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Come and See

Please, come and see.

The wise men came to see the baby, Jesus.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry scores of people, a blind man, a bleeding woman, a man seeking healing for his daughter, and multitudes more would come and see.

Countless came to see Him crucified.

After He defeated death, Mary came to the empty tomb, unknowing she was there to see Him.

Jesus himself invited the disciples to come and see where He was going.

This Christmas season we come and see all the lights.

We come and see all the shiny stores with a million gift options for every person.

We come and see all the parties and people dressed up to celebrate.

We come and see all the beautiful trees and decorations.

All of these are wonderful, and I love looking at them, but they are not the hope of Christmas.

We have gotten so far from the original intention of the season that it has also become about coming and seeing a lot of junk too. We rush, we hustle, we plan, we drive all over trying to locate that perfect gift while the deafening roar of a tight schedule is screaming hurry up you have to be somewhere. I am as guilty as anyone.

This Christmas I want to encourage us all, myself included, to come and see.

Come and see the elderly who are alone and shut in.

Come and see the orphans who have no stable place of belonging.

Come and see the sick, physically and mentally.

Come and see the hurting. The crying ones and the happy ones. Oh, the pain that a smile can mask!

Come and see the lonely and the poor.

Come and see the homeless, the hungry, the outcast.

Come and see the addict.

Come and see the widow, the divorced and the single mom or dad.

Come and see the grieving who have lost a parent, a grandparent, a sibling or a child.

Many who are hurting will not ask for help. Support manifests in many forms, but to come and see a soul; to genuinely recognize and gently touch the depths of their story is a gift that no amount of money can buy. It will transform two lives, theirs and yours.

Friends we were given eyes to see. Let us use them to see beyond all the distractions of what is alive and visible and into what is dying but viable.

This Christmas season may we all come and see, and in doing so be reminded that the center of Christmas is a Savior who came to see you and me, dying so that we could freely and without shame, condemnation or guilt come and see Him.

Come and See.

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He is Soverign Over Us

 

We all have circumstances in our lives that we wish were different, and this reality is one of the easiest places the enemy entangles us. You may be in an unstable marriage, parenting a prodigal child, facing addiction, disease or significant loss. Whatever the challenge you have been given may be, it may not have come from God’s hands, but it did go through His hands.  It is hard to live amidst our struggles and remain joyful when we traverse difficult paths. The great danger is that as we walk our routes, it is tempting to compare our journey to another’s. Comparison tricks us into thinking others have it easier or have been given favor. Comparison is a liar, and we believe her far too quickly. Observing others casts darkness into our lives, and it is easy to begin fantasizing about a more comfortable life.  We must recognize fantasy for what it is; a fraud who draws you into his web with unrealistic thoughts of “better things.” In the life of a believer, there ought to be nothing better than walking well in obedience the road our Master has assigned us. Perseverance is not possible if we are self-focused. It is impossible if we are contrasting our journey with someone else’s. It is when we fix our eyes on Jesus, insulate our hearts with His Word, and our desire to please our Savior overshadows that of pleasing our self, that we endure and our weeping is joined by worship, purpose enters our pain and joy joins our journey. Consider 1 Corinthians 7:17~And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life. Don’t think I’m being harder on you than on the others. I give this same counsel in all the churches. (The Message). I pray today, friend, that you and I believe in the plan of our good and faithful Provider as hard as it may be. He is in the midst of every heartache. Fight to be still and know that He is God, and He is good. When we live as though He is sovereign over us, His strength and peace will equip us as we travel. You are loved!

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Not So Merry, Not So Bright??

May your Christmas be merry and bright; so we tell ourselves and each other; creating layers of guilt for those already trying to fabricate merry and bright. I think Christmas has become so secularized in our culture that for many people it is more painful than pleasurable. It has become a time of rush rather than rest, responsibilities rather than remembrance.

For many people this year, Christmas will not be what we have romanticized it to be because we have turned Christmas into something it is not. Christmas has evolved into a holiday that predicates feel-good feelings, happiness and always wearing a smile. Christmas is not about fancy feelings; it is about a faithful Father who sacrificed His Son to secure freedom for sinners like you and me. Happy feelings are circumstantial and many people are enduring unimaginable circumstances as I type.

This year there will be empty chairs around family tables for the first time; not so merry, not so bright. Families will be spilt apart by death or divorce; not so merry; not so bright. There will be a diagnosis weighing on everyone’s mind, making Christmas not so merry, not so bright. Constant reminders of the fallen world we occupy, feelings of loneliness and an emptiness within that cannot be satiated by anything under the sun; not so merry, not so bright.

Pulverized pieces of our fractured lives, and along comes the modernized version of a feel-good Christmas. December 25th is about the joy and the hope we have because a baby boy was born who would become The Savior of a suffering world. The birthday of a baby boy who was born to absorb all our sins so that we may enjoy a flawless Heaven despite our fleshly hearts.

This Christmas, friends pray for protection against the enemy’s attacks of feeling guilty or condemned if your heart is not so merry, not so bright. Hold on to the real significance of Christmas; an eternity of no pain, no suffering, no evil, no war.

Christmas is a time of celebration, but if it is only about the present we will be left with more pain. If Christmas is about celebrating what we have lost, and more importantly, what we are to gain, it will not be perfect but certainly peaceful.

When we celebrate the real message of Christmas, we discover because of Jesus, His peace does mingle with our pain.

May you be surrounded by many warm hugs, empathetic hearts and a message of hope this holiday season. You are loved!

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Standing In the Fog

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My family said see you soon to my dad last week as he took his spot in his eternal home. His departure was brutal, and it was beautiful. There was a cd player gently playing; I’ll Fly Away, sung by George Jones. My mom was at his side rubbing his arm and singing the song. I behind her had just opened my Bible, as my son sat at the foot of Poppy’s bed. Then in the most peaceful posture, his breathing stopped, and he flew away.

I have been trying to wrap my brain around everything that has happened. The processing has been slow. When someone asks, “How are you?” It is difficult to explain. I am in a fog. That may sound like a vague answer, but it is my most accurate explanation. I don’t know how I got there, and I don’t know when I will walk out, but this morning, this occurred to me:

At some point after the storm, you realize that perhaps the fog you are standing in is God’s gentle protection to prevent all the pain from pressing in at once. Gratitude is born even in the fog because we remember His tender mercies weather every season we endure.