Wednesday, December 23, 2015

It's Christmas Time

My friend, Tanya, and I were blessed to write an Advent devotional booklet for our fellow church members to help them prepare for the Christmas season. Each one of our devotions was based on a verse from the beloved Christmas song, O Holy Night. Below is one of the devotions I wrote to remind us to celebrate the real reason for the season, the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

O Holy Night

“Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!”

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good
news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town
of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the
Lord.”  Luke 2:10-11

The Mercy Me song, I Can Only Imagine, was very popular on Christian and secular radio a few years back. The beautiful lyrics of that song help our human heart and eyes to visualize what it will be like to be in God’s presence before the King of Kings.

The shepherds of the Bible actually saw what that song portrays. The angels’ sudden appearance over the hills of Bethlehem lit up the sky with the glory of God. The shepherds of the Bible were ostracized and considered unclean by Jewish society. Their lot in life was to guard and care for dirty sheep in relative isolation. Yet, those lowly Jews were the first to receive the good news of Jesus birth and an introduction to the King of Kings. They overcame their fear and hurried to find Mary, Joseph, and the newborn Savior. They willingly fell to their knees in worship.

Become aware of those around you who are on the fringes of society. During the Christmas season think of one thing you can do to share the good news with them.

God, it is so easy to look past those who don’t look like me and who live in a different part of town. Open my eyes to ways I can share your love with them. Amen!

Thanks for reading and sharing my blog posts in 2015. I wish you 
and your family a blessed Christmas and a joyful New Year.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Practice Thanks Living (Part 3)

My celebration of Thanksgiving may be over, but my year of giving thanks is just beginning. Starting now and through 2016, I plan to concentrate on thanks living. A familiar quote from Bill Keane is motivating me in that direction.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God,
that’s why we call it the present.”

I’ve mostly dealt with my past and learned from it. I’m replacing my anxiety about the future with hope. But what do I do about TODAY… I feel the stress level rising as I write the words below:
  • phone call from the doctor says, “You need more tests.”
  • A rude driver cuts me off and blasts his horn.
  • A unexpected situation thwarts my plans for the day.
  • A broken appliance ruins the budget for the month.

 Today is a Gift of God

Growing older with more life experiences under my belt gives me a better perspective on coping with daily stress. An attitude of gratitude and a good sense of humor empower me to tackle my problems one by one. No matter what comes my way today, it helps if I can look at each challenge as a gift. Another important tool for managing my daily stress is flexibility. Some days I wish I was more like  GUMBY — a tall colorful balloon that swings and sways in the wind. It also helps to find ways to share your burden with another person who will encourage and pray for you.

We all like to think we are in charge and control of our lives, when in reality we have to “let go and let God.” My personal experience of almost dying from liver disease before getting a liver transplant almost 18 years ago is a constant reminder to me that each day is a gift. Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. We need to celebrate each day as a blessing and an opportunity to give back to others. Not only is today a gift to you, but you can be a gift for someone else. A prayer, a visit, or an act of kindness goes a long way toward putting a smile on another person’s face.

As we contemplate December 25th when the best “present” of all became flesh to dwell among us, take time to “present” yourself to God so that you may experience His “presence” during this Christmas season.