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.

Contingencies

Deuteronomy 30:19

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.

We live a life of conditions, a series of if…then statements. If I work 40 hours on my job, then my paycheck will be a certain amount. If I honor my curfew, then I won’t be grounded. If I drive too fast, then I might receive a ticket. If I brush my teeth, then I will have fresh breath. If I only eat candy, then I will have cavities. The list is endless!

The Lord grants mankind free choice. This makes us different from all other created beings. We must choose to follow Him. He lays out in his word the consequences that follow our choices. Read all of Deuteronomy chapter 28. He lists blessings of obedience and curses of disobedience.

Even the free gift of salvation depends upon us. Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, then you shall be saved.”

God spoke to King Solomon when he dedicated the temple: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

The pattern is clear. We have a responsibility to choose good and refuse evil. Many times people want to blame God when they suffer consequences due to their own choices. God is true to His word. We must be true to ourselves as we examine our circumstances and alter our choices in order to receive God’s blessings.

Eternal life is contingent upon your choice today!

Choose life!

The Goodbye Letters

2 Timothy 1:4 (The Message)

I miss you a lot, especially when I remember that last tearful good-bye, and I look forward to a joy-packed reunion.

I had an unusual dream last night. I was walking somewhere with someone (details of some dreams are fuzzy), and we happened upon this underground tunnel. The tunnel was a large open space with many rooms carved out along the way. The people who had created the tunnel discovered a valuable substance. I don’t recall if it was gold or diamonds or what. It was unfortunate that the few of us had stumbled upon the find. In an effort to conceal the location, people decided to blow up the tunnel with us trapped inside.
I pleaded with the main lady to at least allow me to write goodbye letters to my husband and children. She agreed. Interestingly, in my mind, I felt perhaps writing letters would buy enough time for us to be discovered before she destroyed us. But, as my dream morphed, it became more about writing these letters then survival. I had so many people that I wanted to know I was thinking of them. I didn’t want to leave anyone out. I needed to tell each person what they meant to me, and how I wished we had more time.
My writing tablet morphed into a Bible, and I would flip through page after page and write short notes to each person, or groups of people for lack of time: my husband, my children, my parents, my sister, my sisters in law, my nieces and nephews, my dear long-distance friends, my church ladies, my gym partners, my church as a whole. It seemed the more I wrote, the more the Lord would drop someone else in my mind to leave an encouraging word. The funny thing is at the end of my letter writing, I wrote “My only regret is that I never learned to dance.” Thank you Dancing with the Stars. Lol 😂

I woke up today thankful for the reminder of how fortunate I am to have friends and loved ones. I’m not ready to leave this wworld in a diabolical tunnel explosion because there are people with whom I want to spend quality time. There are special occasions I don’t want to miss. I want to write my letters of appreciation while I’m still thriving!

Tell those special to you that you love them today!!

No Problem, Man!

2 Corinthians 6:10b

We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

We recently had a vacation day in Jamaica. We rode a tour bus for an hour to reach our destination. Along the way, our guide instructed us with how to speak some local phrases.

“Ya man,” (pronounced môn) lets another know you are in agreement or have understanding.

“Irie man,” means you are feeling good and things couldn’t be better.

“No problem, man,” means the situation is under control. I specifically use the word “situation” because our guide also told us, “In Jamaica, there are no problems, only situations, and situations can be resolved.”

The laid-back atmosphere is perfect for vacation. Would it be possible to adopt that same attitude towards our problems in every day real life? I believe the Lord would encourage us to, as well.

Jonathan Cahn writes in his book, The Book of Mysteries,

In the Hebrew of scripture, there’s no true verb for ‘to have’.

We can get so caught up in our earthly possessions and the cares of this life that we forget how temporary all this is. The apostle Paul tells the young Timothy that we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out. (1 Timothy 6:7)

When we consider physical items that we can touch and see, we understand the simplicity of it temporal state. However, when we are faced with health issues, financial crisis, or family heart ache, we must recognize these are temporary, as well.

Jonathan Cahn continues,

… and if you don’t have, then you can’t have any problems…or worries. They may be out there, but you don’t have them. They’re not yours. You can’t be burdened down by the weight of your own life…because you don’t have life… or it’s burdens.

(Day 30, The Book of Mysteries)

God is in control. He knows all things, and he is a way maker in impossible situations. With God there are no problems.

Seek Him today. Recognize He alone is all we need. Let the Lord into your life and see Him lighten your burdens. The only thing you can truly have in this life is a relationship with Jesus.

YOU + JESUS = ETERNITY