Peace On Earth

We watch the news.  I am horrified at how God’s Creations are destroying each other.

I see the devastation of fires, floods, earthquakes, storms of all kinds.

I see people who are supposed to be our trusted leaders doing everything but inspiring trust.

I see a world to whom a Savior has been born, but the people have not even noticed.  

I hear Him knocking on the door of their heart from the inside as their very heartbeat, but they do not hear.

When I am tempted to despair, I become focused on my own darkness instead of The Light within me.  I feel powerless.

By myself I am powerless.  But praise God, I am not by myself.  He is within me.  He is within every single one of His Creations, even when we act so badly, no one sees Him in us.

When I am still … when I pray … I see a different world.  I see Jesus’ Prayer becoming a reality.  Not just Heaven one day.  Heaven now … His Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.

I see every knee bowing.  I see every tongue confessing He is Lord of all.  I see weapons being put away and no one doing war any more.

I invite you to close your eyes and see that world too.  I invite you to rest in The Power of The One Who is Peace on earth.

Peace I leave with you; My Peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

May you experience the wonder of His Peace that surpasses all our understanding … and share that Peace with everyone around you.

Here is the link to a beautiful song of invitation into His Peace.

The Light Shines In The Darkness!

Dedicated to those who are lighting the darkness.  Names changed to protect their privacy.

Kathy lost her husband only a few short weeks after the cancer was discovered. 

Through her tears, she packed up his clothes to donate.  She was comforted by the thought that his sweater, still fragrant with his aftershave, would warm someone in need of warmth.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  

John 1:5

Wilma endured a lengthy battle with cancer.  She lost parts of her physical body, but none of her soul.

As she decorated her Christmas tree, she said a prayer, not complaining about what she had lost, but praising God for what she still had.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  

John 1:5

Jack suffered an earthquake within his heart.  As he rode in the ambulance, he asked the paramedics to give a copy of his EKG to his wife … his way of saying, “My heart still beats for you.”

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  

John 1:5

Jane and Phil got the call they never expected.  Both of their vibrant parents were killed instantly in a car accident.  They stood in line for hours, not just receiving the comfort of others, but giving comfort in return.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  

John 1:5

Fred got a call too.  It was from the police.  His son would not be coming home for a long time, maybe never.  He had been arrested for a murder he committed while high on drugs.

Fred went to the chapel and silently lit a candle.  He did not understand, but he placed his Hope in The One Who knows all.  In faith, he saw the light flickering in his son’s heart.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  

John 1:5

Stacy lay in the darkness, covered under a blanket of grief and self doubt.  Her daughter had just been found in her apartment where she had committed suicide.  

Stacy wondered why she had missed the signs something was wrong.  But then she got up and turned on the light by her bed and did the only thing she knew to do.  

She read a bible story they had once read together and she sang a lullaby she had once sang.  And moments of peace came like falling snow … cold, but somehow filled with wonder.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  

John 1:5

Julie’s husband left her and their four children.  He was a minister, who lost his way.  She did not know until the end how many things he had done to try to find his way back.  But it had now been months and all she knew was he was gone.

She tucked the children in and they all prayed.  Then she did what she had done every night.  She made sure the porch light was on.  And she sat by the window and waited.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  

John 1:5

Joe went to the church, not to praise God, but to kill His Servants.  They welcomed him, but in his rage and confusion, he killed them anyway.  

The police took him to jail. The survivors prayed for him.  They forgave him.  And Jesus Himself shone through their wounds into the darkness.  He joined them in saying, “ Father, forgive him.  He did not know what he was doing.”

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  

John 1:5

Satan never gives up.  He tries every day in every way to bring darkness to the world.  But he cannot prevail.

As long as there are people who will hold up even one tiny light to God, He will amplify it many times over.  The Light will not only light up the one reaching out in faith, but also the rest of the world.

This is not the season of darkness.  It is the season to remember when The Light of The World shone brightly.

