Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Easter Sunday

March 31, 2013

Today is Easter Sunday.

Yes, we know all about the pagan traditions attached to Easter: Bunnies, chicks, eggs, even the name “Easter”!

So, many people prefer to call it “Resurrection Sunday” in order to delete the paganism and keep the Christianity in it.

We aren’t here to judge, so we’ll let you do what you wish with it. HOWEVER… we still want to point out the importance of this day’s observance.

Today is the day in which we meditate on, and appreciate the incredible thing Jesus Christ did for us: Although He never deserved it He took the mockings, took the beatings, took the blasphemy, and took the death, just so we could be forgiven and have a chance to dwell in the Kingdom of God.

He certainly did not owe this to us.
And yet He did it, even though all of us today weren’t even born yet.
In fact, we wouldn’t be born for many generations at that time!

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for tolerating such pain and humiliation for us.
Thank you for giving us the only chance we could have.

 

 

Mary, Did You Know?

December 16, 2012

Poignant Christmas video I must share, by CeeLo Greene:

Mary Did You Know….

The Right Denomination?

May 17, 2012

Claims to Christianity comes in many different flavors nowadays. Not only do we have Roman Catholics and Protestants, but we also have Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and a various peppering of cults everywhere. To top it off are the false Christs who seek to draw followers in their own rite. And it doesn’t stop here. Within these “flavors” are sub-flavors. Just as you can have regular vanilla, French vanilla, and vanilla bean, you also have American Baptist, Southern Baptist, and Seventh Day Baptist. You have Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic, and Maronite Catholic. And it goes on and on. Are the Southern Baptists more correct than the Seventh Day Baptists? Are the Anglicans more correct than the Roman Catholics? How can a person be sure that he or she is following the right path when there are so many choices out there?

The simple answer is this: We need to stop looking at faith through human eyes and start viewing it through God’s eyes. As humans, we are painfully aware that we make mistakes — and this can include making mistakes in our worship. As a result, it’s too easy to try and put rules and regulations on our worship in an attempt to lessen the number of mistakes we make in our worship. Although this is a noble effort, it is also what gets in the way of our worship. For example, in the Bible the Pharisees were notorious for piling on rule after rule regarding worship and Godly living. Were they trying to be burdensome? Were they getting too heady on a power trip? Maybe so, maybe not. It is likely that this tendency of theirs came from a deep desire to lead the people as perfectly as possible; and this desire misled them into creating burdensome rules and regulations on the believers. As a result of the over-use of rules, the believers are actually taken further away from God, not closer to Him. For example, because the Pharisees became so legalistic in their rules they lost sight of mercy and love — two qualities that are integral to God (Matthew 9:13,  1 John 4:8). Their strict focus on rules caused them to lose sight of their position in God’s arrangement, resulting in their austere and super-righteous attitude among themselves. That is what happens when groups of believing leaders focus too much on action without balancing it with the Godly qualities of love and mercy.

On the other end of things are the denominations who focus too much on love and mercy and not enough on the containment of sin . These are the ones who support homosexual unions, tolerate the worship of other gods, accept the use of illicit drugs, or even accept members who openly deny Christ . (Yes, there are churches who do these things). They forget that showing love and mercy does not include the acceptance of unbiblical behaviour, it only provides for the forgiveness of such behaviour.

The biggest problem is that we, as imperfect humans saddled with a sinful nature, are going to make mistakes when it comes to worship. We are going to misunderstand Bible passages. We are going to be influenced by our own mistaken opinions. We are going to be more judgmental than we ought to be. No matter how hard we try, we will not achieve perfection in worship; that won’t happen until Christ returns and sets us straight on these things (Zephaniah 3:9). In the meantime, we need to work with what we have. What does that mean?

It means we can’t find the perfect congregation at this time, so we shouldn’t expect to. However, this doesn’t mean we should settle for just anything. Remember, just because a congregation shows wonderful works, and possibly even miracles, doesn’t prove it is a God-oriented group; it is only those who actually try to do the will of God that are the ones approved by God (Matthew 7:21-23).

