Dec 262009
 

Gott Mit Uns, German for God with us, has, over time, become commonly known because of its use as an inscription on German army belt buckles in WWII. Interesting that such a phrase was used to promote such actions. Immanuel, God with us. What does that mean to you?

Eight-year-old Joey lived in a low-income housing development. Church buses made periodic runs through his neighborhood to gather children for Sunday school and other special events. One day, the bus came through and he was invited to a party at the church that very evening,  but he only had 15 minutes to get ready. Joey rushed home to tell his mother. Bursting in the door, he shouted with excitement, “There’s a party at that big church tonight and I’m invited!

Assuming it was like the last party he had attended at the church, a costume party for Halloween, he rushed around trying to come up with a costume. While time was short, money was even shorter. Certainly not enough for him to have costumes to wear. Finally, he thought, “Why not go as a haystack?” He took an old brown sweater, put it on and stuffed it with weeds. He even stuck some of the weeds to the outside of the sweater to make it look more real.

Rushing outside, he made it to the bus just in time. Poor Joey was more than surprised when the party turned out to be a Christmas play, not a costume party! Embarrassed, he found his way to a corner and stood there, miserable and feeling out of place. As he waited, he heard one of the adults saying that they couldn’t find the manger.

Forgetting his embarrassment, he said,”Can I help? I’m good at finding things!” The leader explained to Joey that what they were looking for was a box full of hay where baby Jesus could be laid. Apparently, someone had borrowed the one that the church used each year and had not returned it. How could they have a play without it?

Joey looked and looked, but the manger was nowhere to be found. He finally looked down at his costume: Baggy sweater with weeds stuffed in it and poking out in all directions. “I could be a box of hay”, he thought. Laying down on the floor, he announced, “I’ll be your manger. Let Jesus be born in me!”

He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:2-4

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and  will call him Immanuel.-Isaiah 7:14

God with us. Let this be more than a name. Let it be our greatest wish for this season. Let Jesus be born in me!

shared in the workplace 12/23/09;adapted from a story shared at www.savingourboys.com

Dec 252009
 

Merry Christmas, everyone! There’s been a bit of trouble with getting the automatic email notifications out to those who have subscribed to this blog. Hopefully the bugs are out now. Part of the difficulty was confusion about the necessity of responding to the confirmation email sent to those who subscribed. This is a typical safety step to ensure that the subscription is intentional and not accidental.

God bless you as we all celebrate this season of grace and giving.

Dec 142009
 

We see a miracle each week in our Christian scouting club. Two fast friends- separate, they are energetic, but able to be channeled in positive directions. Together, they are a whirlwind! They kick, punch and shove each other, creating distracting mayhem wherever they fall.  Friends can be a powerful influence in our lives. Good friends will be a powerful influence for good in our lives!  We can struggle sticking to a diet that becomes much easier when a friend joins us in the struggle. Someone struggling to make it to church regularly can find additional incentive when a friend is expecting to meet them in the pew.

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:

If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?

Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes 4

Our Father knows that we are social creatures. He created us that way! He knows that if we ally ourselves with good friends, those who are focused in a positive direction in their lives, we will be much stronger and more resistant to failure.  Think of those with whom you spend the most time- at work, at church, socially. Do they lift you up by their influence? Or do they drag you down with negative words and actions? Make a choice today, not only to choose good friends wisely, but to be a friend who consistently points your friends to a joyful life in Jesus!

shared at home 3/26/10.

Dec 142009
 

Recently, I shared an experience from a campout weekend with our christian scouting club. I haven’t found a challenge facing teens that we don’t face as adults.

We were breaking camp Sunday, trying to get our kids back home in time to chill out, decompress, do homework, or whatever else they needed to do to have a successful Monday school day. Packing gear, drying tent flies, cleaning bathrooms, the list of activities required to get a large group of campers packed up is long!

All of the teens had their work to do. The campsite was a flurry of activity. We always find it difficult to keep track of the kids as moving targets, ensuring that all are pulling together toward our common goal. We finally realized that a couple of our unit members were missing.

Two of our adult unit staff started searching the camp. After almost an hour of increasingly frantic searching, they were found canoeing on the lake! They were in the wrong place at the wrong time!

Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
guard it well, for it is your life.

Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
or walk in the way of evil men.

Avoid it, do not travel on it;
turn from it and go on your way.

Proverbs 4:13-15

Those two got themselves in serious trouble.  They walked down a path, literally, that let them in the wrong direction. Had they stayed in camp, working to finish breaking camp with the rest of us, they wouldn’t have been tempted to do wrong.  As adults, responsible for them, we were concerned about their disobedience and the character building opportunity they needed. In addition, we were concerned about their physical safety in an unsupervised watersport.

