Archives for posts with tag: Jesus

With this cold weather blowing in, I must admit I’m thinking of sun-drenched places…a beach, or a visit to Arizona!  Or how about being drenched in the glow of flames from a fireplace?

Then there are thoughts of how rain-drenched I was a couple times this past year.

Being “drenched” is quite a word picture, don’t you think?  I immediately picture kids caught in a rainstorm running up to the door clamoring to get inside and out of soaked clothing, sloshing water on the kitchen floor with every step. Almost makes me shiver! Of course, being drenched in sunshine gives me feelings of warm sand on my toes. Warmth and the comfort that comes from that make me smile.

IMG_2151

photo by Kallie Yearick

So, the word drenched is simply descriptive of a state of being. Our circumstances determine how we feel about the word at a given time.

I’m thinking now of how it might feel to be “drenched in the Spirit of God.”

Have you ever felt that?  Do you know anyone you’d say exhibits that as their lifestyle?

In my 45+ years of understanding what it means to be a Christian, I’ve met only a few–maybe 5–people who have lived that kind of life “out loud.”  Know what I mean?

There are lots and lots of people I’ve known who are Christians and serve the Lord with gladness and joy and thanksgiving. But there’s something spectacular that shows up in the life of a person simply drenched in God’s love.

I’ve long thought that the reason we see so few miracles today is because there are not many who are willing to give. Up. Every. Thing.

The Apostle Peter was married (Jesus healed his mother-in-law). Yet, Peter gave up “that” life and followed Christ and proclaimed Him until he was killed for his faith. There are few willing to do that today. The Apostle Paul said it was better to be single and be able to preach and travel than be tied to a wife. I’m not saying marriage and family are not important…no way…children carry on the heritage of faith to the next generation!

What I mean is that it takes someone very, very special to be drenched–soaked to the skin–with the love of God. So thoroughly soaked that God just pours out all over when they are around.

I pray that God will reveal some of those people to you.  They are special.  I feel so blessed having known a handful.  And I have seen Jesus through them.  We need “Jesus with skin on” every now and then because we really are weak in faith so many times.  Can I get an “Amen” on that?   At least, I readily admit that I am weak.

Think of your life and who might have shown you a glimpse of Jesus….even if you didn’t know it at the time, or didn’t know them very long.  I don’t mean great preachers. Just think of Jesus and then put a face with that name. Most of those you think of will have had their own world of troubles, short-comings and strife. They will be the first to tell you they are far from perfect and struggle every day.

But that’s what makes them special…at least to me. I hope you think of someone. But if you don’t, now is the time to start looking. And when you see them, share with someone close to you!

by Cindy Best

Advertisements

No, not me.  This couldn’t be happening to me.  I was standing at the airport ticket counter, being told “the next flight available is on the 26th.”  That was not okay.  It was December 23rd.  And as my throat swelled and tears threatened to spill over, my mind rebelled at the possibility of being alone in Phoenix for Christmas.

Let me back up.  It was December 2006, and I was a 22 year-old graduate student at the University of Oregon.  A native Minnesotan, I was eagerly looking forward to Christmas in Mazatlan, Mexico, with my mother’s extended family – Grandpa and Grandma’s treat holiday vacation to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.  It was especially important for us to be together because we hadn’t seen each other since Mom and Dad dropped me off at grad school in July.  After finals, I flew home to Minnesota for a few days before we were all booked to fly to Mexico. Grandpa had arranged for everyone to fly together, except for me, as I needed to fly back to Minnesota a day early in order to be at a close friend’s wedding.  No problem, though, as I was used to traveling alone and relished my independence.  I was to depart Minneapolis just a few hours before my family, stop for a quick layover in Phoenix, and then rendezvous with them in Mazatlan.

Except Phoenix had severe fog.  (Who knew Phoenix ever had severe weather?!) And as the plane was literally touching down, it took off again.  Uh oh.  Not good.  We were re-routed to Tucson where we spent three hours grounded on the tarmac with a zillion other planes, trying to get by on a pack of peanuts and hopes that our delay wouldn’t ruin the holidays.  I was optimistic, though, as my flight out of Phoenix wouldn’t depart for a few more hours.  I had time.  No sweat.

