Stilling Mountains

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Exodus 3:12
And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

This started out as a Christmas gift, that turned into a painting, which turned into an Inspirational post. I hadn’t attempted an Oil painting in years, until my Wife bought me a new set of oils to try. I was actually pleased with the result, which we called “Stilling Mountains”. Then, much like things in this life, whether good or bad, it turned into something more.

No matter what you’ve faced, there will still be mountains to climb. Yet, know that He is still with you, even when you fill alone. The wind that fills like it surrounds you as you’re climbing, may simply be a protecting wind from things we cannot see.

At times, the stillness isn’t the mountains, because they can literally shake underneath us, especially when they’re getting ready to move. The stillness isn’t in the conditions, but in The Conditioner. He stills us for the situation we face.

Don’t allow your mind to overwhelm you, either at the foot of the mountain, or during the climb. Trust in God, and soon, all will be quiet, He will still the noises that distract us. The God that made the mountains knows how to climb, topple, or cover them with a flooding of His power. Either way, He will bring you to the summit, where like Moses, you will see the Glory Of God!

Enoch 365 New Year Post

Public Domain Image
Public Domain Image

Genesis 5:23-24
23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him
.

He walked with God through every season of His life, 365 years of them to be exact. We all recognize the number, especially on January first. Today is day one, it’s the beginning of something new.

If you’re walking with God, you’re beginning a new year together. If you’re not, today is a great day for a beginning, or to begin again. Maybe you’re walking, but your struggling in a battle. Look at today as a new phase in that battle, yesterday’s mistakes do not decide today’s response.

Perhaps you’ve got dreams for this year, new projects you want to pursue. We want to see you succeed in each of them, but to do this, start by walking, not running. Pace yourself, don’t burn out in January what you want to complete in December.

Leaps are important, they can be great, but first, take the steps to prepare for those leaps. Before the tight rope walker walked across Niagara Falls, he made sure that the rope was installed properly. He didn’t just check the one side, he inspected the post on the other side as well. Before you leap, check your landing space.

To do this, takes time. You’ve been given a new year, don’t try to finish everything in a month. Set smaller goals that can be completed periodically, but make them part of a bigger vision. Don’t make a resolution, resolve to live differently.

First, spend some time in Prayer, find out what His plans for you this year are. Then, align your goals accordingly. A righteous man’s steps are not only ordered by The Lord, a righteous man steps in pace with The Lord.

Naturally all this year holds won’t be revealed to us, but the direction can be. We can chart our course through prayer and God’s Word. Some things, like a closer relationship with Him, are always on God’s list.

Another on His list is improving the relationships that matter, including family, friends, and those we seek to reach this year. Our commitment to these precious people must be maintained and enhanced over time. We do this, not to benefit ourselves, but to make their lives better.

Much like a plant needs water, light, and attention, relationships, and goals need nurturing in order to grow. That is really what Enoch spent his 365 doing, getting closer to God, and ministering to those around him. I pray at the end of 2015’s 365, you and I will be able to say the same.

Enoch’s 365

Public Domain Image
Public Domain Image

Genesis 5:23-24
23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him
.

He walked with God through every season of His life, 365 years of them to be exact. We all recognize the number, especially on January first. Today is day one, it’s the beginning of something new.

If you’re walking with God, you’re beginning a new year together. If you’re not, today is a great day for a beginning, or to begin again. Maybe you’re walking, but your struggling in a battle. Look at today as a new phase in that battle, yesterday’s mistakes do not decide today’s response.

Perhaps you’ve got dreams for this year, new projects you want to pursue. We want to see you succeed in each of them, but to do this, start by walking, not running. Pace yourself, don’t burn out in January what you want to complete in December.

Leaps are important, they can be great, but first, take the steps to prepare for those leaps. Before the tight rope walker walked across Niagara Falls, he made sure that the rope was installed properly. He didn’t just check the one side, he inspected the post on the other side as well. Before you leap, check your landing space.

To do this, takes time. You’ve been given a new year, don’t try to finish everything in a month. Set smaller goals that can be completed periodically, but make them part of a bigger vision. Don’t make a resolution, resolve to live differently.

First, spend some time in Prayer, find out what His plans for you this year are. Then, align your goals accordingly. A righteous man’s steps are not only ordered by The Lord, a righteous man steps in pace with The Lord.