If you find yourself in jeopardy, in danger of making bad choices, consider the path you are on. Are friends or coworkers influencing you, and not for the good? Are you permitting habits in your life that leave you vulnerable to temptation? Maybe it is time to change something in your environment.  Surround yourself with things, people, habits that keep you on a healthy path.

shared in the workplace 11/16/09

Dec 122009
 

Shaking hands is a habit that began hundreds of years ago. When traveling, most carried weapons for protection, a sword, a spear, a club. Typically these were carried in the right hand. When a stranger approached, potential danger was assumed. To clasp right hands with someone meant that neither of you were armed. It was a measure of trust.

My 16 year old and I took a long walk one night recently. She was too restless to sleep. As we walked, I grabbed her hand and we walked for a long time hand in hand. Talking, laughing, sharing things from her day. Every once in a while, one of us would release the other’s hands to point at something or make a gesture. Always, her hand would seek mine again as we continued our walk.

In Psalm 73, the writer is complaining to God about his enemies. Finally, he comes to his senses and realizes what he has been doing.

“I was senseless and ignorant;

I was a brute beast before you,’

-he says. What a jerk I’ve been! One version says “I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox…” What was I thinking!

Then he continues,

Yet I am always with you;  you hold me by my right hand.”  Psalm 73, 22-23

Did you notice? He said his RIGHT hand! God wants us to rely solely on Him. He wants to be the protector. He wants us to trust Him enough to lay down our weapons and quit fighting on our own.

Are you ready to trust Him with your RIGHT hand this morning?

shared in the workplace 10/8/09

Dec 102009
 

My daughter is taking an online computer class that sometimes proves confusing and difficult. I often team up with her to work through difficult assignments. This Thanksgiving, she was planning to complete the last two assignments in preparation for taking the final exam. We were wrestling with the first one on Thanksgiving day.I watched the hours go by, knowing that I had a trip planned for Friday, the next day. We struggled through the afternoon, trying to finish the first lesson. Late that night, we finally finished it, exhausted. Seeing her frustration during the afternoon, I had already decided to cancel my trip.  I finally shared my change in plans with her. She sagged against me in relief, comforted that she wouldn’t suffer through the final assignment alone.

Dads are supposed to do things like that. When we are observant and alert enough to notice needs around us, even projecting future ones, it is our duty and privilege to meet that need! Even as a faulty and human dad, I knew what my daughter’s next day might be like, struggling alone with the last assignment.

Our Heavenly Father  is not surprised by what happens in our lives. David says,

“your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16

A friend at work is struggling with a puzzling and frustrating health condition that is exhausting her. Neither she, nor the physician may know the diagnosis or the treatment yet, but God does.  Will it be an instant dramatic cure from finding the right miracle drug? Or will it be a process that takes longer than anyone expects? Will God show his power over disease? Or will He show his power over discouragement, anger, and pain by flooding her life with faith and peace and joy?

God knows every day of your life and has plans laid out for each one of them. He has had these plans since before you were born! As I say to my daughters, “before you were a twinkle in my eye!” Some plans just to make us happy, some to help us trust Him more, some to grow us to look more like His Son. What has He planned for you today?

shared in the workplace 12/10/09

Dec 092009
 

Moses had boldly asked for more assurance of God’s continual presence. But apparently that was not enough for him. I keep thinking of Peter here- always pushing, getting into people’s faces, demanding. Moses says to God,

“Now show me your glory.” Exodus 33

Wow! Pushy, huh?  Can God handle it when we ask for more of Him? Uh, Yeah!

And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence.

But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

Have you ever seen pure goodness, pure holiness? I don’t think we would be able to stand it. Have you every looked through an arc welding helmet glass? It is so dark that you can hardly see even in broad daylight. But the arc is so bright that it is easily seen through the dark glass.

God makes an appointment with Moses for the following morning.

“I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.  Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back;but my face must not be seen.”

Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” Exodus 34

Wow! That is how our God describes Himself! Moses stayed with Him for 40 days without food or water.  What an experience! Do you want more of God in your life? Do I recognize all the shortcomings in me that can only be remedied in Him? Ask. ASK! Say, ” Show me your glory in my life, Father!” Sometimes I wonder why some ministry endeavors in my life are not as visibly successful as I want them to be. Maybe I need to leave the results up to God. But maybe it is because I have not asked for more of Him!

When Moses finally came down the mountain after 40 days, his face shone so brightly that no one could look at him. In fact, they were afraid and ran away! Can those around me tell that I have been spending time with God? Do I reflect Him? Maybe my goal in life should be to simply reflect God’s love to everyone around me. How about you?

Part 2  of what was shared in the workiplace 11/23/09

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