Just hearing that old Christmas song brings a feeling of joy to my heart. Memories of so many past wonderful Christmas times spent with family and some that were spent far away from home, but always there was a Christmas in my heart.
I remember being in the Phillipines on my way to Viet Nam a long, long time ago, a young man in search of adventure and the meaning of Christmas was totally different back then. Then one spent with my Dad and Step Mom where we made ornaments from scratch, that was another different feeling. And of course, many Christmas days of watching happy children tear apart gifts with great glee and surprise.
But Christmas 1984 might be my favorite as it was my first as a Christian and with the full meaning of it fresh in my mind I remember the joy I felt knowing this was the day Christ was born, this was our redeemer coming to earth. It was less about Santa and gifts and more about the relief that I had come home to where God wanted me to be.
In the years that followed I can think of memories that will last a lifetime as I am sure you will as well. This year I will be home in ATL for Christmas but it will not be quite the same for our family, as the loss of Paul has tempered our feelings and if it were not for a whole bunch of kids, well, you can imagine how we would feel.
Christmas Eve I will take that same ride back as I took a few months ago when Paul passed, alone but always with a cell phone to share my thoughts with friends. However, I will have with me a great present, the voice mail of him calling me last Christmas with the excitement of the gifts he received in his voice, so full of life and joy. You can be sure I will listen to it often.
And if I hear that song again on the way back, I will know that my son is home for Christmas, just in a different location than he was last year. We will still hang his stocking up, still laugh about the good times, and he will be with us, as we recite the words from that song, "if only in our dreams".
Love you pal, Merry Christmas!
It seems like lately so many folks around me are experiencing some major trials. Heath related, life related, grief related, and it seems like it never stops, one after the other. I seem to be right in the middle of it all as a friend, comforter, and a person who is dealing with his own share of grief. I asked God tonight, "when will it stop?"
No answer was imminent except for this cold hard fact: who am I who has been given so much, been saved from himself and from much harm, to ever question God? And then, as if a bright light shown down from above, a solution (not an answer) flashed before me.........
Only not in the way you would think......................
Pray for your deliverance from the situation but also that the result would glorify God, and not necessarily make you feel better
Recognize that your situation is temporary. You will either find an earthly solution or join God and and a whole bunch of eternally happy people soon! Either way you win if you are a believer! If not, see the Y below.
Ask for help from your friends and family because they are God's earthly ambassadors to assist you in your time of need. If you have none, find a family of believers who have been to war, such as our ATB folks, and connect. On second thought find them even if you have family and friends, they will go to battle with you every day.
Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. It's hard to be with somebody to protect you when you don't know each other. There is a period of time before a crisis when getting to know God, to find a relationship with his son, would be appropriate before saying this quote from the 23rd Psalm. Before your eventual termination date find this relationship, most churches will give you instructions how to do so. Say Yes to a relationship with the Lord.
If this seems rather blunt and to the point, remember that Jesus quoted this: I am the way, the truth and the light, no one comes to the Father except through me. He didn't say one of the ways, a possible way, or an emergency way, he said the way!
He is also the way when all of life hits the fan to deal with it. Instead of escaping it, running for cover or freaking out, the Lord has the way, the truth and the light to lead you out of the valley of the shadow of death, and lead you beside still waters. He will be with you.
This is what has comforted me in this very difficult time and I stand ready to help others who are going through it because the one who helped me is there for everyone. He loves us all, especially when we are broken........
Mary and Joseph were weary and ready for a good night’s rest when they arrived at the Inn. A census had been called and by law, they were required to return home. Their journey had been long, the roads were dusty and crowded and the water-skin was dry.
If you can, just picture yourself after a long tiring business trip with your pregnant wife trying to get home and you arrive at the only hotel for possibly hundreds of miles. When you go to register, the Innkeeper tells you, "We have no rooms."
