Archive for December, 2012

Jesus: The Rising Sun…

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Our pastor’s father, Dr. Herb Garrett, preached a wonderful New Year’s message yesterday. He showed us a portrait of Christ posed as the Rising Sun. Here’s the verse…

“Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1:78-79).

This passage is the prophecy revealed to Zechariah concerning the role his son, John the Baptist would play in preparing the way for the Savior of the world. I love this portrait of Christ! The Rising Sun – representing a new day, a new beginning, a chance to start over. Yesterday is gone, no need to grieve for it, no need to live in regret from it, no need to carry any guilt from it. Jesus is the Rising Sun, shining through the darkness to guide us into the path of peace. There is no peace in regret. There is no peace in guilt. There is no peace in grieving the past. Our peace comes from knowing the Rising Sun of each new day and allowing Him to forgive and cleanse us.

Tomorrow will be the beginning of 2013. I pray you know Jesus as the Rising Sun in the darkness of your life. Allow Him to give you a fresh start. He will wipe your slate clean and give  you a new beginning. He wants to guide your feet into the path of peace. Just trust Him.

Happy New Year to you! I pray you have a fun and joyful New Year’s Day! Clay and I will celebrate 14 years of marriage tomorrow. I’m so thankful for him!

Hope

Be careful what you pack away…

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Finally I am enjoying a fever-free day! I visited the Nurse Practitioner this morning, got me some meds and a lot of good advice, and I continue to feel a little better as the day goes by. So tomorrow I plan to undecorate my house. I will pack away all the hornaments (that’s what Caleb called ornaments when he was a little tot), the lights, the miniature trees, the nativity set, the ever-growing stack of Christmas movies, the Christmas dishes, the reindeer glasses that I LOVE, the list goes on and on. We pack away these things because we only need them once a year. I just hope we don’t pack away the meaning with the decorations.

It’s easy and acceptable and expected to speak of Jesus during the Christmas season. His name is mentioned in carols, poems, cards, and displayed on signs & marquees all over. The whole remove-”Christmas”-from-the-holiday effort is futile and will never fly. Without Christ, we’d be celebrating the mas season – which is meaningless. Without Jesus, Christmas is meaningless. Without Christmas, there’s not a holiday to celebrate on December 25. Futile. (Sorry, that was a rampage.) If we only think of Him or mention Him or worship Him during the Christmas season, we’re missing the meaning all together. Christ came to be the Savior of the world. He wasn’t born in a manger by virgin birth just so we could hang pretty lights, wrap pretty gifts, decorate pretty trees, sing pretty carols, and have pretty social gatherings with pretty holiday goodies. He came to save us from our sins and be Lord of our lives. He wants to be our focus year round, not just for a few weeks in December. If this is not the case, then we are packing away Jesus with the decorations.

Be careful what you pack away, you may need Him sometime between now and next December.

“Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:19-21).

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15).~that would be me!

Hope

Fret-free…

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

I’m feeling a little better today, the fever is gone though the aching remains. So I’m taking my time sorting through all the “stuff” we got for Christmas. The verse that keeps running through my head today as I look at the stacks of clothes, electronic “toys”, scarves, gloves, gift cards, etc. is…

“And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

He goes above and beyond, doesn’t He? He doesn’t just supply all my needs, He supplies a huge portion of my wants. As I sort through all our prizes, I don’t see a thing I needed. But the Lord blessed me with some nice gifts anyway. I can honestly say I don’t spend a lot of time fretting over my wants. On a scale of 1-10, 1 being low maintenance, I’m probably a 4. Now I have to be in style. I don’t have to have the best name brands, my clothes don’t have to come from a certain store, and I’m a sucker for a clearance rack. But I’m gonna be in style. Trendy? Clay would say yes, I say stylish. But for certain after living with one of the most frugal men I know for almost 14 years, I’ve learned to change the way I think. So if I don’t fret over my wants, and if God promises to meet all my needs, then I should be fret-free, shouldn’t I?

Let’s commit to rehearsing this verse in our heads and hearts as we near the end of 2012…

“And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

His riches are abundant, and He’s not stingy with what He has. He WANTS to lavish riches on us. All we have to do is ask. Live fret-free.
Hope

 

Act with haste…

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Good morning! I pray each of you had a wonderful Christmas season with lots of family time. Once again we were blessed beyond measure. Clay and I hosted several family functions between his side of the family and mine, and while my house is a disaster (in my eyes) and I’m fighting a fever and head cold this morning, I have a tremendous peace. That peace only comes from the rest that we have in knowing Christ as the Savior of the world, and the Savior of mankind.

