3 days ago
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances” If you were to ask me the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian, I think these words from today’s scripture would sum it up very well. It’s easy to be happy when everything is going well. And it’s easy to be thankful when we have what we want. I saw a t-shirt once that said: I’m easy to get along with… as long as you do things my way! It’s meant to be humorous but, really, there’s a deeper truth here, which is that we are all selfish by nature. When things don’t go our way, we get angry, or anxious, or afraid. Is there anything in your life today that causes you to not be joyful or thankful? Most of us have something. But God’s word for us today is that we are to recognize that He loves us so much that we can give our troubles to Him. There’s a song we sing in church that says in part, “I’m trading my sorrows, I’m trading my sickness, I’m trading my shame, I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord.” This past year has been a difficult one for our family. I’ve asked so many times, Why did this have to happen? There are no easy answers, and yet, we lay it down and choose to rejoice, pray, and give thanks. May the peace of that starry night in Bethlehem rest on you today and always! Amen.UPDATE Last night, someone on FB shared this video from a Ukrainian pastor who passed away only a couple of days ago. It is about being thankful in the midst of suffering. Pastor Peter had been suffering from cancer and was near the end of his life when he preached this to his Odessa church on Oct. 24, 2011. He uses the same verse from Thessolonians that I used in my Advent devotional above. As you hear him speaking of bread, know that he himself wasn't able to eat because of his cancer.
"Dear Landon,A new father's brief time, recounted for his beloved son
By the time you're old enough to read this, you'll probably know all kinds of things about your dad. You've probably heard something about him every day of your life. You've seen the pictures of him holding you and the smiles - lots of his and then yours, too, once you were old enough to start smiling back."
Your son or daughter is feeling feelings now that really need your perspective...They're making choices, they're making friends, they're developing a sense of humor; trying to find out where God fits in everyday life. They need you there. There'll be many things more urgent but none more important. Everyone else will scream for your attention; they'll only whisper.It is SO easy to get too busy and it's so hard to find a balance in life. I appreciated the reminder. I think you will, too.
"During the past six months I encountered Jesus on a regular basis through His children. I found Jesus in the eyes of the frail, 9-year-old girl lying in a crib who desperately longed for a simple loving touch. I found Jesus in the countless hugs and slobbery kisses of a sweet boy who, although he was rarely shown love, had boundless love to give away to others. I found Jesus in the beautiful face of a tiny baby girl, abandoned simply because she was born with one extra chromosome. I found Jesus in the shouts of a little girl who would run at top speed towards every set of visiting parents, catching a glimpse of what a Daddy is and deeply wanting one of her own.Isn't that beautiful? She is encountering the King of the Universe in a little corner of Ukraine. Watch this short video clip then drop by her blog and offer her some encouragement.
I went to Ukraine to show love to ‘unwanted’ children and I thank God for the opportunities He gave me to do just that. I cradled abandoned babies in my arms, showered special needs toddlers with the affection they were so desperately missing and told intellectually handicapped teens that God loves them and thinks they’re perfect just the way they are. In the midst of it all I experienced God breaking, molding and transforming my own heart, giving me a love for these kids that is beyond what I can put into words."
"You need to watch closely to understand the meaning of the story. At the beginning, when the hedgehog is talking to himself, he's predicting what will happen when he gets to the bear's house. This means he has made the same journey enough times to know exactly what will happen. This time is different because he went out of his way, and because of that he lived a small adventure. He experienced fear, kindness and even had a near death experience, all of which has changed the way he sees life."
"I feel that the hedgehog represents all of us. She's going on a journey that she's gone on before, however in this instance there is fog. Her path is not completely clear. She experiences new things. She loses something important to her, only to find it again. She makes friends. She experiences the the fear of mortality before she can go one and continue living to meet the bear and eat her raspberry jam. It's a representation of life in story form. Like any good fairy tale."
"I think this is a story of a compassionate answer to absurdity. The hedgehog finds in the 'unfamiliar' (the absurd) the value of compassion, first in wondering if the horse will die, then from the dog who helps for no reason, and the fish who rescues him from despair. When he returns to his daily life he is now so changed that what once energized him to the point of forgetting fear, now holds no meaning and compassion for a horse means more then counting stars."
"Everyday he meets with the Bear. Very daily. It is so customary that he isnt aware of the owl stalking him. He is more worried about what he will do and say with the bear. Once he gets into the fog (the unfamiliar) he becomes more open-minded to his surroundings. He finds scary things and helpful things. Its kind of saying that 'This is the world. There are good things and bad things will happen, but don't be afraid.'"
"We are insignificant, uncomprehending little creatures in a world of inscrutable mysteries and unapproachable ideals. And we are left to others' goodness to get through our darkest hour. So be good."
"I always thought that barely discernible fish was immensely symbolic. That dark water rippling... gives me the chills every time."
"What is the point of life? The point is the amazing journey that anyone can experience in a seemingly normal setting. Just by the introduction of the fog into the hedgehog's environment, his world for him became mysterious, uncertain, even dangerous. Yet it was still the same place he called home, but through his eyes everything was different."
Sometimes when I’m in the valley of the shadow of death, I DO fear. When I got the call that Harrington’s oxygen ran out, I was scared. As I drove to the hospital as fast as possible to pick him up, I was scared. Every time I bolted out of my car, I was terrified. And getting back in was even worse. As I knelt over Harrington and pounded on his chest, begging God to bring him back, I felt as though my own heart was stopping. Many times in the past month, I have asked God “Why? Why me? Why here?” and every time without fail, I hear “Because I chose you.” So with a heavy heart I continue… I continue the work that God has called me to because just that, HE has called me! Even when my heart is breaking...