Christmas Catastrophe

As we look forward to celebrating Christmas and saying goodbye to 2020 it is okay to acknowledge that 2020 has been a disaster in many ways – the media has bombarded us with earthquakes, fire, floods, pandemic and political unrest. But remember the narrative of our Saviors’ birth happened under Roman occupation, forced to travel miles for a census and not being able to find a proper Inn, Mary gave birth in a stable. That seems pretty awful to me but it was part of God’s plan.

It seems an appropriate time to share one of our stories. It was early Christmas morning when my husband awoke to the smell of smoke.  The alarms hadn’t gone off yet. Thankfully it was not a fire but our furnace had “puffed back” and oily black soot was infiltrating the house. Paul shut off the heat, opened the bulkhead door and later at a decent hour called our oil company.

The children were up and opening their presents with great joy when “Dennis” arrived tool box in hand. They were wearing their footsie pajamas and had blackened little noses and toes but barely paid attention as the stranger entered the house. They didn’t notice the chill in the air or soot on their toys. I asked them to stop playing and wave good bye as we thanked him profusely and apologized for ruining his Christmas morning. While I was greatly dismayed thinking about the clean up that would come afterwards, the children were focused on their gifts. 

What takes away our attention from God’s gift? There was great joy at Jesus’ birth despite the difficult and humble beginning. If you remember, Joseph and Mary didn’t plan any of their circumstances! Maybe it will be good for us that our celebrations will be “different” this year. Missing family members, downsized celebrations and maybe a quieter day will give us time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.

 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Luke 2:8-14

Christmas Day will come – whether there is a pandemic or your furnace has trouble. Most of our problems are temporary and can be cleaned, fixed or healed. Christmas is the day for remembering that God came down to earth to make His home with mankind and later to lay down His life for us. Knowing Jesus brings peace to our hearts, hope for the future and true joy. Make sure your focus is on His best gift today.

 For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Help! I’m Stuck on Facebook!

Help! I’m Stuck on Facebook!

I have to confess that I’ve found myself wasting way too much time scrolling through Facebook posts.  I casually pick up my phone and look to see local news, friendly posts and then something catches my eye like “Weird Tales From the Woods” and I get sucked in. It’s like falling into a black hole and waking up to find I’ve been drifting for a half an hour or more.  What happened and where did the time go? Which is exactly what the writers want to happen! I’ve been trapped by “click bait”!

woman-3083376__340Worse though is when I have innocently engaged in political or ethical discussions which became debates and then spiraled into pointless arguments. Warning alarms go off in my head telling me to EXIT quickly. I have a couple of cousins that have become angry Trump and Republican haters. It doesn’t matter what the situation – even natural disasters are all the presidents’ fault.  Really?  (Not that I approve of all that is happening)  I had to unfriend one person because I  thought I was having a discussion with him when two of his “facebook friends” jumped in and started to verbally attack me when they realized I was a person of faith.

 guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge…      1 Tim 6:20 (NLT)

I was not raised in an era of instant technology and information. I have learned the hard way to be very careful when commenting on a friends’ post or re-post.  The definition for discernment is:     1. the ability to judge well.   2.   (in Christian contexts) perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding.

Social Media can be such a wonderful thing. I love seeing pictures of friends and their texting-1490691_960_720children, grandchildren, celebrations and travels. I appreciate the encouragement of a shared scripture verse or sermon link. It is exciting to read updates from missionaries and ministries we prayerfully and financially support. Multimedia is such an important part of our everyday it would be hard to live without it.  Slowly I have become more aware of the dangers of time thieves, half-truths, one-sided news and opinions. I have also blocked acquaintances that share photos or memes that I don’t care to see!

Did you know that the Bible gives guidelines for what we view in any kind of media even though It was written thousands of years ago?!

23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
24 Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech.
25 Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.26 Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path.27 Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.                              Prov 4:23-27 (NLT)

We need to guard our hearts and minds. An old computer expression was “garbage in – garbage out” – you need to have clean programming for the system to work properly.  Sometimes its a matter of training and discipline. God has given us passages like this one to use as a guideline.

8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.           Phil 4:8-9 (NLT)

As for me, I am going to limit my time on Facebook. I will avoid the click-bait sites – even if there is something that looks wicked interesting! And stay away from political blah blah blah.  I want to use my time wisely and protect my heart. Maybe you need to pray about your use of social media. I encourage you to use the verses above to help you gain a new perspective on Christian living today.

 

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Life is Like a Donut

Life is Like a Donut

Eating fried dough as a treat has origins that date back to ancient Rome and Greece.  However, the dessert we call a “doughnut or donut” is credited to early Dutch settlers in America during the early 1800’s.

donut3Doughnuts took on a patriotic resonance on the front lines in World War I, when female Salvation Army workers known as “Doughnut Girls” would fry and distribute doughnuts to American soldiers fighting in France. They offered a taste of home to the soldiers during World War II as well.

And National Donut day, is the on the first Friday of June, it succeeded the original event created by the Salvation Army in 1938, to honor the members who served doughnuts to soldiers during WWI. I wrote that day in my calendar!

But near and dear to my heart is the story of “Dunkin’Donuts” which began in 1948 in a restaurant called “Open Kettle” in Quincy, MA.  A Dunkin’ shop can be found literally all around the world.  We found one while on vacation in Nassau and Key West!

In the 1990’s,  my children would watch a show called “The Donut Man”. It was created doughnut-singleby American Christian children’s songwriter and performer Rob Evans. His overall theme is “Life without Jesus is like a donut – it’s like a hole in the middle of your heart”. He teaches through various bible and real life stories that God wants to fill that hole.

Life is full of good, even delicious, things. But there is also a brokenness or emptiness inside. The Bible shows us over and over that we have a need God for in our lives. We were created in His image for a relationship with Him. But since the Garden of Eden that relationship has been broken.

1 As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.2 I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?    Psalms 42:1-2 (NLT)

 I once wrote a letter to one of my sister–in-laws who was in the midst of some major life- changing decisions.  In general it said, “You have tried many things in life. You tried education and got a Masters degree. You have bought property and are a landlord. You have many different friends and are now trying to have a family. (She is single and was considering adoption.)  All of these are great accomplishments but there will always be a void in your life without a relationship with God. We were born with a God sized vacuum in our hearts that only He can fill and nothing else will satisfy.

  Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.36 But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me.    John 6:35-36 (NLT)

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.       Matt 11:28 (NLT)

 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.    Psalms 73:26 (NLT)

I live with several chronic health issues and have faced many big “storms” in life. But God has always been there to give me strength, hope and a deep peace. I may feel sad or lonely but I am never alone.  That is why I chose Hebrews 6:19a for my ministry verse.

                     This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.

Friend, if you feel empty and weary today come to the Living Water that never runs dry. Only He can satisfy the longing of your heart.

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