Changes and Lessons

Well it’s winter, so it’s supposed to be cold, right? Well it is, but every once in a while there’s this temporary temperature rise that grants us just the slightest glimmer of hope.

It reminds us that nothing lasts forever, change is inevitable, and when one is speaking about the weather, well change is the norm.

Some changes we enjoy, others not so much. Seems that change, whether planned by us or forced upon us, is all a part of our existence. And it seems at the first of the year some of us are bound and determined to make some changes. If you are one of those (for I am not) I applaud you.

And I want to encourage you…. good for you! And if you have a setback, don’t let that deter you, and don’t let others comments upset you. Try again, and if it seems impossible at this particular time in your life, well I’m here to applaud your personal effort. Good for you (again), you went at it, you gave it a try. Maybe next time your efforts will result in what you had desired.

What is comforting to me is to realize that sometimes it takes years for something to change. Perhaps it was more of a behavior thing, you may have called quits on that, but you may have to deal with the aftereffects of those previous choices. The comfort is this, as a believer in Christ you have made a change, never forget that. People may never forget past behaviors and seem to be thrilled to throw up in your face at every instant.

Remember this, the past is just that. You may carry the lessons that you have learned from it, but it should not run your present life. As a believer you really are a new creation. As old behaviors and attitudes change, the past is left behind. What is the sense of dragging that into your present and on into your future when it’s a closed history as far as your heavenly Father is concerned?

You see it tells us in scripture that “I am the Lord I change not!”(Mal.3:6). And when you brings failures and such before the Lord and set things straight with Him, well you are given a new start and the past is forgiven and forgotten. (Micah 7:9). People have a problem forgetting, but not God- it’s over and done with, get on now with your changes!

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Thankfulness reminder

 It’s 12 below, that’s somewhat cold, it squeaks as I head out. It’s mighty dark and all I hear is the crunch, crunch, crunch of my steps as I head out to the garage.

I had started the car earlier, so I throw my work gear into the small bubble of warmth that is my vehicle. And I sigh, a week has passed and now I must return to work. Most of us had between Christmas and New Year’s off, a chance for some r&r.

Off I go, through the cold and I am once again reminded. I have come from a warm home. I have a car that decided to turn over and heat up as I asked. I have somewhere to go, and something to put my hand to. All the while knowing that I have somewhere to return when the work is done for the day.

And I sigh, and I thank God.

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the season of Christmas –

And so Christmas day proper has come and gone. How many have already taken down their tree in order to get ready for the New Year celebration. We haven’t yet, maybe another weekend to go before we do.

Now is the season of Christmas  really- for in the church’s liturgical calendar beginning on Christmas and going those “12 days of” to land at Epiphany, well this is technically called Christmas.

Wow! I don’t have to put the tree away, I have 12 more days to celebrate. But no that’s not right either…

I have all days to celebrate the spirit of Christmas. I want to be known as the converted old covetous sinner Ebenezer Scrooge at the end of his story.

“He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset:…and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.”

Regardless if people laughed at the change over Ebenezer he was wise enough to let them shake their heads. He continued in his transformation, finally being noted for the ability to keep Christmas well. He had learned his lesson well with the visitation of the 3 spirits.

Now is the season of Christmas, and how shall we keep it? Perhaps we’re want to put it away, I pray not. The foundation of Christmas was the undeserving love of God towards us, towards a whole realm of Ebenezer’s. It is probably time for our own transformations, and in so doing, may we come to know how to keep Christmas well.

Show us Lord what Christmas is, transform our thinking to be in tune with the gifts of Christmas- salvation, compassion, and  charity towards all. Amen


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so this is Christmas



And so it is this Christmas day, all the candles may be lit on our Advent wreaths . The last candle is  the Christ Candle.

And Lord you remind me that the center of my focus is to be upon the one light that came into this world to dispel all the darkness that lies within… me.

There will always be darkness in this world, that will not change until He comes again.  But until that time we will contend with forces beyond our control. Forces that seek to tear at our communities, our homes, our relationships and within each one of us individually.

