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The Beautiful Star

Beautiful Star of Bethlehem by Al Phipps

Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem.                                                                                                                                                                           Shinning far through shadows dimmed.                                                                                                                                                             Giving the life for those who long have gone on.                                                                                                                                           Guiding the wise men on their way.                                                                                                                                                                          Unto the place where Jesus lay.                                                                                                                                                                                 Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on

Oh beautiful star the hope of light.                                                                                                                                                                       Guiding the pilgrims through the night.                                                                                                                                                                   Over the mountains ’till the break of dawn.                                                                                                                                                            Into the land of perfect day.                                                                                                                                                                                            It will give out a lovely ray.                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on

Oh beautiful star (beautiful, beautiful star) of Bethlehem.                                                                                                                                 Star of Bethlehem.                                                                                                                                                                                                     Shine upon us until the glory dawn.                                                                                                                                                                        Give us a lamp to light the way.                                                                                                                                                                                  Unto the land of perfect day.                                                                                                                                                                                       Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on

Oh beautiful star the hope, the grace.                                                                                                                                                                        For the redeem of good and blessed.                                                                                                                                                                      Yonder in glory when the crowd is one.                                                                                                                                                                    Jesus is now the star divine.                                                                                                                                                                                   Brighter and brighter he will shine.                                                                                                                                                                              Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on

I love Christmas music. But this song is one of my favorites, no matter who sings it. It was our choir special yesterday. I really enjoy singing it. 

I think the reason that I like it so much is that it is a Christmas song but it isn’t. It reminds me that yes, the star that led the wise men to Jesus was important, but the Star that leds us now is even more important.

One thing, as a side note, about the star is that it shone for a long time. It appeared when Jesus was born and the wise men didn’t, technically, find Jesus until He was a toddler. That really bugs me that wise men are always shone at the manger scene when they weren’t there. Only the shepherds are recorded as seeing Him there that night. 

Ok, rant over. I’m off the soap box.

Anyway, this song brings me hope. It makes me smile. It reminds me that this isn’t all there is to it. It reminds me that I have the brightest, most beautiful Star lighting my path in this dark world. It reminds me that He has been here for those that have come before me and that He will be there for those after me, if He delays His coming. 

So today, as you listen to your music, listen to the words. The writer is trying to tell you something. That being said, you had better consider what and who it is you are listening to. Everything that goes into your brain affects you in some way, shape or form. 

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Training

Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

My son is preparing to make a presentation to the church tonight in regards to his trip to Haiti. While preparing for it, we came across the concept of a local, New Testament church sending out missionaries. It was a great opportunity to explain to him the why behind this concept. We were training him on how to properly go about being a missionary, which is what he will be doing in Haiti.

It made me stop and think about children and how we teach them and why they leave. 

I have been going to church my whole life, literally before I was even born. I have been at church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night and any other night in between that my family could get to. My parents taught me commitment by bringing me to church every time the door was opened. My parents made sure that I had my Sunday school lesson prepared on Saturday night (back in those days you prepared the lesson the night before). My extended family, both by the blood of man and the blood of Christ, made certain that I understood the concepts in the Bible and why I should believe them. I wasn’t spoon fed God’s word. I didn’t memorize it just to make someone else happy. No, I was trained up in it. I was trained to see how much God loves me. I was trained to use His Word, the Bible, to learn how to live my life. I was trained to be committed to Him because that shows obedience in my life. 

Some may call me a trained animal, and that’s okay. I would rather be a trained individual for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ than an individual who thinks that I don’t need His training and spend my eternity in Hell. No, training is good. Training is what gets me closer to my Savior. I’m good with that.

Now then, let’s get real. 

Are we just allowing our children to memorize concepts in the Bible or are we training them in it? There is a difference, you know. I “learned” a lot in my 3 years of Spanish class. I memorized words and phrases and could decently write in Spanish. But can I do that today? Nope. I can ask where the bathroom is but when they tell me how to get there, I have no idea. I have departed from my knowledge of Spanish. As wonderful as my teacher was, I never developed a passion or saw the necessity for it in my life. I was more concerned about getting a good grade and keeping my average up rather than seeing the importance of being trained in another language. 

How often do we, as teachers and parents, allow our children to learn just enough to keep us happy and make us look like we are doing a fair job in raising our children yet all the while we are failing to train them on how to rely upon the Lord? It hurts to think that this is going on, but when I see young people go off on their own, too often they leave God just where they found Him, at church. And that makes me sad. I don’t blame anyone. I don’t point fingers. I have 3 pointing back at me. 

