Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

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.

Merry CHRISTmas to all

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Countdown to Christmas: Day Twenty Four

Family traditions are fun and necessary. Each family has them. They are the cement that keeps the family bonded. We have ours.

Christmas Eve we always have Mexican food, tamales if we can get them. Jon and I will be having Fajitas tonight. We always watch some Christmas movie on Christmas Eve as well. It was usually done after the boys opened their one gift that I got to choose. It was either the movie we would watch that night or PJ's. We go to see Christmas lights. We give to Lottie Moon. We give to others in need. When the boys were younger I made a small stocking for each of the 25 days till Christmas. Jon and I would have fun trying to find little trinkets to put in each stocking for the boys. My Mom started a tradition with the boys when they were born, she gives them the Chocolate Countdown to Christmas. You have seen them, where you open a little door each day and their is a piece of chocolate behind it. The grand babies are now doing the same each year. We make cookies while listening and dancing to Christmas music. I read at sometime during the days before, "The Tale of the Trees." I had the privilege this last Sunday night to share this tradition with the children at church. We drink my semi-homemade Apple Cider. We make Fudge, White Candy and Hard Cinnamon Candy. Christmas morning we always have my semi-homemade Cinnamon Rolls. And always before we open the gifts we read from Luke 2 the Christmas story and then pray a prayer of gratitude for the greatest gift of all, Jesus.

There are more that we do. It is great to see your grown children call from wherever they may be and ask for a recipe or share how they are keeping the traditions going. Ponder the traditions that you have with your family. I hope that of all the traditions I have shared you will add one to your own family. If you don't already read the Christmas story on Christmas Day and have a family prayer, I hope that this year you will.

Make sure that Christ is the Bonding Spirit in all you do at Christmas time and throughout the year.

Merry Christmas

Luke 2:1-20
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. [2] This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. [3] So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. [4] Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, [5] to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. [6] So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. [7] And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
[8] Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. [9] And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. [10] Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. [11] For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. [12] And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." [13] And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

[14] "Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

[15] So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." [16] And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. [17] Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. [18] And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. [19] But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. [20] Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Countdown to Christmas: Day Twenty Three

Ponder with me the Shepherds story.

Why do they have such a central part of the Christmas story? How many times do you recall the metaphor of God being like a shepherd? Lots, here are only three of many.
Ezekiel 34:12 "As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day."
John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. "
Matthew 2:6 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.' "

Shepherds were not considered to be among the spiritual leaders of the day in fact they were considered by the spiritual leaders of the day to be no good. How ironic that their patriarchal leaders were called by God while they were shepherds...Moses and David. How quickly we can forget from where we come.

Don't believe the lies. These shepherds were watching over their flocks which means they were awake and alert and not sleeping or dozing. Out of the blue an Angel of the Lord appears and they are greatly afraid. This is the usual response to a heavenly visitor. I wonder if they thought they were in great trouble and that judgment was coming to them. After all that is what the spiritual leaders thought of them. Did they begin to believe what others thought and said of them? We too can fall into this trap set up by the schemes of the enemy. We can start believing that we are what others say we are. We believe that this is as good as it will get and this is just the life I was born to live...hopeless and barren. God, the Father came to dispel this horrible and wicked lie. He comes to all peoples to bring them "good tidings of great joy" You might be interested to know
that the Greek meaning word for "good tidings" is "to evangelize." He comes to evangelize all peoples that through an encounter with the Lord's Christ they may have great joy.

Come to Jesus. The Shepherds were invited to come to Christ and this is exactly what they did. They said to one another maybe on top of each others words, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing which the Lord has made know to us." With haste they went to search out the Christ for themselves. We must search out Christ for ourselves. No one can come to Christ for us we must go to Him on our own. The invitation is for "all peoples".

Go and Tell. The Shepherds could not contain themselves they were compelled to tell Mary and Joseph and then anyone who would give them an ear.

Praise God. Their life would never be the same again. Their tasks would take on a new outlook from here on out. They would relive this event over and over again in their own heads and to all that would cross their path. They could not stop praising God. I can imagine the songs of praise they lifted on the hillsides as they overlooked the town of Bethlehem under the stars.

