Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What's a Miracle?

Watching Christmas movies has always been apart of my Christmas season. The movies help visualize a better day and usually help me focus on the love and salvation of the season. This season was different. I watched a Christmas movie early on, which disturbed me. 

There were several scenes where the nativity was referenced as a background theme like having to wait out a snowstorm in a stable...maybe to give the movie credibility. However, the theme the main characters kept pointing out was this:  All we need to do is get together with others, put things in motion and we can solve anything. The idea was that people could make their own miracles happen without the help of God. Now that may have the likeness of a miracle but in my thinking it is not a real miracle.

Miracles are defined in the dictionary as an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause. 

Real miracles are unexplainable events. Real miracles are started and completed by God. They have a note of mystery about them. The miraculous has to do with the love and glory of God meeting the needs of His children and not in what man can do for himself.

The greatest miracle of all was when God sent Jesus to earth in the form of a baby. When he had matured, Jesus was sent out to publicly minister to the world that God loves them all and the time of salvation had come. Then, when He had finished his portion of the proclamation, Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world making salvation available to all mankind from any age.

In the end, mankind will always think that he can be God’s equal. I believe it came into man’s nature from the fall. Man seeks to find ways to trivialize God’s power by trying to prove that he can do things like God with his own limited power. Nevertheless, those of us who can discern the lies need to stand firm by proclaiming the truth without fear. We need to continue to pray for godly clarity.  Then as we do, we can dispel the darkness through shining the light of His Word.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only, who cam from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

Do you need a real miracle in your life? All of us need a miracle from time to time. Christ comes to live inside of you so he can create the best miracle of all…becoming a child of God.  Then, because you are his, Jesus meets all your needs with his riches in glory. Ask him…seek him…and watch him open the windows of heaven and create a miracle especially for you. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Widows

I attended my first Widow’s Meeting. It's strange to be going now after all these years. I have been a widow since November 30, 1993. I wish I had known of a support group like this back then. So why go now? I’m not sure why other then the fact that maybe I could offer other widows hope that there is life on the other side of grief. God does lead us to minister where we have trod.

There were several ladies there that were fairly new to this journey… younger…older…and the in between. As I scanned their faces and demeanor throughout the meeting, I could see their pain and their efforts to keep putting one foot in front of the other especially during this Christmas season. Most likely each of them are struggling with some form of loneliness or depression even when they are among groups of friends or family. And the barrage of questioning thoughts that seem endless. But mainly, what is ‘starting over’ going to look like for me? I still have many vivid memories and feelings of the beginnings of when I started my journey.

We played Christmas games before we ate lunch. I opened the first prize package. It was a cute yellow statue that spelled out the word HOPE. Then I opened the second gift from another game. It was a coffee cup that said HOPE too! That is when I knew I had been lead to this group of special ladies. Not only was I going to give them hope but I was going to receive hope as well. Fill my cup, Lord!

I have already come to a ‘new normal’ in my life. However, I still struggle at times with what is out there for me in the future. Does God have another mate designed for me? What do I do now that my children are grown and leaving home for good? But through all the questions, hope in God is what has sustained me through it all. I have learned to turn and stay with Him in a crisis. I have also learned to lean on Him when I am lonely. God has become the husband I lost. And oh...what a wonderful Husband He has become.

Have you lost a loved one during the Christmas Season or anytime for that matter? Take hope in the fact that God is right there with you. Cultivate His Presence in your loneliness so you can know the love and peace He has brought through the birth of His son, Jesus.

Do you know of someone who has lost a loved one? Be especially sensitive to their need for a little extra dose of confidence and cheer. They are struggling whether they let you know or not. Send them a card or drop by with a container of soup. In other words, allow God to use you as His hands and feet to comfort those who are in the mourning process. When you do, I know God will bless you too.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Me, A Christmas Light?

Oh…I love the Lights at Christmas. I love looking at them on the Christmas trees, on my neighbors’ houses, and in the yards around town. I love the small displays and the large ones – the colorful ones and the white ones. To me, the more lights we have the merrier.

Our small town puts on a great Christmas lights display every year. My family and I love to drive through the downtown area just to see what’s new. Last night, when my daughter and I took the tour, we actually got out and walked around. Small children were running up to the larger then life animals, gingerbread men, and the nativity with so much wonder and joy like they were discovering something new for the first time. It made me want to become a kid again.

As we continued to walk along, I began thinking about how each of the displays were made up of individual lights. That is when the Lord broke into my thoughts and said, “You are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14) This made me think about my witness to others and what this season is all about.

Am I making an impact with my witness for Christ in my everyday life? Am I glorifying my Savior in everything I do and say? Am I meeting people where they are and praying for them to get to where they need to be – salvation or maturity? Is my neighborhood a better place because I came with the light of Christ?

Then the Lord expanded my thoughts and opened up my understanding to a new way of looking at these festive lights. Each believer is a light. However, if all of our lights came together in their proper places, we could become a beautiful eye catching presentation of the glory of God. One strand of lights could be the Methodists, one the Baptists, one the Independents but together we form the nativity scene in all we say and do. Think about it!  If we could just cut ourselves loose of what separates us and come once again like a child, full of wonder and joy, what a difference we could make as a united front.

