Every year at Christmas time, people ask one another, “What would you like for Christmas?” As I was thinking about that very question the other day, it occurred to me that I really do have everything I want and everything I need. I have been blessed with a wonderful wife. Marta and I will be celebrating our 36th wedding anniversary in a couple of months. Over the years she has not only been very good to me, she has been very good for me. The Lord has used her to bless me and make me a better person. And we have awesome kids and grandkids. I couldn’t be any prouder of Lauren, Matt, Avery, Haley and Eric, Amanda and Theo. Our kids and grandkids really are awesome. I have just retired from a 30 year career in insurance and have some promising leads on some work to keep me busy in this next stage of my life. And we are part of a very loving and caring church family. God has been so good to me. What do I want for Christmas? I really don’t know. I already have everything I want and everything I need. I can vouch for what Paul said in Philippians 4:19:
Phil 4:19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Out of His riches in glory in Christ, God has poured out His grace and His goodness into my life in so many ways. Through His Son, God has blessed me with eternal life and an abundant life – abundant in love, abundant in friends, abundant in every way. Now, I am not saying there haven’t but tough times. But in those tough times, God has been with me. God has truly supplied all my needs. I know that He can be trusted to supply all of your needs as well.
Posted in Abundant life, Being Blessed, Being Thankful, Christianity, Christmas, Church, faith, I am blessed, Philippians 4:19
Tagged Christianity, Christmas Presents, Church, faith, God, God's Love, Philippians 4:19, religion
“A Very Special Gift”
At Christmas, I always think about some of the favorite Christmas gifts my brother, sister and I received while growing up. Like most kids, perhaps the most memorable gifts we received were our first bicycles. That Christmas was so special it was the subject of a school paper my brother wrote in elementary school. The bicycles were gifts the year before. That year was a tough year. I remember because those were what I call the “beans and corn bread years”. Money was tight and 5 nights out of the week we ate beans and cornbread, the other 2 nights we had cornbread and beans.
I remember there was talk of a strike at the factory where my dad worked and his hours were cut way back. I didn’t fully understand all that was going on; I just remember in general knowing that money was tight. I also remember mom and dad preparing us not to expect too much for Christmas. Daddy explained it by saying the elves were going on strike too. With our expectations for toys set pretty low, you can imagine our surprise and our joy when we woke up Christmas morning to find 3 shiny new bicycles under the tree. Not only did we have bikes but we had other presents too. It was a wonderful Christmas! That’s why the next year my brother wrote a paper for school called, “Why I believe in Santa Clause.” The only argument of his paper was, “How else are you gonna get new bicycles when Daddy ain’t working and you’re broke?” That may have been the only “A” my brother ever received on a paper.
In September 2006, in the last conversation I had with my dad before he passed away, he talked about how he wished he was a better provider. I told him I thought he did fine and I reminded him about the gifts of new bicycles and plenty of other presents that year he wasn’t working. He said that was a special year for him and he shared with me how one of his older brothers provided the money for all of those presents. He said he would never forget how blessed he felt that Christmas. Those gifts were not only special to us kids, but they were very special to my dad too. A loved one intervened and offered something to my father that he could not obtain on his own.
At Christmas time, I love to think back on that story. After all those years I found out that someone came forward with a special gift at the right time. Out of a great love, someone intervened and made a wonderful difference in another’s life. And isn’t that what Christmas is all about? The bible says in Galatians 4:4 that “in the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son born of a woman so that He could redeem us.” God who so loves the world, has intervened and has given us the gift of His Son – and what a glorious gift He is! God has given us gifts we could never obtain on our own. Christ is the gift of eternal life! Christ is the gift of strength! Christ offers us the joy to make it through each day no matter what struggles we face!
We need the gift of Christ. How else are you going to make it through the night when your heart is broken and the world seems without hope? How else are you going to get out of bed and face another day when the doctor has given you a bad report and your entire body aches? How else are you going to find the confidence to tell your child that everything will be all right when you yourself have fears and doubts deep in your heart? How else are you gonna get new bicycles when Daddy ain’t working and your family is broke? God because of His great love offers all of those things to you. God offers to intervene in your circumstances this Christmas and make a wonderful difference in your life through a precious gift, the most special gift ever, the person and the presence of His Son Jesus Christ.
I love this time of year as we look forward to celebrating Christmas and the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. I also love hearing about the generosity and kindness of people at this time of year. It is a time when there are increased efforts to meet the needs of others. There are drives to provide coats for kids, food for the hungry and many other charitable activities that take place. When I hear of these acts of love and kindness, I am reminded of Paul’s words in Philippians 2:3 – 4.
