Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, that’s what you hear this time of year. As we were leaving the store, the cashier wished us a Merry Christmas. In response, we of course replied with a Merry Christmas to her as well. Leaving church this past Sunday, everyone was wishing each other a Merry Christmas and safe travels for those who were traveling to see family. As Christians, we often say that people miss the real reason for the season. Maybe you’re a Christian who has uttered those very words. Or you may not even know Jesus as your personal savior. We’ve heard the story of the birth of Jesus but let’s go back and check it out.

Luke 2:11 “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Joseph is nervously pacing the living room of his best friend’s home wondering if she’ll say yes. We don’t know his friend’s name but we’re going to call him Matthew.

Joseph, seriously you need to quit pacing. You’ve been courting Mary for well over two years now and you received her father’s approval to marry his daughter. Why just last week at dinner with Zacharias and Elizabeth, you shared your plans with them and they were excited for you both. Even Elizabeth her relative, said that Mary will say yes. She of all people would know.

Matthew, what if she says no? Then what? I love Mary so much that I can’t imagine life without her.

Mary will say yes, if you only get the nerve to ask.

Can you imagine a conversation like this taking place? And after she agrees the excitement and joy he must have felt upon their engagement?

Matt! She said yes! Mary said yes! We are getting married!

I told you man, I knew she would say yes. You are a good man and it’s obvious to everyone around you that you belong together.

And then the unexpected happens. Joseph discovers Mary is pregnant and not by him. They hadn’t even been together. What?! How can this be? He decides he can’t be with someone he can’t trust and plans on breaking things off in secret. His heart broken by what he presumes to be an unfaithful betrothed, he falls into a troubled sleep where the truth comes out in a dream.

Matthew 1:20-21, 24-25 “But while he thought about these things, behold, and angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.'” “Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.”

Can you imagine what Joseph must have been thinking? I like to imagine he must have thought something like this: “wow, my wife is carrying the Savior of the world”. The awe he must have felt knowing that he would be a part of raising the Savior. A humble man and woman, chosen parents to raise the Savior as a normal child. Can you imagine looking into the face of this tiny baby knowing that He was Royalty and you had the responsibility to raise Him?

Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Jesus is the reason for the season. He came that we might live. His shoulders are strong and can bear our burdens. He’s waiting for you.

Where Does It Lead?

Life is good. Things are going the way you planned or so it seems until you come to a fork in the path you’ve followed your whole life. You look at the path leading to what you think is life. Its well worn, wide, easy to maneuver and as you study it, you can see off in the distance people making their way with ease. You think to yourself, I’m doing good, so I must be headed in the right direction until you notice for the first time, an off beaten path. It’s narrow, not as easy to maneuver and when you look off into the distance, there are very few people in sight. It’s no wonder, as you look at the path, it’s overrun with weeds and rocks; it looks as if its rarely if ever traveled. You think to yourself, no way am I taking that path. Yet, it intrigues you and as you study the rarely traveled path, you find yourself swept up in the crowd of people leading you away from the narrow path and on up the wide well worn path you’ve always been on. Swept up in the crowd, you soon forget about the narrow rocky path until you come upon another crossroad. You begin to wonder if you’ve missed these off beaten paths in life and if so, how you missed them. You stop to study this intriguing path that like before, it’s narrow, rocky and very little evidence of anyone ever traveling it. Your interest is peaked to say the least and you feel a spirit of adventure bubbling up inside making you curious enough to want to check it out. Just as you start toward the path, you are once again swept up into the crowd of people dragging you away from the narrow path. This time, the narrow path stays on your mind and you determine that if you should come upon one again you won’t hesitate, you’ll head straight for it not stopping for anything.

Matthew 7:13, 14 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

You see your opportunity ahead as the path begins to split once more; this time your prepared and you make sure you are on the side that will take you down that narrow, rocky, less traveled path that has peaked your curiosity. You can feel it inside, this sense of adventure, that something exciting is about to happen. You manage to take the path less traveled and as you begin down the path, you can’t help but to wonder if maybe you made a mistake. You feel uncertainty creeping in but you’ve already started on the path so you choose to move forward. Then it starts. Subtle little whispers of your past. Things long forgotten. The enemy begins working on you trying to break you. You wonder if its worth it to continue on this path. Worthless. No good. Nobody cares what happens to you. And then you hear get off this path and follow me if you want to live. Stay here and you will surely die. You begin to doubt and think maybe he’s right. But then you hear a new voice. An encouraging voice. Stay on this path if you want life. I am with you always.

Maybe you are feeling a tug in your spirit daring you to take an adventure, one that will change your life forever. You can’t help as a bubbling excitement begins to well up inside making you ready to get started. You look around and realize that not everyone feels the same as you and some of your friends no longer want to associate with you because you’re different. You find yourself taking the narrow, rocky path alone, but that’s okay because you just know you are supposed to be on this path that seems to be leading nowhere.

John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your rememberance all things that I said to you.”

You are not alone in this great adventure. The Father sent us a Helper, the Holy Spirit to teach us and guide us to maneuver this thing called life. As you continue on this path, you begin to feel guilty. Guilt over things that happened in the past. Shame kicks in rearing its head dumping even more guilt on your shoulders. You begin to think that you made a huge mistake taking this path and you seriously consider turning back. Instead something seems to pull you upward to continue following the path that’s bringing up everything you wanted to forget. Thought you had forgotten. Grudgingly you continue up this path that seems to have lost some of its appeal. But something begins to happen and you start to notice things that you hadn’t seen before. The air around you is different. It doesn’t seem as oppressive as before and you notice your burden seems to be getting lighter. You see a light that you hadn’t noticed before and you can feel the warmth of it even though its still too far away to see where it’s coming from. So you decide to follow the light to see where its source comes from. The next thing you notice is the guilt shedding its ugly head and in its place you find forgiveness. Shame soon follows and you feel a true sense of peace in your life. You find yourself alive and experiencing life with fresh, new eyes and you are see the world in a whole new light. You tell others about your new discovery and while some will come to see for themselves, others will turn away. You’ve planted the seed, the rest is up to them.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

John 8:12 “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.'”

