"Mary" Christmas!

I have been meditating on Psalm 62 this morning. Let me share with you.
"My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
...Find rest, my soul, in God alone, my hope comes from Him. ...Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God ALONE is our refuge. Selah (think on this!)"

Yesterday I heard an awesome message preparing us for the very busy season of advent- the preparation of Christmas. Our pastor talked about keeping Christ the focus of Christmas. He also told a story of a little church in Wisconsin. Someone had vandalized the church, stealing the baby Jesus from the outdoor nativity scene. To make things worse, nine months later, the thief spray painted on the church, "I have your baby Jesus."

Pastor used this story to point out the many things that steal the baby Jesus during the Christmas season- busyness, materialism, even pushing out "Christmas" by replacing it with the politically correct, "Happy holidays." He reminded us to that the true meaning of Christmas is NOT loving mankind, spending time with family, and peace (although those are all important and come as a result of the TRUE meaning), but that it is Jesus Christ. Let us focus on the true meaning of Christmas- the gift of Jesus Christ, our Savior, the only reason why we hope, our true LIFE. Share with everyone you know the amazing gift of Jesus this Christmas season!

I was reminded of a devotion I wrote last year, and I would love to share it with you again.


Have a “Mary” Christmas!

As, we begin to jump into the Christmas season, and all of the activities that surround it, I am again reminded to keep grounded on what Christmas is all about- the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is so easy to get caught up in all of the busyness, the things on all of our “to-do” lists, the shopping and entertaining… As I catch my breath, and remind myself to slow down, God again uses “Mary and Martha” to teach me these lessons.

One of my favorite Bible stories is the story of two sisters, Mary and Martha. Both sisters loved Jesus, and He would often come to visit them. Now Martha, the older sister, had a servant heart, but could get caught up in all of the details and become distracted by her many tasks.

One day Jesus came to visit the women. Martha was preparing a meal for them while her sister, Mary, the Bible tells us, sat at the feet of Jesus. Well, as Martha was busy with all of the preparations, she allows her heart to go from serving joyfully and selflessly to getting angry that she is doing all the work alone. As I read the story, I can picture Martha clanging the dishes, hoping to get Mary’s attention, banging the cupboard doors, and sighing loudly- you know, the “huhhhs”- expecting Mary to hear and get the hint! And, why do I think this? Probably because this is MY typical behavior when I am feeling sorry for myself in these situations!

Well, Martha finally blows, and she storms in the room where Jesus and Mary are sitting, and whines, “Lord! Don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Boy, do I hear my own whining voice in this story, especially at this time of year. “Lord! Don’t You care that I am doing all of the work by myself? You know? The cleaning, the shopping, the wrapping, the cooking, the decorating, the baking… Make Brian help me!”

But, Jesus is not concerned with the fancy dinner, the decorations, the fluff. He tells Martha, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. But, only one thing is needed and Mary has chosen what is better and it won’t be taken from her.” You see, sitting at the feet of the Savior, drawing near to Him, listening to Him, being still and knowing Him- that is what is important and it won’t be taken from you. It is the “one thing” our stressed, tired spirits need! It is the “one thing” that I NEED!

This Christmas, we can get caught up in shopping for the gifts, stringing the lights, decorating the tree, singing the songs, attending the parties, the details and distractions. But, my prayer for you is that this Christmas, you will experience THE gift- the Bright and Morning Star, the Prince of Peace, the Wonderful Counselor, our Hope, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, your Burden Bearer, Our Strength, and Our Salvation, Immanuel- God With Us. My gift to all of you is the message that He loves you, you are His Beloved, and that He wants to fill you with all joy and peace, both now, at Christmas time and for the rest of your life!

“May the God of all endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with ONE heart and ONE mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This Christmas, this New Year, and forever, “May He bless you and keep you. May He make His face shine down upon you. May he be gracious to you and give you peace.” Amen!


Merry Christmas!

More lessons from a 10 year old!

A few weeks ago Andrew and I had a wonderful conversation while riding in the van. I love these talks because there are few distractions, his sisters are in the back, taking it all in, and everyone is "stuck" there- no one is going anywhere! We were talking about two other little boys, and Andrew was trying to "figure out" a conversation he had with one of them.

