Posts

Showing posts from December, 2009

The Tomorrow That Begins Forever

We look forward with eager anticipation to what this new year will bring. We hope for the best, but understand that in the midst of all those blessings will come sorrow and pain. Despite our resolutions to the contrary, we will be disappointed in ourselves and in others. No matter how pristine tomorrow's page will be, it will soon be smudged. We will do our best, with God's help, to keep those smudges to a minimum and we will grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord just that little bit more during the year that is about to dawn.

Today's verse reminds me that there will dawn a day that will mark, not a new year, but an eternity of years. Unlike tomorrow, this new year of years will be greeted without that lingering shadow of reality that hangs over my shoulder as I anticipate 2010.

Here's what John says about that year of years: "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has…

When a Thousand Words Aren't Enough

Image
Even a picture isn't sufficient to capture the full meaning of this verse. But as the sun descends on 2009 and the dawn comes of 2010, it is fitting to remember the One Who is responsible for the hours, days, months, years, and everything else we enjoy. To this One all the earth will one day bow its knee.



"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being" —Revelation 4:11.

To God be the glory!

More Than a Guest

The owner of my apartment was invited to come for Christmas dinner. She graciously accepted. She arrived, right on time, ringing the doorbell at precisely 2:00 p.m. on the afternoon of December 25th. She doesn't have a key to my apartment even though she's the owner. She has to wait for me to let her in.

I thought of her when I read this morning's verse. This one is usually used in the context of evangelism. However, as I look toward a new year and consider the old one I realize that it applies just as much to me as it does to the one who doesn't believe.

John writes: "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me" —Revelation 3:20.

No, I don't need to be saved all over again, but I do need to not overload my "house" with so many other guests that there isn't room for the owner to come in.

Life gets so full of activities and people that sometimes Jesus ends…

A Promise for 2010

Years ago, we had a summer student in my home church who always finished off his services with this wonderful blessing from Jude 24, 25.

"To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault, and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen."

God's word can be intimidating. We are instructed to do, and be, what seems impossible. Who hasn't struggled with verses like "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" —Matthew 5:48.

Faced with such seemingly impossible challenges, we rationalize. "That isn't really what he meant to say," we reason. Then we walk away from the Word somewhat relieved from responsibility, at least in our own minds.

Living the Christian life is not easy and we do people a disservice to suggest otherwise or to withhold information about the cost attac…

A Christmas Tale

A missionary was working with children in a poverty-stricken town. As she shared the story of Christ's birth, each child was given materials to make a small nativity scene. The shepherds, wise men, Mary, Joseph, animals, and Baby Jesus were all to be cut out of cardboard and put into a creche.

As the missionary looked over the children's work, she noticed that one boy had placed two babies in the manger. "What's this?" she asked him.

"Well," he said, "one baby is Jesus, and the other one is me." He looked up at his teacher. "The wise men gave the baby presents—but I don't have anything to give Him. So I thought I'd lie beside Him and keep Him warm."

What gift will you give?

Your love…

Your warmth…

Your self?

Those are the best gifts—the gifts the Christ Child treasures most of all.


From: Wise Men Still Seek Him Today by Ellyn Sanna.

Have a wonderful Christmas. May your gift to Him warm His heart.

Together and at Peace

Image
Today is Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted by Susan at Forever His. Check things out for yourselves.

Abby and Lou Lou Bell very seldom touch. They get along very well—but usually with space in between them. It seems like the spirit of Christmas has invaded their little kitty hearts.





So I send you all this greeting: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men [and animals] on whom his favor rests" —Luke 2:14 NIV.

Have a wonderful Christmas.

The Best Worst Christmas Ever

Christmas Memories 5

Today marks the anniversary of my mother's passing. But please don't think this post is going to be a "downer." On the contrary, though that Christmas some eighteen years ago was the worst Christmas my brother and I will ever experience, it morphed into perhaps the best one anyone could have planned.

I didn't have the same plans that God did for that Christmas. My father had passed away three months earlier, and my greatest desire was to make this first Christmas without dad a good one for mom.

The baking and gifts that I planned to take north with me were done when I got the call to tell me that mom had suffered a massive heart attack. I wondered if I would make it home in time to see her. All night on the bus (the only way I could make the trip north just days before Christmas) I willed the driver to go faster. When I arrived at the hospital direct from the bus station, mom actually looked good. By the afternoon, she was failing and shortly be…

The Year of the Rooster

Christmas Memories 4

My mother was ill for many years and there were times when she looked for ways to lighten her load of responsibilities. One Christmas she decided that cooking a turkey was just too much work. Traditionally some kind of bird is required for Christmas dinner so she chose to buy a big chicken.

