Friday, December 17, 2010

Let your shine.....

We are getting closer and closer to Christmas and each passing day gets busier and busier. There seems to be no time for Jesus, but can you imagine throwing a birthday party for your child and forgetting to invite them. What would you think if you invited everyone to your childs party and the guest exchanged gifts amongst themselves and forgot your little one?  We cant imagine that, but we do it every Christmas.

Were so busy making the party about us that we forget who the party is for. Sadly we need a reminder that Christmas is about Jesus. So take a moment and listen to this childs rendition of the Christmas story. I promise you your time will not be wasted.

Thanks to Alice and Sheila for sharing...

Go to my playlist and pause the music before playing... 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A holy experience...

I had a realization the other day as I sat with my computer freaking out in front of me. I need a break. I need to do something other than blog. I need to get back to the heart of what inspired me to blog in the first place.

Of course my inspiration was Jesus. He is my everything and to be honest without him there is a good possiblity that I wouldnt be living. The funny thing is there was a time when I would have laughed at someone for saying that. I would have labeled them crazy and close minded, but like Paul my eyes have been opened and I have seen life anew because of it.

This little life that started out in a manger would grow into the light of the world and eventually set me free from myself. What is most beautiful about it is the fact that he did do it for me. He loved individual me. He loved Nicole... wonderfully messy, insecure, crazy and disturbed Nicole.He loves you. How awesome is that?!

I guess the question for me is do I love him. I mean really love him. Am I willing to wait for his return and not grow weary? Am I willing to set everything else aside and worship him this Christmas? In spite of what others expectations might be. Maybe??

Maybe with a little help we all can. Maybe with the support of other believers we can get back to the true meaning of Christmas.

Today I needed a little help myself and I found it in this post. I found my own holy experience within the words of a Holy Experience. All I can say is that its beautiful, but above all He's beautiful.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

We interrupt our regular programming.....

Hello everyone! My sincerest apologies to all my loyal and not so loyal followers for not posting. I have been given an unwelcome break from blogging because of some unexpected computer problems. So in the meantime I will have to leave the "adventing" to all of you with the hopes that you will continue to celebrate as a family and find Christ within this Christmas season.

You may continue to look at my other pages for ideas or use this unexpected interruption as I am by seeking the heart of God within the scriptures and the simple joys of the season. My hope is to be back up and blogging soon, but for now may God bless each of you with the joy that comes from knowing Christ.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The small things...

As yesterdays post can attest there were many things about my childhood that brought me to this place. Some bad and some good, but all a part of who I am. They are the stories that have shaped me for better or worse into the person I have become. I trust however that not one moment of my life was left to chance by my Father in heaven. In God's eyes no minute of my life was a small thing; every second held the potential for drawing me closer to him. Thats why in spite of the bad I can look fondly on my life and see the hand of a loving Father.

There was no other time of the year that this was more evident than at Christmas. I pray thats how it is for you also. Afterall what better time to witness God's love and mercy than at Christmas time.

It always seemed that life was better then. Looking back on it I've realized that for my mom it held the same significance it does to me now. Although she didnt have church functions to attend or Christmas plays she made sure to fill those days leading up to Christmas with wonderful memories. She was able to hold on to the childish faith of her past and see life through those eyes again. I know that it was very important to her that Christmas was special for my brother, sister and me and I also know that my dad worked very hard to make it special as well. The funny thing is when I look back on Christmas I dont remember the presents although there were plenty. I remember the moments when we were together as a family and life seemed magical and full of hope.

My most special memory was driving down  Bayshore Drive in Tampa (the place where I grew up) and seeing the real nativity they set up every year. Although Im sure my memory fails me it seemed so real to me. There were angels all gloriously aglow in the trees or at least thats what my adult mind has told me. The little girl in me tells me that they were floating above the manger holding the baby Jesus like they were so long ago. Of course little girl eyes miss the small details like wires and platforms and see the magic. They overlook the production and see the inspiration. To be honest if I asked my mom about it today Im sure she would tell me it was no more than 3 people in costumes in a very poorly made set, but in my heart it was so much more. It was, like I said yesterday, more real than anything I had seen before. There in 80 degree Florida Christmas weather was the inpiration for my faith and my most favorite memory.

