people, for you too. It’s easy to doubt but I promise you “with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 Want to talk about it? Email me at ottosyankee@bellsouth.net