Showing posts from December, 2015

New Year Reflection

Here we stand at the threshold of the New Year. 2015 will soon be passed and packed away, living only in the attic of memories.  Looking ahead to 2016, I can guarantee one thing: a lot of living will go into it.

How will it turn out? Only God knows. This chapter may be drama. Perhaps it will be romance. Action adventure. Comedy. Tragedy. Mystery.
Next December, upon reflection, you will be able to describe the events of 2016 – but not now. The best you can do is throw your shoulders back, trust God, and march right in.

You see, although you don’t know anything about the upcoming months, God does – and He will be with you as you travel from mountain top to valley.  Nobody knows what tomorrow holds, but we do know WHO holds tomorrow.

Sometimes, in lonely moments, it feels as if we are alone, but God has promised never to leave you or forsake you – even in the darkest hours.

An anonymous writer captured this idea with these inspiring words:
I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,�…

How to Be Led by the Spirit

You will make better decisions when you are led by the Holy Spirit and this guidance is available to you right now!  As Romans 8:14 says, ". . . those who are led by the Spirit are children of God."

 But this begs the question:  how does the Spirit lead us?  Here are a few ways.

 1)  Scripture:  Search the Scriptures daily, and God will give you a special word that fits your situation.  Whatever you're going through, God has a word for it!  You will never go wrong by living in the Word.

 2)  Prayer:  We fail to find guidance in our prayers because we are too prone to tell God what He should do, rather than asking Him what WE should do.  If we ask, He has promised to grant us wisdom (James 1:5.)  Consider your pressing issue:  Have you seriously prayed about it?

 3)  The Grand Purpose:  Rather than getting hung up on "What is God's will for me?" it might be better to ask, " What is God's will for the world?"  Then, join Him in that glorious cause.…

The Paradox of the Manger

A special Christmas guest post by Ryan Wilson.  Great food for thought:
 It’s near. Can you feel it? It’s that sense of dread as you realize that you forgot to buy a gift for your Secret Santa. It’s that feeling of deflation as you look at your schedule and you realize that you don’t have a free evening from now until December 26th. It’s the season of red and green d├ęcor at Walmart, tacky yard decorations, and obnoxious songs on the radio (If I hear that refrain “We’re simply having a wonderful Christmas time” one more time, I think I’m going to deck someone’s halls!) Verily, verily I say unto you: The Christmas season is upon us once again!

 I may be overstating the negativity that surrounds the Christmas season. It’s not all bad after all! We all love (hopefully) re-connecting with friends and loved ones, and the festivities can certainly be fun. But it’s undeniable that the holidays can be an overwhelming, loud, and stressful time.

 Why do we do this to ourselves? Some may argue tha…

Churches are Like Horses

An old farmer once gave the following advice to their newly arrived rookie pastor:
 "Go slow, son. Churches are a lot like horses. They don't like to be startled or surprised. It causes deviant behavior."
 (I found this little gem in Larry Osborne's excellent book, Sticky Teams)

March to the Manger is a Beautiful Tradition

On Sunday, December 20, Hayward Wesleyan Church will once again celebrate a beloved tradition:  March to the Manger.  We've done this for six years now -- and it is always heartwarming and beautiful.

In the weeks proceeding Christmas Sunday, we encourage the congregation to prayerfully consider what they will offer Jesus for His birthday. We ask every man, woman, teenager and child to plan ahead and give careful thought to this request. (Think about a special Christmas gift for Jesus -- just like you would for all you other loved ones.)

This Sunday, our people will bring their gifts wrapped up (or in a special envelope provided) to the worship service, where they will present them to Christ.

Of course, a financial offering is always appropriate (March to the Manger is the offering), but we ask the church to reflect much deeper than that. What does it mean to offer YOURSELF to Jesus? What new commitment do you need to make? Is there a promise to keep? Is there something you should qui…

My Bad Hearing Does Not Trouble Me

I can identify with this poem by Beethoven and am sharing it in honor of his birthday. . .

 My bad hearing
 Does not trouble me here.
 In the country
 Every tree
 Seems to talk to me, saying, "Holy! Holy!"
 Inside the forest is enchantment
 Which expresses all things –
 Sweet peace of the forest!

 Almighty, I am happy
 In the woods,
 In the woods,
 Every tree has a voice
 Through thee.

 O God, what glory
 In such a woodland place!
 On the heights is peace –
 Peace to serve thee –

 How glad am I
 Once again
 To be able to wander
 In forest and thicket
 Among the trees,
 The green things and the rocks.
 No mortal can love
 The country as I do;
 For woods and trees and rocks
 Return the echo
 A man desires.

I found this at Your Daily Poem

 This poem is in the public domain.

The End of Me

In his wonderful new book, The End of Me, Kyle Idleman shares a counter-intuitive approach to reaching a place to be effectively used by Jesus.  Using the Sermon on the Mount as his launching pad, Idleman says the blessings begin when everything turns upside down and we:

Are broken to be wholeMourn to be happyAre Humbled to be exaltedAre Authentic to be accepted He also states our strength begins when we are: Empty to be filledHelpless to be empoweredDisqualified to be chosenWeak to be strong This book challenges status quo Christianity for consumers.  It is a call for self-denial -- downward mobility -- in order to rise in faith.

A very inspiring and convicting read -- and a great resource for small groups and/or possibly a sermon series.

Purchase here

A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review on this blog.  I was not required to write a positive review.

Christmas is For Giving

Christmas is For Giving.

Santa asks, “What do you want for Christmas?” Little kids write letters with lists of things they want.   That’s a precious thing, and I certainly don’t want to detract from the wonder little children experience at Christmas.

But, at the essence, Christmas is not for getting – it’s for giving!

'Tis the season of unselfishness.
'Tis the season to share with those you love.
'Tis the season to be compassionate for those less fortunate.

It’s not about spending money you don’t have on stuff they don’t need. This year, especially, with financial squeeze we’re all feeling – how about simplifying? How about being creative, spending a little less, and giving a little more of yourself? How about shopping locally, so you when you DO spend, it’s helping your neighbors put food on their tables?

How about giving something homemade? How about giving your time?

How about remembering those who are in need? Did you know that with the  $450 billion Americans spend on Christm…

O Holy Night

The best lip sync of the worst rendition of O Holy Night

Two Dozen Symptoms of Insanity

1) Trying to talk your way out of a problem you behaved your way into.

2) Believing that your situation will get better, but refusing to make changes.

3) Blaming others for your failures and shortcomings.

4) Neglecting the important priorities (God, family, personal health), while chasing after trivia.

5) Thinking you won't get caught when you do something wrong.

6) Lying to "make things better". (You can cover up a skunk, but it still smells!)

7) Hoping money will buy happiness.

8) Procrastination (Putting off the important matters because of the "urgent".)

9) Trying to please everybody.

10) Self-centeredness (The world doesn't revolve around you.)

11) Thinking another person will make you happy.

12) Expecting your children to follow your orders rather than your example.

13) Falling into a pattern of complaint, criticism and negativity. (Gratitude is an important aspect of mental and spiritual health.)

14) Thinking you can fix a problem by yelling.

15) Th…