Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It is Time

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)
I have always loved this chapter of Ecclesiastes.  When I was growing up, I would actually recite “there is a time to dance” to my mom and dad who, I thought, needed convincing.  Fortunately, I did convince them but I also learned there is a time to dance and a time to say “I’ll sit this one out.” It all depends on who is asking you to dance.
Serving as the Children’s Ministry Director at Salem several years ago, I made some very close friendships which I still cherish today.  These sweet girlfriends would often say “it’s just not my season to…” Often, I wondered what that must be like to say “It’s not my season right now” and to be able to say it with an abundance of peace.  Contrary to my sweet friends, I have always had a dozen plates spinning in the air and, invariably, one of them gets dropped. Sometimes it might be the laundry or my home, all too often it was my husband or family and, ultimately, my intimate relationship with Jesus.
What immediately pops into your head the moment you hear the word “season?”  Understandably, right now most of us would think of the Christmas season.
What does your Christmas season look like?
Is it one you would like to skip this year saying “it’s not my season?”  Perhaps finances, the loss of a loved one or the emptiness of being alone, once again, has silenced your season of Christmas.
Curious about the word meaning of Christmas, I did a little research and found this actual etymology of Christmas:
 *Christmas literally means the Mass (celebration) of Christ. "Christ" is a Greek word and title, meaning "anointed" or one set apart by God for a special purpose. "Christ" is equivalent to the Hebrew word "Messiah." Based on the words of ancient prophets, the first century Jewish people expected the arrival of the Messiah promised by God as a great deliver[er] of the people. (*http://www.jesuscentral.com/ji/lands/christmas.php)
So we celebrate Jesus, our great Deliverer! This season, He is the One asking you to dance.  The music you hear may sound like a train derailing on Main Street at high noon but if you listen close enough, you’ll hear His voice and His music…it is orchestrated and written just for you. Jesus Christ, Immanuel, Prince of Peace, is asking you to dance.  You might be tempted to say “I’ll just sit this one out.” Instead, place your hand in His and let Him lead you through this miraculous season of celebration we call Christmas. It is time.
Prayer: O great God! Thank you for delivering Your anointed One to us.  Jesus, You were, are and always will be, our beautiful Deliverer!  I praise You for being my personal Deliverer, many times over.  I can’t think of anyone I’d rather celebrate than You, Jesus.  This season, despite the many demands and distractions, please help me not to get derailed but to simply take your hand and dance.  –In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Walker or His Workmanship?

“But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. -1 Peter 2:9 (MSG)
Have you seen The Walking Dead? It’s a weekly sci-fi series where a disease has taken over an entire city, spreading to the nearby countryside, killing people and then bringing them back to life, if you want to call it that.  Only a ravenous hunger to suck the life out of any living thing that comes close gives them a semblance of existence…they are the Walking Dead.
Survivors have formed a makeshift family as they work to escape, and protect each other from, the walkers. Finding refuge in a countryside farm, they discover Doctor Herschel, the owner, is sheltering walkers in his barn.  In a heated discussion, his daughter, Maggie, asks her new-found friend, Glenn, not to call them walkers. “What do you call them?” he asks.  Insisting they are people, she adamantly replies “I call them mom, Mrs. Perkins, Mr. and Mrs. Stephens.” Family, neighbors, local business owners, once loved and accepted, now rejected to nothingness.
Thanksgiving morning I get to go downtown and help feed the homeless.  Some people scoff, calling them rejects, crackheads or the professional homeless who work the system, sucking the life out of the living. I want to know their names and call them Steve, Trent, Mrs. Perkins, or whatever their name is because I know Jesus knows their name. To Him, they are not rejects or walkers, they are His creation, fearfully and wonderfully made – His divine workmanship. His heart breaks for them. He longs to be their shelter and refuge. His blood poured out to redeem them, as it did for us when He called us from the shadows to His light to “speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made” for me and for you.
Who will you cross paths with this Thanksgiving that you would prefer to ignore or even hide from?  (You know, the one who just always seems to suck the life out of every living thing they come in contact with.)
Will you see him or her as a walker or His workmanship?
Will you speak out for Him?
Father God, it is so easy to forget that, were it not for your limitless grace, we, too, would be walkers. We praise You for lifting us up from the pit of darkness into your glorious light and ask that you give us the courage and the words to speak out for You. May Your light and love shine through us to infuse your works of art we meet in Your gallery of life. –In our Beautiful Creator Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Heart of Simply Devoted

If you are reading this, I already consider you a friend!  I just love those moments when we get to take a break, even for just a few minutes, to sit, breathe and say whatever’s on our mind to our friends. This is that kind of place. If you need to say something, say it. If you want us to pray with, or for you, about anything, just ask and we’ll pray it.
One thing I wanted to share with you is the heart of Simply Devoted: I am Yours! It’s a heartfelt cry of confession and devotion to Jesus, all at the same time. When I think about His great sacrifice, I can never get over my amazement at the depth of His love for me, for all of us.  As I get to know Him more, I love Him that much more and pray we will wake up each morning and go to bed each night with those words to Him engrained on the hearts of our souls – I am Yours!
Love ya lots in Christ!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An Undivided Heart

"For You are great and do marvelous deeds; You alone are God. Teach me Your way, LORD, that I may rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name. I will praise You, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify Your name forever." -Psalm 86:10-12 (NIV)

What grabs your attention?  What lures you away from Him?

For me, it's not always what appears to be the "bad stuff" -- most of the time, it's the busy stuff. Sleeping until the last second, jumping out of bed and straight into the shower, I miss my quiet time with Him.  I am off to the races and thrive on adrenaline rushes and multi-tasking. There's a catch though: too often, I let the urgent overshadow the important. 

Not surprising.  Once I took a personal inventory/assessment and it showed that, on a scale from 1-10, my sense of urgency was a 9. What does that mean? It means that everything appears urgent to me.  I like attacking things and getting things done.  Especially, if it means I get to help someone else. Sounds like a great attribute, doesn't it?  The truth is, maybe it is...in a job interview.  But in life, it's vital that I learn to take care of the important things too. Things like starting my day with my Maker, giving Him my undivided attention so that He, in turn, can give me an undivided heart.

Can you relate?

The coolest thing is that we don't have to create an undivided heart, all we have to do is ask for Him to give us one.

Father God, Creator of our hearts, we thank You for this incredible day.  It is in our very nature to want to take care of everyone and everything around us...all at the same time.  Yet in this race of life, we often allow the urgency of others to overshadow the importance of simply being with You. We ask that You give us an undivided heart for You and You alone so that in each moment of our day You will be glorified. -In Jesus' Name, Amen.