While reading and hearing the Christmas Story many times over the past few weeks I have been struck by the reaction of the wise men and the shepherds. They heard the news that Jesus Christ was the anticipated Messiah, and they acted with haste. They didn’t stop until they found Him. And when they found Him they worshiped Him. And when they returned to their own country, they didn’t return in the same way they’d come. Each one left a different person because they had witnessed the Christ Child. And they spread the good news throughout their land.

I pray that your experience with the Messiah has caused you to leave a different person. I pray that something new you learned this Christmas season will cause you to be a different person. And I pray you’ll act with haste on that change. We’re never too old of a Christian or too young of a Christian to make adjustments in our walk with Christ. And we must act with haste, as there are so many who have never met Him personally. We must spread the good news throughout our land, and act with haste!

“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:15-20).

“After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route” (Matthew 2:9-12).

Hope

Who, me?

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012 (After midnight so the default date is December 22)

Yesterday I attended Carolina Pregnancy Center’s annual Christmas luncheon. Alexia Newman asked us if we were a character in the Christmas story, who would we be. I knew immediately what my answer was. I’d be a shepherd. I, like the shepherds, was busy doing my own thing, and enjoying myself for the most part. I was minding my own business in my own career where I had done well for myself and was quite comfortable. I was not really important, but had been put in charge of a couple of departments, allowing me the privilege to manage some pretty special people. I was tending my flock when the Lord called me to a special task – to journal Hannah’s six month battle with cancer, and share that journal with the world wide web multiple times a day. And from there He called me to be Executive Director of Hannah’s Hope Ministries. It’s crazy looking back on that day six years ago. I didn’t hesitate. I had no idea what awaited me. I had no idea where I was going (still don’t a lot of days!), and I had no idea what I was going to find when I got there (still don’t a lot of days!). But I got up and went – and I made haste to answer the call. At that time and many times hence I’ve asked, “Who, me?” I’ve even looked around as if maybe the Lord were really speaking to someone else. But He wasn’t and isn’t. It’s me.

I imagine the shepherds did the same thing. They probably looked back at that night many times over and said, “Who, me? A lowly shepherd??” But they were obedient and acted with haste. And behold they found the newborn King wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Every time you or I obey His calling and follow His voice, we will find Jesus – without fail. It’s okay to ask, “Who, me?” as long as you’re walking while you’re asking. If God calls you, He will equip you and lead you and guide you. You’ll not walk alone, you’ll find Christ there always.

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger” (Luke 2:8-16).

Hope

Passing off Hannah’s hope…

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

I received a call from a lady who wanted to buy Hannah’s Hope bracelets for Christmas presents. She was out and about but wasn’t going to be near my office, so we planned to meet in the Christian Supply parking lot. It was absolutely pouring rain when I pulled up beside her mini-van. We rolled down our windows, talked very briefly about our children and our Christmas holiday plans, I handed the bracelets out the window and she handed her cash back to me. We wished each other a Merry Christmas, rolled up our windows and drove off in the monsoon rains. I laughed pretty hard at how that must have looked “from afar.” It may have looked like I was passing off drugs, right there in the parking lot of a massive Christian bookstore, but I wasn’t. I was passing off Hannah’s Hope – in the form of a bracelet.

That little bracelet tells a beautiful message of how God is there no matter the circumstance, no matter the situation, no matter the weather, no matter the season. Hannah’s hope did not rest in her circumstances. Hannah’s hope rested in her personal relationship with a loving God who she knew would be there no matter what. No matter how heavy the rains, no matter how stormy the nights, God was there. And we have that same hope. The message is simple, God is there. He will never leave us nor forsake us. We’ve gotta get the word out! It is up to us to pass off that hope to others, we must not keep it to ourselves. We have the hope the world is looking for. We need to pass it off.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

Hope

I choose Jesus (Part 2)…

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

I choose Jesus – not for miracles, but for loving me.

It’s pretty easy to choose Jesus when He performs a miracle in your life. After all, miracles are pretty amazing! It’s not hard to get a good following of Christ when the impossible happens. People flock in droves to Him – for a short time. Everybody is up for a good miracle.

Another way to look at this phrase is that we should not choose Jesus just so we can receive a miracle. Jesus doesn’t want to be “used” for favors or because He has connections in high places. A healthy relationship with the Savior is not based on “what’s in it for me.”

I choose Jesus – not for miracles, but for loving me. Clay often prays, “Lord, if you never do another good thing for me, You’re still worthy to be praised.” I choose Jesus because He loves me. I choose Jesus because He adores me. I choose Jesus because He always has my best interest at heart.  I choose Jesus because He chose me, and He loves me dearly. That’s the biggest miracle of all! Oh how much we’d grow spiritually if we’d learn to love Jesus simply because He first loved us.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).