Whatever is happening in your life, He is with you.  Look up.  Reach up.  Hold out your candle and let Him light it.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am The Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have The Light of Life.”  

John 8:12

No Surprise To God!

Jesus’ birth was expected.  It was foretold by prophets long before it happened.

But Jesus’ birth was not expected by those who would be most involved in making the prophecy come to life.

Both Mary and Joseph were told of the forthcoming miracle.  Both were told by what Power life would be brought forth.

The angel told Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of The Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—The Son of God.”

Luke 1:35

Joseph was told, “Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from The Holy Spirit.”

Matthew 1:20

Paul told us, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of The Holy Spirit, Who is in you, Whom you have received from God? You are not your own.”

1 Corinthians 6:19

It has become very common today to believe our bodies are our own.  We like to believe we make all decisions about our body.

Whether it be what foods we eat, how we dress, or what intimacies we share that involve our body, we believe we are in charge.

But in fact, there is an entire world inside us that we can hardly imagine … and it is not within our control.  It was created and is managed down to the smallest detail by The Spirit of God, Who lives on site!

The Christmas story tells us in no uncertain terms that we do not create Life.  

Humans may control what happens outside the body, and it may not always be true love.  But what happens inside the body is totally under the control of The Creator, Who is all Love.

Nothing is random.  Sperm would never meet egg unless guided by The Spirit.  God has a Plan for everyone He creates.

The Christmas story tells us not all pregnancies are expected by us, but they are always expected by The One Who created the life.

The Christmas story tells us about choice.  God chooses to create.  He chooses to whom He will give gifts yet unopened or even recognized.

He waits for His Gifts to be opened, received with Joy, and shared with the world.

Before I formed you in your mother’s body I chose you. 

Jeremiah 1:5

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10

With God, All Things Are Possible!

Do you have a dream that you have given up on?  

Maybe you think it is too late.  

Maybe you think what you want is simply not realistic.  

Maybe you doubt God would use you in a big way.

But God’s reality is higher than our reality.  Let’s look at a few examples.

Abraham was almost a hundred years old when God told him he would be the Father of many nations.

His wife, Sara was no spring chicken either.

Abraham was well aware of the improbability of becoming a father at his age.  But he believed what God said instead of what the world around him said.

He did not waver through unbelief regarding The Promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God.

Romans 4:20

And even though Sara had a few “yeah right” moments, she also came to believe.

It happened!

Zechariah, husband of Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, could not believe it when an angel appeared and told him he was going to be a father.

He pointed out he was old as was his wife.

Did God take back His Plan because Zechariah did not believe?  No.

For God does not change His Mind about whom He chooses and blesses. 

Romans 11:29

God stopped Zechariah from saying any words of unbelief until He could show him the baby.

John The Baptist, herald of Jesus, was born to Elizabeth and Zachariah.  And then Zachariah spoke and praised God that God’s Words were stronger than his words.

An angel visited Mary and told her Jesus would be born from her.   She asked how it could be since she was a virgin.

God allows questions.  And when He answers, we need never ask for further explanations.

The angel of The Lord answered Mary’s question.

The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of The Most High will overshadow you. So The Holy One to be born will be called The Son of God. 

Luke 1:35

Mary asked no further questions.  

“I am The Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May Your Word to me be fulfilled.”

Luke 1:38

Nothing God plans for you will ever be out of reach.  As the angel told Mary, “No Word of God will ever fail!”

Luke 1:37

Jesus, The Son of God and Mary, the mother who believed said, “With God all things are possible!”

Matthew 19:26

Santa As A Missionary

Children are brought up with the idea of asking Santa for things.

They are drawn into the idea that good behavior gets desired rewards.

They are threatened with rejection or punishment by Santa if they mess up.

They are told Santa or one of his elves are watching them all the time, not in love, but to keep score of how they are performing.

And, of course, all this goes on for just a season.  After Christmas, Santa and his elves go back to the North Pole.  Children have to wait for next year to see him again.

Recently I have noticed how closely these Santa ideas parallel how many see God.

