Saturday, December 16, 2017

Wonder.....

Wonder.....ahhhh....as Thanksgiving weekend comes to a close, we move towards the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year!!!"  For some of us, it IS the most wonderful time of the year. 
However, for many it may be the Most Difficult Time of the Year.....I am sorry if you are hurting and that this time of year is hard.....let's take a peek at how we might make it wonder-ful for you this year!!!

Wonder is the emotion excited by what is strange and surprising, a feeling of surprise or puzzled interest, or sometimes tinged with admiration.  Wonder may be a miraculous deed or event - a remarkable phenomenon.  Wonder can be thinking or speculating curiously about something or someone.  For example, to wonder about the origin of the solar system.  That's true wonder!!!  Or, to be filled with admiration, amazement, or awe - to marvel at something so phenomenal that we can hardly believe it has happened!

Our Crossroads Church here in Cincinnati, just started a series called:  Rediscover the Wonder and today's message was Wonder-ful!!!  Chuck Mingo talked about finding something this season that is meaningful or transcendent.  What would that be for you?  Would it be going outside of your comfort zone and donating to a great cause?  Would it be delivering meals to shut in elderly people?  Would it be offering a family member forgiveness when you haven't talked for over a year?  Would it be inviting someone to Christmas who has no family?  

Many churches and organizations around the country had a Thanksgiving Drive or project to feed families who were not able to get all the trimmings or "fixin's" for a Turkey Dinner.  Did your church do something like that?  Crossroads Cincinnati did - they gathered 115,000 boxes and delivered them to families in need this year just in Cincinnati - that is pretty remarkable to me!!!  WOW!  What a blessing that was for those families receiving that gift!  And, guess what?  For those of us who participated it was a blessing for us to give....

Next, we move to the Angel Tree project.  Many organizations and/or families participate in this project so that children of parents who cannot provide a gift for Christmas get a gift.  Maybe because their parents are incarcerated or some other situation where their kids will not have a gift for Christmas.  So, we step up to the plate and provide PJ's, sweat pants, dress pants, outfits, hoodies, PS4 games, etc. etc. so that these kids can have one gift to open.  It is quite a project to undertake in some ways, and yet, so wonder-ful in others!  If we can give so that others can receive, isn't that what Christmas is all about anyway?

Chuck also suggested that we "disrupt our lives for God" this year.  What would you be willing to give or give up to pursue God?  What would you do to pursue a more meaningful holiday season?  What would you do to pursue a relationship with Christ?  What would you be willing to say "Yes" to for the sake of making someone else's Christmas happy?  Who would you be willing to share love, joy and peace with this year? 

I loved Chuck's suggestion:  Would you take 2 hours and $10 to do something of value for Christ?  It could be buying a cup of coffee for that person or old friend in your life you have been meaning to spend time with........maybe they lost a loved one, or their job, or their house.....would you be willing to make this season special, meaningful or wonder-ful for them?  Maybe YOU need that 2 hours to relax and regroup!  Would you be willing to be kind to yourself and take some time to find some peace amongst the chaos of the season?  Check out his sermon at Crossroads.net.

Awe and wonder..........they are gifts of the season if only we have the eyes to see it - if only we are willing to rediscover it!!!  Remember the longing you had when you were a kid?  The anticipation of Christmas morning?  What treasures are you hoping for this year other than a material gift?  Maybe it's slowing down and enjoying the wonder of the season!  Maybe it's grace or forgiveness with someone you have been estranged with.  Maybe it is visiting that neighbor that had to move into a nursing home this year.  Maybe it's the kid or parent across the street that never seems to get a break.  Maybe it is connecting with a group of people you have lost touch with and long to see again....pick up the phone!  Write out a text or email or perhaps a REAL hand-written note!  Connect with other people this season and see if the wonder doesn't shine through!!!

