KING JESUS - LORD OF LORDS
IS COMING BACK!

email: creyner@yahoo.com

Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010

Align Left


My Dear Friends,


I would like to wish you and yours the very most


BLESSED & JOYFUL
NEW YEAR


May the Good Lord bless and keep you
under His watchcare in 2010


In His Service, Carole, A Royal Heir

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Are You a Success?

We so often hear people saying that someone is a success. I guess each of us certainly wants to be a success. But are we all speaking the same language when we refer to being a success? Do we all mean the same thing?

Just what is success?

This is the dictionary definition (n.):
1. The favorable or prosperous outcome of attempts or endeavors.
2. The attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.
3. A successful performance or achievement
4. A person or thing that is successful

Almost inevitably when people call someone a success these days you know they are talking about the dictionary definition.

Often, though, I find that I agree that this person being talked about is successful but his priorities and goals are wrong...and therefore he is often not 'a success' at all from my point of view. An example might be a person who is famous, talented, filthy rich and holds a high position. To most people that is a person who is a 'success.' But 1) is that the Lord's will for his life? 2) how often did that person arrive there partly because he is also selfish, corrupt, immoral, dishonest and greedy?

So I decided to go to the Bible and see what God has to say about success. God's view on success is infinitely more important than man's. I want to be a success in His eyes, don't you?

I found these two verses. It's surprising how few times you find the word at all in scripture.

Joshua 1:8
"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."

Ecclesiastes 10:10
" .... wisdom brings success."

That's the kind of success we want to strive for, the kind that comes from knowing God's Word intimately, studying it passionately and relentlessly, and craving to obey everything that it says and to learn the depths of it. Then we will be wise, rich in His knowledge and blessings (prosperous) and successful -- from God's point of view.

Is there any other opinion that counts?

Royal Heir


Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

When The Worst Happens....

.....and it will.

In all things give thanks
. That's what the scriptures tell me I should do.

"But Lord, surely not in these circumstances. That's ridiculous...impossible."

In ALL things.

"But, Lord, this is more than I can take. I am afraid. I am angry. Things are out of my control. I'm not strong enough to deal with this."

In ALL things. Again He speaks to me and gives me no excuses to fall back on. In ALL things.

"Okay, Lord." And so I begin to give thanks. At first, hesitantly - reluctantly - forced. A pouting child. And then I gain speed. I really FEEL thankful. And then I cannot stop. It seems there is no end to the things for which I am thankful.

And then, I move into JOY. I am beyond thankful. I am overwhelmed with joy. The joy of the Lord is my strength. My heart sings. My spirit soars. I am above circumstances. I am not afraid. I am not angry. I am not in control, but I know The One Who is.

I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able. I have a powerful friend who died for me. My Savior. My Lord. And HE is in charge. I am so thankful.

Move into joy. In all things give thanks.

A true story.

A Child of the King


Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 28, 2009

How Good Do We Have To Be?

I don't smoke, and I don't chew...
and I don't go with girls who do.

This little ditty from the past ran through my mind the other day as I was musing about 'stuff.' It made me smile, and while the wisdom of this course of action may be valid for a number of reasons, it is not the basis for our salvation. While we may think it's 'a sin' to do specific acts which we know are not God's best for us, the bottom line is that 'sin' is much larger than that. It is a condition, a disease of our very nature, with which we are shot through from birth.

No matter how 'good' we try to be it can never be good enough. And yet the good news is that no matter how 'bad' we might be it can never be bad enough to bar us from the mercy of Jesus Christ. The beauty of it is that it is strictly up to us. Once we hear God's call it is each person's choice to make. Who will run my life? Will I run it? Or will I submit every single action and decision to the rule of Christ as Lord of my life?

It sounds easy. And it really is. The problem comes in having the discipline to touch base with the Lord and His Word about everything. We commit our lives to Him, thank Him with great joy and then run off and immediately take charge again. If you think a relationship with your parents, your kids, your spouse or other people is hard to keep on a steady course, try one with the Creator of the universe! Because He really IS the boss. The irony here is that if you allow God to run your life every minute of the day those other relationships will run more smoothly than you can believe. When you get off track with God you get off track with others. Its a spiritual rule.

Our sinful condition may be compared to having the chicken pox. We turn a couple of the really irritating 'poxes' over the the Lord and He clears them up, but meanwhile others are popping up all over the place. We need to turn the whole body over to Him and do it daily. That's the secret. If we do not talk to the Lord every single day, consult Him about every single thing, well...the pox is on us. And just when we think we've got it down pretty well, we've taken our medicine daily, we're pretty good now, we take a break from the Lord. Oops. We get broad-sided and the disease attacks our most vulnerable spot. One we thought was taken care of a long time ago...wrong.

We can't afford to tell someone else to take the log out of his eye if we can't even take care of our own. Talk - and more importantly, listen - to the Lord moment by moment.

It will change your life. I guarantee it.

A Child of the King


Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Exactly How Much Does God Love You?

God is love. We all know this phrase by heart. But what exactly does it mean?

Our valentine image of love is of cupids with little red arrows, hearts, chocolates, flowers and a general giddiness. It is a time of wonder for young adults as they speculate on the implications for themselves, and for older ones who sometimes wonder if anyone really does care.

We have these same tender feelings when we are involved with a wedding. The romance, the joy, the hopes and dreams and expressions of undying love accompany young couples as they enter a period of temporary insanity and seem to lose touch with all rational thought. This is why parents cry at weddings. They realize that this moment, this apex of romance, is about to be hurled unsuspectingly into a world of reality. This young love will be tested and tried to see if it has the capacity - the will - to endure into maturity.

We soon discover that love is not necessarily easy. That loved one is provoking bad feelings in us and we wonder if we even like that person who doesn't seem as cooperative and charming as we had at first thought. Somewhere along the line we must decide if we will love. Anyway. We must either commit to love that person or decide that it is much easier to simply walk away. To love may be the harder choice. The riskier choice. But always the right choice. To love is to give oneself totally and without reservation regardless of the cost. To lay oneself bare and vulnerable.

We often measure our worth by the cost of the gift. How much am I loved? How much is that other person willing to sacrifice for me? What is my value? One rose worth, one box of candy's worth, one romantic dinner's worth ...?

How much does God love you? How much was He willing to sacrifice for you? How much are you worth to Him?

One cross worth.

A Child of the King


Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What Is Love?

The entire goal and point of Christianity is born of love. God is love...

God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life...Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself...Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind and strength, and thy neighbor as thyself.

The entire law of the Old Testament is fulfilled in love, in Jesus. And the New Testament says that Christians can be identified by their love for one another (are you ever recognized as a Christian by a stranger?). The amount of love you have is in direct proportion to how subject you are to God's will in your life, how obedient you are.

We often think of love as an emotion. But, real love transcends emotion, which is an involuntary feeling. Love is a voluntary choice, a decision, an act of the will. It therefore contains a moral aspect: intent. It is the choice of the intellect, made out of devotion to God. It is the conscious choice to obey (for the intrinsic value inherent in obedience to God), and it is the result of true repentance.

The virtue of that choice brings forth a feeling, a deep sense of joy. But feelings are fleeting. Love must operate above feeling. It must be reliable enough to sustain whatever cross we are called upon to bear in life. And the crosses of others. Regardless of how we feel about it.

This choice to love evokes true concern for others, is happy at their good fortune, without the slightest envy, and truly grieves at their unhappiness. It does not matter who they are, or what their station in life. The lowliest person's welfare will be as important as that of the most eminent. The fact that he is a creature of God is reason enough to love.

Even enemies, or those who have mistreated us, fall under the cloak of love. In spite of the damage done to us, in spite of what we feel, God's love in us will have us "pray for them that hate you, and do good to them that despitefully use and persecute you."

This love is active, not passive. It energetically seeks the welfare of the other person. It becomes one's natural reaction. The result of obedience. The human nature, through obedience, is transformed and takes on the character of God. Of love.

Love is merciful. It does not demand the deserved punishment. It is not only ready - but eager - to forgive.

Love is truthful. It even speaks with candor, because it resides in the reality of truth and does not try to change unpleasant facts. In fact, it requires truth.

Love is patient. Not necessarily a calm, unruffled facade. Rather, it exhibits perseverance under trial, bearing up with a steadfastness of purpose that is rooted in complete trust in God.

Love is kind, with a meek spirit that bears injurious treatment. Love is more than kind; it is even long suffering.

Love is humble, that modest and unassuming state of mind that is not driven by ambition or recognition, but accepts itself as a sinner saved by grace.

Love is stable. It is evidence of a new nature, a new creature, a new heart, a new life.

Love is not possible for an individual without God, who is love, and who is the only source available to provide it.

Love is a miracle of transformation which is available to you. All you need do is ask.

A Child of The King


Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Blessed Christmas To You All . . .

May the Lord bestow upon you bountiful spiritual riches
and an abundance of His peace in the coming year


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Who Is This Jesus?

Jesus is not who most people think he is. He is not the ambiguous, soft, meek and mild, simpering, always-gentle, always smiling, politically correct, maudlin one who is tolerant of everything and everyone.

This popular "jesus" is the one most American so-called 'christians' follow today. The only problem is that this is another jesus...a different jesus than the one in the Bible. This is an idol god which is a total construct of human minds, a god invented to serve the whims of its inventors, a god who aids and abets them in serving the great god of SELF.

Many people find a jesus appearing in their unholy meditative states, a false god who is leading millions to believe that they can join the One, the unified consciousness of the universe, and become god themselves. We are all god, this jesus says. People want a jesus to suit their comfort zones, a benign god who smiles on everything they do. After all, we each have our own truth, or so we want to think. This is the emerging jesus that the emerging churches love - a consumer jesus, one that is user-friendly and, above all, tolerant.

This is evil.
And if this is your god you are in great danger. When you come face to face with Jesus Christ, he will say to you, "Depart from me. I never knew you."

This is precisely why the church is in dire trouble in 2009. Few people know the real Jesus. This is why this nation is under God's judgment. Much of the church is exactly like the world. Then, why would the world want what you have? They already have it. If you're going to act like the world, be honest and admit you are of the world. If you are a real Christian, the world can tell the difference.

The real Jesus is just the opposite. He was outspoken, bold and blunt, aggressive. This is the Jesus we so desperately need today, the One who told us to beware of false christs. This is the Jesus who went into the temple with a whip, who spoke the ruthless truth to hypocrites and purveyors of false doctrine and self-righteousness, who spoke the unvarnished truth.

Jesus confronted people who were in error, calling them to repent of their sins. People today don't want the real Jesus. He's too negative. Too narrow-minded. Too dogmatic. Too truthful.

The real Jesus preaches the unvarnished truth, calls false religion a lie, tells sinners they need to repent of their sin and escape hell by putting their faith in Him. He says there’s only one way to God, not many paths. He says that the road is narrow and there are only a few who find it. He said, "You must be born again."

There are many people who think they are Christians, but they are not. They are on the broad road to destruction. They are deceived. They are not born again. Their eyes are blinded. They are on the road to hell. They can proclaim that they are 'good people,' which is not only completely untrue, but would be irrelevant if it were possible. The Bible says the heart is continually evil. It says there is not one good...no, not one. Our goodness will lead to only one place...hell. That is precisely why Jesus died on the cross, to pay the penalty for our sin because we are not able to do that. We do not have the ability to be 'good enough.' There's no such thing. That was the sin of the Pharisees, who Jesus was relentlessly condemned for their self-righteousness (because they wanted to appear 'good.')

Jesus has given us a detailed roadmap which tells us exactly who He is and what He thinks. We need not speculate that "My god thinks this or that..." What He thinks is in the Bible, which very few people are deeply familiar with. They know a few verses here and there, have a superficial knowledge of it, but it is not the first priority in their lives. First priority means: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you." This is why they cannot distinguish between a false christ and the real Jesus Christ.

We need a call for holiness, purity, clear Gospel understanding and teaching. If we would stop imitating the world on every level and try to please God rather than man we would then have a real hunger for truth, clarity, objective reality. Confronting false teaching and hypocrisy should be one of the highest priorities of a Christian.

If you try to be busy, busy, busy in the church and engage in lots of social action, you make yourself look 'good' and get lots of applause (even from the world). If you tell the truth, however, people resent you. So you do the thing that makes you popular and, unfortunately, often become a 'teacher' or 'leader' in the church, making each generation weaker in the faith (if in it at all).

They didn’t kill Jesus because he loved little children, fed the poor and healed the sick. They killed him because he confronted their self-righteousness and told them their religion would send them to hell. This is the loving thing you have to do. The church has to recapture its own courage and be faithful to follow the path the Lord took.