So the next question is: Who are the one who try to do the will of God? The Bible gives us guidance with this (from the Contemporary English Version):

Matthew 4:10
Jesus answered, “Go away Satan! The Scriptures say: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”

Matthew 5:44-47
But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectorslove their friends. If you greet only your friends, what’s so great about that? Don’t even unbelievers do that?

Matthew 22:36-40
“Teacher, what is the most important commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. 38 This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets are based on these two commandments.

Luke 16:13
You cannot be the slave of two masters. You will like one more than the other or be more loyal to one than to the other. You cannot serve God and money.

John 4:24
God is Spirit, and those who worship God must be led by the Spirit to worship him according to the truth.

John 13:34-35
 But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you. 35 If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
God wants you to be holy, so don’t be immoral in matters of sex. Respect and honor your wife.Don’t be a slave of your desires or live like people who don’t know God. You must not cheat any of the Lord’s followers in matters of sex. Remember, we warned you that he punishes everyone who does such things. God didn’t choose you to be filthy, but to be pure. So if you don’t obey these rules, you are not really disobeying us. You are disobeying God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
Always be joyful and never stop praying. Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.Don’t turn away God’s Spirit or ignore prophecies. Put everything to the test. Accept what is good and don’t have anything to do with evil.

Colossians 2:18-23
Don’t be cheated by people who make a show of acting humble and who worship angels. They brag about seeing visions. But it is all nonsense, because their minds are filled with selfish desires. They are no longer part of Christ, who is the head of the whole body. Christ gives the body its strength, and he uses its joints and muscles to hold it together, as it grows by the power of God.You died with Christ. Now the forces of the universe don’t have any power over you. Why do you live as if you had to obey such rules as, “Don’t handle this. Don’t taste that. Don’t touch this.”? After these things are used, they are no longer good for anything. So why be bothered with the rules that humans have made up? Obeying these rules may seem to be the smart thing to do. They appear to make you love God more and to be very humble and to have control over your body. But they don’t really have any power over our desires.

1 Peter 2:13-17
The Lord wants you to obey all human authorities, especially the Emperor, who rules over everyone.You must also obey governors, because they are sent by the Emperor to punish criminals and to praise good citizens. God wants you to silence stupid and ignorant people by doing right. You are free, but still you are God’s servants, and you must not use your freedom as an excuse for doing wrong.Respect everyone and show special love for God’s people. Honor God and respect the Emperor.

James 1: 26-27
If you think you are being religious, but can’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and everything you do is useless. Religion that pleases God the Father must be pure and spotless. You must help needy orphans and widows and not let this world make you evil.

James 2:14 – 17
 My friends, what good is it to say you have faith, when you don’t do anything to show that you really do have faith? Can that kind of faith save you? If you know someone who doesn’t have any clothes or food,you shouldn’t just say, “I hope all goes well for you. I hope you will be warm and have plenty to eat.” What good is it to say this, unless you do something to help? Faith that doesn’t lead us to do good deeds is all alone and dead!

These are good Scripture parameters to start with when seeking a congregation to associate with. And I think it’s important to note that, even though a denomination may have an official statement of beliefs, you cannot  judge the entire collection of congregations under its denominational leadership based on that official statement. For example, in recent years the Presbyterian U.S.A. denomination has officially accepted the ordination of clergy members who are actively participating in gay relationships. Although this is the denomination’s official policy now, there are many individual congregations in the Presbyterian U.S.A. denomination who continue to reject this new policy. The lesson: Take individual congregations on a case-by-case basis rather than official denominational policy.

So, how does one go about discovering which congregation is the best fit? The first place is to start with sincere prayer asking for guidance in the matter. God knows that each person/family has unique needs; therefore, each one will have a unique church “fit”. For example, a young couple with children may fit well with a congregation which has family oriented ministries and activities. In contrast, a single college student may fit better with a congregation whose ministry is focused more on missions or college ministries. In may cases, with the guidance of prayer, a seeker can look online to view various church websites in their areas to get an idea of what their local churches offer. If your local church does not happen to have a website use your phone book to give them a call, find out what they do have to offer. It is also good to review their official doctrines and policies, whether online or on the phone, and find whether the individual church matches your values.