They believe He rewards them for good behavior and abandons them or punishes them for bad behavior.

They believe God or His angels are watching them, not in love, but to keep score.  They live with the phrase, “God will get you for that.”

And sadly, they do not believe God is with them, except in certain circumstances, and even then, they see Him as doing what He does from a distant location.

Many believe He will not be back until a future time.

Should we eliminate Santa?  No!

But what if we used Santa to teach our children about unconditional Love?  

What if we taught them about a Loving Presence in their lives who knows what is happening and wants them to behave in a way that will help Santa spread Love and Joy everywhere?

They could be on Santa’s team!

What if we let them feel the joy of receiving a gift, even when they have not earned it?  What if we taught them what mercy and grace is all about?

What if we taught them they have the super power of loving other people and forgiving them when they mess up?

What if we confirmed Santa will go away until next year, but God never will?  

What if we taught them He is with them always, loving them and guiding them in the right way?

And finally, what if we encouraged them to pray for Santa and give thanks for His faithfulness and Love?

One of my favorite pictures of our grandson from last year makes it appear he was praying for Santa.  I don’t know for sure what was being shared between Santa and this precious child.

Perhaps Santa realized this child was not there just to ask for things.  He was there to invite Santa into The Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”

Matthew 19:14

Jesus In Us — God With Us!

Did you know you are in the Christmas story?

You are because God is saying the same things to you He said to Mary.

Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you!

Do not be afraid. You have found favor  with God.

You have Life growing inside you!  His Name is Jesus.

You might ask the same thing Mary asked.

“How can this be?”

At the moment of your creation, The Power of The Most High overshadowed you. The Spirit of God Himself filled you up. 

Paul said, “Your body is a Temple of The Holy Spirit, Who is in you, Whom you have received from God!  You are not your own!”

1 Corinthians 6:19

The Spirit that had flesh in the body of Jesus long ago, also has flesh through the Jesus who lives today in you.

Jesus said one day, you would know.  Today might be that day.

Because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you!

John 14:19-20

Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you!

I invite you to join in praise to The Holy One inside you.  Enjoy this beautiful song.

I Wish I Knew Who Died!🤔

The first Christmas after my mother died, I helped my father with his Christmas cards.

My mother had always been the organized one, who kept the list up to date. Her death several months before Christmas had left many things up in the air.

I thought it would be a relatively simple task. However, we could not find my mother’s most current list. We worked from the previous year’s list. Right away we hit a snag.

Our conversation went like this.

Me: Let me read through the list and see if we’ve got everyone you want to send a card to. (I began to read the list. Several names down, he stopped me.) (Names changed in following scenario to protect the living and the dead)

Daddy: Wait! I think Jack’s dead.

Me: OK, I’ll take Jack off.

Daddy: But I’m not sure. He was pretty sick and I think he died. But he might have pulled through. If he didn’t die, he’d be upset if I didn’t send him a card.

Me: OK, I’ll put him back on.

Daddy: No wait, what if he did die?

Me: Then he won’t get the card.

Daddy: But then his family will know I didn’t know he was dead. I wonder if Pearl sent a sympathy card if he died. But then I really don’t know who died first … Pearl or Jack … if Jack died.

Me: Why don’t we send a card to Jack and his wife and just write a general note that could be taken as an expression of sympathy or season’s greetings? Just don’t ask him how he is!

Daddy: Yes, that sounds like a good idea. (He picked up his pen to write a note, than paused and looked puzzled.)

Daddy: Wait a minute. It’s coming back to me now. I think it was Jack’s wife, Ann, who was so sick. And I think she died.

Me: OK, then we should take Ann off, but leave Jack on.

Daddy: No, don’t do that yet, because I’m not sure. I shouldn’t send a card to Jack if he’s really the one who died.

(Daddy looked very sad at this point.)

Daddy: I sure wish your Mama hadn’t died. She would know who is dead and alive.

