Don’t Throw Away Those Christmas Cards!

Christmas card basket
Our basket of Christmas Prayer Cards for 2015

What do you do with all those Christmas Cards you received over the last month…even those latecomers that might not have arrived until January 2nd (we got a few of those!)? Why not keep them and let them help you give back to each person/family throughout the whole year?

A few years ago we began a tradition at the Whipple house. I wrote about it on this blog several years ago, but I thought I’d re-write about it this year, because it has been such an important part of our family’s Christmas tradition that usually lasts through the summer and into the fall.

We take all those cards down from display when we put the decorations away, and place them in a basket. Each Sunday, when we have our dinner, one of the kids draws a card randomly from the basket. The younger ones in particular love picking the card. Sometimes there are spirited discussions about whose turn it is. 🙂

We then pray for that person or family every night at supper for the entire week. It is a great way to give back to them by praying for them. I try to let people know that we have prayed for them, but honestly, I often don’t. However, the times that I have called, texted, or emailed the family we prayed for in a particular week, or when I simply know the circumstances in their lives, I am always blown away by the timing of God allowing us to pray for that particular family on that particular week. It has almost always come at a time when that family/individual really needed it! Then again, I don’t know why it should blow me away. His sovereign timing is always right!

SO…don’t throw away those cards! Keep them and pray for those who have been meaningful in your lives and to thank God for them. It is a great example for your kids. We rotate saying the blessing around our supper table, so it is always cool to hear our kids intercede for others…sometimes people that they don’t even know well. Then, it is even cooler when we can tell them how their prayers were very timely!

You may even take the cards and put a note on them and send them back to those who originally sent them to you, letting them know you prayed and thanked God for them. It truly is a blessing to stand in the gap for friends and family and to teach your kids about praying for others.

Make those old Christmas Cards from last year into Prayer Cards for the new year!

And know that if you sent the Whipples a Christmas Card…we will be praying for you!

I thank God in all my rememberance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you allmaking my prayer for you with joy
Philippians 1:3-4

 

What to do when you don’t know what to do…

So…it’s been several months since I posted any blogs. the last 6 months have been pretty crazy in a lot of ways and blogging kinda took a back seat. Well, I’m once again trying to return to somewhat regular blogging. So for the few of you that read this…here we go.

Have you ever found yourself in a place in life where you just didn’t know what to do? Whether it is in ministry or family or career or school or relationships or even politics. We all can find ourselves at a place where we are at a loss as to what to do. Many of us are right now at a loss of what to do with our nation, the economy, the political landscape. Others are at a loss of what to do in their personal life, their marriage, their job (or lack of one). So, what do we do?

In recent weeks and months, I found myself in that place. I’ll admit that much of this journey of planting a church these last 7 years I have been at a loss of what to do. Most of the time, actually. However, I think that is a good place to be because it makes me realize my utter dependence on God. I should be leaning on Him, but while I know that, I still “lean on my own understanding” many times. When I get to a place where I can’t come up with what to do on my own…and even after asking God…what do I do then? Finding oneself in this place can lead to dispair, depression, slavery to fear, even falling into sin. We’ll turn to that secret sin or pleasure, we can get bitter, anxious. We might even turn to our favorite ice cream to help! So what do we do?

When I found myself in this place recently, God showed me something from His word that I had never really seen before in an Old Testament story. I was prompted to turn there when I saw a verse posted on facebook by my good friend Aidan McKenzie. The verse was 2 Chronicles 20:12b…

“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Wow! That is what I needed to hear. So, I backed up and read the context of the story of King Jehoshaphat…which is what one should always do in studying the Bible. (“Context is king”, as Kay Arthur always says.) STOP NOW and read it for yourself HERE before going on. No really, you need to take the time to read 2 Chronicles 18-20…its a good story and the message is strong.

Did you read it? If not, the rest of this post won’t mean much. READ IT before going on. You did it? Good!

Jehoshaphat was King of Judah at the time that Israel was a divided kingdom. He had made an unwise alliance with King Ahab of Israel and went to war alongside him…this almost cost him his life too. God was not pleased because of the wickedness of King Ahab. Yet God knew Jehoshaphat’s heart was to seek Him. After this, Jehoshaphat brought reforms to Judah and brought the nation back to God. Then, enemies from within turned against Jehoshaphat. In Chapter 20 we see where the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites, who had been allowed to live in peace among the children of Israel when they conqured the Promised Land, came against Jehoshaphat in battle (20:1). When Jehoshaphat was told, he did not know what to do. He was about to be overcome by a great horde. What did he do?

