I thought about this past post while I was out in my very cold storage barn getting boxes for storing away Christmas decorations and thought it should be good for another read. It still is very true. And it is short. Short is always good for bloggers, in my opinion.
On Christmas Day I didn’t really want to read according to plan. I wanted to read something on Christmas, so instead, I turned once again to Philippians 2. That piece of Scripture never fails to inspire me. How fitting it was to read one more time about the humbling of God in the person of Jesus. That baby, in the words of Charles Wesley, the second verse of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” voice “veiled in the flesh the Godhead He. Hail the incarnate Deity. . .” tell the singers of the Baby King Jesus.
The God who spoke this world into being took on the form of a servant and made Himself of no reputation. He became common—as common as a newborn baby. Jesus never shrugged off that humility. Babies need constant care. God, in the person of His Son took on such humble humanity.
The omniscient God learned the alphabet as a child. The Creator of the universe learned to build furnishings or houses with his earthly father as a humble carpenter. Oh, there are glimpses of His deity from time to time when He shocked the rabbis in the temple when he was only twelve and then mildly reminded his parents that they should not be shocked that he would be “about his Father’s business” not as a carpenter apprentice, but as the all-knowing Teacher. He who made the wind and sea could also calm them with just three words. “Peace, be still.”
He tried to let the disciples know that He was God but they just did not understand. He was more like an idolic superman. Only until after His resurrection did Peter and John fully understand and never got over the fact that they had witnessed the Transfiguration, and had touched God in the person of Jesus. Why? They didn’t understand because Jesus was humble. He never bragged about feeding five thousand, or walking on water. It was just the way Jesus was. Humble.
In that humble position Jesus became our Great High Priest described in Hebrews 4:15, who could be “touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” The environment in which Jesus lived was anything but sterile. He had a human body that tired and hungered but didn’t get grumpy like we do. He was without sin.
He called himself by the title of Shepherd. Shepherds are not spectacular people. They are common and approachable. And that is how we should be. Common, approachable, but Christ-like. We won’t walk with some supernatural glow about us, but if we walk according to the example of Jesus, people will see a difference and inside themselves, want that same difference too. As we walk into 2018, let’s be sheep that follow closely to the Good Shepherd. He was common, approachable, humble, and made all the difference in the world.
Second Chance Christmas is a novella of fewer than 100 pages in length, by Ruth Logan Herne. Zondervan, 2016 Copyright. I found the book from a Facebook page called “Christian Book Finds” and it was a mere 99 cents. I did not hesitate to download it to my e reader because that particular day, I was looking for a Christmas book that also might be a short weekend read. It more than filled the bill!
Second Chance is a town in South Dakota and the year of this little historical romance is 1890. Seldom does a book hook me on the first page, but this one did. As I ventured into the plot I found something that I often look for but do not find—the absence of a villain. The antagonist in this book is inner conflict on the parts of both leading characters. The plot holds interest and a bit of merry suspense as well. The fact is, the book made me curious about book three in this series entitled, Second Chance Love, which I also recommend. It, however, does not have a Christmas theme.
Since there are still a few days before Christmas, go to Amazon.com if you have a Kindle or e reader with the Kindle app, and download it now, and according to my Kindle’s guide, it will take you about 1 hour and 42 minutes to read. It took me about three hours. I read slowly. Here is a hint: when you type in the title on the Amazon search bar, include Ruth Logan Herne. Herne is a prolific writer with many pages to scroll through. You will want to come back another time to look at more of her heartwarming books.
And, by the way, Merry Christmas!
One of my daughters asked me for a punch recipe this morning. It did not seem to be in my computer file, so I searched for it in an old photo album I had turned into a cookbook of sorts. You know, it is back when the photo albums came with those magnetic pages. Along with recipes, I put other sundry items I didn’t want to lose. I did find the recipe, but I also found this and decided to share it here. It is a very yellowed newspaper clipping that quotes Charles Hadden Spurgeon.
“There was but one crack in the lantern, and the wind has found it out and blown out the candle. How great a mischief one unguarded point of character may cause us. One spark blew up the magazine and shook the whole country for miles around. One leak sank the vessel and drown all on board. One wound may kill the body; one sin destroy the soul.”
Seemed to me that I should not let that yellowed newsprint clipping go silent. I have no idea which book or sermon that may have come from, but I do know it was from the pen of C.H. Spurgeon, known fondly by many as the “prince of preachers.”
