Friday, December 31, 2010

What if to What is

Happy New Year (well almost)  I don't really do resolutions so much.  I just get frustrated when I don't live up to them.  I have heard numerous times though that things are more likely to be followed through if they are in writing.  So, I'll consider this my in writing. 

This is not a goal necessarily.  More a way of reminding myself to change where I place my focus.  So often I get caught up in "what if" this or that happens.  You know what?  Most of the what ifs I worry about?  Don't happen.  Think of the time I can gain (?!?!?) by only dealing with what is and what I would like to see happen.  If I add to that speaking out loud positive words instead of whining about the negative, I will also be better off.

Life seems to continue to go faster and faster.  Wasting time on what if isn't going to slow it down any.  Live in the moment.  Enjoy time with family and friends.  Be grateful for what is.

James 4:13-15 (NIV) Boasting About Tomorrow 13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NIV) 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Contest Rules - Bible style

I just read contest rules that once again state:  Many will enter, few will win.  I always thought that was kind of humorous.  Of course, only a few will win...unless there were unlimited prizes.  I started thinking that I had heard a Bible verse that went like that.  There was something about a gate and many entering.  So I checked (WONDERFUL resource.  Type in a few key words or read through chapters and books) and found:

Matthew 7 (NIV) 13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Unfortunately, reading this?  Many enter the easier, more accessible gate.  The narrower gate leads to LIFE, but few find it.   

Praying that we can bring a light to the gateway and usher others through that narrow gate to life.  Then all who will enter.....will win.

The Way Home (a review)

The movie (rated PG only for thematic elements and some tobacco use) is based on a true story of the day a 2 year old went missing and how the family handled it.  A dad, busy providing for his family, is supposed to be leaving for vacation that day.  A mom, stressed out from getting everything ready for vacation….and finding out her husband, supposed to be helping, is still at work….providing.  When he finally makes it home, they are scheduled to pick up their other 2 boys from school.  Their 2 year old son plays in the driveway.  The difference just a few minutes and decisions can make.  The dad runs inside for a few minutes that turned into a few more minutes.  When he returns to the driveway, their son’s tricycle is in the driveway and the son is nowhere in sight. 
After briefly looking for him themselves, it becomes obvious they are going to need help.  A 911 call is made.  A great part of the movie is how the community comes together to aid in the search.  There are many scenes sharing how the word spread and churches all over were praying for them that day.  I don’t want to give too much of the story away.  Let’s leave it at the movie cover states “based on the inspirational true story”.    

The movie did a good job portraying a view of an everyday family and the stresses and joys.  As a parent, it is an excellent reminder that time with our children goes by faster than we realize and we need to be in the moment with them as much as we can. 

The movie dad is played by Dean Cain from, among other things, Louis and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.  Cain proves that dads ARE Superman to their kids.  However, if a dad isn’t careful, their child gets used to their dad not paying attention or spending time with them.  Overall, this was an underlying theme of the movie.   I was unfamiliar with many of the other actors, but the performances were well done.  The music during the movie and the credits is definitely worth a listen. 

I applaud the family for sharing their story and the moviemakers for making it.  It takes a lot of courage to share our struggles as families.  Even though it would be easy to place blame, the message comes across of love, forgiveness and the fact that sometimes things just happen.  Even then God can turn them into life lessons.  The special features are also worth a watch the real family tells their story.  Note: Don’t watch until AFTER you’ve watched the movie!

I received a copy of this DVD to review and the opinions are my own.  I was not told I had to like it, just share my opinion.  Honestly, I put off watching this movie because of the content and the guilt I feel for the times that I have made the same mistake the father in the movie made.   There were times as our kids were growing up that I did not pay attention enough or got busy doing something else. 

The only downside of this movie I can see is that people will make the same mistake I made.  I urge you to support filmmakers that are making films with an actual message worth watching and learning from.  This movie would also be a good discussion starter for a small group. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Gift.......Unopened?

Merry Christmas!  I hope and pray that your day has been blessed with times spent with family and friends....and rejoicing in the real reason we need to celebrate.  Christmas serves as a reminder that the world does not revolve around "me" or "us", but about sharing joy and love to others.

I started thinking of all the gifts that were bought for today.  Some with a lot of thought....some just to say it was done or the "perfect" gift could not be found.  Tomorrow the lines will start with the return of the gifts that might not be the right size.....or right color.....or just not what we wanted.

We were given a gift for Christmas, but it may not always look like what we wanted....or needed.  Sometimes we get so busy thinking about what we want we forget about sharing what we have already received.  A gift unopened is a gift not enjoyed by the receiver.......or the giver.   

The Unopened Gift by KL

Amongst all the wrappings and tossed off bows
Shining brightly in the Christmas light glow

Sits an unopened gift with a tag marked “To: You”
We all start to question, this gift is for who?

The gift has obviously been there awhile
We overlooked it while we all talked and smiled

The wrapping is beat up and covered with dust
The bow askew and slightly mussed

Upon looking closer I notice the “From:”
I start to cry softly as the others come

It was a gift to be shared
To show that Someone cared

I show the rest of the card
To:  You ……  From, God

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” - Isaiah 9:6

 Romans 6 (NIV) 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

2 Corinthians 9 (NIV) 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 

Revelation 22:17 (NIV) The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

Praying for us that when we are aware of someone that has not opened the gift of eternal life that we will not be afraid to let them know what happened when we unwrapped that gift.  Go tell it on the mountain and everywhere!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Do you have room?

A week before Christmas. The tree is up.  The lights are on.  A gentle snow is falling.  The presents are wrapped.  The sound of Christmas music lingers in the air.  Family traditions.  Cookie making.

Everything is right with the world.  Or is it? 