Don't believe the lies this Christmas whatever they may be. Believe God loves you; He demonstrated His love by putting on flesh and coming as a baby. Go and tell others of all that He has done and shone you. Praise God. Sing to Him of your love and gratefulness, make up your own song and give it as a gift to the Birthday Child.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Countdown to Christmas: Day Twenty Two

Ponder with me the man Joseph.
What is his story?

Matthew 1:16-25
Luke 2:3-7
Matthew 2:13-23

Joseph was a compassionate man. He was a just (righteous, holy) man. He cared for Mary and did not want her to be humiliated. Hmmmm. Do you think Joseph was already humiliated, broken and hurt by the news? Yet in his own humiliation he did not want to seek revenge and humiliate his own 'humiliater'. A man full of compassion. My own Savior was one who showed great compassion even to those who sought to publicly humiliate Him. On the cross He cried out, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." How did it happen that Jospeh the adopted father had the character of his adopted Son? Jospeh, God was with him too.

Joseph was a wise man. To the just man came God's word through an angel. Note what he was doing when the word came to him..."But while he thought about these things, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream..." He was pondering and probably praying about his circumstances since God Himself describes Joseph as a just man. The point here is that Joseph wasn't controlled by his emotions. He did not make a hasty decision. He wanted to do what was right even if it was not the easiest for himself. Let's all strive to do the same...more Word controlled and less emotionally charged. We have no idea what is at stake and what blessing we may forfeit if we make hasty decisions without regard to God's will.

Joseph was a obedient man. Once Joseph had God's word and will that is when he made haste to be obedient. He took Mary his wife. The Word also tells us that, "...and he did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son." Somehow Joseph knew that the consummation of their marriage would have to wait until the virgin birth of the Son, who he will name Jesus. The prophecies prophesied that the Savior would be born of a virgin. For their to have been intimacy between the two before the birth would have caused all sorts of questions about the miraculous birth of the Son of God. God made sure there would be no doubt in our minds that Jesus was truly born of a virgin. He used a just, wise and obedient man in the center of His plans.

Joseph was a loving father. Adoption is hard. Adopting the child that is half your mates and half someone other that yourself is harder. I'm talking about truly taking that child as your own and loving with the same lavish and unconditional love you would have if that child were your own. That was the kind of father Joseph was. Read the events in Matthew 2:13-15;19-23; Luke 2:41-48. Jospeh was always protecting Jesus. He was always concerned about the life of Jesus. He was a good daddy. We too have been adopted. Our adopted Father does not treat us like step children. His love for us is lavish and unconditional. He always seeks our protection. He is concerned about our life. Our Father in heaven is the best Daddy ever!

This CHRISTmas seek to be compassionate, wise, obedient and a loving parent. In Christ we can make a difference.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Countdown to Christmas: Day Twenty-One

I'm still pondering Mary.

Gabriel tells Mary at the end of his foretelling about the birth of Jesus, Oh by the way you might be interested in knowing that, "Elizabeth your relative (aunt) has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren."

Why? Why does God give Mary this information? What does Mary do with this information? Verse 29 says Mary arose in haste to go into the hill country to see Elizabeth. Why? I so much want to run on and on with my own imagination and share why I think this detail is shared and why Mary was so eager to find her, but I will restrain myself for your own benefit. Take time to place yourself in Mary's sandals and feel what she may be feeling, think what she may be thinking and fear what she may have feared. How would this information be helpful to you? What would you do?

Ponder God's heart towards Mary and Elizabeth.

My goal for doing these blogs has been to aid myself and possibly someone else to keep Christ in the center of their thoughts and deeds this Christmas. I don't so much want to give you thoughts but to lead your thoughts towards Him. With the little I have said this afternoon, ponder for yourself.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Countdown to Christmas: Day Twenty

I Ponder Mary.

I wonder if Mary daydreamed. I daydreamed about my future with my soon to be husband. Did she dream about her and Joseph's life together. Did she make plans? Did she dream about the day she would announce to him the good news of their first born? Did she see herself settling down in a house next to her husbands family and yet still close to her own family? Did she long to be held in His arms? Was she daydreaming as she was going through her normal routine of daily tasks?

