Life Lessons on Vacation

Life Lessons on Vacation

Yesterday we visited, Alaska Islands and Oceans Visitor Center, in Homer AK. Let me back up a bit and catch some of you up to speed. The family and i are in Alaska, although we lived here for 8 years from 2005-2013, today we are tourists.  i personally lived in Homer, for 4 of those years and had visited the Alaska Islands and Oceans Visitor Center, countless times. i admittedly got burned out and it became a joke, “hey, you guys want to go to the Visitor Center?” to which everyone would respond, loudly and emphatically, “NO!”…yet, it amazes me that i still see or hear something new whenever i do go. Whats even more amazing is that as i walk around now, even though i haven’t been here in at least 4 years, that i can remember, i still remember a ton of information. As we walked and listened, i was able to give information about different stuff that had just been sitting in my memory waiting for the right moment to reveal itself.

These are the thoughts i have about that from a Biblical standpoint. First, we understand the Word of God to be living (Hebrews 4:12). Which means that as we read it over and over, even the same passage everyday for a week for instance, there is always something new to be learned and understood. The passage in Hebrews is mainly talking about the power of the Word to see through us, change us, renew us, but its natural conclusion is its ability to instruct us. For further examples see Psalm 32:8 and 2 Timothy 3:16 and here 1 Corinthians 2:10-12.

10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

Second, the more we read and understand the more i begin to understand how God through His living Word can speak through me at the right time. If we are soaked in the Word, we begin to emulate and soon the Word just oozes out of us. Some would say that emulate is to powerful a word as within the definition it says, “ones aspiring to become equal or greater than” and they would point out the devil and his fall from grace. Point taken, however, i am not attempting to emulate God in Heaven so much as His Son Jesus on earth. There is a difference even though they are One, simply looking at Jesus own words in John 14:12.

May we be challenged to seek His Word faithfully, may we not get bored of reading the same passage over again, but may it spring to life new every time we read it.

You are Loved,

cj

Hark the Herald Angel Sing

Hark the Herald Angel Sing

Its almost Christmas and i harken back to a time when life was simpler, yet my childhood angst would be aroused with unimaginable anticipation. The house pristinely decorated with Christmas cheer, every room, every hall, my mother would spare no expense or space. It reminds me of the cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and in particular the song, Welcome Christmas (listen to it here). Even now i can see my moms house decorated to the hilt. She as in years past started decorating in October…setting up Harvest scenes that will easily transition into Christmas scenes along with Harvest Trees that have become Christmas Trees. She quite literally took this song for everything its worth…

Trim up the tree with Christmas stuff
Like bingle balls and whofoo fluff
Trim up the town with googoo gums
And bizilbigs and wums

Trim every blessed window and trim every blessed door
Hang up whoboohoo bricks then run out and get some more!
Hang pantookas on the ceilings
Pile panpoonas on the floor
Trim every blessed needle on the blessed Christmas tree
Christmas comes tomorrow. Trim you, trim me!
Trim up your tree with fuzzle fuzz
And fliffer bloofs, and wuzzle wuzz
Trim up your uncle and your aunt
With yards of whoflut flay

i don’t know what any of that means but it is definitely an accurate description of my parents home. My present home, however, is much more modest in its decor. In fact this year even more so; i confess that i have not been very festive this year at all, compared to Christmas’ past anyway.

i sometimes feel guilty that i don’t have all the trimmings up, that is until i remember the modest entrance of the King of kings.

Luke 2:4-7
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
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Although, the following verses are marked by an angelic scene in the sky with great significance, the actual place and birth were humble, times ten. i think we can sometimes get lost in the glamor of modern Christmas and miss the simplicity of Jesus’ birth that heralded in the Majesty of the King. To this i say, Merry Christmas my friends, may you think of the humility of God in the birth of His Son, Jesus, Emmanuel. Hark the Herald Angels Sing:
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Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

 

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

 

God bless us, everyone! (Tiny Tim)

You are loved,

cj

P.S.

Here are some interesting facts concerning the Hymn/Carol of Hark! The Herald Angel Sing from Wikipedia (so take it with a grain of salt?)

 

God’s Power Through Your Prayer

God’s Power Through Your Prayer

i recently challenged the teens of my youth ministry to pray this prayer for others and themselves. The challenge to seek God, who has unlimited resources, to empower us from within through His Spirit. To make our hearts His home as we invite Him in…to grow in God’s love and understanding how awesome He is. The prayer is found in Ephesians 3:14-19…i have included it here:

“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everyone in heaven and on earth. I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His hove is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:14-19

A simple reminder to continue to pray this prayer…pray it for your family, pray it for me, pray it for yourself…as i pray it for you. Let us wait expectantly for God to move in our lives. It ends with verses 20 and 21

“Now all glory to God, who is able through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen!”

