Tag Archives: Christmas

What Just Happened?

‘America’s Got Talent’ has given birth to not only many careers, but to some catch phrases as well. Perhaps one of the most familiar is exclaimed by Mel B. (1) when she’s overwhelmed by a brilliant, exciting unexpected performance: “What just happened?” I think we can ask the same questions during this week following Christmas. We celebrated a brilliant, exciting, mysterious unexpected event – Almighty God sent His Son to earth to be born in human flesh. But can we fully grasp and understand it? Or do we need to ask, “What just happened?” Why would God ask His Son to give up all the glories and power of Heaven to take on human flesh? “What just happened?”

Perhaps the simplest answer is “God demonstrated His love.” May the following serve to clarify and heighten the impact.

Three days before Christmas a mother was busy getting ready for the big day and she asked her little son to shine her good shoes for her. A little later, with a smile that only a 7-year old could flash, he presented the shoes for inspection. The mother was pleased with the result and rewarded him with a quarter. On Christmas day, as she was putting on her shoes to go to church, she noticed a lump in one shoe. Taking off the shoe, she found the quarter wrapped in paper. Written on the paper in a child’s scrawl were these words: “I done it for love.” When Jesus came to save us He “done it for love!”

Roy Lessin has written poignantly, “God knew we could never buy our way to Him – the cost was too great; we could never earn our way to Him – the task was too great; we could never will our way to Him – the commitment was too great. God knew we could never come to Him…so He came to us!”

Describing it all the Bible simply says, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son…” (John 3:16) He ‘done it all for love’ – expecting nothing in return.


May you experience His deep, broad and overpowering love – His abundance of grace upon grace – in amazing ways this Christmas and throughout 2019.

(1) https://www.breakingnews.ie/showbiz/mel-b-grateful-for-christmas-after-going-through-hell-and-back-in-dark-year-892513.html

Manger: nativity-walter-chavez-300070-unsplash

Exquisite Timing

When was the last time you said to someone, “Your timing was exquisite?” Or “Wow – what perfect timing?” It’s always amazing when someone shows up or does something – or something happens – at just the right time.

As we prepare for Christmas over the next weeks, I’ll be focusing on one of my favorite biblical passages which gets to the heart of Christmas and also to the heart of some exquisite timing. The passage is Galatians 4:1-7. This week focus on just the opening words of verse 4: “But when the time was right, God sent his Son…”

“But when the time was right…” Why does Paul say the timing was right? History gives us the answer. Because of the conquests of Alexander the Great Rome had reached a pinnacle of power unknown before. And Alexander was determined to spread the Greek culture throughout the world, so everything he did, including instituting a common language, set the stage for culture, for communication, for religion to have an impact. It was also a time of great, prolonged peace – 200 years with no major conflict. Never before, or since, has there been peace for so long a period. Therefore, with no pre-occupation with war, people had time to listen, discuss, and debate. Then, too, Caesar built a marvelous and extensive system of military roads so, if needed, the armies could travel quickly and efficiently. Therefore the roads were in place for Christ’s legions to travel with the message of the resurrection. And as for Israel’s history, she had been conquered and disbursed many times. Therefore, wherever Jesus or His disciples would go, there would be some Jews already there. Religiously, old religions were dying; the old philosophies were empty and powerless to change people’s lives. Strange new mystery religions were everywhere. In so many ways, the time was right.

So when the time was right, when the clock was ready to toll, Jesus was born. In Paul’s words, “God sent his Son…” The word ‘sent’ means sending with a commission to do something, with the person being sent having the right credentials. Jesus, the Son of God, was sent to save us. The purpose, the aim of His coming was our salvation, our health, our wholeness, our peace. It is my firm belief that God still sends His Son, still comes down to us, when the time is right. Though we sometimes feel  He’s not concerned or not going to help or come to our aid or answer our prayers, He always comes. And He never comes too early and never too late. In Gal. 3:11-12 Paul put it, “The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him.” (The Message)

The wonderful poet Helen Steiner Rice wrote beautifully about God’s timing:

God’s love endureth forever –
what a wonderful thing to know
When the tides of life run against you
And your spirit is downcast and low…

God’s kindness is ever around you,
Always ready to freely impart
Strength to your faltering spirit,
Cheer to your lonely heart…

God’s presence is ever beside you,
As near as the reach of your hand,
You have but to tell Him your troubles,
There is nothing He won’t understand…

And knowing God’s love is unfailing,
And His mercy unending and great,
You have but to trust in His promise –
“God comes not too soon  or too late.”