He said: "I am the way, the truth, the life. No man cometh to the Father but by me."

He was not popular, but despised and persecuted for defending the truth of the gospel. He said we would be, too. Are we?

A Royal Heir


Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Over 300 Prophecies Fulfilled at Christmas

Did anyone prophecy your birth? Or mine? I don't think so! But I doubt that anyone will question that we lived.

And yet the most prophesied birth in the history of the world is occasionally foolishly questioned by the enemies of God who never cease to harass the Christian faith.

No, the Son of God was not born on December 25th...and, yes, the day we celebrate was co-opted from the pagan Roman holiday of Saturnalia in an attempt to convert pagan Rome to Christianity. We, too, supposedly a nation of Christians, have celebrated our national idol of money to the point of nearly commercializing everything holy out of Christmas.

Should we then join the enemies of God by denouncing Christmas? Not at all. We will always be in a spiritual warfare with God's enemies. We need to cultivate the truth of our celebration of the birth of our Savior so that our light shines brightly into a dark world. One ray of light eliminates much darkness. This is a great time to take advantage of this unique opportunity to present the gospel to the world.

Unlike anyone else in the history of the world, the birth of Jesus Christ was foretold for centuries by the Hebrew prophets, along with the details of His life, death and resurrection. No prophecies preceded the births of Buddha, Confucius, Muhammad, etal. None of them were resurrected from the dead. The life of Christ is the most verifiably proven life in all of history. The fulfillment of Bible prophecy is one of the most powerful proofs that we have. Paul used it in converting the lost, turning the world of his day upside down. So should we.

Christianity was not a first-century invention. The birth of the Messiah is the fulfillment of centuries of prophets who spoke with one voice the consistent message of the prophecy of Jesus. There are more than 300 Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. For what reason? So that Israel could identify Him when He arrived.

The very first prophecy can be found in Genesis. The prophecies declared that He must be of the "lineage of David" and the gospels of Matthew and Luke begin with the genealogy of Joseph and Mary, clearly establishing that Jesus met every criteria. No other life in the world has been as meticulously documented, even by secular scholars. His Word, the Bible, is consistently the most purchased book in the world. And yet many of His own people, the Jews, rejected Him then and now.

While great numbers of Messianic Jews are accepting Christ in recent years, the majority of Jews still hope for their Messiah to come and will accept the anti-christ as their messiah for a short period of time before finally recognizing Him at His Second Coming.

Man crucified its Creator despite overwhelming evidence of His Deity.

Many skeptics have been converted to Jesus Christ in the midst of their search to disprove Him. It is impossible to remain an honest skeptic after examining the historical record.

We have the most solid reasons possible for our faith in Christ. The most convincing evidence becomes our relationship with Him. Ours is not a shallow worship of dead idols, eyes that cannot see, tongues that cannot speak. No. Ours is a living relationship with God, one in which we share fellowship with Him. He communes with us.

Don't lose any opportunity to present the gospel with conviction and boldness at this time of celebration of the blessed Messiah, the Son of God, Jesus Christ. He did not remain a baby in a cradle. He became a living sacrifice to bring redemption to all mankind that would believe and accept Him as Lord of their lives.

He is coming back very soon, not as the meek and lowly sacrificial lamb, but in power and glory as the King of Kings, to judge the world and to reign and rule in righteousness, fulfilling the rest of the prophecies. He wants you to be a part of that kingdom.

A Child of the King


Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

Who could ever have dreamed up something as incredible as the birth and meaning of Jesus? Only the Creator of the universe! Truth is always much more interesting than fiction.

Everything about the gospel message is fantastic. The creator dying for the created. The judge paying the penalty for the guilty. The God of the universe laying aside his royalty, being born in human form in a lowly stable to not only become the servant, but to suffer and die on a cross in the most humiliating way, as the perfect sacrifice for the redemption of mankind. Who could think up something like this? Only God. Only he could make it believable - because it was truth. All of the pagan religions would only be shallow copies of God's mind from the beginning of creation, only deceptive imitations.

It was not that simple. There were great concepts that had to be played out. The Messiah could not be born with a sin nature, thus a virgin birth. Stranger than fiction, certainly. Both Joseph and Mary were visited by angels in order to prepare them for their roles.

There were many angel visitations surrounding this amazing arrival of God's only begotten Son. First, the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds, who were terrified. And then a great host of angels appeared praising God and bringing the gospel news.

The angels themselves are very interesting. They are very involved in all the affairs here on earth and many are here for the express purpose of ministering to us and for us, the heirs of salvation. They are continually warring with the fallen angels and assisting us in spiritual warfare.

The angels were extremely interested in God's plans for mankind, especially in Jesus' role on earth and the plan of redemption, human beings and how this salvation would play itself out. I believe they were thrilled to be seeing it begin to unfold. The Bible tells us that the angels wondered at all of this, and in our own roles as humans in this, since the angels are not redeemed from sin as we are through Christ's sacrifice. We are never to worship angels but we can be very thankful for them as God's ministering agents to us in our earthly life. They surround us.

Jesus. The Messiah. Fully God, fully human. Sinless. Emmanuel: "God with us."

Amazing story. Amazing truth. Amazing grace.

The complexities in the gospel story can never be exhausted by our human minds and understanding. We should never let this event become trite through annual celebration. There are vast depths to be mined, more than we can understand in our lifetimes. We should finder deeper meaning, deeper praise each year.



Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Secret to the Abundant Life

My parents were in the ministry and I was raised with all of the accoutrements of Christianity. I accepted Jesus Christ when I was six years of age.

So what went wrong in my life in my 20's and into my 30's? Because something did go wrong. I was messing up my life. Making wrong choices.

Don't ever make the mistake of looking at other Christians, wishing you could be like them: then all would be well. Big mistake. Without exception - NO exceptions. Those other people have struggled and continue to struggle with their own battles, just as you do. They haven't made it to perfection yet. No...not church leaders, not pastors, not Billy Graham. No One. The Lord made each of us unique, and he has a plan for each of our lives, individually. He wants you to be exactly you. Transformed, yes ... but YOU. The one He created.

So what's the problem with us? Why do we continue to mess up? Because we haven't learned the secret. It's the title of an old hymn. Trust and Obey. These are the two ingredients we leave out of our lives all too often, even as Christians.