Mary stands out among all women for she was chosen to birth and mother the Son of God, the LORD's Christ, the Messiah. I do not belittle her position in our rich spiritual history. She was truly blessed among all women. But I would like for you to take another look, see with fresh eyes at Mary's account and see if God isn't trying to preach the gospel even through Mary and the physical birth of Christ. Read again Luke 1:26-38.

I am not an angel but I am a servant of the Most High God and I would like to greet each one of you with the same very true greeting; 'Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" Mary thought the greeting was strange. She probably did exactly what you would have done; "Must be talking to someone else, for I am not blessed among women...why so and so is much smarter, and so and so is much prettier and so and so is...Nor am I favored by God for so is so is favored but not me. If you know Jesus Christ then receive the greeting from God as your personal greeting. Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women or men!

How can this be? That is exactly what Mary asked. She was still thinking in the earthly and the physical as we so often do. But God operates in the spiritual and eternal. Look again at these words, "...The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.' Don't you see that is exactly what happens to each of us when we by faith believe Jesus came for us an we accept His free gift of grace. He wants to be born in each of us. The Holy Spirit wants to overshadow each of us that it is no longer us that is seen and heard but Jesus, the Son of God.

Oh, it seems impossible that I could bear the character of Christ instead of the natural me. Yet again we are reminded that "For with God nothing will be impossible."

I want to respond to God's love and favor the same way Mary did..."Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Countdown to Christmas: Day Nineteen

I know that I missed several days due to not having internet connection at our hotel in Vermont. You should have seen the room we had. Wallpaper in a bold pattern on all the walls, floor to ceiling. A totally different color and pattern for t he curtains and then other colors and pattern for the bedding. Wild. Let me just say that absolutely nothing on this trip went as expected. Nothing happened as I had planned it in my head. The unexpected in the midst of expecting certain things can cause you to go into a tail spin. I'm a planner. I come by it honestly, my mother is a planner. The hotel wasn't what we expected, the owners were not what we expected, Boston was nothing like I had imagined it. The trip to Boston didn't go as planned. The meeting with Tina didn't go as I feared. The "party" didn't happen as I had dreamed. Yet, I can say without any doubt or regret, "God was in control of every minute." In the unexpected I experienced what I hadn't dreamed of, what I could not have imagined. My greatest joys came from directions I did not even know existed.

The first Christmas brought the unexpected to all those who had great expectations with clear ideas of how it would all happen. The Messiah came in such a strange way, completely foreign to all their plans. Yet, He came. He came as a baby. Think about it the King of all kings, The Lord of all, The Creator of the universe, Almighty God came as a baby. And not a baby born to the wealthy and noble, but the poor and lowly. He did not arrive with a silver spoon in His mouth but laying on straw in a feeding trough in a cold dark cave. His announcement did not come to the rich and famous but to the shepherds who were looked down upon. He came in ways very unexpected. Yet, He came.

This Christmas remember that Christ comes even today into your life in very unexpected ways. In areas you may not even give a second glance...look again and see if you don't see Him. Christ is in our CHRISTmas just in a different way than we may have imagined.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Countdown to Christmas: Day Fourteen

'Twas The Night Jesus Came

'Twas the night Jesus came and all through the house
Not a person was praying, not one in the house.
The Bibles were left on the shelf without care,
For no one thought that Jesus would come there.
The children were dressing to crawl into bed,
Not once ever kneeling or bowing a head.
And mom in her rocker with baby in her lap
Was watching the Late Show while I took a nap.

When out of the east there rose such a clatter,
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash
Tore open the shutters and lifted the sash!
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But angels proclaiming that Jesus was here!
The light of His face made me cover my head--
It was Jesus returning, just as He said.

And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,
I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself.
In the Book of Life which He held in His hand
Was written the name of every saved man.
He spoke not a word as He searched for my name;
When He said, "It's not here" my head hung in shame.
The people whose names had been written with love
He gathered to take to His Father above.

With those who were ready He rose without a sound
While all the rest were left standing around.
I fell to my knees, but it was too late;
I had waited too long and thus sealed my fate.
I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight;
Oh, if only I'd known that this was the night.
In the words of this poem the meaning is clear;
The coming of Jesus is now drawing near.
There's only one life and when comes the last call
We'll find that the Bible was true after all


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Countdown to Christmas: Day Thirteen

Another song to ponder:

O Come All Ye Faithful
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

True God of true God, Light
from Light Eternal,
Lo, he shuns not the Virgin's womb;
Son of the Father, begotten, not created;

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing all that hear in heaven God's holy word.
Give to our Father glory in the Highest;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Child, for us sinners poor and
in the manger,
We would embrace Thee, with
love and awe;
Who would not love Thee,
loving us so dearly?

