The Christmas Holiday Season is Upon Us

Okay, I’m going to share a bit of my views about the holiday season in this post. I need to begin by saying that I think people, in general, go overboard during this time of year. They stress themselves out by trying to find that special someone that perfect gift. Or they are rushing around to various functions just to keep up appearances. They overdose on holiday music played everywhere. And they wind up burned out and never get to fully appreciated what this time of year is all about.

Christmas, in my eyes, is the birth of Jesus. God’s perfect gift to humanity, wrapped in flesh, and given without asking for anything in return. To me, it is the greatest gift ever given. As we bedeck our homes, inside and out, with multi-colored lights and trees, inflatable Santas and reindeer, and covet precious handmade ornaments made by our children, we tend to overemphasis the trivial and forget about the true meaning. The light in children’s eyes, the wonder and the joy that glimmers within. Spending time with loved ones. Just sitting around a toasty fire, sipping on cider, eggnog, or a hot chocolate and sharing fond memories of Christmas’s past, gives one pause.

And we are not to forget those who are struggling this time of year. Those who have recently lost a loved one, or are hurting financially, or have gone through some sort of traumatic event. We need to let them know that they have not been forgotten and that you are there for them with a willing shoulder to cry on. Not everyone sees this time of year as festive and merry. This time of year can fill many with a sense of dread and depression. Let us lift those hurting ones up and help them through this season.

It’s not about what you’re getting for Christmas, or how many brightly wrapped packages are yours underneath the Christmas Tree. As a child I used to crawl around under our tree and discover how many had my name on the gift tag. Yes, it is exciting for children to receive requested toys. I understand that. But there comes a time when we need to explain to our children that the meaning of Christmas is more than what they receive, but what they get out of this time of year, surrounded by loving family, making their own fond memories to embrace in the future.

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Going Back to My Christian Roots

The Word of God endures forever. It cannot be destroyed. Those in Third-World nations hunger for it. Fellow believers long for a copy of the Bible for themselves. They sit on wooden benches in hot, stuffy shacks, worshipping the Lord while we in this country are sitting in air-conditioned masterpieces of architecture, and still we are not happy. We feel that going to worship once a week is a chore; boring and without merit.

The Bibles we have are normally for display, not for reading, much like our grandparent’s plastic-covered living rooms were. As believers, we need to open up that book, filled with life-giving, cleansing water for the thirsting soul. The Word is our hope. It reveals the precious Lamb of God who died to take away the sins of the world, so that we may be reconciled to the Father.

It doesn’t matter to God how many chapters you read in one sitting, as long as you take the time and refresh yourself in it daily. A verse or two, a chapter; just read it and take its words to heart. It can calm you down, and it can energize you, depending on what you are looking for.

Many people scoff at the Word, thinking it’s nothing more than fables and pretty stories written by uneducated men making foolish rules, and oppressive to women. But they couldn’t be further from the truth. God is holy. And the world does not understand Him any better than the religious leaders of Jesus’ time didn’t understand who He was.

God’s love for you is truly unconditional. He will be there with you in your struggles and your questioning “why’s” God doesn’t delight in people’s suffering or addictions, or in your tears. No. He wants nothing more than to comfort you.

For you to obey His word means to be kept safe from serious harm. Is that to say that nothing bad will ever happen to you? No. Life will still have its ups and downs, and heartache, pain, and temptations. But the Lord will provide you with the strength to make it through. All you have to do is ask. In His Word, a great light is there ready to break through the darkness of this world.

Understand that it is the ‘religious leaders’ of our day that try to overburden you with foolish rules and guilt trips. God will not do that. Christian faith is not about bondage, but about breaking free from condemnation. It is freedom; freedom from fear, addictions, and from a hardened heart. If you haven’t already, choose this day to take a chance on God. Let Him reveal Himself to you. Let Him bask you in the glory of His light and in His love. You’ll be glad that you did. Accept this offer of freedom and peace today.

Going out on a Limb

Okay, I’m going to probably offend some people with this post, but it is not intentional.  This issue has weighed on my mind for some time now and these are my own personal views.  You can agree with them or not.  It is your choice.  So(deep breath) here goes:  God doesn’t hate you.  Too often people think they are too far gone for God to reach them; to change them.  Some people don’t want to change.  Others just plain do not believe.

