Friday, December 24, 2010

What Time is It?

We are all familiar with the wisdom of Ecclesiastes: 3:1, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."

So little time, so much to do, is a common mantra. Time has been my enemy in Christmas's past. My usual MO is to be late. To wait until the last minute. To break all speed limits to arrive at the appointed time. To just run out of time and not finish what I started for the occasion.

Well this year has been different. I've been a week ahead of myself,  almost showing up for two functions a week early. If I hadn't called one of our Christmas dinner guests yesterday, I'd be cooking the dinner right now, then wondering where the people were to eat it. Thankfully she informed me yesterday was the 23rd instead of the 24th.

At least I have all the food in and things ready so I don't have to go out today, unless I run out of Scotch tape. Rain is predicted, but thus far hasn't shown up. We know the malls are a mess and the roadways crowded with those drivers like me who are driving at breakneck speeds for last minute shopping and errands. Today, I have time to be quiet and relax.

"When the time is right, you just got to do it."  Jack Simplot

What is the time right for you to do? Mend a friendship? Send a thank you card? Call on an elderly person who lives alone? Call a grieving friend? Pray for someone who is having problems? Bake a cake to welcome a new neighbor? Sit with a baby so a new Mom can get her hair cut and a manicure?

Time is truly a gift. Use it wisely.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Is It Better to Give Than Receive

Quite a subject to ponder at this time of year. Most of us have learned that setting too high expectations usually leads to disappointment and this is often very evident in the gift giving season. The question is: "Am I giving this out of love or expectation?"

When we give from our heart, out of love, what can we expect in return? Does love really mean giving with no expectations?

I believe that the Biblical meaning for giving from love is just giving, without expectation. The joy is in the giving, not receiving any thing in return. The reward is the happiness the gift brings to the other person. As a gift giver, my joy is in finding something that will please the receiver. If it doesn't please them, then I expect them to exchange it for something they want or even to re-gift. Once it is given, it is there's to do what they will with it.

However, I do expect the receiver to acknowledge the gift with a thank you. I am frequently disappointed by that expectation.  I don't believe a "Thank You" is too much to expect and the price is certainly right. Now a written "Thank You" card is a real treasure.

When God blesses us, He is thrilled with our praise and gratitude and doesn't ask anything in return except for obedience in love. I think God is disappointed when we skip the gratitude part. I'm sure He treasures our daily gratitude lists as though it were a note. I don't know about you, but mine is written and fairly specific.

The other side of the giving/receiving coin toss is being a cheerful reciever. Some folks are only givers. They don't know the importance of the role of the receiver. Not being a cheerful receiver limits others the joy of blessing us. This was a very difficult concept for me to grasp, but over time I've come to realize how important that is. Accepting the love another has to give, in it's own terms, is a blessing to both the giver and receiver.

So for Christmas, let's strive to be both cheerful givers as well as receivers. Give up the expectataions and accept what is. Let our gifts be blessings that bring joy and open our hearts to more love. Our greatest gift is still Jesus, God's only son and our Counselor, Reedemer, Friend and Wonderful Savior. All glory and thanks be to God.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Are You in an Eclipse?

What a night. After my husband woke me to see the beginning of this world wide eclipse of our moon, I couldn't go back to sleep until the light came back on. I began reflecting on the eclipses I have experience from time to time in my life.

As I observed the darkness coming over our moon, I also noticed clouds bringing an eerie and almost angry sky around the dimming light. What if this darkness lingers and the moon doesn't come back to light?

When sin comes into our lives, it is like the gradual darkening of the moon. Sometimes it isn't even noticeable until it becomes very dark. We just seem to drift into it. The dark angry cloud covering that accompanies the growing darkness obscures us from seeing clearly what is really happening. Before we know it, our whole world seems dark, dreary, frightening and we may become very lost.

Then Jesus said unto them, "Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth no whither he goeth."

What a promise. The light is still there, even if we don't readily see it. It is waiting for us to reach across the obstacle and let our Savior back into our life. Jesus, is the light that never goes away. We may obscure it with sinful thoughts and actions. But as soon as we decide to let go of the sins and follow Christ, the light again shines on us.

"Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man."

Regaradless of how deep your eclipse is,  Jesus will be there to take your hand and bring you into His light.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Our Advent Journey

This is the Advent journey, to breathe deeply of God's love in the promise of the manger and the cross. This is the hope and the promise so we can indeed enjoy our own journey from birth to death soaking in God's glory and the beauty he has laid out for our enjoyment.

I hope everyone has had a chance to truly reflect on the meaning of Advent and gained new knowledge and wisdom. I love to visualize a manger at the foot of a cross. It can describe the journey from life to death, being a newborn in Christ, moving from this life to eternal life or God's fullfillment of his promise to send a son who will be our savior.

I hope you reflected on how everything had to fall exactly into place in God's timing, at His descretion. Other things had to happen first, including the geneology of Jesus through his eartlhy father and birth mother. God came down to earth to live with man as man. He brought his teaching to people who could believe, follow and take the word out into the world.

I hope you reflected on how people must have received this message. The prophets told of the coming of a Messiah for generations, yet when He came, most could not accept it. He was feared by the authorities who threatetened to kill him. Seekers came following a star. Shepherds watched and Angels sang. What a sight. Joyous for believers, unsettling for non-believers.

It's still that way today. Believers celebrate the season in joyful expectation and reverence while non-believers celebrate the season, but not the reason. We are all on different advent journeys, depending on where we are in our own belief systems and spiritual maturation. I'd just like to invite all to follow the star and behold the most magnificent miracle, the baby destined to be our savior. Look inside the manger and let the infant's heart light beam into your own, bring warmth to your soul, love to your life and bring you closer to Him and His wonderful promises. Come, Lord Jesus.