When we finally landed in Phoenix, we were told that instructions regarding our connecting flight would be available inside the terminal.  As I exited the plane, the terminal was a zoo.  The line leading up to the airline’s information counter was literally several hundred people long.  And not moving.  No instructions.  I heard some people say the lines were shorter downstairs at the ticket counter.  So I gambled the extra time it would take to re-enter through security and left the line.  The ticket lines were crazy, but I finally made it up to the counter.  Only to find my flight had been cancelled and to hear those words:  “The next flight available is on the 26th.”  What?  No re-scheduled flights?  No plane waiting for me right now?  Not even today?  NO WAY.  Not okay with me.  I could NOT spend Christmas stranded in Phoenix by myself.  I said no thanks.

I frantically called my dad, trying to be a big girl and not cry.  He along with my uncle and Grandpa were about to depart Minneapolis, and were desperately scrambling to find out what they could to get me down to Mexico.  But I knew they couldn’t help me.  It was up to me.  Well, God, really.  I took a breath.

I got back in line for a ticket.  After seemingly a century of nervous waiting, a customer service lady–who I swear is an angel–spent 30 minutes finding me a flight with another airline.  She found me a flight on a Mexican airline that would leave the next day.  She transferred my ticket, gave me a hotel voucher, and told me to go to the Mexican airline counter.  I went.  Waited in line again.  Got my new tickets, which required a quick transfer in Hermosillo, a city in Mexico I had never heard of.  I found my way to the luggage counter.  Waited in line behind 100 other stressed-out customers wanting to be home for Christmas.  Showed them my ticket, and prayed to God that my luggage would find its way to Mexico.  I called the hotel, waited for a shuttle, and it drove me through the strange darkness of Phoenix to my bed for the evening.  I was issued coupons for breakfast, and crashed in my room.  I called my family briefly, with the remaining cell phone juice I had left.  (Don’t ever pack your charger in your luggage, by the way.)  Then I cried.

What if I didn’t make it tomorrow?  What if the flights got screwed up again?  My layover in Hermosillo was brief.  What if I got stranded in a strange Mexican city?  I was so close to not making it to be with my family for Christmas, I could hardly breathe.  And then I slowed down long enough to listen to the Holy Spirit.  And he asked me, “Katherine, why do you celebrate Christmas?”  And my answer, of course, was to celebrate Jesus’ birth.  And did I need my family to do that?  No.  I didn’t.

Jesus was with me.  He was my everything.  In a moment where I felt stripped, vulnerable, and alone, He was there.  And He challenged what I had grown to hold the dearest at Christmas time–my family.  In a culture of materialism and humanism, it is actually a good and noble thing to make family your priority at Christmas, instead of gifts, parties, social statuses and explosions of Pinterest projects.  But here I sat on my scratchy hotel bedspread, and God said, No, Katherine.  I am to be your Number One, especially at Christmas.  This Christmas is not about getting your beach tan or body surfing with your brothers.  It’s about Me.  Your life must be about Me, or else your life will be empty.  You can have all of these other things, but without Me you will not be living.  And I knew that even if I had to be alone at Christmas, it would still be Christmas.  Even if I spent it alone in a hotel room, reading the Christmas story and singing carols by myself, it would still be a celebration.  I could worship my God anywhere, and I didn’t need a tree, living room, or family to do it.  I resolved to have a good Christmas, and fell into a fitful sleep.

Well, on Christmas Eve I made it to Mazatlan.  And it was truly a miracle, because as I visited with other stranded passengers, NO ONE else got a free hotel voucher.  Hardly anyone else found a flight to their destination in time for Christmas.  On my flight to Hermosillo, the Lord sat me next to a kind man–also headed to Mazatlán–who was bilingual, which was awesome because I didn’t speak Spanish.  He guided me through the foreign airport. Our flight arrived late, but they held the plane in Hermosillo, let us budge in line through customs, just in time to make our flight to Mazatlan.  When I arrived, my family was there waiting for me.  And so was my luggage.