What we read in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 gives us the answer and also gives us a prescription on what to do when we don’t know what to do. If you haven’t read it, go there now and read it. (You get the idea I want you to read this?) What did Jehoshaphat do when he didn’t know what to do? (all scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version)

  • v. 3 – Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
    When we don’t know what to do we are afraid…but when we are afraid we should determine to seek the Lord…with intensity. The proclaiming of a fast was to seek God with greater intensity. Fast and pray.
  • v. 5-6 – And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.
    Cry out to God…Pray. Jehoshaphat cried out to God in front of the whole assembly. We should not be afraid to cry out to God with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Have them cry out on your behalf.
  • v. 12 – “O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
    We need to admit our poverty and in humility understand our powerlessness and utter dependence upon God. Then turn to and KEEP our eyes on the LORD alone. He alone is worthy and He alone is able to win the victory. We can’t, but He can! Sounds trite and cliche-ish but it’s true. Jehoshaphat realized this. His own wisdom had gotten him in a mess and nearly killed him. That leads to the next step…
  • v. 15-17 And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”
    Recognize whose battle it is...and quit trying to fight it ourself! Interestingly, v. 17 is the middle verse of the Old Testament. It’s no coincidence that this verse somewhat sums up what God had to continually remind the children of Israel…”see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf..the Lord will be with you.”
  • v. 18-19 18 Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19 And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.
    WORSHIP! Sing praise to God…even in the midst of your circumstance! For HE IS WORTHY! Jehoshaphat worshiped in humility. When you don’t know what to do…DON’T PULL AWAY FRRM THE CHURCH! I see this all too often. Don’t stop gathering with the Body of Christ for WORSHIP. Jehoshaphat worshiped before the battle…while surrounded by enemies.
  • v. 20 – And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” (emphasis added)
    Be OBEDIENT. They stepped out IN FAITH. Continue to walk in obedience. Whatever you KNOW God commands…continue to do. Whatever the last thing He told you to do…continue to do, even while you wait on Him. Step out in obedience. Oh…and by the way…STOP the things you know are in DISOBEDIENCE. Notice that they didn’t come up with a plan, Jehoshaphat simply told the people to do what God had instructed. “They went out“. God calls you and I to obedience…because He loves us and we love Him. When your finances are in trouble, don’t stop tithing. That’s “robbing God” (Malachi 3:8). When your marriage is struggling…don’t give up and break the covenant you made before God and pursue another relationship or lifestyle. When you have sinned against your spouse…don’t continue in it. STOP and repent and return to walking with God in obedience.  When you don’t know what to do…step out in faith…each day. DO the things you already KNOW to do…and DON’T do the things you know you are not to do.
  • v. 21 – And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise himin holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
    Give THANKS in advance. The people thanked God ahead of the battle. Thank Him before you know the outcome. A heart of gratitude will keep everything in perspective. The Bible reiterates this over and over. (see James 1:2-3)
  • v. 22 – And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.
    Sing and praise God for the victory. WHEN they began to sing and praise the Lord…HE ACTED! When they stepped out in faith and obedience…THEN God acted.
  • v. 29-30 – And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.
    God’s glory was evident to ALL! His glory will be manifested (made vividly clear) in your life and church to everyone around…even enemies. In the previous verses (23-28) we also see the provision and blessing that God gives Jehoshaphat and the people as a result of HIS victory and their FAITH. More evidence of the glory of God.

So what do we do when we don’t know what to do? I don’t know what enemies you are facing right now…what “horde” is surrounding and advancing upon you, but your eyes need to be on the Lord. That is our only hope. Our eyes don’t need to be on government, elections, people, economics, leaders, pastors or anything else in this world. We should simply fololw this pattern Jehoshaphat did:

  • seek God intensly
  • pray…cry out to God
  • in humility turn our eyes to the Lord
  • trust Him to fight the battle
  • worship and praise Him
  • step out in faith and walk in obedience…daily
  • give thanks in advance
  • watch God work!
  • repeat continually… 🙂

Utopia

Today a new movie comes out that is a must see: Seven Days In Utopia. It is based on the best-selling book Golf’s Sacred Journey by David Cook. Men need to see this movie. It is one of those rare Hollywood films that has a positive, biblically principled message. It will also challenge you. For more on Golf’s Sacred Journey check out THIS LINK.  Watch the trailer…

turn 4

This past weekend, for auto racing fans, there were two of the biggest races on the schedule. The Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600. I watched the races off and on throughout the afternoon and evening, but the finish of both these races was what was most intriguing and unexpected.