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning,
Jesus, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

I hope you are spending the time to daily come to Him and adore Him!

Countdown to Christmas: Day Twelve

You know how we sometimes just do things without thinking? I know that you have been in your car driving and pull into your own driveway or another destination and then had the thought, "How did I get here?" We go on auto pilot. We can be guilty of singing songs without a second thought to the meaning behind the words. I want to type out the words of my favorite Christmas song for you to read and ponder the deep truths, theological truths behind the melody.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild--
God and sinners reconciled!"
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph in the skies;
With th' angelic host proclaim,
"Christ is born in Bethlehem."
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ, by highest heav'n adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord:
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh, the God-head see,
Hail th'incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris'n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Come, Desire of nations, come!
Fix in us Thy humble home:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"
Peace on earth , and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!"
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Countdown to Christmas: Day Eleven

A Christmas Prayer
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Loving Father, help us to remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world.

Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.

Delivers us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be Thy children, and the Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake. Amen!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Countdown to Christmas: Day Ten

I'm still sick....I am hardly ever sick and when I am I can't stand it. I have way too many things to do especially to get ready for this Thursday. I was thinking, as I was sneezing and wiping my nose, that I needed to be ready. God interrupted my thoughts and said, "That is exactly why you are sick. I don't want you to be ready but completely dependent on Me." If I get through tomorrow at all it will be because my God is big and He wants all the attention. I know God has led me to forget what I wanted to work on to share and go with my story. God wants whoever shows up to know He sees them, He hears them and He cares about them. Please pray with me that this is what they hear and feel tomorrow.

Since I am sick and finding it hard to write I wanted to share something fun with you. It is an Christmas I.Q. Test. See how well you do.

1. As long as Christmas has been celebrated, it has been on December 25th. (True or False)

2. Joseph was from

3. How did Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem?

4. Mary and Joseph were married when Mary became pregnant? (True or False)

5. Mary and Joseph were married when Jesus was born. (True or False)

6. Mary was a virgin when she delivered Jesus (True or False)

7. What did the Innkeeper tell Mary and Joseph?

8. Jesus was delivered in a

9. A "Manger" is a

10. Which animals does the bible say were present at Jesus' birth?

11. Who saw the star in the east?

12. How many angels spoke to the shepherds?

13. What "sign" did the angels tell the shepherds to look for?

14. What did the angels sing?

15. What is a "Heavenly Host'?

16. What is frankincense?

17. What is Myrrh?

18. How many wise men came to see Jesus?

19. What does wise men refer to?

20. The wise men found Jesus where?

21. Why did the wise men stop in Jerusalem?

22. Where in the Bible do we find the Christmas story?

23. Who told Mary and Joseph to go to Bethlehem?

24. Why did Joseph take his family to Egypt?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Countdown to Christmas: Day Nine

Today is not a good day, in respect to how Pam feels. She is sick. She is miserable. Not only is the bug she caught driving its way through her system but her desire to be involved in the Lord's work, where the Lord is at work and being bed ridden is causing her feelings to be greatly heightened.

Well, I am blogging for Pam today and wish to simply say that no matter what you face this Christmas... be it:
  • Sickness
  • Financial struggles
  • Loneliness
  • Relational disappointments
  • you fill in the blank ______________________________
...Christmas is the time we can all be glad Christ came to give us joy and victory (among many other things). He came to invite us into a relationship with Him that should lead us to celebrate everyday with Jesus is better than the day before.

Let me simply ask you to take a moment today and find something or someone to give thanks to or for and do it. Then go to God in prayer and thank Him for the opportunity to be thankful.