I need this Christ candle in my life, and I need to take it with me as I go from this day. For where there is darkness, there will be this light. Where there is hunger, there will I be fed on His word. Where there is confusion, there will be guidance. Where there is lack I will find all that is needed for this day and the day after that and the day after that and the day…

Hallelujah to the King of Kings, to He who sits on the throne of the God Most High. Blessed is He that came for me and sheds His light into the darkness of my soul. This is your day Lord, may you ever be praised in this life that I live.  

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Take my breath away

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold,[b] an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 “ Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”[c]

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely[d] known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. (Lk. 2:8-20)

It was quiet on the plain that evening, the gentle breeze just beginning to cool the heat from the day. The fires were lit, the stations set and the dogs were out on the perimeter. The young ones had been gathered close, content to finally lay down from the day’s wanderings.

The men were lazily taking their meal, talking, and laughing among themselves. Then on the horizon it seemed that the sun had appeared- a great light was upon the plain and the men were dumbstruck. The sheep became suddenly restless, and yet they cowered as the dogs with the sudden brightness. Trying to shield themselves was impossible, instantly they tried to hide and clung to each other for safety. And then came the voice, followed by others.

Absolutely terrified came this voice from one who was barely discernable within the brilliance.

                “ Do not be afraid” it said… but the words only made the men cry out in their fear.

“Do not be afraid, for I bring you good news, great joyous news.” A few of the shepherds actually lifted their heads and made out the form of what appeared to be certainly some angelic form. The light was still surrounding them, but now they could see this beautiful messenger. Although their hearts were still troubled, they listened to the being.

“Today, in Bethlehem, there has been a Savior born, for you, for all of you, he is Christ the Lord!” the being said. In fact it almost sounding as if it was a song. The shepherds just looked at each other mouthing the word “Savior?”. The being knew their questions and continued to speak.

“And this is how you will know, you will find a child, wrapped in its swaddling bands, in a manger.” And as the word went out, the shepherds were terrified to see a great and mighty host of angelic beings. The night, once pierced by day, now rang out in rapturous melody to almost make them swoon. Caught up were these mere mortals in a song that had been rehearsed from the dawn of creation and it seemed to last for hours on end.

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will to men!” Over and over like a wild and wonderful chant. And all they could do was huddle in abject submission. The cacophony of voices finally seemed to move away and then the light diminished, leaving the shepherds and their flocks as they had been found.

Looking up and at each other, they were speechless. Each one considering his own sanity, and what had really happened. But one by one, they found their voices and argued whether or not to go. But go where? A manger, a child, Bethlehem, that still left too much area to search. And it was decided that they would go in groups, each taking some of the flock, and if one had found the child to send a runner to find the others.

Off they went into the night to find the sign given to them. They would stop at every cave with a lite burning, surely there were others who had been told…

How would you have reacted to this terrifying encounter. Let’s give those shepherds a little credit for not deciding to just stay put out of their fear! And what was the response they got from strangers about their visitation? How many caves did they search before they found the one with a child just newly born, still wrapped in it’s swaddling.

Picture your local nativity scene- why is it almost every figure has their hand to their heart? (well except of course the wisemen)It’s a picture of someone catching their breath, that sudden intake of air. Well the entire universe had been holding it’s breath for several millennia. How could the shepherds naught but do  likewise when they found the child just as the angel had told them?

Advent Lord is drawing to an end, this has been our time of preparation for Your coming. We may think we know what to expect, but we really don’t have a clue. We may think we have everything ready, and all things are in place, yet that isn’t quite right either. Unexpectedly You God became Incarnate, the ultimate deity wrapped in flesh and it staggers our senses. May we sit in Your presence this day, and may the wonder of this moment take our breath away. To the One who breathes into us the breath of life we pray Amen-

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Searching for someone-

The other day I caught myself whistling a tune that I use to sing as a teenage member of a folk choir. It’s a song by Richard Avery and Don Marsh called “Mary,Mary What You Gonna Call the Baby?” Love this song, because in it several groups of people were on a search for someone.

