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Braking Points

Pausing in the midst of Life to ponder, pray and find footing to continue.

Month

December 2015

Post Christmas Ramblings

Perhaps you are a little bit like me.  No Christmas is perfect, especially when our human expectations meet the human actualities.  Almost like a hangover…in some cases, a real hangover…the day after all the festivities can become a downer.  Which gives the devil a tiny little foothold.  Joy is fragile during times of attack.  Looking at the scattered paper under a Christmas tree and looking for the manger with the baby under the scattered paper, I could not keep a melancholy from settling on me.

Knowing I needed to turn the focus away from myself, I read my devotional, found scripture that spoke to my current feelings, and wrote the following.

Perhaps it will speak to you, too, if you are a little bit like me.

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Distracted,
Disappointed,
Disillusioned,
Disheartened,

These tools of the enemy
Threaten DESTRUCTION.

Gifts stacked upon gifts
scattered remnants
paper and bows,
Expectations and emotions


Unable to make the gift that was wrong
Right.


Unable to clear mental clutter in the midst of

all the debris  

Reminders of yet another

Christmas barely past.
Weary, worn travelers congregated
Then scattered


Where is the manger?
Where is the Baby Jesus?

Where is all that promised joy, peace, love, and grace?

Time to reflect

Dig deep

Refresh, remember, reflect

PRAY!

I will trust

I will not allow 

Inadequacies, stilted moments, grief or 

Selfishness

Become the big “D” tools of an enemy

Whose only goal since I belong to Jesus

Is to promote self condemnation,

Critical thoughts, sin in my life

So that I feel unworthy of the Savior’s Love

So I doubt His love for me

And fall into the Post Christmas Blues

I will trust in His unfailing love

I will seek His face, 

Believe His grace

And Rejoice

For unto US a Child is Born

Unto US a Savior for all the world

Unto US  a Purpose and Plan

So I dig deep

Reflect 

Pray

Hope for tomorrow and Hope for today.

 

 

Christmas Without or Christmas Within 2015

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It is just not Christmas without…
You fill in the blanks

Snow or at least frost in air

A spouse, parent, a child, a friend, someone you loved

Who is not there

Health, wealth, or just enough money

to put presents under the tree

or maybe not even a tree

being home to celebrate with family and friends

without clothes to keep warm 

or a home in the storm

You fill in the blanks…
It is just not Christmas without. . .

Yet the truth of it all, it is all those with outs 

That speak to what Christmas’s about

The broken places in our lives and hearts

The empty spaces at the Christmas table

The health issues, the presence of sin

Christ came to a world filled with doubt

The promise of love, peace, hope within

In spite of all the with outs

It is Christ that Christmas is about.

I pray the world, especially the ones that I love take time to figure that out.

Emmanuel Internalized: Christmas Eve 2015

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Emmanuel, God with us

Tiny baby, mother cradling there

Flesh and blood,

toes, fingers, eyes and hair

Come to save the world from sin

Come to show us how God loves

Come to teach, to laugh, to cry

Come to live like you and I

Come to die

Emmanuel, God with us

Come to save from chains of sin

But only if we let him in.

Faith in Winter: Advent 2015

Darkness falls early

The night lingers long
Life’s maze a puzzle
Wrong turns, dead ends
Struggles and doubts
Frail, fragile flesh
Stumbling about
Then just short of quitting
Eyes struggling to see
A flicker of light
A promise fulfilled
Another glimpse of glory
Faith’s eyes open wide

imageChristmas comes in Winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the darkest time of the year, but so often it is a dark time for people because the advertisements promise joy and plenty, family and friends, love and kindness.  Even folks in the Southern Hemisphere experience shrouds of that darkness. Why? Because Christmas is not about all that…Christmas is Emmanuel, God With US!  He is with us whether we are having a great year or an unbelievably lousy one.

All we have to do is OPEN OUR EYES and BELIEVE.

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
‭‭John‬ ‭11:40‬ ‭NIV‬‬

400 Years: Advent 2015


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Four hundred years without a word

Four hundred years performing the sacrifices, following the traditions, interpreting and reinterpreting the laws and the prophets

Four hundred years of squabbles among religious leaders, with two main parties, the Pharisees and the Sadducees emerging

Four hundred years of humanistic, ritualistic, legalistic and for the Sadducees, pragmatic and progressive actions.

Four hundred years without a word.

AND THEN

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
‭‭
He came for all, but some had wrapped themselves so tightly in their own interpretations, their own way of doing things, their own defensive stances that
His voice was unrecognizable. Their ears so attuned to their own rhetoric that He became the enemy.

Emmanuel, God with us, how will we respond?

“Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.””
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:20-21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Emmanuel, God with us, Will WE HEAR HIS VOICE?

Paradox: Advent 2015

The paradox is that people who cease all pretenses of personal strength, admitting their weakness, are often the ones others see as brave, strong, and all together.

God delights in taking the ordinary, the cowardly, the folks with rough edges to dare the most and accomplish the most in the dark places.

