What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Today is Christmas Day. As you all know. I’m not sure how many of you will read this today since you will probably be busy with family and friends. I know I will be.
I wanted to have a nice Christmasy article for you to read, however, I already wrote about my Christmases past and have talked about what this holiday means to me. So I thought I’d just share from my Quiet Time today in 1 Timothy 1:12-17. This passage is Paul telling Timothy his credentials for sharing the gospel. Paul said he was the worst of sinners and yet that made God’s mercy and grace even more remarkable.
That mercy and grace only came about because of Christmas Day and the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Paul talks about how it was the Lord Christ Jesus that did everything for him and allowed him to be a minister of the gospel of salvation. The passage reads as follows (from the NASB):
“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those [a]who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory [c]forever and ever. Amen.”
So all of Paul’s ministry was possible only because of Christ Jesus. That same truth is what makes my life and ministry possible today. It’s because Christ came into this world as a human being and lived and died on the cross that we have God’s mercy and grace available to us.
I especially like how Paul ends this passage, with praise. Today, as I think about Christmas and all that Christ Jesus did for me, I am able to praise God in the same way: “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory, forever and ever. Amen.” Let’s celebrate Christmas with the thankfulness and praise it deserves.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Psalm 136 Thoughts

I have no ideas for a blog article for this week. It’s been a rough week in my household with lots of turmoil and unrest, and that makes me less verbal than I usually am. So as I sit here trying to think of something to write, I’m drawn to the Psalms. Particularly Psalm 136 comes to mind because it reminds me that we should “Give thanks to the Lord . . . His love endures forever.”
I need reminders that His love endures forever. I forget and get caught up in my own worries and concerns. I forget that God is involved in my life in so many ways that are for my benefit. Every verse in Psalm 136 ends with the reminder that “His love endures forever.” So I repeat that phrase to myself when things seem to be out of control. For the few moments I’m repeating it I feel some relief from my worries and concerns.
Verse 4 says, “to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.” So when I’m doubting that things will work out or be okay, I turn to that verse and recognize that He can and will do great wonders in my life – even if I am having trouble seeing where or how those great wonders are happening, He is at work.
Verse 23 says, “to the One who remembered us in our low estate, His love endures forever.” So no matter how low I go in my emotions, He remembers me and will build me up. No matter how I sin and fail to live up to God’s expectations, He remembers me and will forgive me. He will always recognize me and call me His own child.
Verse 25 says, “and who gives food to every creature. His love endures forever.” This says more to me than just having food on the table. It says He will take care of all my material needs because I am part of His creation. Every creature is guaranteed to have their needs met through His provision. I’ve seen that to be true in my life.
So, today as I’m feeling kind of down and depressed, I recognize that God’s love endures forever and even in my depressed state, He is looking out for my interests. He is able to meet my needs and improve my state in life. Today I praise God for His love that endures forever.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