There is a little boy, we'll call him "Lost" who would be considered a "bad boy!" He is "trouble-maker" at school, makes fun of kids, is very disrespectful, is very mean at times, and is obnoxious and inappropriate. He tries to "shock" the other kids doing really "out there" kind of stunts, like licking other boys' faces, jumping on them and doing obscene things. Andrew has been praying for this boy for about three years.

Andrew has a friend, we'll call him, "Christian," who really DOES NOT LIKE "LOST!" Well, one day Andrew and Christian were talking, and Christian told Andrew that he hated Lost. Andrew told him that he shouldn't hate Lost. But, Christian said it was OK "because of the many sins Lost does." Andrew (which again blew me away!) told Christian that it isn't our place to judge to Lost. He said, "We do lots of sins, too." Christian couldn't believe this! He didn't do sins like Lost did!

Well, as you can imagine, what wonderful conversation came from all of this! I didn't know what to address first!

My first comments were to point out to Andrew that no matter how "awful" Lost is, Jesus tells us to love him. He says to "Love your enemies and bless those who persecute you." We talked about the verses that say, if you only love those who love you, you aren't any different than the "pagans" or those who don't know Christ. How can we save the lost without showing them love? Andrew commented, "I wish I had known those verses then!"

We also talked about "sins." And, though Lost's sins were obvious to everyone around, God sees our hearts and knows our hearts. We can look pretty good on the outside, but if our hearts our ugly, God sees that. We talked about sins that are doing sins- the "bad" things we do, the sins of NOT DOING something, when we know it is the right thing to do and God is telling us to do it. We talked about sinning in our thoughts. We talked about the sin of unforgiveness. Jesus COMMANDS us to forgive those who hurt us, so in NOT doing that, Christian is also sinning. And, we talked about how important it is to KEEP OUR EYES ON JESUS AND ON OURSELVES! We need to look at our own hearts, our own actions and thoughts- not others. And never think, "I am so good because I'm not as bad as that person."

We prayed for Lost again. I know someday that little boy is going to meet Jesus and it will change his life!

As I have thought about our conversations, I thanked God and praised Him for His wisdom. I felt so grateful because I don't have the answers- but I know the One who does! I thanked God for His Word, because it was His Word that came out of my mouth! And, God's answers are very different from typical "parental" answers. My first reaction (and we did talk about Lost's behavior. Andrew knows that it is wrong, and not to laugh and encourage him) as a parent is to say, "Stay away from that kid! He is no good. Where are his parents?! Blah, blah, blah." My reaction may be, OK, Andrew, you and Christian get in a little bubble and talk about God and don't play with anyone else on the playground!

Oh, sisters, what a responsibility we have as parents, "training up children in the way they should go." It is not easy! That is why I am so grateful for His word, like I said. These are not childish games, but this is life we are teaching our children. They want to know how to sort things out! They want to know how they should respond and react and live! Let us as parents give them Life- THE LIFE!, and Truth!

Father God, thank You, thank You, thank You! Thank You for these precious ones You have entrusted to us. At times, I feel so inadequate as a teacher/mother (especially when I struggle myself with a trial and the enemy is right there to point out my failures!). But, I know You are there to help me, to lead me, to guide me! And, I have Your Word that teaches not only me, but my children! God, we cry out to You on behalf of our children! We pray for their protection. We pray that You bind the enemy, in the name of Jesus, against every scheme the enemy would use against them. Lord, give us wisdom!!!!! Help us teach them and train them, reflecting You, Jesus, in our every thought, motive, and action. We praise You, God! Praise You! In Jesus Name we pray! Amen!

Andrew has given us so much to ponder on this morning!

Bless you all today. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Go shine your light!

Lessons from a 10 year old!

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

I was talking with Andrew, my 10 year old recently. God uses Andrew to teach so many spiritual truths to ME! Anyway, Andrew was telling me that a girl at school told him that he shouldn't talk about God so much. She said that God was for church and it wasn't appropriate to be talking about Him so much outside of church. I, of course, explained that God is for all the time! Jesus is our best friend. I asked Andrew if he would do this with any of his friends- only acknowledge them for an hour once a week and the rest of the time you don't talk to them, think about them, etc. If we truly love someone, we can't hide it! We want to talk about that person- how great they are. We want others to know that person. We want the whole world to know that person!