Consider Mary and Joseph. A couple, who their individual roles, their individual acquiescence to their places in the salvation of the world differed. Both lives bear witness to their submission which brought the Light to the world, protected and loved that Light, and raised him to manhood.
People, who own up to their sins, their powerlessness, their need for help,

People, who end up slam dunked by life, whose song line “I’ve been down so far it looks like up to me”,

People who in a moment of revelation, murmur like Mary did, “Behold the handmaiden[the servant] of the Lord.”

People, like you and I, who never intend to act courageously, who tremble in their boots in the dark but who admit those feelings and rely on God,

These are the ones who shine in the darkness.
While people, so caught up in their own bravado and ambition, who cannot get off the image treadmill, find they are running scared. Yet, even these, if they lay down their pretense, admit their weakness, can become strong.

The saddest people cling to the World and its expectations, seeking power of wealth, health, popularity, notoriety, beauty, and influence. Clinging to threads of image even as they age and wither. Refusing to turn loose of of the fraying rope attached to the false world they’ve built to trust God’s arms to catch them.

Living the Great Paradox–when I am weak then He is strong–requires turning loose.

Living the Great Paradox requires trusting His arms to catch you.

Living the Great Paradox requires a radical shift of belief from a broken world’s promises to belief that God always keeps His promises.

Living the Great Paradox requires that like Mary, the handmaiden of the Lord, like Jesus in the garden, the prayer “Thy Will be Done.”

To do so, changes everything for the Christian…it is the stuff of heroes 

 

Dawn on Gamble Lane  December 16, 2015
Dawn on Gamble Lane
December 16, 2015

 

Oxymoron: Advent 2015

imageSo what does the believer do with the Power of weakness, which linguistically presents an oxymoron. We have fought so long and hard to appear smart, strong, and healthy, not to mention spiritual.

How does the admission of weakness before the Lord, who, by the way, knew it all the time, manifest in daily life?

How does the admission of weakness appear as we open our vulnerability to others?

How can submission to his plans, his direction, benefit?

How does ‘when I am weak, then he is strong’ play out?

Will it bring richness, fame, popularity, health?

Consider what the ’emptying’ of himself, what leaving heaven, what becoming Emmanuel ACCOMPLISHED for all who would believe and follow.

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:5-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬. [bold, mine]

May God bless us as we allow our weakness to be filled with his strength so that others may drop their defenses and bravado before Emmanuel, that we may serve one another with his love, which is our greatest strength.  Amen

When I am Weak: Advent 2015

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If you have never been weak, never been hurt, never lived…read no further.

Advent leads us to Bethlehem’s Babe, but Bethlehem’s Babe leads us to Life, not without pain, sorrow, or despair, but Life that can make a difference.

When I am weak

From his birth in Bethlehem to his death on Calvary, Jesus experienced the weakness of the flesh. Restricted by the structure of human mind and body, he exemplifies the power of weakness.

Consider a few of his weak moments, perhaps fellow traveler, you can relate:

  • When I am sick
  • When I am hungry
  • When I am without clothing
  • When I am dependent on the good will of others to supply my every need
  • When I lose family and friends to the old enemy death
  • When I am homeless, seeking shelter, shower, and space to call my own
  • When I am despondent, depressed, sweating blood and my prayer warriors are sleeping
  • When I am betrayed
  • When I am abandoned by my friends
  • When I am arrested, in prisoned, insulted, lied to and subjected to the judgement of a crowd that wants to destroy me.

When He was WEAK, for the sake of our salvation, He WAS STRONG.

Whatever thorn you have in your flesh, Christ feels your every pain.
In Him that THORN can witness to His Grace better than all the gifts of the Spirit, all your human talents, and all the strengths you lean on.

Ask God HOW HE intends to manifest this promise in your life:
“My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭NET‬‬

 

Persimmons: Advent 2015

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Sixth Grade Central Grade School, 1956 –Scary Mr. Wilson’s class

My 6th grade teacher, Mr. Wilson, brought persimmons to class, told us how sweet they were and we ate the “mouth puckering” unripened fruit. Imagine in today’s world if that were to happen in a classroom.

Mr. Wilson was right. Persimmons when ripe are very sweet. The fruit of the spirit in the life of the believer when mature sweetens the world. Freedom in Christ infuses the tender fruit with the nutrients to mature.

We are free as we navigate the road to the manger. How we live free among non-believers matters. Excuses for impatience, unkindness, lack of self control because we are stressed, but ‘thank God, forgiven’, erodes the power of freedom in Christ.

The fruit of the Spirit becomes like unripened persimmons, sucking joy from the journey. Freedom misused contaminates. Freedom used to love and serve nurtures.

Choose to live freely enabled to love. Choose the nutrients necessary to become ripened fruit appealing and nurturing to those who need it most.

My attitude and my actions make a difference, but how I choose comes from how connected I remain to the living Vine.  The sweetness  of the persimmon depends on its maturity.

“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:13-15‬ ‭MSG‬‬

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