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Friday, December 30, 2016

Trying To See God Eye to Eye

Recently, I heard a line in a song that gave me pause.  In fact, I chose that song for today's Song of the Day.  The entire thing is excellent, and boy, can I relate to the message.  And while I'd love to go line by line and give you my thoughts, I'd rather focus on this one phrase:  "I pull you down, so we are eye to eye."  Even after hearing it several times, that phrase still creates an uneasiness within me.  Something deep inside of me cringes, and I'll explain why.

Have you ever tried to understand what God was doing in your life?  Have you ever tried to make sense of His work, timing or plans?  I'm afraid I make a habit of doing this.  It's my nature.  I like to be in the know.  I feel I need to know what's going on.  I want to be prepared.  I need to make plans.  So, I try to make sense of what God is doing (or not doing), and in the end, I find myself discouraged, frustrated and confused.  Why?  Because God's ways don't make sense.  I'll give you an example.

Despite the limited funds and extra expenses at Christmas, there were a couple of people who were desperately in need, and I felt led to help them.  With peace in my mind and joy in my heart, I made a financial contribution to each of these people, confident that God would take care of me and bless me for my generosity.  I wasn't giving to get something in return.  I was honestly giving from a loving and compassionate heart, but I had faith that God would take care of the rest.  He didn't. . .well, at least not in the way I had anticipated.  Before I realized what was happening, the bank account overdrafted.  With two more days until payday, I honestly didn't know what to think, and unfortunately, my first response was anger.

"Seriously, Lord?  This is how you treat your children?  I gave out of the goodness of my heart.  I was trying to help others.  I was hoping to spread cheer and encouragement to those who were about to give up on you for good.  And how do you repay me?  You allow my account to overdraft, which means now I have all these extra fees to contend with."

The tantrum didn't last long though that's not to say that it didn't last longer than it should have.  But I was honest.  I didn't understand how the Lord could allow that to happen, and even now, I don't have an answer.  It seems cruel.  It feels like I was being punished for doing good.  For the moment, I was convinced that the whole "cast your bread upon the water" proverb was nothing but a fairy tale.

The problem, however, isn't what God did or didn't do.  It's what I did.  I tried to make sense of His ways.  I tried to bring Him down to my level so that we could see eye to eye, but the fact of the matter is that He is not on my level.  He is the Most High.  His ways are so far above my ways that I can't understand them no matter how hard I try.  His thoughts are above my thoughts, and even though I long to comprehend what He's doing, I can't.  And as much as I'd like to know why God works things out the way He does, the King of the World doesn't owe me an explanation.

For some reason, the line in that song gave me a clear picture of what I was doing when I tried to put God in a box and expected Him to work the way I see fit.  If I'm bringing Him down to my level and putting Him in my charge, then He's not a God who can really do anything for me.  I need someone who is above all the chaos and noise.  I need someone who has the vantage point to see things clearly when I cannot.  I need someone who knows all, sees all and understands all.  I need God to be the Most High, even if that means I don't know what He's doing.

So often, we think we want to see eye to eye with God, but if we think about it long enough, we'll realize that that's not what we want at all because doing so will only bring Him down to our level.  If we feel like we're stuck in the mud of life, what good would it do to bring Him down to get stuck in it with us?  I know it's frustrating to see God working in ways opposite of what we're expecting, and it can be challenging to remember that He is working all things for our good, but we must trust that He sees what we can't see and understands what we can't possibly understand.  He is the Most High, and from that vantage point, He alone knows what's best for us.

Will you trust Him today, or will you insist on trying to see eye to eye?

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. - Romans 11:33-36

Thursday, December 29, 2016

When the Clock Strikes Midnight

Some days I feel like Cinderella.  No, I'm not dressed in rags, slaving away in the home of my wicked stepmother. And neither am I looking for a handsome prince (I've already found him).  No, it's something else, but to explain it, allow me to refresh your memory of the fairy tale.

Cinderella desperately wanted to go to the ball, but she had nothing to wear and no way to reach the castle.  In her darkest hour, her fairy godmother appeared and made her wishes come true.  With a flick of the wand, Cinderella's rags became a gorgeous ballgown, complete with glass slippers.  A nearby pumpkin became her coach, and a variety of animals served as her footmen and driver.  It seemed impossible yet magnificent; however, there was a catch--the fairy's spell would only last until midnight.

So, Cinderella goes to the ball and meets the prince.  They fall in love at once, and for a little while, Cinderella forgets her past.  As far as she's concerned, things have changed, and they'll never be the same again.  Everything was perfect, and her dreams had finally come true.  But, at the stroke of midnight, just as the godmother had warned, everything fell apart.  The gown was reduced to rags.  The coach broke down into a rotting pumpkin.  The footmen and driver regained their animal forms.  And Cinderella was left standing in the dust of shattered hopes and dreams.

This story resonates with me in that sometimes I feel like a significant transformation has taken place in me.  The timid, anxious, doubting girl is gone, and in her place stands a beautiful princess, complete with grace, poise and faith.  For a little while, it looks like my spiritual dreams have come true--not that I've arrived, mind you, but for once, I feel like I'm making progress.  For a while, it seems like my faith has finally taken root and begun to grow.  All those hours spent in prayer and Bible study are finally paying off.  The transformation is magnificent, and the changes seem so permanent that I fool myself into thinking that things will never be the same as they were.  The poor Cinderella is gone!

Ah, but then the clock strikes midnight.  Crisis comes.  Trials arrive.  And suddenly, everything around me crumbles.  My beautiful gown of faith is reduced to rags of worry and fear.  In an instant, it's as if nothing had ever changed at all, and I feel like I'm back where I started.  Never making progress.  Never moving forward.  Always stuck in one spiritual existence while longing for another.

