Browsing Category: Salvation

This Process of Pruning Really Hurts!

pruned posiesThere is one thing I especially enjoy in summer and that is the color it brings. Thus far we haven’t had a frost yet to halt the growth of summer. So…that means that the flowers I have blooming are really at their peak in growth and fullness all for us to enjoy, ahhh. Although I am not a ‘master gardener’ I do enjoy messing around and planting and seeing what colors look lovely together. This year I choose soft butter yellow marigolds and a soft purple ageratum for my annuals. They are full lovely and full of blooms. But it was only a good month or so ago that I had to hack them down to nothing, leaving not a bloom to be seen. I also do that when I plant them. I trim off all the flower buds so that they only get concerned about their root system growth and to encourage more bud growth. It works every time! Fuller blooms and fuller foliage.

I have found that there are many lessons learned from observation and as I was walking past admiring my posies it once again came to me that growth hurts. But it has to be that way for our persona to become who God created us to be. The tough stuff that happens in our life will either make us grow closer to Him (allowing that sanctified change in us) or it will cause us to remain stagnant. Remaining stagnant could even cause us to shrivel up inside.

In the book of John there are some practical lessons for the branch (that would be us!)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit”  John 15:1-2

Ask a rose grower if a blossom becomes a beautiful rose without the harsh pruning shear taken to its stem at the right time in the season. They will definitely say NO! And so it is with us. We need the harsh realities of living in this world to help us represent Him! This truth doesn’t make me overjoyed because of sorrow but when it comes I try not to push it away and pretend it hasn’t happened. You may have heard at some time that God loves us too much to leave us as we are. We are here, to show others who He is. So when the trials come that he uses to shape and mold us into that Christ-like image it can be a bit painful!

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”  Romans 6:22

Let’s just say that I want to bear fruit and glorify God with my life. But unless we are willing to allow ourselves to be shown that which is useless and unlovely in our hearts we won’t move forward…

Lord, there are days I am frustrated with my ignorance of the work You are wanting to do in my life and in my heart. You just can’t imagine how I really do want to be all You desire for me for Your sake and to bring You glory. Right now I give myself to You to have and do as You please whatever it takes to bear the fruit of being Your disciple. Not to make me perfect or special or anything that would seem puffed up and prideful. No, just so those who don’t know You would see You in me and be drawn to have a desire to know the King of my heart. I love you Jesus!

Can God Speak through a Fortune Cookie?

Fortune CookieMany years ago while in a spiritual growth spurt I remember being extremely frustrated that in my dreams it seemed as if I wasn’t a christian.  There is probably a doctor of something who has studied this kind of stuff and would be able to tell me why this happens…but that being said, I almost felt like only part of me was saved but not my subconscious.  It really began to bother me in the dreams I remembered.  (I typically don’t remember many of my dreams.)  If I belong to the Lord then I am His conscious and unconscious!  No split personality going on here!  So I began to pray and ask the Lord to please let me know that I am 100% his, through and through without wavering, asleep and awake!

It was but a few weeks from my intense request of the Lord when I had a dream that was incredibly vivid and even in color!  I think most of my dreams are black and white but the few real God-dreams I have had have been in technicolor–vivid and very intense.  I don’t remember who it was that I was with but that we were running and hiding out as if we were being pursued by someone.  I remember scenes of running up and down back outside staircases like on  apartment buildings and then suddenly I was with many others who were being ushered on a train.  I then realized that I had been taken captive.

Suddenly, soldiers were one-by-one taking people like me and executed us with machine guns.  It was soon to be my turn and I remember being grabbed roughly and as the gun was placed to my head and told I was next that I started to sing the chorus to “I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel”. I am not ashamed of the gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ, I am not afraid to be counted, but I’m willing to give my life…”

And suddenly I woke up, completely amazed at what had just taken place in my dream.  You might enjoy listening to this powerful song yourself at the end of this post.

So what about the fortune cookie you are thinking?  About two weeks after this vivid dream that I believe was an answer to my request of the Lord, I found a fortune cookie placed on my desk at work.  We had a youth radio station and it was manned by young adults and they were such a blast to work with and have around and I was pretty certain that one of them had put it there.  so I opened it up and read it and was in total amazement as to what it said (I have to print it out because it is too faded to read from the picture above)…

You begin to appreciate how important it is to share your personal beliefs.