And don’t rush your choices: Continue to pray for guidance. As humans, we tend to “get in the way” of ourselves, and sometimes we hinder God’s guidance without realizing it. This is why it is important to pray continually for guidance, because sometimes we need more time to get past ourselves. If, after prayer and research, you find a church that looks right, try it out. Don’t let emotion guide you, remember to combine it with scriptural guidance (AND prayer!). Be sure that the congregation does its reasonable best to balance Bible teaching with Godly love.

And, again, be forgiving of human error in the process: All congregations are composed of humans, therefore human error will rear its ugly head no matter how hard we try not to let it. This is why you need prayerful guidance from God on these matters.

Of course, we need to beware that we don’t become judgmental towards other denominations: Our disagreement does not give us license to be bitter or hateful towards them. Remember, all humans fall short of God’s perfect standards, thus there will be denominations who have more faults than others (Remember: all have faults). Instead of looking down our noses at them, we should be praying for them and offering the same love that Christ has offered to us. As for the denominations who have false prophets and false Christs, continue to pray for the members who are being misled.  Christ did not give up on us, and likewise we should not give up on them.

May our God and Father continue to help you find peace in His Worship.

Amen

National Day of Prayer

May 3, 2012

Here in the United States the first Thursday in May each year is designated as the National Day of Prayer.

(All Scripture quotes are from the New King James Version, published by Thomas Nelson, Inc.)

 

THE LORD’S PRAYER
Matthew 6:9-13

In this manner, therefore, pray:Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

CHRIST GLORIFYING GOD
John 12:23-28

23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. 27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”

PRAYER IN GETHSEMANE
Matthew 26:36

36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” 39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.

HANNAH’S FIRST PRAYER
1 Samuel 1:9-17

So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the Lord. 10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish. 11 Then she made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.” 12 And it happened, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli watched her mouth. 13 Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. 14 So Eli said to her, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!” 15 But Hannah answered and said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. 16 “Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.” 17 Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.”

HANNAH’S SECOND PRAYER
1 Samuel 2: 1-10

And Hannah prayed and said:

“My heart rejoices in the Lord; My horn is exalted in the Lord. I smile at my enemies, Because I rejoice in Your salvation.“No one is holy like the Lord, For there is none besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God.
“Talk no more so very proudly; Let no arrogance come from your mouth, For the Lord is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed.
“The bows of the mighty men are broken, And those who stumbled are girded with strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, And the hungry have ceased to hunger. Even the barren has borne seven, And she who has many children has become feeble.
“The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up.
He raises the poor from the dust And lifts the beggar from the ash heap, To set them among princes And make them inherit the throne of glory. “For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, And He has set the world upon them.
He will guard the feet of His saints, But the wicked shall be silent in darkness. “For by strength no man shall prevail.
10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces; From heaven He will thunder against them. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth. “He will give strength to His king, And exalt the horn of His anointed.”

ELISHA’S PRAYER
2 Kings 6:15-18

15 And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 So when the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, and said, “Strike this people, I pray, with blindness.” And He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.

ADVICE FROM JAMES
James 5:13-18

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

THE LITTLE CHILDREN
Matthew 19:13-15

13 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.

HAVING FAITH
Matthew 21:21-23

21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

GLORIA PATRI

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son :
and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be :
world without end. Amen.

DOXOLOGY

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

The Poinsettia

February 10, 2012

I saw a poinsettia today; a left over from Christmas. It’s still very vibrant, red, and healthy looking.
All because someone takes the time to continue watering it.

Meanwhile, at the nursing home in which I work, I’ve seen many poinsettias that aren’t doing so well. Wilting, defoliated, and scraggly. Nobody seems to have the time to keep watering those ones. It doesn’t seem to be anyone’s job: The nursing staff (including me) is too busy taking care of the residents, the doctors are too busy diagnosing, the housekeeping department is too busy making beds and mopping floors, the activities department is too busy planning events and scheduling outings…. and these beautiful, vibrant plants are left by the wayside, ignored, left to fend for themselves; to die for lack of water, and are eventually thrown into the trash.

It only takes a mere minute to pour a cup of water  into the planter from time to time to keep the plant happy and alive.