Merry Christmas --- Jon (Pam's other half)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Countdown to Christmas: Day Eight

by Edwin Marham

It happened one day near December's end,
Two neighbors called on an old-time friend,
And they found his shop so meager and poor,
Made bright with boughs from ceiling to floor,
And Conrad was sitting with face a-shine-
When he suddenly stopped as he stitched a twine
And said, "Old Friends, at dawn today,
When the cock was crowing the night away-
The Lord appeared in a dream to me-
And said, " I am coming your guest to be!"
So I've been busy with feet astir,
Strewing my shop with branches of fir.
The table is spread and the kettle is shinned,
And over the rafters the holly is twined-
And now I will wait for my Lord to appear
And listen closely so I will hear
His steps as he nears my humble place-
Then I'll open the door and look on his face."

So his friends went home and left Conrad alone,
For this was the happiest day he had known.
For long since his family had passed away,
And Conrad had spent may a sad Christmas Day.
But he knew with the Lord as his great guest,
This Christmas would be the dearest and best.
So he listened with only joy in his heart,
And with every sound he would rise with a start
And look for the Lord to be at the door
Like the dream he had a few hours before.

So he ran to the window after hearing a sound,
But all he could see on the snow-covered ground
Was a shabby beggar whose shoes were torn-
And all of his clothes were ragged and worn;
But Conrad was touched and went to the door,
And he said, "Your feet must be frozen and sore-
I have some shoes in my shop for you,
And a coat that will keep you warmer, too."

So with grateful heart the man went away-
But Conrad noticed the time of day;
He wondered what made the dear Lord so late
And how much longer he'd have to wait-
Then he heard a knock and ran to the door,
But it was only a stranger once more,
A bent old lady with a shawl of black,
And a bundle of kindling piled on her back.
She asked for only a place to rest-
Bu that was reserved for Conrad's great guest,
Yet her voice seemed to plead, "Don't send me away,
Let me rest for a while on this Christmas Day."
So Conrad brewed her a steaming cup
And told her to sit at the table and sup.

But after she left, he was filled with dismay,
For he saw that the hours were slipping away,
And the Lord had not come as he said he would
And Conrad felt sure he had misunderstood.
When out of the stillness he heard a cry,
"Please help me and tell me where am I ."
so again he opened his friendly door.
And stood disappointed as twice before.
It was only a child who had wandered away
And was Conrad's heart was heavy and sad
But he knew he could make this little girl glad.
So he called her in and wiped her tears
And quieted all her childish fears,
Then he led her back to her home once more,
But as he entered his own darkened door,
He knew that the Lord was not coming today
For the hours of Christmas had passed away.

So he went to his room and knelt down to pray,
And Conrad asked, "Lord, why did you delay"
What kept you from coming to call on me,
For I wanted so much your face to see."
Then soft in the silence, a voice he heard,
"Lift up your head for I kept my word.
Three times my shadow crossed your floor,
Three times I came to your lowly door;
For I was the beggar with bruised cold feet;
I was the woman you gave something to eat;
And I was the child on the homeless street.
Three times I knocked, three times I came in,
And each time I found the warmth of a friend.
Of all the gifts, love is the best;
I was honored to be your Christmas Guest."

Merry CHRISTmas

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Countdown to Christmas: Day Seven

Christmas is about gifts....

This Christmas I have already received a wonderful gift. My Sunday School class has given me the gift of joy and pure delight. They are a class that longs to love others with the love of Jesus Christ. They continue to give their time, energies and resources to do just that. This past summer several of our class members went on the mission trip to Vermont. God allowed us to minister to children; poor, dirty and neglected children. When we arrived home God tugged at our hearts and we knew we had to respond. Jon and I will be leaving the 14th to take to Vermont all kinds of presents for the families in the small trailer park. I am so very proud of my ladies! Not only that; God used the Vermont trip to speak personally to me. In a Quiet Time about a month ago, God said that Vermont was only a way to open our hearts to the hurting in our own community. I challenged the class and shared exactly (from Scripture) what God had said to me. My class said, "Count us in!" I am so proud of them. We mailed out 269 personal invitations to, "To the Lady of the House" in our community. This Thursday we will showing the ladies that accept the invitation (from God) how to put a little spark into their Christmas. We will provide a meal, tips on looking better, meal time sparkle, family fun, home decorations and gift giving. Our most important goal is to minister the Holy Spirit to whosoever shows up. We will share the good news of Jesus Christ. Not all of our ladies are able to physically be there since it is in the afternoon, but they have the most important role of all; prayer. I challenged them to pray in the shower, pray when there head hits the pillow, when the go through a drive through, when they are at a stop light and every time God brings it to their mind. I would like to ask you to pray with us.

