Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Off With the Old....On With the New

(New shoes.......Old shoes)

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
2 Corinthians 5: 17

We have officially been in the new millennium for several years now. The computer age. The fast age. The intelligent age. Every area of our lives has become so dependent on computers now. Have you ever thought about what would happen if something should permanently shut down all the computers? So many things completely depend on computers to do their "thinking", that if they should crash, whole industries would shut down. The world as we know it would cease. Could we go back to Grandpa's era? Maybe not comfortably, but we could adjust. Could we go back to a slower lifestyle after being so used to the hustle and bustle of our lives now?

Many folks are constantly getting the latest edition of everything. They want the most modern house, modern furniture, gadgets that will do whatever they are programmed to do, the latest clothes, the latest hairstyle, or the latest model car. I'm not against any of the above unless something of value is tossed aside just because it is no longer in style. We need to remember the value of old things in this modern day and time, too. Things such as antique homes, furniture or cars. Things like keepsakes from the past. And most of all, the value of old friends. Who can put a price on a friend who has been there through thick and thin and still loves you?

And there's our heritage...our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents.... the ones who have molded our lives and made us what we are. New things are great and exciting but should only be blended with, and not take the place of, the old.

I have a wonderful Friend who is older than time itself yet He is new every day. His name is Jesus and I know most of you know Him, too. He was in the past, He's in the present, and He will be in the future. We need only to depend wholly on Him for our security. So if you're planning to "put off the old and put on the new" when the new year rolls around in a few days, please plan to only put off the old things that are holding you back and not anything that you would regret throwing away.

And when you "put on the new", just look at it first to see if it is really becoming to you...whether it is new clothing or a new habit or trend. Truly these are exciting days. We don't know what lies around the corner but we can rest assured that the Lord Jesus Christ will be anywhere His children are.

"Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the OLD paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16

"It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are NEW every morning: great is thy faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

Happy New Year!


Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Past

Christmas 2008 is now past. Here's what our gifts looked like before they were passed out yesterday. So much time and thought went into selecting just the right presents for each person. So little time and thought went into the way we tore into them sending paper flying everywhere! :) I had promised some of you that I would post some pictures of our Christmas decorations but have just not had the time until now.

Here is our mantle. So many memories. The candy dish in the corner was a gift from a friend many years ago. I have moved it from the lamp table to the mantle top because it is such a nice heavy crystal dish and I don't want little hands to accidently break it. The stockings you can see hanging on the wall are made by hand. The oldest one I made for our daughter's first Christmas.....she is 31 now! You can't tell so much in the picture but the mirror is scratched and worn from many years of use and cleaning. A friend gave it to us just after we first got married 35 years ago. It came out of his Daddy's house. It's a very old vintage beveled mirror. Not the latest in decoration....nothing in my house is! ha.....but I love it!

Our tree! Yes, it's tiny but perfect for our small house. We don't have room for a bigger one at all. This has fiber optic lights that change colors but for some reason did not show up in the picture so it looks a little drab. This is my "angel corner". A good friend gave me the angel ornament on top of the tree and the smaller angel beside the church. The church is lit up also but doesn't show up. It was given to me by a friend when my Dad passed away. It has a wind up music box that plays "Amazing Grace". The hand crocheted doily it is sitting on was made by my mother forty or fifty years ago. The angel picture on the wall was given to my husband by his grandmother many, many years ago.

Our dinner table. We had so much food that we left it on the stove and the counter-top and had a buffet style dinner. It was such a blessing to see all our family together again and enjoying fellowship around the table.

Have you ever seen something whiz by so fast that it was just a blur? Is it just me or do you feel it too? It seems like the past few weeks leading up to Christmas went by in a blur! Sort of like this picture of our little 3-year-old granddaughter yesterday! She could not be still for "GanMamma" to take her picture!

I'm looking forward to 2009 and what the Lord will be doing in our lives then. He has been so good to allow me to meet so many new friends here in the blogging world. You have enriched my life greatly and I am thankful.

May God bless you!


Monday, December 22, 2008

The Word Made Flesh

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1: 14

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” is certainly true! Everywhere I look lately I see evergreens trimmed with lights and bows and tinsel; wreaths hanging on doors; bells ringing on street corners. People seem to be scurrying and worrying trying to get all their last minute gifts bought before Christmas Day. It was after watching others… and myself …that I started thinking about how even we Christians can so easily forget the real meaning of Christmas. I thought about how sometimes I get so caught up in the excitement of holiday secrets and surprises that I don’t even take the time to worship the One whom we celebrate coming to earth in the flesh!

In fact, I really can’t fathom the reality of God …God Himself…coming to earth as a man. That in itself shows His great love for mankind…even before he died for us on the cross. I started thinking about missionary friends that I have known over the years who have left behind worldly goods and have gone and dwelt among the peoples to whom God has called them for a witness. When a missionary is humble enough to live as simple a life as the people he is called to serve, then those people are touched and are more likely to listen to the gospel.