It goes back to the question, do we have "religion" or a relationship with the One who so desires us? Do we fit God into a neat little package that we bring with us on Sunday morning, but leave Him at home the rest of our lives? Is He the One that fills us with joy? Are we WILD for Him? Can others see His light shining through us? Do we talk to Him all the time (as the Bible says, "Pray WITHOUT ceasing!)? Do we give Him all of our problems and concerns? Many times we go to our friends when we have a problem, but do we go to our Friend?

John 3:16 tells us that God loves us so much that He gave His one and only Son to die for us, to forgive the sins of all who believe, so that we may have ETERNAL LIFE. But, John 17:3 says, "THIS is eternal life- that we may KNOW Him." WOW! Jesus died for us so that we may KNOW Him- have a relationship with Him, right here, right now. He wants to be ONE with us. You see, we can know about someone, without KNOWING that person. We can know a famous person. We would be recognize him if we saw him. We may even know all about him- all the details of his life. We may even know private details about this person, thanks to "gossip" magazines. But, we don't KNOW that person. We are not intimate with that person. We don't know his heart, and he doesn't know our hearts. We are not ONE with that person. Jesus doesn't want us just to know about God, knowing all of the "facts," but He wants us to experience God, to have a living, breathing, REAL relationship with Him. He wants to be personal to us.

Father, may we KNOW You! May we be ONE with You. Father, may we know Your heart. May we have this intimate relationship with You. May we grow closer to You everyday. May others see You through us! May others tells us we are talking Jesus too much, and may we be prepared to give an answer- the hope to which we are called! May we share Your love with the world! Lord, forgive me for the times when I have placed You in a box, limiting You to just "religion." Fill me with Your Spirit- fill me with more and more of YOU! In Jesus' name we pray. Amen!

Wisdom!

As I am moving slowly this morning (either from all the walking last night or the sugar crash!), I remembered that today is the first day of November. On the first day of the month, I like to revisit "Proverbs" and begin reading this book again. Because there are 31 chapters in the book, I can read a chapter a day for each day of the month. Now, I don't always do this everyday of the month, but, over the course of the year, I will have read pretty much of the whole book.

I love "Proverbs" because I am a simple woman. My bible says, "According to the prologue (purpose and theme), Proverbs was written to 'give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young, and to make the wise wiser.' It bases wisdom solidly on the fear of the Lord. Here you will find wisdom that works and insights that will not wear out."

I love that! Here are some of the benefits of godly wisdom (just from chapter 1!):
1. You will know the heart of God! Verse 23 says, "I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you."
2. I will become wise in GODLY wisdom (verses 2,3,4,5,6).
3. I will have victory(verse 9) - wisdom will be like a garland to grace my head (the victor's crown) and chain to adorn my neck (the victor's medal).
4. I will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm. (verse 33)
5. I will be saved from those who would want to entice me from sin- to lead me down a wrong path (verses 10-19)

The first chapter says the "fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." But, what is the "fear of the Lord?" The fear of the Lord is simply loving Him with all of your heart, soul. mind, and strength. It is trusting Him, above all else. It is seeking Him above everything. It is a reverence and respect and holy awe for the only One who is worthy of these. It is coming to God, humbly, surrendering and submitting ourselves to Him. It is looking to Him and His ways, not our own. It is believing His Word and accepting His commands, no matter how different they may seem than what is going on around us. Psalm 34 say, "Come my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and our lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it."

Father God, we praise You! "I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice." Father, this "fear of the Lord" is a little confusing in our day. We don't hear about it very much, and many are confused as to what it is about. I can't even explain it into words! It is something I know in my spirit, and that I seek. But, Father, I pray that You would teach all of us how to fear You. Grow in all of us "the fear of the Lord." Help us to reverence You that way You deserve (like that would be possible! Thousand of angels in Heaven are falling down on their faces crying "holy, holy, holy" while Your temple is shaking!). But, help us Lord! You are worthy! You are worthy! Father, we pray You would pour out Your godly wisdom on us, and that we would have ears open to hear! Give us hearts that are soft and pliable, ready to be taught. We love You, Lord! We praise You. We give You all glory and honor and praise! In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.

Blessings to you all!