Wonder...........The Wise Men followed the star - they were in awe of the coming of the Christ Child.  Some say it took them 45 days to get to Bethlehem, some say 3 years!  What star will you follow this year?  Would you be willing to follow it until you found the Babe lying in the manger?

Isaiah 9:6:  
"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Child is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders.
And, He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

My prayer for you is this:  That you find the Babe lying in the manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes....that you find love so rich and rare that it makes your heart sing!  That you sing Joy to the World and really mean it!!! That you make peace with those you need to and find peace on earth, goodwill toward men in your little corner of the world!!!  That you stop and feel the wonder of what God has done for us.  That you look for the incredible, remarkable, phenomenal, spectacular, meaningful, transcendent and WONDER-FULL sights and sounds of this miraculous season!!!  

Blessings abound as we choose to make it the Most Wonder-ful time of the year.  Choose to see and experience the wonder and awe.  Every day.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Stranger than truth.........

Have you ever thought of Christmas as "strange?"  I never have until I listened to Brian Tomes, Pastor of Crossroads Cincinnati this past weekend.  If you want to hear his message in its entirety, go to Crossroads.net and look up the message for December 3, 2017.  It is strange..........yet beautiful.

Strange.....yet, in listening to Brian's explanation, it made sense to me!  On many levels the events of Christmas over 2,000 years ago WERE strange....

1)  A prophecy from centuries before coming true?  Yes - Jesus' birth happened!
2) A young Virgin  girl giving birth?  How is that even possible???  Yet, it happened!
3) The Wise men or Magi traveling a very long journey and led by a star?  What??? That is strange!
4) Angels speaking to humans saying:  "Fear Not!" - Yet, it happened, and it is strange!
5) Strange gifts given to a baby:  Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh - Gold, incense and embalming fluid?  What???  When was the last time you gave or heard of giving such gifts to a baby?  Strange!!!
6) Christmas is baked into our DNA - into our hearts!  Why do 87% of people celebrate Christmas if they don't believe the story of Jesus?  There are statistics out there that say even Buddhists and Hindu people celebrate Christmas - strange!!!

I hope this Christmas you will contemplate the strange things in your life and look for the beauty in them..........Strange events, strange people, strange feelings, strange places you have never been, strange words that someone might say to you, strange anything!  Think about them..........contemplate them........try to figure out what God is saying to you!!!

Yes, I believe that God does still communicate with us.........maybe not in an audible voice, but He is there........trying to get our attention...........trying to point out His Good Tidings of Great JOY!!!

Luke 2:10-11
"But the angel said the them, Do not be afraid!  I bring you good tidings of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the City of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord."

May you find the strange and absolutely wonderful news of Christmas settling into your heart this year.  Look for the Babe, lying in a manger, in swaddling clothes, in a strange atmosphere.........He is there...........and He is waiting just for you to come and adore Him!!!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Ardent...

Have you ever been ardent about something?  Intensely devoted?  Eager?  Enthusiastic?  So devoted that whatever it is you are ardent about is written in indelible ink in your mind??? If you have been devoted to something that you are adamant about - what is it?  And, why is that so important to you?

And, consider this:  Indelible means something that cannot be removed, erased, eliminated, forgotten or changed.  What in your life is written in indelible ink on your heart or mind or life?

Think about the people you know:  Family, friends, colleagues, co-workers, long-lost relatives, church members, parent-teacher supporters, sports enthusiasts, artistic fanatics, people you know, and
people you have never met.  Some are devoted to teaching, some to fellowship, some to breaking of bread together, some to prayer.  Some to music, some to art, some to wood-working, some to repurposing old items or antiques, some to contemporary.  Some are devoted to awe and wonder, some to nature and creation, some to science,  some to research, some to entrepreneurial endeavors, some to simplicity.  Whatever "it" is - they are completely enthralled by it!

We each have been given unique gifts, talents, abilities, and interests that can benefit other people.  What is your unique gift?  What can you fan into flame that would be advantageous to others?  Could there be an area that you have developed and become an expert at?  Would you consider teaching others your craft?  Your gift?  Your talent?  What can you share?

