We seem to be the only house in our neighborhood with an outdoor nativity. Most of the houses around us are decorated with all kinds of lights and displays, with an occasional star mounted up high. Santa and the reindeer are everywhere. So are snowmen and miniature Christmas trees. But the display on your lawn or in your window does not mean much unless Christ is in your heart. So I look to some of my favorite carols to point the way to the newborn King.
O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie! Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light; the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight. The unsuspecting town, filled with grumbling taxpayers and weary travelers, becomes the focal point of God’s divine plan of redemption. The King is coming.
Come Thou long expected Jesus, Born to set Thy people free. From our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in Thee. The King is born with a kingdom mission of forgiveness, salvation and grace. Cast your deepest, darkest burdens before Him, and He will give you rest.
O come, desire of nations, bind all peoples in one heart and mind. Bid envy, strife and quarrels cease; fill the whole world with heaven’s peace. The King, who is the Prince of Peace, longs to heal the broken hearted, mend broken relationships and fill the world with Good News of great joy. Trust His word. Trust His love.
Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break, for a slave is our brother, And in His name all oppression shall cease. The King’s life example, His unmatched wisdom, His cruel death on our behalf, and His resurrection overcoming all sin, guilt and even death itself, cause us to bow before The King of Kings on this O Holy Night.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Rejoice! Rejoice! And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
How well are you doing on your goals for 2013? Looking back over my notes from last year, I discovered I did pretty well in most of them, but slid backwards and into a ditch on a couple of others. I did a couple of rewarding things I did not know I would do when 2013 began, like deep sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and fly fishing in Virginia. I completed two complicated community assignments that have turned out well. (New goal: No new community assignments in 2014.) Dorothy and I discovered an amazing thing about goals—if you write down 5 or 10 goals and put them in a drawer somewhere, at the end of a year most of your goals will be achieved. It is not magic. It is inspiration. How do you set goals?
Broaden the definition of a goal. Some goals are wishes. Others are challenges. Do not limit your goals to finances, health and fun times. I use areas like family, projects, learning, spiritual growth, adventure, work and relationships. Naming a goal or two for each category gives me more than enough for a new year. What do you really want to do with your life? Pray about it. Write it down. Dream a little more about it. Then start living on purpose.
Narrow the target of a goal. The secret to having accomplished a goal is to make it very specific. Set a goal like, ‘Go fishing four times this year,’ ‘Read three books’ or ‘Have a family reunion.’ Lose weight, exercise more and earn more money are not goals. They just burden you down with guilt. Give up soft drinks, park the car farther away from the store, and have a spring yard sale are goals. Do not be afraid to launch out into the deep.
Review your goal. At some point it is good to take a look back to see where your life has gone in the past few months. Things happen. A crisis or two or three may show up. Are you spending your days battered by the winds, or resetting the sails? Press on toward the ultimate goal, the prize of the high calling of your life.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Set sail. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
I am always looking for time. That is because I am always losing it. Time that is. I think I have plenty of it, only to discover that it has gone, vanished. Turn around and where did it go? Where does time go? One person told me they are living on borrowed time. Another said they had too much time on their hands. Is that where it went, or did they just take time and not tell me? Where do I get time? Is there a workshop some place near here where I can possibly make time?
One day I found time. I confess. It was just there so I used it. I was waiting somewhere when I realized I had time—time to listen, time to learn, and time to think. It was great. I ought to do it more often. Now it is winter time. Ice and snow are on the way. At least I hope so, for that is a good time to find time. There is a downside to being shut in, like feeling lonely all by yourself, or, trapped with too many close relatives. But the break in the routine can give us the perspective to see the value of time well spent.
Time is not consistent. When absorbed in a project, book or activity, it speeds on by us. When burdened by conflict, illness or fear, it slows almost to a halt. Some nights I barely close my eyes before the alarm starts ringing. On other nights I hear every tick of our grandfather clock. Psalm 90 encourages us “to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” For me this means that I am to use well the time allotted to me today. Time is a gift of grace. Apply it with wisdom.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Find the time. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.