The day came and she put the chicken into the oven to cook while she prepared the rest of the meal. Everything looked wonderful, and smelled equally good as it sat on the dining room table waiting to be enjoyed.

The chicken was served. We took a bite of the long-anticipated feast.

Tough—as those proverbial nails; so tough that the bird was almost impossible to chew.

Was my mother annoyed!

That big "chicken" wasn't a chicken at all. It had been, in its former life, a rooster.

We struggled through, soothing mom's ruffled feathers as we gamely plowed through the meal.

Now I don't know what makes a rooster tough. I do know that there are even some hens that must be …

Birthday Promises

Image
Christmas Memories 3

It's hard to get off the Merry-Go-Round once you're on it. Somehow Christmas got to be giving gifts to each other. And somehow the One with the birthday doesn't get much out of the deal at all. We run around madly looking for the right gift for everyone on our list seldom giving much thought, if any, to what we should be giving the Lord. It IS his birthday we are celebrating after all.

One Christmas Eve in my home church someone came up with a really good idea. As we entered the sanctuary for the Christmas Eve candlelight service we were handed a piece of coloured paper cut into the shape of a Christmas tree ornament. The tree at the front of the room was bright with lights but devoid of any other decoration.

We were instructed to think about what we wanted to give to Jesus as His birthday present and then write our answer on the back of the piece of paper.

Later on in the service, in the dark of the room, with only the light of the candles and the light…

Cookies

Christmas Memories 2

I'm baking for Christmas. Though the recipes don't turn out the same (chalk it up to substitutions I have to make living here in Venezuela) Farmer's Cookies and Stained Glass Window Cookies always remind me of Christmases past.

These two cookies were standard Christmas fare at our house.

Storage was no problem for mom. We had an enclosed, unheated, porch. When the cookies were cooled and packed in their respective cookie cans, mom took them out to the porch. It was as cold as a freezer out there! Of course, being in the porch, within easy access of all of us, made temptation a huge issue—I love both those cookies!

During my growing up years, eating cookies was not a problem. Unhappily times have changed. As a kid none of those cookies ever went to waste and I never put on an ounce. As an adult, they all go to waist (you know what I mean!) and we aren't talking ounces anymore.

Oh well …

Christmas comes but once a year and if I can hold out, most of the co…

The Red Velvet Dress

Christmas Memories 1

I stood in the "wings," the annex the ran parallel to the main auditorium of the the church. The rustling began to quieten as proud moms and dads took their seats and settled themselves in for the annual Christmas Concert.

Lines had been carefully and sometimes painfully memorized, songs rehearsed, and now the moment, long anticipated, had finally come.

My while leotards sagged and I pulled them up. I rubbed a toe on the back of my leg, giving a last polish to my shiny black shoes. My braids were tightly bound, ends neatly resplendent in red ribbons.

But the crowning touch was the red velvet dress with the puffy sleeves and white collar, reserved especially for this occasion. The dress only came out at Christmas.

I carefully ran my fingers down its soft folds. Around the neck the heart-shaped crystal pendant sparkled in the light—a diamond resting on a blood-red pillow.

The first Christmas song was announced and the congregation rose at the urging of the s…

9:04:35

Image
Finally, something for Friday Fiction (though it is a story based on fact). I've abandoned PRIOR KNOWLEDGE for a while, but hopefully one day soon… In the meanwhile, here's an offering that connects with the season for all its sadness. Read other stories by visiting Karlene at Homespun Expressions for more Friday Fiction.

9:04:35 did well in the Faithwriters Challenge.

********************

On that cold winter’s morn in nineteen hundred and seventeen, no red flag waved above the stacks of the Mont Blanc. There was nothing to warn the innocent in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that she was a floating bomb filled to the gunnels with, among other nasties, some 400,000 pounds of TNT.

The absence of the flag was a safety precaution. The German u-boats prowling the Atlantic would have no way of identifying her as a carrier of such deadly, or such an important cargo. Perhaps in their search for more impressive prey, they would leave this little rust-bucket alone as she sailed with her convoy to b…

Hand-Me-Down Suffering

I was packing up some stuffed animals and used clothing yesterday—things that will get dropped off to be distributed among those who could use a little encouragement along the way.

