Thursday, December 31, 2009
Thank you for the trials that made me come to you as I would not have without them.
Thank you that I come to the end of this year still here because of your constant gift of breath and life.
Thank you for the opportunities you've provided and the experiences that now fill my hard drive with memories.
Thank you for the Internet and the friends with whom I've been able to reconnect and even moreso Father thank you for the conversations with friends, albeit now typed and not spoken, as we are geographically far apart but still connected by heart.
Thank you Lord for my near friends with whom I share coffee, news, and the gambit from sorrow and frivolity; I am so blessed by their physical presence in my life.
Thank you for the abundance of good things that has caused me to resolve again to "lose weight" and "clear the clutter", and for the health and growth of my children even if it means my son is now taller than I am and that my daughter and I can just about share shoes...
But most of all Lord, as I go from here to face a new year, thank you for Your faithfulness and this knowledge gained from experiences this year that assures me ' 'tis grace that's brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.'"
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
There can be no asking of "Where are you going?", "What's in that box?", "Was that the UPS truck I just saw?" or "How could you possibly need that much tape?"
All the questions (that you can't ask!) are answered Christmas morning in the somewhat oddly shaped and interestingly wrapped packages under the tree. And actually there is only one answer - "Because I love you". That's why someone was out, had boxes to hide, or used up all the tape; because I was getting something to give to you because I love you.
Why were a girl's wedding plans interrupted by an angel?
Why did a fiancee embrace a scandalous pregnancy?
Why did angelic night visitors surprise snoozing shepherds?
Why did the appearance of a star prompt a road trip?
Because God was giving us a gift.
Why? Because He loves us.
We're no prize, not worthy of such affection from the Almighty but God has chosen to set his love upon us. As a matter of fact, "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
A Facebook post today asked this question "What is God's greatest gift? Sending his Son as a sacrifice for mankind or allowing us the free will to accept or reject Him?"
You know the effort you've put into your gifts this Christmas. Perhaps you fought the crowds, stood in lines forever, paged through dozens of Internet sites, or maybe spent more than you should have because it was important to make it extra special. Imagine if the recipient of your gift disinterestedly unwrapped it and with a "hmph" shoved it back under the tree...
You gave because you loved but that doesn't guarantee your love will be reciprocated.
The whole reason this baby we celebrate was sent to a manager was so that He would grow up to be crucified on a cross. How have we responded to such a great gift of love? How today will you respond to the Giver?
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
I'm fairly certain that you didn't make a list for Santa this year; there are no toy catalogs filled with things circled in marker, no letters to the North Pole, or things whispered to a man in the mall in a red suit. But that's not to say that we don't come into the season, as do the children, without expectations, we're just not as overt in sharing them.
Practically every magazine on the checkout racks this time of year has at least one article on "Tips and Gifts for the Perfect Christmas". Slick covers show homes that probably took a professional team of decorators to transform into these Norman Rockwell worthy showplaces. Spoken or not we have desires for gifts, or for those around us to know us well enough to get us something that complements who we are or who we see ourselves as being. The turkey should be moist, the children well behaved, the music performed flawlessly, the ground covered just so with enough snow to make it pretty but not enough to make it treacherous, our favorite Christmas songs playing on the radio and everyone and everything will be just exactly right!
Because this is the season of expectation it is also the season of disappointment.
The decor never quite makes it to the standards of Beautiful Home, the gifts are perfunctory, half the dinner is cold by the time the other half is ready, there are empty places at the table or there are places you wish were empty, the roads are slick, all these awful versions of your favorite songs are played, the toys break minutes after coming out of the boxes, and the kids with too little sleep and too much sugar are crabby...
And, at this "most wonderful time of the year", we find ourselves dealing with disappointment and then think what is wrong with me? This is supposed to be "the most wonderful time of the year"! Even the music sets us up with expectations...
"My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation: He is my defence; I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation, and my glory; the rock of my strength and my refuge, is in God.
Trust in him at all times, O people,
Pour out your heart before Him.
God is a refuge for us." Psalms 62:5-8
"My expectation is from Him". The encouragement here is to make God the One we look to, the One we place our hope in, the One and only one in whom we have expectations. But...I've found that hard to do.
As I've gotten older I've consciously dialed back my expectations, not from some great source of spiritual discernment, but from experience and because I've figured out that the less I expect, the less I'll be disappointed and if I don't expect anything I have the ability to be delightfully surprised. But still, those expectations, they sneak in and take up residence in our longings.
So, if we have expectations and when they go unfulfilled; God invites us to pour out our hearts to Him. Go ahead, sit with God and tell Him how you are disappointed. Pour out your heart for the promise is that He will be a refuge for us, and that is one expectation that absolutely cannot be disappointed!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I've been out shopping...enough said!