Okay, you may say whatever you want but have you ever seen a fortune with a message like that?  Not me!  And that was a confirmation for me that God not only heard my prayer but he answered it in a very dramatic way!  For some reason I needed to experience what He allowed me to live out in my dream and then it was as if He was said to me that I was His through and through!  Whew, the content of my dreams began to change after that and I no longer doubted whose I was!  And that old, yellowed and faded fortune remains taped to my computer screen at work!

Enjoy and older Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir presentation with Damaris Carbough…

I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel

The Best Dad, Father, Pappa, Ever!

Father's DayFather wounds are very painful and they can take a very long time to heal. We have been airing a program on our radio station that has naturally–because of upcoming Father’s Day–made father the focus. Rightfully so!

One day a year we can honor the man (in some of our lives) that served to be that marvelous example of love, provision, admiration and respect. As I said, in some of our lives. I think it is truly wonderful when people speak of their fathers with the utmost of respect and admiration. But on the other hand, there have been too many poor examples of that fatherhood role exhibited by those who claim the title of Father, Dad, Pop, Papa, etc.

I don’t mean to sound sarcastic about this, I really don’t, I am however standing in for those of us who either had poor examples of fatherhood inflicted upon them or didn’t have a father at all such as myself.

  • Did you have a father who was in the house but didn’t show his love for you?
  • Was your home dysfunctional where your father was missing or maybe you were afraid of him?
  • Maybe you were like me, no father in the picture at all that you can remember?

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Now listening to the gentleman on our program give the most illustrious talk about the man he looked up to and admired with the utmost of respect, his father, made me long for that missing link in my life. I get pretty teary-eyed to think that there can be an earthly man that fills that mold of ‘father’ so wonderfully as the speaker’s father did. Wow! The respect and admiration was more than evident as he shared of losing his father and spending those last days with his hero.

Okay, you are thinking what is this girl’s problem? Can’t she just be thrilled for a shining example of an earthly father. Really, I do think it is wonderful but my heart has been empty for the father that I longed for and never had. I always heard what a wonderful man he was but funny, that wonderful man couldn’t take care of my mother and me. I am repeatedly told I would have loved him as he was such a pioneer type, rugged and fun-loving…but I have only seen pictures of me with him as a baby and as a one-year old.

I understand he came from a family of good fortune but mom went to work to support us because that great guy of a father couldn’t hold a job.When I wrote an aunt to find out some information about my father she told me he was a “disgrace to the family and poor excuse for a human being.” Wow, there was no love lost there! Needless to say, my image of this “wonderful” man was somewhat skewed and the whole scenario of fatherhood seemed quite a mystery to a little girl who remained curious and longing for what she thought others had and she did not.Line BreakIt took many years of very difficult circumstances for me  to realize that I was looking for ‘love’ (father’s love) but that I was going at it all backwards. In my early 40’s my life took a ‘right’ turn by realizing that I had a root of bitterness that I wasn’t even aware of. And this thing had wrapped all around my my heart. If unforgiveness is a stumbling block you might want to read this post on the Toxic Root of Bitterness.

It was 12 years earlier that I had opened myself to the gift of salvation and received Jesus Christ into my heart. But even that didn’t fill my empty heart (or so I thought.) A series of circumstances brought about by my pride, dysfunction and strong will found me miserable and ready to give it all up.

It is remarkable to think that God had a different plan. And part of this journey was acknowledging that the pain in my heart was–for the most part–due to anger toward a man I never even knew. It is hard to fathom how someone you never knew could have such an impact on your life! It was in large part because of the “Freedom in Christ” ministry of Dr. Neil Anderson, that I was able to release that bitterness and begin to see that I really do have a perfect Father now. I still have twinges of longing for “God with skin” like when you want a great big hug from arms that can just pull you in and hold you. So you can snuggle your head into his chest and feel the comfort of all comforts only a daddy can provide. For now that can’t be, but someday, I am going to run to my Abba Father, my Daddy and He is going to embrace me and never let me go.

