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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Oh Great Light of the World

It's that time of the year again...time to put up the Christmas tree. And with the Christmas tree comes the lights.
In the case of my family it means A LOT of lights. And unfortunately I'm the only sibling who learned how to put lights on a tree correctly from my mom. This wasn't so bad when we were all living at home, but now it means that I have to put up three trees, mine, my mom's and my sister's.
Mom has a bad back, so she can't do the tree thing anymore, and my sister claims ignorance as to how to make the lights look right.
So, Mom's tree went up last Wednesday, but she bought a pre-lit last year, so it didn't take long (though I don't think there are really enough lights on it, I won't complain because I didn't actually have to put the lights on!)
Crystal's tree went up Saturday, well we started on it Saturday. This tree was massive, 9 ft tall. We're talking huge. I put over 6,000 lights on Saturday (it took from abou 3 in the afternoon until 10:30 at night to get this accomplished!) I finished up the last quarter of the tree last night, ending up with about 7,000 lights at least. The end result was totally worth the time spent because it looked good (in the opinion of my 2 year old niece anyway!)
The true test of the tree for me is how it looks from outside, and the tree shone brightly, so I counted it a success. The trick? Putting white lights on the inside to make the colored lights on the outer limbs stand out more. It just gives the whole tree a bright glow. So its whats on the inner branches that makes the tree.
Christians are the same way. We all want to shine brightly, but the way we shine is affected by what we have on the inside. If we are letting Christ completely fill our soul, we will have a light that all can see.
But if we hinder our relationship with Christ by allowing sin into our lives, our lights will begin to look dim. And if we continue to go on and on with unresolved sin, our light will be just a tiny flicker in the midst of the darkness.
I want to be a bright light. I want to have a relationship with Christ that keeps me shining for all the world to see! I'll leave you today with the words from one of my favorite Bebo Norman songs:

Oh great Light of the World,Fill up my soul, I'm half a man here, So come make me whole. Oh Great Light of the World, Come to impart, The light of Your grace, to fill up my heart.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

That Blessed Hope

I hope that all of you had a restful Thanksgiving weekend, where you truly focused on the blessings of life. I had a great one!
And it was topped off by a great sermon yesterday morning. My grandpa preached on "That Blessed Hope." Talk about something to be thankful for!
We as Christians all have that blessed hope. We know that Christ will return one day for His children. (And I believe that day is very near!)
My Bible in 90 days reading brought me to the book of Revelation last night. I was reading through the chapters about the 7 seal judgements, the 7 trumpet judgements, and the 7 vial judgements. And I started to think about how awful it would be to live on earth during that awful time.
And I was reminded again how blessed I am to have that hope!
Not only do I get to escape the earth during that awful time of tribulation. I get to live in a city that Christ Himself prepared for us. Check out these verses from Revelation 21 about that city:

9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia
in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits thick, by man's measurement, which the angel was using. 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.
21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.
22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Sounds gorgeous doesn't it? Foundations made of precious stones. Filled with the brightness and glory of God. And did you catch what is said in verse 27? Nothing impure will EVER enter it. Sin will be gone forever. Satan's influence will be destroyed.
Yes, I'm very thankful for that blessed hope, and I'm watching for Christ's return everyday! What about you?

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Place to Rest

Last night I braved the winds and rains here in NC to go to Rooms to Go. I've been looking for a new bed, and I finally decided on this one:

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And I went out to buy it. So last night I was thinking a lot about rest. Physical rest that is.
See, my mattress isn't in the greatest condition anymore, and I needed a new one that would help me to get a more restful sleep. (At least that's what I hope it does!!) I mean I sleep, but it's not always the best sleep.
That got me to thinking about spiritual rest. Christ tells us to come to Him, and He will give us rest (Matthew 11:28)
But how many of us are truly taking full advantage of that rest? Are we giving Him our problems but still tossing and turning about how He'll handle them? Christ doesn't want us to continue struggling. He wants us to rest. He wants us to sleep sweetly in the knowledge that He is in full control.
So the question is, how are you resting? Are you sleeping in the sweet peace of God's control, or are you tossing and turning and trying to handle things yourself?

