Have you found the perfect gift yet?

I get amused with the Christmas shoppers in the Riverside Gift Shop I am managing at the retirement village.  They will come in and say they’re looking for the “perfect gift” for someone and they’ll “know it when they see it.”

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This month of Christmas music, programs, parties and shopping can become stressful to some people.  We have been made to feel guilty if we don’t give extra to the needs of those less fortunate.  There are the lonely people who actually hate this time of year.

But wait…..what is it really all about?  And I mean more than remembering a miraculous virgin birth of a baby 2000+ years ago.

The miracle of Jesus the Christ…..the Anointed One, is that He is fully God and fully human!!!    The doctrinal word for that is Incarnation……….and I don’t mean a flower!!!

This is one of the mysteries of Almighty God.   In His Son, Jesus, God became a human man to save us ultimately by shedding His blood on the cross, dying and arising from the dead, without ceasing to be God.

Philippians 2:5-11    Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death of the cross.  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

WOW!!!  That’s quite a bit to comprehend.  It’s so “far out there” our human minds cannot figure it out……not possible….don’t go there!!!

It is child-like FAITH which is a GIFT from God to receive THE TRUTH.

If you are struggling with the reality of who Jesus is, and that He is more than a baby in a manger, ask God to give you the faith to believe.  Be honest with God, He knows the thoughts and intents of your heart anyway.  Don’t try to figure it out…..just know that God loves you with unconditional love.  Once you realize that great love through Jesus Christ you will never be the same again!

The celebration of Jesus’ birth this week will give you JOY and an INNER PEACE that is unexplainable.

JESUS CHRIST IS INDEED THE MOST PERFECT GIFT TO YOU!!!

Romans 6:23  The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Am I God’s Friend?

I was captivated by her story as she told me how God was her playmate as a child.

An only child, my friend Karen says, ” I didn’t have an imaginary friend as a little girl. I just talked to God all day long.” She smiled joyfully as she recounted days in the back yard of her family home, playing by herself. Only she wasn’t by herself. She was talking to God, her constant companion, about anything and everything.

Photo: AdobeStock - Used with Permission

Photo: AdobeStock – Used with Permission

I was amazed. You see, Karen didn’t have the benefit of attending Sunday school or church with her parents like I did.  She was left to her own devices in the spiritual realm at that young age. And yet, she KNEW God was close. He had called her by name. And she had listened. Her childlike faith allowed her to converse with the God of the universe like he was her best friend.

Because he was.

It makes me wonder – how many times had God called my name, even as a young girl, and I didn’t have ears to hear? My friend’s life-long ability to speak directly to God like he’s right there in the room with her is something I didn’t learn until much later in life, in spite of growing up in a pastor’s home.

Have you tried it? If you listen, he is calling your name. He wants you to know him. He wants you to talk to him. Like he’s right there in the room.

Because He is.

 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 18:3

Are You Too Near the Getting In Place?

The story is told of a little boy who had a habit of falling out of bed in the night. Finally, his mother asked him why he fell out of bed so much. He replied, “I guess I stay too near the getting in place.”

The small boy with alarm clock in the bedIt’s a picture of too many Christians who don’t seem to grow, or know the Lord Jesus better this year than last. They’re faithful in their church attendance and they even tithe. But the Christian walk is a walk with Jesus that causes us to change. As Paul wrote, we are changed “from Glory to Glory, transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Peter also cautioned us to grow in 2 Peter 3:18, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Knowledge comes through the Word, illuminated by the Holy Spirit.

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

 

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

(These thoughts were first shared with Kristin in an email on August 11, 2005. Gladys was 86 years old. And yes, she loved connecting via email!)

The Simple Life

This is the beginning of a new year so all of us are thinking how we are going to be better than we were the year before. I know I am and I know my cousin, Kristin is as well. She talked about in a previous blog, Slight Edging It, about her change for this next year and I think it’s fantastic!

 

The trouble is you must stick to it. You must tell yourself everyday you are going to accomplish those things you want to. Things don’t happen over night, if they did then we wouldn’t have very exciting journeys just a lot of endings. The journey is what changes you, shapes you, molds you, and transforms you into the best version of yourself if you allow it to.

