A Merry Thanksmas!

Photo by Georgia Pointer

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

We are one day past Thanksgiving Day (I hope yours was a happy one) and now we begin the Christmas season. I know you have heard the complaints about folks who tread on the face of Thanksgiving in the mad rush toward Christmas.

I ask you, why do the two holidays have to be mutually exclusive? Did the coming of Christ not usher in a whole list of new reasons for gratitude? Salvation, identity, power, and eternal security are just the tip of the mountain of gifts lavished on us by the Good, Good Father. How can anything stifle the giving of thanks in the face of all that the coming of the Christ Child ushered in for us? The challenge lies in being intentional about itemizing each blessing of Christ’s birth during this busy season.

I challenge you, My Friends, throughout this season to engage in the rich exercise of thankful enumeration of what the birth of Jesus means for your life and your future. Reflect while you drive. Ruminate while standing in line. Meditate on it while you bake. When you feel you have exhausted your list, you will have only scratched the surface. Ask the Father to open your eyes to see even more; He will gladly do it! The result cannot help but be a cornucopia of praise, worship, and gratitude, and celebration. It will be a happy blend of Thanksgiving and Christmas: a merry Thanksmas!

PS. I would love to hear your reflections as they come to you. It’s always more fun when we do it together. I will share mine in the comments throughout this season and I invite you to join me!

No, You May Not Have That

How big were the hackles that rose up in you at those words? No one likes to be told, “ no” but it can be one of the most loving words we could ever hear. Every person has at least one thing that they struggle to surrender. Sometimes it is not even a bad thing we want, but it happens to be something God has not chosen for us. That’s hard, isn’t it? The only way to come to terms with this mystery is to trust. You and I must trust that God has His reasons and make peace with not knowing what they are. Trust requires letting go of control (as if we had it anyway) and reminding ourselves that God gave His best in Jesus, so everything else is extra. Keeping this mindset can be a challenge, but the peace it yields makes the striving worth it.

May the Lord lead you to the green pasture of trust in Him, and may you drink deeply from the still waters of surrender to His will for your life, My Friend. Graze on His all-sufficient grace! Never forget that He is the Good Shepherd and His “no” is an expression of His love and sovereignty that leads you in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake and for your own good.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” Proverbs 3:5

Photo by Keith Pointer

Where Is Your Setting?

Photo by Kathy Rainwater

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1

I recently got caught in a funk. Just when the Lord had pulled me out of one funk, I got caught in another. This time I stepped into the trap of comparing myself to someone else. I could see the bony finger of the enemy poking me in my chest as he spewed, “If you had been more like her, your life would be better. This is just one more way you have failed and it’s too late to turn things around.” It was awful! The voice, camouflaged as my own, went on to paint a rosy picture of all the possible ways the other person succeeded where I fell short. My heart was heavy with discouragement. Then my gracious Lord came riding in with the Sword of the Spirit ( Ephesians 6:17) pronouncing today’s verse to me. Right away, the light of truth revealed that my mind was not set on heavenly things. My setting needed an adjustment.

How about yours? Has the political, racial, financial, and physical climate of this world knocked your mind off it’s heavenly setting? Have your circumstances?

Depression, negativity, ingratitude, grouchiness, impatience, and sometimes hopelessness are good indicators that our mindset has shifted. The way back is to look up, to remember what the Lord has said and give it preeminence over every contrary thought. (2 Corinthians 10:5). Because of Christ, we have the upper hand in everything, but if our thinking is skewed, we risk a certain poverty that blinds us to His plenty.

I have found the Father to be gracious and compassionate, My Friend. He specializes in realignments and resets, and He welcomes us when we come to Him. Do you need His help in that way today?

A Word About Our Words

Photo by Keith Pointer

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

If someone who does not know you were to have recorded every word you said yesterday, what conclusions would they draw about you? Would they see a different person depending on who was around you? Would they say you were of the same character throughout the day?

It is easy to forget that the Lord hears every word and has promised we will answer for every one of them. It is easier still to forget that the words that come out of our mouths tell the truth about our hearts.

None of us gets it right all the time, but let us strive to be more mindful of what we allow to come out of our mouths today. When we stand before the Lord, may He find that the number of sweet, encouraging, and edifying words outnumber the ones that displease Him.