In the Indy 500 a 23 year old rookie, J.R. Hildebrand was winning the race after a flurry of lead changes toward the end. Coming into turn

JR Hildebrand crashes coming out of turn 4 at Indy

four, the final turn, he had only to pass a slower lapped car then cruise down the straight away to the finish line and take the checkered flag. It was going to be a great story. But…it was not to be. As he passed the slower car coming out of the final turn, Hildebrand’s car got a little high on the track and out of the groove…sending him crashing into the wall! Dan Wheldon passed him and took the victory…while Hildebrand maintained enough control to slide all the way down the wall to the finish line and finish second. A great finish for a rookie, but not what could’ve been. My heart went out for that guy!

In the Coca-Cola 600, which is the longest race on NASCAR’s schedule, a crazy bunch of racing and pit stops and strategies made for an unexpected finish. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had been running well all day. Through a series of strategic calculations on fuel, Jr. decided to gamble on being able to finish

Earnhardt runs out of gas as Harvick passes him in turn 4

the race. he conserved as best he could…even turning off his engine and coasting during a late yellow flag. All this enabled him to be in the lead on the final few laps. He took the white flag with what seemed to be an insurmountable lead and a sure victory…his first in a long time. Then coming into turn 4…just as at Indy…that all changed. He began to slow and it was quickly apparent that he was out of fuel. Momentum would only take him so far. Six cars would pass Jr. before he coasted across the finish line in 7th place. A respectable finish and a decent payday for sure, but not what could’ve been.

So I was thinking about these races this week and several scriptures and principles from God’s word came to mind. Where are you on the track? Are you thinking about the finish at all? For all we know we are all coming into “turn four.” While Harold Camping’s supposed prophecy did not come true on May 21, we don’t know what the future holds, nor do we know when Christ will return (Matthew 24) or when our days will end (Ecclesiastes 9:12a). We can make all the calculations we want on our future, the future of the world, our nation, politics, economic forecasts, and on and on. The bottom line is we are all in “turn four” or at least we should live like we are.

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Paul says,

24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

And again in Galatians 5:7…

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?

Jesus warned us to always be ready…live prepared for His return (Matthew 25:1-13). We should live as if we are coming out of “turn four” all the time. Some of us have run well but we are running out of fuel. We are not keeping our lamps full of oil as Jesus illustrated. We aren’t living  our lives filled with and dependent upon and trusting in the Holy Spirit. We may be doing good things…going to church…but we aren’t in a relationship with Jesus. You are coming out of turn four and you are gonna run out because what you are filled with is insufficient to get you to victory. You must put your faith in Jesus…not in religion or spirituality. A relationship with Jesus is the only thing that will get you home. (John 14:6). We need to live everyday walking with Jesus as if it is the last day…as if we are in turn four.

Some of us are walking with the Lord, but we are in danger of crashing because we have gotten out of the groove. We are looking to the finish line but not paying attention to what’s going on right under our wheels. Hildebrand crashed because he got out of the racing groove and got “up into the marbles.” The marbles are the little balls of rubber that accumulate on the outside parts of the track as tires ont he cars wear over the course of the race. When a car “gets in the marbles” it’s like getting on ice. They can quickly lose control…and before they know it they are in the wall. We have to pay attention to the things that are all around us that can trip us up and send us into the wall. As the writer of Hebrews says, “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us” (Hebrew 12:1). The enemy wants nothing more than to see you not finish well. If you are a Christ follower, Satan knows he can’t have you (John 10:28) but he can surely disqualify you and make you less than useful for the Kingdom and the sake of the Gospel in this world. He can get you “out of the groove” and “into the marbles.” We’ve seen it over and over. In the wake of such disasters we see many hurt and disillusioned people…even the ones we love the most wind up damaged. Discipline and concentration are essential coming out of turn four and headed to the finish. That’s where we are as the church. It isn’t about us…it’s about HIM and HIS glory. It’s about the Great Commission and taking the Gospel to the nations…then the finish line comes.

