Saturday, December 31, 2011

I Dreamed A Dream

Another year is ending.  It seems impossible to me that it is December 31, 2011.  Wasn't it just yesterday that I rang in the new year...a year full of hope, and now it's over.

For the last several years I've written a letter on New Year's Eve.  In my letter, I write all of my hopes and dream for the upcoming year.  Always included in the letter is a hope for good health for my family, friends, and myself.  For the most part, this was a good year.  Except for the death of my cousin, there was little sadness from losing someone special.

I always list things I'm grateful for as well, which is really good to read at the end of the year.  This year, I'm still grateful for the things I listed a year ago.

There was one bitter disappointment though - my book.  The book I spent years writing.  The book no agent would represent.  The book that for now is laid aside.  The book that was my big dream for 2011.

Tonight just before midnight I'll write another letter, which I will seal and mark to open on December 31, 2012.  I'll stick it in my special drawer where it will remain for the next year.  In it will be new a new dream.  But for today, I am saying goodbye to the dream for 2011, and what better way than to do it with a song.  Okay, the song may really be about the lost dream of true love, but a dream is a dream and sometimes as the song ends life does kill our dream.

The dream for 2011 has died, but the dream for 2012 is about to begin. 

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Baby Arrived

Our pastor has mentioned several times over the last few weeks about the baby born to die.  This baby is the reason we celebrate Christmas.  People want to make Christmas into just another holiday, but how can the day set aside to remember that God came to us be just another holiday?

This baby, the King of kings, came gently, born in a manger where cattle and sheep were kept.  His birth was announced to the lowliest of people, the shepherds tending their flocks.  This baby born to die came for the weak and lowly, the down-trodden and poor, for every man, woman and child, who believes He is the Son of God. 

The world may one day keep those of us who call ourselves Christians from being able to say Merry Christmas, display a Nativity, or even speak the name of Jesus aloud, but the world cannot change what happened the day the baby born to die filled the world with unquenchable light.  This baby, Jesus, was destined from birth to die a horrible, humiliating death so all who believe might live.  Nothing can change this immutable fact.

Love came gently, and it still comes today for all who trust in that little baby born to die. 

Merry Christmas and may God bless you this coming year.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Light Was Coming

It was approximately 2000 years ago and "The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone was coming into the world."  No one really understood the significance of what was about to happen.  Prophecies had predicted a king was coming; a king who would save Israel.  In their small human minds, the people imagined this king was coming to deliver them from the Romans.  They were, afterall, God's chosen people; people not in need of anything but an earthly, conquering king.  But God had a different plan and something more marvelous than earthly liberation.  And the Light was coming "into the very world He created, but the world didn't recognize Him."

The Light that shines in the darkness, which can never be extinguished by the darkness was coming to His own people, but they were in darkness and liked the darkness and would reject Him.

The Light was coming to become human and make His home among us.  He would be full of unfailing love and faithfulness.  He would be born in a manger and live an ordinary life until His final three years on earth.  Ordinary, but Extraordinary, the Father's one and only Son.

The Light was coming to reveal God to us.  The Light was coming so that all of us who believe and accept Him are joint heirs to His kingdom - the kingdom of God.

The Light was coming and according to Isaiah "the people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the Light will shine on them."

The Light was coming, the bright morning star, was coming.  Can you feel the excitement?  This is what Christmas is all about - the Light about to pierce the darkness on the most holiest of nights.

John 1:1-16 and Isaiah 9:2

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Working for the Kingdom until You’re Flat Worn Out

Over the last few years and especially since beginning the Radical Experiment earlier this year, I’ve tried to do more.  I’ve tried to give more, to spend more time in bible study, and to be more involved with ministries at church.  I’ve reached a point to where if I’m not volunteering every time we have something at church I feel guilty.  For example, today was our annual Christmas store.  I think this is such a wonderful thing our church does, and in years past I’ve worked in one of the rooms where the kids wait while their parents shop.  I enjoy being with the kids.  And while I gave toys this year, I didn’t give my time.  I’ve wrestled with the decision not to work all week. It has, in fact, caused me great angst. 

When I got up this morning after sleeping in, I still was feeling like I should have volunteered, and then I read the daily devotion by Charles Stanley.  Praise the Lord for Dr. Stanley because the message he had for today eased my troubled soul.  Here’s an excerpt

“I remember lying in a hospital bed years ago and coming to the realization that I was there because Jesus wasn't the Lord of my life. If anyone happened to be observing my life back then, it probably appeared that I was serving Him with every ounce of my being. I was overloaded with projects and plans for good Kingdom work. But that was actually the problem. When God told me to stop, slow down, or do something different than I had planned, I kept right on going. Flat on my back in the hospital, I finally remained still long enough for the Lord to remind me that only He could direct my path (Jer. 10:23).”*

Saturday is the only day I get to rest.  And sometimes I really need the rest.  I sleep poorly.  It’s hard for me to go to sleep and when I finally do I’m usually awake about every two hours.  This seems to run in the family and even sleeping aids don’t work like they should.  As a result, I am physically tired most of the time simply from lack of sleep.  Through the week I have to push myself to go because I do have to work.  And most weeks I have at least one or two nights I’m at the church for a meeting or choir practice.  But, on Saturday I can sleep until I’m ready to get up and it helps to catch up on some of the sleep I’ve missed all week.

After reading Dr. Stanley’s devotion, I decided God does expect us to rest.  I think He’s pleased by what I do, and I also believe He doesn’t expect me to do everything that needs to be done. So, if you’re like me and you give it all you have to give, don’t feel guilty when you feel you really need to rest.  God knows your heart and He knows your physical limitations.

*Dr. Charles Stanley,, 2011.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Especially Fond of You

Last week I finally read The Shack.  It's a controversial book many see as blasphemous because of how God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are portrayed.  God says we are made in His image, so I suppose He could look like any one of us.  I just can't imagine what He looks like, but the author of the book decided God would appear as a black "mammy" type character who is always in the kitchen cooking up some super delicious food.  There's a reason God chose this human image, but in case you haven't read the book and want to I won't give the reason away.

Jesus is a carpenter and comes across as somewhat like a lovable good ole "bubba."  Finally, the Holy Spirit is an Asian woman, who is shimmery and fades in and out like she's moving between dimensions.

One reviewer of the book thought the characters were buffoonish.  Perhaps a little, but it is a work of fiction, and who can say that God wouldn't do something just like this especially if He has a sense of humor.

The key to the book is the message - God is especially fond of His creation - us.  He tells the main character, "I'm especially fond of you."  He tells the main character he's especially fond of the man's daughter.  He sends a message by the main character for his best friend - "He's especially fond of you."

The bible tells us God loves us so much He sent His only son to save us.  As Christmas approaches, I'm going to try to focus on God's love.  God so loved me He sent His son to give me the greatest gift I will ever receive - eternal life.  Through Jesus He showed He is especially fond of me.  And whether you believe it or not, He's especially fond of you too.