So wait with a heart that is patient
For the goodness of God to prevail –
For never do prayers go unanswered,
And His mercy and love never fail.”

So we can stop trying to make all the arrangements for our lives; stop trying to fit all the stitches together. We can stop panicking and lessen our worry and doubt. We can wait with anticipation for God to come. After all,  “… those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:29-31 New Revised Standard Version)

Family Time

Christmas means it’s time to remember the family. But not the family that probably first comes to mind. Paul, to a distressed young church in Corinth wrote “God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:9) Through Christmas God has called us into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ. And make no mistake about it – fellowship with Jesus Christ has outstanding, life-changing benefits.

One of those benefits is that we have a divine position. “To the church of God in Corinth, those sanctified in Christ Jesus…” (1 Cor. 1:2) Paul says we are sanctified which means God has set us apart in Jesus Christ., Paul says the same thing in many of his letters when he refers to Christians as ‘saints.’ We are saints. Too often we think of sainthood as an honor or title for some ‘super Christian’ who has died and is posthumously honored. But the Good News is all who have been set apart in Jesus by God are saints. It refers to ownership, not to an earned right.

Through a manger in Bethlehem God has brought us into fellowship with Jesus. In doing so He has brought us into His family. What’s amazing is that Paul is referring to the Corinthian church. If ever a church was far short of what it ought to be, this was it. Immorality was rampant, a code of ethics was all but non-existent, and her theology was badly tainted. Yet, says Paul, her members are sanctified – they are saints. And so are we! Because of Christmas we have been given the position of being children of God – brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ! At our baptisms, God put his mark, his seal, his brand upon us. He gave us the same royal status as that of His Son!

Did you ever slice an onion? What does the core of an onion look like? What’s the substance of an onion? There is no core or substance. An apple has a core. Plums and peaches have pits. But an onion is merely the sum total of its layers. It is so easy for us to simply become the sum total of what others expect or want us to be. There’s a layer for the boss, one for the spouse, one for the children, one for the coach, one for the church. Soon we lose track of our identity. Never forget who you are! You are a brother, a sister, of Jesus Christ. You are a saint!

In the town of Stepanavan, Armenia, there was a woman whom everyone called ‘Palasan’s wife.’ She had her own name but townspeople called her by her husband’s name to her great honor. Palasan was at work when the devastating earthquake struck Armenia in 1988. He rushed to his son’s elementary school. The façade was already crumbling, but he entered the building and began pushing children outside to safety. After Palasan had managed to help 28 children out, an aftershock hit that completely collapsed the building and killed him. So the people of Stepanavan honor his memory and his young widow by calling her Palasan’s wife. Sometimes a person’s greatest honor is not who they are but to whom they are related. “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13) We are related to the one who died for us, Jesus Christ. We are saints! We are brothers and sisters of Jesus!