“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” Psalm 68:5

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Friend, if you have that emptiness in your heart, a hole that just runs on empty because there was no father love to fill it up, I have an answer for you. Will you let the Father of all fathers begin to fill that hole with love that will begin to heal as a balm does on a wound? He is the Father to the fatherless, and He will never let you down, leave or forsake you! Cry out to Him right now, something just like this:

Father in heaven, I am longing to have this hole in my heart be healed. I have looked for love in all the wrong places and have paid dearly for my poor choices. I am so tired of running from one thing to another as I look for whatever it takes to keep the pain from overwhelming me. There are times when I just want to kill myself and be done with this life. As I look up to You, will you receive me just as I am and forgive me for doing my own thing as I searched for something to bring me happiness. Forgive me for the mess I have made of my life and help me to have a clean, new beginning with You. Thank you that by Your Son Jesus, I can come to You and You will hear me and answer and You won’t turn away from but will welcome me into Your family. I look forward to the plan that You have had for me since I was being formed in my mother’s womb and I am going to trust You to be my guide as I learn to love and live for You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

You will never regret making this new beginning. Welcome to the family of God, you are now a child of the Most High God! If you made the decision to receive the free gift of salvation will you let someone know? You can even let me know and I will do my best to send you something to help you on your new journey just email your response to kimberly@kimberlynyborg.com. You can read more about knowing Jesus over at Knowing the Father.

Is There a Prodigal in Your Life?

ProdigalYears ago when my youngest (troubled) son was placed in a facility to get help (he was an unhealthy hazard to himself and others), I was sharing my heart with Amy Shreve (she a harpist and her husband are our friends that we traveled with for some radio rallies.)

The night after a concert here in I-Falls I was so grieved for this son who has had problems since fighting me in the womb, It is true! Too many heartaches and broken promises that he would straighten up go right and that never amounted to success. This mother’s heart hurt so badly to see him fail time and time again.  Not to mention the stress it put on my marriage.

How easy it can be to place blame!  It’s my fault, the father’s fault, the stepfather’s fault, everybody else’s fault but no one owning up to their own responsibility. Living the dysfunctional life I have lived only helped me take on unnecessary blame for a whole host of things that were only partially my fault.

I believe that we are only responsible for the situations that we directly cause and not the speculative ones (if only you…)  If I steal something, I am at fault, not the person who doesn’t lock his door to keep a thief out. “If onlys” are pure speculation! But we can really let ourselves get buried beneath them if we are not wise (or shall I say walking in truth.) Stuff happens, we make mistakes! Acknowledge them, confess them and ask forgiveness of those we have wronged and move on.  How sad when we become buried under guilt and condemnation that really isn’t ours to assume provided we have responded correctly like mentioned above. We can become overwhelmed with false guilt.

Prodigals can be used by God to help us look at the truth in our own situations. Click To Tweet Looking back I can now see that there are things that could have been handled differently and with a whole lot more unconditional love.  But then the child has a responsibility also.  They become runners. Runners from the truth, their pain and anything that gets uncomfortably close to their emotions. They need help to see that their poor choices are what they need to own up to.  I am responsible for my choices and my children for theirs, my spouse His, etc.  It is a dynamic that I just don’t know how people without the Lord survive and many don’t.

I have attached a link to an Oswald Chamber’s reading for March 24 (linked to the image.)  This is what Amy came to show me the next morning when she had been praying for me and my prodigal.  It wasn’t even March but she came upon it and shared it with me and it has had a very profound impact on my thinking.  

You see dysfunctionality breeds false guilt which in most cases won’t let the wrong assume their sorrows and pain that they find themselves in. He must increase… If God is sovereign and in control and I believe He is, then every thing, large and small is used by Him (He is fully aware of it’s happening) to grow us up and closer to Him.  According to Chambers, we can become the very thing that gets in the way of our prodigal learning (yes the hard way) his lessons.  