We have to stay focused…concentrating…not letting anything “cut in on us” and distract us from what Christ calls us to. We must stay filled with the Spirit…stay in the narrow groove (Matthew 13:22-30). Turn four is where the race can be won or lost. We can finish strong and well or we can limp across the line…or not make it at all. What is your focus as you come into turn four? Are you running on fumes or full? Are you disciplined and concentrating or distracted by the world? Are you in the groove or not? Finish strong! Finish well!

 1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and seated at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2

Heroes

I went to the store today to pick up some items for supper tonight. My oldest came home from summer school so the whole family is here! After several hours at a friend’s pool, we were doing the traditional grilling out. It appeared that the whole community is having the same menu, by the appearance of the shelves at Kroger. All the baked beans were gone as were most of the ingredients for homemade ice cream!  As we enjoy our family time and the day off…don’t ever forget what Memorial Day is really about…don’t let your kids forget either. We remember those who made our freedom possible by making the ultimate sacrifice…true American Heroes.

Weekend Recap 5-1-11

What a great day @ The Ridge this past Sunday! Here are a few highlights:

  • The band did an exceptional job Sunday! Props to Jerry and the whole Creative Arts team.
  • Spoke on obedience and baptism from Acts 8:26-40
  •  Obedience is doing what I’m told to do, when I’m told to do it, with a right heart attitude. Here’s the problem we have with being obedient to God, Jesus, God’s Word. Just as we talked about last Sunday, if God is just a concept, not a reality, in our lives, then obedience is optional. Since God is just a concept and obedience is optional…or only if convenient…then Jesus becomes simply our spare tire.  We get Him out in an emergency…when the wheels fall off or we get a flat and are stuck.
  • Jesus wants and deserves our surrender and obedience. He doesn’t want to just be our spare tire.
  • Radical Obedience is obeying with reckless abandon, letting go of everything and following Christ without looking back
  • Question:  Are we willing to run to obeyChrist? Look back at Philip in vv. 26-30. What did he do when he heard God call him? Immediate obedience. What did he do when he saw the Eunuch? He RAN. Do we RUN to obey Christ?
  • We try to complicate Jesus’ simplest commands. Because of they are complicated, then we don’t have to do anything about them. We struggle with the simple commands because we have no choice but to deal with them.
  • At the end of our gathering we offerd a chance for people to respond in obedience through baptism, if they had never done so biblically.
  • WSe offered the opportunity for people to respond IMMEDIATELY and spontaneously and SIX people responded by being baptized Sunday!! That was awesome! It was cool to see on mother and daughter and one father and daughter baptized together. In addition two other individuals responded also. That NEVER gerts old!!
  • After our gathering two teams went to two different communities on our region affected by the tornadoes last week. I was proud of our folks for responding so generously! We took water, juice, and all kinds of household stuff that was requested and delivered to Cullman, AL and Ringgold, GA. Thanks to Craig Parsons and Warehouse Of Hope for giving us a lot of water, etc. to take along with what our people donated. All totaled we took six
    tonando damage leading into Cullman, AL

    truckloads and a trailer full of stuff to these communities.

 

  • Major props to those who volunteered: the Pruet, Leggs & Atkins families, along with Mike Pinkerton, Debby Ferst, Katherine
    unloading water for tonado relief

    Morgan, Aaron Whipple, Shelli Delita, and I think a couple  of others went too!  Thanks to all of those who stayed after and helped load up the trucks too. The people there were very appreciative of our efforts. Our opporunities to minister there are not done. We’ll be prayerfully looking at how we can minister more in the future to these communities. It is gonna take months to clean up and rebuild.

What if the church…

What if the church was unified this Easter? What if the Church moved, spoke, praised, worshiped, and ministered in harmony? Maybe it’s idealistic, but what would it look like? This has been on facebook, but check out this video from 2nd Baptist Church in Houston with over 2000 of its members taking over a park in downtown Houston. Praising God unashamedly…and “dancing their shoes off”. I think this has relevance for us this Easter. Will you be unashamed in inviting people to Easter @ The Ridge (or wherever you attend church)? It is time for the church to “rise up” and be seen, be counted, in unity praising God and reaching out to the world! Jesus diead for ALL the world. He conqured death and the grave and sin so that ALL the world might be saved. What are people seeing when they look at your church? Be sure to watch to the end…

Spring Cleaning…

This Saturday, April 9th, we are having a Spring Cleaning Day @ The Ridge. It isn’t often that we get this opportunity, being a portable church, to have empty trailers. With Spring Break this week, we have the opportunity to leave all of our stuff set up at the school. Therefore, we can work on our trailers, clean them out of the extra stuff that tends to accumulate and use our empty trailers to cledan out our storage unit.