As a man who sought the Lord’s heart, Joseph must have wondered how he would find a comfortable place for his very ready-to-deliver betrothed wife. I'm confident that Joseph began to wonder what they would do and how he would protect Mary, and the child she carried in her womb. His thinking was probably not far from what ours would be today. He didn't have the luxury of jumping in a car, bus or plane because they didn't yet exist; they traveled by foot. If we place ourselves in their shoes, what would we think?
Suddenly, the Innkeeper said something like, "Hey, I have an idea! I hate to see you two kids on the streets at night and it's obvious you need a place to rest, what about the barn?"
Now, I don't know if everyone here has been in a barn before, but I have. And some can really stink. Like today, they can be full of animals, pungent smells and without a bed! What would you be thinking? Would you think, "This guy is crazy if he thinks I am going to have my wife sleep in his nasty, smelly barn? And not only that, our baby might come tonight and I can't imagine my wife laying on hay and an old dirty mule blanket to bring our child into the world."
I can understand that kind of thinking, but this was the only option we are told that Mary and Joseph had and maybe it was divinely orchestrated for a purpose they could not see.
Let's see how we are told in Luke 2 that Mary and Joseph responded to the Innkeeper's compassionate offer.
“and 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 for them.”
Looks like Joseph and Mary rested there that night, accepting the heartfelt offer of the Innkeeper.
Jesus came into the world in that resting place and this little baby, born in a barn became the Savior of the world.
I found two practical lessons in this message.
1. When we act on behalf of another to provide for them when they are in need, we are showing compassion. Like the Innkeeper, we become people of compassion.
The other very important lesson here is this:
2. No matter where you are born and what your means are, there is a plan for your life. Whether you understand it or not, God will divinely intercede to see that plan carried out.
How many times have we had people step into our lives and extend a helping hand only to dismiss it as something of which we are entitled? If we can grasp that God allows circumstances in our lives to show His glory, then we can better embrace every trial and affliction and give Him thanks and praise knowing that He is shaping and forming us "behind the scene" to be all He has created us to be.
This shows the world what only He can do which is glorifying to God. Just as He provided a place for the birth of Jesus, He provides what He knows we need. Sometimes that looks different than what we think it should be. But it is always good for us.
We all have a barn. How is your barn looking now?
Allison M. Miller
Partnering with women to help them discover God’s purpose in their relationships, careers and home life.
When I was young and in a Catholic Military School I made my first Holy Communion. This was part of the indoctrination into the faith and was one of several ongoing commitments that included being confirmed (which for a male is much like a Bar Mitzvah in the Jewish faith). I can remember feeling very Holy through this process and very innocent.
Then life changed. Puberty, war, death, divorce, it all changes your mindset.
Today, as a born again Christian adult communion means something very different to me and differs from service to service. If I am feeling "holy", I can promise you I am deep in thought and one with the Lord. If I am feeling "not so holy" there is another series of thoughts which include what had gone wrong prior to that time or why I was feeling guilty. Was I holding a grudge, acting like a fool or just being rebellious?
In either case, by the time communion was over, God and I usually had it worked out. I felt so much better for being able to focus in a quiet, "holy" setting away from all the distractions of every day life. My thoughts usually ended up thinking of the tremendous sacrifice and gift Jesus made and gave us, along with how I could become more one with him.
On December 13th, our preacher Dusty Rush has asked me to lead communion at the service at Campus, as well as encouraging me to involve others as he has tried to do this month. The idea is that we are not only in communion with the Lord, but also with each other. We are believers united in our faith and communion is a demonstration of unity.
So I am asking for anyone who would volunteer to join me up front that day, especially those involved in ATB, who could either say just a few words (just a few) or write in 20 words or less and I will try to read, exactly what sharing in communion every week means to you, such as what I shared in this blog.
If not, I will go solo but would love to have you share in this wonderful time. It is an honor to serve in any capacity for the one who absolved me of my debts, and it is a joy to celebrate being debt free together.
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.