 

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

            Romans 12:2

 

I am currently doing the Daniel fast. And it hasn’t been easy. This fast consists of fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, and water for 20 days. It’s very simple. But there have been many days I want a piece of chocolate or coffee and in those moments I pray God gives me strength and sets my mind back to why I am doing this fast in the first place. I think this is what we need to do when we want to “give up”, to “quit” on our goals we have set for ourselves in the beginning of the new year. We need to bring it back to Jesus because he will help us.

 

Before starting this fast I prayed about what kind of fast to do, and God gave me the word simplicity. At first I thought that was just my word for the fast, but now I am starting to realize this may be my word for the year. SIMPLICITY.

 

God wants us to live simple lives. We seem to overcomplicate things, but really we should live as children. Children are care-free, honest, live for fun and adventure, love everyone, they don’t over think they just do. God wants us to have child-like faith and this is what comes to mind when I think of simplicity. I want to live life as a child. I am going to pray to God when it gets tough and when I want to quit, when I start to overcomplicate things and ask God to help bring my mind back to the simplicity.

 

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3-4

 

What are your goals for this new year?

How are you going to make sure you stick to them for the entire year of 2016?

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(A few of the many kids I met along my journey on the World Race in 2014!)

Believe…..

Believe what?     Believe who?

Believe Santa is real?       Believe this chair will hold me when I sit down?     Believe I will win the Power Ball?

Every time I see that word used in so many ways and written on so many objects I think to myself and sometimes audibly say “believe what? who?”

Do you think belief and trust are the same thing?  They are both elusive in that you can’t hold them in your hand, and yet we act on those words every day.   I guess the answer is unique to each person, but I tell you the truth…“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household.”  Acts 16:31 

As you believe on Him and in Him, every part of your life will be affected.  You will walk in The Light because He is Light.  He is Truth!  And because of your daily walk in His Light your family and friends will see that your belief in Jesus Christ as Savior is truth.

Believe

The young people at my church sang a song written in 2013 by the Newsboys (Hooper,Fike & Ryan) and the following is part of that song entitled We Believe.

“In this time of desperation when all we know is doubt and fear, there is only one foundation.  We believe.  We believe.  In this broken generation, when all is dark, You help us see, there is only one salvation.  We believe.  We believe.

We believe in God the Father….We believe in Jesus Christ….We believe in the Holy Spirit, and He’s given us new life.

We believe in the Crucifixion….We believe that He conquered death….We believe in the resurrection, and He’s coming back again.  We believe.

So let our faith be more than anthems, greater than the songs we sing.  And in our weakness and temptations,  we believe….we believe.

Let the lost be found and the dead be raised.  In the here and now let love invade.  Let the church live loud.  Our God, we’ll say, we believe.

And the gates of hell will not prevail, for the power of God has torn the veil.  Now we know Your love will never fail.   We believe.  We believe.

AND HE’S COMING BACK AGAIN !!           WE BELIEVE !!!”

Another Year Gone By

Another year has gone by. How did that happen?? Seriously! This past year has gone by so fast! It seems like I just got back from my 11 month trip but that was over a year ago now. So much has happened since then and God continues to amaze me.

 

When I came back from the World Race, I wanted to continue living a life of taking risks and living in boldness for Jesus. It hasn’t been easy, but as a look back in this past year I see God’s faithfulness and persistence. And when I look at the times I was obedient and took a risk, I was blessed beyond words and God was with me and gave me the strength I needed. He continues to blow my mind and blow my expectations out of the water!

 

Here are some of the things God has taught me this past year:

 

God hears us and answers our prayers, even if they seem small (I was shopping for a bridesmaid dress for hours and then I prayed and God told me to go to a specific store and I found the dress I needed in the exact color I needed it in! WOW!).

 

God wants us to pray specific prayers.

 

God does miracles and uses people like you and me as his hands (God used me to pray healing over a friend’s knees who were in pain and he healed her! WOW!).