Me: She probably does, Daddy. I wish she was here too. But since, she isn’t, why don’t we just send cards to everyone on the list. Whoever is alive can know we still think of those who have been promoted, as still living.

Daddy seemed satisfied with that. We did get a few back with family explaining who had died and expressing sympathy to Daddy in the loss of my mother.

It was not only Christmas greetings shared that year, but it was also a shared grief. That in itself was comforting.

And Jack really appreciated the Christmas card, since he had just lost his wife, Ann.

It was much easier to help Daddy with his Christmas cards after that first year. Several years later, after Daddy died in November, he received Christmas cards from people who did not know.

As I wrote them back, I smiled at the precious memories. We all thought of Daddy as still alive. And we were right. He had just had a change of address!

A Dream That Changed The World

In Christmas stories, Mary is often portrayed as an unmarried mother.  However, she, in fact, was married to Joseph when her pregnancy was revealed.

Historians tell us that the Jewish custom in that time period involved a two stage marriage.

First there was a legal contract of marriage.  This was followed later by a public celebration with the husband taking his wife into his home. 

Mary and Joseph were legally married when they found out about Mary’s pregnancy.  That is why the scriptures referred to Joseph as her husband.

Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.

Matthew 1:18

However, before he could carry out his plan, the angel of The Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for The Child conceived in her is from The Holy Spirit. 

She will bear a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 

Matthew 1:20

 Would you do what you were told to do in a dream?  How could Joseph be so sure it was the right thing to do?

Joseph had no doubt heard from a young age the prophecy of Isaiah.  When he awoke, he remembered.

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

Matthew 1:22-23

Joseph suddenly realized the prophecy was coming true and God had tapped him to be an important part of it.  Joseph obeyed.

How often do we read The Bible, say we believe it, but miss that God is calling us personally.  You are already an important part of the story God is writing.

God is indeed with you.  He always has been and ever shall be.

Jesus Himself is speaking to you.  And it’s not a dream!

I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you.

John 14:20

Be sure of this.  I am with you always!

Matthew 28:20

A Visitor To Earth Reports On Christmas

If we were an observer from another planet, we might agree that humans reach a whole new level of strange behavior that defies explanation during what we call the Christmas season.

The following is the report of an alien scout to his commander.

This is the strangest place I have yet visited. As you know, you sent me to earth to observe humans during what they call the Christmas season.

Since you sent me here at the height of what is supposed to be the most joyous season, I had great hopes of seeing a level of Peace and Joy that might even exceed that on our planet.

So far, peace and joy seem in short supply.

The life forms here apparently limit some of the most joyful music to only certain times of the year. To play their “December music” in any other month but late November or December is considered unusual.

Their Christmas music is a very odd assortment. They play songs every year sung by people who died years ago. I have not actually seen these dead people in the flesh.

But they have somehow captured and preserved their likenesses and voices. It’s a little creepy, but we might want to explore how they are doing this.

They play these Christmas songs everywhere, on radios, on tvs, in stores, even on the streets. Even those seeking shelter in their own homes are often sought out, so they can be exposed to the music. I think it may be a form of mind control.

The music seems to affect humans differently. Some seem happy and even peaceful. Some seem agitated.

I’ve looked for some of the ones they sing about. But so far I have not been able to identify them.

These humans seem to truly honor reindeer. They have reindeer statues on their lawns. They sing about one with a red nose. He seems to have been a real hero.

I tried to get a glimpse of these creatures by waiting at a place where they are supposed to cross the road. It was clearly marked “deer crossing,” but these creatures must be quite independent. None ever came. I shall continue to look.

The humans also put a lot of emphasis on someone they call Santa Clause. At first I thought he was the head reindeer, but he apparently is some advanced human life form.

He can do things other humans cannot do. He apparently cannot fly himself, but he commands some of the reindeer who can fly.

He has some magic power that all the thicker humans wish they had. He eats constantly, mainly a diet of cookies and milk. He is rather thick around the middle, but is able to deflate himself and be skinny enough to slide down chimneys.