Yesterday I had the experience, once again, of having an eye exam and injections into each eye of a clotting agent to abate the bleeders in my eyes that distort my vision. Yes, I always arrive with a certain amount of apprehension which I usually try to hide from the doctor because I really do trust him.
First, we go through the eye exam with the chart that every eye doctor uses. I did get to skip dilation yesterday which is always a nice thing to skip. They test the eye pressure for glaucoma, and they take an eye scan that gives my doctor a picture of both eyes and where the guilty bleeders are located and what they are doing.
Last, the room where the injections will take place. I’ve been doing this since 2010 so it is now quite routine for me. The assistant floods each eye with numbing solution and leaves.
Then comes the quiet, dreaded wait. The numbing drops take a little time to work. I am now all alone. Just the time I need to be calm, a little tinge of fear creeps in. Chase away the doubts and fears with Scripture, I tell myself.
And God’s Word goes to work. Yesterday I made a list in my mind of the attributes of God and additional verses from Psalms about God is my Rock, my Refuge, my Fortress, just a name a few. But the wait seemed longer than usual yesterday.
Waiting is just one part of our lives. We wait for the mail hoping for money! We wait in line at the checkout. We wait for the auto repair, and on and on it goes. Fill those waiting times with conversation with God or at least speak to the person ahead of you or behind you. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a stranger, at least pray for them.
Finally, the wait is over. The doctor appears, gives me a report of the results of the eye scan, asks a few related questions or gives a word of encouragement then rises from his chair. Here it comes—and so quickly it is over. No offense to any readers who are dentists, but in truth, I’d rather have the injections directly into my eye than go to the dentist!
While you wait, don’t let your mind float along in neutral. Reach out to the Lord. With Nehemiah I say, “. . .neither be ye sorry, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) I’d like to say that in my silent waiting I sing. I’m still working on that one! Not.There.Yet.
This was first put on this site in 2012 and if I, the writer, needed to read it again, maybe you need it too. Have a second look, or for new followers, maybe a first look. For the men who follow this site, the message of these two women can certainly apply to many manly lives as well.
These two sisters are often portrayed as complete opposites. Martha is described as the busy one, while Mary is the contemplative one. I always have and always will defend Martha. Martha had leadership skills while Mary was more of a follower. We need both personalities within ourselves if we are to worship God, particularly at Christmas.
My son-in-law, Gary, is often heard saying, “It’s all about balance.” Gary is a combination personality. We have too few of his kind. He is part Martha with a balance of leadership skills and part Mary with slower, thinking skills. When it comes to worship, we must balance the worship with the work.
Clearly, Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the most important part. She was listening. Martha was busy putting on a meal for 13 additional guests. Some preachers conjure up the notion that she was preparing too large of a meal but let me tell you, making bologna sandwiches for 13 extra men would be monumental to me!
I find two accounts of Mary and Martha with similarities. One is in Luke 10 and the other is in John 12. In both cases, Martha serves and Mary worships. In John 12 we find the beautiful story of Mary’s gift of spikenard. Each lady serves sacrificially. Martha gave time and energy and fulfilled physical needs. Mary gave time in worship. They were both right. They were both wrong. Each of them needed to serve with balance. Let’s conjecture here that for the time and the place—they were right for doing what they did.
When it comes to Christmas it is far too easy to get caught up in the festivities. Decorations have to be perfect; the food has to be plentiful and pretty at the same time. Gifts need to be wrapped with perfect bows. On and on the Martha marches to the beat of expectations. Mary, on the other hand, is reading Advent devotionals, and taking time to write a personal note in a Christmas greeting card. Mary is thinking about the reason for the season.
So, I say, let’s have a Mary AND Martha Christmas. It’s all about balance.
I am certainly open to discussion!
Tonight, after a busy afternoon of food preparation that will make the day run smoother for my daughter tomorrow, I am just sitting here reflecting. From 2016 to now, it has ben over all, a good year for me.
I gave up driving last November. I had made the decision that which ever quit first, my car, or my eyesight, I would know to give up driving. Earlier this year I wrote about the day my last car pulled away from my house after 17 faithful years of ownership. It was a good, reliable car until almost like the one-horse shay, it fell apart. I knew my time was up. I am thankful for public transportation that is within easy walking distance, a local Senior Services group that gets me to scheduled doctor appointments, and family nearby to get me other places. Friends pitch in and give me rides too. It all works together for good.
