O Come, O Come Immanuel

Immanuel – God is with us. One of the names that Jesus bore as he came to earth to live among us.

A wonderful story from John Ortberg’s book  “God is Closer than you think”  as found on the blog Kingdom People by Trevin Wax

“We Leper” – An unusual Christmas meditation

Father Damien was a priest who became famous for his willingness to serve lepers.

He moved to Kalawao – a village on the island of Molokai, in Hawaii, that had been quarantined to serve as a leper colony.

For 16 years, he lived in their midst. He learned to speak their language. He bandaged their wounds, embraced the bodies no one else would touch, preached to hearts that would otherwise have been left alone. He organized schools, bands, and choirs. He built homes so that the lepers could have shelter. He built 2,000 coffins by hand so that, when they died, they could be buried with dignity.

Slowly, it was said, Kalawao became a place to live rather than a place to die, for Father Damien offered hope.

Father Damien was not careful about keeping his distance. He did nothing to separate himself from his people. He dipped his fingers in the poi bowl along with the patients. He shared his pipe. He did not always wash his hands after bandaging open sores. He got close. For this, the people loved him.

Then one day he stood up and began his sermon with two words: “We lepers….”

Now he wasn’t just helping them. Now he was one of them. From this day forward, he wasn’t just on their island; he was in their skin. First he had chosen to live as they lived; now he would die as they died. Now they were in it together.

One day God came to Earth and began his message: “We lepers….” Now he wasn’t just helping us. Now he was one of us. Now he was in our skin. Now we were in it together.

O Come, O Come, Immanuel.  May you and yours have a wonderfully blessed Christmas and a new year where you encounter God’ s blessings everywhere you turn.

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The power of One (part 3)

Many of you have heard me refer to myself as an “information” junkie.  I love to learn. I love to discover new things, new books, new websites, new people, etc.  Well I was reading a webpage recently and there was a link to the following site.  Every Monday Matters.  After looking around the site, I realized that it fits perfectly with the theme of my last two posts on “The Power of One”  They actually take it a step further and encourage all the ones that are out there looking to make a difference to gather together and share what they are doing and even brainstorm how their 2 or 3 or more might make a difference.

What is also really cool about this idea is the wide variety of areas that they are encouraging you to make a difference. They also nudge you with questions, ideas and motivation to do what you can.

Okay, here is what I would like to see in 2012.  I would love to have our church begin this movement in Murray County. I see this going way beyond our congregation, but would love to have some help in getting this started and getting the word out.

Take a look around the website and call me, e-mail me, text me, message me, whatever and let me know that you are interested in making this happen.

 

Merry Christmas and remember to get out there and make a difference!

The Power of One (part 2)

After I wrote my last post on “the Power of One”  I came across the following blog post by Michael Hyatt (great blog by the way, well worth subscribing to)  “5 Ways you can become  an everyday hero”.  He starts with a discussion about the movie Freedom Writers (awesome movie, by the way, – our whole family loves it) The movie is based upon the real life story of rookie teacher Erin Gruwell and focuses on her struggle to make a difference in the lives of her students in a tough inner city school in Long Beach, California. The movie really shows how one person can make a difference.

Michael goes on to share 5 ways that you and I can exercise our own power to make a difference where we are right now.

1. Stop ignoring the evil you encounter. For way too many people the response to the hurt around us isn’t anger or even sadness, it is apathy. As followers of Christ, we are called to a different standard. Like the Good Samaritan, we are called to “see” the other and do what we can with what we have.

2. Stop over-thinking your response to it. It is so easy to think of why we can’t! We have our own problems. We don’t know enough, have enough, etc. to truly make an impact.  On and on and on go the excuses.  It’s time we listen to that still small voice of God speaking to us and respond when we are nudged!

3. Stop complaining about your lack of resources. There are hundreds of stories of people without the resources that everyone thought they needed, fulfilling their dreams God has placed on their lives. Sadly, there are thousands of stories of people who gave up too soon, because all they could see was the obstacle in front of them.  Michael states in his blog “Resources are never – and I mean never – the problem. The biggest challenge is simply my will to act”

4. Start asking.  “What is the right thing to do?”  The easy questions to ask are “Who (else) is going to do something about this?”  “What does this have to do with me?” and so on. As Christians we are called to ask “What does God want me to do in this situation?”  We cannot ignore the pain and sorrow around us.

5. Be in the moment and act. There will never be a perfect time to act, so act when you the Holy Spirit nudges. Again, stop with the I don’t have enough experience, resources, time, etc.  Like the bumper sticker says “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it” Just step up and do what needs to be done.

Don’t think you are the hero type?  If you are obedient and trusting, God will work through you to make an impact in someone’s life and you will discover that to them you are a hero!

 

The power of one! One with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit is powerful enough to overcome problems and obstacles that seem impossible to us.  Sometimes all we have to do is start!

 

Get out there and be somebody’s hero today!

 

The power of One.

There is a lie out there that too many people, including too many Christians tragically believe. It is the lie that one person (particularly myself) cannot make a difference in this world. Too many people look at the problems that the world is burdened with and give up and give in to the lie that there is nothing that I can do!

For the Christ follower, the beginning of our story starts with the purpose for which we were created.  God has created in us the ability to accomplish the purpose for which He created us. I believe that no matter what the issue is, God has already gathered the resources needed to overcome that problem.  In the hands and feet, heart and souls of his children and with the presence & power of His Holy Spirit, the foundation is here to overcome any obstacle, to solve any problem, to conquer any foe.