My class has given me a most wonderful gift....themselves! I love my ladies because they want to give the most important gift to others. Jesus Christ is the most important gift to give. I started out our lesson today with these Questions: Who do you give Christmas gifts to? How do you choose Christmas gifts for people you love? What is Christmas? What gift will you give Jesus? Isaiah 66:19-20 "...And they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles. Then they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to the Lord out of all nations,..." I love my ladies because they desire to give God exactly what He longs for this Christmas...more children.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Countdown to Christmas: Day Six

I know it is late again. We have just arrived home and have been gone since 7:30 this morning.

Tonight the deacons and their wives plus Jon and I held a special dinner in honor of our widows. It was a lovely evening filled with delicious food and wonderful singing from the Jackson Park Quartet and the Reeds. We also sang CHRISTmas songs all together. There were lights everywhere. No I am not talking about CHRISTtmas lights nor candle lights but smiles. Widows smiling. They were shining.

God loves and cares for the widows and the orphans. He has not abandoned them nor has He forgotten them. At CHRISTtmas time there are those around us who are lonely, sad or depressed. We can easily get so caught up in ourselves that we forget about those around us that need our attention. God wants us to love them. He wants us to reach out to them and let them know He hasn't left them.

Who has God purposely placed in your path that He wants you to demonstrate His love to? That widow neighbor or church member? That little boy or girl that grandparents are raising and he feels like he doesn't fit in anywhere? The single mom who can't seem to get it all done? The woman whose husband has left her for someone else? Ask God to show you who He wants you to reach out to with an act of kindness then look for the answer and obey.

I know a Man who left His home and took on flesh that I might know His love.

Merry CHRISTmas

Friday, December 05, 2008

Countdown to Christmas: Day Five

Another very busy day, yet very rewarding serving my Lord.

Today I want to take a turn from the serious for a moment of joy. The kind of joy that makes you laugh.

Remember our friend Zacharias? We left him in the presence of the angel of the Lord receiving great news for the nation and himself. Zacharias had difficulty believing so Gabriel shut his mouth until the words were fulfilled. Ironic isn't it that God had not spoken to His people for over 400 years and when He does speak the one spoken to cannot speak about it. All he could do was to make signs and gestures. He entered the Holy of Holies speaking and came out not speaking. It was mysterious to all those looking on. Don't you know they watched him and Elizabeth very carefully. Then Elizabeth is pregnant. Can you imagine where there thoughts turned and how even closer they watched. Something is happening around here and it is exciting.

This is how I wish we all could be everyday of our excitedely. I would that we all would be watching carefully for the signs of God's presence and working in an all around us. I also like a good mystery. If I had been around during this experience I would have been probing Zacharias to draw me pictures of what happened in there. I treat God's word the same way. Probing with questions and digging deep to get to the bottom of the truth. And because I am dense God leans down and draws me pictures. He is so patient with me yet I believe that He loves my hunger for more of Him.

Will I said we would laugh today. That is where we go next in the story. Read Luke 2:57-66.
Did you see how goofy Zacharias' family were. You have seen people who start speaking louder to the blind man. Well that is exactly what is happening here; look again and see if you don't see it. What did Gabriel do to Zacharias? Shut his mouth so he could not speak. His hearing? It is just fine; yet how does his family try and comunicate with him? Yes, making signs and gestures. Goofy people. Had my family been there observing we would have all laughed out loud! I'm so glad God gave us this little detail. I think it was another way of saying, "Rejoice! Good things are on their way."

Family is just fun. Last Christmas God favored me with giving me a dream come true with having my whole family minus our patriarch at our home. We had a blast! This year we (Jon, Chad, Amanda, Clay, Ava, Grant and Anneen) went to Dallas for Thanksgiving. All of us stayed with my sister Wendy and her family. Again, we had a blast. We played games into the night, shopped and ate. What we did more than anything was laugh. We haughed with each other and at each other. Sometimes we are just goofy. What Jon and I do more and more is laugh. Milk may do the body good, but laughter does the soul good.