Do you ever feel that way?  Do you find yourself doing all the right things for spiritual growth yet seeming to be stuck in your childish ways?  It's discouraging, isn't it?  The truth is, it's downright disheartening!  I find myself thinking, What's the point?  Why bother?  But, praise the Lord, God recently opened my eyes to a beautiful truth.

You see, I've had it in my mind that I've been failing the same test over and over and over again, which indicates a lack of spiritual growth.  But I don't think that's the case at all.  It's not that I'm not learning; it's that the tests are becoming more challenging.  When I started out, my faith tests were on the level of 2+2, but now, after some growth, the Lord feels I'm ready for something more challenging, like long division (yikes!).  It's a bit like playing a video game.  For the most part, games have levels. As you progress in the game, the levels get more and more difficult.  It doesn't mean you haven't learned anything or acquired skill at the game, it only means that you're facing more challenging obstacles.  Does that make sense?

For me, it's such a relief because it gives me hope that I'm not stuck in a spiritual rut.  I'm not a lost cause!  No, I haven't arrived, and I have MANY lessons left to learn, but fortunately, I have a very wise and patient Teacher.  He knows what I need and what lessons I need to learn, and He will give me the strength to master them in time.  And rest assured He will do the same for you.  We are making progress, imperfect though it may be.  But progress is progress.  Just ask Cinderella.  Though everything else in her fairy tale existence disappeared, her glass slippers remained, and it was through one of those slippers that her dreams became a reality.

Hold onto that glass slipper of imperfect progress and cling to it as your hope and promise that God is not through with you yet.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. - James 1:2-4

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

In His Likeness

On Christmas Eve, Jason and I went with his family to see the new Star Wars movie, Rogue One.  It was a superb film, but I will warn you, don't get attached to anyone.  Anyway, the movie is set during the time between Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith and Episode 4: A New Hope.  In the last few moments of the movie, there is a clip of Princess Leia receiving the top secret information about the Death Star.  At first, you only see her from behind, which is understandable because the actress who played that part forty years ago is. . .well. . .forty years older.  Surprisingly, though, at the last second, she turns around and says a few words.  The camera focuses on her face, and my first question was, "How did they do that?"  It was the same actress, or was it?

We had a lively discussion about this at lunch after the movie.  Some were of the opinion that CGI was used to make the actress look like the original Princess Leia.  Others felt that perhaps the clip was one that had been filmed all those years ago and not used in the initial film in 1977.  Some quick online research informed us that it was neither.  The part was played by another actress, and when looking at her profile picture, the girl looks nothing like the original actress.  But I promise you, she looked like a twin in the movie.  It was crazy!

In my devotions this morning, I was reading about how much Christ longs to form us into His image, how He works on us relentlessly to make us more like Him.  Immediately, the Leia confusion came to my mind.  Somehow, the film studio took a girl who doesn't look much at all like the original actress and made everyone think it was Princess Leia.  I'm sure they spent many hours making her look the part.  Jesus does the same with us, and He won't be satisfied until His work is complete.  He longs for others to look at us and say, "Wait a minute!  Is that Jesus?"

As we close out this year and embark on another, keep in mind that God is doing a work in us, and only He knows what will be required to make us more like Him.  It may mean some time in the fire.  It may involve some long, dark valleys.  It may even include lots of joys and victories.  I don't know, but I urge you to keep this in mind as you face the new year.  Whatever God allows to come into your life has a purpose.  Everything He does is part of His plan to make us more like Him.  So while the journey may be difficult, the destination is definitely worth it.

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: - Philippians 1:6

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Longing In Me by Sheila Walsh

About the Book:
Do your desires have you going around in circles? You may be looking for fulfillment in all the wrong places. You vowed you’d never repeat the same mistakes—yet you find yourself right where you started. What is it that keeps drawing you back into the same old traps? The fact is, your longings are built from the blueprint of your needs: for protection, for love, for God. And those needs aren’t going anywhere. Sheila speaks candidly about the trials in her life, including the heartache of her first marriage, and intertwines her story with the biblical saga of King David. As both Sheila’s and David’s stories make clear, some cravings are misguided, but they all stem from the same hunger—and they will haunt you until that hunger gets satisfied properly. If you keep reaching out to the wrong people at the wrong times in your own life, The Longing in Me will help you understand that your cravings are not the problem. It’s where they lead you that makes all the difference.

About the Author:
Sheila Walsh is an author, speaker and Bible teacher who has sold over 4 million books. Her heart is to show what happens when your real life meets the Word of God. She is the author of the #1 best-selling line of Christian books for little girls, "Gigi, God's Little Princess." Sheila is the creator of Children of Faith and the Gnoo Zoo, a ministry to children that communicates God's love for them. She is the author of several books for women including "Honestly," "Gifts for Your Soul," "Living Fearlessly," and "The Best Devotions of Sheila Walsh", "The Shelter of God's Promises" and her latest book, "God Loves Broken People and those who pretend they're not." As an accomplished musician, Sheila has recently released the CD "Beauty From Ashes." Sheila, her husband, Barry and their son, Christian live in Dallas, Texas.

My Review:
If you've followed my writing for any length of time, you know that I am crazy about the story of David.  From shepherd to king, his story is filled with such passion, adventure, and yes, even chaos.  Over the years, I've learned so much from the Biblical account of David's life, but that hasn't quenched my thirst for more.  And that is precisely what Shelia Walsh delivers in this book when she takes the story of David and weaves it in along with personal accounts of the ups and downs of her life.  Walsh invites the reader into an intimate setting with real feelings, genuine heartache and stories that help the reader to understand that whatever they're facing, they're not alone.

As all good books do, this one had me crying at times and laughing at other times.  There were many episodes in Walsh's life where I found myself nodding because I could relate.  Her willingness to open up and share her imperfections was refreshing.  I can't tell you how many sentences and even paragraphs I highlighted or wrote down in my journal.  I took away so much from this heartfelt journey to explore the longing in me, and to be honest, I was shocked by what I discovered.

