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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Thoughts on "The Election"

Are you tired of hearing about "The Election"?


Me, too. 


Tired of hearing not only the pundits banter on and on about what it all means but also the everyday folks pontificate the ups and downs for our country come January.


Enough already.


This blog is not that at all. Not about why who won and who lost and what that says about the electorate and what ramifications we can expect.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, my friends!


Today will undoubtedly be busy.  Full.  Excitement. Food. Presents.


Joy at being together. Surprises shared. Gratitude.


Hugs and people and pictures .Laughs and reminiscing and new memories made.


 Maybe also some overtired kids that get grumpy, some disappointments from unrealistic expectations, and frazzled feelings that need soothing. Maybe some pain from an empty seat at the table or a misunderstanding that never got resolved.


I know you're busy. And probably tired. (Late night last night - those gizmos are a lot harder to assemble than the instructions promise!)


But take some time to worship the Savior. Be conscious of what you really celebrate today. Come into His presence. Bring Him your heart. Rejoice and thank God for His indescribable gift.


For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6


Hallelujah!
And He shall reign forever and ever,
  King of kings! and Lord of lords!
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!


God sent His Son.


A Savior for you and me.


And He died. And He rose again. And He lives to make intercession and to prepare a place for you and me.


And He's coming again.


Hallelujah and Amen!


Merry Christmas!













Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Being there

I have concluded that one of THE most important traits of a good friend is being there. Just being there. Being there when the new baby is born or the daughter gets married...or the first book is released. When the dream dies or the marriage is in peril or a parent is gone. Being there for celebrations or poignant milestones or painful journeys...just being there.


It's not necessary to have "the answer" or even "the right thing to say". No, it's just being there. Presence. (Although bringing food to anyone at any time is always a great idea...just sayin...) Presence. Just being there.


I think about that trait in the lives of so many people that I am privileged enough to claim as a"friend".  Their commitment to "being there" makes them immensely important to so many people, not just me; these are folks that somehow manage to "just be there" for others, scores of others. Folks that quietly carve out the time from busy schedules, summon the brainpower to remember, and possess the capacity of heart that cares enough to make being there a priority. Sometimes physical presence isn't a possibility so this kind of friend supplies a presence with a call or a text. The
 point is...they are there. With you. To grieve or celebrate or enjoy or endure. There.


Treasures. These folks are treasures.


I have experienced a lot of this in my life. Friends that flood my life with blessing by being there. Just being there. As I thanked God for these gifts in my life, I was reminded that the idea of "being there" originated with God.




He walked in the Garden with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8) and chatted with Moses in a burning bush (Exodus 3:2-8). He accompanied the Israelites in the desert, displaying His presence in a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night (Exodus 13:21,22) He promises to not only be there when we're winning the game but also when we are surrounded by circumstances or people that seem bent on our demise (Psalm 23:5).


And especially at Christmas, we celebrate that, He who was in the beginning with God - in fact IS God - became flesh and dwelt among us. And, as we behold His Glory, we see Who God is. (John 1:1-14) And we understand what the prophet Isaiah foretold and the disciple Matthew explained
Behold the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means " God with us."    Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23


Wow. Major importance - God with us.


Being there. Not distant or aloof or apart. With us. Here. And this priority of being there was the basis of His promise to always be with us (Matthew 28:20) and the heart of His prayer, pouring out His desire to His Father to have US with HIM (John 17:24).


Being there.


The greatest gift we can give one another.


The greatest gift God has given. The gift of His Presence.
By this, the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  (I John 4:9)





Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Peace to you

Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6,7


Such a sweet passage.  Such a comforting and familiar passage.


So familiar in fact, that we might just gloss over it so quickly that we miss the treasures packed inside.


So let's unpack it together, shall we?


I see three truths in these two verses, three powerful truths: a command, an instruction, and a promise.


First, the command,  Do not be anxious.


Do not be anxious.  In other words, do not worry. 


How succinct that the Greek word translated as "anxious" means "to be pulled in different directions"! Isn't that an apt description of worry? Isn't that what happens in our minds when we are waiting for the results of that biopsy? Or when it's past time for our newly licensed driver to make it home? Or the wondering of how to make things work when there is more month left at the end of the money?
Pulled in different directions. To places of frightening speculation or fretful imaginations. Places where we face problems without answers and burdens without strength to bear them. Scary places.
Time and time again we find ourselves in these places...and time and time again we find no resolution. We tell ourselves not to worry. We tell ourselves that most of the things we worry about never happen. We promise ourselves that we will trust God and not worry.
But then things happen.
Bills pile up.
A bruise won't go away.
The trusted relationship is strained.
We cannot stop our mind from fretting.


And yet the command is not be anxious. Not to be pulled into those scary and worrisome places.


But rather to go to one place. To The Place.


Next, the instruction.
Instead of being pulled into unproductive - even destructive - directions, we are instructed how to resolve the worry.


The place of God's presence.


And in His presence, there are five things to remember:
1.  In everything
     Nothing is too insignificant or too insurmountable to be addressed                                                    I find this so encouraging, so comforting, so exciting - we are to pray about everything! If you are like I am, you probably veer off from time to time in one direction or another. Either something seems so pressing, looms so large, feels so weighty that we act as though God cannot handle it alone and we must "help" Him by trying to figure it out on our own. Or something seems so small that it never occurs to us to pray about it so we just get stressed about it instead.
God instructs us here that everything is a potential for anxiety so He gives us instructions on how to handle everything victoriously.