 

God gives us strength when we are weak (I did a 3 day fast only drinking water and I had so much energy and joy it only could have come from God!).

 

God ALWAYS provides.

 

When we take a leap of faith, God will catch us and walk with us.

 

God loves to make us laugh (I laugh when I experience the Holy Spirit!).

 

God is always there to comfort us. When we cry, he cries.

 

God cares about what is important to us.

 

God stands in front of us with open arms waiting for us to run to him.

 

God is continuing to teach me how to see people through his eyes and when I do I see them as his children.

 

God gives us His light in order to be tangible lights to been seen by people in the physical realm.

 

God LOVES me and He LOVES you UNCONDITIONALLY.

 

 

As you move forward into this next year, take time to sit and think of the ways God has shown up in your life in the past year and thank him. Make a goal for yourself in this next year to step out in faith and live more of risk-taking life for Jesus. You will not be disappointed. : )

 

Happy New Year!

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(On our way home from the World Race around this time last year,

November 2014)

Faith is Dead

Faith is not something you say you have and then don’t do anything about. In the Bible it tells us, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).

You can have faith and believe there is a God, but if you don’t do any work that backs up the faith you have, it is as though you don’t have faith. Whoa! That makes you take a step back and look at your life, doesn’t it? It does for me.

 

Am I living out the faith that I have in Jesus’ name?

Am I loving others around me the way Jesus does?

Am I doing work for the Lord even if it is hard, dirty work that no one else wants to do?

 

God didn’t say it was going to be easy. He also told us we would be persecuted for our belief (Matt 24:9, John 15:20). But if you have faith and love Jesus the way he loves us it wouldn’t matter if you are persecuted or not. It wouldn’t matter how hard life is because JESUS IS WORTH IT!

Is Jesus worth it to you?

Are you willing to do whatever God calls you to do even if it makes you stand out in front of a crowd or costs you your life here on earth?

Don’t sit back and wait for someone else to do the work. Get up, get going and do the work yourself! God is with you every step of the way!

We have the ultimate reward waiting for us in heaven….the crown of life! We are all princes and princesses in the kingdom of God! Let’s fight for the kingdom and live with a bold faith!

 

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the CROWN OF LIFE that God has promised to those who love him.”

James 1:12

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This is what faith looks like… surrounding and praying for a group of girls who used to be caught in sex trafficking in the Philippines. (World Race Sept 2014)

HOMESICKNESS

What a special time I am having with my cousins here in Oregon!  In fact, I have been a little “homesick” for this “land” and my family here. I was reared in the Portland area from age 7-19, and my fondest childhood memories are of this “place”; its beautiful trees, streams, rivers, waterfalls, mountains and beaches.  (My aaahhhhh places!)

Karen at Cannon Beach ~ Haystack Rock

Karen at Cannon Beach ~ Haystack Rock

But, as I get older I am longing for my home with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit; my permanent “place” for eternity!!!  How can I be “homesick” for a place I’ve never been?  Because God tells me in His Word what that place is like, and I am excited at the thought of that forever time worshiping my Savior and being with my loved ones who have gone on before!

Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:1-3

That’s a promise, and I believe God’s promises because He does not change.  In the meantime we recognize this world is not our home……..we’re just passing through!

Jesus’s disciple, Peter, says in the second chapter of his letter, 11th verse…”Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.”

And the Apostle Paul tells us in “The Faith Chapter” Hebrews 11:13-16…..”All these people (Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham) were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, and they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.  People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”

Oh….I am longing for that “place”……that Heavenly City!!!

EVEN SO LORD JESUS….COME!

Are you ready to meet Him face to face today?

Is God Here Tonight?

The sturdy little three-year-old shuffled along down the church aisle in front of his parents and was gently guided by the shoulders into a seat. He sat down, taking a good while to adjust himself. He shifted this way and that, looking everything over. When the ministers walked onto the platform they received his careful scrutiny. While everyone was bowed in silent prayer a small voice was heard to say:

“Mommie… is God here tonight?”

Mother replied, “Yes, of course, dear.” And the little fellow settled back – satisfied.