By the end of the book, I realized that my longing for God was not as it should be, or perhaps I should say, how I filled that longing is not as it should be.  I was saved at a young age and raised in a Christian home.  I've lived my life as a good girl, doing my best to serve God and unwittingly expecting Him to serve me in return.  Over the years, I have taken God's promises and twisted them into what I wanted them to be, then grew angry when God didn't follow through.  As I've examined my relationship with the Lord over these past weeks, I've discovered that my faithful service to the Lord is more out of fear and obligation than out of love.  I've also learned that I treat God more like a genie in a bottle rather than giving Him the respect due my Father, Savior, Lord and yes, even Friend.  In essence, I've not been longing for God as much as I've been longing for Him to fix things in my life.  My relationship has been reduced to spending time with Him in hopes that He'll reward me by setting things right in my life.  I'm so ashamed yet, at the same time, relieved to have discovered this about myself.  This explains why I feel so unsettled and unsatisfied.  I'm trying to fill my longing for God with the stuff He can provide, and now that I see the error of my ways, I can hopefully change my actions and attitude (with God's help, of course).

I can't promise you that reading this book will be easy because it may cause you to become aware of issues you didn't see before, but I can say without a doubt that it's definitely worth reading.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Tale of Three Trees -- A Favorite of Mine at Christmas Time

Author Unknown

Once upon a mountain top, three trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up. The first little tree looked up at the stars and said: "I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I'll be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!" The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on its way to the ocean. "I want to be traveling mighty waters and carrying powerful kings. I'll be the strongest ship in the world!" The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and women worked in a busy town. "I don't want to leave the mountain top at all. I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me, they'll raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world."

Years passed, and the little trees grew tall. One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain. The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, "This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining ax, the first tree fell. "Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest, I shall hold wonderful treasure!" the first tree said. The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, "This tree is strong. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining ax, the second tree fell. "Now I shall sail mighty waters!" thought the second tree. "I shall be a strong ship for mighty kings!" The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven. But the woodcutter never even looked up. "Any kind of tree will do for me." He muttered. With a swoop of his shining ax, the third tree fell.

The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought her to a carpenter's shop. But the carpenter fashioned the tree into a feed box for animals. The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold, nor with treasure. She was coated with sawdust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals. The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took her to a shipyard, but no mighty ship was made that day. Instead, the once strong tree was hammered and sawed into a simple fishing boat. She was too small and too weak to sail to an ocean or even a river. Instead, she was taken to a little lake. The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard. "What happened?" The once tall tree wondered. "All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountain top and point to God..."

Many, many days and nights passed. The trees nearly forgot their dreams. But one night, golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feed box. "I wish I could make a cradle for him," her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and the sturdy wood. "This manger is beautiful," she said. And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.

One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake. Soon a thundering and thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. She knew she did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through the wind and the rain. The tired man awakened. He stood up, stretched out his hand and said, "Peace." The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. And suddenly the second tree knew he was carrying the King of heaven and earth.

One morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hands to her. She felt ugly and harsh and cruel. But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose, and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God's love had changed everything. It had made the third tree strong. And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God. That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.

So the next time you feel down because you didn't get what you wanted, just sit tight and be happy because God is thinking of something better to give you.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Why This Way?

Christmas time always leaves me pondering the question, “Why did you do it that way, God?”  We understand that Jesus came so that He could die for our sins, but just because He was destined to die a horrible death, did that mean He also had to live a stressful life?  Think about it.  If you knew you were sending your son to die the most gruesome death imaginable, wouldn’t you have made certain that His life up to that point was glorious?

If I were God, I think I would have allowed Jesus to be born in a palace.  He would have been loved and revered by all.  For the entirety of His life, He would want for nothing.  He would have riches, fame, friends. . . anything and everything His heart could desire.  Life would be good and easy.  After all, even that would be a step down from the splendor of Heaven.  It was the very least Jesus deserved.  He was coming to die, so surely it wouldn’t have hurt anything to allow Him to live in comfort until that time, right?

Actually, it would have ruined everything.  If Jesus had been born to royalty, how would the common man ever understand Him?  If He had grown up with the wealthy and privileged, how could He ever relate to the poor and discontented?  His humble birth and upbringing were gifts to us so that we would forever know that Jesus has been in our shoes.  He’s walked the road of disappointment and grief.  He’s carried the load of sorrows and frustration.  He knows what it’s like to be tired, hungry, disliked, mocked, disbelieved and much more.  Whatever we face in this life, Jesus can comfort us and say, “I understand, child.  I’ve been there.”

There’s genuine peace in confiding in someone who truly “gets” us.  We understand when someone is sympathizing with us and when they’re empathizing.  There’s a light of recognition when someone shares our cares and concerns, and if nothing else, we’re comforted by the fact that we’re not the only ones going through that particular trial.  Our situation is not unique to us.

Christmas time brings about a lot of joy, but it also has a tendency to bring about sadness.  Grief over a loved one who won’t be joining in the fun this season.  Sorrow over another year that has come and gone without bringing about the changes for which we’ve been praying.  Sadness for things that are beyond our control.  But I would like to remind you that Jesus knows what you’re going through.  He’s been there, and He can see you through your difficult situations.  In fact, it was important enough to Him that He bypassed a privileged existence just so that we could hear the words, “Yes, child, I know what you mean.  I’ve been there too.”  If He loves us enough to experience it along with us, then we know He loves us enough to help us make it through.  Hang in there, and as you celebrate this season, remember that He came, why He came and how He came.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. - Luke 2:7

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

In the Stillness

You won’t believe what Jason and I did on Saturday.  Yes, this past Saturday, aka the last Saturday before the Christmas weekend.  Are you in suspense?  Good, but I won’t keep you waiting.  We did nothing.  Yep, absolutely nothing.  We didn’t wrap presents.  We didn’t attend any Christmas parties or church functions.  Due to the rainy weather, we didn’t even take Mitch for a hike.  In fact, neither of us left the house the entire day.  Sure, we fiddled with a few things here or there around the house, but overall, we had no agenda, no plans and no obligations. . . and it was glorious!