More December Thoughts

Last week when I said there would be more December thoughts I had an idea. However today, as I sit to write, I don’t remember what I was thinking. So I decided to write about some memories from December 1978. That was probably the first time Christmas ever really made sense to me.
I was struggling with my alcoholism back then. I was probably drinking everyday and every evening and had been for at least a half of the semester of college. I was only a freshman but being free from my parents made drinking in excess even easier and I took full advantage of the freedom I had. That’s not to say that I hadn’t drank to excess in high school; I did on many occasions. And I hid it from my parents but not from some other adults who tried to help but didn’t really know what to do.
In college, I had made some friends who didn’t drink but most of the friends I made did partake of the alcohol available at parties. But I drank even when there weren’t any parties. I didn’t really realize that it was a problem until I tried to stop and found out that it was not as easy as I thought it would be. One of my non-drinking friends confronted me about my life and my beliefs. Another one sent me Scripture passages about the Christmas story throughout December.
One verse I remember to this day, because it made an impact on my life then and even now. “For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11. I memorized that verse because it spoke to me. It told me what Christmas was all about. But it didn’t stop me from drinking. That happened as a result of being shared with about the saving power of Christ and that it required a decision on my part. The verse that was shared with me at that time was Revelation 3:20 which says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” I realized that there are only three possible responses to a knock on the door. 1. Ignore the knocking. 2. Ask who it is and then not let the person in. 3. Ask who it is and invite them in. Christ had been presented to me and was knocking on the door of my heart. I had a decision to make about how I would respond to His knocking. It was too late to do the first option and ignore the knocking so that left me with a choice between keeping the door shut on Christ or letting Him in.
I realized that was a big decision. So I tried to stop drinking to make it sober. That’s when I realized that I had a problem. I had nightmares and shaking and felt sick – and really wanted another drink to take the edge off. I managed to not take a drink and made a sober decision to invite Christ into my life. I told God I’d give Him some time to make my life better. I think I mentally gave Him two years because that’s the longest anyone had been my friend and God would have to work in those two years to make me believe He could make a difference.
Well, things didn’t get automatically better for me. There was a struggle with depression and relationship issues. I needed help from a lot of people; friends and professionals. And things still, thirty-six years later, are not always perfect and without troubles, but without Christ in my life I’m pretty sure things would be worse and less hopeful. Telling you this story reminds me of the hope that I have in Him and gives me encouragement for the day. I hope it encouraged you also. Happy December.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

December Thoughts

It’s already the first week in December 2014. It doesn’t seem like the year is almost over, but it is. There have been a lot of things that have gone on in our lives in the last year. Some of the events have been causes for joy and some have brought heartache. But every year, as December begins, I remember back to other Decembers and think about significant events that happened in several of them.
In December 1963, my baby sister was born. I was almost four years old and I don’t remember anything about that event. Yet it is significant because my sister and I have grown close over the last few years. I treasure having her in my life and wish we lived closer together so I could go see her more often. We talk weekly and over the last year, we’ve been communicating regularly using Facebook messaging. There’s nothing like having a sister on your side through thick and thin. She’s been a great prayer-warrior for my family. That has great value to me as sometimes I just don’t know what to pray for. She always seems to have a perspective that I am unable to see.
In December 1978, I met Jesus for the first time face to face and became a believer in His salvation. When I think of that event, I think of the people God placed in my life to help me meet Him and make a decision. Some of the people I only recall by the role they played in my life, like the woman on my dorm floor who sent slips of paper with Scripture written on them as part of her Secret Santa gift to me. Others, I remember by name for the roles they played were significant in big ways. Jill (Spalding) Slater was the person God used to actually share the gospel message with me that December resulting in my turning to God in faith. And there were people who were praying for me: Diana (Keim) Schultz, Jean (Hayes) LaPlante, Mark and Mary Bonham, to name a few. It seems like such a long time ago, but those people are still very dear to me.
In December 1989, my son was born. He was actually born on December 13th, which is the same day of the month that I accepted Christ on in 1978. He was born two weeks early and at the time I didn’t link together the two “birth” days, but I have thought about it many times since then. My son will be 25 this year. Where has the time gone? I cherish every day I’ve had with him over the years and still cherish the time we get with him now. He lives in Chicago now so we don’t see him much but we do talk on the telephone – sometimes it seems like it’s daily. I guess our relationship is changing from parent and child to friends. That’s a good thing . . . and it reminds me to hurry up and get his birthday present in the mail.
In December 1997, one of our daughters was born. She wasn’t born to me and I wouldn’t meet her for another 15 years when she would come to live with us. We didn’t know her when she was born, but we get to celebrate her birthday with her now in December. Our lives would be so very different, and less somehow, had she not come into our lives. There are challenges, but there are also moments of joy. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without her as part of it.
So December is a special time of year for me. There are memories from past events and events happening now that will become the memories of the future. December is worth celebrating for oh so many reasons . . . more next week.