The humans hold him in such high esteem that they dress like him and give gifts in his name.

I have also noted another very puzzling practice of these life forms. They decorate their houses inside and out during the Christmas season. But as soon as the season ends and it is the darkest time of the year, they turn off the lights and take down the decorations. Very strange indeed.

They also argue a lot about what is a proper way to greet each other in this season. Instead of just saying “hello,” they insist on a special greeting during the season.

Some insist on saying, “Merry Christmas” while others say, “Happy Holidays.” Both sound pretty close to what they call “merry” here, but apparently the argument has something to do with a baby named Jesus.

I have tried to research Him, since apparently He also fits somewhere in this season on planet earth.

I asked many humans about Him. Many were too busy to answer me. Some tried to explain. They often used the same phrases, but I did not understand.

I asked a small human if she knew where to find out more and she said the strangest thing of all. She told me to ask Him directly.

When I asked her where to find Him, she told me He was in my heart. I don’t understand.

Can you send me further instructions? Who is this Jesus? How do I find Him?

In due time the scout received an Answer. It didn’t come from the planet commander. It came from The Grand Commander of The Universe.

I AM called
    Wonderful Counselor, 
Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, 
Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

I am the Alpha and the Omega,
Who is, and 
Who was, and 
Who is to come, 
The Almighty.
Revelation 1:8

You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13

And so it was that the scout learned about Love, Joy and Peace … and the true meaning of Christmas.

The Non-Gospel Version of Jesus’ Birth

I have been continually amazed to discover how many things I thought were “The Gospel Truth” are not in The Bible at all!

The Inn Keeper in the nativity story often gets a bad rap as the one who rejected Jesus.

It seemed if his inn was full, he could not have done anything else.   If he was the one who offered to let Mary and Joseph stay with the animals, at least he was doing something.

I wanted to know more about this inn keeper.

So who was he?  There very likely wasn’t an innkeeper at all!  There is no reference to an inn keeper in The Biblical Nativity Story.

In fact, historians believe Mary and Joseph would have been joining other family at their home in Bethlehem.  This being census time, probably lots of relatives were in town and the house was packed.  

There were limited guest rooms and so Mary, who was near delivery, and Joseph were in the lower section of the house.

The lower section of the ancient houses typically were for animals.  We don’t know if the animals were there or not.  The animals are always in nativity scenes, but again The Bible does not mention them.

The NIV translation says,

“ … she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available.”

Luke 2:7

Mary is always pictured as getting to Bethlehem riding on a donkey, but there is no biblical reference to that either.

It’s possible – although disputed – that a middle-class pregnant woman travelled 80 miles to Bethlehem on a donkey. But other popular means of transport at the time included horses, camels, and carts drawn by animals.

Importantly though, the Bible never mentions the ‘little donkey’ of Christmas folklore – only that Mary and Joseph travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem together.

And what about those wise men?  Were they three kings, as some Christmas songs lead us to believe?  No.

They were astronomers, who had been studying the sky.  Were there three of them?  The Bible does not say.

Because three types of gifts are mentioned, people jump to the conclusion there were three men.  But we really don’t know.

Somehow the wise men always become a part of nativity scenes portrayed as Christmas Eve.  But The Truth is they likely did not come until a year or two later.  And there is no evidence they were riding camels!

Only Matthew and Luke wrote narratives about Jesus’ Birth.  And the details they offer are simple without a lot of details.

So while we may enjoy the stories or songs that have been fabricated by others, we have to be careful not to start believing things that may not be true.

How do we know what is true?  We ask The Only One Who can tell us.  Jesus Himself!  He is The Way, The Truth and The Life.

A man once asked Jesus where He was staying.  He says the same thing to us as He said to that man.

Jesus answered, “Come and see!”

John 1:39

When you get to know Him, you can ask all the questions you want, but I am betting the questions will no longer matter.

We will know everything we need to know as we just bask in His Glory!

Oh come let us adore Him, Christ The Lord!