Merry Christ mas to all of you!

More of Christ!

In Bethlehem, the human being who best understood who God was and what he was doing, is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. As Mary looks into the face of the baby.  Her son. Her Lord.  His majesty—she can’t take her eyes off him.  Somehow Mary knows she’s holding God. So this is he. She remembers the words of the angel.  “His kingdom will never end!”

He looks like anything but a king. His cry, though strong and healthy, is still the helpless and piercing cry of a baby. Majesty in the midst of the mundane.  Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat.  Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter.

God came near!

“And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.

Luke 1:33″

~ Max Lucado

Tree of Mystery

April 10, 2010 By Smith
Just before Easter I was driving the kids over to see my parents (they live about 2 minutes from me) and we were talking about all the beautiful trees that had blossomed overnight. The whole neighborhood was transformed by bursts of lavender, pink, and pure white and it looked like something out of a movie. They even blew across the road as we drove and we all oohed and aahed at the Lord’s handiwork.“Which one is your favorite, Kate?”

She pointed out at a tall white tree that looked like it was covered with snowballs, keeping her finger pressed to the window as it faded out of sight.

“That one is my favorite, mommy.” Abby chose what looked like hydrangeas. It might not have been. I know nothing of plants with the exception of the fact that the mere sight of my face makes them wither and die. I’m pretty sure a rosebush I planted a few years ago picked up its roots and replanted itself in our neighbor’s yard. She has a belt with gardening tools and a hat that’s roughly the size of New Mexico. She also has a little pad to kneel on. I don’t blame the roses.

“How about you, Ellie? Got a favorite?”

She watched as the houses passed us and then a few seconds later I heard her say quietly, “That one, mommy. That one is my favorite. It’s the prettiest one on the whoooole street. That’s what I think.”

“Oh, I see it! Those pink leaves are such a cool color, aren’t they? I would wear one of those behind my ear for a date with daddy!”

“No, momma. Not that one. The one next to it.”

I slowed down the car because I hadn’t really seen one next to it. I asked her where she was looking.

“There. Right there.”

I made a confused face and looked at her in the rearview mirror.

“I think it’s dead mommy. It doesn’t have anything on it. But it’s the prettiest one.”

I just sat and waited, fascinated by the fact that out of everything we were looking at, that was the one she chose.

“Tell me more, hon.”

“Well…it looks dead, but I love it because everyone picks the fancy ones and that one might be keeping a secret. Maybe it’s flowers haven’t come out yet, or maybe it’s just pretending to be dead. Nobody knows what that one is going to do. So I think it’s the most beautiful.”

I sat stunned with my hand on the gearshift, unable to even put it into drive because I so felt the presence of the Lord. He uses my girls so many times when He is speaking to me and I know from experience that it’s best to just be still and soak it in.  I smiled at her and after a few minutes we headed on to see my family. It wasn’t until later that night that I settled in for some quiet time and opened the Scripture to the story of Christ’s resurrection. If I absolutely had to pick, I think John is my favorite Gospel account. I do love to compare and contrast them all because the different perspectives are amazing, but I always seem to end up in John.

While I asked the Lord to prepare my heart for Easter and speak to me through His Word (try it sometime if you haven’t…He won’t fail to show you something you need to read. But don’t do the whole “I’m going to open to anywhere and that’s what you want to tell me” thing, because you will usually end up in some kind of confusing lineage chapter. Seriously. And if you have done this, back me up here, people).

I began with the crucifixion. Slowly, deliberately, ever mindful that the Lord was stirring in me a new understanding. I have read it at least 45 million times (give or take 44 million or so) and it is so easy for it to feel rote. I know what happens next, and then this, and then this…okay, done. But as I moved into the part about His resurrection, I started thinking about what Ellie had said and I felt like part of the story took on new meaning to me.

Jesus died on a cross.

He was prepared for His burial and placed in a tomb that was blocked by a stone.

Early the next day, some of His followers went to visit the tomb and He was gone. His linens were there, but He Himself was not.

Eventually, everyone realizes it’s a miracle, but at first they think He has been stolen and they are heartbroken over the fact that someone has taken the body of their Lord.