We take our problems to the Lord, pray about them, and then what do we do? We take them right back and continue to fret and worry about them. Why? Because we don't really trust Him. Does He really get it - our problem? Does He realize this? Has He thought of that? If we really trust Him, we will give Him our cares and truly leave them with Him. Our god is too small only because we place limits on Him by our own lack of faith and trust.

And it's not possible to obey if we don't trust, because we can't even hear the instructions. He will not speak to us if we have no faith and trust. We can't hear His voice. Of course, let's be honest. Many times we don't want to hear His voice because it frequently tells us things that we are not eager to hear.

Many times I have heard this tiny voice telling me something that just makes me groan...isn't there an easier way, Lord? Can't we try something else? I often now recognize His voice because it's often so 'outside the box' and usually addresses some tiny section of my heart that I have held onto, not quite trusting to give it up to Him. So, when He speaks, sometimes it's a dead giveaway (not always), and I occasionally deny that it's really Him...just a throw-away crazy thought of my own, I think ... like I'm in His league?! Then I usually smile, and since He knows anyway, we talk about it. "Lord, maybe there's a better plan? What about this? What about that?" We both know that I'm going to end up doing it His way, and we smile, the Lord and I.

The Lord has a sense of irony and humor. There have been times when some totally unexpected solutions came right out of left field and were highly amusing.

Jesus' own suffering and ultimate death while in this earthly life are the perfect example of trust and obedience. Even our Lord was called upon to trust that this unlikely plan for Him in the flesh was indeed the necessary one. He was called upon to obey, even to the cross. His trust led to obedience to His death on the cross: the means of our salvation - and to His resurrection: the reason for our hope.

He offers us the abundant life if we will follow His example. We must be willing to die to our old god: SELF. We must die to our own will and subject it to His. After all, He is our creator and He has a unique purpose for which He created each of us to specifically fulfill.

Trust and obey, for there is indeed no other way to the abundant life in Jesus Christ.

Child of the King and Royal Heir


Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Prepare For War

These are, indeed, the days that test our faith, the days when we come face to face with who we really are, what level of faith we have and what our priorities are.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1.


Read the entire 11th chapter of Hebrews. Amid all the tragedies and talk of war we may feel without hope or help, and wonder what we can do. I tell you the truth: the most important thing we can do is to prepare for spiritual war, and put on the whole armor of God. There is nothing I can begin to say that expresses it better than the Bible itself. I urge you to make a copy of Ephesians 6:10-18 below. Read it every day. Memorize it. You will need it more than anyone has ever needed it in history, going back to the days of Noah.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. Ephesians 6:10-18

Remember, we may be involved in many battles, both spiritual and physical, and it is critical that we continually recall that we already know the final chapter. In the end - the victory is the Lord's. And He has provided us with the armor. Pick it up and put it on. Otherwise you will certainly not survive. If the Christianettes of the modern day are incapable of standing up for the little things, how in the world will they face the war of the ages? Are you ready?

One of my very favorite scriptures in its beauty is Jude 24-25:

"Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."

Be prepared for the most important war ever waged. A war for your eternal future.

A Royal Heir


Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Problem of Prayer

Prayer seems to be the most difficult subject of all for Christians, and yet it is the very heart of our relationship to God, the key that opens every door through which we discover God's purpose for our lives. Our relationships with others are a direct reflection of our prayer lives, and prayer is therefore critical in how effective our service will be. Without input from God we are acting on our own, from our own desires and motives, with our own insight ... and, remember, we see through a glass darkly. We are lamps that are not plugged in!

Prayer is too often seen as a pious and boring chore which we secretly dread so much that we continually put it off. But surely we are missing some important truth if our ability to communicate directly with God himself fails to be the most exhilarating possible activity! We have direct access to the greatest power in the universe. Why do we fail to plug into that power as we would plug a lamp into a power outlet?

Might it be our tendency to focus on what WE will do in this communication with God? How will we fill up an allotted amount of time with words? What kind of relationship is it where one person does all the talking, and doesn't even feel like it? If we want to communicate with God in person, perhaps what He has to say is more important than what we have to say. Or maybe we have some stereotype of what our prayer time must be like. The way 'everyone' does it.

What if we started with praise? It might surprise us to learn that if we begin to praise the Lord specifically for each of our blessings there is almost no end in sight. It is inevitable that we will become overcome with joy in this dialogue with God. And then we will want to listen, to hear God speaking to us, opening doors we would otherwise miss, correcting and directing our thoughts, our words, our actions, making us more like Himself -- until we cherish Him so much that we find we need to be in communication with Him every moment. And it is in this way that we develop a true and deep relationship, one in which we trust Him, and He can trust us. One where we don't make a move without Him. Where we pray without ceasing.

As we approach the beginning of a new year I challenge you to set aside a specific prayer time on your daily calendar. During that time ask the Lord to speak to you, read a passage of scripture, praise Him for specific blessings and listen to His voice. He will speak and we will be empowered to change our lives, our relationships and our community. Believe it. And we will have God for our best friend. You can't start off a year better than that.

Plug into the Power.


Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

An Unseen Battle

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12

Satan does exist—our broken society testifies to his reality. Those who ignore him do so at their own peril. This is also true of Christians because we are all at war against him. Spiritual warfare is personal; Satan crafts specific attacks for each individual. Though he cannot steal a believer’s spirit from God, he can and does harass us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Every ambush and frontal attack is meant to defeat our witness so we can’t live a victorious Christ-centered life.

Our foe is not omniscient, but he is crafty. He observes our strong and weak points to determine the best areas for attack. As soon as his quarry becomes comfortable and least expects trouble, the Adversary springs a trap. Among his most deceptive tactics is hiding behind familiar faces in order to misguide our fury. For example, he may tempt a husband to make an unwise financial decision that angers the wife and leaves her feeling insecure. But the husband is not her enemy—he needs her love and forgiveness. The enemy is always Satan and his legion of demons.

The first rule of warfare is to know one’s enemy, and thanks to Scripture, we can. The Bible also contains an important assurance: “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4.

The combined forces of hell cannot equal the supernatural power of a single believer. We have Christ living within us—the same Christ whose birth we celebrate, who was triumphant on the cross and whose final victory over Satan is prophesied in Revelation. Through Him, we can conquer Satan and win our unseen battles.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

God's Plan: Incarnation

The incarnation was a part of God's comprehensive plan to establish His kingdom and rule on earth, and to judge and punish those who refused His sovreignty. His people are intended to rule with Him on earth, not to live eternally in far-off space and play harps.