Last November I also was able to get a change in corrective lenses because at last my eyes had stabilized. Typical of macular degeneration, I have good days and bad days. I can still do most things like cooking and maintaining my yard. That’s a good thing. I’ve never been a perfect housekeeper, so fortunately, a few cobwebs that I can’t see just don’t bother me!
Spiritually, to my amazement, I continue to grow. The Word of God just grows increasingly precious. Using an audio Bible is a wonderful way to keep reading the Bible. The audio pushes me along in the paper and ink Bible and the time I spend with God is the best time of each day.
Socially, I enjoy my church family and the group of friends I have at the local Active Adult Center grows and grows. It is so good to be connected to people my own age two or three times a week. It is so good to have a circle of Believing friends there too. It is a fine place to go. I am truly thankful for such a place.
Does life throw us curve balls? Sure. Disappoints happen. Tears sometimes flow unbidden. Maybe it is just growing old, but I have truly learned that God is always, only good.
My wish for you, my readers, is that you will find the fulness of God’s goodness looking back from last November, and looking forward with faith in an all-seeing, all-loving God. He is as near as your call on Him in faith. He is your Good Shepherd. Mine too.
Almost every week on Thursday morning you will find me at a local nursing home. At one time, my mother resided there and after she died, I just kept visiting there as they provided me a platform to hold an hour of time each week with the residents. I use that time to sing, provide a Bible devotional, and time just to chat with the ones who attend.
Since 2009 I have been able to interact with numerous residents. They teach me, and I refresh their memories of when they were young, active Sunday school teachers, choir members, in quartets, ushers, and nursery workers. Many who attend have known Christ as their personal Savior for fifty years or more and some are just babes in Christ.
Some of them nod off not because they are bored, but because that happens when we age and sometimes take medications that make us drowsy. Yet, anytime we sing the classic songs such as “The Old Rugged Cross,” “In the Garden” or the peppy “I’ll Fly Away” they all become alert and join in with their now raspy voices that have lowered from idleness.
Another thing that they remember is the Word of God. An example from this morning inspired me to write this. I have a new resident in the group that always brings her worn and well-read Bible. She is a roommate with a resident who is also a member of my church. They are good for each other. I got them going this morning by starting a verse and challenging to finish it. Oh, they didn’t want to stop, and I didn’t want them to stop! Now, like me, they could not always give the reference, but they did know the book from which it came. Marjorie comes from a family of ten children and she said they all memorized a lot of verses as children and then she taught Sunday School and lots of memory verses.
The minds of these folks are in memory care. They may forget things even now in the distant pass, but what remains? The Word of God’s blessed Word. All day I have had my mind on verses that remind me how God uses His Word in our lives through memorization of Scripture. Of Margorie I think of “. . .from a child thou hast know the Scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation” (II Timothy 3:15) and of Juanita, “Heaven and earth shall pass away but my Word shall never pass away” (Mark 13:31) and of myself, Hebrews 4:12 “. . .for the Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. . and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
When the mind ages, I am totally convinced that it still retains the power of wisdom and consolation found in those verses we have tucked away in our hearts. If you have not memorized Scripture, start today. It will be the bulwark and shield you will need when the rest of things pass away. My good Shepherd will walk with me even when my mind is not holding much else. God has promised
The semiannual time change is now affecting thousands of people and dogs all over our country in places where Daylight Savings Time is in place. There are a few corners in our country that never change their clocks. Smart people.
On Saturday night I usually change only my alarm clock, and the cuckoo clock. The rest of my electronics take care of themselves. My microwave does not change itself and it occurred to me this morning that I look at that clock more often than I think I do. My biological clock still functions as it pleases waking up early now, and gets hungry about every four or five hours regardless of when I eat. I try to take medications at the half hour to wean myself to the time change.
The Bible expresses time more by events than days or weeks, but as one reads it, we do recognize that God’s calendar is certainly not ours. The changing seasons mark God’s faithfulness since the days of the Universal Flood.
One admonition strikes me: Ephesians 5:16 reads, “Redeeming the time because the days are evil.” Satan is busy spreading his evil devices in every place possible. Believers must value the time we are dispensed and use it wisely spreading the good news of the gospel message. We cannot boast ourselves of tomorrow (Proverbs 27:1) and put off using the time given us today to do the right thing. Do it now.