2.  By prayer
It is significant that our conversation with God is described in 4 different ways in this passage. Prayer, supplication, thanksgiving, requests
I don't think God is being redundant - I think He is conveying 4 different components to the worry solution.
By "prayer", I think He is instructing us to come into the presence of I AM. To bow before His power, majesty, and holiness .To recognize Who He Is. This first step towards peace sets the tone for the steps that follow.


3. And supplication
"Supplication" is often seen as our petitions, our requests. But there is a subtle - and very significant
- difference. The use of this word connotes humility. This is definitely not a coming to God with our demands, or even our wish list. Not at all. This is coming to Him with the attitude of "not my will, but Yours". Acknowledging His claim on our lives and His right to do whatever He wills.


4. With thanksgiving
How gracious of God to include this phrase! This lets us know that, not only does God have the right to do whatever He wills, but also that we can trust Him to do only what is good and loving and faithful. Regardless of what it may look like to us, we can trust that all that His does is for our highest good and His highest glory.  Because of that confidence, we can thank Him.  In all things.
So, as we approach Him in worship (prayer) and humility (supplication), it is also in trust (with thanksgiving). Because He is good. All the time.


5. Let your requests be made known to God
   This is where we get to bring our petitions, our desires, our needs...to the only One who can fulfill them. After we have come to Him in worship, humility, and trust, then we can pour our heart out in longing. This approach often changes what we ask for! He wants us to tell Him what we want...and then trust Him to answer with the best.
I love the phrase "be made known to God" - it sorta sounds like we have to tell Him because He doesn't already know! That is laughable! The Divine, Omnipotent, OMNISCIENT God most surely knows not only what need but also what we are going to ask for - long before there is even a thought formed in our little brains! So what does this phrase intend to convey to us? I think it means the realization on our part of our dependence on Him. The recognition of our reliance on His goodness and mercy and grace to supply what we need, to grant what we are asking. Making known our requests is acknowledging that He alone is the giver of all good gifts. And that is why we come to Him - that is the essence of faith, the antithesis of worry!
 When we are in His Holy presence, realizing Who He is...and who we are not, when we are able to desire His Will higher than our own, then we can freely say, as Henry Blackaby puts it "Lord, here is what I think I want, but if you have something better in mind, well, then, just cancel my request!"


And then what happens?
After the command and the instruction...the result.


When we turn to prayer with these steps of worship and humility and trust and faith, then He gives peace. Peace that guards our hearts (our feelings) and our minds (our thoughts) against worry. Peace - the confidence in the goodness of God - which comes when we choose to pray instead of to worry...and this peace which results is also what guards us against future worry. Prayer begats peace which defeats worry. And when we find Him faithful, we turn to prayer instead of worry. Which begats peace...which guards us against worry...and He proves faithful...again and again and again.






Oh, one more thing.  A couple of verses later, there is a phrase that offers tremendous encouragement. Perhaps we read these exhortations and agree with them, but down deep, we know the truth - and the truth is we still worry. We want to experience His peace; we want to pray and trust instead of fretting. But that's not our reality.
What to do?


Verse 9 tells us - The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things and the God of peace shall be with you.


All these things that God urges us to do, so that we can have His peace?
Well, it's OK if you don't get it right every time.
Keep practicing.
Don't quit.
Practice what He shows us in these verses.
And, soon, you will find as I have that you won't be a worrier anymore. When trouble comes or panic threatens tranquility, you will find your default has become to pray. To trust. To thank Him. And to express your needs and hopes and desires to The Only One who gives good and perfect gifts.


Amen.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Living Letters Devotional Book update

For those of you in the Athens/Watkinsville area,  I will have a couple of book signings (isn't that a hoot???) and would love for you all to stop by and say hi if you can. Especially to the 12/17 one because I'd like to support my friend Dara Buczynsky and her great mission

12/17 - Epiphany 294 W Washington St /Athens - a place founded to help women understand that their true beauty comes from their Creator and to support local ministries
I'll be there 1-3pm

12/20  Walls of books/ Watkinsville -  Hog Mountain Road - in same building as PharmD on Demand -- 11-1 - this store will also stock a few books after the signing. 

If you preordered a book from me, you can pick them up at the signings or from my house. All preorders are at the $14.99 (plus tax) rate. After 12/12, price goes up (through me as well as on Amazon)
Payment - you can use PayPal (please use transfer to friends and family option) - chamfam@bellsouth.net or mail me a check to 1011 Broadlands Drive/30677. Books ordered before 12/12 are $16.04 including tax - after 12/12 it will be $20 total.
For you out of the Athens/Watkinsville area, I am happy to ship it to you - add $6 for  1-2 books and $8 for 3-4

Please please please do not feel ANY pressure to get a book or to come to the signings (but I'd love for you to support these local businesses and to stop by for a hug...) I just sent this out to the group instead of responding to several individual emails and because y'all have been kind enough to encourage me in this book thing. I still can't believe it.