Anyone out in any store at this time of year knows what it's like. Even in the middle of a weekday afternoon there are long lines snaking down the aisles. It is Christmas which means everyone is out doing more shopping then they ever do because it's time to get gifts and for my kids this year that is a problem.
My teenage son wants a computer (which is not going to happen) and that's all he wants so then what do you get the kid who has everything? It's bad enough when you know what you want to get and are trying to find it but it's even trickier when you don't even know what you are out there looking for!
So I've been running through ideas in my mind, along the lines of something similar to what he already has: books, clothes, video games, computer software, Nerf and Lego stuff...and nothing was working. There is no new variation of something familiar that would be a good gift.
And then it happened; I was in a store and walked by a display and there it was, the perfect gift. It's fun, it complements his interests and abilities, he'll love it, and (most importantly, for mom) it’s not the price of a computer...Hooray!
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” I Corinthians 2:9
I had no idea this perfect gift existed because it was something I hadn't seen before, but just because I wasn't aware of it didn't mean it wasn't out there.
Our vision is limited by what we've already experienced or seen happen in the lives of those close to us. We’ve imagined all the variations of the familiar and frankly, they're not all that exciting but this verse tells us that our minds can't even conceive of what God has in store for us!
Can you even imagine?
Silly question! The answer is "No", we can't even imagine what God's plans are.
He has something out there that is unlike all we've already known.
Something that will thrill us: that complements the gifts and interests He's given us. Something we're going to love for He made our hearts and He knows how to touch them.
What opportunities, blessings, gifts, and experiences does God have in store for you this season? for next year? for the rest of your life into eternity?
I don't know, but I do know that when God says "Surprise!" to those who love Him, He has the perfect gift. (James 1:17)
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The song is wrong.
Joy does not come from putting Jesus first, than others, and then yourself because that makes my joy depended on what I do. When did my actions become the source of joy in my life?
"I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
Joy comes from God.
From being in His presence.
Look at the word, even it illustrates the principle. Joy comes into us as we spend time in God's presence, fills our hearts, and is then flung out into the world - as if one hand is raised to God and the other outstretched to those around us.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7
There's a lot of pressure to have a "perfect" Christmas with great gifts, caroling, and family. Often that makes our actual Christmas a let-down.
We forget the first Christmas was far from perfect - Mary had to give birth in a stable! What blessings from God can you find in your disappointments of the season? - BibleLeague.org
"Those who obey His commands live in him, and He in them" I John 3:24
Christ lived in Mary until He had to come out. Christ will grow in you until the same occurs.
He will come out in your speech, in your actions, in your decisions. Every place you live will be a Bethlehem, and every day you live will be a Christmas. You, like Mary, will deliver Christ into the world.
God in us! Have we sounded the depth of this promise?
A lesser woman might have argued with Gabriel. “No thanks, Buddy. My future's already mapped, and I like it as is. Go away, okay? Find someone else.” But that wasn't Mary's style. Instead, she mustered her courage and spoke words that changed the course of history: “I am the Lord's servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants” (v. 38).
Sometimes our lives take unexpected turns just as Mary's did. We're settled in a nice rhythm, and then God disrupts it by giving us a task riddled with risk or inconvenience, or circumstances force us to exchange precious plans for pain and uncertainty. How can we mimic Mary's example when we're tempted to turn and run the other way? Here are my thoughts…
Believe the words Gabriel spoke: “The Lord is with you.” No matter the direction our path takes, we need to remember that we're not alone on the journey.
Regard the change in plans as a blessing in disguise. God's purposes are far beyond our understanding, and we simply need to trust His wisdom and sovereignty.
Maintain a surrendered heart. Let's consider ourselves as servants of God as Mary did. Life is about Him and His eternal purposes, not about us.
Perhaps your plans for 2009 took an unexpected turn that complicated everything by human standards. You're a grandmother who's raising a grandchild rather than enjoying retirement as you'd planned. You're a woman whose marriage has undergone stress or ended. Perhaps you're changing careers or moving to a new city because of your present career. Maybe you're a mom whose teenagers' bad choices are affecting you. Or maybe you're sensing a nudge to lead a Bible study or small group, participate in a short-term missions trip, or care for a senior parent. Doing so will complicate your comfortable life, and you're tempted to say no.
Whatever your circumstances, know that God is in control. He sees life from an eternal perspective, and His plans are excellent even if they feel like bothersome complications sometimes. May that knowledge give you the courage to say yes as Mary did. – Grace Fox
You Can, Because He Can
I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. Job 42:2 NKJV
You can ask the Lord because He will not give you a wrong answer.
You can wait upon the Lord because His timing is always perfect.
You can trust in the Lord because He makes no mistakes.
You can hope in the Lord because He holds your future.
You can rest in the Lord because He is in control of your life.
You can lean upon the Lord because He is completely faithful.