That Was Us

The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:7-8

Somewhere in my childhood, I recall seeing a baby eating poop out of a diaper. I alerted an adult who took care of the matter, but to this day I recall how calmly the baby devoured the feces. Of course now I know the baby did not know to be repulsed, he or she had not been in the world long enough to have the conditioning needed to understand the taboos of poop consumption.

Likewise, we live in a world where people commit immorality with such causality it makes us our jaws drop. All kinds of sexual sin, profanity, disregard for human life in and out of the womb, disrespect, and greed only begin the long list of defecations people consume with such ease. It can be overwhelming and discouraging if we forget one crucial fact: this is normal behavior for any heart devoid of the power of the Spirit of the Living God. Were it not for the grace of God intervening in our own lives, we would be consuming the same filth.

Just as that baby was only doing what babies do, people are only doing what lost people do. It does not stop that sick feeling we get when we see sin ravaging the lives of those caught up in it, but it explains the why of what we see. Like the baby’s mother rushing to snatch the nasty meal, so we need to exercise patient urgency through the sharing of the gospel and prayer to rescue those standing in the same shoes of ignorance of the truth we once wore.

Fill in the Blank

Photo provided by Samantha Davis

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

Iwas struggling the other day. I was trying to cook a low-sodium chicken dish per my husband’s dietary restrictions. He had recently gotten out of the hospital, and I was overwhelmed with the idea of cooking more while working a full-time job. I did not feel like cooking to begin with and on top of that, the Pinterest post rambled on about the chicken dish without ever giving me the actual recipe! Like annoying flies, ads kept popping up, and I swatted them away by trying to press the tiny x in the corners without activating their videos. Additionally, I was trying to get ready for work, cook breakfast, and do the morning routine with my 85-year-old mother-in-law. In that moment of extreme frustration, the Holy Spirit, in His trade-mark gentleness, whispered todays’s verse into my heart. We often limit this verse to loftier things, but God meant for “all things” to include prepping chicken dishes, getting out of the door on time for work, and patience in wading through annoying ads on Pinterest. He is a God for every area of life. So I said to myself, “I can prepare this chicken dish through Christ Who strengthens me.” I was immediately flooded with peace and confidence.

I encourage you to see the “all things” like a blank to fill in with whatever you need Jesus to strengthen you to do. What is on your blank? Say it out loud if you must. I would love to hear what some of yours are. Fill in the blank!

A Prayer Trigger

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

Photo by Mary Godbee Solis

Standing in line a safe distance away, I could not help but make a few observations about the woman being served ahead of me at the checkout counter. Let’s just say she was a generous size, but the shorts she wore were stingy. I was not sure she was even wearing shorts until she walked out and the hip-length T-shirt shifted a little to reveal an enormous amount of skin that the shorts were never intended to cover.

We have all encountered women like this. If we are not careful, we will find ourselves judging them, but what would Jesus have us do? An immodest woman sends out signals she is unaware she is sending. Some are begging for any man to notice them. Some are revealing a lack of training at home. Others are flouting their upbringing in an attempt to express autonomy. Still others show they have taken their cues about beauty from the media that is only trying to get into their purse. Whatever the reason, the need is the same: Jesus. Instead of judging these women, why not see every immodesty as a trigger to pray? What if those short shorts and low-cut tops provoked a prayer for her salvation and sense of identity? The need is so great in our culture, is it not? Let us determine to do our part in turning things around in this small but profound way!

Lord, Help Me Be Present

“A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way” Proverbs 20:24

Photo by Donna McFarland

Father, my life can be so hectic sometimes and I am so easily distracted. I have found distraction to be a subtle thief of present opportunity. I need You to help me be present instead of mentally wandering too far into the future or lagging back in my past. Today is a new day and You have a path You want me to walk. I surrender to You. Carry me along by the wind of Your Sovereign Spirit. Help me not to tip the scale of today with more than You intend. Grace me to give each human encounter the respect it deserves. Do not let me poison this fresh day with worry that would rob today of it’s joy. You said You are an ever-present Help. May this knowledge help me to be present as I rest in You and give this day my best.