The incarnation was not an isolated event. God's sovreignty controls all of history's events for His purpose and plan.

Alexander spread the Greek culture and language, which the Hebrews learned, enabling them to translate His Word into Greek. The Caesars spread the Roman culture and language. All of this was part of God's plan to have His Word available to the entire known world. The people were free to worship any God, allowing Paul to spread the gospel in the fulness of time. All of this was in preparation to make possible our mission to 'go ye into all the world and preach the gospel.'

Going all the way back to Genesis, the requirement of a blood sacrifice of a lamb was a foreshadowing of Christ, who was the representation of God himself, and came to earth for the express purpose of dying, being resurrected and starting His Church (us).

The genealogy of Jesus Christ is recorded all the way back to Adam through both His mother and earthly father, Joseph, fulfilling all earthly legal requirements and heritage. His coming was foretold by God, came true exactly as prophesied, and all people were provided the exact information establishing who He is. His birth was at precisely the right moment in time for Him to come to earth to redeem mankind to Himself.

Herod's decree requiring all families to come for the census was God's hand guiding events to fulfill the prophesied town of Bethlehem as the Messiah's birthplace. The star at the precise moment at which it was needed to guide the wise men was provided by the providential hand of God.

Shouldn't a king be born in a palace? Not in this case. God purposely wanted the Lamb of God to be associated with other lambs, associated with the lowly instead of earthly royalty. The Creator of the universe became a humble carpenter.

In the fulness of time God sent His son, Galatians 4:4. He had credentials: a forerunner, John the Baptist; genealogy; miracles; everything that was needed God the Father had provided.

The law required a blood sacrifice for sin. Only a perfect lamb would suffice. Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God fulfilled all of the law for all of time. Christ was the ransom for us since no human can live the perfect life required under the law.

We would like to think we can be good enough. "I'll do this; I'll stop doing that." All of that is nothing but activity. Your heart is the problem...your sin nature. He saves us from ourselves and from physical, spiritual and eternal death.

By accepting His offer of salvation we are adopted into God's family as royal heirs. He gives us a new name, a new position and a new family.

He is still at work in our lives and in the world today, all according to His scheduled plan, which is about to be completed.

Don't be left out. You, too, can be a royal heir.


Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Had A Dream

From 2006:

When I was having my morning devotions I decided not to read the Bible for some reason, but rather to start a new book written by Michael Evans, Director of Jerusalem Prayer Team. The book is based on a prayer of David. I stopped short on page 28 at a very simple statement which I have heard thousands of times, about the sheep and the shepherd. But this morning it struck me like lightning.

I stopped cold and closed my eyes and envisioned a scenario. It was so moving and real to me that I immediately came to my computer, again closed my eyes, and typed the entire thing with eyes closed, as I 're-wound' it in my head. Here it is:

I saw that I was a little white lamb, just a baby lamb.

I was frolicking along, and before I knew it I found myself caught in a sort of patch that had a lot of thorny branches, and as I stepped one foot one way and then another, I found myself surrounded on all sides, above and below, caught in a thicket. No matter which way I tried to turn, there were huge thorns, 10"-12" long. I could move in no direction at all. I was paralyzed with fear and to move in any direction was to encounter a thorn. I couldn't move, not an inch, in any direction, and I began to panic. Even my shaking threatened to bring me into contact with a thorn that would tear into my skin.

But I found my voice, the one thing left to me, and I whimpered with a small bleat, wondering how far away my shepherd was, and afraid he was too far away to hear me. And even if by some miracle he could hear, even he couldn't move me out of this thicket. I was surrounded on all sides, encircled by thousands of thorns. But there was nothing left to do, and in my despair I bleated with a small and hopeless whimper, just in case.

I closed my eyes so as not to see my prison, and was afraid to even sigh, because that small movement would harm me. Everything turned black.

As I sank into the depths and prepared to die, I felt something strong beneath me. Soft, oh so soft, but so strong. My heart skipped, and I opened my eyes and beneath me I saw the huge hand of my shepherd, so soft and so strong. But his hand had a huge scar that ran clear across it. He must have got caught in a thicket, too, I thought. His strong hand lifted me right up through the entire thicket bed, straight up, and somehow even though the thorns were still all there, his hand, with me in it, went straight up through them as if they were only shadows of thorns, and not the real things. As if they were nothing at all.

Above and away from the thorns, I sat in his huge hand and looked up at him, still shaking with fright - and afraid he might be angry with me. But He smiled down at me, oh! so tenderly, and patted me on the head with his other hand. I had really never been up this close to him before, and I was thrilled. I was safe. And he wasn't angry. I could tell that he loved me more than anything.

He tucked me into the hollow of his arm, nestling into his soft white robe, and I relaxed for the first time. My trembling gradually stopped as I snuggled and fidgeted into the crook of his arm and my fear subsided. I took bigger and bigger sighs of relief, no long afraid to sigh, and I was so relieved and comfortable that I fell asleep in his arm as he walked along beside the beautiful green pasture. The tap, tap of his staff as it hit the ground alongside his steady, slow gait lulled me into slumber.

I don't know how long I slept in the hollow of his arm, but I woke up and looked at him, up close, and just watched him. I had never been this close to my shepherd before. He looked down at me and smiled. I felt so ridiculous to have gotten lost that way, but he just smiled and patted me on the head again. I could see that he knew what I was thinking. "Don't worry, my little lamb, even when you think you're lost, you're not. I'm always right here. Always. Have no fear. You belong to me."

He gently sat me down on the dusty path beside him, looked lovingly down at me, took up his rod again, and said, "Just follow me." He set off with long slow strides, and I frolicked along behind, following him down the path by the quiet stream. Relaxed and safe, I looked at all the interesting things on both sides of the path, but was very, very careful not to lose sight of him.

I wanted to stay very close to my shepherd.


Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Civility

Civility in modern America seems to have gone the way of the horse and buggy.

Young children run you down in stores, students flagrantly use the worst possible language with no apparent comprehension that anyone might be offended, people use their vehicles and computers as instruments of terror.

Using one of the dictionary terms for civility, "courteous behavior," we can greatly broaden our list of examples. To depend on a person's word and a handshake these days would generally be considered lunacy. Even an agreement steeped in fine print and legalese is routinely broken with not so much as a second thought. And it is quite common practice for the breaker of the agreement to sue the other party, generally because he is demanding his rights.

