Monday, December 28, 2009

Tuesday Truths-Encouragement

"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." Hebrews 3:13

"I can't go any further" said my 8 year old as we were skiing down one of the green/blue (easy/intermediate) runs at a ski resort in Colorado. It was our first time out this year, my youngest son was going through the same emotions that my other 2 kids had gone through also about this age.

I was so proud of my older kids (14 yr old and 18 yr old) for offering encouragement to their younger brother the entire time we skied. It wasn't easy for them though. My oldest loves to ski the black diamond runs (expert terrain) with my husband. My daughter enjoys the nice blue (intermediate) runs and an occasion black run with me. It took alot of reminding for them to realize that they had both been in the same position in years past.

Since today was my daughter's birthday, it was a great time to gently remind her of a time when she refused to ski down the rest of the mountain too when I was pregnant with her little brother. Thankfully, my father-in-law was there to carry her skiis while I gave her a piggyback ride the rest of the way down the mountain. While a few people gave me some strange looks, several women (they had to be mothers) just smiled at me and offer a nod of encouragement as I skied past them with my crying daughter on my back. We made it safely to the bottom of the mountain that day just as we did today with my son.

I have discovered that the a warm cup of hot chocolate after a hard ski day "hits the spot" for children as well as adults.

Throughout scripture believers are told to encourage one another. Why you might ask. Everyone needs occasional encouragement. At various times in our lives, we all go through periods of physical, emotional, or spiritual tiredness. It is at those times we need to hear words of encouragement from others. Encouragement can come in the form of a smile, a hug, a note in the mail from a friend, an email, a posting on their FB, blog, or twitter account.

The Lord can also offer us encouragement during times of prayer and reading His Word. If you have memorized scripture, sometimes, God brings a scripture to our thoughts at just the right time during the week. There are so many ways God can offer us encouragement.

My first challenge for you (and myself) today is to pray for God's sensitivity for others regarding the area of encouragement. Since there are no coincidences only God-incidences, ask Him to put you in the right place at the right time to be His instrument of encouragement to others as they need it.

My second challenge for you it to allow others believers in Christ to serve Him by encouraging you on those days when you need encouragement. Too often, we want to give to others but we feel funny being on the receiving end. Let others be obedient to God's direction to them. Let them minister to you when you need it.

Be encouraged today. May God's peace fill you with hope, love, and encouragement.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Treasures-Family is Sacrifice

"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly." (Matthew 1:18-19)

In the movie Spy Kids 2, Carmen and Junie try to protect their parents from being killed by destroying a homing device that their father implanted in their teeth. While Junie is uncertain about destroying the device, Carmen assures him it is the only way to save their parents. "Family is sacrifice" Carmen tell her brother. They are willing to sacrifice themselves to save their country but do not want their parents to be killed too.

I cannot image the sacrifice that both Mary and Joseph made some 2,000 years ago.
Mary's sacrifice:
To be willing to have Joseph and her parents question her character, loyalty, and virginity;
To be willing to have people in her town ridicule her (and her family) because of her condition;
To be uncertain about what her future would hold.

Joseph's sacrifice:
To be willing to have his family and the town ridicule him for still wanting to wed Mary;
To be willing to wait to be intimate with his wife Mary until after Christ was born;
To be willing to raise a son (his wife's first born) who was not his biologically.

Christ's sacrifice:
To be willing to leave His Heavenly home to come to earth in the form of a baby;
To be willing to live in a sin-filled world, see sin with his own eyes (upclose and personal), forgive the sinner who repents, and die on the cross for each and every human-being on earth so that we would not have to pay the price of our sins.

The lists above could go on and on.
To Sacrifice-to risk something; to be willing to give up something for the sake of another; to help someone by giving up something of value.

Christ loves us so much that He was willing to give up His Heavenly home for a period of time in order to show us how to become a part of His family. Mary and Joseph opened up their hearts and their lives to God's perfect plan of what a family looked like. They received Christ, the perfect sacrifice, into their family with love, awe, wonder, and a knowledge that God had a plan to save the world.

On this wonderful Christmas morning, my prayer is that you feel a part of God's family. Family is sacrifice!!! If you are in God's family, what sacrifice do you need to make in order to welcome others into the family of Christ? Will it be the sacrifice of time, money, or your talents to let others come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior?

If you are not a part of God's family, my prayer is that you are willing to open up your heart to allow His love for you to enter in. Becoming a part of the family of believers in Christ is simple, pray and ask God to forgive your sins, let Him know that you need His love and guidance, and ask Him to take control of your life (to be your Lord and Savior). Thank Him also for coming to earth in human form, for dying on the cross for your sins, and for sacrificing so much for you to become a part of His family.

Family is sacrifice!!! Welcome to Christ's family,
Merry Christmas,

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuesday Truths-Jealousy

"Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. 'Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?' they asked. 'Hasn't he also spoken through us!' And the Lord heard this." (Numbers 12:1)

The Christmas season is a season filled with joy, laughter, gift-giving thoughts, and feasting. But if we are not careful, it can also be a season filled with jealousy. Jealousy over whose house in the neighborhood has the best Christmas light display, whose tree has the coolest decorations, who has hosted the funnest holiday party, who has gotten their Christmas cards out by the first week in December (clearly, not me), and who has created the most wonderful Christmas cookie delights at the local cookie exchange. The list is endless.

Obviously, jealousy issues began thousands of years ago as we can see from Miriam's example. The Lord does not like it any more today than He did back then. Miriam and Aaron were jealous of the ministry God had given Moses. Their thoughts of jealousy gave way to conversations of jealousy.

So it is with our thought life also. When we allow jealous thoughts to be entertained in our mind, Satan wants nothing more than to encourage us to take the next step. Thoughts of jealousy turn into to words and actions of jealousy.

I have changed the words of a popular children's song just a bit. I hope you find it to be as thought provoking as I did:
Oh be careful little mind what you think, Oh be careful little mind what you think, for the Father above is looking down in love, Oh be careful little mind what you think.

Oh be careful little mouth what you say, Oh be careful little mouth what you say, for the Father above is looking down with love, Oh be careful little mouth what you say.

The key to combating the problem of jealousy is to ask God to take every thought of ours captive to His good and perfect will for our lives. Jealousy pits one person against another. During the season of Christmas, our focus should be on uniting with fellow believers to share Christ with the world.

During this wonderful, joyous season, others are watching for our responses, our actions, and our words to see if they line up with the Christ that we say we follow all year long. I know for myself, I need to daily ask God to take every thought captive so that it is pleasing to Him. My children are watching. My family members and friends are listening.

Who is watching and listening to your words and actions this Christmas season?