And, if you have never had a passion that you are ardent about or devoted to, consider finding one!
There is so much to explore in this world and I believe are meant to share it!!!

2 Timothy 1:6
"For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you!"

Try it - you may find a completely new adventure which you were born to ignite!!!


Saturday, August 5, 2017

From 1,000 Gifts to 10,000 Reasons....

A friend of mine recommended a book called 1,000 Gifts a few years ago and the gratitude list that came from reading that book still lingers in my head and my heart....

Think about the little, tiny things that makes you feel grateful and brings a smile to your face:
Soap bubbles floating while you do the dishes,
A breeze that comes across your face,
The buzz of the summer locust,
Cardinals singing their tune each morning,
Flowers in bloom,
Butterflies,
Laughter,
Children giggling,
Warm, life-giving summer air,
Puppies licking your face and wagging their tails....

What are your gifts that cross your path? 
Why not take a few minutes to ponder those and write them down!!!

Then, I listened to one of my favorite songs on Christian Radio is 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman the other day....Let these words sink into your soul:

Bless the Lord, O my soul.........O, my soul.
Worship His Holy Name....
Sing like never before......O my soul, worship Your Holy Name.

The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing your song again
Whatever made possible
Whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening come.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul.
Worship His Holy Name.
Sing like never before, O my soul
Worship His Holy Name.

Your rich in love and your slow to anger
Your Name is great and Your Heart is kind
For all your goodness I will keep on singing,
10,000 Reasons for my heart to find.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul.
Worship His Holy Name.
Sing like never before, O my soul
Worship His Holy Name.

10,000 Reasons for my heart to find.
Let me be singing when the evening comes....
I hope you'll be singing when the evening come tonight!!!


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Awareness and being awake to life!

I was talking with a friend the other day about how her life had changed in the last 6-7 years.  I asked:  "What has changed so much?"  Her response was that she loved being "awake" to what was truly going on in her life!  Awake in her relationships with her kids and family as well as being awake in her relationships with her co-workers and what made them "tick."  And, being awake to what  was happening in her life and why....

Think of it:  being awake means being aware - aware of your surroundings, your lifestyle, your choices, your gifts and talents, and your strengths and weaknesses.

I have learned over the past 17 years that awareness is an incredible concept!  Only if we are aware of a problem, can we solve it, resolve it and/or change it!  Only if we realize there is something we need to change can we change it!  Only if we know we have an issue, problem or concern can we do something about it!  Only if we are conscious of something can we make a different choice or  make a difference in our little corner of the world.

Imagine - if each person took responsibility for  being aware of their own issues and focused on overcoming them or resolving their own issues/problems - how different the world would be!

Let's take it one step further:
Awareness, Acceptance and Action are the three "A's" that improve our lives!
Once we become aware of an issue or concern, then as we accept it, we can simply acknowledge it as real, and finally we can we take action to change it!

The Serenity Prayer is one that is universal in nature - no matter what situation a person is dealing with, the Serenity Prayer can become the avenue that creates a change in our attitude and then, offers the potential resolution of a problem,  concern, or issue.  Awareness can bring healing and wholeness as well as forgiveness to our hearts and relationships.

If you don't know this Serenity Prayer, I hope you will write it down on an index card and scotch tape it to your bathroom  mirror until you memorize it!!!
Seriously:  Try it - it works!!!

God,
Grant me the Serenity to Accept things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And,Wisdom to know the difference.

Ahhh....what a difference this prayer would make in so many situations in my life!  In every person's life,
IF people were just aware of this prayer and the promise it holds for each of us - day after day, moment after moment.

What a difference it would make in  a person, in a family, in a school, in a church, in a city, in a state, in a society, in a government, in a country, in our world!!!
What a difference it would make if we were dedicated to pray it each day!!!