People routinely cut in front of you in any line, if possible. They no longer feel the need to defend themselves with an excuse, no matter how feeble. To lie is the order of the day, the only perceived requirement being expediency. Political lying is routine and in the past decade has gained tacit approval and a bored yawn by the general population and its representatives.

I think we've put our collective feet in the door of anarchy.

Society has accepted corrupt politicians and routine fraud and theft by government agencies, certainly not civil behavior but just as certainly expedient to ignore such things if they result in some personal benefit.

Employees in many stores often appear sulky if one has the audacity to expect service, and they can get downright rude if you decide to press the issue.

Recently I was almost run down by a reckless wheelchair whose surly occupant was seeking special privileges, which I was not in the mood to grant as I struggled to make it on my own pads after a 12-hour day and a bad back. Only good breeding kept me from yanking the person out of the chair and jumping in myself.

I find that even I succumb to the occasional fleeting pleasures of the impolite thought. Modern society is having a bad influence on me.

Why am I going around wasting my time treating people with some antiquated sense of civility, anyway? They don't deserve it. And what good does it do me anyway?

Get outta my way before I decide to turn thought into action.


Copyright 1994. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas: A Renewal

'Twas the week before Christmas; I was on the run,
But ahead of the game -- my shopping was done!
I still had the wrapping, the menus to plan,
The cookies to bake, and the laundry -- again.

There was music to practice and costumes to make
And lines to remember and pictures to take
And the final rehearsal for the church Christmas skit,
And, oh yes! I had promised to babysit.

We'd been to three programs and one special lunch;
There were two more to go to (and more! was my hunch).
Yet threaded through this, recurred a sensation
Of memories, changes ... of realization.

I thought of the Christmases perfect and bright,
A storybook picture with everything right.
But what about Christmas when things were all wrong?
How could one's heart then be filled with a song?

When a young man was missing through a death so untimely,
How did peace fit the scene, and joy? So unseemly.
Or what about Christmas including divorce?
Lone parents, scared children. A time to rejoice?

And then there's remarriage; Christmas with strangers?
Stepchildren, new in-laws, traditions endangered.
And what about friends with a child who was dying?
Or the ones who'd lost jobs and would do little buying?

Estrangements at Christmas? Relationships broken
By desperate actions, or cruel words spoken.
And what of the lonely, the ill and the needy?
And what of the criminal, the deranged, and the greedy?

My reflections were shattered by the doorbell's ring.
My next-door neighbor had goodies to bring.
I thought of this Christmas, still ahead, still unused,
With brand new grandchildren to keep us amused.

With four generations alive, we were blessed;
I knew that this Christmas would be one of the best.
But to make it that way there was now more to do,
Priorities shuffled, I'd adjusted my view.

Who could I help, of the people I knew?
The needs were so great, my resources so few.
But the spirit of Christmas had gripped me within;
I could make some small difference. And so I lit in.

My small beam of light in the dark would be hurled,
To honor the birth of the Light of the World.

Merry Christmas!

Copyright 1993 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Peace on Earth?

I don't think so, some would say to the title of this post.

Things look pretty bad on earth. But when you think about it, things have always looked pretty bad on earth. We just haven't been around to see it. All we see is our own little world. Nothing has changed, though. Things are just the same as they've always been, since the Year One. God had barely got Adam and Eve created and dried off before they were up to mischief. Disobeying. And it's been that way ever since. So when will peace come?

We have good news! We have been given a gift for the world. That gift is peace. Well, what a silly thing to say . . . just look around you. Where is this peace?

A couple of thousand years ago some average folks were just sitting around doing their everyday chores when they were shocked and afraid to hear voices in the sky and to see angels who told them about a baby being born, and that he was bringing "peace on earth, goodwill to men". And so they did what the angels told them and found the baby in a place that felt completely familiar to them: a stable. They brought gifts and worshipped their Savior, who had come to them in a setting they understood. They believed. They obeyed. They had peace.

It really seems too simple, doesn't it? So simple that a child could understand it. A little child with a simple faith, who believes the baby Jesus came to save us from our sins and has brought us peace on earth, good will to men. So simple that we don't need an education, a degree, expertise in a field. In fact, maybe those things get in our way. We want to argue with it...and about it. And complicate it up. We're a little more sophisticated than that, after all. The plain fact is that we can't believe it. But it's the truth.

It is simple enough for anybody. The simple fact is that peace came to earth that night. Anybody can have that peace. It's free. Jesus comes to you right where you are, where you feel comfortable. All you need to do is ask Him to save you from yourself (your sinful condition), to be the Lord of your life and to tell you what to do from now on. Every day. And you obey (that's the hard part). And you will have peace.

Yes, Virginia, there is peace on earth.

Accept the gift of peace this Christmas.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Loneliness of the Christian

In this day of great deception and falling away in the church, I have found great comfort and increasing identification with what Tozer (and Jeremiah) has to say.

An Excerpt from

The Loneliness of the Christian

by A. W. Tozer

The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians as well as from that of the unregenerate world. His God-given instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in the love of Christ; and because within his circle of friends there are so few who share his inner experiences he is forced to walk alone.

The unsatisfied longings of the prophets for human understanding caused them to cry out in their complaint, and even our Lord Himself suffered in the same way.

The man [or woman] who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual inner experience will not find many who understand him. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and over-serious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens.

He searches for friends upon whose garments he can detect the smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, and finding few or none he, like Mary of old, keeps these things in his heart.

It is this very loneliness that throws him back upon God. His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

THE "WEDDING"

I just came back from a mockery of a "wedding." I may not attend any more weddings.

All of the things that outraged me have nothing to do with that poor young couple. It's the parents and grandparents I'm furious with. They have not taught their children and their grandchildren the faith. They have not chastized them when they took a wrong turn. They have not disciplined them nor taught them respect. And many other things they have not taught them. Like wearing clothing on their bodies when in public.

If this affair had not been in a church, not been conducted by a "minister," and had not been attended by supposed Christians I would not be upset at all. You don't expect a non-Christian ceremony to be Christian. I have all the patience in the world for non-Christians. But I'm fed up with the christianettes (if even that term applies) that make up about 90% of the organized church.