There’s a wonderful story someone wrote about her grandmother and aunt. “My grandmother sent the wherewithal to Holland for her sister Greta to immigrate to America. Thrilled at the prospect of seeing my grandmother again after twenty-five years, Greta booked passage on the first steamer leaving Rotterdam, settling for accommodations in steerage rather than waiting for another six months to travel in the grand style that her relatives had planned for her. A thoughtful purser, familiar with this common choice among families anxious for reunions, discreetly offered the hospitality of the upper decks of the ship during the day. Greta declined this privilege, however, and remained sequestered in her dark, rancid, and noisy quarters for the fourteen long days of her journey. My aunt called this ‘minding one’s place.’ She never presumed that there was anything more to sailing across the menacing Atlantic Ocean than enduring volcanic tosses from her mildewed perch until reaching land safely on the other side. Only on disembarking in New York Harbor did Greta behold what she had been missing. On those upper decks that she had regarded as off limits were tapestries, chandeliers, wood-carved cornices, oriental rugs, silver, gleaming crystal, and buffets laden with exotic and plentiful food and drink. Most alarming of all, though, there were people just like Aunt Greta, stranded in fourth-class sleeping accommodations, who had accepted the invitation of the venerable steamship company and had toddled above to enjoy the treasures daily. ‘Imagine,’ my aunt would gasp. ‘It could all have been mine, too, had I only said yes.”

God, through Jesus Christ, has put us in His family and invited us to live in royalty. Will you live in the dingy, damp, dark basement quarters, or will you say ‘Yes’ to Jesus and enjoy the royal rooms? We are Christ’s. As Christmas approaches let’s remember that we are His family. That will make a lot of difference not only in our attitude but in how we live.

Break Ins

 

Have you ever been the victim of a robbery? Over the years I have had an office, a church and a home broken into. It’s upsetting to have someone forcibly enter into our private space. It arouses, among other emotions fear, anger, distrust and suspicion. We feel threatened. Our private space is meant to be just that – private. The space belongs to us. It’s a place of security and safety. It is, we believe, ours by right. So it’s shattering when it is invaded.

I wonder if that’s why some people resist God. He is, after all, the Master at breaking in. He breaks into our personal, private spaces. He invades our time, talents and treasures. He wants to plant our steps, direct our decisions, plan our plans, provide our thoughts and manage our circumstances. He wants exclusive rights to our hearts. He arouses, among other emotions fear, anger, distrust and suspicion. He can be threatening.

Yet at this Advent time of year we celebrate God’s breaking into our lives in the most personal of ways. It was personal for Him: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” It was personal for us: “…that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” And it was an answer to the prayers of His people. Consider the payer of Isaiah (64:1-12):

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains would tremble before you!
2 As when fire sets twigs ablaze
and causes water to boil,
come down to make your name known to your enemies
and cause the nations to quake before you!
3 For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,
you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
4 Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
5 You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against them,
you were angry.
How then can we be saved?
6 All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
7 No one calls on your name
or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have given us over to our sins.
8 Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
9 Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord;
do not remember our sins forever.
Oh, look on us, we pray,
for we are all your people.
10 Your sacred cities have become a wasteland;
even Zion is a wasteland, Jerusalem a desolation.
11 Our holy and glorious temple, where our ancestors praised you,
has been burned with fire,
and all that we treasured lies in ruins.
12 After all this, Lord, will you hold yourself back?
Will you keep silent and punish us beyond measure?

This was a prayer on behalf of Israel for God to ‘come down’, to break in, to invade their private spaces, to rescue their lives and souls. Eventually God broke in. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

It is my hope and prayer that during this advent season you will be expectant and aware of how often God breaks into your life. Mother Frances Dominica wrote of this poignantly:

“He leads through all the events, all the circumstances of your life. Nothing in your life is so insignificant, so small, that God cannot be found at its centre. We think of God in the dramatic things the glorious sunsets, the majestic mountains, the tempestuous seas; but he is the little things too, in the smile of a passer-by or the gnarled hands of an old man, in a daisy, a tiny insect, falling leaves. God is in the music, in laughter and in sorrow too. And the grey times, when monotony stretches out ahead, these can be the times of steady, solid growth into God.