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Martha and Mary in Me

I'm down to the last 12 days of my Bible in 90 Days reading. It seems like Satan is trying his hardest to keep me busy to keep me from accomplishing my goal. The last several nights I haven't gone to bed until after midnight because I was doing my Bible reading.
But the more I read, the more I'm blessed. I was especially blessed on Monday night when I read this passage from Luke 10:

38Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
39And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
40But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
41And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

I think God brought me to this passage at this very time for a reason. This week and last week have been insane, and I feel like I can understand Martha so well. I have so many good intentions, but there are meals to cook, dishes to wash, clothes to clean, cat and dog fights to break up, a job to go to, etc, etc, etc. And my Bible reading time gets pushed later and later.
And I'm thinking, I really could read this tomorrow...
But Jesus' words at the end of this chapter are just what I needed to hear. The only thing that is truly NEEDFUL is my relationship with Christ, my time spent drawing closer to Him. THAT is the ONLY thing that really matters.
The other things don't matter at all in the eternal scheme of things. Now I'm not condoning laziness or anything, but I need to get to the point where if I only have time to do one thing, that I always pick the thing that matters most in my relationship with Christ. If it's between reading my Bible or vacuuming a floor, I should read the Bible.
I need to be like Mary and learn to spend time at Jesus' feet even when there are other things I could be doing. I need to focus on the eternal and not the temporal!

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Monday, November 13, 2006

He's On Top of That

Have you ever watched the movie Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead? It's a pretty funny movie about a single mom that leaves the country for the summer and leaves her children in the care of an elderly babysitter.
The babysitter dies, and the kids decide not to tell anyone because they don't feel they need a babysitter. The oldest gets a job in "the real world" to keep up with the bills after she realizes that all of the money that their mom left for the summer was left on the babysitter's dead body at the funeral home. She made up a false resume and got a job as an executive secretary for a very flighty boss named Rose.
One of her Rose's only requirements was for the girl to say, "I'm right on top of that, Rose." whenever Rose was on the phone with someone important. The movie shows how the girl comes to find out that she truly wasn't "Right on top" of anything. She ended up realizing that she wasn't quite ready to live in the real world yet, and that she wanted to go to college.
I heard a message the other day that made me think about how much I'm like that. I rush around on my own trying to act like I'm on top of everything. I act like I have everything covered, and sometimes I may seem to have it together for a while.
But then things start to fall apart. I forget to do this, or I forget to cover that. Or a storm comes, and I start to sink. What I need to remember is that I don't have to be on top of everything. That's Jesus' job.
Just like the girl in the movie realized that she wasn't ready to fill shoes as big as her mom's, I need to realize that I could never, ever fill the place of Christ in my life. I could never do His job, and any attempt that I make to take over the reigns of my life will only end in disaster.
Think about the story of Jesus walking on the water in Matthew 14:22-32. The disciples were out in the middle of the sea, and a huge storm came up. They were doing all that they could to stay afloat. I'm sure they were dumping buckets of water left and right. They were probably tying down everything they could. Then Jesus came walking out on the water.
Take a moment to let that really sink in. Jesus didn't come walking out on top of a glassy, smooth sea (though that still would have been a miracle. I sure couldn't do it.) Jesus came walking out on the storm tossed waves. He was walking ON TOP of the waves. He was walking ON TOP of what was troubling the disciples.
The disciples looked at the waves as something that would bring their end. But Jesus looked at the waves as something UNDER HIS FEET.
I spoke last week about how Jesus sent the disciples into this storm and and about how he called Peter to walk with Him on the water and how He calmed the storm. But even before the winds ceased, the disciples should have known that everything was going to be okay. Because the One who had performed countless miracles before them was walking on top of their storm and straight to them.
So no matter what you are going through today, remember that Jesus is on top of that, and that you don't have to be afraid!