Some of us have to learn the hard way, I have.  If someone comes along to smooth out the situation instead of letting the circumstances being used to teach the lesson, then that someone has interrupted the class and the lesson may be postponed until a later date and possibly a more severe situation.  The verse for that day is from John 3:30 and it is simple and profound,

“He must increase, but I must decrease”.  

Get out of the way and let God be God and the Holy Spirit do what it is that He desires to do in a wandering… Click To Tweet In modern day terms we would say quit being an enabler!  Friend, I have had to say this to myself over and over because that it what I was so used to doing to try and make things right and work!  But I was the one who continued to get in the way.

So I pray that we would not be in the way of the catylist that the Lord would use to work in the heart of that one who is walking contrary to God’s ways.  

Father, I cautiously say, do it Lord, whatever it takes to break the heart of the wander so that they would look beyond themselves and see You!  I know You will give me the courage to believe that You hold his or her life in Your hands and that Your desire is to see them come to You and give them the peace they have been searching for.  I can even say “thank you” for the hard lessons that I have had to learn because You used them to bring me a bit closer to You each time.  I not only love You Lord, but I trust You and entrust my loved ones to You, in Jesus’ Name!

We are all prodigals at one time or another! Recently Louie Giglio addressed some of this in a powerful message He delivered and shared on Focus on the Family at the end of May 2014. If you have some time it would be well worth listening to some of this first part of his message…

Louie Giglio on Focus on the Family

Need more encouragement for your journey…visit Arabah Joy, my blogger friend!

God’s Divine Appointments!

I was involved in the Bible Study, “Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer and we had an assignment to respond in obedience to the nudging of the Holy Spirit–in other words, to act upon the promptings we can get that may seem a little ‘out there’.  You may have had those promptings like I have and you may have received incredible blessings from being obedient to the call.  However, I have also sometimes ignored them and not responded to that nudging with the justification that “I can’t do that” or “What would that person think if I did that.”

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-tattered-background-image9202084When I sing “Here I am to Worship…,” I know that to worship God is to revere, adore and acknowledge Him for who He is.  But there is also another part of worship that encompasses what we do with our life on the horizontal plane.  My mantra continues to be “Love God and love others” but I need help with all that entails.  I do not necessarily need to round up the troops to head over to India to be on the mission field.  That could be the call to some but I have a mission field right here in my own backyard.  Wherever I am and whatever I am doing provides an opportunity to make a difference in my “sphere of influence”.  However, I want to take this to another extreme only because every time I have let an opportunity go by without sharing the gospel when the door was planted and opened right in front of me, I knew that I blew it!  I felt such disappointment with myself and had to ask the Lord to forgive me for cowering away from such a prime moment.  I am reminded in the book of Esther when Uncle Mordecai admonished Esther that if she did not respond in obedience to the call placed upon her to confront the evil plot against the Jews God would raise up someone else to do the job! And, Esther herself might perish with the rest of the Jewish people that she had been called to rescue.  Strong words! Well, Esther did heed the warning, asking the people to fast and pray for her opportunity to go before the king.  It was her obedience that saved a nation!

On a recent return trip to Minnesota with my daughter, we did not have a direct flight and I was grateful that we could just be casual about the extra hours of waiting and flying without having to run to catch our last leg of the trip.  We finally boarded in Dallas and, since I fly a little bit more often than she, I gave her the opportunity to sit by the window before I sat down.  The isle seat remained open until the gentleman in the row ahead of us (after helping my daughter stow her carry on) was booted out of his seat because he mistakenly read his seat number when someone came to claim the seat he was in him in our row.  He was a quiet man who busied himself with reading the newspaper.  I waited until after he had read his paper, because there is nothing more annoying than being interrupted by someone asking you questions when you are reading!  Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a rather large ring on his hand which I soon discovered had Vikings imprinted on it.  Hmm…and, of course, I got my daughter to notice without too much fuss.

We began our conversation by my asking about cab service out of the Minneapolis airport.  I have never needed to take a cab before, but our Monday return had our friends working and unable to pick us up and take us to our car.  I will spare you the details of a two hour conversation, but I have continued to thank God for opening up a door to share a message of hope to a man who had some stuff going on in his life from serious physical issues, a pending divorce and some personal stuff he was trying to work through.  I was able to share Scripture with him because I could sense some uncertainty about his future.  Philippians 4:6,7 is certainly where I go camping when things look obscure, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; then the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus.”  I also encouraged a relational walk with Jesus.  He seemed like so many of us who find ourselves at the end of our rope with no way of turning things around and wondering what the point is in going on!