I apologize for not posting yesterday. My server was unavailable all day and into the night. Have a great Wednesday!

Hope

I choose Jesus…

Monday, December 17th, 2012

We performed our Christmas cantata, The Heart of Christmas yesterday morning. One of my favorite songs in it is I Choose Jesus. Chelsea Stegall sang the solo in it and she brought the house down. As we were singing, I got choked up when we sang the following line…

I choose Jesus – Not for a day but for eternity.

I couldn’t help but think about the Newtown, Connecticut shootings. For a time, America has once again turned to prayer and church and the Bible. Oh how we need to choose Jesus not for a day but for eternity! It’s easy to turn our focus to Him when things are really bad, when tragedy strikes, when we need Him to get us through difficult times. But what He desires and what must happen for peace and contentment in life is for us to choose Him for eternity.

And then my mind went to this Christmas season. For a few weeks, we turn to prayer and church and pictures of baby Jesus and Christmas carols to proclaim Him as Christ the newborn King. And most everyone chooses Him for Christmas Day. We set aside a time to read the Christmas story, honor the birth of our Savior, but by December 26 we’ve returned to our self-sufficient means. What Jesus desires and what must happen for peace and contentment in life is for us to choose Him for eternity.

I choose Jesus – not for a day but for eternity.

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord’” (Luke 2:10 & 11).

Hope

A senseless tragedy…

Friday, December 14th, 2012

There are no words on this late Friday night as we watch the news coverage of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. The death count is up to 28. There are no words. For today’s devotional I want to share a prayer that I read earlier today. It says what I believe to be true. I hope it brings you some peace during this very sad time.

Good and gracious God,

Today we are reminded that we live in a broken world.
We are reminded of how fragile life really is.

Some will surely say, “Where is your God?” And it is easy to echo their question.

But remind us that you did not cause this tragedy or any other. 

Remind us that you suffer with those who suffer.
You reach out and offer them a loving embrace of comfort.
You call on your people to do the same.While we know in our hearts that this tragedy was senseless,
we also know that you have a beautiful way of pulling meaning
out of the senseless in order to help us move forward
and grow closer to you.

So for this moment, we hold in our hearts the children and the teachers killed,
the families who will now grieve and, yes, even the shooter.
And even as we remember them, we give thanks for the knowledge
that you love each of them and have invited them into your presences.

Once we have grieved this tragedy, turn our minds toward the problem
of violence in this world. Help us to bracket out political perspectives
and the monetary call of big business, and focus our hearts and minds
on the love of your creation, the love of our neighbor.

May the way we move forward honor the lives that have been lost.

Amen.

Hope

It’s all in Who you know…

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

While in the courtroom  on Monday, we had front row seats to several cases while we waited for “Wally”‘s to come up. One lady in particular stands out in my mind. She had quite the rap sheet from days gone by and was now standing before the judge awaiting a sentence for shoplifting. Because of her prior convictions I had a feeling she wasn’t going to be happy with what the judge had to say. And then there was the Hispanic guy, mid 30′s, spoke zero English, had a translator for the entire process. His charge was possession of a LARGE amount of cocaine. He too was facing a large sentence. Neither of these individuals had anyone with them in the gallery. They came in alone, joined their attorney when their name was called, and left the courtroom in handcuffs. I thought as I looked on that I could not imagine standing there in front of a man who held my future in his hands. I couldn’t imagine the anxiety and anticipation of waiting to hear whether I was going to prison or going to walk out. I couldn’t imagine it…

Then I thought how thankful I am that I don’t have to stand before the Most Holy God alone. I don’t have to worry about the LOOOOONG rap sheet that will accompany me. I don’t have to worry about the accuser. I don’t have to worry about those who have a case against me. I don’t have any outstanding offenses that haven’t been taken care of. I don’t have to be anxious about my time before the Judge. Why? It’s all in Who you know. Standing on my behalf is Jesus. Everything that anyone can throw at me, Jesus says, “I’ve taken care of that.” Everything that I’ve been guilty of or will be guilty of Jesus says, “I’m good for it. I’ve got it covered. I’ve already paid the penalty.” And because of Who I know, God finds me Not Guilty! I can approach the Judge’s bench with boldness and confidence knowing that my crime has already been settled. Jesus paid the debt over 2000 years ago when He said, “It is finished” on the cross. And that Not Guilty verdict became mine when I accepted Him as my Savior. No guilt for this life and no eternal prison for me – Jesus took care of that. It’s all in Who you know, and I’m so thankful I know Him!

How about you? Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Savior? Have you allowed Him to wipe your slate clean? I pray you have!

“In him [Jesus] and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence” (Ephesians 3:12).

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:15 & 16).

Hope