Slow down this year!

We live in an action-oriented world, and it seems that simplifying our lives has never been more complicated! Doesn’t it seem that there’s always work to do and no time for rest? Answer the following questions as honestly as you can to determine if you need to rest: Do I feel stressed when functioning in my normal day-to-day activities? Is it difficult to find joy in the simplest tasks? Do I get the kind of rest my body needs? Do I wake up tired?

In creation, God established a pattern of work and rest, which is a model for believers. For six days God worked to bring order to our world. But on the seventh day, after He had finished all His creative activity, He rested. God demonstrated that rest is appropriate and right.

Jesus showed us the importance of rest when He sat wearily beside a well after a long walk (John 4:6) and when He slept in the back of a boat with His head on a pillow (Mark 4:38). He also rested when He and His disciples got away from the crowds (Mark 6:31-32).

If the Lord rested from the work of creation and from His earthly service, we need to rest from our work as well. Our times of rest refresh us for times of service. Schedule some “slow down” time each week this year. If you do, you just my find that the joy of living the life God has given you is not taken away.

Slow down this year! Hear the word of the Lord. 

Let up on the throttle!

The Red Baron and his counterparts in World War I flew planes that were not equipped with throttles for slowing down or speeding up. As you can imagine, constant full speed took its toll on the life of the engines, and takeoffs and landings were always an adventure. Veteran missionary pilot Bob Griffin described those WWI aircraft in his book Cleared For Takeoff.

In contrast to those planes, Bob flew an aircraft with a throttle and a tough Lycoming engine that came with these instructions: “Takeoff power (full power) may be used for only a maximum of 5 minutes.” The pilot was instructed to back off from full power as soon as possible. Trouble was ahead for those who ignored the warning.

God did not create us to run at full speed all the time. We may race for a while with open throttle through our Christian lives and the Christmas season, packing our time with one activity after another, but if we don’t slow down occasionally we are headed for burnout or a crash landing.

It often seems that during every Christmas season we often find ourselves running around at full speed. And then we inevitably experience a crashing moment. In order to do more than just “get through” this season and too actually enjoy the power of the moment, let’s remember the following. During an especially busy time, Jesus urged His disciples to “come aside . . . and rest a while” (Mark. 6:31). We too need times of rest not only for physical renewal but also for spiritual refreshment through reflection and prayer. Be sure that you take some time over the coming weeks and renew your spirit but remembering the love that God has for you in sending his son to this earth as a gift for you.

And if you find yourself running at full speed; let up on the throttle, it’s the best way to avoid those crash landings during the Christmas Season.

 

The Christmas Story is filled with LOVE

Have you ever noticed that LOVE permeates every aspect of the Christmas story: God so loved the world that he send his Only Begotten Son, and Jehovah so loved us that he deigned to become the Babe of Bethlehem.

There is the beautiful story of the young Mary’s meek acceptance of the message given her by Gabriel reflects the loving devotion that we should all feel toward God. And later in “the story”, no “greater love for friend” is demonstrated as the man Jesus suffers, dies, and raises again for us.

There are even several familiar carols we hear this time of year that sing of the love that we have for God and Jesus. Some of my favorites are “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful,” which bids us in each chorus to “come and adore him,” and “O Holy Night,” which reminds us that he taught us to love one another even as it calls upon us to praise his holy name.

Christmastime is a season when love of God and of our fellowmen and women fills us all, but as we move through this season let us all remember the real challenge: to continue feeling and showing a God-like love when Christmas is over so that it fills the entire year.

The Beginning of the Waiting Season

The Christian World is entering into a season of Advent—that period of time on the church calendar when many Christians prepare to celebrate the first coming of Christ while looking forward to His second coming. During Advent, the emphasis is on four themes…. hope, peace, joy, and love, which God sent with Christ as gifts for us.
HOPE. We have an inheritance reserved in heaven, a living hope through the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

PEACE. We will love life and see good days if we turn from evil and do good and if we seek peace, for the Lord watches over the righteous and hears their prayers.