The exercise reminded me of an incident that took place in Colombia where I served many years ago. Someone in Western Canada had taken it upon herself to collect a ton (literally) of used clothing which she then sent to us at the Bible Institute in Medellin. The huge crate arrived and we had an absolute ball going through all the stuff. Some was junk—a waste of time and money to sent. That junk included long underwear, mini-skirts, shoes without mates. I think there was even a ratty fur coat. But there was some good clothing in the crate.

We distributed what was useful and in good condition to our Bible School students, most of whom were very poor. One young man refused to take anything. He told me that he didn't wear "hand-me-downs." Pride was written all over his face so I took him aside. His…

Love Was When…

I couldn't get the song out of my head, even though most of the words escaped me.

"Love was when God became a man…"

Somehow those few words perfectly illustrated today's verse from 1 Peter 4:8.

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins."

I had a very sinful day yesterday. Stress levels were running high drowning faith as each wave passed. Patience was as thin as tissue paper and I allowed my temper to control me. As I came back to the Lord for forgiveness I was overwhelmed again with that love that covers all my sin.

In gratitude I pray that today will be a better one, that I will not grieve Him as I did yesterday, and that my love for Him will deepen, carrying away in its wake the temptation to give in to fear and anxiety.

His love, demonstrated in that act of taking on "skin" on my behalf, does indeed cover a multitude of sin.

Shedding Skin

Image
Welcome to Monday Manna, hosted by Joanne at An Open Door. Be sure to visit.

Once upon a time I was young and skinny. My aunt, who always took me shopping on my yearly visits, continually complained that I had nothing to "hang" clothes on. These days she admonishes me to take weight OFF. I used to complain to God about my "flesh," considering it to be unattractive. Thankfully I have long since come to terms with my imperfect physical flesh.

I wonder if Jesus ever felt uncomfortable in his humanity? He was tempted in every way that we can be tempted—so perhaps that included wanting to crawl out of His skin.

John 1:14 says: "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling place among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

Somehow it is difficult to imagine Jesus with a growling stomach, with sore feet, or an itchy beard. I can hardly conceive of Him sweating. Did his childhood friends give him…

Submission, Not Subjugation

Aha, I thought, as I read this morning's assigned verses. I figured I could pass on this set of instructions.

The verses come from 1 Peter 3:1-5 which, as most people know, like it or not, have to do with wives submitting to their husbands. Since I don't have a husband, I thought I'd just skip over the passage without a second look.

Then I took the second look. Some people wave these verses under the noses of wives like rotten cheese in a strong wind, admonishing them to behave themselves appropriately in their spousal relationships.

A blog is not the best place to discuss all the issues that are raised here—and there are lots of them. But what strikes me is what this particular passage is actually addressing, quite apart from any other references.

Take a look.

"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of…

It's All About …

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may live, love and be happy all the rest of your lives" —I Peter 2:9 NIV.

Don't you just love this verse?

What? I misquoted? No way! Isn't the purpose of our salvation to give us abundant life? Isn't abundant life a nice home, a modest bank account, kids who turn out well, two cars, a beach apartment or lakeside cottage, health and freedom from anxiety, a comfortable pew in a comfortable church where I can be served a comfortable gospel? It isn't?

Well, paint me red with embarrassment!

So what does the verse actually say?

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" —1 Peter 2:9 NIV.

You mean God saved me so that I could go on mission for Him? No kidding!

Declare? As in speak for Him?

Lift Him up before others?

Te…

Unwavering Faith

Remember the wishy-washy faith described by James in chapter 1, verses 6 to 8? "But, when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."

If you ask for wisdom, believe that wisdom is exactly what the Lord will give you.

At the end of his little letter, James returns to the theme of unwavering faith, this time in the context of other issues that plague our daily lives.

"Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will rise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray from each other so …

Fallow Fields

Winter is coming in some parts of the world. The fields that yielded so much abundance over the last few months lie barren. Soon they will grow crusty with frost, then the first skiff of snow will brush them. Eventually they will disappear under a blanket of white, their glorious harvest all but forgotten.

There are times when our lives seem like those barren fields, frozen in time. We are dormant, unproductive to the naked eye.

But there is something that the farmer knows that most of us don't consider. While we struggle with boots, gloves, and scrapping ice off the windshield, the farmer is planning for the spring. He's thinking seeds and plowing. He's already looking toward the harvest.

James 5:7, 8 says: "Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near."

At the…