I am not the in-your-face evangelist.  I like to share my faith with my words.  I am a Christian though many times a pretty lousy one.  But God doesn’t hate me for my weaknesses.  I struggle, just as we all do as human beings.  Life is hard.  Through all these modern conveniences, we as people can still feel so desperately lonely at times.   Why is that?

I think we no longer trust each other, and in many instances, for good reasons.  We’ve become more cynical.  Myself included.  We look at the world and see only pain, misery, deceit, hate, prejudice and death.  Okay, I sound like some debbie-downer here; but the truth is we all crave some good news and hope.  It keeps us sane and moving forward day by day.

Gay or straight:  God does not hate you!  Divorced: God does not hate you.  Alcoholic or drug addicted:  God does not hate you.  God is love, so He cannot hate.  I believe that He mourns over our sins and shortcomings.  I will not say ‘failures’ because we do not fail until we cease to try.

Too often it is God’s people who turn others away from seeking Him out.  Judgemental, overly pious, vying for some sainthood, and looking so pure on the outside.  It’s a lie.  We all have our faults, some obvious and others not so much.  God is patient.  He will never force you to come to Him.  I personally believe in Hell and in the consequences of rejecting God.  But let me say this:  He is a loving and just God.  He is not in heaven looking down waiting for you to screw up, to say or do the wrong thing.  He knows we are only flesh and blood.  He knows that life is difficult and messy.

Too often people don’t want to turn to God because they think then they have to be perfect, never screwing up and making a mistake again.  Wrong!  Let me lead by example.  I am a tremendous screw up.  I struggle with many things, especially my thought life.  I won’t go there but it ain’t pretty in my head, that’s all I’ve got to say.  But I still know that God loves me and cares about me.  He knows all about me and my screw ups.  He made me.  I don’t come as a surprise to Him!  He doesn’t look at me and think, ‘Wow, never saw that one coming!’.

Bask in His love.  Don’t listen to the lies that you will never be good enough.  There is no such thing as ‘good enough’ anyway.  We are all in that boat.  And that’s not to condemn anyone.  We need to strengthen each other.  We must stand together or we fall apart.  I think we all know someone who could use a smile, a helping hand, a warm meal, a friend.

Don’t look at the church to see God.  I’ve  noticed myself how lukewarm it’s becoming in this nation.  There doesn’t seem to be much energy and excitement anymore.  We seem to be dwelling too deeply in apathy.  Rise above it.  Don’t drown in it.  Though the waves may crash against that shore, don’t let it smash you against its rocks.

God is incredible.  I feel sorry for those who never gave Him a shot.  I am loved by a great Creator.  Yes.  I do believe God created the heavens and the earth.  His creation is awesome.  Just look at a rainbow.  How life begins anew in Springtime after a long and dreary winter.  I love watching the buds on the trees and the flowers push through the dirt in the ground to bloom once more.

You are incredibly made.  Just take a few minutes and think about it.  How your body functions.  It’s mind-blowing.  Please, all I ask is that you take a moment to see that God is not a god of hate and wrath, but one of love and compassion.  Religion can be numbing and downright mean at times, but faith is sustaining.  A lot of crap happened with the Christian church, I confess.  But let me just say that is what the people did, God did not ask for them to do that.  It is not in the New Testament.  Oftentimes people do such wicked and evil things in the name of God.  He is not a god of evil and torment.  He loves you.  He only wants you to give Him some time in your day; in your life.  But it is your call; your decision.  God wants you to love Him because you choose to, not because you have to.

Again, God is love, His people may not always come across as loving and caring.  Even I as a Christian have run across that too.  A lot of the times I’ve found that people out of the church can be more loving and accepting than those inside the four walls.  And remember, Jesus came for the sick, not for the healthy.  He came to heal the broken-hearted and how many of us out there are feeling broken-hearted?  We’ve all gone through that at least once.

In conclusion, please don’t write God off just because His people have screwed you over.  He wants you.  He accepts you.  He loves you.  It’s easy to accept Him.  Just open up your heart and let Him in.

Blessings and peace,

Eva

 

Feeling Down

Maybe it’s the shorter days, but I am feeling the blues.  The cold seasonal weather is slowly seeping into my corner of the Midwest and I don’t like it.  I’m not crazy about cold or snow.  Never really have been.  I just feel down. 