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
At Christmas, as we celebrate God’s gift of love and compassion to us through His Son, we are reminded to share gifts of love and compassion with others. May we do so abundantly. And may the generosity, goodwill and kindness shown during the Christmas season continue to be on display in the upcoming year.
Posted in Christianity, Christmas, faith, God, God Cares for You, God's Grace, inspirational, love one another, Love the Lord, Love your brother, Luke 2:14, Philippians 2:3 - 4
Tagged Christianity, Church, faith, Goodwill, inspirational, love one another, Luke 2:14, ministry work, Philippians 2:3 - 4, religion, sharing your faith
At the end of the year, I will be retiring from the insurance claims job I have been working at for over 30 years. Our company has offered some of us old-timers the opportunity to take advantage of an early retirement. It’s early in the sense that I am old enough to draw my pension but I’m too young to stop working. But that’s okay, I like to work. So, I have taken advantage of their offer and I have been applying for full-time chaplain jobs. Apparently, I have not yet applied for the job the Lord wants me to have because I am still looking. The whole job seeking process has served to remind me to trust in the Lord and wait on His timing. If you know me very well, then you know that waiting is not what I do best. But currently, that is what I am doing. As I have been waiting, I have been focusing on one of my wife’s favorite Bible verses, Isaiah 40:31.
Isaiah 40:31 Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.
I love that Bible verse. I love the promise that if we wait on the Lord, He will renew us and strengthen us. Some translations say “those who trust in the Lord.” And yet other translations say “those who hope” in the Lord. Each translation is accurate as the word Isaiah uses is one that speaks of trusting, waiting and looking forward with hope and assurance to what the Lord God is going to do. It is true. We can know and trust that if we look to Him, He will give us strength, He will give us the power to endure.
This has been a different and difficult year in many ways for many people. I pray that each of you will look to the Lord and allow Him to comfort you and strengthen you. I pray that you will continue to place your hope and your trust in Him.
Posted in A refuge, Christianity, Church, diligence, Draw close to God, God will help you, God's Strength, Isaiah 40:31, religion
Tagged Christianity, Church, faith, God has a plan for you, God's Strength, Hope in Christ, Isaiah 40:31, Patience, religion, running the race well, spiritual growth, Trust God, Wait for the Lord
In this world, it can be so easy for us to place our faith, our trust, our hope on the things of this world. Because we have been raised in this world and conditioned by it, we can easily become enamored with the power, prestige and wealth which are so highly prized in this world. We can unknowingly find ourselves seeking after, embracing and trying to cling to the things of this world at all costs. And the cost can be high. It can cost us our reputation and our relationships with others. Worst of all, placing our confidence in the things of the world indicates that we are not placing our trust in the Lord. Yes, the Lord can work through human institutions. Yes, He can use the power, prestige and wealth of this world for His glory. He can be trusted to work in the midst of all things – wins and losses, triumphs and tribulations. God is sovereign. He can be trusted. For that reason, our confidence, our faith, our trust is to be in Him.
Posted in A refuge, a stronghold, Build Upon the Rock, Christianity, Church, faith, Faith during hard times, Psalm 20:7
Tagged Christianity, Church, faith, faith in hard times, God, God has a plan for you, good advice, Psalm 20:7, religion
This week I have been reflecting on one of my favorite Bible verses, Jeremiah 17:7-8. In this passage, Jeremiah is speaking to the nation of Judah.
Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. 8 “For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.”
I love this reminder from Jeremiah about the importance of trusting God and relying on Him. As I read it, I am reminded that trusting God does not mean a person will never have to endure tough times. Seasons of drought and oppressive heat will come. All of us will experience some harsh circumstances and some hard times in this world from time to time. Difficult seasons will come. But if we trust in the Lord, we won’t just experience those difficult seasons, we will endure them. We will be as a tree planted by the water. We will continue to be sustained. We will be nourished. The Lord will be our constant source of hope and help. The Lord will help us to endure and He will empower us to continue bearing fruit. What a wonderful promise we have. What a wonderful Lord we serve.
Posted in bad weather, can't go on, Christianity, Church, diligence, Don't give up, faith, God will help you, God's Strength, trust in the Lord
Tagged Christianity, Church, don't give up, faith, God is a provider, God will help you, God's Strength, Jeremiah 17:7, ministry work, never forsaken, religion, trust in the Lord
Anytime you face a change of plans or a fork in the road on life’s journey, here is a great Bible verse to keep in mind:
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
That is good advice in times of uncertainty or change. You can trust the Lord to lead you and guide you, if you let Him. As a matter of fact, that is good advice at all times. Look to the Lord, lean on Him, trust in Him and He will guide your path.
