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Reaching up from the waves.

Matthew 14:24-33(NLT)

Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the

water.”

“Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

As you read this excerpt from the Bible, imagine the feeling of being overtaken by waves of crashing water. The thought of drowning brings fear & anxiety. I’ve heard many people say they feel like they are “drowning in debt“, “drowning in sorrow”, “drowning in work”, and many other examples.

Life happens: the good & the bad. Sometimes I feel like I’m sinking as I struggle with my thoughts & sometimes my actions. The waves of doubt & insecurity threaten to drown me.

I’m thankful for Jesus. I know He’s there to lift me up. He will walk beside me through the crashing waves.

He’s here for you, too. Take the time to call upon Him. Trust Him. Don’t doubt.

I’m so selfish.

Luke 2:17

And when they had seen it, they may known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

A friend of mine has a young son who is eight years old. The other day he had a list numbered 1 to 20 and filled in all he wanted for Christmas. The mother, shocked by the lengthy list, said, “Son, you cannot have 20 gifts for Christmas. Perhaps three, four, or maybe five, but certainly not 20.”

The little boy began to cry. He was heartbroken by the prospect of only a few Christmas presents. The mother explained how much money it required to purchase all these gifts. She asked her son, “Do you want Mommy to work all the time?”

Upon further reflection, she sat down with her son and explained the reason Christmas is celebrated. She told him of God’s great love for mankind, and how God gave us His best gift by sending His only son, Jesus, to be born. Jesus came from heaven to earth as a newborn baby, grew to be a young boy, and then a man. He then died on the cross to pay for our sins and rose again on the third day, so we all might live forever with Him in heaven.

Often times we neglect to teach our children basic life stories. It seems that we consider the gift of Jesus as common knowledge, but so many haven’t heard. The Bible tells us in Romans, “…how shall they hear without a preacher.” (Ch. 10 vs. 14) As parents we must teach our children, so they will know.

How precious it was when my friend received a note from her young son after she told him the real reason for Christmas.

“Dear Mommy and Daddy,

All I want for Christmas is nothing. I know Christmas is not about presents. Sorry I am being selfish.”

Such wisdom and understanding from a young boy! I believe we can all learn a valuable lesson from my friend. Christmas is about Jesus. Share this good news with everyone you can. Teach the next generation of God’s greatest gift to us. Happy birthday, Jesus!

My Christmas High Horse

Acts 24:15

And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

In this easily offended world of political correctness, many of our traditional, secular, Christmas carols have come under attack by various equal rights groups. Honestly, in my opinion, this campaign has gone too far. Certainly, we must honor one another and treat each other with kindness and respect, but tearing apart a song written decades or centuries ago by proclaiming ill intent, desecrates traditions I hold dear.

Music has long been an avenue of free speech. Listen to the lyrics of many rock, rap, or even country songs and one can easily find offensive material. Yet, I have the freedom to choose my genre of music. I have the ability to change the radio station and move on with my life without judging the preferences of others.

I patiently wait 11 months a year for the Christmas season to come around. I sing carols; I wear festive clothing; I eat my favorite comfort foods; I watch feel good movies; and, I set my radio on Christmas music. I find it disheartening to think some of my favorites might be put on a “ban” list. Most of the songs are lighthearted and written from a place of family, love, and spending time with loved ones. Certainly, some lyrics can be interpreted poorly, but can’t we just use this as a teaching moment and not take everything so seriously and critically? When it comes right down to it, these are simply songs sung one month a year. They were never intended to be an outline to define a lifestyle, just entertainment for a season.

In light of all this, I’ve actually been thinking more of the Christian Christmas carols we sing. There are many phrases that we sing and don’t really think about the meaning of the words. Take time as you are worshiping this season and think about what you are saying and give God the glory! A few of my favorite phrases follow:

…God and sinner reconciled…

Hark the Herald Angel Sings

…the thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices…

O Holy Night

… when you’ve kissed your little baby, you’ve kissed the face of God…

Mary Did You Know

… The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight…

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem

The New Normal

Micah 6:8

…do justly, …love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.

One day a lady from church made the comment, “We have a church full of misfits, and I fit right in.” Upon first hearing a statement like that, as the pastor’s wife, I might be inclined to take offense. I mean really, what does that say about me?

I can remember a discussion with my husband I while back and stating, “No one is normal but us.” Now, I can honestly say I believe no one is “normal” because everybody’s “normal” is different. We are all reflections of our upbringing and experiences, and no 2 of us have the exact same life circumstances from which to draw.

If we are all so different, then how can we ever walk in unity? My first thought goes to the Bible. We have had the privilege of traveling to different parts of the world, and let me assure you, “normal” Africa is not the same as “normal” America, for an example.