Naturally all this year holds won’t be revealed to us, but the direction can be. We can chart our course through prayer and God’s Word. Some things, like a closer relationship with Him, are always on God’s list.

Another on His list is improving the relationships that matter, including family, friends, and those we seek to reach this year. Our commitment to these precious people must be maintained and enhanced over time. We do this, not to benefit ourselves, but to make their lives better.

Much like a plant needs water, light, and attention, relationships, and goals need nurturing in order to grow. That is really what Enoch spent his 365 doing, getting closer to God, and ministering to those around him. I pray at the end of 2015’s 365, you and I will be able to say the same.

Dec 30

 

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Public Domain Image

Today, I wanted to talk to you about today, December 30. People look at this day differently. It can be an odd day. To Rudyard Kipling, Tiger Woods, Matt Lauer, and Bo Diddley it means birthday candles. To other’s it’s a memorial.

Wayne Gretzky won’t forget it, it’s the day he set a new NHL record. In 2011, owing to a change of time zone, Samoa actually skipped the day. The government declared that their citizens would go to sleep on Thursday, and when they woke, it would be Saturday instead of Friday.

A day is memorable because of the events attached to it. Somewhere a person stood up and said this is happening today. They purposed to accomplish something on this day. What will we set out to tie to today’s memory?

Will it be the day we remember doing a, b, or c, or will we, like Samoa, skip the day? Maybe not physically. Oh we’ll breath through it, existing the hours away, but what we’ll we accomplish today?

It can be as simple as making someone smile. A moment making another’s day better, is one worth remembering. Purpose today, not to change the planet, but to improve someone else’s world.

Whatever your plans today, plan to do something for someone else. I know it’s a strange time, not quite the end, and not yet the beginning. Still, it’s a day given us by God. It is worthy of greatness, not in the sense of our own ego, but in the significance of making this day memorable for another.

When you go to bed tonight, your event won’t be reported on the news, Samoa might skip talking about it, but the life you benefitted will remember it. They won’t forget that, on December 30, you made it a day they’ll never forget.

It Doesn’t Have To End

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Matthew 2:23
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene
.

It doesn’t have to end you know. Oh sure, the torn paper will get thrown away, and the tree will come down, but those are just outward things. Christmas, that feeling of awe and wonder, doesn’t have to end.

I know it seems hard to hold on to in this mundane world, filled with trials. You go into survival mode just to get through the week. Mary and Joseph understood it, not long after Christ’s birth, they were fleeing to Egypt.

It’s very easy to allow the constant beat of life’s drum to drown out the wonderful things. It’s a very human thing for you and I to do. However, even, while struggling to survive, The Wonderful One’s heart was beating in Mary’s arms. We don’t have to rely only on ourselves, Emmanuel, God is us!

That renewed sense of hope, that smile, that joy at Christ’s gift to us all, hold it tightly in your chest. Christ’s heart now sets the pace of our own, no matter what we face, it can’t be silenced.

The little drummer boy is more than a Carol, it’s a battle cry. A young drummer used to go out with an army into the heat of the battle. Whether life’s chaos, or Christ’s Quiet assurance, both armies had drummer’s, we get to choose which pace we follow.

Jesus knows the problems we face, and how very real they are. He spent thirty years in obscurity, facing the mundane in Nazareth daily. The Lord also knows though, how very real the hope of the next life is. He secured it for us on Calvary through a cross and an empty tomb.

God was wrapped in flesh to die for us, they tried to throw away the wrapping then as well. The trouble was, He came back, scarred for you and I, but whole. He kept them as a witness of His love. The lights on our fake evergreen may be unplugged, but The Tree Of Light will never be extinguished.

So don’t look at today as the day after, or even starting the countdown to the next. Look at it as an extension of the joy, the awe, and the wonder of Christmas. For the real present is that He is ever with us, and we’re just a heartbeat away from seeing His face!

Being Interpreted

 

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Matthew 1:23
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

“Being interpreted …”, we brush past those words because of the phrase that follows, “God with us.” Who can blame us? Those three so powerful words are enough to captivate the soul! I submit to you today, on Christmas Day, that the ones leading up to it are just as powerful.

Interpret means more than to explain the meaning of something. It also means to translate orally or into sign language the words of a person speaking a different language. We spoke a different language than He did.

Ours was a dialect of dirt, sin, dust, and ashes. His was a conversation of the Heavens, perfection, and the stars. How could we understand Him? The only way, was an interpreter.