God may make himself known to you through the life of someone who, for you, is an ambassador for God, in whom you can see the beauty and truth and the love of God…It may be that there is someone who loves you so deeply that you dare to believe that you are worth loving and so you can believe that God’s love for you could be possible after all. Sometimes it is through tragedy or serious illness that God speaks to our hearts and we know him for the first time. There is no limit to the ways in which God may make himself known. At every turn in our lives there can be a meeting place with God…God makes his home in you (John 14:23).Isn’t this the answer to all our yearning, our searching, our anguish, to all the longing, the incompleteness of our lives and loving? (1)

May you recognize and celebrate God’s break-ins into your life in this season of His coming.

(1) From Prayer, by Mother Frances Dominica, as quoted in A Guide to Prayer, Rueben P. Job, Norman Shawchuck, The Upper Room, Nashville TN, © 1983

 

What If…?

There is a cartoon that shows Jesus sitting in a big chair with a little boy on his lap. Jesus says, “How about if instead of giving you everything you think you want for Christmas I give you what you need?” (1) I find that a fascinating question. What if Jesus gives me what I need and not what I want, or even think I need?

As we approach Christmas Day I challenge you to ponder this great “What if?” Do an honest self-assessment – if you and Jesus were alone together what would He say you need? I have a hunch that most of us, when we’re honest with ourselves, know the answer. But whether or not we do, the issue is “Do we dare ask Jesus to give us what we need?” Are we convinced He knows best? Are we willing to accept it?

I believe Jesus does know best. He always knows best. Think about it. If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent an educator. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent an economist. If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent an entertainer. If our greatest need had been security, God would have sent a bodyguard. If our greatest need had been health, God would have sent a doctor. If our greatest need had been companionship, God would have sent perfect mates. But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent a Savior. “You shall call his name Jesus, for He will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). (2)

Jesus always knows best. Do you really want to ask Him to give you what you need? Even if it hurts? Even if it means letting go of something – someone – you truly prize? Even if it means giving up your dream? Even if it means radically changing a habit or altering your lifestyle? Even if it means a new vocation? Even if it means losing money, prestige, or status? I flinch as I write these words; it’s far easier to write them than to embrace with a resounding ‘Yes.’ It’s hard to release everything to Jesus.

The bottom line is that we can cling to and try to keep what is dearest to us, or we can release everything to Gold and ask Him to give us what is best. As Martha Snell Nicholson has penned:

“One by one He took them from me, the things I valued most,
Until I was empty handed; Every glittering toy was lost.
And I walked earth’s highways, grieving, In my rags and poverty.
Till I heard His voice inviting, “Lift those empty hands to Me!”
So I held my hands towards Heaven, And He filled them with a store
Of his own transcendent riches Till they could contain no more.
And at last I comprehended With my stupid mind and dull, That God Could not pour His riches Into hands already full.” (3)

What if…?

  1. Reverend Fun, www.reverendfun.com
  2. When the Going Gets Tough…, Rev. Curry Pikkaart, Westbow Press, p. 113 –For more information visit www.pastorcurry.com
  3. http://www.cavaliersonly.com/poetry_by_christian_poets_of_the_past/poetry_by_martha_snell_nicholson

The Great Yearly Adventure

In my faith tradition we call this time of the year Advent. It began in France during the fourth century and is a season of four Sundays, beginning on the Sunday closest to what is known as St. Andrews Day, November 30. The word “advent” consists of two Latin words and means, “to come to.” In other words this is the time of year to focus on the incredible news that God – our divine, holy God – came to earth, came to us. I’m convinced it is difficult for us to fully grasp the impact of this claim.

Consider that at the time of Jesus’ birth people believed in a variety of gods, and all of those gods were separated from humanity. To think that a god or goddess would lower themselves and mingle with humans was tantamount to blasphemy. After all, a holy god could not rub shoulders with the unholy. Yet that’s precisely what the Almighty God did. He had, in fact, come down before, but never to stay. The Psalmist, for example, knew that God paid visits. (Psalm 18: 9, 16, 35) “He parted the heavens and came down…He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters…you stoop down to make me great.” But in his gospel, the Apostle John declared (John 1:14NLT): “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” God, in Jesus, prostituted himself by coming down and living among the muck, mud and mire of humanity – and He came to stay.