Honestly, I cannot remember the last time I felt so stress-free.  The entire day, I felt calm and at peace.  Jason and I got along beautifully (which we tend not to do when we’re both exhausted).  We watched Christmas movies and snuggled on the couch.  We chatted.  We played around with some projects with no real deadline or anything like that.  The day was the best day I’ve had in a LONG time, and much to my delight, the peace continued into Sunday.

Now, I can’t explain to you what a miracle this is.  Sundays in our world are chaos.  There’s so much to do, and Jason and I fill so many roles at church that Sundays tend to be filled with anxiety and stress rather than joy and peace.  I try not to let it get that way, but more often than not, by the time church actually begins, I’m feeling crazy and pulled in every direction.  After Saturday’s calm, I was somewhat dreading Sunday because I was enjoying my newfound peace.  But as I got ready Sunday morning, the usual “stress buzz” wasn’t there.  Jason and I both got ready with time to spare, got to church early and had everything ready to go in record time and with minimal effort.  All day long, things just seemed to flow in beautiful harmony.  Throughout the day, I found myself laughing and smiling until my face hurt and even feeling a childlike playfulness stirring within me.  I felt like a new person, and honestly, Jason seemed like one too.  Actually, I take that back.  We didn’t seem like new people; we seemed like the former “us.”  You know, the people we were before busy life took such a toll on us that we forgot how to live life and enjoy one another.

You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you all of this.  I guess it’s because this weekend has reminded me how important it is to take some time every now and then and just be still.  I know, I know, life is busy, and there’s so much to do, but if this weekend has taught me anything, it is that by taking time to rest and be still, I was able to accomplish more in the days to follow and to do so with a brighter outlook and a more positive attitude.  We have convinced ourselves that resting takes time away, but we fail to see how much more we can actually accomplish when we’re not running ragged.  I had forgotten this.  I had been running full-speed-ahead for so long that I was certain if I were to stop, my entire world would crumble around me.  But I stopped, and the world kept on spinning.  In fact, it spun better, and the effects of that one day of rest are still reaping benefits in my body, mind, attitude and life in general.  

I understand that it’s difficult to find time to just be still, especially this time of year, but I urge you to try.  I assure you it is worth it!  If God could find time to rest, so can we.  If He felt it was important to set aside a day for relaxation and stillness, it must be important.  If God told us to do something, I’m sure most of us would do it immediately.  So why do we have such trouble when God tells us to do nothing?

Be still, and know that I am God. - Psalm 46:10a

It’s a command, not a suggestion.  Will you obey?  I promise you won’t be sorry!

Monday, December 19, 2016

What's In Your Bag?

With all the hustle and bustle of the season, I like to make time to sit back and relax while watching some Christmas movies.  So far, I haven't watched any of the classics, but I've found a couple of newer movies on Netflix that I've really enjoyed.  And, I have plans to watch some of "the greats" like The Muppets' Christmas Carol and, of course, Charlie Brown's Christmas.  What can I say?  I'm still a kid at heart!

As I watch, I revel in the different ways in which Santa Claus is represented.  Yes, he usually has a long, white beard and a red suit, but from there, the details vary from movie to movie.  For instance, in some movies, Santa only needs to put his finger to the side of his nose and instantly he's inside the house.  In other, more comical movies, Saint Nick's attempts to climb down the chimney are met with utter disaster.  It's fun to see imagination in action.  (I guess that's why I'm a writer, huh?)

One of my favorite parts, though, is Santa's bag of toys.  I love it when Saint Nick reaches into that great big bag and pulls out the perfect gift.  Time after time, the bag seems to only contain the very next gift, which is always just the right thing.  Not once have I seen a movie where Santa pulls the wrong thing out of his great bag.  That's not to say that there aren't any, but I haven't seen one, nor do I think I want to.  It would ruin it for me!

Often, when watching such a movie, I find myself daydreaming of what it would be like to have such a bag.  Whatever I need, I just open the bag and pull out the perfect thing.  The item would always be right.  It would always be timely.  Oh, what I would give for a bag like that!  But then, in my Bible reading this morning, I realized that I already possess such a bag. . . and so do you.

That bag is the heart.  You see, Santa can always pull the proper gift out of his bag because he placed the proper gifts in the bag to begin with.  Our hearts work the same way.  When we put good things in, only good things are bound to come out.  If we fill our hearts with love, joy, peace and hope, those same things will be available to others.  Take a look at what Jesus had to say on this matter:

A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. - Matthew 12:35

See what I mean?  Just as Santa Claus fills his bag with "good treasure" for the boys and girls around the world, so should we fill our hearts with "good treasure."  Then, when it is time to pull something from the bag, there will only be good and perfect gifts.  We have the opportunity to bring forth good things in this life.  It simply depends on how we're stocking our bags (hearts) to begin with.

So I ask you, what's in your bag?

Friday, December 16, 2016

What It's All About

This week, in following with my Bible-reading plan, I've been reading through the crucifixion.  As I read this morning, the thought hit me that it was strange to be reading about the death of Christ in the midst of the season celebrating His birth.  But I quickly realized that there was nothing strange about it at all.  In fact, it's quite appropriate. After all, the crucifixion is the very reason that He came to be born of a virgin.  He was born to die.

Think about what He left in order to save us from our own sin.  The splendor of Heaven.  Angels at his beck and call.  Streets of gold.  Gates of pearl.  Heavenly beauty.  Peace.  Serenity.  Perfection.  Harmony.  His Father.  He left it all behind and chose instead to be born in a dirty barn, knowing that He would be scorned and ridiculed by the very ones He came to save.

