Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The holidays are supposed to be fun. There are decorations, and gatherings, and parties, and great meals, and spending time with family. What could be more fun than this?
But the truth is, for many people, the holidays are anything but fun. The decorations mean work (taking down what normally is out, and putting up new decorations). The parties and family gatherings mean spending money for the food, and extra time to get everything ready and cooked. Then there is the shopping for a Christmas tree, and Christmas cards, and presents. Then there is the decorating the tree and wrapping the presents. Holidays can turn into an abundance of work and added busyness. Does this sound like fun?
Another aspect that can make holidays difficult is thinking about the loss of a loved one. Usually during holidays the grief of a lost loved one intensifies. Instead of the holiday bringing joy, it is a reminder that this loved one is no longer there in your life. I was talking to a friend this week, and she was saying how Thanksgiving was going to be hard because her husband (who is working in another country) will not be able to be with them, and she won't be going to see her family (who live in another state). Holidays are not fun for everyone.
So how can we have fun in the holidays? Here's my opinion: don't take the holidays too seriously. What I mean by this is don't work so hard to get the "right" Christmas gift. Don't take hours to do the shopping. Only decorate in a way that will bless you, not make life overwhelming (especially if you don't like the work it takes to decorate). Schedule time with family and friends in a way that will be a blessing to you. If you belong to a church, then you have a "church family" on top of your regular family. Schedule in time with those you love to be with. Don't over schedule. Learn how to say "no" to those things that burden you. Call a friend when you are feeling "down."
Psalm 16:11 tells us, "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."
Hopefully, by bringing into your life people you love, and limiting the extra "work" that holidays can bring, and letting God's presence bless you, you will have fun in this holiday season. Blessings.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
This is a topic of a friend of mine who has been blogging each week on the same topics. It is interesting that she chose this topic because of the week I am having: Monday I wrote my sermon, prepared for the Bible Study, and led the Bible Study; Tuesday I met with a family to prepare for the funeral of their son, and put the funeral and the talk together, and also had 2 night meetings; and today, Wednesday I did the funeral, the gravesite, and had another meeting. BUSY AS A BEE!
The Bible affirms the importance of working hard. Proverbs 6:6 tells us: "Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!" In other words, don't be a sluggard, one who refuses to work hard. And 1 Thessalonians 5:12 says: "Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you..." Working hard is something that we were created to do.
So if we are meant to work hard, is it bad to be busy? The answer is no, and yet it is also yes. Yes in that we are to told in the Bible to "make the most of our time" (Ephesians 5:16). An important story for us to hear is the story where 2 women are doing very different things. Martha is working hard and preparing for a gathering (as was her duty), but her sister Mary was sister lazily at Jesus' feet. She started to complain to Jesus about this. Jesus answers in Luke 10:41-42, "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, 42but only one thing is needed.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." It is important to balance our busyness with times of reflection and worship and sitting at Jesus' feet. And even God Himself rested on the seventh day and commands us to do the same.
Are you busy? Is your busyness always productive? Do you take time to sit at Jesus' feet? Do you take a Sabbath break? Hopefully you answer yes to all of these. I know I need to do a better job at these break times. Tell me how you do it.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Have you ever wondered what it was like for God to become human? We might not be able to understand this, because you don't know what difference it could have been if you don't know that there is more. Jesus knew that there was more because even though He was a human being, He was also God in the flesh. Jesus knew the power He possessed being God. Jesus knew the knowledge He had as God. Jesus knew the love He carried. Jesus knew what it was like to be God.
But He also had the limitations of being human. He had emotions like a human. He had limited physical strength. He got hungry, and angry, and sleepy. He could feel physical pain, and doing miracles drained Him of His energy. I'm sure at times He wanted to get out of that human body and escape the limitations that were put on Him.
So why did He do it? Why would He give up so much? Philippians 2:5-11 tells us:
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."
It was about understanding and attitude. God understood how we were lost in our sin. God knew we couldn't be saved by our own doing. So God took on human flesh and came to this earth and became Jesus Christ. As "the Christ" He knew that He needed to humble Himself and not worry about his human limitations. He needed to become a servant to bring people to a saving faith. Jesus was willing to suffer so that we wouldn't have to.
What was it like for God to become human? Ultimately, it was victorious, exciting, fulfilling, and purposeful. It was a profound way to share His love. And it was worth everything He went through.
What might God be asking you to do to help someone else? Share this important message of God's salvation? Lift someone out of their depression? Guide someone to understand their purpose? Let me know what you think.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
The definition of synchronicity is: "the experience of two or more events which are causally unrelated occurring together in a meaningful manner." The interesting idea here is that often times events that happen in our life might seem unrelated, but can be related in a way that helps us to understand what we are to know or do.
If we can understand that many events that seem unrelated are actually connected, then it helps us to be more conscious and aware of our situation. Even more, it will help to direct us in our lives. I truly believe that God has a plan for our lives, and that events in our lives come to us to help lead us in this plan. If I am aware of how the events fit together, I will be better prepared to find meaning in them.
For example, a couple of years ago my church and I got involved in a program called "Focused Living." This program helps individuals, and ultimately churches figure out God's vision. Part of this program contains an aspect of mentoring. So, I started mentoring several people in my church. As I did this mentoring, I realized that God has gifted me for this kind of ministry. This has been affirmed lately by God bringing to me other mentoring situations outside of the church! SYNCHRONICITY AT WORK.
A second example: last week I was reading a chapter in the book "Wild Goose Chase," by Mark Batterson. In the chapter I was reading, he talked about needing to set goals for God in a way that would really make a difference for God (i.e. it isn't enough to want to grow the numbers of my church, what would be God's purpose for growing the church?). Then the same day I decided to read an article that someone had given me ("Jesus' Guide to Ministry Success," by J. Oswald Sanders). In this article Sanders talks about how God "wants us to have spiritual ambition so that our lives might really count and bring glory to His name." Again, setting goals to make a difference for the Kingdom of God. SYNCHRONICITY.
I believe synchronicity is all around us, we just have to start looking. And if you start looking you will see that God can truly guide you. Tell me what you think.