I have since prayed for this man, his health and marriage and I can only thank God for the fulfillment of this Scripture in 1 Peter 3:15 “…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…” Peter makes it very clear to me!  Now, on to my next assignment. So simple; just take the step of obedience instead of wondering if you should because God has already paved the way!

Unashamed of You

Better Than A Hallelujah

Psalm 121 in woodsSharing the story of a desperate heart over at the #Loft today to remind us that God is there at the perfect moment, even when despair is ready to consume us, and it is never too late…

I spoke to a lovely group of ladies, where a  beautiful young lady was asked to do special music for the event.  I knew the song but never really paid much attention to it until that day, hearing it sweetly and gently sung by this precious woman.  I hadn’t realized that some of the lyrics in the song really spoke of my story and my journey of coming to Christ and delivering my marriage.  I just couldn’t get the song out of my mind.  (Interesting how God really does put things together since she and I didn’t even know each other!)

God has given me specific verses that I use to encapsulate my story of being a desperate young mom who had exhausted all her efforts to ‘make life work’ or ‘make sense’.  Instead, all I kept doing was digging my hole deeper and deeper with every poor choice and mistake piling in upon me and weighing me down so that every attempt to climb out only felt like trying to pull myself out of quick sand.  I was being sucked in and frankly, I was just about at the place of letting go of all hope, figuring I would never find ‘happiness’ and I just wanted to give up.  However, that was the place or point where God could finally do the work He had planned all along.

The chorus of the song that was sung by the beautiful guest vocalist was so fitting because I was there, I was a broken, miserable and pretty desperate mess of a woman, failing in all of my attempts to find happiness.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of a breaking heart,
Are better than a Hallelujah…

I am reminded of how patient our heavenly Father is with us.  He really does know that some of us have to bottom out not only once sometimes more times as we stubbornly keep trying to do things “our way” instead of pleading for help.  This only reminds me of how kind our Father truly is toward His wayward children.  Another line from the song:

The tears of shame for what’s been done
The silence when the words won’t come,
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

The verse that speaks so clearly of the day that Jesus rescued me from everything that I had attempted to do on my own in an effort to find peace is from Psalm 40:1-3:

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.”

God, my Father, could have left me flailing, trying to continue in my useless efforts to get out of my self-made pit…but He didn’t!  He heard the broken cries of one who finally let go of trying to “do it on her own”! Instead  He knew I was truly ready to be plucked out.  

Here is Psalm 40:1-3 once again but from the Message paraphrase:

I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God.

My life hasn’t been the same since the day I gave my broken Hallelujah to my God.  I am very encouraged to know that the heart song we sing never goes unnoticed by the Father!  He never turns His back on our cries. Like the verses above read, He is patient in His waiting for us to finally say we can’t do it on our own, or by ourselves!  Help, help me Lord…

Are you at that place today where a broken Hallelujah is all you can muster or where out of sheer desperation your heart is on the verge of failing and you just can’t go another step on your own?  Oh my friend, God has been patiently waiting for this very moment when you would lay down your self-made efforts and allow Him to ‘bring you up’, up out of your own miserable pit.  He is your rescuer, your deliverer and your present help in times of trouble.  I urge you to cry out to Him now, give Him your broken Hallelujah, He not only cares for you but He loves you and He won’t turn His back on you!

We Can Be Overcommers!

Do you know someone who has been affected by abortion? Maybe you were a man who lost your baby to abortion…poor choices…regretful decisions. Maybe you are a woman who found yourself pregnant from taking just one step beyond where you should have gone with your boyfriend, or found yourself a victim of someone’s abuse and then found out you were pregnant…you were convinced that there was only one thing you could do.