JOY. We have inexpressible joy even though we have trials because our faith is being tested and proven genuine. The end of this faith is the salvation of our souls.

LOVE. We can love one another with a pure heart because we have been born again through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who came to this earth as a demonstration of God’s incredible love for those he created.
Because Christ came the first time, we can live with hope, peace, joy, and love till He comes again. If you’re looking for hope, peace, joy, and love this Christmas season, look to God and focus on Jesus coming to this earth and how his life and death gives us these 4 gifts from God for our lives.  

 

 

 

A Real Christmas Season

A quotation in an Advent devotional guide I read recently caused me to spend sometime meditating how we at times ignore the reality of Christmas in order to present it as a time of where pain and suffering is absent.

“Let us at all costs avoid the temptation to make our Christmas worship a withdrawal from the stress and sorrow of life into a realm of unreal beauty. It was into the real world that Christ came, into the city where there was no room for Him, and into a country where Herod, the murderer of innocents, was king.

“He comes to us, not to shield us from the harshness of the world but to give us the courage and strength to bear it; not to snatch us away by some miracle from the conflict of life, but to give us peace—His peace—in our hearts, by which we may be calmly steadfast while the conflict rages, and be able to bring to the torn world the healing that is peace.”

When Mary and Joseph presented the infant Jesus to the Lord, Simeon said to them: “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35).

The Christmas season should not be a retreat from reality but an advance into it alongside the Prince of Peace. This season calls us to go and live a real life; a season that allows for joy and sorrow to coexist because Jesus came to give light to a dark world. Let’s celebrate the real Jesus this year and have a real Christmas season. So if you experience some sorrow this time of year, it’s ok because it’s just what happens in real life. And if you’re looking for hope, peace, joy, and love this Christmas season, look to God, He has always been the provider of what we need.

Let’s keep the Thanks in Thanksgiving

Have you observed recently that Thanksgiving is in trouble, and it seems the only people trying to save it from extinction are the turkey growers and the supermarkets. But it was not always this way.

A Thanksgiving history

Contrary to what some think, Americans did not originate the idea of Thanksgiving. Harvest festivals have been around in various countries for centuries. Most school children know about the Plymouth colonists and the first Thanksgiving. Few know that in 1621, the first governor, William Bradford, decreed there to be a three-day harvest feast with the Wampanoag people who helped the colonists survive the winter of 1620. The pilgrims did not hold a true Thanksgiving until 1623 following a drought, prayers for rain, and a subsequent rain shower. God providing what we need is always worth taking the time to stop and provide thanks.

The door to Christmas shopping

But today Thanksgiving seams to be more of a marker for the beginning of Christmas shopping. Thanksgiving has become a mere speed bump on the way to Christmas. Even the slogan, “Have a Happy Turkey Day,” which has become common, reflects a flippant focus on prosperity. Sadly, most people take what they have for granted and, at best, only tip their hats this time of year to the Almighty Provider.

How about you? Will your Thanksgiving celebration this year be more than fall colors, football, and a family dinner? After all, without thanks, it’s only Turkey Day. Let me encourage you to develop an attitude of gratitude this year around your Thanksgiving celebration.

So here’s an idea to properly celebrate Thanksgiving and our great blessings from our great God:

  • Take time to pray together as a family and focus the holiday on giving thanks. “Let us enter His presence with Thanksgiving” (Psalm 95:2) Read Psalm 100 at the table to help remind all those present that God’s love for us goes on forever. And finally, take a moment and share with those you are with why you are thankful God has brought them into your life.

My prayer is that you will keep “thanks-giving” alive in your house this year. It just maybe the most important holiday you celebrate all year long.

Samaritan Kindness

In her book Kindness: Reaching Out to Others, Phyllis J. Le Peau relates this story: “Some seminary students were asked to preach on the story of the Good Samaritan. When the hour arrived for their sermon, each one was deliberately delayed en route to class. As the students raced across campus, they encountered a person who pretended to be in need. Ironically, not one of the students stopped to help.” Le Peau commented, “After all, they had an important sermon to preach, they couldn’t stop to show kindness.”