He came to be and stay with me. He came to be and stay with you. It’s why I cherish the Advent season – it points us back to this great ADVENTure. God made the journey to earth so He could be with us and we could be with Him. Advent celebrates the reality that God did come – in the flesh, in Jesus (a past experience), God still comes to us through the Holy Spirit (a present experience), and that God will come again through the return of Jesus (a future experience). In Jesus, God has come into the world as the King of Kings. So the color of the season is purple, as a reminder of a king’s robe (or it can be blue as the symbol of hope.)

Our emphasis, therefore, is to see this season as a great ADVENTure – to use it as a time of preparation, and an opportunity to get ready for His coming. The theme of repentance, prayer, and patient waiting are keys to our observance. It is, in fact, interesting to note that in ancient times Christians were required to attend church services and to fast daily.

I invite you to join this great ADVENTure because it is rich with meaning and promise. And it makes a difference. It can change your life. I encourage you to look back and see how God has fulfilled His promises, and contemplate how He continues to do so. Then look ahead, and renew your hope. And prepare for God to come into your life now in new, fresh ways. Give God a chance to reveal His purposes for your life. Spend some extra time reading and reflecting upon God’s Word, praying, worshiping, and giving yourself to others. It’s a small price to pay. After all, “… God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” That ADVENTure makes a difference that’s worth taking time to celebrate!

What I’ve Learned from a Cactus

cactusA Christmas Cactus is a unique, mysterious yet glorious plant. We’ve had one for over 40 years. For most of the year it’s not much to look at. But as Christmas and Easter approach it springs into full bloom. I don’t understand how it is so regular (especially since Easter varies form year to year); I just know it is. I can count on it blooming. And every time it does I am reminded of several truths.

I am, for example, reminded that our cactus is very much like many people – they show up for worship only at Christmas and Easter. Their faith blossoms twice a year. But that’s a subject, perhaps, for another time.

I am, more significantly, reminded that life is only in full bloom through Jesus. Life blossomed fully (Christmas) when Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. He came that we might have life and have it abundantly, to the full. Life blossomed fully (Easter) when Jesus rose form the dead so we could dwell with Him. Jesus came down not only to be with us but to lift us up. The blooming of our cactus is, for me a stark reminder that only Jesus can provide fullness of life.

Then, too, I remember that the cactus blooms every year, on time, no matter what. Trust me – it has survived most everything. Our plant came from my parents who got it from my grandparents. Grandma used to keep it upstairs, in the dark and in cooler temperatures, where it seldom got watered. Still it bloomed. The original plant has been spliced and divided among children and grandchildren. All the shoots bloom. Our original spliced plant has been divided often – even knocked over and broken by boys, being boys, playing soccer in the house. Still it blooms. We’ve had other cactus and plants, which we’ve treated and cared for more carefully – they’ve died. But not the Christmas Cactus. So every time it blooms – on time – I’m reminded that God is likewise faithful. He always comes on time – never too soon or too late. No matter how tough the day or how difficult life might be at the moment, God comes right on time.

The apostle Paul grasped this well. “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.” (Galatians 4:4-7 NLT) “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:6-8 NLT) Could it be God created the Christmas Cactus to remind us of His faithfulness?

Helen Steiner Rice poignantly captures the spirit of our Christmas Cactus in what has become one of my favorite poems. May it give you encouragement and hope.

“What More Can You Ask”

God’s love endureth forever –
What a wonderful thing to know
When the tides of life run against you
And your spirit is downcast and low…

God’s kindness is ever around you,
Always ready to freely impart
Strength to your faltering spirit,
Cheer to your lonely heart…

God’s presence is ever beside you,
As near as the reach of your hand,
You have but to tell Him your troubles,
There is nothing He won’t understand…

And knowing God’s love is unfailing,
His mercy unending and great,
You have but to trust in His promise –
“God comes not too soon or too late”.
So wait with a heart that is patient
For the goodness of God to prevail –
For never do prayers go unanswered,
And his mercy and love never fail.

