Saturday, November 24, 2012

A New Look at an Old Story!

Notice anything different?!
A friend put her nativity out yesterday with the usual set of participants. This morning she found a creative twist to the traditional scene. The dinosaurs had also come to worship Baby Jesus! Wonder if they came before or after the shepherds or between the shepherds and the wise men?
It's kind of cool, isn't it? It's pretty tragic when the wonderful story of the Gospel becomes so commonplace that we lose our sense of wonder!
It's interesting that dinosaurs can bring back a sense of wonder!
It's not just the Gospel story; it's life in general! We so easily lose our sense of wonder, joy and expectation! We get all mired down in sloughing through the mud of daily existence until that's all we see and we miss the wonder! 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Listening Kindly!

In ministry and especially ministry to special needs families this is SO true! It's not words even wise words that reach the heart! It's the kind heart that really listens! That's what matters as we show Jesus to the watching world!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Now Thank We All Our God

Approximately 375 years ago, a little known German pastor named Martin Rinkart lived in the walled town of Eilenburg. The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) with all its horrors was fought in central Europe but spread to almost every European country. It was a terribly long war which decimated huge areas of many European countries as it was fought from countryside to town from one country to another. Famine and plague were rampant. And Europe became a seething mass of refugee-fugitives which overcrowded small towns and cities. Eilenburg was overrun by such refugees.

At this time there were four pastors in Eilenburg. One got out of town abandoning his parish for a healthier place for himself and his family - never to return. Pastor Rinkart presided over the funerals of the other two. As the only pastor left, he often conducted funeral services for as many as 50 persons in a day - some almost 4500 funerals in all. In May 1638 Pastor Rinkart buried his own wife. By year's end so many died that they had to be buried in trenches without services simply to get the bodies out of the way before more plague could ensue.

In the midst of all this horror and loss, Martin Rinkart wrote Now Thank We All Our God:

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers' arms has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
and keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
and free us from all ills,
in this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
the Son, and Him who reigns with Them in highest heaven;
the one eternal God, whom earth and heaven adore;
for thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

--Martin Rinkart, 1638

He wrote this magnificent hymn for his children to say at bedtime each night. He wanted to focus their motherless hearts on the wonder of their God even in the midst of such horror and pain! From their pain and need, we now have this wonderful hymn that still remains as a memorial and enduring testimony of gratitude and hope!

Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy:

Empty Chair

Recently there has been bi-partisan talk about chairs:
  • Nancy Pelosi talked about her surreal "experience" at the White House where her "chair was getting crowded ... and then I realized Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton (etc. all the suffragists) ... 'At last we have a seat at the table.' "
  • Clint Eastwood spoke to an empty chair at the Republican National Convention
That's not the kind of chair conversation I'm talking about this Thanksgiving Day. I'm thinking about all the homes where there will be an empty chair today:
  • In some homes it will be a US serviceman or woman's place empty because he or she is serving us to protect our freedoms - so we can continue to live in the land of the free!
  • In other homes there is an empty chair because a service man or woman - soldier, sailor, airman or Marine - gave the ultimate sacrifice for us to live free!
  • And in still other homes - homes like mine - there is an empty chair because someone very loved and special has moved on to heaven to a place God has prepared for him! For now, that place is empty both in our home and in our hearts today!
God, for all those homes where there is an empty chair today, fill hearts with your peace and with gratitude for all your blessings even in the pain of loss!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

God Counts Your Tears - Every Single One!

When my husband and I were in Israel, we visited a small gift shop near the garden tomb. I was fascinated by their collection of beautiful, very small hand-blown glass bottles. The sign with the display identified them as lachrymatory bottles. These tiny bottles have been used since ancient times to collect tears. I bought quite a few to bring home.

Over the years since I have gradually given all but one away. I have given each one - as a reminder of God's presence and faithfulness -to a special friend who was experiencing great grief in life .

In the Old Testament (over 1000 years before the birth of Christ) King David writes in a prayer to God (Psalm 56:8): “Thou tellest my wanderings, put thou my tears in Thy bottle; are they not in Thy Book?” (KJV)

There have been times in my life where I have experienced intense grief. I have always been comforted by God's abiding presence and faithfulness! The image of a lachrymatory is a visual reminder that God cares about each tear!

Whatever your grief is today, my friend, my prayer is that you too will find comfort in the only place where REAL comfort is found - in the faithful love and grace of God!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Undetected Sacredness of Circumstances

The circumstances of a saint’s life are ordained of God. In the life of a saint there is no such thing as chance. God by His providence brings you into circumstances that you can’t understand at all, but the Spirit of God understands.

God brings you to places, among people, and into certain conditions to accomplish a definite purpose through the intercession of the Spirit in you. Never put yourself in front of your circumstances and say, “I’m going to be my own providence here; I will watch this closely, or protect myself from that.” All your circumstances are in the hand of God, and therefore you don’t ever have to think they are unnatural or unique. Your part in intercessory prayer is not to agonize over how to intercede, but to use the everyday circumstances and people God puts around you by His providence to bring them before His throne, and to allow the Spirit in you the opportunity to intercede for them. In this way God is going to touch the whole world with His saints.

Am I making the Holy Spirit’s work difficult by being vague and unsure, or by trying to do His work for Him? I must do the human side of intercession— utilizing the circumstances in which I find myself and the people who surround me. I must keep my conscious life as a sacred place for the Holy Spirit. Then as I lift different ones to God through prayer, the Holy Spirit intercedes for them.

Your intercessions can never be mine, and my intercessions can never be yours, “. . . but the Spirit Himself makes intercession” in each of our lives (Romans 8:26). And without that intercession, the lives of others would be left in poverty and in ruin.
                                      --written more than 100 years ago by Oswald Chambers