You are loved,

cj

You are Loved

You are Loved

“Tired from his journey, Jesus, sat at the well, it was noon.” A glimpse into the humanity of Jesus. He was tired and sat to rest at a well in the middle of the day. A part of the day when the well should have been void of people, and it was until, a Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water. This was completely out of the ordinary…sure i imagine there were times and circumstances where water was drawn in the heat of the day but it was most definitely the exception and not the rule.

How do we know that this wasn’t just one of those exceptions? Well, (pun intended, heres another) we can draw from the conversation (you can pause here and read the whole of the story in John 4 here). i want us to think on this encounter for a moment. This divine encounter where Jesus, meets a woman, no one wanted to associate with (in public) and ‘loves’ her.

We are in advent week two popularly known as the week of LOVE, the advent of love coming to dwell among us. That’s not all, love came to hang out with those no one else wanted to. To meet us right where we are…no change necessary to come to Him where He waits for us. His desire, for us to know Him.

“If you recognized God’s gift and who is saying to you, ‘Give me some water to drink,’ you would be asking him and he would give you living water.” Knowing Him and asking Him and receiving from Him…living water, life everlasting. Love so freely offered to a woman trapped in a life of sin. Love.

You are loved,

cj

Bizarro Universe

Bizarro Universe

Sitting in a chair thirty thousand feet (30,000ft) in the air being served food (gingerbread cookies) and beverage (coffee black) is by far one of the most amazing advances in human technology. Some others, the phone that is in your hand or tablet or iPad that you are reading this from…another technically advanced achievement of mankind (humankind for my socially liberal or progressive friends).  That device and the information it contains, the things that it can do, once filled an entire room and even then only did 1/1000 of what your phone can do now (it takes and sends pictures and videos, not even kidding).

i recently purchased a bluetooth headset for my phone for this trip i am currently on (Alaska bound for a visit with my boys and some hockey). i turned it on, hit connect and that was it…no programing, no software downloads, no app required, just turned it on. Soon after i was listening to the music stored on my phone from another music source that basically has every song you can think of…which means i had endless possibility of music choice. While listening to my music a call came through, i was alerted by a beep, i clicked a button and talked through my wireless bluetooth headset that look like regular earbuds (my phone was in my pocket). The call concluded, my music resumed, i grabbed my phone from my pocket, clicked over to my news app and began reading a news story (related to the most recent election) from my phone that was still streaming music to my wireless bluetooth headset.  Did i mention i am writing this from 30,000ft thats thirty thousand feet in the air!

Shortly after takeoff i looked out my window, i have a window seat, and by the way, was given a free upgrade on this leg of my journey. It might have something to due with the fact that i wore my Skywest jacket…but neither i nor they mentioned it. However, this happens to be a flight operated by Skywest for Delta. Anyway, i looked out my window a bit ago and caught the glimpse of another plane flying in the opposite direction of the one i am traveling on. i couldn’t help but wonder about the passengers on that plane, where was it going and was there someone like me on that plane headed in the other direction? Like maybe my doppelgänger, you know my alternate universe twin, like bizarro superman or for my Seinfeld friends bizarro Jerry? Those people along with my possible doppelgänger traveling to who knows where for who knows what except them of course; i am left to wonder as they are for us on this plane, i wonder if anyone on that plane even saw us? Perhaps, bizarro cj.

This brings me to this question, have you ever wondered if you are the best version of yourself? We all have special quirks that make us who we are so i am not suggesting in anyway that our individuality is bad…but are we the best version of ourselves? Can we improve on aspects of our life to make us better humans? There is a line in a movie, As Good as it Gets, where the main character says to the leading lady, “You make me want to be a better man.” Of course she is flattered by his comment. That’s a movie however, the idea is still there; are their things, people, ideas, that make you want to be a better person? And if so what does that “better” version of you look like…more profoundly, how do we get to that “better” version of ourselves? In the bizarro world the character is the opposite of the other, so if one is good the other is bad. For example, Bizarro Superman is a villain because of course Superman is a hero. Which version of you, are you?

Unlike the bizarro universe, we are not stuck being any version of ourselves that we don’t want to be. In fact because of Jesus we are able, through His transforming power, to become better people. Paul writes to the Ephesians in Chapter 2 the following:

“4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.”

There is the answer to the new life. Jesus in us because of God’s great mercy and love. Paul writes to the Corinthians in his second letter the following:

5:17 “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

New life. We no longer need to settle for who we once were because we are bing made new in Christ. We need only to allow Him to do what He wishes in us to make us more and more into His image. That we might carry the light into dark places in our world. We can even enter the bizarro universe and shed light there too!

you are loved,

cj