Are you ready for the holidays?

It seems like a benign question, “Are you ready for the holidays?” In fact just about every random conversation that you have with a perfect stranger or people you know will begin with this question. While it seems like a simple question, it is actually begs to go deeper than trees, and cards, food and cookies and gifts.

The “holidays” whether you practice Jewish tradition of Hanukkah or Christian tradition of Christmas are based on what God has called us to do. These traditions are all about God and what God has done, so getting ready for the “holidays” begins with getting our hearts right with God. Getting ready for the “holidays” calls each of us to prepare our hearts, and spend time with God, listen to God and do things that are in line with what pleases God.

So what pleases God? Caring for each other and reaching out to those in need. Bringing our our checkbook and writing checks to those who are serving the poor, or their communities. Doing a special good deed that brings a smile to someone’s face who is in a changed circumstance this season. Reaching out to those who are sad or suffering. These are things that please the very heart of God. As we ask over and over, “Are you ready for the holidays?” remember it is a call to prepare our hearts, and please God with our actions, our words, and our deeds.

Read Thu Bible ~ Job ~Waiting

Read Thu Bible ~ Job ~Waiting

We are in the book of Job in our read through the Bible series. Job is perhaps one of the most difficult books of the Bible to understand. The reason for this is that Job is trying to figure out how God’s justice works in the world. Job and his friends are trying to make sense of the suffering in the world. Humans have tried to make sense of suffering since the beginning of time. If you have not watched the video on Job, check it out here.

Meanwhile, what do we make of Job? For years there has been an adage of being as “patient as Job,” yet Job is anything but patient. His friends do one great thing for him: For the first week, they sit with him and wait, saying nothing. Then Jobs friends try to tell him he is in the wrong, they argue and contest his innocence.

My favorite part of this powerful book is when God answers Job out of the whirlwind. Beginning in chapter 38 God responds to Job’s accusations against God saying, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know?”

Like Job and his friends, I, too, am waiting. I am waiting for next steps. I am waiting to see God’s timing on the birth of my granddaughters. As I wait, I feel helpless. As I wait, I wonder where my patience has gone, after all, it is a fruit of the spirit. As I wait, I watch all of the other responsibilities that I have ebb and flow, while I am in a holding pattern. As I wait, I think of Job. He demanded a response from God as to his plight, and God’s answer is perhaps an answer to us all. “Where were you when I laid out the foundations of the earth?” Can you tell me……

When I read this magnificent poetry I stand in awe, once again, that the God of the universe even cares about me or my waiting. And I think about others in the biblical witness who had to wait for God’s timing….

  • Sara, Hannah, and Elizabeth all waited to be with child
  • Simeon and Anna waited to see the salvation of God in the form of baby Jesus
  • The women waited at the cross of Jesus watching him die
  • And the disciples waited in the upper room for the Holy Spirit to come….
  • The list goes on and on……

We all have the opportunity to wait. While we wait, God works on our hearts in new ways, to grow us, and God shows us grace. God uses this waiting to mature us as better disciples, and the Fruit of patience is being cultivated. And those things that we were supposed to be doing, well, God will take care of that too, in new and wonderful ways. So I am growing in grace, and I am waiting; just like Job was waiting.

When have you had the opportunity to wait? How did God offer you unexpected grace in the midst of waiting?

Meanwhile, while you are waiting, keep reading through Job and check out this song “While I am Waiting” by John Waller.

Read Thru Bible ~ Exodus ~ Who is this God?

Read Thru Bible ~ Exodus ~ Who is this God?

This past week as we read through the Bible together we have had the opportunity to discover some of the characteristics of God. Exodus helps us answer the question, “Who is this God?”

We get a close up picture of who this God of the Israelites is through God’s call to Moses. In chapter 3 we hear God say to Moses, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey…”

What does it mean for us that God sees us, hears our cries, knows our suffering, and comes down to rescue us? What does that mean to you for this day, a day of abundant snow on the East Coast, a day that is hard for some of us, and a joy for others?

In fact, God did see the hardships of the Israelites and called Moses to rescue them. Can you imagine the picture of all those Israelites leaving Egypt and going to a foreign land? Have recent world events given us similar pictures? Those leaving Syria due to war torn lands–They too are refugees, just as the Israelties were. What does God call us to do in this time of flight, this God who sees, hears, knows and comes down?

If you did not watch the video on the Holiness of God, you might want to catch it here. Tomorrow when we worship together on-line, we will use the Exodus passage to talk a little bit about this God who watches over us.

I hope you will be able to join us on line, Sunday morning the 24th at 11:30 am. This is the link to join us at zoom.us.

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Speak Life ~ Our Words DO Matter

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It is no secret that I am a Toby Mac fan. When I first saw this Christian artist in concert, I was not sure that I really enjoyed him, but then I heard him in a talk back session, and I realized that I liked what I heard from his heart. The more I see Toby, the more I like him and appreciate what he is doing to build the Kingdom of God. It is always with great anticipation that I attend his concerts.

His very short testimony of one of his songs speaks to my heart in a new way. I have been enjoying his song entitled “Speak Life,” but during one particular concert he told us the story behind the writing of the song. Toby had read the Raggamuffin Gospel when he was younger. He says he remembers reading Manning’s words, “When you speak to someone you either speak life or you drain life, there are no neutral exchanges.” Hence, the song that Toby wrote was birthed.

I’ve been thinking of this quote for a long time, “There are no neutral exchanges.” What about me and my words? Sure it is easy for me to speak life when I am doing the work of the church, that is easy. But what about when I am running into the grocery store to buy something quickly or as I move about my busy day in the world? When I am doing errands I have a purpose and I move through that purpose quickly. To be blunt and honest, people who are serving who are not on my same page when I am rushing around irritate me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not mean, I am not impolite; but I don’t speak words of life. I thought these were neutral exchanges. Toby’s words, “There are no neutral exchanges” have been haunting me. I can do better, I can be better. Maybe these exchanges have a divine appointment for me or for someone else. Maybe I am the one to speak life into someone else’s life who is drowning. After all, I know the Good News, and maybe I can speak enough life to allow a person to trust me so that I can share that Good News which is what really matters.

Meanwhile, this week I have been practicing speaking life into the lives of those who would otherwise be “incidental” in my day. They have been wonderful exchanges. I am learning and growing.

How about you? Do you speak life or do you drain life? Are you the one from which someone will remember the conversation or are you the one they wish they will never wait on again? As for me, I am trying to practice new habits.

Thanks Toby, for giving me a new perspective on the way I speak in common everyday exchanges of words.