Now, this does not mean that the battle will be easy.  There will be times when the fight will be fierce and the wounds we receive will be painful, but without the willingness of His children to stand up and say “This ought not to be” than sin and it’s children – greed, hatred, selfishness, and the like – will continue to have their way in our communities.

 

I have taught a few seminars in the past on missions in the local church and I always ask the following question to the participants:

            What breaks your heart?

What situation, problem, issue is out there that simply breaks your heart when you think about it?  To use different language – What burden has God laid on your heart?  The reason I ask this is simple.  If One is going to make a difference, that one must begin here – in the midst of the call placed on your heart by a just and righteous God.

It’s a really simple question, but when answered with honesty, you will discover the place where you really don’t care what other people think and you will discover the place where you find yourself yearning for a way to overcome that which breaks your heart.

 

For me, I discovered a few years ago that I cannot stand to think of a child going hungry! No child deserves to go hungry!  But there are millions of hungry children out in the world, someone might say.  How in the world can a single person make a difference against a problem so very, very big?

The answer is simple:  the God that placed this call upon my life will provide the energy, the passion, the drive, the motivation, the words, the guts, whatever it takes to accomplish the purpose He has called me to.

DO NOT believe the lie that you cannot make a difference. If you are faithful. If you believe. If you listen to the one who has laid this burden on your heart, then you will find yourself looking back one day and praising God for what he has done in your little old life.

For me, maybe there will be a day where there will be no more hungry children, but until that day comes – I have work to do.

What breaks your heart?

Encountering the Word

For the Christian, it is imperative that we spend time in the Bible.  Studying, meditating upon, discussing, memorizing upon the Word of God is vital and necessary to our growth as followers of Jesus.

One of the blessings of technology is that there are now multiple ways to experience the Word of God. In addition to the old standby – the leather bound copy of the Bible, you can now read it on your computer, your tablet, your smartphone, etc.  You can listen to through your ipod, mp3 player, cd player, pretty much anywhere.

How do you experience the Word of God? I would love to hear from you on the different ways and different means you experience the Word of God.  Leave a comment and let me know what you are doing.  As I discover resources I will do the same.

Meanwhile, to give you a peak at what some are doing to make God’s Word more visually appealing, take a look at this video from Asbury Seminary (only 53 seconds)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUNAPhb81hw

A time to Wait

How many of you have ever said or ever heard it said “Don’t pray for patience, because God will surely give it to you!” In today’s instantaneous culture, the mere idea of waiting is offensive to many people. If we don’t get what we want RIGHT NOW, then we complain to the world about the wait. With today’s TV’s we don’t even have to wait through the commercials anymore.  We can get to we want faster and faster every day.

However, even before we talk about waiting in our faith, we can see many examples of the positives of waiting.  Nine months seems a wonderful time to wait for that child to come, after all there is a lot to prepare before that big day.  Some food (BBQ for example) doesn’t need to be hurried at all.  Slow cooking is the only proper way for some foods.

When it comes to our relationship with God, we need to understand how waiting plays a vital role in our faith and in faith in general. The idea that God has different timing than we do is hard to grasp for many people. 2 Peter 3:8-9 tells us that God is patient because he doesn’t want any of his children to perish.  Thank you Lord for waiting for me.

Another view of waiting can be found Here in this story I read on Preaching Today.  Powerful support for a theology of waiting.

The Epidemic of Loneliness at Christmas Time

I found this story on the Preaching Today website. 

A British medical doctor named Ishani Kar-Purkayastha shared a story about his interaction with Doris, an 82-year-old hospital patient. Two days before Christmas, Doris seemed healthy and ready for discharge. But for some reason she kept complaining about inexplicable health issues. Dr. Kar-Purkayastha wrote: “Yesterday it was her arm that was hurting, before that her hip. Truth is, Doris is an incredibly healthy 82-year-old, and we can’t find anything. I have no doubt that it will be the same today.”

When the X-rays came back normal, he told Doris that he would have to stick to the plan of sending her home. Doris looked down at the floor and quietly said, “I don’t want to go home …. It’s just that I’m all alone and there are so many hours in the day.” Then after a long pause, she sighed and asked, “Doctor, can you give me a cure for loneliness?”

Dr. Kar-Purkayastha reflected on this incident:

I wish I could say yes. I wish I could prescribe her some antidepressants and be satisfied that I had done my best, but the truth is she’s not clinically depressed. It’s just that she has been left behind by a world that no longer revolves around her, not even the littlest bit.

There are thousands like her, men and women … for whom time stands empty as they wait in homes full of silence …. They are no longer coveted by a society addicted to youth ….

[Doris] is alone, and it brings home the truth of this epidemic that we have on our hands—an epidemic of loneliness …. The most difficult part is that I don’t know how to solve this, although I wish I could. For now, I simply retract my diagnoses. Sheepishly, I insist that Doris spends her Christmas this year on the ward, and I can see her mood lift. But as I steel myself for the inevitable influx of unwanted grandparents whom I know will arrive, I cannot help but wonder how it is that things could have gone so badly wrong.

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Dr. Ishani Kar-Purkayastha, “An Epidemic of Loneliness,” The Lancelet (12-18-10)

Do you know anyone who is lonely this Christmas? Have you considered how you could brighten their day with a simple phone call, card or visit? As I write that last sentence I realize that I must ask this question of myself as well and that how I answer that question will either honor God or not.

I want to encourage you to choose today how you might address this epidemic this Christmas.  Who will you reach out to this month?

As we celebrate the gift of Jesus this season, may we be looking for ways to give the gift of presence to those who are lonely.