I bring this up because we, as followers of Christ, have a problem. 

I have the opportunity right now to train my children. I will never get this opportunity again. I have the opportunity to train them to rely upon God. I have the opportunity to train them in commitment and respect and love for God. I have the opportunity to train them to absorb God’s word and apply it to their every day life. When my children leave my house, I want God to be so real to them and be such a part of their life that leaving Him at church would make them feel naked. 

I don’t know that I expect anything profound from this blog today. I was just thinking about this last night as my husband sat at the dinner table with my son and was explaining missions work to him in a way that he could understand and appreciate. My son had heard it before, but when you live it, you learn it better. It really was special, watching my husband train my son. I am truly, truly blessed.

New name

Revelation 2:17 – “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”

Twinkle Pointy-Toes. That’s my elf name. It’s getting close to Christmas and out comes the meme to identify your elf name. It’s not too bad, really. I kinda like the idea that I twinkle – not always annoyingly bright, but rather changing and creating interest to those who take the time to look. As for the pointy toes, well, I guess that a good swift kick in the pants might not be such a good idea as punishment. 

Any way…

A new name. God has promised that those who overcome will get a new name. I wonder what mine will be. How does He choose it? I’m sure that He doesn’t take the first letter of your first name and make it one thing and the last name from the month you were born in. No, it has to be way more interesting than that. Maybe He will give me a name that best fits my service to Him or maybe it’s related to what He loves best about me or maybe it’s my most shining characteristic. Who knows. But what I do know, is I want one – a new name. 

Overcoming. Overcoming what? Sin. The church that was being addressed in this verse had some serious problems – they had chased after false doctrine.  They had wondered from The Path. John, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was encouraging these people to overcome the temptation to follow after beliefs that were not of God. 

There are so many opportunities for false doctrine out there. So many people claiming they are right and everyone else is wrong. I believe the Bible. I read the Bible. I believe the Bible is the Word of God. I believe it has the answer to every question I could ever come up with. True, questions about the content of the internet isn’t specifically in there, but guarding your heart and keeping away from the appearance of evil is. 

If the content of a person’s message cannot be directly found in the Word of God, I don’t believe it. Opinions are not what is important. What God says is important. And that, is how I will overcome and get a new name – I choose to believe God and His Word. 

It is fun to learn your elf name and wondering about your new Heavenly name is interesting. But for now, I think we all need to focus on overcoming. I don’t know about you, but I want to be found faithful. I want to be found waiting for Him. I want to be found being a good steward of the gifts He has given me. 

Why?

Deuteronomy 8:2 – “And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.”

Why? 

It’s a hard question. 

Why did my dad have to die before he met all his grandchildren? Why do people choose to not go to church? Why does it feel like the book of Jonah ends abruptly? Why do teenagers have more cups in their bathroom than washcloths? 

Deep, deep questions. 

The children of Israel had to be asking themselves this same question after spending forty years wondering around in the wilderness -why? God tells them why right here – to humble you, to prove you, to know your heart and to see if y’all would do what I tell you to. 

We often wonder why difficult things come into our life. We wonder why people die so young. We wonder why people make the choices they do. We wonder why people act like they do. 

Yesterday, we remembered a tragic and terrible time in our nation’s history. And many will ask why? Why did it happen? And I don’t know the answer. But when I look at what God told the children of Israel all those years ago about the reason behind their trials and tribulations, I wonder. I wonder if our trials are to prove us and humble us and see what’s really in our heart. But most importantly, I wonder if He wants to see if we will follow Him through it all. Will we choose Him? 

I’m not sure that this post has any real direction but rather more of a pondering. 

We need to remember. We need to consider. I think the time has passed from asking “why” but rather  we should be asking”what are we doing now?” Do we still need to be humbled? Do we still need to be proved? Do we know where our heart is? And are we doing what God is telling us to do?

About her…

Proverbs 31:30 – “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.”

If I didn’t think you would go into panic mode, I would have put Proverbs 31:10-31 here. But that’s a lot of verses and some would stop reading. 

This was my reading this morning. I have always been fascinated and frustrated with the iconic “Proverbs 31 Woman”. Fascinated for obvious reasons and frustrated because I feel that I could never live up to her. And there have been times when I convinced myself that she wasn’t a real woman. Those are the times when I really stop and look at my life and realize that it is possible to do all of those things listed. 