The storage unit! That’s another story. What a mess that tends to become. Well, we are gonna take some time this Saturday morning to get to cleaning. We are meeting at Austin Middle School at 9am. If you are a Ridger and can join us, please do so…even if it is for just a little while. We’ll be done no later than noon. If you have questions or want to let us know you are coming call the church office at 678-838-4549 or email info@churchattheridge.com .

BUT that’s not so much what this post is really about.

All this talk about cleaning out and cleaning up, got me thinking about what we’ve been studying @ The Ridge these last few months. This Sunday we will end our Take A Hike series. This has been an awesome study on The Sermon On The Mount that Jesus preached in Matthew 5-7. It has been quite a hike, but I believe God has revealed much in our hearts that needs to be cleaned out and much in His Word that we now have a fresh perspective about.

I know that there has been much in my own heart that He is doing by way of “spring cleaning.” I also know that He has done much in the lives of many people in His church in the same way. The question is, what will we do with what He has done?

I know that on many occasions, my wife will tackle our kids’ rooms with a “deep cleaning” that is much needed. It will look great when she is done. However, as with most kids, it doesn’t take long for it to get messed up again…even though she’ll say, “Now let’s try to not let get like that again.” They try to stay on top of it, but they are kids and it just seems to happen. If you are a parent, you know what I mean. The mess mysteriously accumulates until it is in need of a deep cleaning again.

Our hearts are constantly in need of cleaning. 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That is something that we must continually do. That is why I’m so thankful for grace. In his classic little story My Heart Christ’s Home, Robert Munger challenges and convicts us with this whole concept of Christ cleaning out our hearts and then taking ownership. I love this story. If you have never read it, or if you have, read it HERE.

What might God want to do in your life in the area of some “spring cleaning”? We all need to let Christ constantly clean areas of our heart, reveal areas of sin, pride, selfishness, idolatry. Then after He’s done, listen to his admonition to “go and sin no more,” when He says, “Now, lets try and not let it get in this mess again.”  Walk in His truth daily, dealing with sin as it happens, and watch Him transform your heart. He doesn’t jsut want to change your perspective, but change your life and use you to change a generation!

Let’s allow Him to do some Spring Cleaning.

A Different Perspective Christmas Story…

This is the story I shared at Christmas Eve @ The Ridge. I hope you enjoy.

We don’t always think about what might have been going on in the spiritual realm that first Christmas…and we don’t really know…we also forget too that while God’s angels, His messengers, are spiritual beings and see things in a spiritual realm, they are not omniscient, as God is…so for just a moment imagine this scene with me…

 

 Just off the throne room of Heaven everything was all abuzz. Preparations were being made to announce the arrival of the Messiah on earth. Michael the Arch Angel was putting together an incredible display of new stars and comets, meteor showers and cosmic displays. It was to be the most spectacular thing to ever fill the skies around the earth! Gabriel, who had just returned from delivering that amazing message to Mary, was hastily rehearsing with hundreds of thousands of angels and instruments to fill the entire atmosphere of the earth to sing praises and announce the birth of God’s Son. The plans were coming together nicely. But just then…

 …a foul stench began to fill the air from the corner of the throne room. It was the kind of stench that would turn the stomach of any mortal while at the same time strike a sense of fear and dread in their heart, yet it had a peculiar sweet smell to it at the same time. It was the stench of evil! Gabriel and his warriors quickly drew their flaming swords in response and began looking around. From among the groups of angels stepped one hooded being. When he pulled back his hood, he was beautiful indeed, yet repulsive at the same time.

“Well, now! It looks as if we are getting ready for a party of sorts, doesn’t it? Why was I not invited?”

 Gabriel took steps toward him with sword drawn ready to run him through….and put an end to this once and for all. Just then the voice of the Father said, “Stop. Leave him be…for now.”