The tree was knocked over by the pets.  Some lights are out.  More snow.  Another gift to buy? The hustle and bustle of overfilled parking lots and long lines at stores.  Hark the Herald Angels....AGAIN?  Who's coming over?  Burned batches of Christmas cookies.  Stomach ache from eating too many cookies.  Who cares if they're slightly crispy?

Try and make it to church to hear the Christmas story and be reminded of why we really celebrate.

I heard a song on the radio today:  While You Were Sleeping by Casting Crowns.  Maybe I've heard it before, but today it sunk in.  The song talks about Bethlehem and the city not realizing who they did not make room for.  The city of Jerusalem not realizing the fact that they killed the Savior.  The United States of America - will we be ready when we get another chance to make room for Jesus when He returns? 

Luke 2:6-7 (NIV)   6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

It was not only the innkeeper or the town of Bethlehem that did not make room.  It was not only the city of Jerusalem that crucified their Savior.  It is not only the nation of the USA that is not making room or spreading the news of His coming again.  It is me.....and  maybe you....getting to caught up in the season and all its busy-ness that we have forgotten.....Jesus needs room.....still.

Will you be sleeping?  Will you recognize Him?  Will you make room?

John 1: 9-13 (NIV)  
 9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What kind of loving God?

Occasionally, we have on Family Guy for a few minutes.....that's about how long it takes for something said to make me say, "Ugh! Change the channel!"  One of the most recent occasions appeared to be for  Christmas.  I should say "holiday" (which I am normally against), but in this case would fit better.  "Santa" took somebody through the workshop filled with deformed elves....and eventually said, "What kind of loving God would allow this to happen?"

That was my UGH moment.  Channel changed.  The thought and question lingered...and still does.  I know it does for a lot of people - and not about elves.  When things go badly in our own lives or the world, we are quick to question God...even if He was not a consideration before.  It becomes a convenient way of dodging the possibility of God.  A loving God would be more in control.  He would not let these things happen.  People get caught up in "religion" and the actions of people that may not be the best example of a believer.

Relationship is what God wants with us....not religion.  Often, God is referred to as a heavenly father.  This is hard for someone to picture if their earthly father is not a great example of love and kindness.  They let this taint their relationship with God.  The teenager/parents relationship remind me of this.  We want to do our own thing, but we want mom and dad there to clean up the messes we get in along the way.  We don't always want to be responsible for the choices we make.

We don't always consider seeking Him BEFORE we make a decision that could end up badly, but we are quick to place blame when it doesn't turn out as we'd hoped.

I think the "loving God" comments come from things we feel like we can't control and we feel that SOMEBODY should.  However, is that really true?  Did God decide to "genetically enhance" our foods and products?  Did God decide that women really don't need to be inconvenienced with a monthly we'll just take some meds and skip it?  Did God decide to put up huge cell towers and create technology that can pull us further away or push us closer (depending on how it is used)? 

I could argue myself right into a corner.  I guess my point is that sometimes as humans, WE have DECIDED to "improve" upon God's plan.  Some of the improvements can prove hazardous to our health.  Is that God's fault or ours?  Does that mean He is not loving?

When you need to fight a battle, do you need Mr. Nice Guy OR do you need a knight in shining armor willing to lay down His life for yours?  When you screw up, do you need somebody that constantly reminds you of your mistake OR somebody that forgives you and loves you anyway?

We can be LOVED through anything that this life throws at us.  God promises us everlasting love.  Love that we don't have to earn.  We just have to be.  What kind of loving God does that?

Jeremiah 31:3 (Message)
God told them, "I've never quit loving you and never will.
   Expect love, love, and more love!

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways,”
            declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Sticks and Stones....Watch Your Mouth

Ahhh, the mouth.  Such a small part of our body, but oh the damage it can do when we let it get out of control.

As the old saying goes:  Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. That is SO far from the truth.  Anybody who has been attacked by words will tell you differently.  Even those who try to be careful of what is said may occasionally suffer from word vomit.  Word vomit is when what you think comes out of your mouth so fast, there is no stopping it and if anybody is in your way, they better move!

One of the bad things about words is that they can't be taken back.  Once you've said something, it's out there, probably gets repeated to others and then all that's left is damage control and hopefully asking for forgiveness.

It only takes a few seconds if our guard is down.  I think I usually keep my words to others pretty positive.  However, a few days ago I was stopped at a red light.  I could turn left if it was clear.  I was busy talking to our daughter and didn't turn when I possibly had a chance too.  The person behind me honked once and maybe even twice.  I am embarrassed to admit this, but I flew a bird and dropped a bomb quicker than I thought possible.  I apologized to my daughter, but I couldn't take back what I did and said.

I used an example in youth group one time with blocks.  It took awhile to build a good sized tower.  I gave the kids other blocks and told them to let some mean words fly when they threw their block at the tower.  The tower was quickly destroyed.  We talked about how much longer it takes to build it up then tear it down.

The same is true with people.  When we don't pay close attention to what we say to others, we can tear them down.  This can cause negative thoughts to flow through their mind and they may get stuck in a loop of repeating it to themselves.  This can cause them to say hurtful things to someone else....and it ripples outward from there.

Words may not cause visible bruises, but they can easily cause as much, if not more pain than a physical blow.  Physical blows (sticks and stones) heal, emotional verbal blows take longer to recover from.

Try and remember the power of words.  Sometimes silence really is golden.

Matthew 12:33-35 (The Message) 

33"If you grow a healthy tree, you'll pick healthy fruit. If you grow a diseased tree, you'll pick worm-eaten fruit. The fruit tells you about the tree.

 34-37"You have minds like a snake pit! How do you suppose what you say is worth anything when you are so foul-minded? It's your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation."