Merry Christmas! It’s a greeting that we hear and use over and over at this time of year. Just before Christmas, I went Christmas caroling at one of our board member’s annual event. We sang songs of joy, peace and proclamation and ended at each house with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”. It was fun and exciting, especially when everyone excitedly burst into the farewell greeting before going to the next house. Christmas is indeed a time to celebrate and rejoice in the wonder of the Christ child. It is a time to reflect on that tender innocent babe born in such humble surroundings and exploring all the meaning as prophesy after prophesy was fulfilled.
However, we also know that for many, Christmas is not always a joyous occasion. For some, as families gather together, they will miss loved ones who passed on earlier this year and will be saddened not to have them with them. I have a dear friend who lost her young son to cancer earlier this year. My heart and prayers go out to her as this will be her first Christmas without him. Another friend lost her husband this year. And many friends have lost daughters, husbands, fathers, mothers, grandparents within the recent years and it’s still painful to try to celebrate a holiday without them.
In addition, many in our great country suffer from Depression, and perhaps not just from someone they love who was close to them passing away, but because of chemical imbalances or other factors. It’s something that they battle not just at the holidays, but all-year-round. Recently we found this article with good truths to remember, such as how Jesus understood depression. While in the garden, Luke 22:44 says, “Being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” God never promises that we won’t struggle. So we wanted to share this from FaithGateway.com — Depression: Fighting Dragons by Jim Burgen
I want to address the dragon that I most often see hunting the people around me: depression. This includes both the deep blues anyone can feel and the diagnosable imbalance that plagues so many. No one asks for this dragon, but he swallows up many people regardless. This dragon is big, heavy, overwhelming, and he has the potential to crush, suffocate, and swallow you up. This dragon doesn’t create bad days or bad weeks. He creates bad childhoods, bad decades, and bad lives. On and on, day after day, year after year, this dragon causes pain with no relief in sight.
Remember that overwhelmingly sad feeling when you learned that someone you loved died? Remember the guilt and embarrassment you felt after your biggest failure was exposed? Remember facing the biggest problem in your life and thinking that it was impossible to fix? Remember that time, as a little kid, when someone held you under the swimming pool too long, and you thought you were going to drown? Roll all of those emotions into one, carry them around with you every day from the time you wake up until the time you fall asleep, and you will begin to understand the dragon of depression.
To read more on this topic, click here. They also have a special on the book “No More Dragons” until December 31st. Check out their full article. And if you know someone struggling, be sure to reach out and share with them.
Blessings for a MERRY Christmas and a HAPPY New Year. Always lean on Christ for strength in our weakest of areas!
Think about that for a minute. Really think about how THE Creator of the universe, the Father of our salvation, the very same God who spent time with Adam and Eve, the same God who sent HIS son to die for us… He’s jealous for you!
So often, we sing songs about how big His love is for us, how much He cares, how much He wants us to go into deeper waters to trust Him. Question… Do we ever really THINK about those words? Bigger question… Do we BELIEVE those words?
Give some honest thought to that.
Our day to day lives are filled with SO MUCH stress, so much tugging and pulling to do everything and be everything to everyone. We get weighed down with anxiety and stress and all that junk really starts to cloud our minds. Maybe it’s just me?
I recently was BLESSED to take my Emmaus journey. What a blessing! To be able to take three days to be with like-minded folks focused on our amazing, great big God was absolutely everything my heart needed. It was all I had hoped it would be… a beautiful time where I was able to refocus on Him and his amazing and unconditional love for us.
I’ll begin with this…
So, God has blessed me with really letting me hear Him through music. Those lyrics that we sing really allow me to hear Him and to be in His throne room with him as if He is speaking directly to ME.
We sang several songs throughout our journey to Emmaus of course. It was amazing being able to worship with my sisters (and a few brothers!) together. Several songs stood out, one being – as you may have guessed it… Crowder’s “How He Loves”.
I’ve sung that song I don’t know how many times. This was different. I was really trying to hear Him speak to me. I was yearning for it. “God, PLEASE. I’m here. I want to feel Your presence. I want to SEE Your face. Speak to ME.”
That first night, I spent quite a bit in silent meditation and prayer. At several points, I just spoke those words above over and over – again, meditating on words from this song and others. You see, prior to Emmaus – life was stressful. (Well, hello there understatement!) It’d been a crazy year of transition after transition. So, Emmaus was SO needed. It’s so true how things happen in HIS timing, right? I was “supposed” to go a year or so prior – but “somehow”… it didn’t work out. This time, I was able to build a relationship with a different sponsor and met some Jesus-lovin’ folks that I wouldn’t have gotten to meet otherwise (shoutout to my “Mama” here!).
I started thinking about all the junk that had transpired, not just the past year – but much longer than that… how He was always there. He was there when I felt like no one was. He was there, fighting for me, crying with me during hard times, yearning for me to lean on Him. Sometimes I did, other times, in my own pride… I tried to do it myself. He was still oh so faithful and never left me. He never forgot about me. He was there, with open arms. He may have been thinking “I told you so.”, but He never made me feel less than.
He loves us SO big. SO unconditionally. He loves us in such a way that NOTHING we do, NOTHING can change how He feels about us. It’s a sacrificial, unconditional form of love that truly beats all odds. Wow. The same God who created the Heavens and Earth loves me like that? Really?
Can I be honest here? So many times, I feel unworthy. Those stinkin’ happenings in life REALLY get to me. I mean, they may or may not be getting to me as we speak. But ya’ know… God has MY back! Life can really make us feel like we are nothing. Stress with kids? Job? Family? Feeling friendless? Finances? Marriage? Maybe it’s all of the above. For many people, it is. I’m currently feeling a few of the above.
We can’t let the enemy win our hearts by allowing him to invade our thoughts.
Man, it sounds simple – but it can be easier said than done! So, what do you do? For me, I go to those songs. Those lyrics that are scripturally sound (something that is very important to me) and that align with my beliefs really help me get through those thoughts of unworthiness. Here lately, it’s been “He is jealous for me…”
No matter how low, how down, how alone, how useless, how whatever I feel… I remember that He loves me as I am and He loves me FIERCE! He has my back! That same God who’s done such great and mighty things goes before me in battle and he will never leave me. I can rest assured that I am not alone, because He lives in my heart!
Friends, I beg of you… know that YOU ARE LOVED. I mean it. No matter your mistakes… You’re loved. God thinks you are PRECIOUS. You were made in His image… you’re beautiful and valued and cherished beyond belief. When you feel any amount of “less than”… know that you’re worth more than all the treasures of this earth.
Today is the National Day of Prayer! I encourage you to join me in lifting for our country. and for our leaders in prayer. Let’s ask God to bless America and to send a wave of revival across this great nation that we may return to the godly values and principles of the Bible upon which this country was founded.
Dear God, please forgive our national transgressions and bless the United States of America again. The Lord has promised that: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Life is all about relationships, the ways in which we connect with each other or how we behave toward or deal with other people. We, as human beings, are social creatures. We need each other! We all require love, encouragement, support, fellowship, and the myriad of other benefits that are possible because of relationships. In fact, our relationships with others help to mold and shape how we view ourselves in relation to the world around us. Attesting to the importance of relationships is an abundance of evidence that when people are isolated from social interaction for extended periods—such as enduring the punishment of solitary confinement—they can suffer detrimental emotional and psychological effects. Our relationships help to define who we are as individuals who are social by nature. The conglomeration of these relationships or human associations and the conventions, institutions, and patterns of thinking and behaving resulting from them is what we call society! Human relationships date back to the Garden of Eden when God said: “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:18) Life is all about relationships with other people, and everlasting life is all about a relationship with one man—the only One who has ever walked on earth as both God and man—the Lord Jesus Christ!!!.
Just as positive associations with other people are essential to our physical and emotional health, we all desperately need to enter into a relationship with Jesus, our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, through whom we have the exclusive opportunity for communion and fellowship with the heavenly Father. Of all the bonds that we will ever develop, emphatically, the most important one by far is a relationship with the Savior of mankind, the Son of the living God, Jesus Christ! It is absolutely essential that each of us has, not just a knowledge of, but a personal relationship with Christ. Not our good works, not our service to others, nothing else can do it—the development of this one relationship or the failure to do so alone will determine whether we spend eternity in God’s presence in an unimaginably glorious paradise called heaven or eternally separated from Him in an equally real place of everlasting punishment called hell. In this earthly life it is essential that we choose and develop our relationships carefully. Likewise, our eternal security hinges on wisely choosing to open our hearts to receive Christ who longs to come inside and fellowship forever with you and me. Jesus, who died that we might have life, extends to all this invitation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:20) Faith opens the door to an outpouring of God’s grace and an everlasting relationship with Christ Jesus!
We as human beings are likely one of the most impatient creatures of all. As Americans in our culture we are continually being taught that we don’t need to wait. Everything is becoming faster and more instantaneous. Remember film cameras? It’s a lot of fun developing black and white film, watching and waiting as that image comes to life on paper. I remember several years ago, before I acquired my own digital camera, I was at a festival and taking pictures. There was a very cute little boy that had spiked-up hair and I asked to take his picture. After getting permission and clicking the shot, he immediately asked, “Can I see?” to which I had to explain that this was an “old fashioned” camera and I had to wait to develop my film.
As women, we find ourselves waiting lots, also. We ask and wait for a loving man to be our partner for life. We ask and wait for a baby… remember how long Sarah and Abraham waited? Then we do have children, we find ourselves waiting in the middle of the night for the fever to come down… waiting for that day when they are finally out of diapers… waiting for when they can finally do a few more things for themselves… and then waiting for them to get back home from their first driving experience alone… and when they grow up and move out… waiting for them to call or come by.
Christians will often find themselves having to wait. And it’s not always a pleasant experience. Waiting for God to direct you has got to be one of the hardest disciplines to master, and I’m not sure that any of us will ever master it. Today’s blog share comes from Lifeway.com and reminds just some of the benefits of waiting on God.
From the blog:
“Waiting is a common activity for those who passionately follow God. When we face unpleasant, fear-inducing circumstances, we must face them with faith in the God who’s watching over our lives.”
We as men often let fear exist in our life. Whether it’s from a pressing decision that has to be made, or to someone’s opinion of us. We are big strong bull of the woods type who keep our fears locked away to never be confronted again.In 1 Kings there are quite a few mentions of a king who ruled with fear. He was a nasty king with a wicked wife. He ruled with fear, and caused fear in God’s people and prophets. He had a servant who ruled over all his possessions named Obadiah who he kept in line also with……..you guessed it, fear. Ahab was on a mission to find a land for his animals, and to find and kill the prophet Elijah.
Elijah showed up, and God showed up with him in a suddenly moment. At that moment Obadiah was overtaken by the fear of king Ahab. He said, “how can you send me back to tell the king you’re here, he’s going to kill me.”
That leads me to a few questions the Lord placed on me. What is the King in your own life that causes fear?
Is it a fear of what people will think if you step out and become one of those “Jesus followers”? Is it a fear of loosing an income because God’s calling you out to serve Him full-time? Is it trying to put together an event, and you don’t know where the funds will come from? Or maybe it’s a ministers fear that a new ministry locally is gonna be more impressive than his.
Whatever it is that’s causing you to fear a false king in your life, take a stand against it! God has gone before you to make you successful according to His standards. Don’t let an Ahab dictate your calling, or decision. God’s got this!