So my challenge to you today is laugh! Have fun with your family. Get excited about God's work in your midst. Finally, Rejoice! God things are on their way (no I didn't misspell good.)

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Countdown to Christmas: Day Four

Busy, Busy, Busy. Anybody working with me? I have wanted to write all day; knew exactly what I wanted to share. BUT...I haven't been at home today. Stop...gotta go get ready. I'm back and have 15 minutes before we need to walk out the door to get to church for our Choirs presentation of "Experiencing God, the Musical." I can't wait!

Luke 1:14-25

God has broken His silence. He has began to reveal His plan for salvation. Salvation not from an earthly emperor but from an eternal foe and a debt we cannot pay. His plan is most unusual; but then again He is God.

His plan begins with an older couple who are to birth a son to be the forerunner of Christ. (5 Min.!) He is to "...ready a people prepared for the Lord." Ok this is where we stop today and ask ourselves some penetrating questions. Are we a people (corporately church) prepared for the Lord? Are you personally prepared for the Lord's return? For His presence? Are you serving God by readying others to be prepared for the Lord? We have each been called to go and tell and make disciples of all peoples. We each are called to be a forerunner of Christ. He is coming again. Even so Lord Jesus come now!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Countdown to Christmas: Day Three

Silence. 400 years of complete silence.

Then in the fullness of time God breaks His silence!

Luke 1:5-13

He speaks to "a certain priest." Each of the 24 divisions of priests served in the temple for one week twice a year and at important festivals. Each priest could offer incense at the daily sacrifice only once in his lifetime. Remember your gospels and how the religious leaders of the day were anything but "righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." God purposely chose Zacharias. Could it be because Zacharias was willing to listen and hungering for God to speak? Could it be that even today that is to whom God will speak most, the one who is listening and longing to hear from Him?

"But they had no child...and they were both well advanced in years." There is no accident that this detail is mentioned. Remember the God of the OT loved working just this way. (Abraham and Sara and Hannah.) He was about to remind His people that He had not abandoned them, He was still very much alive and well and in control. He will also show that compassion for His people is still very tender and that He longs to act on His compassion.

The main duty of the priest was to pray for the nation. As the people gathered outside the priest would be inside praying on their behalf. He would be praying for His nation Israel. I believe that Zacharias was praying for with great fervency for the coming of the Messiah. I also cannot imagine him leaving this most holy place without praying earnestly for a son of his own.

So often when times are tough. When we have prayed and prayed and seemingly get no answer. We quit. We throw in the towel and just take a seat on the sidelines. That is not the picture we get from this couple. They are still serving God faithfully. Still hoping and longing for God. Don't stop praying. Keep hoping and don't grow weary in serving the Lord. His compassion is always towards your best interest. He does hear and He does see you personally. If you are in a season of silence know that it is temporary and only because he wants the next words He speaks to you to be received with great joy and belief.

There is Zacharias in the temple serving and praying when out of the smoke appears the angel of the Lord, Gabriel. What does God say to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John." Your prayer for the Messiah to come is a YES, the time is right! Then God says yes to that prayer that maybe they had given up on.

This Christmas don't give up on your prayers! Lean in to Him and hear His sweet voice speak personally to you His great and tender love. When He speaks believe Him! Serve Him faithfully trusting in His love in spite of the hardships you may be facing.

Merry CHRISTmas

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Countdown to Christmas: Day Two

Prepare to receive anew the whole of CHRISTmas.
Imagine with me.

Dead silence for 400 years! What makes us (CHRISTians) different than all other peoples is that our God (the One and Only) seeks a love relationship with us and isn't a distant, ever changing being who promises nothing of himself. God's people had a relationship with their God. He spoke to them and they heard Him. It is what set them apart. They heard God. Then....there was dead silence...for 400 years!

God was giving His people the silent treatment. Why not everything else hadn't got their attention. In fact Amos 2:11-12 says, "I raised up some of your sons as prophets, And some of your young men as Nazirites. Is it not so, O you children of Israel?" Says the Lord. "But you gave the Nazirites wine to drink, And commanded the prophets saying, 'Do not prophesy!' They told God they wanted Him to stop talking. And then there is this in Zech. 7:11-12 "But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. [12] Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts." When God spoke they would not listen. Silence from God. Silence from the One who delivered you from bondage, defeated your enemies, blessed you with cities, lands, etc. and gave you His words. Silence. Complete and total silence.