And I can’t help but think that people are a lot like these forgotten poinsettias.

When you “water”, “cultivate” and care for someone they grow vibrant, healthy, and strong. Once you begin neglecting the person, they begin to starve, wither, and die both emotionally and spiritually. This is the major reason that divorce is rampant, homeless people waste away, and suicides are on the rise. Being cast aside makes some take solace in drugs and alcohol, street gangs, and adultery.

Although no singular person can possibly be responsible for everyone in the world, each of us can do our part to water and cultivate someone in our lives. Is it our individual responsibility to take care of people in that regard?

Absolutely!

According to Scripture, we are to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).  Jesus even illustrated the importance of helping one another — even strangers —  in His parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

People are poinsettias: Richly coloured, living, breathing beings that need to be cared for. And if we take a moment to think, I’m sure each of us can identify at least one person in each of our lives who is dying from lack of watering, Sonlight, and cultivation. The new divorcee next door; the abused kid down the street; the lonely widow in your congregation. Perhaps it’s a colleague who just got “downsized” from his or her job. Or a teenager who just learned she’s pregnant and her boyfriend dumped her.

We all need some watering and love. And, even though we can’t help the entire world, we can at least make a difference in the lives of those whom we do know. “Watering” a person doesn’t take a lot of effort: Invite them to accompany you to a community or church event. Take them out for coffee once each week just to chat. Help them with transportation, or child care, or yard work. Mentor them, attend support groups with them. Get involved, even just a little bit.

A simple cup of water on a regular basis is all it take to keep a poinsettia alive and healthy; and a simple act of kindness and caring on a regular basis is all it takes to keep a person alive and healthy.

And above all, share the love of Jesus with such ones, as He is the best strength for their weakened state.

Peace, and Amen.

Not Ready To Let Go

December 30, 2011

Today is December 30th.
I’m still hearing Christmas hymns on the radio.
AND I LIKE IT!

Christmas is simply hard to let go of.
I’m not talking about the frenzy of decorating – shopping – wrapping – cookie ing – shopping – visiting – shopping – parties – etc.

I’m talking about the PERFECT part of Christmas.
Remembering a big miracle in such a small child.
Remembering a humble couple grappling with the responsibility of raising the Son of God.
Remembering that we would all remain lost without this event.
Remembering the Perfect Love that decided this should be this way.

Of COURSE we don’t want to let it go! Of course the Christmas hymns linger for another week!  Why would we want to forget that God loves us puny humans THAT much! The greatness of the Love, the process to save everyone, the willingness of Jesus to humiliate Himself for us so readily, just to keep us from being swallowed by Satan’s evil…

For a month or two we have Christmas bombarding our heads each year. And for the week afterwards we wean ourselves off the intensity of the greatness and the wonder. Christmas reminds us of the beginning of our Salvation.

No other holiday in the United States evokes such a feeling of “let down” that needs such a weaning. Think about it:
The media  doesn’t continue to play patriotic songs  on the fifth of July.
Nor does the media care so much about leaving the Thanksgiving holiday behind.
Valentine’s day is forgotten by February 15th (except for the stores steeply discounting their leftover merchandise).
Even Easter is off by the wayside the day after….and how many Easter hymns are recognized by the general public anyway? (And yeah, Easter should be a bigger deal too, but that’s another post for another time)

But CHRISTMAS…That one is definitely a media feast — and I’m not talking about the commercial stuff. Christmas in the United States has the hymns all over the radio for the entire season and then some; even on the non-Christian radio stations. The television stations have Christmas movies all over the place; classics and newbies, all bespeaking the sense of love and miracles that is the common thread in Christmas, even through New Year’s Day. Newspapers feature Christmas stories related to charities, churches, Christ, and children.  Church members practice their lines for Christmas plays, and lawns display Nativity scenes to commemorate the momentous occasion.

And all of these decorations, displays, hymns, and stories don’t stop immediately the day after Christmas.
No.
Instead, they slowly wind down. In truth, we really don’t want to let it go so fast.

And that’s exactly how it should be.

