One Word

Compassion sent a challenge out to their bloggers  to seek the Lord for a word for 2014 instead of making a New Years Resolution.

Literally, ONE word.

If the Lord was to give us one word for 2014 what would it be?

I did this a couple years ago and the word then was prayer.  

Like before, I knew my word before I was even sent the email from Compassion. The Lord gave me that word a few weeks ago...and it began with a conversation with my Area Commander's wife!

I am not one who "rests" well.  I am more the restless type.  I do relax by reading, writing, etc but it seems I have a built in spring, always bouncing up to see what else I can get into.  We've been in the midst of the "busy season" at work this month.  Christmas kettles, budgets, food drives, etc. keep one hopping.  Days off seemed like a luxury.  

I mentioned that I was looking forward to resting over the holidays...while leaving the cell phone on in case of emergency.

I was challenged by the word given to me by my AC's wife.  That word was TRUST.  In a nutshell she defined rest as trust.  Can I relax, turn off my cell and trust God will look after my unit without me for a few days.

I had to chew on that one.  I still am.  She was not the first one to ask me that question in the last 2 months.  I think God is trying to tell me something.  TRUST.

I was reflecting on this word when I was reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."  Sadly, I am not always trusting in the Lord when life get's busy.  I feel like I have to keep going like the energizer bunny.  I know I need to stop, rest and trust.

I want to be like the psalmist who says, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God." (Psalm 20:7)

I am taking the word to heart.  Over the last few days I have left my cell phone alone and it has been way more relaxing.  I went a step further and stayed offline for a couple days as well.  It felt like I was in a detox!  I was able to play more with my family and focus more on other things.

 I could get used to this trust thing!

So what is God speaking to you for the New Year?


A Christmas Thought

I was listening to an Andy Williams Christmas CD this week and there was a track on there called One Solitary Life.  It was a Christmas column by a man named Jimmy Bishop.  I wanted to share it here:
He was born in an obscure village, the Child of a peasant teen who knew not man. He grew up in another obscure village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never married or owned a home. He never held a job, yet paid taxes. He never set foot inside a metropolis. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never wrote a book, or held an office. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. He received no awards, no medals, no prizes from His peers. 

While He was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends deserted Him. He was turned over to His enemies, and went through the mockery of a trial. He had no lawyers, no friendly juries, no fair hearing. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had - His cloak. After He died, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave. Those who stood watch could not explain His disappearance. 

And yet two thousand years have come and gone, and today He is still the central figure for much of the human race. All the armies that ever marched and all the navies that ever sailed and all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this "One Solitary Life." 
Makes you think doesn't it?  

One life, that changed the world.  One life that forever changed me. 

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11) 


The Preacher's Sourcebook

I went back and forth on rather to request Nelson's Annual Preacher's Sourcebook for review or not.  Every time I went to the booksneeze page, I gravitated towards the title...and finally made the call.  I am glad I did.

Edited by O.S. Hawkins, this book is a collection of sermons, outlines and sermon starters for every week, special occasion and holiday.  I appreciated that in the introduction, Hawkins points out that this book is not intended as an "easy fix" for late Saturday night sermon preparations.  It is just one of many tools intended to assist the Pastor or speaker in their own study of the Word.

I enjoyed flipping through the book and as I was preparing my Christmas sermon, I decided to see what the book contained on the topic.  I already had my message planned out and, true to the intent of the book, I found some additional material I could sprinkle in to my message.  I cannot say I will use it every week, but the Preacher's Sourcebook will be that extra tool I look at when preparing my messages.

The book also includes a cd where every sermon is available in a .rtf file.

This makes a great gift for any pastor or seminary student.  It would also be perfect for those who enjoy Bible studies, either on their own or in a group. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


The Vanishing Evangelical

I have only read one other book written by Calvin Miller and that was well over a decade ago.  The Vanishing Evangelical was Miller's last book before his passing.  I was intrigued by the tagline of restoring what really matters.

It took a long time to get there.

Miller's book was long on the problem facing the Evangelical church today, scant on Scripture and at times seemed to drone on and on with little hope.

Despite that, there were nuggets of gold and kernels of truth sprinkled throughout.  I found myself agreeing with some of his conclusions about the problems facing the church today.  I also could not deny that the focus of many is no longer Jesus but our own Christian narcissism.  I also found it true that many today have strayed from the Word and no longer know what they believe and have watered down the truth about The Truth!

Sadly, I don't feel any better about the problem reading this book.

Calvin Miller clearly sees the problem and the way out involves getting to know God again, maybe for the first time!  He calls the reader back to the Word, prayer and faith.

My prayer is the reader grasps the hope that the book ends with and doesn't get bogged down by the sadness of a fading evangelical movement.

"This book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and Baker Books in exchange for an honest review."


Finishing Well

The end of the year is fast approaching and before we know it, Christmas will have come and gone.

I do enjoy celebrating the birth of Christ.  However, I believe we should celebrate His birth year round.  Jesus came for a reason and it was not so that we could give lots of presents and sing fun songs.  (Nothing wrong with those traditions by the way.)

Jesus, loved us so much that He came to die! John 3:16 is not just a cool memory verse.  It was the reason Jesus came into this world. He lived to die!

That is the reason I celebrate Christmas.

I enjoy the Christmas parties and presents, but I enjoy spending time in His Presence more.

The older I get, the more I realize how much time I waste on things external instead of things Eternal!  I find the end of the year is a good time to reflect on whether  I am loving the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and my neighbor as myself.  (Luke 10:27)   Am I spending time with the Lord, seeking His face with my whole heart?

I ask these questions because I want that relationship with Jesus Christ to grow, day by day, until my life on this earth is no more.

I want to finish well.  This year, next year and for all the years to come!  I want to know Him more.
His birth is only the beginning of the party.  There is a greater one coming, one I look forward to more and more each day.

(The image above is attached to a neat Christmas devotion for families:  http://www.southsidebiblechurch.net/Content/10300/235010.pdf)