Last night I was feeling sorry for myself.  I thought about how my life is just slipping away, day after day of doing nothing of great importance.  I never wanted to waste my life but that is what I feel is happening.  I want to live a life of significance.  I want to make a difference in this world. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love my family.  I am truly blessed by God.  I have so many wonderful people in my life.  But do you ever feel that something is missing?  Something that is gnawing away about your conscience?  Something whispering in your ear that you are not doing enough?  That all you are doing is floating through life without any real purpose or meaning?  That is how I’m feeling.

I’m not asking for fame or fortune.  I not want to be featured on TMZ or The Soup.  I want to know that when I die, that I have contributed something solid to someone else’s life.  That someone else’s life is better off because I was there for them.

I have probably gone this route before, with the desire to make a difference to someone, to be someone’s lifeline.  To know that I have fulfilled my Christian destiny to be a beacon of light to someone struggling in the choppy and dangerous water of this world.  I want to change the world for the better.  I want to see an end to child abuse; to see an end to childhood diseases that takes a young boy or girl away from their parents.  I don’t want to see another mom or dad having to bury their child and to grieve that loss for the rest of their lives.  I want to see an end to all of this world’s atrocities.  I know, people have a difficult time of getting along with each other.  A lot of times it is within the walls of their own home. 

I just want to show the love I have bottled up inside of me.  To let others know how much they are cared about and loved.  That even at their lowest moments, that they would somehow realize that there is someone out there who cares.  And if they can’t find that someone in their own family or circle of friends, I want them to know that Jesus is there for them.  That He loves unconditionally.  There is always hope.  There is always love.  Love never loses.  Maybe I’m just a dreamer.  Maybe I need to come down to reality.  But I believe in people.  I don’t want to become cynical about the things I see on the news each day.  I want to still believe that there is much good still going on in this world.  That as human beings we can turn this mess around. 

Okay, I’ve gone on longer than I first planned.  But once I got going, I couldn’t stop.  So friends, let’s love each other that way God designed us to.  Hold the door open for someone.  Smile at a stranger.  Write a note to a friend.  Visit an elderly person in a nursing home.  Be the difference.  Be that light to someone who is slowly drowning in darkness.  That’s what I want to be.  Hold me accountable.  I don’t want to become bitter or apathetic.  I want to be who God intended me to be the moment I came screaming into this world, until the moment He calls me back home.  God bless you all.

How To Start Your Day Right

Do you ever have one of those mornings that you want so desperately to wake  up early and spend time with the Lord, but decide to sleep in instead?  I’ve had too many of those lately.  My desire is to wake up early and read a few devotionals from my collection, and ponder the goodness and mercy of God.  But I have such a hard time with this and I’m not sure why.  I start out well.  There are days, weeks, and sometimes months that I rise faithfully each morning while the house is still quiet, my dog at my feet, and devour God’s promises to me.  I’m hungry for them.  I need His word to refresh me  each morning before I go out into the world and face what is out there, both good and bad. 

But too many times I am lazy.  I say, “I’ll do them later.” or “I’ll start again tomorrow.”  But those are only excuses.  I believe firmly that without daily digging into the Word, we as Christians will not have an easy go of life.  We need His strength to see us through each day, with all of its many challenges and joys, struggles and heartaches.  We need to keep our eyes on Christ.  I know from past experience that if I do not spend time with Him that my days are hectic and I am so out of breath, and weary by day’s end, that I want to hang my head and weep.  Life is so hard.  Yes.  We may have our friends and family there by our side, but I still know in my heart that without Christ’s constant guiding, we will be tossed about on life’s turbulent seas. 

He is good.  He will never leave us nor forsake us.  He is our Rock and our Strength.  Christ is Lord and He loves us more than we can even think or imagine.  It is mind-boggling.  But I am thankful to have an opportunity to worship Him freely and to have a library full of Christian literature.  There are too many other countries that are oppressed and lack even a Bible in their own language. 

So tomorrow morning, I will rise up, put on a pot of coffee, read through a Psalm to praise His name and His goodness to me and my family.  I will read through three or four devotional readings for the day, jotting down notes(a habit of mine) and enjoy the solitude of the early morning.  Then it’s off into this big scary world.  But I have His protection round about me.  I will put on the full armor of God.  It’s always good to know that my best friend has got my back.