How aware he was of the fact that God should be there. Looking about, his mother began to wonder if those in the congregation, and indeed, those on the platform, were as aware of the fact.

First Lutheran Church, Jamestown, N.Y., interior, 1950s. ELCA Archives image. http://www.elca.org/archives

First Lutheran Church, Jamestown, N.Y., interior, 1950s.
ELCA Archives image.
http://www.elca.org/archives

There’s something child-like about the person who enters God’s house expecting to meet the Lord there. The person with this child-like faith is particularly blessed, for his faith brings God nigh and he does meet Him. No wonder Jesus said, “Except ye…become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

This is an age of skepticism…the “show me, and I will believe” cult is everywhere and has even crept into the church. If we really believed the scripture that says: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” how different would be our attitude in God’s house. Our minds would be upon Him in adoration and worship – for He has promised to be present. We would anticipate His presence and blessing.

I have seen the humble soul enter God’s house and come away refreshed and enriched while others asked, “was God there today? I didn’t feel His presence.” I think the secret lies in that word, “anticipation.” The Bible, in referring to Christ’s second coming says, “Unto those who look for him shall he appear,” and I am prone to think this is true also while He tarries.

If going to church has become a dull thing for you – try this simple formula.

This article, “Is God Here Tonight?” by Rev. Gladys I. Johnson first appeared in Foursquare Magazine in 1958. The inside scoop is that our brother Ronnie was the little boy in this story. (Tami & Karen)

THE BIG PICTURE

Sometimes when we get photos sent to us on Facebook, Instagram, cell phones, etc. the images are not clear——-it’s like, you had to be there to really see and experience in person what was really going on, whether it be good or bad. If there is more to the photo that is cut off or not complete, or what’s going on in the background is blurry, then the viewer is deceived as to where the photo was taken for whatever reason.

But God sees THE BIG PICTURE of our lives, not a blurry distorted image of today, but a complete picture from our conception to death and beyond. In fact the scripture tells us God has always known us!!!  He knows what is going on in your life right now for your good, but also what could be for your demise down the road.

We must trust God with the discipline that comes upon us from Him. God knows us better than we know ourselves. When we are going through a difficult time and we are asking God for direction or deliverance we remember God has promised to do what is best for us. Because He knows us, our personalities, our weaknesses, our strengths, He promised that He would not allow more trials on us than we can bear. (I Corinthians 10:13)

God knows when His answer to your prayers, whether yes or no, will have the greatest impact on your life and those around you. That’s where faith comes in. I have to know that “He is perfecting that which concerns me.” (kjv Psalm 138:8)

If God doesn’t do what I want, when I want it, I think He doesn’t love me, or that He is so busy with the major problems of people all over the world He can’t possibly care about my frustrations and needs.

REPEAT……THAT’S WHERE FAITH COMES IN !!!

God allows trials in our lives so that what surfaces are those things that He is pruning in us…..things called to our attention we need to deal with. (I Peter 1:3-9)

Don’t let the limits of your understanding limit your faith. Nowhere in scripture does it say we understand God’s ways. He is Sovereign. But, His ultimate goal is to conform us into the likeness of His Son, Jesus the Christ, and your disobedience of that equals consequences. You won’t be sinless, there was only One who was without sin but in all ways was tempted like us.

As the scripture in James 1:13-15 states, “each one is tempted by his own desires and enticed, then when desire has conceived it gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full grown, brings forth death.”

So….how do we get that strong faith that God really sees the BIG PICTURE of our lives and everything will turn out for our good? By studying and knowing His Word. Faith is practical. Desire is not sin, but the seeking of it is. Faith is believing the Word of God and acting upon it……..and that will bring victory!  We all have inclinations to sinful thoughts and  behaviors. “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9-10

Expose your mind to the truth of God’s Word. God has never changed…..His Word has never changed, nor will it ever!!!  “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”(Romans 10:17) And be careful not to listen to wrong voices, false doctrines and modern philosophies.

Stand on this Word in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Yay……I trust God with what He sees in the BIG PICTURE of my entire life, knowing that He only allows what is best for me!!!   PERIOD!

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