If you or someone you know is living with the regret of having an abortion, I want you to know that there is hope that you can overcome the bondage of making poor choices. Poor choices that are used by the enemy of your soul to keep you from walking in freedom, to keep you from living with joy in your heart. Instead you wear regret as a chains around your neck, one for each sin you have committed and not received forgiveness for. They are heavy and they weigh you down and not only that but they will keep you from experiencing joy. Oh friend, that is not what your Father has intended for you.

I stuffed, I forgot, I ignored my pain for years and pretended that I was just fine. I never talked about it, I never shared with someone close, I kept it neatly packaged in my heart. I became a Christian at 30 and four years later I had to deal with my sinful choice to abort. The lie I believed was that the church would never understand so I still kept very quiet and guarded if I shared at all. You see, I knew how God felt about such things…like murder…I allowed someone to convince me that it was no big deal to abort…after all it was only tissue mass.

But my Father God had something planned to help me understand His marvelous grace…this is my interview with Kim Ketola, host of Cradle My Heart, which aired on Sunday night (Sanctity of Human Life Sunday in 2014.) 

At last I had peace knowing I was loved, forgiven, and able to forgive myself…and that is why I wanted to share and let others know that they too could forgive themselves for their sin. 

Please, let others know that this program, Cradle My Heart, is on to encourage and help those who have made that regretful choice to abort. Let them know that there is hope and receiving forgiveness through Jesus Christ is the only answer as we lay our burdens down at the foot of the cross. Locally the program is heard at 8:00 PM on 91.9 FM, on Paul Bunyan Television channel 979 or online at www.cradlemyheart.org/radio.

This was my best because it was an offering to the Lord for my wrong and my willingness to be able to finally say…I AM FORGIVEN! No turning back. Enjoy this song by Lauren Daigle, How Can It Be…

A Christmas Greeting…

It’s Christmas time!  Everywhere you go people are rooting around for gift giving, holiday baking and party planning.  I really feel like something is wrong with me this year. My melancholic other side has really kicked in. Normally I am the sanguine, dress me in red and send me off all smiles and laughter…but now it’s different.  Oh, I don’t think I am depressed, just rather reflective.  I’ve been peering hard into the nativity, listening to the various teaching programs present the story of Christ’s birth and well, really soaking it in.  Can it really be that after 28 years as  a believer that it has suddenly hit me…that the baby born in a manger…God’s only son…came to die for me and I am just getting it, I mean really getting it?  No, I know these things, however it is remarkably different as I just seem to be looking beyond the surface, pondering the very stark reality of this event that we make fuss over year after year. 

It has been so good for me to see just how very teeny tiny I am in light of who He is.  I am barely capable of even trying to comprehend this God that I am somehow deeply in love with.  Itsy, bitsy me knows that the Maker of heaven and earth loves me, desires my affections, and continually walks with me to bring Kimberly His very best, every day.  Not only that, the King of the universe, the One who hung the stars in the sky even sings over Kimberly when she is sleeping.  I can barely contain myself when I think of that!

The very understanding of these verses in John are so remarkable as they reveal Christ Jesus to us from the first five verses in the book of  John:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  In Him was life, and the life was the Light of Men.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” 

These verses are proof that the Majesty came to invade our world of darkness so that we would no longer be in darkness.  He came to provide  life where there was only death!

When we read the Christmas story and get to the part of shepherds witnessing the revelation of the birth of Jesus in Luke 2, I am in awe!   

“In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” 

I listened as the Bible teacher from a program we carry on the radio talked about the fact that these shepherds who received this revelation were really the lower class of society in that day.  Dirty, stinky, sweaty and probably pretty course in their language, yet God made them privy to the realization of a story told hundreds of years before.  They were some of the first to witness this baby born in a disgusting cave filled with animal refuse  and dirt.  How can it be?  And how can it be that God has allowed one like me or even you, to come to know Himself as Trinity?  This amazing event gave us the reality of the Creator Himself!  If that doesn’t humble you just a bit then pinch yourself to make sure  you are really here! 