Where does it lead? The choice is yours, I’m praying for you!

Broken Pieces

We’ve all been there at one time in our lives. Whether young or old, we’ve all experienced some form of hurt. It could have been the child waiting with anticipation for his or her parents to attend a school play only to have them forget or were too busy with work to attend. The heart begins to crack. Promises broken. Pieces begin to fall away. Or maybe it’s the adult with the promised promotion or bonus that falls through adding to the hurts already there. The list could go on forever.

The enemy whispers “nobody cares about you”, “your not worthy of the promotion”, “look at you, even God doesn’t want you”. He torments you with feelings of unworthiness, shame, betrayal. He digs in pressing on the one thing that he knows will take the wind out of your sails. He is so busy tormenting you that he lets his guard down and doesn’t notice the change in the air around him until it’s too late. He whirls around only to see the Lord picking up the pieces of your broken heart. He screams at the unfairness as he turns and tries to attack you only to find a shield around you that he can’t breach, leaving him frustrated that he lost yet another one to the Lord. I can see this handsome fallen angel shaking his fist promising next time he won’t fail as he slinks away licking his wounds of defeat.

I can almost visualize the Lord picking up the pieces of our hearts and examining each one with loving care. How He might hold the piece in His hand and pray over it taking the hurt from our lives and setting it down to pick up the next piece of hurt and continue the process until each piece has been carefully handled and prayed over. I can imagine Him looking at the pieces after handling them and seeing them put back together again. Smiling as He whispers in our ear “I am with you always.”

Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Can you see yourself touching the jagged pieces and wondering why He didn’t just make it smooth and whole again? I can envision Him saying something like: “You wonder why the edges aren’t smooth and whole. The jagged pieces are a reminder of what you went through and how I was there for you putting the pieces together so you could find your way home again.”

Psalms 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

He’s waiting on you to open the door so He can heal your broken heart. Praying for you! God Bless!

Reconnecting

Have you ever met someone that you could go for months or years without talking to them and pick up where you left off as though it were yesterday? Recently I was thinking about a friend of mine that I haven’t connected with in little over a year. So I sent her an email catching her up on the happenings over the past year. It was like we had never stopped communicating! Now here’s the really neat thing, we have never met in person. Read on to see how we became friends.

I had worked in ministry for seven years and I was burned out from the politics before going to work for my church. I thought being in a different environment, where the church was smaller, I would be able to recuperate but as I discovered that wasn’t the case. The damage had already been done and my heart wasn’t in it like it should have been. After five years of working at my church and with health insurance laws requiring everyone to have health insurance or be fined, it sent me to work in the secular world. It was here that my healing would take place and God would show me that I still had work that He wanted me to do.

While working for a company that handled multiple clients, I connected with a wonderful woman who became a dear sister in Christ. She worked for one of our clients and was my contact person. As we communicated by email, we got to know one another and discovered we had some things in common, one of which was our love for the Lord. I was sad when she told me she would be retiring at the end of the year but we had promised to keep in touch. Due to health issues she wound up taking a medical leave of absence and during that time, I left to go work at another place. Little did I know that the Lord was orchestrating my return to ministry. I should mention that both of those jobs were the result of those companies reaching out to me and not me going to apply for a job with them. Looking back, I can see how the Lord orchestrated those jobs using them as stepping stones to heal me and to return me to ministry.

Psalms 51: 12 says “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.”

You meet special people in life and have a connection that stands the test of time. Treasure those gifts from the Lord, I believe He’s brings them into our lives to help us grow. God bless!

Christmas Cheer

My favorite time of year to decorate.

Keeping it simple – most of my ornaments are handmade by our son from when he was in elementary school, some are from my sister, and some are from my mom. 🙂

I love putting up the tree and set out my village sets.

North Pole – Not sure if you can see him or not but the pup won the race beating out Santa and Mrs. Claus and Santa’s workers. 🙂
The Village – After all the elves need a place to shop when they aren’t working. 🙂

Putting out the village sets, I was like a kid in the candy store trying to pick out his or her favorite candy only to discover that all of the candy are favorites. It’s a good thing you weren’t here as I decorated. I’m sure you would have shaken your head in wonder. I was talking to the villages telling each piece where it would be placed and how, when you arrive at the train station, you had to be sure to stop by the radio station before making your way to the church. I even told the pup that won the race, that next week he would come in last, so one of Santa’s workers could have a shot at first place. Of course they will all eventually make it to first place it’s only fair. That’s right, a kid in the candy store.

As I was decorating, setting each piece out with care, making sure to find just the right spot, I thought about the time and care that God took when He created the universe and mankind. I could almost visualize His eyes twinkling with anticipation as He rubbed His chin thinking about every detail and the love He would put into it all. Can you see it? Can you imagine the canvas and palette of colors as he created the universe? The loving details He placed in each one of us? Oh to see the joy on His face as He created His masterpieces. I can imagine Him whispering to each us Jeremiah 29:11 reminding us of the things He wants for us.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

One of my favorite verses, it is a perfect reminder of what He wants for us. Peace. Future. Hope.

It is my prayer that if you don’t already have it, that you will find your peace, your future, and your hope in Him. God bless!