God, wrapped in flesh, to interpret His will to us. Jesus did this by living each day, sinless, in a sinful world. He did this by ministering to a flawed people. Most of all, He accomplished it by dying for His creation.

The third meaning of interpret is to
perform a dramatic role or piece of music in a particular way that conveys one’s understanding of the creator’s ideas. He knew that we could only comprehend The Master’s love through the music that was His life.

Like a performance, it began softly, on a dark night in David’s town. We watched Him grow as He sat in the Temple, opening men’s eyes, while still a boy Himself. We saw the impact of His ministry, the miracles yes, but more than that, Christ’s message. Man could lift their head above the dirt, higher than this plain of sin and mortality.

The climax of the piece was Calvary. Did you know that the words being interpreted are also in Mark and John? In John it appears, being interpreted Master and Christ. He explained what it meant to trust in Him. In Mark, it refers to Golgotha, being interpreted, the place of the skull. He explained that death didn’t have to be final.

Most commentators believe that the stable was in a cave. That means His life began in a cave, and returned to a cave in death. Of course, three days later, He left it never to return! The point is, God, the speaker of the Heavenly, came to the most Earthbound thing on the planet to communicate with us.

At His birth, and in His life, He interpreted God to man. In His death, He interpreted Salvation to sinners, and translated our sufferings. God knew how it felt to be forsaken so that we would never be alone.

He spoke our language so that we could learn His. He cried so that we could laugh. He died so that we would be free of death, and was born so that we could be born again.

On this Christmas Day, “God with us” is Awesome. Still “being interpreted”, God walking our world so we could fly to His, is pretty incredible too!

Anticipation

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Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

“I wonder what color it will be?” “Did they get the one I circled, with the special features?” Anticipation, it’s happening all across the globe this Christmas. It means to regard as probable, to expect, or predict.

It’s a word that contains so many others, faith, excitement, hope, and waiting. It’s the expectation of what we’ve been waiting for. To a child at Christmas, it might be a bicycle, to Isaiah, it was a baby.

An old man puts down his quill to day dream. He’s just, under God’s anointing, written his seventh chapter. In Isaiah’s mind, he travels to his anticipated day. He imagines meeting Christ and hoping for the real event.

David, and those before, Abraham, Moses, and Jacob longed to see Him. They anticipated, they believed, they expected. “He will be born… He will accomplish… He will fulfill!” They faced trials, battles, and all out war, but the anticipation kept them going.

We get to read about Him, Christ’s birth, His Nativity. What prophets and kings would pay to know, are passages we’ve committed to memory. In the midst of the turmoil of your season, don’t allow it to steal your anticipation. The expectancy of hope that is Christmas is more than wrapped gifts under a tree.

You may ask, what is there to anticipate for us, this side of Bethlehem? We’ve seen the Angels, read about the wise men, and watched the flight to Egypt. What is left to anticipate? The fact that, every morning not just on Christmas morning, it is real again to us. The heartbeat that filled the stable, now beats within a Christian’s heart!

Christ is born, Hallelujah, Christ is born in us! It’s the anticipation that He still is patient, still is forgiving, and still is kind. He cradles us the way Mary cradled Him. We get to expect His mercy, though not take it for granted. Oh better still, we get to expect to see Him!

It may sound old fashioned, and out of date, but it is still true. Many doubted Isaiah’s prophecy, but He was still wrapped in swaddling clothes. They mocked Christ when He said He would give His life and rise again, until He did. As surely as the manger was filled, and the tomb was emptied, The Lord Jesus is coming.

This Christmas Eve, as you anticipate tomorrow’s gifts, and the new year beyond, take some time. Anticipate what it will be like to bow at His feet, not at a manger, but a throne. Whether as a cooing child, or a loving King, all sorrows end at The Master’s feet. An until that day, we can kneel in prayer, anticipating, expecting, and finding Him there.

Awe At Hope

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Joy fills the night
Awe at hope, now instant
Day is born in moonlight
Life Eternal, a small infant
Mary cradles our dreams
Joseph guards a Heavenly gift
From Herod’s twisted evil screams

Their lives will now be swift
Israel to Egypt, and back again
Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem,
Christ’s climactic battle with sin,
God, man, and wrongs will meet,
Soul’s rescued gladly kneel,
Death conquered at Mercy’s feet

Joy fills our night
We awe at hope eternal
Heaven in our mind’s sight
Mary’s Child now internal
Our hope on Heart’s throne
Shining, Guiding, and calling,
Each of us now His own!