The women see the risen Christ and they believe. Shortly after, He appears to another group and after walking through a wall, asking for a little something to eat, and letting Thomas touch His wounds, there is a consensus that He had actually done what He said He would.

So that’s the (very brief and detail-lacking) synopsis of the miracle of the resurrection.

But here’s the thing I think is interesting.

We don’t know when He actually rose from the dead.

We don’t know what happened in that dark tomb between He and His Father. We have no visual for that exact moment, other than that He had arranged his linens neatly before He left, which, I think is very polite for a man who just woke up from death.

Sometime in the dark of night, in a sealed tomb, a miracle happened. And nobody knew it at that time.

It wasn’t until the next day that they were privy to the beautiful truth.

It struck me that in a sense, we are living in that moment. We are weeping in our homes, crying out by an empty tomb, begging to see that we haven’t been duped. That He isn’t going to let us down and leave us to face the fact that it might have all been a hoax.

We walk side by side on the dusty road to Emmaus, never knowing that He walks alongside us. We are already weeping with discouragement, unaware of the footsteps of the Holy being imprinted next to ours.

You see, friends, we don’t get to be in the tomb. There is a gap of time between the miracle itself and when we get to see the evidence of it.

We walk in that gap everyday.

I think that many of His loyal followers probably thought He was dead and gone, and that they had been deceived. As far as I can tell, there weren’t groups of people huddled around His tomb crying out and awaiting His exit. They were bundled up with their children, miles away, left with only their imaginations, and during those very moments, guess what?

He rose.

The beautiful, resilient flower that we call our Christ was dead. Or so it seemed.

I am shattered by the humble recognition that somewhere in the night, there is a divine plan that I am unaware of. While I tuck my children into bed and pray for Him to have His way and live within my every thought, I will remember the tomb. I will remember the long, winding roads that I must walk to see His face. I will anticipate the moment where the bread is broken and I fall face first before Him in worship.

I will continue to choose the tree that has secrets.

I will not be enticed by the blooms that fade quickly, but rather allow myself to live in the mind of a seven year old who realizes that the most amazing thing we can look to in this life is the part that is hidden, waiting for rebirth.

I believe with all my heart that one day I will be in the presence of the One Who watches my Audrey, and I will thank Him for the moments He gave me here on this earth in the presence of a crooked, weathered tree that I could have given up on long ago.

And in that place, I will know the secrets. I will understand the mystery. I will cling to it’s truth and bow my head in reverence.

Beautiful Savior, may all the world see you in the midst of the blooming and choose to believe that Your splendor is waiting, somewhere beyond the brittle branches, and may we live lives that glorify the Man Who made light in the darkness of a tomb…

Soli Deo Gloria.

Touch the World

She brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped
Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger.
Luke 2:7, NKJV

Where will God go to touch the world? 

What a great thought and even better question.

It’s that time of year when we hear about the virgin birth.

And yet, it’s more, much more, that a Christmas story.

It’s a story of how close Christ will come to you.

The first step on his itinerary was a womb. 

Where will God go to touch the world? 

Look deep within Mary for an answer. 

Better still, look deep within yourself.

“Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27 NIV).

Christ grew 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.

~ Max Lucado

He will get you home

“I have not lost any of the ones you gave me.” 

John 18:9

Satan falls in the presence of Christ . . .

Satan is powerless against the protection of Christ.

When Jesus says He will keep you safe,

He means it.

Hell will have to get through Him to get to you.

Jesus is able to protect you.

When He says He will get you home,

He will get you home. 

~ Max Lucado

Daily Promises – August 7 – We can BOLDLY approach God

Ephesians 3:12 KJV
12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

Promise #219: Through faith in Christ, you can boldly approach Me with confidence.

The NIV Bible says Ephesians 3:12 in this way… ‘In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.’ What a glorious promise! Through our new life in Jesus Christ, we have complete and unrestricted access to our heavenly Father. Though angels bow down in reverence to Almighty God, we can call Him our Abba. Though He holds the earth in the palm of His hand, He calls us His little ones.

Praise God for giving us an amazing salvation through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! In the great exchange that happened at the cross, Jesus exchanged His life for our life. We no longer live apart from Christ (Galatians 2:20), so being in Christ, we have full access to our Father just like Jesus does. As a matter of fact, in Colossians 3, Paul says that we actually are hid with Christ in God, seated in the heavens!