Picture the feet that once walked on streets of gold as they make their way down the dusty roads.  Imagine the One who was once surrounded by peace and praise as He endures the anger, hatred and ugliness of mankind.  Envision the perfect Son of God as His loving Father turns away, knowing deep down in His heart that He's suffering a fate that no one else ever had or would have to face--to be forsaken by God.

Why would He do such a thing?  Why would One so perfect choose to be born simply so that He could die?  Why?  Because of love in its truest form.  Yes, Jesus had all the treasures of Heaven, but He looked down at mankind and whispered, "It's not enough.  I want them too."  And so He walked away from "the perfect life" and into the mess of this world.  All for me.  All for you.

As we celebrate the birth of Christ, let us not only picture a baby in a manger but also a man on a cross.  Let us not lose sight of why He came that first Christmas morning.  He came to die so that we might live.  I can think of no better gift!

 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. - Isaiah 9:6

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Have a Non-Electronic Christmas

Someone sent me this video the other day, and I was shocked.  I know people can become absorbed with their phones, tablets, iPods and so on, but this guy needed a serious lesson. . . and if you'll watch to the end, you'll see he got one.  Please watch the video, then read the comments under it.  I promise, I don't have a lot to say today, but the thing the Lord has laid on my heart is very important.

We live in a technologically-advanced world, and while it has its advantages, it also has its disadvantages.  I believe we are more detached from people in this day and age than ever before, and it's because we're addicted to our devices.  It seems most people can't go five minutes without checking Facebook, playing some video game or fiddling with some other mindless app--all the while ignoring the people around them.  I beg of you, this Christmas, leave your devices at home, or at the very least, in your purse or pocket.  I promise you that Twitter will survive the day without you.  Don't use family time (which is rare and precious) to catch up on emails or to play games that you could play anytime during the course of any given day.  Family gatherings are special.  They give us time to reunite, to catch up and yes, even to slow down from the busy world.  Please, please, please give yourself and your loved ones a break from technology this Christmas and enjoy time with the people sitting in the same room as you.  And no, I'm not condemning anyone for using their phone to take pictures or their tablet to talk with a loved one across the globe.  That's not my point.  What I'm saying is to cherish the time with loved ones because you don't know how much time we have left.  Make it special!  Make it count!

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. - Ephesians 5:15-17

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Bad News About Burnout, Conclusion

I think I’ve made my case about burnout.  To say it is bad news is quite an understatement.  I could give you health statistics, Bible verses, and much more to convince you just how severe burnout is, but as I said, I think I’ve made my point.  So, today, I want to focus on how to avoid burnout, and it all begins with Jethro’s advice to Moses.

Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace. So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said. - Exodus 18:19-24

I can literally summarize Jethro’s advice into a single word:  delegate!  Why do we see that as such a bad word?  What makes us think that delegating is the same thing as shrugging our responsibilities onto someone else?  Perhaps, like me, it’s because someone has “delegated” tasks to you, but they did it the wrong way.  They didn’t ask; they assumed.  They didn’t wait for your response; they took your silence as a “yes.”  In essence, they didn’t delegate; they demanded.  It’s not the same thing.

To delegate means to divide the work among several other workers who are willing and eager to help (and in the case of dealing with your children, sometimes those who are not so willing and eager).   The old saying goes, “Many hands make light work.”  That’s so true.  If more people were truly doing their part, maybe there wouldn’t be so many like Moses who are on the edge of burnout.  If more people volunteered, perhaps there wouldn’t be so much on the plates of those who do offer their services.  It’s a matter of balance.

But here’s the thing:  some people just aren’t the volunteering type.  Some people aren’t leaders.  They’re more than willing to help out, but they will need to be asked. Otherwise, they’ll just stand around and watch the workers.  Moses had forgotten his primary role.  He was a leader, but in this instance, he wasn’t leading, only doing.  If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves doing the same, and it’s completely unnecessary.  Whether it be at home, in the workplace, at church or somewhere else, delegation can be a lifesaver and can keep you from driving yourself into the ground.  It isn’t a sign of weakness or immaturity.  On the contrary, it is the mark of a good leader.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Bad News About Burnout, Part Four

In the past few posts, we’ve been talking about burnout and how it can have a severe impact on our health, our time and even our calling in life.  Today, I want to show you how our burnout can affect others in our lives without us even realizing it.

And Moses' father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. - Exodus 18:17-18

Did you catch what Jethro said to Moses?  He warned him that not only would he wear himself out but also the people that were with him.  How?  Well, for one thing, the people came out and stood in line for hours on end waiting for their turn to stand before Moses and have their disputes settled.  Knowing human nature, I have to think that it was not a quiet or peaceful line.  So, hour after hour, people stood in the desert sun in the midst of strife and turmoil, waiting for just a few moments of Moses’ time.  Want a present day picture?  Think DMV, though they do, at least, have seats.  Is it any wonder Jethro was concerned about the health of the people?  But that’s not all.

Let’s face it, when we’re tired and worn out, we are not the best versions of ourselves, are we?  We get grouchy, irritated, short-tempered and unfocused.  Moses, though a great man, was still just a man.  He was subject to fatigue and the moodiness that follows just as we are.  Can you imagine being that tired and having to listen to people’s complaints day after day?  That’s enough to make anyone crabby!  But here’s the problem:  the more tired and frustrated Moses became, the more his judgment lapsed.  I have no doubt that there were issues that Moses didn’t handle correctly simply because he was too tired to think straight.  It happens, but what we often fail to realize is that our decisions affect the people around us.  First off, that moodiness is contagious, and it doesn’t take long for it to infect everyone around us.  Second, when we make poor decisions, someone (and maybe several someones) will have to face the consequences.  When we stretch ourselves too thin, we are not capable of making right decisions consistently, and it impacts everyone around us.

