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Christmas cards

1 King 19:11-13a – “And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave.”

I know, it’s not Wednesday and it isn’t 6 in the morning. But I had to get this out.

Someone stole my Christmas cards out of my mailbox last night. Yep, you read it right. Someone thought they would find a stash of money or something in that stack of 100 and something Christmas cards going out to friends and family all over the place. Boy, were they shocked to find the only thing of value was the unused stamps on the outside of the card. 

Here are my lessons in this situation.

1) Someone needs Jesus. If things in your life are so desperate that you are reduced to committing a federal offense by rummaging through someone’s Christmas cards in the middle of the night, you need Jesus. 

2) I need to forgive. I’m working on this one. I know that in the scope of eternity whether or not I send out Christmas cards is not going to matter. It does, however, matter if I forgive this person that did this. I’m getting there. They have been on my heart heavy these last couple of hours. 

3) I need to listen. Last night as I was putting the cards in the mailbox, I thought “someone could steal these tonight.” Then I thought “no way, no one is going to do that. They are just Christmas cards.” God was speaking to my heart and I just tuned Him out. I can’t tell you how often this has been happening lately. I will hear His whisper across my heart and then blow it off as nonsense. When will I ever listen? And listen consistently?! That Still Small Voice is still active today. He is still whispering across our hearts – warning us, encouraging us – and too often, I know that I don’t listen. I instead listen to the other voice. I listen to the one that tells me that I know best. I listen to the one that says the other Voice is crazy. 

In all of this, I’m upset about the loss of the Christmas cards, the time and money spent on them and the fact that our society has stooped this low. But most of all, I’m upset with myself for not listening. I have asked for forgiveness and I know that I have it. But now I have to forgive myself for being a cotton-headed ninny-muggin (Elf reference) and ignoring God when He speaks to me. 

Christmas is a time of reflection and memories and a time of giving. Well, this will certainly be a memory I look back on and I hope that my giving of the unused stamps will certainly cause someone somewhere to pause and rethink their life. They need Jesus…and so do I. 

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Free Coffee!!

Romans 5:14-19 – “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”

It is National Coffee Day! Yeah!!! 

Coffee and I have a special relationship. It’s like a warm little blanket for me early in the morning. It wakes me up and just tastes good – with cream and sugar, of course. 

But today, oh happy day, is Friday AND free coffee day at some places! Does life get any better?? You can bet I’m headed to Wawa after I drop the kids off at school for a delightful cup of joe.

When we get the opportunity for something free, we jump all over it. Buy one, get one free deals at the grocery store are hard to pass up. Free samples at stores are just icing on the cake. We love free. 

These verses have the two words that most people love to hear – “free” and “gift”. So, why is it so hard to get people to listen and consider when you talk about the two things that most everyone loves? I think it is because they have to first admit they are wrong to accept this “free gift”. In order to be saved, you first have to be lost. And to be lost, you have to come to the realization that you are a sinner. There is nothing that you can do on your own, in and of yourself, to gain salvation. The only thing you can do is admit that you are a sinner, believe that Jesus Christ is who He says He is and did what He said He did, and accept that “free gift” of salvation. Ask, Believe and Confess. ABC. 

Salvation is as easy as walking into Wawa on National Coffee Day and accepting that free cup of coffee. No strings attached. No guilt in taking it. Wawa opened it’s doors today and started making coffee, lots and lots of coffee. Jesus has opened the doors of Heaven to each and every person, offering them the opportunity to accept His free gift of salvation. 

What are you waiting for? What is keeping you from sharing that Wonderful News? I would guess that you will tell someone today that it is National Coffee Day and inform them that they need to look up a place close to them that will have free coffee. But why is that so easy to share yet sharing the Good News of Christ that will change their eternity so difficult?

Happy Friday and Happy National Coffee Day.

The writing in the dirt

John 8:3-11 – “And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

It is so easy to judge. We see other people; we think we know them and what do we do? We pass judgment. 

I think it is partly human nature to judge others. We see the negative and automatically make an assumption that they obviously don’t deserve our best because of this or that. We hear things and assume the worst. We have a hard time giving people the benefit of the doubt. 

Notice I’m using “we” because I have a problem with this too. I have to consciously make an effort not to judge. And that’s hard. 

We don’t know what Jesus was writing in the dirt this day but we can guess that whatever it was did not make people want to stick around. They tucked their tunics and took off, one by one, when Jesus started writing. They were ready to stone this woman for her sin. They thought they had it all figured out and were going to involve Jesus in this woman’s death. Little did they understand and appreciate that whatever Jesus was writing in the dirt would expose their judgmental attitude. 

What if Jesus started writing in the dirt every time you began judging and accusing people? Would you want all your dirty laundry aired out for everyone to see? I’m guessing no. We want to keep our dirty little sins tucked away and not discussed. 

What I want to encourage you about is this – be careful. Be careful who you accuse. Be careful who you judge. Be careful how you handle dealing with the past of another. We are none perfect. We all have things we would rather forget. Be kind. Be gentle. Be forgiving. Be cautious. Jesus may be writing in the dirt about you. 

Feeling colors

Romans 12:18 – “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”

It is bound to happen – The time when you feel like you have butted in where you don’t belong and fear that you have upset the balance of things. The time when you see and or hear of a situation and your tender heart can’t help but feel like you have to do something about it. And after it is done, someone close to you shows you what you have done. It wasn’t done with malice or discontent in your heart. It was done out of love. But someone could construe it as you butting in. 