Is your light shining bright this Christmas so the world will know that our Savior has come? Are you connecting with other believers in and outside your home church so that unity can multiply? Go through your area’s Christmas light display and then think about the possibilities for yourself and the Body of Christ.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Gift That Multiplied

Temple Baptist, Philadelphia, PA
This story of a brave young girl came across my desk the other day and I thought it was worth sharing. So many times we do not think that our small amounts will ever make a difference but as we see here, Hattie May's 57 cents gift left her with a legacy.

A first-hand account of the story of Hattie May Wiatt is in a sermon delivered December 1, 1912 by Russell H. Conwell, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Philadelphia.  Hattie May lived near the church where the Sunday School was very crowded. Rev. Conwell told her that one day they would have buildings big enough to allow everyone to attend who wanted to. 

Later, Hattie May Wiatt became sick and died.  Rev. Conwell was asked to do the funeral. The girl's mother told the reverend  Hattie May had been saving money to help build a bigger church and then gave him the little purse in which Hattie May had saved 57 cents. This was in 1886 when 57 cents was no small savings account for a little girl from a poor family.

Rev. Conwell turned the 57 cents into 57 pennies. Then he told the congregation the story of little Hattie May and sold the pennies for a return of about $250.  Later, 54 of the original 57 pennies were returned to Rev. Conwell. He later put them on display.  

Some of the members of the church formed what they called the Wiatt Mite Society which was dedicated to making Hattie May's 57 cents grow as much as possible and to buy the property for the Primary Department of the Sunday school. Eventually, a house nearby was purchased with the $250 that Hattie May's 57 cents had produced and the rest is history.  The first classes of Temple College, later Temple University, were held in that house.  It was later sold to allow Temple College to move and the growth of Temple, along with the founding of the Good Samaritan Hospital (Now the Temple University Hospital) have been powerful testimonies to Hattie May Wiatt's dream.....and what God can do with only 57cents.

God can do the miraculous with whatever you have to give. No gift is ever to small or too unimportant for God not to notice the effort made in giving it. This Christmas, give something special to God and see what wondrous things He can do.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Eagle Is Flying

Nature accurately expresses so many of the rhythms we need to capture in our daily Christian walk. Let's look at the eagle.

The eagle is at rest in his nest high above.  When it is time for an appointed task, he prepares to fly. He stands. He stretches his legs and claws to make sure of his footing. Then he extends his wings upward to where the tips are close together. This is the first position the eagle takes as he prepares to fly. I call it the Praise Position.

As a believer, praise is where every journey needs to begin because it keeps our stance strong. It is where we acknowledge God is with us and He is also in control. Praise is power and sends the enemy fleeing in the opposite direction from where we are headed. Praise propels our focus upward and not on the past down below.

As the eagle brings his wings downward, he assumes the second position, the Crucified Position. The eagle's wings are straight across where he is completely exposed for all to see. However, it is also a position where the wind can carry him in whatever direction he chooses. In this position, the eagle has the advantage of being able to lock his wings at the shoulders and soar for hours. If a windy storm comes, it will hit his breastplate and the eagle can soar up above the turbulence. From this new vantage point, the eagle can maintain his confidence in fight. When the windy storm is over, the eagle can return to his nest of rest until he is ready to venture out again.

This is the position Jesus took when he died on the cross to gain victory for us over the power of the enemy. In our Christian walk, crucifixion means coming to a place of total surrender of our will for His so the wind of the Spirit can carry us in whatever direction He chooses. It is also a place where we focus on experiencing His principles as absolute Truth. When the winds of life hit, our breastplate of righteousness propels us up to a higher place where the enemy cannot touch us. We can be totally confident and firm in our stance. When the storm is over, we can return to a place of rest and thankfulness because of the God’s faithfulness on our behalf.

The third position is the Service Position. This is when the eagle’s wings go all the way down underneath him. Only after the eagle has gone completely through the first two positions, is he ready to enter this last position. If his wings are in the downward position when he leaves the nest, then he will only propel himself downward until he can bring his wings back up to the highest position again.

When we stretch out our hands in service to others, it must be after we have already spent time in praise and worship as well as time in God's Presence to make sure our wills line up with His. If we try to serve others without doing these first, then we will head downward. We may be doing something good but we experience burnout or resentment because the task was not in His plan for us in the first place. Our direction will only be made right when we come back with our hands raised high and our hearts crucified with Jesus.

Go ahead... Put your hands up high in the air. Flap your wings up and down. Capture the rhythm of flight. Think about how this order of motion can strengthen your walk with Christ and allow you to soar. I pray this mental picture of the eagle will help you to fly higher than you ever have before.

Yet, the strength of those who wait with hope in the LORD will be renewed. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and won't become weary. They will walk and won't grow tired.               Isaiah 40:31