“Slaves are we, and looking for a master, Why don’t you call him Lord? Shhh- let’s all call him Lord!” The idea of slave and master is repulsive to us this day, but are there not those who are enslaved by their own choices? Are there not those burdened with loads that they were never meant to carry? There is one who is the Master, the great merciful Master who lifts and breaks the chains that keep us bound.

             “ We like our sheep need someone to guide us, Why don’t you call him Shepherd? Shhh- let’s all call him Shepherd!” Who wants a lowly shepherd to guide? I do, I do! For in the Great Shepherd’s hands there is safety and protection. The Great Shepherd who left all His other sheep to come find me and place me safely back within His fold.
“ Hungry and poor, we need someone to save us, Why don’t you call him Savior? Shhh- let’s all call him Savior!”
Hungry and poor, spiritually starved until the Living Bread of Life came into my life in the person of Jesus Christ. Yes I’ll call Him Savior.

             Kings of the world, we seek someone to rule us, Why don’t you call him King? Shhh- let’s all call him King!” The kings of this world are as naught in the light of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Rulership of my life is given unto Him who is worthy of my praise- yes, I’ll call Him King!           

             “ Mary, Mary, what you gonna name that baby? What you gonna call that holy baby?” The question is left to you- what’s in a name? Well, what are you seeking and by what name do you know Jesus by?

Oh Lord, bless the seekers this day, those who are trying to find their way. May they come to know that whatever they lack for their journey, they shall find it in You. But let us be out there, Your children, those who were once seekers, let us become seekers again. May we not shout ourselves off to those who need to find you. Let us be seeking for them, let us introduce the Savior to them by whatever means we have, for YYour honor and glory Lord we pray – amen

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the Ultimate Oxymoron

“So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered”.Lk.2:6 

I look at this verse and I wonder, how many days were they in Bethlehem before the birth came. Why couldn’t they have found family or something else.

Ahhhhh, the lesson of pure humility stares back at me when I consider a birth within an animal’s fold.

A couple of years ago, well, more like 4 yrs ago, I wrote a page from the animal’s point of view of that night. So I wander back there to take a second look…

“Haut-haut! Come on, haut-haut…ummph” grunted Joseph as he gave the oxen one last shove. Slowly the team moved forward again towards the entrance. Joseph and Mary had been led to this cave a couple of days ago. Every morning it was the same, Joseph had to wrestle with his stubborn partners to reclaim the extra space for his family.

“Joseph, be gentle with your encouragement. They were here first…” Mary said. She knew it was very close, she hadn’t slept most of the night. “…today, surely he would come today” she thought.

“Well, I’d like to encourage them all the way to the altar Mary.” Joseph was clearly frustrated and why wouldn’t he be? He knew in his heart Mary was only hours away, maybe a day at the most from going into labor. She wasn’t breathing the same, she couldn’t lie still but for a moment or two. “Father, I feel like I’ve failed You…” A simple man of trade, he felt so inept in all of this.

And so Joseph plunked himself down next to Mary. He tried to help her settle, had gotten fresh rushes and straw. He managed to prepare some food and now- “what next?”

As Joseph ate, he stared off towards the entrance of the manger. “What are you looking at?” he called out to the ox. He made an effort to get up but Mary’s hand stayed him. The ox was anything but a dumb beast as Joseph was thinking. Broad and heavy of form, and able to pull great loads of weight. Joseph took a good look at the ox, noticing its eyes. Almost a trace of sweetness in the one good eye it had. “…looks like that bad eye has been your savior there ol’ boy, no altar call for you”.

And if the ox could have spoken?

Would the ox have said to Joseph, “because of that child, no more altar calls for any of us”. Ironic, that the Savior of the world lay in the midst of those who were so often chosen as sacrificial animals? And as perfect as they were judged to be, sheer perfection was missing. Over and over again the altars ran red with their blood. Time and time again the priests said the atoning words, blessed the animal and then offered it to the Most High God.

In just a few short hours, perhaps a day, this would be the beginning of the end for many of that kind. For those who would come to realize that what God had said had been fulfilled in this child – “for it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin…”.

Lord there is no substitute of perfection except Jesus. Because of Him we sing “Glory to God in the highest”, for there’s peace finally in the gift You sent-

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