“Lucifer, where have you been? From where do you come?” Then Satan replied, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” (Job 1:7)

“Why are you here?” God asked.

“I wanted to see what all this excitement was about. That’s all. What are you planning?”

“Well, I don’t think you’d believe Me if I told you.”

“Try me,” he said.

“The time for redemption has come.”

“Oh, it has, has it!” Satan said, laughing. “Do you think that those people actually WANT redemption? I have offered them everything their hearts desire! They want nothing to do with You!”

“But my plan is to offer them what they need…hope, forgiveness, life.”

“And just what is your ‘plan’ to do that?” Satan sneered.

God looked at him, then looked at his angels around the throne room…some with swords still drawn at the ready for His word to finish this evil forever…and said, “It’s just one word. And it’s written here.” God handed Him a scroll with one word written on it: “Immanuel…God with us.”

Lucifer gasped…then stood amazingly speechless for a moment, dropping the scroll on the floor. “No!” he said. “Not even YOU would do THAT!” *

“Ah, but I AM. ‘The Word will become flesh and make his dwelling among them. And they will behold His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father full of grace and truth.’(John 1:14)” Lucifer shrieked, “I’ll kill Him!”and fled the presence of the Lord. All was quiet for a moment. Then God whispered, “I know…but I will not just let you have them!”

 Then, with the excitement of that moment past, Michael and Gabriel and the other angels, while keeping a wary eye out for anything the Prince of Darkness might attempt, resumed their preparations for the announcement of the Messiah…there was no more time to waste…

 The Father then interrupted and said to Michael and Gabriel. “I see these plans you are putting together, but you know, that’s not really what I had in mind. I had planned a simple, small gathering in Bethlehem. We really don’t need all of this extra stuff.”

“But what about all of these stars I’ve put together?” Michael said. And Gabriel said, “My choirs and musicians! What about them?”

“We don’t really need all that.” the Father said. “My Son will be starting as a humble baby. His time to be lifted up will come later.”

 Just then, Jesus appeared and began to step through the pearly gates and descend down that stairway of time to the earth. As He went, Michael pleaded, “Father! You must let us do something! We cannot let Him go unannounced! Please!”

God said, “Alright. Gabriel, just a few angels. Michael…just one star.” *

As Michael turned to leave, Gabriel stopped for a moment.

“Lord God, the plan is really that simple?” Gabriel asked. “I understand the need for a sacrifice…the need to make a payment for the sins of Your creation….in order to redeem them.  But when the Son returns…what if they don’t listen and how will the Good News be spread through the rest of the world and history? It seems like You are placing a lot of responsibility on those few who will follow Him. If it doesn’t work…what is plan B?”

 God simply paused as He watched His Son move out into the mist of time and finally said, “It has to work. There is no Plan-B…and by My Holy Spirit it will work.”

 —————————————————————————————————————

The plan is a 10-word plan of redemption, that we find in John 3:16. Ten words that changed all of history and eternity:

God…loved…world…gave…Son…whoever…believes…perish…eternal…life…

 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

 Jesus told Nicodemus…and each of us…that this was the way to God. It would be through Him and Him alone. He said in John 14:6,

“I am the way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known the Father also; from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”

 All kings start as babies and become kings. Jesus started as a King and became a baby. There was no other way…

 There is no other way. There is no plan B for us. The question this Christmas is, “What will you do with Jesus?”

 If you don’t know Him, will you receive the gift of eternal life that He has provided and offered to you? There is no other plan for hope, forgiveness, and eternal life.

 If you have received that, will you regift it? There is no other plan to carry the Gospel to those who need it.

So what will you do with Jesus? Receive the gift…then Regift it!

Merry Christmas!

__________
*This writing is compiled of original thoughts as well as a couple of thoughts influenced by, and adapted from, writings of Max Lucado and Derric Johnson (noted by *). Both of whom are much more gifted and creative than I will ever hope to be. Feel free to share but please give credit to all three if you do.

The Paradox of Christmas

Paradox comes from the Greek paradoxon which means conflicting with expectation. It is defined as something that is essentially contradictory but is nonetheless true.

Christmas a paradox? Jesus advent and subsequently His life and ministry certainly was “conflicting with expectation” as to what the Messiah would be…how He would live..die…and reign as King. Everything about Him was a paradox. All kings start as babies and become kings. Jesus started as a King and became a baby…for us…

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)