Ive went back to find it in later years only to find out that it has long since gone. However I wonder if the people who gave their time to that little nativity set on Bayshore Drive know that I looked forward to that more than Santa Clause. I needed it more than I needed more presents under the tree. I know God did. So today I try to hard to inspire those very things in my kids with the hope that there favorite Christmas memories would include the story of Jesus birth, but Im trusting that these small things (Killian and Lotus) of mine and Scott's are no small thing to God and that he is hard at work awakening the magic of Christmas in their little kid hearts.

Take it deeper.....
  • What is your most special Christmas memory?
  • How are you keeping the magic alive for your children or most importantly for yours
  • Go on over to Home Sanctuary and start enjoying the small things and if your not the homemaking variety then think of small ways you can improve your life or the lives of others today.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Little Drummer Boy

Please pause my playlist before watching...

"Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God!"(Matther 5:8)

This by far is my favorite Christmas show. There was something about it, even though I wasn't raised in church, that made sense to my little girl heart. It made sense that hate was wrong and that love was the answer. Despite the fact that God was seldomed mentioned growing up I came to believe that it was true. He was more real than anything else and I needed him. I needed God because he was the only thing that did make sense.

Somewhere in the midst of growing up and doing everything in my power to hurt myself I cried out for him and he came running. Although he had been there all along.

I would love to say that was the moment I stopped fighting, stopped running, but of course happy endings arent always like they are in the movies. I,like the little drummer boy, had more pain than I knew what to do with and I was far from being willing to allow God to heal me. I was still seeking for something elsewhere, someone who could take away the hurt, something that would make me forget me.

Yet still he stayed steady by my side, looking more beautiful than ever. Offering more love than I had ever known and willing to take the punishment I had been inflicting on myself. He refused to give up. He loved me despite all I had done. He stayed true when I strayed. He gave all of himself out of the simple desperation of pure love. He came and healed my heart and I hold on to the love I felt the first time he took hold of me. I have too because nothing else makes sense.

So in spite of the fact that most days I make a mess of things I still continue to see evidence of him everywhere. I still believe, with that little girl heart, that hate is wrong and love is the answer. I still beleive in that tiny babe in the manger who is able to heal the hearts of the hurting and bring the dead back to life. Maybe that's foolish or maybe that simple faith was the only reason Im still alive.

My life testifies to the fact..."That blessed(happy) are the pure(not perfect) of heart for they shall see(taste, feel, and know) God."

Its not what you bring him, but the heart with which you bring it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A day of rest...

Today is a day of catching up for me. As much as I love posting devotionals sometimes the chores and the homeschooling need to get done. Just simply because serving our family is one of the simplest ways to serve God. I have come to find that one of the biggest ways I can make an impact in this world is by making an impact in the hearts of my family.

So instead today I am going to share some other sites that have inspired me, encouraged me or just plain helped me to save a little dough so I can give more. As always let the people know where you found it and share a little blog love with somebody. Us bloggers love feedback. Were needy like that.

I also encourage you to take a look at my other pages (fun links, things to do, resources, local, etc.) for some new additions or if your new take a look at some of my older post by searching through the blog archives. 

So sit back, pour a cup of coffee, grab a Christmas cookie and enjoy.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The good and perfect gift....

James 1:17 AKJV "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no fickleness, neither shadow of turning."

Lets state the obvious.... there are about as many translations of the bible as there are people on the earth. So we must always be diligent in making sure that the translator stays true to the original text. Of course very few of us are able to read Hebrew or Greek which makes it even more important to stay true to the heart of Jesus. Times change, but the word of God like God himself stays constant amidst all the changes. No matter the changes in our dialect or culture God's word will remain true throughout eternity, because wisdom is wisdom. No matter the language it takes on to describe it.

That being said I will often use different translations, but at the heart of it is the obvious. God's word is living and sharper than any two edged sword, able to separate bone from marrow. Just in case you don't understand that let me put it simply..... It's sharp!! The word of God will ignite passion in you and it will convict you. It will hurt at times, but like anyone who has had surgery knows a sharp blade is able to heal as well. No one, no matter holy or righteous escapes its discerning nature. It is the only book written that is able to take any person no matter their class or profession and make something new of them. It doesn't care who you are or what you've done it will change you. So the standard I look to when discerning a translation is its ability to transform. If its telling me what I want to hear I typically take that as my cue to look elsewhere.