A few days ago I was listening to a program on the radio. The host was interviewing a man who was a pastor to homeless people in a large city. This man made the comment that for the past fourteen years he had lived a homeless life himself. He said he felt that he was better able to minister to the homeless when they could see that he had the same problems that they had…in effect he was “homeless” but he was not “hopeless”. He had the great hope of eternal life through salvation and was able to share this hope with others. “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3: 7”

In Luke’s account of the birth of Christ, the shepherds came and saw the Saviour lying in a manger. But even the shepherds…after the angels had come and given them a personal introduction to Jesus…could not comprehend the wonder of it all.
“And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” Luke 2: 18

God Himself knew that it would be a mystery to human understanding. But through the birth of Jesus, His sinless life, and His atoning death, we can… with the eyes of faith… trust what He has done to be sufficient to cleanse us from all sin. Then we can truly know and celebrate what Christmas is all about. “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:” Colossians 1:27

May each of you have a wonderful, blessed Christmas surrounded by those you love is my prayer!


Friday, December 19, 2008

What the Influence of the "Good News" Can Have on the Bad News

I want to dedicate this post to all my co-labors at the Sav-A-Life Center! They are indeed a wonderful group of ladies!

She was young. Very young. And whether through innocence, ignorance, or impetuousness; the reading on the pregnancy test was unmistakably positive! She was not happy about the news. She sat in the counseling room of the pregnancy center with her head down, soft tears rolling down her silky cheeks. What hope, what good news could she expect from hearing that her whole life was changing?

As I always do when I counsel with a client (since ours is a Christian based center), I asked about her relationship with God. She said she really didn’t have one. That was my cue to tell her about Jesus and how much He loves her. I explained how Jesus was born to live a sinless life so that He could pay for her sins and offer her eternal life. “Are you a sinner?” I asked. She wasn’t sure. I took the Bible and showed her we all are sinners in need of forgiveness. I shared Scripture with her that says even the best of people can not measure up to what God demands! (“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;” Isaiah 64: 6a) But in contrast, even the worst of people can be saved. (“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1: 18) But she was not yet ready to be saved. She didn’t understand. The shock of her pregnancy was too fresh; too raw in her mind to think of anything else.

I didn’t despair because my job is just to sow the seed. Others come along to water it; God will make it bring forth fruit. So I just smiled and encouraged my very young client to come back to the center for our series of free parenting classes. To my surprise she agreed to start the classes in a few weeks.

When she came for her first class I used the story of Joseph for our devotional. I showed her how many hard and hurtful things had happened to him but how God had turned all that around and blessed Joseph. “He can do the same for you!” I encouraged her. Again I gave her the gospel story of how Jesus came to earth to live and then die for the sins of each of us. Again, she declined to accept this free gift of salvation.

Her baby was due in December. I could not help but think about Mary. Of course Mary’s circumstances were vastly different but yet there were similarities. They were both very young. They were both unmarried when they found they were with child. They were both scorned when the news was made public. Of course Mary was completely without fault. She had not committed adultery. She was still a virgin. The Child she carried was the Son of God. Still she had to face the shame of being pregnant without first being married to Joseph. I believe it made me care more deeply about this young client of mine as I saw these similarities but also the differences. Mary had a deep belief and knowledge that the child she carried was God’s Son come to earth in the flesh. My client refused any relationship at all with that same Son.

Then the baby was born. A boy. A beautiful, healthy little boy. And when she got well enough after the baby was born….she brought him along and came back for more classes. On one of these visits I said to her, “I’m still praying that…”, and before I could finish my sentence her face lit up with an enormous smile and she said, “I got saved last Sunday!” Well, to say the least, it was all I could do to keep from shouting right there in the counseling room! Praise the Lord! What a wonderful ending to a woeful beginning! Her glowing face was a stark contrast to the tears and fears of her first visit. And all because God sent His Son to be born of Mary, to live a sinless life, and then give that sinless life on Calvary’s cross to pay for the sins of humanity. Not only on Christmas but everyday we can receive the Good News that began in Bethlehem! It's amazing what effect this "Good News" can generate...even in the worst of circumstances. I’m glad that I have been privileged to hear that Good News and to receive eternal life because of it.

Merry Christmas!


(****Note! To protect the privacy of all our clients, this story is a combination of several instances I have seen and experienced at the center and not the lifestory of any particular young woman. ****)

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Reason for the Season

When I went into town today, I noticed several signs in front of stores that read "Happy Holidays". Bah Humbug! Happy Holidays sounds just so...I don't know....well, plain! But now take the word Christmas! What warm feelings and memories flood our minds with just the sound of that word! Christmas! How sad it makes me to see people try to take Christ out of Christmas. We call out, “Merry Christmas”, to our friends. How much more that implies than just the popular “Happy Holidays”.

In Luke 2:1-20 we are given the story of the first Christmas—Jesus coming to earth and being born in a stable in Bethlehem. This same Jesus, after living a sinless life, died on the cross to pay for the sins of the world. The band of angels who came to proclaim the birth of Jesus said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14)

For just a minute let’s take the word Christmas and change it to read like this: “CHRIST—MUST”. If we then break down Luke 2:14 into three parts, we can see three ways that “CHRIST—MUST” make a difference in our lives as Christians.