Do I see a glimmer of hope in your eye?  Create the awareness today in your own heart!!!

Monday, January 2, 2017

MAGNIFICENCE


MAGNIFICENCE

 

Have you ever experienced something magnificent or had a sense of magnificence???  Something so wonderful, so splendid, so grand that you stood in awe and wondered:  “How in the world has this come to be?”

 

Think of the all the magnificence of nature:  A one hundred year old Red Wood Tree in Muir Woods, CA, or the splendor of a Peacock tail fanned out so beautifully, or the stripes of a Zebra, the mystery of a Hummingbirds wings, a Rose unfolding its petals, Butterflies, Lady bugs, a Purple thistle in a wheat field, or a resplendent Rainbow in the midst of a thunderstorm!

 

Then, contemplate the magnificence of architecture:  The Egyptian Pyramids, Petra in Jordan, Rio De Janeiro Statue of Jesus in Brazil, The Famous Landmark in Taiwan, The San Francisco Bridge, The Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island, The Rome Coloseeum, or The Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany!  How many more categories can you think of that are magnificent?

 

Magnificence is grandeur, brilliance, splendor, luster, majesty, nobility, royalty – in some ways magnificence places a Halo around the thing of beauty that our eyes behold!!!

 

Today, I was reading a devotion called the Gift of Life by Fr. Kenneth Grabner, C.S.C. in the Living Faith devotional magazine.  This is what he wrote based on

I John 2:25:  “And this is the promise that He made us:  Eternal Life.”

 

“Life is God’s precious, loving gift to us.  It begins in the womb of our mothers and then goes through a marvelous transformation when we are born into the world.  Then we grow in our ability to give and receive love and to appreciate the magnificence of all that God has created.  We learn how to appreciate beauty, and we discover how to develop the gifts and talents God has given us.

We have many reasons to be grateful for this gift.  But it is only the beginning of what is to come.  God’s promise is that we will be born from the womb of this world into eternal life, where we will go through another marvelous transformation.  Our experience of a love relationship with God and His creation will be ecstatic and will grow without end.  God’s promise is always a deeper life.  We are in for one joyful ride!”

 

One JOYFUL Ride!!!  Imagine that!  God has so many beautiful things planned for us – so many surprises along the way!!!  Magnificence is all around us…..how can we notice it?  How may we partake in it? 

I think the key is exactly what Fr. Grabner said:  “To discover how to develop the gifts and talents God has given us!” 

 

And, our Pastor Brad Fogo gave us wonderful ideas on New Year’s Day to imagine what God wants to do in our lives in 2017:

 

Imagine if you and I each started looking for ways to grow in our ability to give our talents away and do what we do best in the year 2017?

Imagine what good we could do to help others!

Imagine what needs we could supply for those less fortunate than we are!

Imagine what we could learn to appreciate….

Imagine what relationships we could make better!

Imagine if we did our job better than we ever have before?   

Imagine if all people who claim to love God shared that with their neighbors?

Imagine making your personal walk with Jesus more faithful, more obedient, more true?

 

Imagine the Magnificence of glorifying God in everything we think, in everything we do, in everything we say….Wow!  That would be MAGNIFICENT!!!

 

Monday, December 19, 2016

TheTwelve Days of Christmas defined...

Here is something I came across from an old email from my mom....from a Christmas long ago......she loved this song and loved this definition of each of the verses!!!

"There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me.  What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas???  This week, I found out! 
From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly.  Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics.  It has two levels of meaning:  the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.


The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testament
Three French hens stood for Faith, Hope and Love
Four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
Five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament
Six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation
Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit - Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhorting, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy
Eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes
Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit - Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control
Ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments
Eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples
Twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostle's Creed."


So, there is your history lesson for today!  This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening.  Now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol - so pass it on if you wish!  The composer is unknown yet it is considered a "Traditional" carol.


Merry Christmas to Everyone!!!