Life.

Life.  That is the only word that comes to my mind at this moment.  I reflect back on the last month or so of changes in my life, also leading me to think back on my childhood and everything else in between, and I have come to this one conclusion: Life.

Life is living – the happy, sad and challenging times.  It is not perfect.  Don’t beat yourself up trying to make it perfect, or even fair.  We have a perfect Savior in Jesus Christ, and that is all we need to make sense of our sometimes tangled lives.

Life is relationships.  Put down the stuff.  Jesus Christ was all about relationships.  Jesus did not continue to dwell on our past sins and transgressions, but rather what are we going to do right now.  If you want to have an idea of what God is truly like, just look at Jesus’ life and actions.  Love, relationships, restoration, living.  He never sought fame or things.  Jesus knew what was truly important and lasting in this life.  Only the One claiming to be Son of God Himself could have led such a perfect example.

Life is temporal and eternal.  I know that sounds like a contradiction, and maybe it is for a little while.  Life on this earth will end, and probably unexpectedly.  If that is all there was, it would be terribly unfair and cruel.  But the God of life, love and relationships did not create us that way.  We have a choice.  Choose to follow the God of life.  It makes all the difference at a funeral.

My Dad ~ 1930-2017

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life.  I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
– John the Evangelist, 1 John 5:11-13

I know this testimony is true.  I saw it.

My dad laid in the hospital bed of the Intensive Care Unit after having a massive stroke.  IV tubes and oxygen machines were hooked up to him.  He could correctly answer a few questions while laying there, but his mind seemed to be mostly reminiscent of past times in the 1950’s and 60’s.  He was restless and tried to get out of the bed, pulling off his tubes.  My dad never even wanted to be in a wheelchair so I understood.  He was a Navy veteran and strong to the end.  But there was also something else.

I stood beside my Dad’s hospital bed.  He wasn’t able to move his arms very much or focus on people’s faces.  Then suddenly he began reaching his arms up into the air, to the left of where I was standing, and grasping both hands in an open-and-close movement as if he was trying to hold onto something.  He saw something the rest of us did not.  Maybe it was the angels waiting to take him home, or maybe it was Jesus comforting and speaking to him.  It is life’s great mystery that we will not be privileged to know until it is our time.  But I do want to know the God of eternal life and His Son Jesus at that time.

After that, my Dad was more peaceful.  A few days later he spoke his last words, “Goodnight“, and slipped peacefully into the loving arms of Jesus in heaven.

Jesus said to the disciples, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I’m on My way to wake him up.”  Then the disciples said, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will get well.”  So Jesus then told them plainly, “Lazarus has died.  I’m glad for you that I wasn’t there so that you may believe. But let’s go to him.”
– John 11:11-15

31 Days of the Christmas story from Genesis to John: Day 4 – God chooses a family

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God’s covenant promise with Abraham came true. Israel became a nation, and the people were held captive for 400 years in Egypt just as it was prophesied in Genesis. Through God’s direction, Moses led the people out of bondage to a place called Mt. Sinai (Saudi Arabia). God gave them instructions on how to build a tabernacle for worship, and they became an organized people with a system of government. Joshua then led them to the Promised Land of Canaan, as God had promised to Abraham.

The nation of Israel is ruled by judges for several years until a prophet by the name of Samuel is born. Samuel is the last judge of Israel before the people choose a king named Saul to be their first king. King Saul later becomes mad, and the prophet Samuel, through God’s direction, anoints a young man David from the tribe of Judah as their next king. The monarchy is established, and the prophecy of Jacob regarding the tribe of Judah is fulfilled.

King David is a popular and successful king. A vision from the prophet Nathan is given to King David in this fourth prophecy, also known as the Davidic Covenant.

“Your house and kingdom will endure before Me forever, and your throne will be established forever.’”  2 Samuel 7:16

All three of these things (house, kingdom, and throne) are fulfilled in Jesus, as told by the angel Gabriel to the virgin Mary, who was from the house of David.

Luke 1:32-33
“He will be great
and will be called the Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give Him
the throne of His father David.
He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,
and His kingdom will have no end.”

I pray you will experience the joy and good news that was announced by the angel Gabriel on that night so long ago, when God came down to earth to fulfill His promise of a Savior and a Kingdom that will never end.

 * Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 19 – an angel visits Joseph

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Joseph considered divorcing Mary from their engagement when he heard the news that she was with child. But that was not God’s plan. This becomes the third time an angel appears announcing the baby Jesus – first to Zecharia, father of John the Baptist, then to Mary, and now Joseph. And the angels are not finished yet with this Heavenly celebration!

Matthew 1:20-22,24
But after Joseph had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.

I pray that you will know the God of joy and celebration this Christmas season.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 25 – the angels announcement to the shepherds

christmasangelannouncingthebirthofjesus

“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

The angels first proclamation of the good news was to the shepherds who lived out in the fields of the same country, watching their flock at night.  The angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone all around them.

When the angels had left, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”

From Luke, chapter 2

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice,
Let the sea and what fills it resound;
Let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.
Psalm 96:11-12

I pray for blessings to you this Christmas day!

* Merry Christmas *

Safety and Surroundings

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Today began like any other day in my normal routine, but it didn’t end that way.  It was one of those days – and I’ve had a few of them over the years – where life just completely stops me in my tracks and gets my attention.  I catch my breath, exhale a sigh of relief, and fall down on my knees to God.

My morning started in the usual way.  I woke up and scanned my phone for messages and glanced at my calendar.  My daily tasks start running through my mind – it’s trash day, I need gas, I have a meeting in the office – and I look at all the other breaking news alerts that have become far too common in our world.  Then I saw a grieving post from a friend on facebook.  Another classmate from my child’s younger school days had overdosed and committed suicide.  That is the second classmate in the two years since my son graduated high school.  Two funerals by the age of 20.

I cried out to God.  I cried out for mercy.  Mercy for our children, whom Satan wants to destroy.  Mercy for our country, and for the challenging times we live in.

And then as I do every morning before I leave the house, I prayed for “safety and surroundings”.  That’s my way of praying for the safety of my family for the day and for safety in our surroundings that we encounter – the people and circumstances we meet along the way.  And then I headed out to work.

On my way back home that afternoon, the traffic slowed down to its usual crawl on the interstate.  Five lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic.  I noticed the car behind me changed lanes as soon as the traffic slowed down.  It seems people are always trying to jump into a faster lane.  And then in a split second, I glance back up to my rear view mirror to see a large camper coming very fast toward me.  Within inches of hitting the back of my car, the camper miraculously swerves into the next lane.  I saw the camper was also pulling a large trailer with a car on it.  I don’t know how the driver was able to maneuver such a large vehicle and trailer at the last minute without hitting me or anyone else in the next lane.  Then the camper continued swerving to the outer lane where it almost hit the concrete wall before coming to a complete stop.  The driver must have been very shaken, because once he finally stopped, he did not begin to move again for at least another minute or two.

I began to cry.  I couldn’t believe what I just saw.  If the other car previously behind me had not changed lanes a few seconds earlier, the camper surely would have hit them and they would have hit me.  I don’t know how the camper missed hitting all the other cars in traffic, or how it was even physically possible that he did not hit my car.

I immediately thought back to my morning prayer of safety and surroundings.  Once more I cried out to God.  I thanked Him for His mercy on my day.  For His protection.  For His miracle.  For my life.

I have no doubt that prayers are essential to getting through this life.  No matter how late I may be in the morning, I will always stop and pray and begin my day first by talking with God.  It’s too important, because I never know how an ordinary day will turn out.

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