The Easter Season

April 10, 2011

First, my apologies for not blogging so much lately. As I’ve stated several entries ago, I am working on a new website and book, which is taking a lot of my time (because I still have to go to work, be a mom, be a wife, etc. etc.). These projects will be finished by the end of this month, and then I’ll be able to blog more often.

In the meantime, the Easter season is coming up very quickly, and I simply cannot ignore it.

What is Easter to you?
Personally, I prefer to call it “Resurrection Sunday” because, well, to be honest I’m put off by the title “Easter”. More on that in another post.

The word “Easter” evokes many mental images to people, and there are three ways that people view Easter:

ATHEISTS/NON CHRISTIANS: Eggs, bunnies, candy baskets, decorations, and bunny cartoons on the t.v.
BIBLE THUMPERS: (that’s me) Church services, crosses, Bible readings, and Jesus movie DVD’s on the t.v.
REGULAR JOES: Eggs, bunnies, candy, decorations, bunny cartoons, church services, Jesus movies, and Bible readings.

I want to make this abundantly clear:
Although I am an admitted Bible Thumper, I do not judge those who are less conservative in their views.

That being said, each and every one of us (you and me) still need to take time out to deeply consider what Easter is to each of us as individuals. It is so easy to get caught up in the daily grind, getting busy with errands, and work, and life and stuff that we only take a passing thought on the topic, not taking some time to really let it sink in: Jesus Christ, a sinless man, died in order to pay off our debt of sin.

Between now and Easter (which is April 24th this year), I ask each and every one of you to take out a mere 15 minutes each day to stop and consider the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice, and how blessed we are to receive such mangificent love. Consider the abuse and torment he endured. Consider his emotional state as he went through each stage of the process between his arrest and his death. Consider his feelings towards his friends, family, and the strangers around him.

Fifteen minutes each day is doable. Let’s not reduce Christ’s sacrifice to a mere passing thought.

Shepherds In the Night

December 22, 2010

Taken from Luke 2:8-20

It is a serene, starlit night. Your flock of sheep are quietly sleeping in the field, and you and two of your fellow shepherds are quietly chit chatting amongst yourselves.  You talk about the big she-wolf that that was prowling around the neighbor’s flock last month. You talk about how your son took his first step yesterday. You talk about Amir’s wife who is due to give birth in a few months.

The night is cloudless. As you all chit chat you are also continually looking out into the field,  quietly thanking God for the moonlight to help you peer through the darkness. You can see your sheep dog patrolling the perimeter of the flock. He’s a good dog. You can also make out the silhouettes of the other three shepherds who are keeping watch on the far side of the field.

You don’t mind the overnight shift, it’s a wonderfully quiet time of peace and tranquility — except for the occasional wolf or thief anyway. Time passes slowly, and you start thinking about the flatbread and figs that you brought for your overnight supper. Nobody can make a seasoned flatbread as well as Miriam does!

In the midst of your thoughts a sudden commotion rises amongst all the shepherds, even the ones on the far side  — Look to your left !

You turn and see the most unbelievable sight you ever saw!

A mighty, glowing angel with a magnificent spread of wings is standing at the edge of the field!
And the great, glorious light of the Lord began to fill the air all around them, engulfing them in it as if it were daylight!

You shepherds are utterly terrified! What does this mean???!!!

And the majestic angel holds out his hand and  speaks in his  powerful voice:

DO NOT BE AFRAID! I am here to proclaim to you good news of great joy for all people! Today, a saviour who is Messiah the Lord was born today in Bethlehem! You will find this child, wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger!

You are dumbstruck — you don’t know how to react to any of this! And as all of you stand there, paralyzed in confusion and fear, you are still trying to soak this all in when SUDDENLY the whole entire field, and sky, and air is filled with a multitude of other angels! Each one just as brilliant, and grand as this first angel! And together they are proclaiming in unison: Glory to God in the highest! Peace on Earth!

And just as suddenly, they are GONE.

And the night is again dark. And quiet. and serene.

The shepherds from the far side of the field come running over to you and your little group, and you’re all chattering all excitedly:

Did YOU see THAT!
Nobody’s gonna believe this!
We gotta go to Bethlehem!
Who’s gonna watch the sheep?!
We won’t be gone long! The dog is out!
Oh my nerves! ANGELS!