Followers of Christ can preach powerful sermons to the world when they reflect God’s kindness by showing Samaritan kindness to others, and not just talking about it.

What about us? Every time we meet someone in need, we live the parable of the Good Samaritan. Do we take the time and trouble to get involved? Perhaps we can assist a neighbor who is in need, or lend a sympathetic ear to someone. Maybe we can share a word of encouragement with someone that God brings into our lives. Or will we be like those who claim to be religious but quickly pass by on the other side and offer no help, because “we have an important sermon to preach?”

Let’s honor our Lord by responding to the needs of others as He would. Let’s be doers of the Word, not just hearers only. Remember; Kindness is never out of season.

“The Kindnesses of the Lord”

“I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us ─ yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses.” ~ Isaiah 63:7

One of the ways we can practice our “spiritual act of worship” is telling/sharing the kindnesses of the Lord, and it is certainly not worship that is restricted to minister, worship leader, youth & family minister, someone sharing thoughts at the Lord’s table or a shepherd sharing a pastoral prayer. Any and all of us can tell of His kindness toward us – Isaiah calls them “the deeds for which he is to be praised.”

We can share His Kindnesses; in our chance encounters, on the phone, standing in line, making customers feel appreciated, and helping frightened patients feel a bit less anxious. Kindergarten teachers, bank presidents, computer geeks, maintenance people, teens, senior citizens – all of us can be intentional about bring light into dark places. Giving hope to discouraged souls. Acknowledging the lonely. Being representatives of God’s loving presence in all the places we inhabit or visit, sharing the kindnesses of the Lord with those we encounter.

As the traditional spiritual – There Is a Balm in Gilead says…“If you cannot sing like angels / If you cannot preach like Paul / You can tell the love of Jesus / You can say, ‘He died for all.”

Edgewood’s Fall Fest Block Party Oct. 25, 2014

Plan to come out and enjoy a time to connect with our Mansfield Community from Noon-3pm at the Edgewood church building.

Here are some highlights to look forward to:

– Carnival type games for kids.

– Bounce House

– Family crafts: Pumpkin Decoration and Carmel Apple Creations

– Chili Cook-off competition

– Hotdogs, Popcorn, Apple Cider, Hot Chocolate & Apple Pie

There are 10 Edgewood team leaders who are building their team of volunteers to help work in the areas they are coordinating. So if one of them comes to ask you to help, be willing to say yes!

 Here’s what you can do now:

– Pray for this event: Good weather and Visitors are needed

– Volunteer to serve when you are contacted

– Commit to participate in the chili cook-off

– Plan to be a part of this involvement and outreach event to our neighbors

See you on the 25h for a great time of food, fun & fellowship!

Give in all away!

Last week I was reading through the book of Acts and I read a verse that I’ve read hundreds of times before – but this time it intrigued me, amazed me, and caused me to reflect on it for days. I still can’t get it out of my head. Acts 4:32 is so familiar, I can usually quote it because I use it so much. “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.” As incredible as that is with all its love, unity, unselfishness, and focus on relationships, it’s the next verse that has been rolling around in my heart for over a week. “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.” (vs.33)

The thing that intrigues me the most is that final phrase “and much grace was upon them all.” What does that mean? Are there degrees of grace? How do people act that have “much grace” on them? Is there such a thing as too much grace? Are we missing out on something God wants us to have?

Here’s what I think. The “much grace” that “was upon them all” is the joy and peace that comes from being fully in tune with God. When you “get it” – understand what God wants and are seeking a deeper relationship with him – and when you sense his presence, his help, his strength, and trust his promise – YOU FEEL HIS GRACE LIKE NEVER BEFORE AND YOU CAN’T HELP BUT GIVE IT AWAY TO OTHERS!

I want it! I want his church to feel that! I want to see what happens when a family of God is awash in his grace, overwhelmed by his love, and driven to love one another in such a way that everyone will know that we are His disciples. Witnessing becomes explaining! Commitment becomes a way of life! Fear is replaced by love! Can you imagine what would happen to a church where “much grace was upon them all”?