My past has been an ugly stumbling block to receiving God’s amazing grace.  It has held me captive with unbelief that God could love me because of _________ (go ahead and fill in the blank if you can identify.)  Maybe this Christmas is a year where after almost 29 years of having known “Christ as my savior”, that I  am able to freely receive what was given to me over 2000 years ago.  Not because of something I have done, but because I now realize that my Creator invaded my messy life and pierced my heart with His love.  Like the unlikely shepherds who were given the revelation of Jesus birth, I too am the unlikely to receive this gift of love. 

It could be that you have gone through the motions year after year like I did without really internalizing the actuality of God becoming flesh, to dwell among us, then to die so that we might live.  It is simple yet complex and as one song puts it “what a strange way to save the world”!  I have looked at myself as the most unlikely and accepted His love which completely invaded my messy life and this has given me hope for my tomorrows!  Peer deeply into the manger scene and ask God to give you His perception of what this “Christmas celebration” is really all about.  Then like me you can truly rejoice in the Savior that has come.  May His Christmas blessing be yours! 

“Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” 

God So Loved…

candle-64179_640This is the season of lights. If you are Jewish, you celebrate Hanukkah — or Festival of Lights — originally a celebration of the rededication of the temple at Jerusalem after it was defiled by the Greeks. Hanukkah also celebrates the miracle of the lamp, which provided light for eight days despite a lack of oil.

During this time of Advent we use candles in the four weeks leading up to Christmas expressing our anticipation as we await the coming of the Christ child.

We use light at this time of the year with candles and electric lights. The lights represent the Christ, who through His death, burial and Resurrection brought light to earth.

1 Peter 2:9-10 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light, for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God, you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (emphasis added)

The Message paraphrase reads: “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you — from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when He arrives.”

God so loved the world. … When God came in the flesh—Jesus–He made us to be bearers of His light. This is an incredible show of God’s extravagant love for us. Whether it is working in Christian radio, bringing the Good News through word and song, women who mentor others as they lead and show the way, or simply being available to bring the Light of Christ to those around us, this world desperately needs Jesus!

Matthew 5:13-16 says, “We have an obligation or mandate to be light bearers! You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.”

God so loved the world. …Every single day you rub elbows with someone who needs a touch of the light in their world. Your responsibility as a child of God is to project His light into the darkness:

  • When things are difficult, why are you able to stand firm in your convictions?
  • When your marriage is failing, why are you able to forgive the wrong and love that spouse in spite of what might have happened?
  • When someone has hurt you terribly, how is it that you are able to forgive and love them?

I will remind you as I do myself often, this journey we are on is not about us. As believers in Jesus, our purpose is to serve the Lord and bring or have an impact on bringing others to Christ. Ah, you thought there was something in it for you? Well, yes, you are being used to help build God’s Kingdom, not your own.

God so loved you so that you would shine brightly and be used to bring others to the light. So my friend, this is no time to shrink back…shine!

(reprinted from an article in Living Stones News)

Holiday Madness!

Photo from the Daily Page - Madison, WI
Photo from the Daily Page – Madison, WI

It is Christmas time and for most of us the season begins around Thanksgiving.  We typically shift gears right after the turkey dinner into Christmas.  Of course if you are a television person you may have the tradition of watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  (A tradition since I was a young girl.)  I was nine when I moved to New York City and on my first Thanksgiving there I was treated to getting to see it in person!  That was exciting and chilly as I stood there watching, feeling quite small as I tried to see the floats go by.  So I have sometimes had that on in the morning background while cooking in the kitchen and specifically when my grandsons are home.  It truly jump-starts our holiday celebrations and can make me feel like decorating!

I can remember the days of late night baking, making and decorating that although nice to have, thoroughly exhausted me by the time Christmas actually came. I wasn’t really pondering the nativity scene. And with all that baking, no wonder I would put on several pounds throughout the end of November and month of December! No surprise that when the day came I was cranky and lacking energy from all the late nights, poor diet and no exercise. This makes me tired just thinking about it! Then the new year comes and we have to make all those resolutions that end up getting tossed aside after a few weeks or a month if we are really diligent.

Snowflake DividerSo how can we be kind to ourselves and those we love without over-taxing, over-spending and over-indulging ourselves? It is hard and I will be the first to admit that my will power is weak and wimpy this time of year! I guess one could shop and bake throughout the months leading up to Christmas but that typically doesn’t happen! So as I have been thinking about this I have some thoughts to share.