Mazatlan Christmas 2006 099

So that’s how I got my Christmas miracle – the gift of my Lord and Savior.  And that year, he gave me the extra blessing of spending it with my family.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Matthew 6:33

by Katherine Hatting

I have loved the focus on “Light” this Christmas at church.  The lights of Christmas decorations inside homes and other outside lights are my favorite things about this season.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m going to leave up several of the “light motifs” I’ve used in decorating our dining area all year long—makes the winter months more bearable.   I am a real romantic and lots of candles and soft lighting just can’t be beat in my book.

My focus for this little devotional is Matthew 5:15, “Let your light shine brightly before men, so they may see your good deeds.”

Have you ever noticed the flame underneath a gas water heater?  There is an orange flame which surrounds a blue center flame.  When you enter a dark basement, you can see those two flames burning so brightly, but when you turn on the overhead light they all but disappear.

Imagine that flame representing Christ in our lives, and the overhead light being our own strong will.  As long as “we” are dark, Christ can shine within us.  But as soon as “we” light ourselves up, the light given by Christ becomes almost invisible.

Yes, we need to let our light shine before men, but we must remember who controls that light within us—not we ourselves but our Savior.

The apostle Paul said, “It is not me that’s living, but Christ living in me.”  I think that’s a great way to put it!

This Christmas season, I’m going to specifically ask my Heavenly Father to let my light shine, and to help me not get so wrapped up in my own glowing that I forget to let the Light of the World do the illuminating.  I want to bring glory to His name, not my own.

If you’d like to read a couple more verses on this, try Luke 14:11 and I Peter 5:6.

Enjoy a drive around the neighborhoods, or the Jolly Holiday of Lights tour and think about the one and only true Light!

by Cindy Best

One of the more popular paintings of Jesus depicts Him as a gentle shepherd, with a staff in His hand and sheep scattered on the green and lush hills behind Him.

It is easy for us to identify our Heavenly Shepherd.  We look into the Bible and find Jesus everywhere.  Accounts of His love and healing fill the sacred pages.   And we call out to Him in prayer and He is with us in Spirit.  We see Him reflected in our church, our friends and certainly in creation.

I have a plaque on a wall in my home which reads, “Jesus loves me…this I know.  Jesus knows me…this I love.”  In what way does the Divine Shepherd know us?  The Bible tells us in John 10 that “he calls his own sheep by name” (vs. 3).   What does His personal knowledge of His people mean?

By studying the shepherd of the Middle East during Jesus’ time we can have insight into the answer.  This important person in the economy of that time paid such close attention to his sheep that he was aware of their every situation, both day and night, day in and day out.

The shepherd knew each fall each and every sheep had suffered, each tight spot they had encountered, and the exact spot of the scars each sheep carried on its body.  He knew the circumstances leading to their getting caught in the brambles and how their coats got torn.  He knew why a sheep was limping.  In fact, a good shepherd could actually find the mother of a stray lamb in the dark just by listening to its cry and that of its mother!

say »hello« to the spring

Jesus knows each of his children in just such a way.  He knows each time I have become caught in some tangle of life.  He knows the scars I carry as a result.  He knows each time I have fallen under a heavy load, trying circumstance, or temptation.  He sees me limping as I come to Him for comfort and healing.

What comfort we can find in knowing our good Shepherd and Savior is watching us so closely that He can identify us even when all seems dark!

I am so thankful Christ tenderly cares for me each moment of the day and night.  I am thankful for His watchfulness over me through all my trials and hurts and for bringing me back home when I have lost my way and wandered onto paths of trouble and pain.  I am thankful that He knows me by my scars.

I am glad He is my good Shepherd and I am one of His sheep.

by Cindy Best

(photo by blumbaum at http://www.flickr.com/photos/blumblaum/4493856280/)

%d bloggers like this: