Empty boxes

A pile of empty boxes.

That’s what was visible in our family room around 10 am on Christmas morning.

Thirty days of anticipation and planning had turned into a fever pitch last weekend. All the shopping had been finished, gifts had been wrapped and our annual Christmas cookies had been baked and decorated. We were all ready for Christmas morning.

Within minutes of waking up, however, our gifts were opened. The kids scattered across our home to experiment with new electronics or listen to new music. Hollianne and I collapsed on the couch to watch a marathon of movies (most notably Christmas Vacation…a personal favorite).

And all that remained near the tree was a stack of empty boxes.

The anticipation was gone. The excitement was over.

It was a great reminder about the nature of our lives. This world is not our home. It’s a collection of moments that can leave us empty, hurt and dissatisfied.

This world is not built to last.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 2 Peter 3:10

We are to invest in the eternal. We should spend time with others that push us to be better, more loving people. We need to study and increase our Biblical knowledge and awareness. We should spend time in prayer and meditation- actively communicating with God the Father.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3: 11-13

We have promises from Jesus that aren’t empty…promises of eternal life, happiness and an audience with God.

Promises that are far better than anything we can experience on this earth.

Please pray for me to invest in relationships and activities that make me a better, more kind person. A person that sees challenges and obstacles as opportunities to grow and serve.

And please let me know how to pray for you!

God bless.

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Surviving Christmas

What a difference a year makes.

This time last year was a blur. I was changing jobs and moving across the state. The holidays were filled with hurried goodbyes and anxious hellos. Our family was so preoccupied with the transition that we truly didn’t take time to soak in the holidays.

Not this year.

Things have slowed down. We’ve settled in our new home. We’ve hosted breakfasts, dinners and devotionals. We broke out old decorations and bought some new ones. We are soaking it up.

But perhaps I’ve become too self-absorbed.

Earlier this week I ran into an old friend from high school at the grocery. We quickly caught up on life and work. I realized that he had recently experienced some pain in his life and- as a result- he was struggling to get out of depression. He told me he simply wanted to “survive Christmas.”

What a sad thought. His personal pain and struggles had brought him to his knees..to a new low point. In fact, the hustle and bustle of the holidays had created a black cloud over his whole disposition. He just wanted to survive the Christmas holiday.

It’s clouded his view of Jesus.

Perhaps you know someone like my old friend…someone who is struggling during the holidays.

Maybe it’s an illness or the recent loss of a loved one. Perhaps is a changing family dynamic or a work transition. It could be the pain of a failed relationship.

Whatever the reason- we all know people who are hurting right now. People who are just trying to survive Christmas.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5: 3-5

God gives us hope. We know that we’ll face hardships and trails in this life, but God provides. We know the good news of Jesus, and we need to seek opportunities to share His love with others.

Let’s make those calls to those who need a boost this week.

Let’s visit the sick and reconnect with old friends who need a kind word.

Let’s display acts of kindness to those who are struggling.

Please pray for me to recognize my opportunities to spread the good news of Jesus- and actively seek out those in need of encouragement.

I don’t want anyone to just survive Christmas. I want them to bask in the glory of Jesus.

And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Forget Everything You Know

I was asked to be the lead-off speaker of a popular regional leadership program earlier in the week. As I scanned the room, I saw mayors, bankers, elected officials, doctors and educators. What could I say that might resonate with this group of seasoned leaders?

I decided to focus on what I wanted them to forget.

1) Forget what others have told them about this leadership program. The class has a thirty year legacy, but I urged them to lose any preconceived notions about what they would experience over the next six months.

2) Forget their zip code. All our regional communities are experiencing similar problems. Only by working together could we improve the region.

3) Forget what they know about leadership. Study the materials, question the lessons and their classmates and be open to new ideas.

What if we pursued our study of the Bible with this same plan for 2018?

What if we were to clear our minds of outside distractions and preconceived notions and looked at God’s word with a renewed focus?

What if we attempted to study our Bible with new people? People that could challenge our beliefs and push us to focus on what’s true?

What if we were to set aside all unscriptural biases we have…and simply read and meditate on what’s printed in those sixty-six books of the Bible?

We might find new meaning in those inspired Words. We might discover a new way to think about our relationship with Jesus.

And best of all, we might find new, fresh inspiration for sharing God’s word with others.

My prayer this week is to be more intentional about my reading and studying of the Bible. It’s already a habit, but my focus could be better.

And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless you.

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