1. “Glory to God in the highest….” We can give all glory to God only if we can see ourselves as sinners and Christ as our only hope. When we accept his payment for our sins, CHRIST—MUST change our lives.“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17)

2. “….and on earth peace….” With salvation CHRIST—MUST give us perfect peace. “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7)

3. “….good will toward men…” CHRIST—MUST give us a love for people, especially other Christians. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35)

So, this Christmas if we are to have (1) different lives, (2) a peaceful heart, and (3) a love for others, CHRIST—MUST be the REASON FOR THE SEASON.

If you’ve never accepted Christ’s gift of salvation, what a wonderful Christmas present He offers you !! Merry Christmas!!


Friday, December 12, 2008

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

Late this afternoon when returning from doing my annual "day" of Christmas shopping, I turned a curve in the road and saw the most beautiful sight! The moon was just coming up over the eastern horizon, peeping it's head over the cold,bare tree limbs. What a picture! My first thought was that I was so aggravated at myself for not having my camera in my purse at just that moment! After I got home and carried my packages into the house, I found my camera and went outside to see if I could get a shot of the moon from here. It's not as good as I would have liked but perhaps you can use your imagination. It is indeed very beautiful tonight!

The moon. The lesser light. The one that rules the night. The light that really isn't a light. Huh? The first time that was explained to me as a youngster I was so surprised! "You mean the moon isn't a light?" "No, it just reflects the light of the sun!" Remember the verses that were the inspiration for the children's song "This Little Light of Mine"? "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid." Matthew 5: 14 And so there is our reason for our Christian witness. We are to be light to those we come in contact with who are lost in the darkness of sin. But we are just, at best, a mirror. We are not THE light....we are the reflection of His Light.

And now we come to the Reason for the Christmas Season. The reason we have Christmas is because THE Light of the World was born one night in a stable.....a perfect package of God and man all wrapped into One.
"That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:" John 1: 9-12

He is the Light......as Christians we should be His reflection. Shine brightly this Christmas season Christian friends!


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What Child is This?

"What Child is this, who laid to rest, on Mary's lap is sleeping?
(William C. Dix)

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace"... Isaiah 9: 6

What a joyous thing is the birth of a little baby! There's nothing any sweeter than to hold a newborn child and smell the fragrance of new life on that little head! I’ve been reminded of that through a very personal event this month—the birth of our first grandson!

Sometimes it's hard for me to remember that my Savior, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, was once a little baby Himself. Such a responsibility Mary and Joseph faced as they were chosen to raise Jesus in their home; yet such an honor. The Bible tells us clearly that they were obedient to God in all things.
"And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth." Luke 2:39

Because of this, Jesus had a strong foundation for his life. "And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him." Luke 3: 40 By the time Jesus was twelve, he had begun to publicly display his desire of doing the work God had sent him to do here on earth.
"And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. Luke 2: 46-47

Wouldn't it be wonderful if all children could have the home life that Jesus had? Especially during this time of the year it is sad to think that there are little innocent children who never hear the name of Jesus spoken except when used as a curse word. Just now on the news they showed the picture of a mother who has been arrested because they found her five-week-old baby living in a "meth" lab she was running! Such a shame! Children who are unwanted, unloved and abused are evidence of a society that has turned its back on God.

May God give you who read this a special opportunity this Christmas season, to be a blessing to some child. It might be your own son or daughter that you have been ignoring because of your busy lifestyle. Or maybe you could be a real blessing to some hurting child somewhere that you don't even know by giving through your church to missions, etc.

I pray that the Lord will give me the opportunity to help a child this year to see the love of Christ and the real meaning of Christmas.
"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. " 1 Corinthians 13: 11-13

Never forget...."Jesus loves the little children"!


Friday, December 5, 2008

What Prize Are You Trying to Win?

Most people would agree that self confidence is a good thing . But usually I am in short supply of said self confidence. A couple of weeks ago I was offered the opportunity to enter a writing contest. "Yep!", I said to myself, "I can do that!" You know what? I was so self confident that I had a good chance at winning one of the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd prizes that I even emailed one of the ladies in charge to discuss how I would arrange the receiving of one of the prizes! She very sweetly and humbly told me we would cross that bridge if and when we came to it. Oh my....I can feel the heat in my face now just thinking about how "self confident" I was about that contest!

I had been eagerly awaiting the results of the contest. Yesterday I received the email I was waiting for....but it wasn't exactly as I had pictured it would be! My name was NOT at the top of the page by 1st Prize! Nor by 2nd Prize! Nor by 3rd Prize! Not even in the Top Ten!!! Out of 35 entries mine was......number 28! In case you're wondering, that is WAY down the list! I mean WAY down! ha

It has actually been pretty comical after I got over the shock! I can just see the Lord looking down at me saying, "What is your problem woman? When are you going to remember that if and when you write anything that is any good it is when you do it to bring honor and glory to ME.....not to YOU!" Oh my, I'm a hard-headed student! Maybe this will teach me a lesson.

It did remind me of this verse:
"For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." Romans 12: 3

I hope to remember in the future that my main undertaking in life should be that
"I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3: 14

May we press toward that prize together!