What was God's intention in His silence? The famine of hearing Word was to create a hunger again for the Word. As long as His people were full of themselves they would never crave Him. He had to create that emptiness so they would seek to be filled again. I heard it put another way, "He used the withholding of His words to prepare for the revealing of THE WORD! Galatians 4:4 "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son..."

I leave with some personal questions to ask yourself. Are you telling God you want Him to stop talking because you don't like what He says? Oh, I know you would never say the words but are you making the time daily to stop and listen to what He says? Have you pushed His Word aside? When you do hear His Word do you do it? Are you listening to what He is saying? Are you stopping long enough to give Him your full and undivided attention? Or are you letting His Words go in one ear and out the other? Maybe, you haven't heard God speak in a long time and find yourself in a time of famine. Is it creating a hunger? Then feast again on His abundance. He has promised that if we seek Him, He will be found. We don't have to live a life of famine and silence of our God.

As I leave today ponder the years and years of silence of their God. Try to imagine the way they felt and what they considered as the days marched on and on without a prophet, without a sign or word. How would you be feeling? What would you be thinking?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Countdown to Christmas: Day One

I am challenging myself to blog for the next 25 days. I know, I know exactly what you are thinking because I am thinking it to. She won't do it. Christmas is a time for miracles. Don't laugh but pray and keep me accountable.

Why is this so important to me? Because. Wow, I am tearing up as I try to express my feelings; not quiet sure I can. I am very passionate about CHRISTmas. I think I will just start with my pondering in the car on the way home from Dallas. I was remembering the quote, "Jesus is the reason for the season." I am in compete agreement with this; Christmas is about Jesus. I began to ask myself some questions. Does Jesus share His glory? Is He preeminent? is the Holyday kept holy? Where do I spend all my time, energy and thoughts through this season? I was taught early on that this is a good test to see what/who I really worship. Do I worship a man made image or the true Son of God? Still pondering the answers. The last thought that came from the Spirit was to remember not only His birth but why He came.

Jon and I will be alone this Christmas...the family was all toghether for Thanksgiving. I had thought that this would be a miserable Christmas for me but have come to learn that God has something wonderful in store for me. I don't know what it is but I am leaning in to hear, putting on my glasses to see and reaching up to grab hold of all He has to show me about CHRISTmas; His CHRISTmas, The LORD'S Christ. Join me on the journey!

Merry CHRISTmas!

Gettting It!

For the last fifteen and some-odd years I have been pondering the same questions; why do some "get it" and others don't? And what causes one to "get it"? It has been my lives' passion and calling to teach and proclaim Jesus' Words that women in particular will "get it" or better said, "get Him." Last night in our Discipleship class I heard the words I most want to hear, "I get it!" I have seen the changes in this particular ladies countenance and heart over the past few months. It took all I had to stay in my seat. I wanted to jump for joy and do a dance on the table.

So there it was someone else had gotten it. You know I had to ask how and what were the circumstances around your getting it, please tell me everything. I have asked these probing questions for years and have found one common denominator in all that have said with big smiles, "I get it!" They each in there on way wanted more and began to seek for more...more of Him. God has promised that when we seek Him we will find Him. The more we seek the more we find.

I am fortunate and blessed in some strange way for not growing up in a Christian home. You see Christianity and Church didn't have the opportunity of breeding familiarity and therefore becoming common and routine to me. The very day of my salvation began an intimate love relationship with my Beloved that has only grown in its intimacy. I can say that there were two major "dates" with my Beloved that spurred our love even deeper. The first was a Sunday School teacher named Leland Evans who showed me the Word of God was alive and filled with personal treasures for me to unearth if I was willing to dig. I now have a love for God's holy, powerful and life-changing Word. His Word satisfies me like nothing else. The second was Experiencing God. I have done this study around 10 times and each and every time I have experienced God in a new and refreshing way. You see I "got Him" and continue to seek to "get Him" more and more.

Do you "get it"?
If you do, share with me if my common denominator fits into your own testimony.

Praise God He got me before I ever got Him!