The Perfect Gift

Grabbing your money and car keys, you head out of your home. You are on your way to the shopping mall to purchase Christmas gifts. Reflecting on how much you love your family and how much you want them to have the things that they desire, you look at your shopping list: Apple iPod that plays TV shows – $350, PlayStation3 – $600, and for the big spender, a 55” High-Definition Television – $3500. All of these high-ticket items appeal to our senses and some of us are under the misunderstanding that because we have paid such a high price for these items, our love is instantly conveyed to the recipient of the gifts. Yet, as wonderful as these gifts are, they will never be perfect and they will never convey the kind of love that we all need. In fact, anything that we can purchase will never be perfect. The perfect gift is priceless.

What is this gift? The perfect gift is Christ. Recognize and appreciate His value and worth. God has given us His Son as the way of Salvation. For something to be considered a gift, it has to have a few components: It must be valuable and offered freely. However, it must not be some type of compensation for work done. Christ is our gift. He is more valuable than words can explain. He is offered to us voluntarily for God was not under any type of obligation to send a Savior to us just as we are under no obligation to accept Him. We have freewill. It was His choice and His prerogative to provide a way of escape for us. He did it because He loves us. Recall John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Our works will not get us into Heaven. And, as one writer says “when we have done all in our power, we are but unprofitable servants, and have done no more than it was our duty to do.” Christ is our gift. Apart from Christ, we have nothing. Who is apart from Christ in your life? Is it you? Is it your family member? Is it a co-worker? What gift will you give this Christmas? Something store-bought, that will perish, or something with eternal value? There is a hymn entitled “The Savior is Waiting” by Ralph Carmichael that speaks of the gift available to you:

The Savior is waiting to enter your heart – Why don’t you let Him come in?
There’s nothing in this world to keep you apart – What is your answer to Him?
Time after time He has waited before, And now He is waiting again
To see if you’re willing to open the door – O how He wants to come in.
If you’ll take one step toward the Savior, my friend, You’ll find His arms open wide.
Receive Him and all of your darkness will end; Within your heart He’ll abide.
Time after time He has waited before, And now He is waiting again
To see if you’re willing to open the door – O how He wants to come in.

The Perfect Gift is waiting on you, or your family member or co-worker to choose Him. If you already have the Perfect Gift, share It. Heaven has enough room to accommodate all that want to come. If you do not have the Perfect Gift, you only need to ask for it. It does not cost you anything – the price has already been paid in full. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead and you will be saved. You will have received the Perfect Gift!
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Do it His Way

As I listened to Dr. David Jeremiah a few days ago, he made a powerful statement. He said:
“Do what God has asked you to do today.
As you do, things will become clearer.
When you refuse to act on what you know,
All that you don’t know paralyzes you.”
He was speaking to me. I like having a plan and then executing but sometimes in our walk with the Lord, we are not going to be able to map out all of the steps. Instead, we have to simply put our trust in God and do as He requires.

As we wholeheartedly lean on our Father, He will begin to reveal things to us – our paths are illuminated as we walk. I tend to think about lights with motion detectors. (My neighbor has one that I set off every time I’m in MY driveway!) If we stay away from the controlled area, the light stays off and it is dark. If we move towards that area, the light comes on and we can see our way. That’s how it is with our Father God. If we come close to Him, He will show us the way.

But, there are times when even knowing that the answer lies in coming closer to the Father that we refuse to do so – perhaps we are sharpening our rebellion. Perhaps we are recalling what it means to be stubborn. Either way, Dr. Jeremiah warns, that if we refuse to act on what we know to be true, then we will be paralyzed by what we don’t know. That takes the form or fear, worry, anxiety etc. So, if you find yourself in a position where you don’t know what to do – remember that you do know Who to run toward. In RUNNING towards the Father, we enter the light. In sitting idle, refusing to do it God’s way, we paralyze ourselves.

