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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Merry Christmas!

My prayer is that everyone will have a meaningful, peaceful Christmas.

The world is gravitating to "happy holidays." Let me say to you, "Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas!"

This is a prayer to God:

"Thanks, God, for the gift of your Son. I deeply appreciate the way that you forgive me for my mistakes and failures, lift me up when I am down, and strengthen me along the way.

Father, let me pray Psalms 93:

Lord, your reign, how majestic are your outer garments! You are clothed in majesty and as strong as an ox. In the midst of war, earthquakes, famine, hurricanes, and financial stress, you are in control!

You've been in control since the beginning of time, I am thankful that is an absolute that I can hang my emotional hat on.

Even nature is a sign that you are to be praised!

You are stronger and mightier than anything that this world might throw at us. I trust in you.

Your Word helps me and keeps me today and forever more!"

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Holding on to Jesus

Life is hard.

Life is unpredictable.

It's amazing the seasons we go through in life when it seems like "nothing is going right."

We can be happy one day and sad the next, healthy one day and sick the next, rich one day and poor the next, alive one day and dead the next.

Up and down, in and out, victories and defeats, life is anything but constant.

I would suggest to you that the only thing that is constant in our lives is a relationship with Jesus. Jesus Christ. Emmanuel or "God with us."

Born on Christmas day to save us from our sins.

In our rollercoaster world, Jesus is there to help us feel secure. Jesus is there for us to hold on to. Jesus is there at all times and we can trust in His presence.

Jesus is our Lord, our shepherd, our rock, our stronghold, our refuge, our brother, our guide and our friend.

During times of difficulty, I hang on to Jesus.

But even more importantly than knowing that I can hang on to Jesus is the fact that Jesus is hanging on to me. I'm in the palm of His hand.

Paul writes that, "neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nothing already in existence and nothing still to come, nor any power, nor the heights nor the depth, nor any created things whatever, will be able to come between us and the love of God, known to us in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

Monday, December 19, 2005

Being God's glory

You can be God's glory.

Wow...What's that mean?

Well, let me give you a formula today. My spirit plus God's spirit, coming together, equals a "together" witness that I belong to God and I am a child of His.

Paul writes in Romans 8:16, "God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.

This confirmation touches every aspect of our lives. Paul says, "whatever you eat, then, or drink, and whatever else you do, do it all for the glory of God." Romans 10:31

That means that as I write this, I am doing it for the "glory of God." As I meet tonight with our leadership, we are doing it for "the glory of God."

When I live in constant communion and communication with God's Spirit, I can only be a witness, because wherever I go and whomever I meet, God's Spirit will show itself through me.

And God is glorified. May he be glorified today!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Friends and funerals

I'm just about ready to walk in and lead and speak at the funeral service for Thaine Crandall. Thaine, 85 years of age, was a friend of mine.

Compassionate and caring, kind and gracious.

I stood by his casket about 30 minutes ago, and once again the thought and realization came to me that we are all but dust. To dust we came into this world and to dust we go. All we are is dust in the wind.

Yet we as followers of Christ know that we receive new resurrected bodies and that we have eternal life. With God.

As I grow older, that thought becomes less of a cliche and more of a permanent truth for me to hang my emotional hat.

Life is here today and gone tomorrow.

I think I'm going to try to live today the best I can. Loving God and loving others.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Dealing with marriage and money

I have found that married couples generally fight (or have strong discussions) about sex and money (not in that order).

Here's an interesting article I pulled off the web called: "3 big reasons couples fight about money," by M.P. Dunleavely, a columnist.

Here it is:

"Arguments about money are often really struggles for power. Managing these issues can smooth out the bickering.

Like many married women, Anna, Beth, Stephanie and I have all fought with our spouses about money.

Big loud fights, small seething fights, ongoing tense "discussions" . . . pick your favorite form of financial conflict, and we've been there, done that. Recently.

You'd think that, with more than a year of experience in the Women in Red, we'd be so financially enlightened that silly money squabbles would be a thing of the past.

Nope. But the good news is, we've learned that it's possible to find true and lasting financial harmony with your mate the same way you achieve financial success in any other area of your life:Credit card interest out of control? Find a lower rate.

It takes time.

You must be patient.

Throwing things is bad.

You have to negotiate the power dynamic.

Did someone just say power? Yes.

When couples come into conflict over money, underneath the bickering over the Visa bill is a swarm of issues that are ultimately about power and control. In order to get in synch financially, you can't deal with money alone: Learning to navigate your own special, sometimes uncomfortable power dynamic is key."

Interesting stuff. Agree or disagree?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Putting "Christ" back into Christmas

There is a "debate" as to whether churches should close their doors on Sunday, December 25th and allow families to spend quality time at home.

Several megachurches are doing so.

There are pro's and con's to the decision. Most of the megachurches are having corporate times of worship Thursday, Friday or Saturday before Christmas Day and giving their congregations DVD's to watch that Sunday.

We are having a 10:30 A.M. worship time on Sunday morning, December 25th.

I don't know if we are doing so because of some heartfelt desire to "win a debate" but because Jesus is my best friend and it's his "birthday" and I want to celebrate it with him in a way that will draw my attention and focus entirely to him.

Can I do that at home? I suppose. It's just that there is something about coming together as a church family to worship and converse with Him.

Really, the onus is not on churches to provide a service or not, the onus is on individual believers and their families to make a corporate worship experience a priority that Sunday.

I choosing to go - how about you?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Overcoming fear

There are many things in life that we are afraid of.

We Christians, have a hard times admitting it sometimes, but it is true.

There are times when I am afraid. I’m anxious about a certain situation.

What are you afraid of?