Over-taxing ourselves can lead to physical fatigue and then we succumb to sickness especially when we are around it. It is vital to keep the immune system boosted and fighting all those ickies that float around in the air and are on things we touch in public places! Sure we can carry our sanitizer with us but if we are taking care of ourselves then our immune system is able to do what God created it to do and ward off the ‘stuff’ that wants to invade our bodies.

Take care of yourself during this stress-filled time of year!  It seems that everything is heightened (the good and the negative) and we become emotionally drained.

  • Make sure to get lots of rest and try to eat healthy (sorry but that means to avoid sugar like the plague!)
  • Freely use your vitamin C (love that 1000 mg dose in an easily consumed package!  Stir into a little water and voila, it will go a long way throughout your day. (Just don’t take it too late in the evening or you won’t sleep!)
  • Stay hydrated.  Winter is always dry and most of our homes are more so in the closed winter months. Unless you live in the south!!! (I struggle with consuming water throughout the day but try.)
  • In the process of doing all you can do to stay healthy, visit my Zeal for Health page for information on supplements that take to keep me moving!

How is it that we know what is good for us but struggle to do it?  Sounds like the familiar words of Paul, “…for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate…” Even Saint Paul struggled to do the right thing. It is sometimes just a simple, ‘right now, I am going to make a conscious effort to do what is right’! You will be encouraged when you do. And we are reminded that we must take care of this temple God has given and that the Holy Spirit resides in, don’t neglect this!

Prince of PeaceWe all know that over-spending this time of year is typical. I don’t know about you but a gift-giving budget is just hard for me! One of my love languages is gifting so it is extra hard for me to reign in. However it helps to have a husband who is ultra conservative on matters like spending and so we are back and forth as I try to show him the “somewhere in the middle” range of spending:0) I have started to ask my kids and grandsons for a list. That way I can have a choice pricing-wisely and yet be able to gift them with something that they really would like to have. It is also nice if one can put funds aside throughout the year to use toward the gifting fund.

Gifting is a wonderful thing and we know that Jesus himself said in Acts 20:35 “that it is more blessed to give than to receive.” A few years back we decided that we would let our grandsons see giving done in the spirit of blessing those who don’t have. We looked through our Samaritan’s Purse catalog and let the boys choose a gift to give like a dozen ducks or chickens and we even purchased a goat to be given in their name another year. The whole gift thing should be focused on the fact that we give because God first gave to us His Son Jesus! We have certainly carried that to the extreme!

Snowflake DividerThen the over-indulging issue! This tends to be one of my worst sins. I have been completely defeated in this area for way too long! However I had my best year ever a couple of years ago and I am hoping to continue it this year. I confess my besetting sin, gluttony! Not a very nice word to admit to but I am going to call it what it is!

Author Dee Brestin, relates ‘gluttony’ to idol worship and I agree that we can let food replace our need for God in many instances. In the word it says in Psalm 34:8, “O taste and see that the Lord is good…”  I am determining to replacing my excessive food intake with precious time with the One I love. Not only does the consuming interrupt my Godward thinking but look at the prep time in cooking! It is time that a good portion could be given to my Father who waits for me to come and join Him in sweet fellowship! Not to mention Paul’s words again from 1 Corinthians 6:19,20 “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God and that you are not your own?”  He issues the call to “glorify God in your body.” Yikes, I guess for me it will only be a couple of ‘goodies’ and a nice meal or two when the family is home and keeping it as fresh as possible. It is difficult though, I love to cook and feed!  Now I can turn my “feeding” into spiritual food!

Mary Joseph & Baby Jesus
Now This is Peace! From Jesus of Nazareth

Be kind to yourself and those that have to put up with you. Be a joy to those around you and spend your quality time with your Father. You might even enjoy participating in an Advent reading throughout the weeks before Christmas morning. Then, celebrate Christ’s birth!

Celebrating Christmas the way it is meant to be celebrated will help us to be equipped to meet the needs of… Click To Tweet

Now that’s Christmas!

 

Snowflake Divider