And you all hurry off as fast as you can — you’ve just got to see this special child that the angels spoke of!

You enter Bethlehem and immediately start making a search of all the stables and barns.
You guys take that side of the street and we’ll take this side!
Hey mister —  have you seen a couple with a baby in a barn?
Hey guys I found them over here, c’mon!

You all hurry over to the stable door and quietly peer in the door. And there they are, the mother, father, and a baby laying in the manger, and a few other people who were tending to the mother and baby. The father quietly motions the shepherds to come in. He whispers “Hi. My name is Joseph, and this is my wife Mary. This is her son, Jesus.”

“We know! whispers one of the shepherds. “We were out tending our flocks, when all of a sudden the field was filled with angels and brilliant light! They told us of this Jesus in a manger, and how he is the hope of mankind! They told us to come see him, and so immediately abandoned our flocks, and here we are!”

You can see the mother, Mary, quietly considering all this. The look on her face reveals that she will treasure this news of yours in her heart forever.

You all gaze at the sleeping baby. Wondering over the huge miracle in such a small child. His little fingers. His soft wisps of hair. The mighty Saviour who came to save.

After a while it’s evident that Mary is getting very tired. She needs her rest, it’s been a big day for her. So you and your fellow shepherds say your goodbyes and leave the stable.

And you are all still SO excited! All the way back to your field you cannot stop chattering on about the night’s events and praising God the whole time! Angels! The Saviour! Prophecy fulfilled! This is the one night you will never forget! The night the Saviour came, and you lowly shepherds were the first ones to be informed, and by ANGELS no less!

Hallelujah!

Mary’s Plight

December 20, 2010

Taken from Luke 1:1-55 and Matthew 1:18-24
(I have taken a few liberties with this, just so you know)

You are a young teenaged girl, engaged to be married to an older man.
In your society, premarital sex is a crime worthy of death.
In your society, being engaged was as good as being married — and adultery is also a crime equally worthy of death. Therefore, your engagement to this man is pure; you remain a virgin as you await your wedding day, and you avoid being tempted by other men as well. All is going very well.

And then the unthinkable happens: An angel tells you that God has chosen you to to be the mother of His Holy Son. And, without any sexual action, you are suddenly pregnant with this child.

Who in the world is going to believe that you are still a virgin?!?!

Your much older cousin, Elizabeth, is also miraculously pregnant through the will of God…and has been for about six months now. Perhaps she can give some guidance on this situation. So you tell your fiance, Joseph, that you are going to visit her. And you do…for three whole months. Elizabeth recognizes your God given position and praises Him for it; even the miracle baby still growing within her reacts to your presence! Surely this is an encouraging sign! And for three months, your cousin and her husband give you very strengthening encouragement.
And then it’s time to go back home again.

To your husband-to-be.
And you are starting to show your pregnancy.

The lengthy visit with Elizabeth and her mate has been so uplifting and so encouraging that you happily explain everything to your betrothed — after all, you are bearing the only Son of God! How glorious!

You forgot that your fiance received no visits from angels; whereas you and Elizabeth’s husband did. You forgot that your fiance has been clueless the entire time; all he knew is that you took off for three months to visit a relative!

And he is angry! Sad! Hurt! How could you possibly be pregnant when he waited so long for you to return! He’s been faithful to you the entire time! And what’s this story about Holy Spirit and angels and miracle pregnancies??!! C’mon Mary, what do you take me for???!!!

He storms away from you, angry, confused, and deeply wounded. To break up with you requires an actual divorce in your society; and a divorce requires proof that you cheated on him — something that your pregnancy would show. But such proof would also be your death sentence.

Oh dear God! What are you supposed to do now?! You don’t want your pure reputation dragged through the mud! You don’t want the accusations, the rumors, the stoning! Oh please, Joseph — you have to believe me! I’ve been true to you the entire time!

He doesn’t believe you. It’s simply too incredible of a story to be real! In his eyes you’ve betrayed his trust in many different ways, and your silly story is an absolute insult to his intelligence! He leaves you, and doesn’t look back.