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Like Never Before

Last night I went to a revival service at a church near my house. Dr. Larry Brown, the pastor of the church where my brother goes to school was preaching. I love to hear him preach, so I wasn't going to miss going!
He spoke from Matthew 14 about how Jesus sent the disciples away to cross the sea. Jesus knew that a storm was coming, yet He sent them out in the boat anyway. Why would Jesus send them away when He knew that a storm was coming? That's what the preacher spoke about last night.
Firstly, he said that Jesus sent the disciples out into the storm to save them from a greater problem. Jesus had just fed the 5,000, and these people wanted to make Jesus king. I'm sure the disciples wouldn't have objected to being king's advisors. But Jesus knew that He hadn't come to make a kingdom on earth at that time. He had come to die for sinners. So he was saving the disciples from getting caught up in the idea of becoming great and powerful.
Secondly, Jesus sent them out into the storm because He wanted to prepare them for greater storms that would come in their lives. If you read on in God's Word, you will see much harder times for the disciples than this time where they were caught in a storm in the middle of the sea. Most were martyred for their faith. All suffered great persecution. Jesus was showing them that things wouldn't always be easy. But He also showed that just when we think we are going to be overcome by our problems, we can see that Jesus is there, walking on top of what is troubling us. You see, Jesus had already overcome the storm that night. He just needed to show the disciples that He was stronger than the storm.
When He showed the disciples that He was stronger than the storm, they saw Him in a way they'd never seen Him before. Never before had they seen Him walking on the sea. At first they didn't even realize it was Him. They thought for sure they'd seen a ghost. But then Jesus showed His power and called Peter to walk on the water with Him. We all know that Peter began to sink, but Jesus was there to save him the second Peter cried out.
So the question is today, are you going through a storm? Do you wonder why God put you where you are? Just remember, He could be saving you from a greater storm. He could be preparing you for something you will face further down life's road. And He may want you to see Him in a way you've never seen Him before! Just have faith and remember that God always knows what's going on!

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Please Pray

I don't have much time to post this morning, but I wanted to ask all of you to pray for the students of the Eastern Guilford High School in McLeansville, NC. The school burned to the ground yesterday. Praise God no students or teachers were injured, but the school system is now faced with the struggle of where to place over 1,000 students in an already packed school system. They interviewed several seniors on the news last night, and they want desperately to remain together. The community has a hard road ahead of them. Please pray that God grants wisdom to the school board leaders.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Something He Can Use

Last night I had my hair cut by my friend Ari. She will graduate from cosmetology school on the 30th of this month. While she was cutting my hair though she asked me the weirdest question. She said, "Do you mind if I keep your hair?"
Needless to say I gave her a really weird look in the mirror. I mean I don't care what she does with the hair she cuts. I'm not gonna need it anymore, after all.
She went on to explain that some of her classmates needed hair to make color strands. And my hair had not been dyed so it was the best kind of hair.
So some of my hair will do some good for a cosmetology student. And I thought it had no purpose.
It really made me start thinking. I mean to me cut hair is a useless thing, but a cosmetology student can use it to learn their craft. After all, if they are gonna turn hair green, it would be much better for that hair to be a strand that had been cut off someone's head than the hair that is actually on someone's head. Something that I saw as useless has a purpose.
Lately I have heard about several people that others have deemed "useless." See, these people have imperfect pasts. They've gone too far out into sin, and the holier crowd has deemed them unworthy to do anything for God.
When I hear stories like this, it angers me. Because I know that God doesn't throw us away just because we mess up. He doesn't see us as useless pieces of trash. He sees us as something that He can use in spite of our failures.
Now, I can never put the hair I had cut off back onto my head, but it can be used in spite of the fact that it has been cut. I can never go back and undo the sins that I've done in my life, but God can use me in spite of them.
He's in the business of making things new. Abraham lied. Peter denied Christ. Paul murdered Christians. But God used all of them.
Abraham became the father of a great nation, God's chosen people. Peter preached a sermon at Pentecost where 3,000 souls were saved. Paul travelled throughout the earth preaching the Gospel of the Christ he had once rejected and ended up writing nearly half the books of the New Testament. God changed the lives and hearts of these men in a great way.
And He is still in the life changing business. He doesn't condemn us for our past (John 8:11) He makes all things new in our lives (Revelation 21:5) so that we might be used for His glory.
So, do me a favor, never say that God can't use you or somebody else just because of past failures. You never know, somebody with a past just may be the next Peter or Paul!