Lastly, without even realizing it, Moses was stealing from the people.  He was supposed to be teaching them, instructing them in the ways of God, but because he was so caught up in solving their problems, he let it slip.  In a sense, he was creating a need among the people.  They needed him to solve their problems.  No one else could do it.  No one else knew or understood the law.  They needed Moses more than they needed anything else, including God. . .or so they thought.  But what would have happened to the people if Moses had died before actually teaching them anything?  What were they supposed to do then?  When I studied to become a teacher and then went on to teach other up and coming teachers, there was one lesson that was stressed above all else— you are there to help the students not to do the work for them!  It sounds simple, but until you’ve had to sit and watch a child struggle with a problem for hours, you won’t understand just how difficult it is.  Compassion says you give them the answer.  Pity tells you to give another hint.  But love understands that they have to learn to do it themselves because you won’t always be there to help.  Love teaches.

Think about it, even Jesus chose twelve disciples when He walked on the earth.  Why?  Was the task too big for Him?  Of course not.  He may have been a man, but He was still God.  No, Jesus chose disciples (which means learner) so that He could teach them and they could, in turn, go on to teach others, even after He was gone.  If Jesus saw the need to train others, why don’t we?

Moses had a valid argument. . .almost.  There wasn’t anyone else qualified to do the work he was doing.  True, but that didn’t have to be the case.  The same is true in our lives.  Perhaps we have taken on certain responsibilities because we feel we are the only ones qualified.  That may be true, but is it possible that our time might be better spent teaching others to do it instead of trying to do it all ourselves?  Moses discovered the answer to that question, and I pray that we will too. . . hopefully, before we ruin lives in the midst of our burnout.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Bad News About Burnout, Part Three

And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening. And when Moses' father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even? And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God: When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws. And Moses' father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. - Exodus 18:13-17

Yesterday, we discussed the negative impact that burnout can have on our health and how it can wear us down to the point where we have so little energy that we cannot even begin to accomplish the things we need to do.  Today, I want to talk about how burnout can distract us from our true calling in life.

Moses was called to lead the people.  God instructed him to teach the people.  But at the point of time discussed in Exodus 18, Moses wasn’t doing either.  He didn’t have the time or the energy.  He was too busy settling disputes.  The passage makes it clear that this was a daily occurrence that lasted from the rising of the sun until the setting of the same.  Moses had no time for himself.  He had no quiet time with God.  He barely had a chance to eat.  He had taken upon himself the role of judge, and while it was a good thing to want peace among the people, it was pulling him away from his God-given calling.

Oh, how well I can relate.  Would you like to know the last time I worked on my writing for any length of time?  Honestly, I can’t remember.  I’ve been too busy.  First, it was the house repairs that took over a month.  Then, it was catching up on all the other things that I had fallen behind on during that stretch.  Then, we hit the Christmas season, and I’ve been busy shopping, preparing for various church events and other celebrations, setting up my web store so that I could offer Christmas specials to others, taking care of my hubby when he was down with a head cold, nursing myself when I caught the stupid head cold, and on and on.  Good things.  Needful things.  Urgent things in some cases.  But where in that list is my God-given calling?  I’ve been too busy to do the very thing God has called me to do and let me tell you, I’m miserable because of it.

It’s wonderful to do for others.  It’s a blessing when someone sees a need and rises to the occasion to meet it.  However, when we allow so many things to pile up to the point that we are distracted from the thing God has called us to do, we’re outside of His will, and those good things just became very bad.  Busyness and burnout are two of the most deadly enemies to fulfilling God’s will.  They lead us to believe that we’re doing right, that we’re helping others, that we’re pleasing God, but how can God be pleased when we aren’t obeying Him?  

Each of us has a calling from God, and no matter what, we cannot lose sight of that.  We must be on guard so that busyness and burnout do not distract us from what we were made to accomplish.  I have a purpose.  You have a purpose.  It’s good to try to do more, help more and be more, but not at the price of ignoring our main calling.  In fact, we may find that returning to our purpose will solve other issues as well.  That’s what Moses discovered.

Through Jethro’s wise counsel, Moses realized that if he taught the people as God had instructed him to do, there would be fewer disputes to begin with.  First off, the people would know God’s will and would be more likely to obey it.  Second, even when they didn’t obey, a quick reminder was generally all it took to get them back on track.  Thirdly, by teaching the people, Moses was able to set up other men as leaders in the congregation, and these men were able to handle the little matters.  These men wouldn’t have been able to do the job unless Moses had instructed them, but because Moses fulfilled his calling, he was able to actually lighten his load by dividing the responsibilities of the people out over several men.  Moses was no longer wearing himself out.  The people were learning the Word of God.  And Moses was able to go back to his calling.  Everyone benefited.

You may think you’re doing someone a favor by stretching yourself to the limit, but the truth is, you’re only hurting yourself and them (as we’ll discuss in the next post).  The story here of Moses teaches us that if we stay true to our calling, God will work out all the other details.  Sure, He may call you to take on some added responsibility, but keep this in mind—He will never ask you to take on so much that you neglect your primary purpose in life.  Heed God’s call on your life, and make that your priority.  When you do, everything else will fall into place.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some book writing to do.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Bad News About Burnout, Part Two

In the previous post, we discussed the cause of burnout and how Moses found himself teetering on the brink of a total breakdown when he was spending all day every day judging the people and solving their disputes.  Moses thought he was doing a good thing, as we often do when we take on more responsibilities than we should, but Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, told him otherwise.  And Moses' father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. (Exodus 13:17)  Fortunately, Jethro went on to explain his reasoning:  Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. (vs. 18)

Have you ever had someone tell you you’re doing too much?  Has anyone ever said to you, “You need to slow down”?  Do you ever feel like a rat on a wheel—constantly running but never completing the many tasks set before you?  If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you’re in the same position Moses was in.  Thou wilt surely wear away!  It’s too much.  We have a tendency to take on far more than God ever intended for us to carry, and the problem with this reaches far beyond wearing ourselves out, though that is a serious issue too.  In fact, let’s start with that bad news.