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Thanksgiving, My Favorite Time of Year

It’s almost TURKEY TIME! Thanksgiving is my favorite time of the year. I like it because it’s all about recognizing the most important things in our lives – family and spending time with people we care about just for the sake of doing such. There are no gifts to give or anything like that – it’s all about spending time together. That makes me so very happy! A little quality time goes along way!

Therefore, it is my deepest and most sincere hope that you will make time to spend with the lover of your soul – Jesus Christ. We have so much to be thankful for and without Him – well, where would we really be? I hope that you will invite Him to your thanksgiving festivities as well. He’ll be happy to provide a protective covering over your food but He’d also like to be apart of your conversation. He wants to be involved in your life.

Soooo, have a fantastic Thanksgiving Holiday. Give thanks to our God for family and friends and provision. All that we have is all because of what He gave on Calvary’s cross.

Be Blessed!

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His Peace

I’ve had two-back-to-back marathon weekends! Both were not originally planned that way. In fact, this weekend was to be the “cleaning out” weekend. A few blogs back I discussed my pack rat issues. I’ve run out of good space and need to clean up! I did purchase the appropriate bins (yard sale, keep, throw out), but I was not home long enough to put them into use.

It seems like everything is going on. We are starting the new fiscal year at my job – which means several projects for me, we have started a new Bible Study at church (Isaiah) – which means a review that has to be completed and turned in and we, as a country, are entering into the Holiday shopping season – which means figuring out who to buy for and what to buy – and I don’t particularly like shopping unless it’s for electronics. I could go on and on – and so could you. Life is not getting more simplistic – it’s doing the opposite. But, I’m not worried. I’m not consumed by the fact that every time I cross something off on my list, something else pops back up to take its place. I have a peace now that I’ve never had before. Wanna know my secret?

Well, it’s not really a secret. It’s the source of my strength. I’ve called upon God to organize my schedule and give me better time management. And, in doing so, and trusting and relying on Him, I can get what needs to get done accomplished for that day. Everything else goes back on the list for another time or someone else will step up and take it off of my plate. I’m not looking for a task-free list. I’m just looking to do what’s right in God’s sight.

As the Holidays approach, and the busyness of the season kicks in, ask God to help you with your schedule too. There’s a reward in asking for His guidance. He will give you His perfect peace.

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Watch and Pray

I counted three dead animals in the road today on my way to work. Three furry little creatures were not able to make it to the other side. As I drove past, careful not to hit them, I began to wonder why there were so many. I do commute to work but these animals were all in a concentrated area. All three were recipients of a deadly interaction with the road and a multi-ton vehicle.

It amazes me how, as a prosperous nation, we quickly overlook such events. And, perhaps, in light of the week I’ve had with the death of a fellow co-laborer, I’m a little sensitive. But, these creatures are God’s creation. There is something to be gained by taking a little time to reflect on the fact that something that was here is no longer here.

Sometimes, I think that some of my activities are sooo very careless. I’m not watching and being alert as I should. Perhaps these furry little animals were struck because of the time change from daylight savings time to standard time – they crossed as usual but didn’t take into account that something was different. Perhaps by an admitted large stretch of my imagination, they and the drivers were “careless.” Perhaps they were not watching as they should. My point is this: we have been lured into a false sense of security. We need to watch and pray, but at times, that seems like the last thing we do. It should be the first.

We need to watch and pray. Although we may not be trying to “cross the road” we are trying to make it into Heaven. We need to watch and pray so that the subtle tricks of the enemy do not have the opportunity to rob us of our reward. Watch and pray so that our loved ones make it into eternity with us. Watch and pray so that we flee from hurt and danger.

We need to stop depending on somebody else to “do something” about the situations and circumstances ravaging America. Who is standing up for God? The elected official in Georgia is being called “crazy” because he dared to call a prayer session for rain in the midst of their drought. Who is publicly standing with him? We need to watch and pray. Don’t you recall a time when homosexuality and promiscuity were not suitable for primetime television but now, that’s all you see. More and more television programs are embracing this lifestyle of illicit sex as okay – when God clearly says it is not. And, then we wonder what happens when someone, something or some belief lies dead in the figurative road of life – Christians need to watch and pray.

As many times as we have “crossed the road,” each day is a new one. We are to be careful – we are to watch and pray. This applies not only to ourselves, but to our loved ones. God desires that not one be lost – we need to extend the umbrella of Christian love to our brethren – we need to make ourselves available to help them make it to the other side in a spirit of community.

Will you join me in watching and praying? It begins on the inside – in your quiet time, alone with God. Watch and pray.

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Be Still

When our lives are hectic and running at full blast, we have just enough time to do the basics. We do not have the quality time to do reflective thinking – in fact, we are not thinking or being strategic – we are being tactical – we are movers and shakers getting things done. And, not to say that this is all bad. It is not. The things that we attempt for God will require us to invest some time – particularly if we want it to be done well for His glory. But, in our fast-paced lives, we can only cover the surface. God calls us to a deeper relationship with Him. He doesn’t want surface and superficial when it comes to relationship. He wants deep.

How then do we get there? By taking a moment to slow down the pace and be still. In my slowing down and having a moment to let my mind catch up, I noticed the cluttered condition of some of the rooms in my house. I was in such a whirl-wind that I didn’t know how it got that way. (I’m never there – who cluttered up my house! J – joking) But, I suspect, it came from me being so busy that I just put things in places that were out of the way so that I could keep moving.

Isn’t that how we treat God at times? We put Him somewhere out of the way until we can get around to Him – so that we can keep moving. And then we have to wonder why things are falling apart for us – well, when things get rough enough, we will, as my Grandmother used to say, “sit down somewhere.” In doing so, we open ourselves up to hearing from the Lord.

God wants a deep relationship with us. But, like all relationships, you have to want it in return. There has to be mutual interest and commitment. Make no mistake about it, God is committed to us. Be still long enough to commune with the Father.

Here’s a little something to remember:

If you continue with being “on the go”,
True intimacy with God, you may never know.

Get still. Spend time with Him now. Pay attention to Him now. Love on Him – right now. He’s worthy of our praise and our worship. Hallelujah! We give Him the highest praise.
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Utilize the Time

We buried a fellow co-laborer in Christ today. He died as a result of a tragic car accident. Suddenly his life as we knew it, gone. Suddenly, a wife no longer has an earthly husband; two daughters no longer have an earthly father. As I sat and watched the family demonstrate oodles and strength and reserve as they laid their loved one to rest, I was struck by the certainty of death and the shortness of life.

I was moved to rethink the way that I’ve structured my life. I spend what seems like endless hours working. Sometimes, I work so much that I lift up my head and so much time has passed me by. And, while I gain something from my work, I lose something too.

I lose time that I could have spent with my family and friends. Life is so fleeting. We all have an appointment with our Lord that we must keep. And while we cannot change our appointment time, we can change what we do while we are waiting. I challenge you to take a moment to evaluate the way you spend your time. Check to see if you really have a good work-life balance. If you are out of balance, like me, pray for direction from our Lord to get back into alignment. It’s worth the effort. I believe that the family today could show strength for a number of reasons but I have narrowed it down to two: #1, they know and trust God but also #2, they spent time together – they had a great family life and my departed brother knew the importance of work-life balance. If we could all be so wise.

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Lord of the Harvest

We have to get them out of the ground before the first hard freeze. So, I made my way to Greensboro to dig the sweet potatoes out of the ground with my Grandddad. This is our third year doing such. This year, we had six rows to harvest. We share the garden tool and take turns digging the rows. It’s really just an excuse to hang out with each other while unearthing God’s creation. It’s one of the highlights of my year.

Last year, we didn’t have much of a harvest. My Grandmother would say it was because my Granddad didn’t cut back the vines. My Granddad would say that it was because it was so hot. The year before that, our first year, we had more sweet potatoes than we could stand. We were up to our elbows in sweet potatoes! So, this year, with the drought being soooo extreme, we didn’t plan on seeing much come out of the ground, but we enthusiastically went forward to see what the end would be.