Posted in Be Flexible, Christianity, Church, Don't give up, Draw close to God, faith, Faith during hard times, Proverbs 3:5-6
Tagged Christianity, Church, don't give up, faith, God has a plan for you, inspirational, Proverbs 3:5 - 6, religion
I hope that you were able to spend some time alone with God in prayer and in His word this week. For me, I find that I have to really guard my quiet time because if I do not, something else always seems to clamor for my attention and prevent me from spending time alone with God. I am reminded of the importance of quiet time because it is something that Jesus always made time for. The Bible says in Mark 1:35 “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.” This wasn’t just a one-time occurrence. We read in Luke 5:16 “Jesus often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.”
Jesus was busy in ministry, there was always something for Him to do. And yet, even with so much to do and so much to teach, Jesus regularly made time to be with His Father. It was a time of renewal and refreshing. If a quite time was beneficial to Christ, how much more beneficial will a quiet time be for us? We need to make time to be with the Lord. We need to get away from the distractions and the disruptions and just spend time alone with Him. We all benefit from a special time with Him; it is a time of renewal and refreshing. A quiet time does not take us away from what needs to be done, rather it strengthens us for what needs to be done.
Posted in busy schedule, faith, God Answers Prayer, God Still Speaks, Luke 5:16, Uncategorized
Tagged Christianity, Church, faith, God Still Speaks, inspirational, Luke 5:16, ministry work, prayer, quiet time, religion
One day last week, a severe thunderstorm passed through our area. Our little dogs usually handle those things okay but this time the lightning was really loud and really close and the thunder was booming. I was busy working and did not pay much attention to it until I noticed that both of our dogs were hiding under the desk where I was working. They were right there by my feet trying to wait out the storm in what they considered a safe place. I reached down and petted them and talked to them a little bit and kept on working. As the storm raged on, my dogs sought shelter under the desk near my feet. The situation reminded me of the first few verses of Psalm 91:
Psalm 91:1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!”
Just like my dogs had a safe place they could run to during a storm, there is a refuge available to us as well. We can find a safe place at the feet of the Lord God. We can trust Him to be with us. We can trust Him to comfort us, strengthen us and be present with us during any storm that may come our way. The Lord God truly is a refuge and a fortress.
Posted in bad weather, Christianity, Church, Don't give up, Draw close to God, Experiencing God's Presence, Faith during hard times, God is with Me, God's Strength, Psalm 91:1, The Lord is my Refuge, Trust in God
Tagged A refuge, a stronghold, Christianity, Church, faith, God's Strength, inspirational, never forsaken, prayer, Psalm 91:1, Trust in God
I have continued to practice riding my unicycle. I learned how to do what is called a “free mount” last week. That means that wherever I am, I can hop up on the unicycle and start pedaling. I am now able to go around the neighborhood and only have to stop when my legs get tired. Unicycle videos on Youtube have been really helpful in my learning process. I have learned a lot by watching and listening to those who already know how to ride a unicycle. By imitating them and practicing regularly, it is getting a lot easier. As I was reflecting on this the other day, I was reminded of Paul’s words to the church in Philippians 3:17. Paul writes:
Phil 3:17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.
In this chapter, Paul is speaking to church about living a life that glorifies Christ. Paul exhorts the church to have the right attitudes and to display the right behaviors. Paul instructs and encourages the church to imitate the good things and the godly things they observe in the lives of Paul and his fellow ministers. In this instruction, Paul is not being egotistical. Earlier in this very chapter Paul was very transparent about his transgressions, his pride and his sin that characterized his life before he met Christ. Paul knows very well the power of Christ to transform lives! Paul knows very well the willingness of Christ to equip us and empower us to be who He has called us to be. With that in mind, Paul encourages the church to imitate him as he seeks to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul says, “I haven’t arrived yet, but if you want to know how to get there, follow me.” I like that. We can learn a lot from watching, listening and imitating someone who knows what they are talking about. It is a blessing to have an example to follow. And if we keep watching, listening and imitating the godly lives of others, we will be an example for others to follow.
Posted in accountability partners, Christianity, Church, doing the right thing, faith, growing in faith
Tagged Christianity, Church, don't give up, faith, growing in faith, Imitate Godly Examples, Learn to Ride a Unicycle, Philippians 3:13, Philippians 3:17, religion, running the race well, Witnessing