Burnout (and even the steps leading to it) can leave us so tired and weary that we don’t have the time (or the patience) for anyone or anything else.  Burning our candles at both ends can cause us to neglect the things in life that actually matter:  God, our families, our churches, our friends, our health and so on.  It’s so easy to focus on the urgent that everything else simply falls by the wayside.  We don’t have the energy to deal with life’s issues and “the other stuff” too, so something has to be pushed aside, and too often, it’s the wrong things.

Take our health, for example.  I don’t know about you, but when I get busy and stressed, it becomes quite evident in my food choices and lack of activity.  My healthy, well-planned meals turn into fast food runs and microwave pizza.  I trade out my water and herbal teas for energy drinks and sodas because I’ve convinced myself that I need the added caffeine to keep myself going.  My daily prayer walk becomes a run, but not the right kind.  A run to the store.  A run to pick up the items I need for this task or that event.  Running myself ragged trying to tick off everything on my to-do list.  It’s crazy, and the worst part is that it’s a never-ending cycle.  When I’m stressed, I turn to these bad habits which, in turn, perpetuate more stress on my body which leads to more bad habits.  See what I’m getting at?  Without our health, we can’t get anything done.  The more we try to push ourselves beyond our limits, the more limits we’ll find placed on our bodies.  We were not designed to run at warp speed for long stretches of time, and it’s killing us little by little.

Jethro warned Moses that if he didn’t change his way of thinking and daily routine, he was going to wind up in the sick bed or, worse yet, in the grave.  His body couldn’t keep up with the demands of his time, and neither can ours.  If you’re sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, then perhaps it’s time to take a good long look at your schedule and prayerfully consider where you can make some changes.  Don’t allow Satan to distract you by claiming that everything on your list is good because, while that may be true, the combination of all those things is not good.  If it’s ruining our health and making us unusable in the work of the Lord, it’s a very bad thing.  Something has to go, so what will it be?

We’ll talk more about this in the next post and explain how burnout may be keeping us from our calling in life.  Until then, I pray you’ll take some time to consider your schedule and see where you can possibly make some changes.  I know it’s the busiest time of the year, but just think, if you can make changes now, it should be that much easier to do so the rest of the year.  Remember, you can do all things through Christ.  Ask Him, and He’ll show you what to keep and what to give away.  Your life may very well depend on it!

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; - Ecclesiastes 3:1,6

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Bad News About Burnout, Part One

’Tis the season to be jolly, right?  Well, that’s what the song says, but that’s certainly not what I see.  I see people who are stressed out of their minds.  I see people who are angry, bitter, tired and whiny.    In short, I see people who are teetering on the edge of burnout.

Burnout is not exclusive to the Christmas season.  It can happen anytime during the year and can be the result of family, work, church, health issues and more.  It is not limited to any country, class, or gender.  You’re as likely to find it in your place of worship as you are at the White House.  Burnout occurs when we burn our candles at both ends, trying to accomplish too many tasks and meet impossible deadlines.  And while it isn’t exclusive to Christmas, it does seem to multiply at that time.  Take people who are already stretched too thin and pile on a list of to-do’s that includes buying gifts, sending cards, caroling, numerous parties, church cantatas, baking, etc.  In a big hurry, the most wonderful time of the year becomes a nightmare.

Moses understood—not about Christmas burnout, mind you, but about burnout in general.  Look at this passage from Exodus 18:13-17.  And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening. And when Moses' father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even? And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God: When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws. And Moses' father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good.

Not good?  How could Jethro (Moses’ father-in-law) say such a thing?  Moses was ending disputes.  He was teaching the people how to get along.  He was taking time for each need and pouring his heart out to the people.  Sounds like a noble cause to me.  Yes, it definitely sounds like a good thing.  Moses thought so too, but what he didn’t see was that he was dangerously close to running himself into the ground.

Over the next few posts, I want to discuss the bad news about burnout and how it can affect not only us but those around us.  For now, I want to remind you that even “good things” can send us over the edge.  There are probably millions of good things we could do with our time, talents and energies, but we simply cannot do them all.  We weren’t created that way, and God never intended for each of us to do everything.  For that reason, it is imperative that we practice saying this little word, “no.”  When our schedules are already full and our plates are overflowing, it is wrong for us to take on more.  We must learn to say “no” even to the good things.  

I’ll go into more detail about this over the course of the next few posts, but let me end with this—even God didn’t make the world in a single day.  He could have. It would have been no trouble for Him to speak everything into existence at once, but He spread the process out over seven days.  If God didn’t try to get it all done in a single day, why do we think we should?  Pace yourself, and stop taking on more than you can handle.  After all, it may be hurting you far more than you realize.

Monday, December 5, 2016

What You See Isn't Necessarily What You Get

A few weeks ago, I came across a quote by Henry David Thoreau that states, “It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see.”  That statement has stuck with me over the past weeks, and yesterday, the Lord even brought it to life right before my eyes.

I was returning from my prayer walk when I noticed a bird sitting in the shadows in the middle of the road ahead of me—at least, I thought it was a bird.  I could clearly see its head, beak, body and extended tail.  Oddly enough, it was just sitting there.  It didn’t fly away.  It didn’t bend over to scoop up some tasty bug off the ground.  It didn’t even hop around to see what was available.  It just sat there perfectly still until a gust of wind knocked it over, beak-first, onto the ground.  Only then did I realize that the “bird” was actually a leaf.  Perhaps it’s time for an eye appointment, huh?

That being said, I’m sure you’ve done the same thing—saw something that you thought was one thing only to find out it was another.  Come on, admit it.  Don’t make me feel alone in this thing.  I already feel crazy enough for seeing a bird where there wasn’t one.  Maybe it’s stress or lack of sleep.  All I know is that as soon as I realized my mistake, God brought Thoreau’s quote back to my mind.  I was looking at a leaf, but I saw a bird.