As a father, I would be disappointed if I felt that my children were afraid to come into my presence. They are my children after all! They are welcome any time, night or day! If we as dads are intended to be a shadow of the perfect Father (Matthew 5:48), how much more does He desire that we come boldly into His throne room with freedom and confidence?

May each one of us be encouraged today to come into our Papa’s presence with a new boldness. Not because of anything that we have done, but because our big brother, Jesus Christ, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, has made the way for us to approach God with a confident expectation that He will receive us and put us on His lap, day or night.

~ Barry Adams

Daily Promises – July 24

Hebrews 4:9-10 KJV
9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.


Promise: If you enter into My rest, you will find rest from all your striving.
One thing that marks the orphan world system that we live in is the absense of the ability to rest. Busy, busy, busy. There is so much to do and too little time to do it. Rushing from work to home, rushing from home to work. Rushing to do the groceries, driving the kids to sports, going to church, etc. Throw in the thousands of media messages that we all get bombarded with every day. Busy, busy, busy.

It is exhausting just thinking about it. God is calling each one of us into a deep Sabbath rest in the very core of our being. While on the outside this might appear like pure inactivity and therefore unproductive, I believe the very opposite is true. When we allow ourselves to come into a place in our hearts where we cease from our own works, we are demonstrating in a very practical way that we are relying on God to work on our behalf.

This very real form of trust moves the heart of our heavenly Dad in a way that nothing else can. As long as we try to do all the work ourselves, carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders, we will be trying to do the work in our own strength. When we come to a place where we can slow down in our hearts and quiet the busyness that resides in the depths of our soul, we will find the Prince of Peace waiting for us to join Him.

Sure work needs to get done, groceries need to get bought, kids need to be driven to their various activities. But I believe it is our Papa’s heart that we enter into a deep Sabbath rest in our hearts where we cease from our own striving and join Him in His rest. May God give each one of us wisdom today to show us how we can labor to enter into that place of rest.
Photo by Steve Taylor

What bad consequences does anger have?

by Paul J. Bucknell

Angry People find it very difficult to admit the evil nature of anger.
Perhaps this is because the spirit of anger is so close at hand.

A review of the consequences of anger can help motivate those with a spirit of anger to get rid of their anger.

Anger or angry is used 433 times in the Bible. Much research can be done on these passages. In what passage did Jesus expose the need to eliminate anger from our lives?

• Anger is unacceptable before God.
  

We can never accomplish God’s ways with anger.
    James 1:19-20
   “This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to  hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”

• Anger leads to more anger.

     If you think ones anger is bad now, it will get worse unless you take a strong course of action.
    Proverbs 10:12
” Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.”

• Anger becomes addictive.
 

Angry people don’t simply change.
    Proverbs 19:19
” [A man of] great anger shall bear the penalty, For if you rescue [him,] you will only have to do it again.”

• Anger leads to hostility and lawsuits.

  Anger easily leads to extra expensive and stressful situations that otherwise could have been avoided.
    Matthew 5:25
“Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, in order that your opponent may not deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.”

• Anger always needs reconciliation.

Anger produces strained relationships which must be solved before we go on in our spiritual lives.
    Matthew 5:23
“If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”

• Anger always needs restoration.

Angry people are constantly hurting people and causing offenses.
    Proverbs 14:17
“A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, And a man of evil devices is hated.”

If you do not enjoy relationships but are tense, mean and critical, there is a good chance that you have an angry spirit.

People don’t like to be around angry people. It simply follows that if a person has an angry and bitter attitude, he will more than likely have problems in his interpersonal relationships. Ask yourself the following questions?

  •  When was the last time you lost your temper?
  •  Did you ever physically hurt someone through your anger?
  •  What are some of the phrases that you use when angry?
  •  Have you ever apologized for your anger?
  •  What relationships are being stressed because of unresolved anger?

The gospel of Jesus Christ is centered around God’s love for us and through us. We cannot tolerate anger in our lives. Anger brings physical, emotional and social damages to our lives and others. All these serious consequences point to our need of the gospel of Christ’s love.