Call it poetic license, but there are times when I will use a different translation simply because of the flow of the words. The way it falls off the tongue or the way it uses a word that we might better understand its meaning. This is one those cases.....

"with whom there is no fickleness or shadow of turning."

These are words we understand. We understand the fickle nature of people, of nature, of ourselves. We understand the idea that basically we change our minds at a moments notice. We understand the conditional ways in which love. We can give freely of our love and loyalty only to be caught off guard by a word or deed and then withdraw both as quickly as we gave it. We understand, metaphorically and physically, the shadow that forms from someone that has turned away from us. The darkness that is cast on our lives.

Basically we, through this verse and so many others, are being told that God is not like us. God doesn't change his mind. If he decided, through his son, to offer us forgiveness and redemption well then that offer still stands. He doesn't make mistakes when choosing the best gifts for us. He doesn't give you the horrible Christmas sweater like grandma did. When he chose to give Jesus it was the perfect fit for everyone. There was no need for anything else. This was a one size fits all type of gift. Of course that doesn't make sense to us because were not a one size fits all type of people. We cant imagine a gift that would satisfy everyone completely. We cant imagine a gift that doesn't need to be exchanged although we try to do it all the time, because we are fickle.

You see Jesus was the good and perfect gift that came down from the Father of lights. He was the one thing that could satisfy all of us if we would let him. That doesn't mean he will be all things to all people.We can not translate Jesus. He wasn't made to fit us and all our crapt. We were made to fit him and sometimes that means we have to lose something of ourselves that was never meant to be there to begin with. We have to accept the gift before we can wear it and not the other way around. Heck lots of people try to wear it without ever accepting it. We wear a cross. We wear a verse that says what we need to hear. We wear a life (our faith) that seems to fit our needs, but we never accept "His" life and what that means for our life.

This is one of those instances where there is no need for taking poetic license. Jesus is enough. He is the word of truth by which we were given birth from sin. His life is the gospel by which we live. His sacrifice gave new meaning to the law which came before him. He is the word of God that is able to ignite passion in you, convict you, and heal you. He is what gives life to the scriptures and  to us .

Take it deeper.....
  • Read all of James 1.  
  • How has God's gift of Jesus changed you and in what ways have you not allowed it to?

Monday, December 6, 2010

The real deal...

Proverbs 16:2 NLT "People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives.";
Jeremiah 17:9 ESV "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?"

These words, "The real deal", have been tossed around a lot in the past few weeks. A few times spoken in kindness as a reference to me, but something about it bothers me. Perhaps its that I'm fearful that something so innocent as a kind word might become the very thought that inflates my ego and makes me anything but real. Im afraid of becoming like so many before me who got caught up in all the hype. Maybe today my heart is pure, but tomorrow I could be laid to waste because my need for approval becomes more than my need for Jesus. I might believe it so deeply that I miss it when God trys to show me some hidden fault.

Then again maybe Im afraid Im not the real deal and that I have just done a very good job of convincing myself and others otherwise. Afterall the bible says that the heart is deceitful above all things and that all a man's ways seem innocent to him. One day I might come before my God and find that I had motives that I was unaware of.

Truth be told most days when I stand before my Jesus and in the light of his love and goodness I am made humbly aware of that I am far from being the real deal. What poses as real in me is nothing more than a faint image of who Jesus is..... the Living Christ, our redeemer, Immanuel,......

The Real Deal!!

Take it deeper....
  • Take an inventory of yourself (what you've done, what you do, what you give, your hopes, your dreams) and bring it before the one that weighs the motives of man.
  • Be aware that because of the nature of sin we often have motives that we might not be aware of. Be careful to not think more highly of yourself than you ought. (Romans 12:3)
  • Put your confidence in God alone. (Proverbs 3:26) Making sure that you do not count on your gifts, talents or good deeds as a means for salvation.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Rejoice for you are loved...

 "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, Rejoice!" (Phil 4:4)
My last few post have bordered on the depressing or at least they may have seemed that way considering the joyful nature of the season. However that is not my intention. I fully believe that a life surrendered to Christ is the most joy-filled life there is. I believe that "when you lose your life for Christ, you truly find it" (Matthew 10:39). I believe that when you give of yourself.... share your talents, share your gifts, share your joys and share your trials then life starts to make sense. It becomes full and thats worth rejoicing.