Some Christians act like they’re not afraid of anything. Some Christians act like they’re afraid of everything. In fact, there seems to be a name for almost every kind of fear imaginable. The list below contains just a few:

Acrophobia: the fear of heights

Agoraphobia: the fear of open spaces

Arachnophobia: the fear of spiders

Claustrophobia: the fear of small, closed-in spaces

Hydrophobia: the fear of water

Mysophobia: the fear of dirt or germs

Nyctophobia: the fear of darkness

Ochlophobia: the fear of crowds

Schoolphobia: the fear of school

Triskaidekaphobia: the fear of the number 13

There is a lot to fear out there. There’s even phobiaphobia, or the fear of fear itself!

We all, as Christians, are afraid at times.

But being self-controlled means learning to control our worries and fears instead of letting them control us. That’s easier said than done, of course, but that’s what go desires for us. And that’s what he’s able to do for us.

Jesus can calm you heart and mind, just as he was able to calm the raging Sea of Galilee.

He is able to quiet our fears and relieve your worries, just as he soothed the disciple’s fears that night long ago. The psalmist knew the secret of controlling worry and fear, which is why he wrote, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you”. Psalms 56:3

That’s the secret. Let the presence of God control your fear…instead of letting your fear control you.

God has His hand on you today. When times come and you are fearful, let God’s presence be with you.

And then do it – work at it – complete it – move forward – even though you are afraid! And God will help you.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Congratulations Christie!

My daughter graduates from Grand Valley State University tonight. I am so proud of her. She has worked hard for the last five and half years to received her degree in secondary education.

I know that she is going to make a great teacher!

Way to go, Christie!

Christie is a beautiful young lady who loves God and those around her. I deeply appreciate her commitment to God, her husband and her family.

Ever since she was born, I have sensed God's hand upon her life. From being thrown into French school as a toddler, to moving around with her family until we came to Battle Creek, Christie has handled everything with grace and dignity.

I'm also thankful for her husband, Andrew. The two of them make a great pair.

May you have many more wonderful years of marriage together; and as you seek God, may He continue to extend his hand of favor upon you!

I love you, Christie! I love you Andrew!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Friendship with God

God is my friend.

Now there's an incredible statement. God is my friend.

We think of God as many things, but to me - He is my friend.

Flight 93 (I think it was 93) was the plane that went down on 911 in Pennsylvania. A report of what happened on the flight went like this:

"Passengers aboard the hijacked airplanes began to comprehend the likely termination of their flights. They would not survive. Several reached for their cell phones and quietly dialed their loved ones. If no one answered, they left recorded messages with their final words: "I love you."

The passengers could have said:

"Be kind to the neighbors."

"Cast my absentee ballot."

"don't forget the house payment."

But they focused on personal relationships.

They summed it all up by saying, "I love you."

That was crisis will do in our lives. It clarifies what is really important from the non-important.

That's the way God looks at His relationship with you and I. To God, His relationship with us is more important than anything else.


Think of it!

God invites us to come to him not only as servants and as children, but also as his friends!

Here's what I know: We make friends with God much as we make friends with other people.

We share common interest, values, spend time together, talk, listen, share experiences, have fun, eat together, share emotions, love, trust, are willing to sacrifice for one another and forgive each other.

Jesus said, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called your friends." John 15:15

My prayer today is that I develop my friendship with God.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A right understanding of humility

We talk a lot in Christian life about not being full of pride. "Pride goes before the fall," the Bible states.

That is so true.

There is such a temptation to give in to feelings of superiority and pride as we walk with God - especially after a success, or a leap in our closeness with Him.

Yet the opposite of pride is self-rejection and feelings of inferiority.

I've heard others say, "If people really, really knew me, they wouldn't love," I know that is a brother or sister in Christ who is on the road to emotional and spiritual darkness.

There is a big, big difference between self-deprecation and humility.

Humility, if you look at it right, is the opposite of self-deprecation.

One author writes, "This is true humility: not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less."

Humility is the grateful recognition that I am a child of God and that he has gifted me and that everything I have is a gift from Him.

It is, "making a right estimate" of myself as Confucius once said.

I am a child of God. I am worth something in His eyes. In Jesus Christ, I am somebody....And so are you!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Being spiritually free

You know, it's a great paradox. Being spiritually free means that I give my life totally to Jesus.

And the more I give my life to Jesus - in other words, the more I converse with Him and speak with Him and listen to Him, the more I realize that I do not have to worry about what to say or do in unexpected, difficult circumstances.

It frees me from being concerned about what others think of me or what :I: will get for what I do!

The right words and actions spontaneously come from a heart that is in total synch with God, who makes us His children and sets us free.

God speaks and acts though us.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 10: 19,20, "When you are handed over, don't worry about how to speak or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes, because it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you."

Today, I once again throw my trust into the hands of a loving God who lives in me, and by so doing I can live freely in a world that judges, evaluates and criticizes.

In Jesus is true freedom!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Being free from judging others and released to showing mercy

I have found that we spend an enormous amount of our time and energy in making up our minds about other people.

Sometimes this is done spontaneously, on the spur of the moment. We meet someone and immediately form opinions. The book "Blink" states that most of the time, those opinions are right.

Other times, we, in the midst of conflict, form opinions that can be made in a state of self-preservation. To prove that "we" are right, and that "other" person is wrong.

I would suggest to you that not a day goes by without somebody doing or saying something that brings out the need in us to form an opinion about that person.

It can become a habit in our lives. And, if out of control, it can become bondage.

We all need to be released from the heavy burden of judging others. There is freedom in letting people be who they are - an realizing that not everyone sees everything the way I see things, or feels everything the way I feel things, or think everything that I think.

Once I am free from judging, I am free then to extent mercy.

Jesus said, "Don't judge, and you won't be judged." Matthew 7:1