This world truly is not my home. I can't wait to make my exit. I wanted to pull out my whip as Christ did, wake these people up and drive them out of the church. I want to be around real, mature Christians as a traveler craves water in the desert. These mealy-mouthed hypocrites of this age literally make me sick. The walking dead. They don't even notice that the Lord is pouring out his punishment on this nation because it has abandoned its faith and its obedience. We have produced a sinful generation, and the tragedy is that the generation produced has no clue. They no longer have a place to turn in order to learn -- not that they would heed advice. The examples of godly living are few and far between.

The first problem was that it was held in a church. A church is a house of worship. There was no sign of worship in that wedding or in that church or in the atmosphere.

A wedding is officiated by a minister of God ... unless you're on a ship. We were not (although I must admit there was an element of shipwreck about it). The young man who 'officiated' this event laughed and giggled his way throughout. There was no solemnity to the occasion, nor any sense of its gravity . He was appropriately named "Josh" something-or-other. He is a typical product of our godless seminaries. From all the evidence presented, I doubt that he is a Christian.

A marriage is a God-ordained union of a man and a woman. It was defined by the creator of the universe himself . He did not take a vote. It is a state into which a couple should enter with an appreciation of the purpose of marriage, as should all those who attend. There are certain vows which these two people take, and the words used in the ceremony are traditional ones designed to reflect God's meaning . Those words are now in the dustbin. The bride and groom make up their own versions these days, and these versions are as shallow, meaningless and short as the marriage itself will be.

The music attending such an important commitment of two people to each other for life should reflect the seriousness of the rite and should carry great meaning about Christian marriage and the importance of the Lord as the head of that marriage. That, too, is gone. Now CDs with pop songs and unidentifiable grating instruments fill the 'sanctuary' and they have no reflection of God's purpose for marriage. The words are as frivolous as the occasion itself, portraying a type of 'love' that is less than the union will require.

It is critical that a young couple comprehend that this is a union of two families. That is no longer true, nor is it considered important. It's all about them and their friends. The only reason at all that any attention whatever is paid to the families is in order for them to foot the bills and give expensive gifts. And people should consider themselves among the fortunate if they receive a note of thanks or ever see these young relatives again (until they come running back for help during the divorce.)

The entire wedding party wore pure (?) black, and wore or carried blood-red roses. It reminded me of a satanic ritual, as perhaps it was. There were moments when the scent of evil wafted my way.This is a direct reflection of our cultural mores. We dropped the ball years ago.

The bride (during the ceremony) came down to the first two rows of people, each of whom had been handed a long-stemmed red rose as they were 'being seated.' As she came to collect the rose from each person, the entire congregation was entranced as they viewed her in her very low-cut wedding dress, stoop over and hug and kiss each rose-holder. A fascinating little side-show to all but the blind little bride, who I am certain had no clue. It is the bride and groom in this scenario that have my deepest compassion. They will go on my prayer list.

The women (I won't call them ladies) who attended the wedding looked like they were ready to step out on the street and turn tricks the minute the thing was over. And this included women pushing retirement age. I was stupefied and disgusted. The groom's mother was worse than all the rest. It was all about her and how great she looked (in her own mind). How she looked, in fact, was ridiculous and foolish in her skintight black dress with no back... or front.

Disrespect, of course, abounded throughout. As did any hint of decorum. The ushers slouched down the aisles, offered no 'arm,' and said basically, "Sit wherever you want." Due to the irreverent pop music the mood encouraged joking and laughing. The flower girl and ring bearer ran around the front of the church. Imagine what that generation will be like. There was general confusion by the groomsmen (and Josh) as they took their spots in the front and then ambled off for various reasons, and then back into line.

In a way, there was a certain fascination inherent in it. Everything that you could not imagine at a wedding, occurred.

I sat next to a 'minister's' wife who didn't seem to notice anything wrong. And why should she, herself being a product of this culture.

Afterward, everyone went out on the lawn to watch doves released. Personally, I missed the significance of this. My mind went immediately to the Holy Spirit, and peace, neither of which I saw evidence there. The doves were as out of place as I was. Not being able to handle another minute of this, I took the opportunity of the general confusion to take my leave, to separate myself, to go to the sanctuary of my home.

As I strategized my escape, someone mentioned to me that she was trying to get her daughter (50 years old) to go to church. I told her that the daughter had better get right with the Lord, and fast, because the Lord is coming soon. Very soon. She nodded uncomfortably. Several relatives standing around heard my reply, which is some comfort. Apparently the Lord even used my exasperation of the moment to be a witness to these people yet once more . They seldom see me and when they do I'm fairly certain my presence makes them uncomfortable. I would be concerned about this, but the truth is that I believe they are convicted. Besides, at my age I don't have the time nor the inclination to do anything other than what I believe to be true and right. No time or inclination to play games that are politically correct. The time is too short.

This, my friends, is what we've come to. This is why the Lord is about to spew us out of his mouth...and I'm about to cross these people off my prayer list (just kidding). I have no malice in my heart toward anyone (even Josh). I just don't know how much more of this sacrilege and this culture I can take.

I've probably missed something, and certainly did not take the time to edit this. I just needed to get it off my (well-covered) chest. As soon as the newlyweds get back from their honeymoon we plan to take them out to dinner and introduce them to Jesus in a serious way.

Now just to end on a more positive note.....

I had a dream last night that we were being raptured. I was so excited that my heart was actually pounding when I woke up. I had just begun to hear the trumpet in the distance, and people were all running in one direction (?) so I followed. After a few seconds of that I woke up and was SO excited I thought my heart was going to pop out of my chest...amazing dream. I was disappointed that it was only a dream as I came out of it.

All I can say is "Maranatha." Make that a double.

Monday, December 7, 2009

REFLECTING ON JOSEPH

Have you ever thought of what it would be like to be the earthly father of the Son of God? You might see it as being the ultimate stepfather. What a mind boggling thought.

Imagine his position, finding out that his beloved wife-to-be was pregnant. His first thought, an understandable one, was to call off the planned wedding without fanfare. But, then, an angel appeared to him and explained the situation. It was no ordinary explanation delivered by no ordinary being. Despite what anyone else in his community might think, Joseph obeyed God’s will in the matter. He believed. He was a man of faith.