Well, guess what?! We had some really huge sweet potatoes. My “prize winning” sweet potato that I personally dug out of the ground was 18 inches around. WOWZERS! And, of course, it got me to thinking about the goodness of the Lord. Here we are in an exceptional drought but God make provision for my Granddad and me. We had a fantastic time – each row just seeming to produce larger sweet potatoes. So, here’s my application: even when things around us seem dry and withering, with God on our side, there’s something growing in places we cannot see, and as a result, we will be victorious – we can do what seems to be the impossible. With our Lord, we can emerge “big” and triumphant because we stayed connected to the vine – from which comes all of our strength and nourishment – just like those big ole sweet potatoes.

I praise God for allowing me to spend time with my Granddad, and I especially thank Him for being kind enough to show me once again that He is Lord of the Harvest – my provider and sustainer. He’s got our times in His hands. So, let’s stop looking at the external factors, and dig a little deeper in our relationship with Him. Our spiritual lives could produce “prize winning” results.

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Well, the Lord knows my heart…

Lately, I’ve been hearing a resurgence of the “well, the Lord knows my heart” excuse that we use when we don’t want to do something just as the Lord has commanded. We are too ______ to do ____________ but, “the Lord knows my heart.” And, that statement is true. He does know our heart. And, He knows exactly what’s in it. He does not give us more than we can handle. Instead, we chose what we will handle.

The Lord created our hearts. He knows every single thing about us. But, just because He knows does not mean that He approves of what is in our hearts. We need to stop making excuses for why we refuse to do things and start making time to do the things of God. I was at the gym yesterday (yes, I was actually working out), and I saw a slogan on a t-shirt that said “I don’t make excuses, I make time.”

So, fellow believers in Christ, will we make the time? How about that devotion time? Private bible study? Commitment is lacking in our lives. Will we make the time for God? It’s funny, when I was in the midst of my mess, (the valley I’ve been writing about), God was first and foremost on the tip of my tongue. I praised Him. I talked and communed with Him. He showed me things that I would not have seen if I weren’t otherwise in tune with Him. He did this because He loves me. He showed me the route out of the valley. Now that I’m not dwelling there in the valley, I find it amazing how I must “remind myself” to keep that same intensity towards God. It is so easy to be swept away from the relationship that we start with God. We start with fire and then flicker out because we don’t feed the flame. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Join me in starting each day with God – entering each conversation or situation with God – inviting Him to be with us along the minutes and moments of our day. God is faithful to us. He loves to fellowship with us and desires that we fellowship with Him.

When God does examine our hearts, my prayer is that within He finds a great passion for Himself and the fruit of the Spirit in full harvest – not an obsession with anything else. Take out your stethoscope; it’s time for a heart check.

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Looking in the Mirror

I looked in the mirror today.

I know that’s a strange statement considering the fact that we all look in the mirror every day to brush our teeth, comb our hair etc. But today, I really looked. I was not examining a new pimple from my latest bout with adult acne. I was looking at me – beyond the surface. And guess what, I saw/realized something.

I am God’s creation. And that’s a wonderful thing. He is constantly molding and shaping me into His likeness. Every time I really look in the mirror, I see something new. Lately, God has been building my faith. I’ve been traveling to low places and climbing steep mountain sides. With the help of God, I made it through! And now, as a result of my recent experiences, I look in the mirror and I see that my eyes look brighter and my face has a certain glow – not brought about by skin products – but by the assurance that my Father loves me! He cares for me! And, that knowledge just makes me feel so warm and fuzzy! I’m glowing as a result! I did notice another gray hair popping up – but I’m counting that as joy too! That MUST mean that I’m gaining wisdom along the journey. 🙂

For a period of time, looking in the mirror reminded me of what I am not. But, now, trusting and loving God as I do, looking in the mirror reminds me of Whose I am. Everything else is of little consequence.

Will you look in the mirror today? Try it and let me know what you see!

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