So, here I find myself in the year 2016 trying to live, do and be it all just like the “Proverbs 31 woman”…and I’m tired. I’m  tired just like she was probably tired. I think in our quest to be that woman, we neglect one very important detail – balance. 

That is what stuck out at me in the devotional I read this morning. Balance is what happens when we listen to God – when we hear Him directing and instructing our heart. Balance is what happens when the fear of failure leaves. Balance is what happens when we take time for others in the midst of all that we feel we need to accomplish. Balance is what happens when we allow ourself the time to relax. 

So, to anyone who reads this portion of God’s word, don’t be overwhelmed and frustrated and find yourself walking away feeling inadequate. Instead choose to see balance and love and ingenuity and determination. Because when you allow God to balance your life, you allow Him to create in you “the Proverbs 31 woman”. 

Fools

Psalm 14:1 – “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”

It’s April 1, April Fools Day. There will be many jokes played on people today, so beware. For the most part, it’s all just fun and games. 

But God takes fools very seriously. 

In the Bible being called a fool was a serious offense. The word “fool” was a HUGE thing, very near a curse word in our lingo. 

This verse gives us the essence of a fool – one who says in his heart that there is no God. I don’t get it. How can someone even bring that thought to mind? 

We have a whole group of people these days running around trying to tell us God doesn’t exist. In fact, last night, my daughter was reading in her science book (from her Christian school, I might add) about evolution. The book was attempting to teach my child that fish decided to come out of the water and grow legs and walk on dry ground. Of course, my daughter, being the hoot she is, says to me, “Listen to how dumb this is mom.” Love that girl. I said to her, “Why is that in your science book?” She says, “Because they are dumb.” Looking in the front of the book, I found a stamp put there by the school to inform the reader that the school does not agree with everything published in the book but adheres to a strict following of Biblical standards. They utilize a variety of books to give the student a broad understanding of what science and the world teaches, AKA – you have to know your enemy. Not that evolutionist are our enemy, but the devil who promotes those ideas is. 

Any way…

My point is this – there are tons and tons of people out there that don’t believe in God, let alone the One, True God of Heaven. And they are fools. 

Proverbs 9:6 – “Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.”

Life is too short for foolishness. God is too amazing to neglect Him. Heaven is too close to reject it. I think the verse from Proverbs pretty much sums it all up – live away from foolishness and go in understanding. 

Just Do It

Matthew 1:18-25 – “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”

During this time of year, we mostly focus on Mary and Baby Jesus. We talk about Joseph, but do we really think about all that he went through during this time?

In my heart, I believe that Joseph truly loved Mary. My reason for that – he could have had her stoned because she was pregnant before they were married. He had every right to do that under the Law. But he had in mind to put her away privately and just not be associated with her any longer – kinda like a premarital divorce. We don’t really get that in our society because that’s not how things work. But back then, when the couple got engaged, they were essentially married but could not come together until they had the ceremony. Different, but that’s the way I understand that they did things.

So Joseph had planned to take care of things the best way that he knew how. But God had other plans. And what I love about the way God did things is that He didn’t conform to society’s expectations and rules. He wasn’t concerned about what people thought. And Joseph followed His leading. He dealt with all these things by the grace of God. He faced ridicule and bad mouthing and gossip and mean stares and questioning and all the other vices that we, as a society, interject on someone acting outside the norm.

It’s hard to think about and/or imagine how I would have reacted to this scenario. People probably thought they were crazy when Joseph and Mary both told them they had been visited by an angel separately. Remember, it had been about 500 years since anyone had heard from God and now He was speaking to this young woman and a carpenter for lands sake?! Not a likely story in most people’s eyes.

Yet, this did not deter Joseph. He did what God told him to do when He told him to do it. He was obedient.

My challenge for you today is to just do it. If God is asking you to do something crazy, just do it. If He is telling you to jump off the limb, just do it. If He is telling you to reach beyond your grasp, just do it. If He is leading you into uncharted waters, just do it. He cared for this carpenter and this young woman in the harshest environment I can imagine for these two. He walked with them to Bethlehem. He was beside them when people scorned the young couple. He was encouraging to them both when things seemed more than they could bear. He provided for them in the most dire of circumstances. And now here we are, 2000 years later analyzing their choices, their heart and their courage and seeing His hand at work in their life. All they were trying to do was be obedient. You never know how or what God is going to do and who it may effect. But if you never put yourself out there and trust Him, you will never find out. Just do it.