How many times in life do we make the same mistake in spiritual matters?  We look at a problem, but we see a mountain.  We look at a diagnosis, but we see a death sentence.  We look at the pink slip, but we see financial ruin.  Unfortunately, we even do it with God.  We look at Him, and we see a God who used to do great things.  It’s not what we look at that’s causing our spiritual struggles in life; it’s what we see.  We see what we think is inevitable.  We see the worst outcome.  We see what we fear.  But are we seeing the truth, or are we, like I did yesterday, seeing something that isn't there?

I propose we start living life by another statement:  “It’s not what you see that matters; it’s what God sees.”  The God who parted the Red Sea, healed the sick, raised the dead and cast out demons.  The God who is above all and more powerful than we could possibly imagine.  What does He see?  I would suggest that when He looks at your problem, He sees the walls of Jericho, ready to tumble.  When He sees the diagnosis, He sees the chance to prove His grace whether in healing here on earth or in Heaven.  When He sees the pink slip, He sees the opportunity to move you to another place where you can better serve Him and probably be much happier in the process.  Where we see boulders, God sees pebbles.  Where we see oceans, He sees a water fountain.  I dare say if we saw what He did, we wouldn’t be afraid.

The trouble is we can’t see what He sees.  We don’t have the same vantage point.  But I’ll tell you what we can do—we can trust.  If He says He’s got it under control, let’s take Him at His word.  If He says He’ll supply our every need, then let’s agree that He means it.  We may be blinded to the reality of our situation, but God is not.  He is fully aware of what is taking place, not only now, but down the road as well.  He can see around the bend, so let’s stop living our lives based on what we see and instead trust in what God sees.  That should keep us from making mountains out of molehills. . . or birds out of leaves!

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? - Romans 8:31

Friday, December 2, 2016

Do You Smell That?

We finally got our tree, and it’s a beauty!  The best part of all is that, for the first time in several years, we were able to find a Carolina Sapphire.  Now, if you’ve never seen one, you’re missing out.  They’re gorgeous with a silvery-blue tint and tiny little buds that look like decorations.  Words just can’t describe to you how lovely these trees are nor can they convey how heavenly they smell.  Around my house, we sing, “It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas” because the Sapphire carries with it the pleasing aroma of nature.  Seriously, the smell puts the nicest cedar to shame.  We love it!

On the day I was decorating the tree, I kept taking deep breaths, sucking in that magnificent scent, but in the midst of it all, a thought struck me.  Suddenly, I was reminded of another fragrant tree, though this tree did not carry an aroma of its own.  No, the smell wafting from it was due to the figure hanging upon it.  Yes, the scent was coming from Jesus, and despite the wretchedness of His appearance and the despair of His body, the smell was not at all unpleasant.  It was the spicy scent of spikenard that clung to His body after Mary anointed Him with the oil at their last meeting.  Though some time had passed, the aroma lingered as did the memories of Mary’s precious gift.

I can imagine Jesus struggling to take a breath, fighting the pain as the nails tore through His hands and feet.  But as He pushes His body upward, just enough to gasp for a breath of air, He smells the spikenard and smiles.  Somebody believed Him.  Someone loved Him.  Someone thought enough of Him to lavish Him with an expensive spice that cost an entire year’s wages.  Someone cared.  What a comfort that must have been to Him when even His Father turned away in disgust at the horrible sin that was laid upon our Savior.

I realize that the Christmas season is about the birth of Christ, not His death, but if you think about it, the season is really about both. After all, Christ was born to die.  His purpose for coming to this world and taking human form was so that He could pay the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.  That being the case, at Christmas, I like to celebrate the fact that Jesus was born, but I also love to reflect upon the reason that He was born.  He came for me.  He came for you.  He came that all mankind might know Him and dwell with Him for all eternity if they only accept Him.  He is the way, the truth and the life.

So, I guess you could say that on Christmas day, God made a way in a manger.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. - John 3:16

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Where's the Fire?

If you’ve been following the news at all, you’re aware of the fires ravaging the Southeast. Carelessness, vandalism and severe drought have created a state of emergency in at least four states. Firefighters are working day and night to keep the raging fires under control, but thus far, they’ve been unable to keep it from spreading. The fires are literally jumping from place to place, making it nearly impossible to determine where they will strike next. Living in one of the affected areas, I have witnessed the destruction and ferocity of these endless flames. It’s terrifying and fascinating all at the same time.

 I watched the news report as they attempted to explain how the fires could leap from one place to another, and I found myself wondering if spiritual fires behave in the same way, and if so, why aren’t we seeing an outbreak of revival? As I look around at the churches and so-called Christians of today, I think I have my answer. It seems to me that the fires are not jumping and spreading because there are so few to begin with. Yes, as sad as this statement is, there are few who seem to really be on fire for God anymore.

I’m not saying that there aren’t Christians in the world because I know there are. And I am not saying that there aren’t any who would give their lives for Christ because we’ve witnessed it.   But in a world of over 7 million people – 2 million of which claim to be Christians – there is little evidence of spiritual wildfires. Too many, it seems, are content to do their thing, attend the occasional church service and do God a favor by reading His word every once in a while. Then there are those who serve faithfully in His house week after week, but knowing my own tendency to grow weary in well doing, I have to wonder how many are serving because of the fire in their hearts as opposed to the obligations on their to-do list.

May I remind you that time is short? The signs of the times are all around us, and I believe that Jesus is coming back very soon. When He does, what will he find? Will He see His bride on fire for him, or will He return to a world of ho-hum Christians going about their days and barely giving Him a moment’s thought? The question is a sobering one, and the answer is up to us. I firmly believe that if we, as Christians, were to get our hearts on fire for the Lord as they should be, it wouldn’t be long before the fire spread to others. The fire doesn’t have to end with us, but it must begin with us.  As John Wesley put it, “Get on fire for God, and men will come and see you burn.”

Are you on fire for God today?

 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. - Revelation 3:15-16