A Christmas Letter

Human hand with pencil making notes in notepad

Dear children:
It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. Maybe you’ve forgotten that I wasn’t actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival. Although I do appreciate being remembered anytime.
How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don’t care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth just, GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Now, having said that let Me go on.

If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn’t allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santa’s and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn’t be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can & may remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching explaining who I am in relation to you & what each of our tasks were. If you have forgot that one, look up John 15: 1 – 8.
If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it.
1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.
2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don’t have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.
3. Instead of writing George complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don’t you write and tell him that you’ll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up. It will be nice hearing from you again.
4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can’t afford and they don’t need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.
5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.
6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don’t know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile it could make the difference. Also, you might consider supporting the local Hotline: they talk with people like that every day.
7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren’t allowed to wish you a “Merry Christmas”. That doesn’t keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn’t make so much money on that day they’d close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families.
8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary, especially one who takes My love & Good News to those who have never heard My name. You may already know someone like that.
9. Here’s a good one. There are individuals & whole families in your town who not only will have no “Christmas” tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don’t know them (and I suspect you don’t) buy some food & a few gifts & give them to the Marines, the Salvation Army or some other charity that believes in Me & they will make the delivery for you.
10. Finally if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don’t do things in secret that you wouldn’t do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.
P.S. Don’t forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me & do what I have told you to do. I’ll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above & get to work; time is short. I’ll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember,

I LOVE YOU.

GOD

Time Out

The Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas seasons have the potential to be exciting and  beautiful. I said, “have the potential” because research shows that for many it is depressing – loneliness increases, broken relationships are magnified, families get unusually stressed, and indebtedness grows. These are some of the reasons the suicide rate increases at this time of year.  I’m not trying to be morbid – just trying to make a point. For all its glory and grace, this time of has become a struggle to survive. And even if none of the above is true for you, there is a common ground for all of us – we dread Thanksgiving to year-end because we know we’ll be way too busy.

With that in mind, this anonymous piece from a daily clergy email devotional I received makes an important point. May it be both a challenge and a blessing.

“Satan called a worldwide convention.  In his opening address to his evil angels, he said “We can’t keep the Christians from going to church.  We can’t keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth.  We can’t even keep them from conservative values.  But we can do something else.  We can keep them from forming an intimate, abiding relationship in Christ.  If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken.  So let them go to church, let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time so they can’t gain that experience in Jesus Christ.  This is what I want you to do, angels.  Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!”

“How shall we do this?” shouted his angels.

“Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life and invent unnumbered schemes to occupy their minds,” he answered.  “Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, then borrow, borrow, borrow.  Convince the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6 or 7 days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day, so they can afford their lifestyles.  Keep them from spending time with their children.  As their family fragments, soon their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work. Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that small still voice. Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive, to keep the TV, VCR, DVDs, CDs and their PCs going constantly in their homes.  And see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-biblical, contradictory music constantly.  This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ.  Fill coffee-tables with magazines and newspapers.  Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day.  Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk-mail, sweepstakes, mail-order catalogues and every kind of newsletter and offering products, services and false hopes.”

“Even in their recreation let them be excessive.  Have them return from the recreation exhausted, disquieted and unprepared for the coming week.  Don’t let them go nature to reflect on God’s wonders.  Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts and movies instead. And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotions. Let them be involved in soul-winning, but crowd their lives with so many causes they have no time to seek power from Christ.  Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause.”

It was quite a convention in the end.  The evil angels went to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get busy, busy, busy and rush here and there.

Has the devil been successful in his scheme?  You be the judge.

How about this definition of BUSY:

Being Under Satan’s Yoke

Satan’s goal is to take our minds away from Christ and steer us towards the cares of the world.  God wants us to enjoy life, but He must be first.  If we are too busy for God, then we are too busy!”

Take Time Clock Meaning Rest And Relax

Slow down – and Have a peaceful, blessed holiday season!