Wonder At our Present

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Matthew 21:15

And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased,

The word is Wonder, or as they said in Old English Wundor. I like Wundor. Wonder is both a noun and a verb. As a noun it means “a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.” Today I’m thinking of course, of the wonder of Christmas.

As a verb, it means to “feel admiration and amazement; to marvel.” A child this week knows what it means, even if they don’t know how to put it into words. It’s the day before, the day before, the day before Christmas. The very thought of it is wonderful to them.

We adults though, we’re jaded. We say things like “It’s too commercial.” “It’s become too much about this or that …” I’m not here to defend what some have allowed it to be, I come instead with hope. Individually, we don’t have to celebrate what others have made it.

You and I can still wonder at Christmas, irregardless of how others see it. Our celebration doesn’t revolve around neon lights and cash registers, it centers on The One in the manger. We can still approach it with the excitement of a child!

Yes, little ones are excited about a gift. If we adults were that way, we’d be afraid of being called shallow. The truth is, we should most definitely be excited about a gift. The gift of Christ!

It is that precious gift that kept Adam’s heart beating. The realization of the promise of Abraham, the dream of Joseph, and the hope of David. He is Isaiah’s Wonderful Child!

Yes, we should wonder at Christmas! Whether you like the lights, the tree, and the cookies or not, personally I do, all can agree on this. We can all return to kneel beside a manger, where God crossed Eternity to save us. The Creator Of Light now swaddled as an infant.

Wonder of wonders, Jesus is born, not only in a messy stable, but in messy hearts. The stable was no accident, it was planned. He was saying, “I Am here to clean up your mess. I’m here to swaddle you as you’re born again, not of this world, but of the one to come.”

Jesus was telling us that our mess is not greater than His mercy. That night changed everything for all mankind. An even though He was most likely not born in December, we celebrate it on that day, and hopefully every day.

So, get excited, dream, even giggle like a child on Christmas morning. Let us wonder at our present, in two ways. Both in the gift of Christ, and the gift of our present condition. We are not yet what we should be, but we are no longer the things we used to be.

Let us wonder at His love, honor His sacrifice, and rejoice at the promise of His soon return! It’s almost here! Get ready, and smile, it’s the day before, the day before, the day before Christmas!

Masters Children, Not Misfits

 

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Luke 7:35
But wisdom is justified of all her children.

“Too often The Master’s Children were mistaken for misfits. That’s okay, we’re in good company. They said the same thing about Him.”

“We’re a couple of misfits”, it’s a line from the classic tv special, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. It’s sung by Rudolph and his Elf Dentist friend. I couldn’t help but think if Joseph and Mary wouldn’t have described themselves the same way.

Yes, they were called of God, and oh yes, they’re willingness helped changed the world, but they recognized the irony. Joseph knew, to others, from the outside, he looked naïve. He knew better, even if they didn’t.

Mary knew, that inside her, was God Incarnate. She knew that God had selected her, regardless of the lies and snickers. Mary knew what God had called her to do. She knew that inside her was The Hope of all mankind.

Still, they were mocked, but that was okay. The Lord reminded me of something tonight, Mary and Joseph were not the first to be mocked. Abraham went out, not knowing where he was going, but God knew. David ran when others said run Saul into the ground. They didn’t get it, The Lord understood.

In short, God was saying, “I know how to bring you through this. I’ve brought others through what you’ve never experienced.” As my Dad would say, our problem is not God’s first rodeo.

He knew how to care for them, even in the midst of doing what even God had never done before, becoming a man. The Lord encouraged Mary by sending her to Elisabeth. Once Joseph received the dream, he never looked back. God sustained them through a desert of loneliness.

Whatever you’re facing, take hope in the fact that He’s brought others through it. God never sends us on a journey that He hasn’t already mapped out. He went to Calvary and back to chart out our Salvation. God knows the cost of what we face. He spent Himself to purchase our redemption.

Your not at the end of your road, you’ve just never walked this way before, He has. See that well, that’s where Jacob stopped to rest. It’s also where the woman of Samaria met Jesus. That place of discouragement you’re at, Moses stopped there too. Of course, just a few yards beyond it, was a burning bush.

At our Church, Point Of Mercy, Pastor Denny Livingston has spent the last year reminding us, that we are not misfits. We are Fitly Framed in the plan of God!