When I was a teenager at church, our children’s church leaders had a story about Rudy Red and Butt-in Brown and Yelling Yellow. There were other colors but for some reason those stick out in my head. I wonder why…..probably because I relate to them the most. Some days I find myself feeling “red” – not happy, rude, ornery and irritable. Some days I find myself “yellow” – a loud, obnoxious response to every little thing. Last night, I felt “brown” – I had butted in. I don’t like feeling brown. It presses heavy upon my heart. 

But when I feel any of these colors, I need to repent. I need to try and make it right. So I did. I did what I could at the time. I prayed and talked to God about it. I sought out wise counsel from my husband. I did what I could. But I don’t know if the offense has been forgiven and/or dealt with. Suspense. I just have to let God handle it now. I have to choose not to walk this way again. And I have to keep praying that God will continue to work it out. It is in His hands now. 

Feeling colors is no good. Any of those colors I listed brings no peace. It only causes strife and dischord – none of which any of us need in our life. But it is our choice to let Rudy Red or Yelling Yellow or Butt-in Brown have a day in our life. Sometimes they slip in unannounced. But some days we open wide the door for them to walk right on through. That’s why we must let God guard the door to our heart. He is the only One that can keep the peace we all so desperately need. 

Something we all need

Matthew 6:14,15 – “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

So let me give you the brief rundown of my day yesterday. I went back to work after being gone 4 days for a long weekend at a really tough soccer tournament- tough emotionally, not necessarily physically. I had a Christmas party at my house last night for the youth group (which, by the way, was so much fun!!). Needless to say, I was a bit frazzled. 

I went to the wrong client’s house – I was an hour early. Oh. My. Goodness. And to top it all off, it was the same client who had called me the day before and wanted to know why I wasn’t there – she had me scheduled for a day I had taken off, yet, it was my fault. I didn’t argue. No need. But to make another mistake on top of one hurt already there? I felt like a “cotton headed ninny-muggen” (Elf, one of my favorite Christmas movies). 

I apologized. And then apologized again. I owned my mistake. I admitted she was right. And apologized again. I felt terrible. It still bugs me. I know I’m forgiven by her and my Heavenly Father because I asked. 

But I hate making mistakes like that. Your plugging along through your day thinking that you have this thing all together and BOOM! Reality check. You are just playing like you have it together. It stinks 

However, I am so grateful for forgiveness. But the thing about forgiveness is when it is asked for, you should give it. And when you ask for it, you have to accept it. You can’t keep beating yourself over the head with your mistake. Neither can you keep beating someone else with their mistake when they have asked you for forgiveness. You gotta walk away and don’t go there again. 

Forgiveness can be a beautiful healer for both parties involved. It is tough to ask for and tough to give. Yet, we need to follow the example of Jesus who forgave…always and sometimes without them asking. 

People are going to wound us. We are going to wound others. Forgiveness needs to be a part of who we are because sometimes we all need forgiveness. 

Eternal

1 John 5:11-12 – “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”

My husband and I were at the mall this weekend. We saw a shirt hanging in a window that said, “We are eternal.” I had to stop and get another look. My husband said, “Sure we are eternal. But what eternal are they talking about?” He was thinking heaven or hell. 

It seems that our society thinks it is above reproach. Somehow or another, they think they will never die and never be held accountable for anything they do. I have heard songs about that “we will are never getting older” and songs about doing something “anyway”. 

No thought for consequences. No thought to anyone else other than themself. 

Eternal. Do people realize that is a really, really, really long and never ending time? Do they realize that their eternity will be spent in a smoking or non-smoking place? They have the choice of everlasting love or everlasting fire. They have the choice to accept Jesus or reject Him. 

So yes, we are eternal. But which eternal will you choose – eternal love or eternal damnation? It seems like such an easy choice. Choosing love means allowing Jesus to lead and guide you. Choosing damnation means leading yourself and trusting that you can make all things good. For me, I choose to let Christ lead my life. I choose eternal love. 

Forgiveness 

Matthew 6:14,15 – “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Forgiveness. 

How many times as a kid did your mom say to you, “Now, say your sorry”? You begrudgingly say the words but mean none of them. Or maybe you just blow over the whole idea of asking forgiveness whenever you KNOW you are wrong. I think we have all been in one or both of these boats more often than we care to admit. 

But in these verses in Matthew we are commanded to forgive. Forgiveness means letting go and not picking it up again. It means giving up your right to retaliate. It means not reminding someone again and again of the wrong that they have committed against you. 

It’s a tough business, this forgiveness. But God never promised us an easy life once we accept Him as our Savior. In fact, in Matthew 18:21,22, Jesus told Peter this lovely gem- “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Ok, so that means….490 times. Four hundred ninety! I don’t want to count anything up that high. The point is this- there should be no limit to the amount of forgiveness we should offer those around us. 

God is not sparing on His forgiveness of our trespasses. We need to follow in His steps and do the same. Forgive. 

This week, you will be wrongly accused. You will be offended. You will do something that causes grief in someone else’s life. You will need to give out forgiveness and you will need some yourself. Whatever the case, whatever the cause – don’t be stingy with it. Forgive and be forgiven.