He loved Mary and took care of her needs. Mary had also been visited by an angel. Have you ever thought what their conversations might have been like as they married and awaited the upcoming birth of the Messiah? They shared something no other couple on earth had – or would – ever share. It must have built a bond between them that was forever unbreakable, an intimacy of this shared event that no other man and wife would ever share. They were united together by the Divine Creator himself. God had chosen Joseph just as He had chosen Mary. Joseph was specially chosen by God.

Picture raising Jesus, the Son of God, from infancy to adulthood. Imagine Joseph and Mary having their own children, the siblings of Jesus. Think what thoughts must have entered the mind of Joseph. He was a man of insight and wisdom. It was Joseph who took on the role of teaching carpentry to his eldest son, a son who was the master Creator of the universe! Joseph was not only wise, but humble.

Reflect for a while on this man, Joseph. It might be instructive and beneficial.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Truth About St. Nicholas

Yes, St. Nicholas was a real person who lived in what is now Turkey.

He was a little man about five feet tall, a cardinal known as Nicholas of Myra and would have been seen in his long red robes. His picture is seen in early Christian art where he has a white beard and is somewhat bald. He came from a committed Christian family, and it was in his childhood that he learned the gift of giving from his parents.

THE LEGEND IS BORN

Nicholas became aware of a man with three daughters who had lost everything and moved to a slum, where the man was attempting to sell his oldest daughter to raise enough money to raise his two younger daughters.

The
night before the girl was to be sold Nicholas waited outside the home for the lights to go out, upon which he tossed a sack full of gold through an open window and quickly disappeared before they could discover him. The money was enough to last the family for over a year, after which the father once again felt forced to consider selling the daughter once again. Nicholas again secretly delivered a bag of gold. But this time he was caught in the act.

Wiping away his tears of gratitude the man asked Nicholas why he had given them such large gifts, and why he kept it a secret. Nicholas replied, "Because it's good to give when only God knows about it."


THE LOVE BEHIND THE LEGEND

Nicholas' mother and father both died, probably of the plague, when he was just a teen. During that period of devastating grief his uncle Nicholas -- himself a priest -- prayed with young "Nick" for peace. During this time he discovered a deep sense of urgency to memorialize his parents with the fortune his parents left him. After giving everything he had to the poor and needy he felt a call to study to become more like Christ and was admitted into a monastery school.

This previously wealthy young man went into the priesthood while probably still a teenager. During this time period of great Christian persecution under both emperor Diocletian and Maximian, Nicholas was imprisoned for his faith. He saw in this an opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with his fellow inmates, following Paul's example in the New Testament.

When Nicholas was released he was elected Bishop of Myra.
He used his position to oversee a period of ministering to the poor, placing orphans in homes and seeing that these people had all their needs met. He was a well-known figure as he carried a bag of candy and gifts wherever he went, and children loved him and followed him whenever he came out into the streets.

He still attempted to keep his good works a secret by dropping coins into windows and leaving clothing or food on the porches. His fellow clerics knew it was he who was distributing these gifts, Nicholas did not allow the information to get to the public.
When some of the poor inevitably told him of their good fortune in receiving these gifts Nicholas would smile and tell them that God had heard and answered their prayers. In the more remote areas the people had no idea that he was a cleric, and thus a legend grew that he was an angel dressed in red.

Nicholas used the opportunity to tell everyone, especially many children, about Jesus Christ and the gift He gave through his death on the cross and he would assure the children how much Jesus loves the little children.


THE LEGEND BECAME A TRADITION

St. Nicholas took the Lord's instruction seriously and saw himself as a shepherd of lost sheep who sorely needed a message of hope. His unselfish work for the lost and needy were so great that his work grew into a legend so great that when he died people followed his example, becoming a widespread practice among the people to leave gifts for others. Many churches were named after him.

It was his great example of a generous and godly spirit which grew into the tradition of Santa Claus, and that spirit of giving continued down through the years.

While many Christians rightly complain about the commercialization of Christmas we have the ability to go back to the simple example of St. Nicholas. We can present Jesus Christ as the primary gift, and give our gifts as a remembrance of the gospel.

We have a powerful tool at Christmas to change the focus back to where it belongs: to the greatest gift of all time, salvation. Give homemade gifts, enjoy the lights and ornaments, but use it as a time to teach the reason behind the tradition.


Take back Christmas and its true meaning!




Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Eve at the Manger

There is a beautiful story about Eve included in "Contes de Noel" by Jerome and Jean Tharaud:

"It was Bethlehem, the end of a long night. The star had just disappeared, and the last pilgrim had left the stable. The Virgin arranged the straw: at last the Child could sleep. But who can sleep the night of Christmas?

"Gently the door opens, so gently that it seems more like the wind was pushing it than a hand. A woman appears...covered with rags. She was so old and wrinkled that you would have thought her mouth was one more deep wrinkle in a face the color of dirt.

"A fearful chill came over Mary when she saw her, as if a malicious fairy had come into the room. Fortunately Jesus was asleep. The ass and ox placidly continued munching their hay...

"The Virgin didn't take her eyes off her. The woman walked slowly, each step seeming to take centuries. She continued, the old woman, and approached the manger. Thank God, Jesus was still sleeping. How can one sleep on Christmas night?

"Suddenly he opened his eyelids. His mother was completely astonished to see that the eyes of the old woman and his eyes were exactly the same, they both shone with the same hope. The old woman sank down on the straw. One hand disappeared into her rags, looking for something, taking ages to find it.

"Finally, after a long time, slowly, tiredly, the old woman pulls out of her clothes a little object hidden in her hand, and she gives it to the child. All the treasures of the Wise Men and the offerings of the Shepherds, what could this be?

"From where she was, Mary could not tell. She saw only the shoulders bowed down, the woman's back, bent over from age, now bent over even more before the crib and the Child within it.

"Finally she arose, as if relieved from a great weight which had dragged her to the ground. Her shoulders were no longer bowed down, her head almost touched the low roof, her face seemed miraculously renewed, as if she was finding once more the vigor of her youth.

"She turned from the crib, smiled at Mary, and went out through the door into the dawning day. Finally Mary could see the mysterious present.

"An apple, a little apple, having within it all the sin of the world, given to the baby Jesus by Eve, for it was her, the old woman, who had come to worship the Child born of her blood, who would save her from her sins. The apple of the original sin, and the sin of so many who would follow her.

"And the little red apple shone in the hands of the Child, as if it were the globe of the kingdom and of the new world which had just been born with the King."