In Zambia there is something called “load sharing”, and at any given time, your water or electricity might cut off for hours at a time. You cannot easily hop into your car and run to McDonald’s for supper if the electricity goes off because we never even saw a McDonald’s! You must learn to be flexible and improvise because your normal routine frequently gets interrupted. However, one similarity we’ve witnessed between the nations is the Spirit of the Lord we felt during worship. We must base our normal on the examples we find in the Bible, not upon the circumstances of life.

Matthew 1:17 tells us there are 14 generations from Abraham to David, 14 generations from David to the Babylonian exile, and 14 generations from Babylon until Christ. Now, Abraham built an altar, David drew plans for a temple and Solomon erected the temple, Daniel prayed in his room three times a day, and, each of these mighty men worshiped God in their generation in a way they they thought was “normal”, then Jesus….

Think about John the Baptist. The Pharisees & Sadducees had been worshiping in the Jewish temple for generations. They followed a strict set of rules and rocked along like “normal”.

John came from the wilderness wearing fur instead of linen, eating locust and honey instead of bread, and baptizing people in the dirty Jordan River! People flocked to John amazed by his new message of repentance, then Jesus….

John did something extremely abnormal. Instead of holding tight to his followers, he told them to go and follow another. John encouraged his “church membership”, so to speak, to leave and join “the Jesus movement”. That’s not normal!

Jesus looked the part, unlike John, but His methods were extraordinary. Jesus spoke to sinners; He broke bread with them; He took time to minister to women; and, He worked on the Sabbath. Jesus healed Jews and Gentiles. His love showed no boundaries. Jesus did not excuse sin. On the contrary, He accepted people where they were, ministered to their needs, and then encouraged them “to go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

Our “new normal” should be to follow after Jesus. Read about Him, pray to Him, and live like Him.

Live your life according to Micah 6:8.

“…what doth The Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

A Day of Thankfulness

Psalm 100

Oh Lord, you are the Almighty God. There is none like you. As I watch the sunset, observe the animals play, and see the mighty waterfalls, I’m again convinced of your greatness.

You love your people all over the earth and wish for them to serve you. Show me how to love them like you do. Teach me to lead them to you.

Oh Lord, the visions and dreams you put into the heart of man! I cannot comprehend the vastness of your plans. Thank you for allowing me to be a part. Thank you for the opportunities you’ve given me to go.

Step by step reveal to me what you want for my life. Thank you for the blessings and lessons of my past. Thank you for your grace up on my future. Thank you for safe passage. Thank you for family patience. Thank you for perspective. Thank you for opening my eyes to truth. Of all the things I hold important, you are really all that matters. Seeking you, loving you, sharing you with others.

Life does not look the same, taste the same, feel the same, sound the same, or smell the same all over the earth. However, the purpose of life remains the same: to know God, serve God, and love God through our every day actions whether it be in a village or city or palace.

Help me God to represent you well. Help me to show Jesus to others. Give me the words of life to make a difference.

Thank you for today! Thank you for yesterday! Thank you for tomorrow. I love you, Jesus!

Follow after God

Psalms 1:3

They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

The first chapter of Psalms defines the stark contrast between sinner and saint. There are severe consequences for the wicked resulting in destruction. However, we are reminded of God’s watchfulness for those who follow Him.

“[For the righteous] are like trees planted along the riverbank….” The river contains what we need for life; and not just any life, but a fruitful life! I love that the passage proclaims we can bear fruit each season! Each season means continuously!

Imagine the lush greens and ample fruits found in a rain forest. The conditions are perfect for producing year round. There is always harvest.

We can live life this way! Even in our troubled, wintry season, we can still be fruitful.

Find your delight in the Lord today, meditate upon His word, and be willing to give of yourself to others. Remember fruit is for others, not for the tree. The river provides for the tree. (Revelations 22:1)

Summary:

God will provide for you, if you serve Him.

My why…

Page 45 of my soon to be released book:

John 21:25

Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.

Can you imagine? There are so many unanswered questions, and so much I want to know about Jesus’s life. The disciples recorded a few snippets of his life, but writing was not as accessible 2000 years ago. I am grateful for the words we have.

One reason I am writing this book is to encourage you to read for yourself. The stories we do have document the love, grace, and mercy Jesus offers.

The Bible is no ordinary book but has withstood the test of time. Scrolls were protected and hidden so the Words of Life would be preserved for future generations. Copies were hand-crafted by men dedicated to God. Authenticity of the Gospel has been provided by eyewitness accounts of the life and miracles of Jesus.

Even the Jews and Muslims regard Jesus as a prophet. His works and existence cannot be refuted. Sadly, they still seek another Messiah. As Christians, we must strive to show Jesus to others through our daily lives and everyday actions.

Live a life of love.