So today I want to take a different approach and remind you to rejoice because you are accepted...
"We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people."(1Thes1:4)
Rejoice because you are heard...
I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me. (Psalm 120:1)
Rejoice because you have a God that loves you for you...
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me,O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! (Psalm 139:13-18)
(Pause my playlist before listening)

Friday, December 3, 2010

A vision of what could be...

(Luke 22:39-46) Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
God has a plan. You've heard that a million times and yet still somehow its meaning is lost. Somehow what takes place in your day to day life is disconnected from that. Somehow you have lost sight of the fact that every detail of your day has already been worked over in the heart of God. Even those moments we swear are a full fledged attack by Satan are allowed by a mighty God that has a plan bigger than your life.

That might hurt a little but it is truth.

Nothing happens outside of the will of God. Our self will is not bigger than God's. In a moment he could put a end to it all, but he chooses not to. Why?
That is where Jesus comes into the story. He chooses not to because he has a plan. He has a vision which includes a restored* people. A people that have been made whole again and a kingdom that shines with his glory night and day. He sees us not as inhabitants of a sin filled world, but as future inhabitants of a glorious place where he rules. A glorious kingdom that starts in our hearts.

Yet great visions are only accomplished by surrendered leaders who are willing to die for those they lead. They succeed only with tender lambs who are willing to suffer the trials and ultimately sacrifice themselves for the vision.

Jesus saw this vision very clearly, He had a bigger picture in mind. Despite all his human frailities he was able to surrender his life for this vision of restoration that God had planted within him. He was willing!!

For the sake of his vision God, himself, had to stand back and watch his son die because in the end he wanted to save all his children, not just one. He saw what was to come and he knew it was worth it. We were worth it.

Today there are many people who have a vision of what could be and willingly sacrifice themselves for that vision. They willingly take the risk, make the tough choices and commit to a vision which is greater than them. They see with the eyes of the Father. They see people as they could be and not as they are. They become the tender lambs that are willing to suffer the trials and ultimately sacrifice themselves to the vision. They realize that God's will is the only way and on bended, bloody knees they cry out, "Not my will, but your will be done."

They sacrifice their wants and needs because they know that God has a plan.

Take it deeper....
  • Do you have a vision of what could be?
  • Have you seen life through the eyes of God? Do you view your life as part of a bigger picture or is it limited to just what you experience?
  • What about your current circumstances could be used to bring glory to God?
  • Oftentimes, especially during the holidays, we want to keep our minds on positive things. We want to make sure that nothing negative interrupts our celebrations. Make a point this season to open your heart to the things that break the heart of Jesus. Be willing to face the difficult things head on with the strength that Christ offers.
  • Think big!!

*restored- to bring something back to an earlier and better condition

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The gift...

Philippians 3:10...."I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death."

There are some gifts that dont cost a thing and then there are others that come with a high price tag. 

This is my second attempt at writing today's devotional and the only sentence that remains of the first draft is the one above. It seems that God had something else in mind. He always does. He always veers us off from the course we have set for ourselves. 

Last night was no different.

I was ready to write about what our forgiveness cost Christ when I watched a video that a friend of mine shared. I have mentioned her before on another blog, but here is the story again....

Her husband, Mike, was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer 6 months ago. It is one of the deadliest forms of cancer known. He already has survived longer than most and in spite of the surgery, chemotherapy and many trips back and forth to Duke he has been doing well. However their life has changed. Mike, his wife and their two kids are surviving day by day because that's all they can do right now. They dont know what the future holds, but they know what the statistics of this disease are and it's a grim picture.

That's their story, but its not finished yet. Only God knows what lies ahead for them, but they know something about gifts that come at a high price.

They know that there are lessons that can only be learned through trials. There are things about God that can only be known by experience. Sometimes we must pay a price or risk never knowing it. Mike put it best....

"I never would have asked for this brain cancer. I never would have asked for this journey that were on. However I wouldn't trade anything we have learned either."* 
Take it deeper....
Please take 10 minutes and watch this video of Mike Hearn speaking at their church. His words are much better than anything I could say. Also please pray for their family.

(Pause the music on my playlist before watching)