He cannot bear to be with you any longer, but  he also can’t bear to see you be put to death over this foolish mistake of yours. He can’t marry you, but he also can’t bring himself to make a public spectacle of you. No. He would divorce you quietly. That way he could go on with his life and not carry the burden of feeling responsible for your death. It was the only way.

After a long, painful night of emotion, he finally falls asleep.
And in his sleep, in a dream, God’s angel speaks very clearly to him:
Take Mary as your wife. She is not lying; she is pregnant through the will of God. The child will be the saviour of the world, and you will name him Jesus.

Joseph awakens abruptly!
What??!! Seriously??!
But this was no ordinary dream. This was for really real!
It was settled: He would marry you.  He would help you raise the Son of God.

Meanwhile, you can’t sleep either. Your betrothed has left you, accused you of adultery, and wants nothing to do with you. Not only do you now face the prospect of being a single mother, but you also face possible death — for everyone knew you are engaged to be married to him! What else would everyone think as your pregnancy grew?! How can you possibly get out of this!

God! Where are you?! You want me to bear your Son but now I face certain death!
What’s going on here?! What do I do??!!

You cannot sleep. You are too worried for yourself and the child you are carrying.
It is so hard to understand how any of this is supposed to work out.
God help me, please!

Morning comes. Sleep never came to you.
What now?

You continue to  lay in your bed, praying and worrying.
When you hear a knock at your window.

Huh???

You hear the knock again.
You approach the window, hesitantly.
Perhaps people already found out about your situation and have already come for you.
You slowly open the shutters and see…

YOUR BETROTHED ONE!

You stand there, stunned in silence.
And he speaks:

I’m so sorry I stormed out on you yesterday! You gotta understand how hard it was to imagine all this stuff…this never happened to anyone else! God’s angel told me the truth, and that I should marry you — so come with me now to my home as a show of our marriage! You’re pregnant, and getting bigger by the day — you need to come now so that people don’t start talking and questioning everything!

You don’t know whether to hug him or slap him!

Well, c’mon Mary — we don’t have all day! He teases.

You quickly gather your things, and praise God for protecting you from all the stuff you worried about. You praise God for giving you a man willing to go through this with you. You praise God for the coming saviour that you are carrying!

Amen!

Halloween

October 30, 2010

It’s that time of year again already!

Little kiddies dressed up like vampires and witches, older kids toilet-papering trees and soaping windows.

Yeah, some of the kids dress up as nice things such as princesses and superheroes, but that doesn’t negate the main purpose of the night: To celebrate death, horror, evil and terror.  It’s true, evidenced by the plethora of Halloween decorations that include skeletons, monster faces and fake grave yards; and evidenced by the increased level of pranks such as smashing pumpkins, getting drunk in local cemeteries, and a general feeling of doing things you really don’t want to get caught doing.

Not to sound so critical, but I ‘m sure Satan just loves this celebration of evil!

And it is the lure of infinite candy, and illicit “fun” that draws the sinning side of humanity into the celebration. It’s a night when people are willing to “dance with the devil” to some degree.

And that’s when we really need to shine the light of Jesus on the situation. There’s enough scary and evil stuff going on in the world — why would there be cause to celebrate it?!

For those of us who aren’t so festive about Halloween, I thought I’d jot a few ideas on how to use this night as an opportunity to promote JESUS instead!

1. Although it’s too late for this year, you may want to consider buying a bulk amount of Christian children’s tracts that you can include with the candy next year. Simply put the tracts and candy in individual snack-sized baggies and hand them out. You can search online for places you can order children’s tracts from.

2. It’s not too late this year to print up little invitations to a local church event to include with the candy. You can invite them to your church’s youth program, an upcoming family church social, or whatever your church does that is appealing to kids.

3. Include little Christian themed stickers, or plastic crosses, or some other Christian “thingy” along with the candy.

4. Carve Christian symbols into your pumpkins instead of a scary face.

You might even come up with your own ideas, depending upon your resources. The point is, add something Christian that will appeal to the kids that will get them interested. Punch some holes of light into the night that celebrates the dark.

May God bless your efforts!


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