Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year

Today is the last day of the year 2009. Where has it gone? What did I enjoy? What would I avoid for future years?

The scripture from Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 comes to mind,
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven --
A time to give birth, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to tear down, and a time to build up.
A time to week, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones; A time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace, and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search, and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep, and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; A time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate; A time to war, and a time for peace.

What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils?
I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves.
He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just say, "no"

I praise God for His mercy, His love, His giving me strength when I felt like quitting. Whew... The semester is almost finished. I love my job, don't get me wrong. But this semester was a challenge from the beginning. To best meet the needs of students, I couldn't let any of the classes on the schedule get canceled even though we did not have an instructor for one. So... I took that additional class section.

Well, I shouldn't have.

I had too many hours, so I spent every waking minute checking discussion boards (for two online courses), grading papers, responding to students, preparing for class, plus taking care of other duties that come with the territory.

So what good came from this stressful semester?

I have now added a new word to my vocabulary. It's not a very long word, but it has much meaning. You probably already know just from reading the little to this silly blog posting.


Sometimes we must step back and realize that the best thing I can do is NOT do something.

Sometimes we just need to stop the rat-race and review what does God want? How can He use me? What direction does He have for me?

I thought of the scripture, "Be still and know that I am God." (Ps. 43:10)

Yeah... be still....

Psalm 43:1-3, 7-11
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, although the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Thou its water roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride...

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Come, behold the works of the Lord, who has wrought desolations in the earth.
He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fir.

"Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stonghold.

And for me to be still, maybe I do need to just say, "no".

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Thankgiving - even in December

This evening thoughts flooded my brain (yep, that doesn't happen often, does it...) On this weekend of enjoying grandkids -- overwhelmed by the activity level a billion times above our normal around here -- joy in the wonder of small things they enjoy or find amusing -- the beauty of their smiles at us or each other -- the awe of their affection toward one another, life goes on in reality. The innocence of a child hushed with the death of a person at the other end of life's spectrum.

This lady found a few months ago that she was actually quite ill. Her husband had gone through many tests and diagnosis for his maladies, but it was her quietly supporting him in the background that had much more serious threats to her survival. And just Saturday she went to her eternal home with our Lord and Savior.

Why I am thankful? That perfect celebration the fourth Thursday in November has come and gone. Why am I focusing on thanksgiving rather than the birth of Jesus -- King of kings and Lord or lords - -the Messiah?

I am thankful because of Jesus coming as a babe.

As I watched Eli and Hannah these past few days, I saw the love that can be shared - not only from adults to children, but from children back to the adults and from child to child. I saw also the natural, human element of sin -- not only in the children as they fought over a toy (or knob on the kitchen cabinets), but also my sin as I responded not always as I knew I ought or wanted. God came to earth as one of us -- taking on the human nature, but rising above the sinful nature and bridging the gap that sin causes between man and God.

Baby Jesus matured into the man that healed the sick, taught multitudes, shared God's love to outcasts, and ultimately died on the cross for each one of us.

This bridge between God and man, in the form of Jesus Christ, makes me thankful. As my friend died of cancer, I knew that her final destiny was not the box in the ground after a short period of struggling with strength for her daily tasks, but to eternal life worshiping God.

From the beginning to the end -- alpha and omega -- God is God above all. His love abounds.

For His love, I am thankful. For our time here on earth and His giving us grace and strength, I am thankful. For His calling us back to Him when our time here on earth if finished, I am thankful.

All this brought forth by the baby Jesus.

I am thankful - -even in December.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas and the Cross

The Christmas story brings pictures of a field, donkey, village filled with people, a barn, hay, Mary and Joseph, and the baby Jesus. Gathered around are shepherds with animals peering at a new born babe. Rumor had this child as a new born king -- even the stars in the heavens guided seekers to the wondrous sight.

Angels promised Mary, "He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.... He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end." When Mary questioned how this news could possibly come to pass, the angel assured her, "So the holy one will be called the Son of God... For nothing is impossible with God."

Many Christmas carols bring forth words recognizing Jesus as more than just an ordinary baby boy, born in the night.

Singers ring out, "Come, Thou long expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free.... By Thine all sufficient merit raise us to Thy glorious throne."

Singers ring out, "Hark! The herald angels sing, 'Glory to the newborn King. Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!' Joyful, all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies; with the angelic host proclaim, 'Christ is born in Bethlehem!' Hark! The herald angels sing, 'Glory to the newborn King!'".

Singers ring out, "On this day earth shall ring with the song children sing to the Lord, Christ our King, born on earth to save us; Him the Father gave us. Ideo-o-o.... gloria in excelsis Deo! On this day angels sing; with their song earth shall ring. Praising Christ, heaven's King, born on earth to save us; Peace and love He gave us. Ideo-o-o... gloria in excelsis Deo!"

Preparing to lead worship one of the Sundays of Christmas, one of the suggested scripture readings is Philippians 2:5-13. These verses struck me hard in the midst of this celebration of a baby, for the message was not of the innocence of a child, but the ultimate giving for each one of us. These verses state, "(Jesus) emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.Therefore, also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

The story is not only about Jesus as a baby, God taking human form, but about Jesus dying for us as the interaction between God and man because we are loved. Through His birth as human and his dying to save, each is claimed as God's own. As the angel announced to Mary at the beginning of Jesus' life within her, with a message that carries forever, "For nothing is impossible with God."