Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Story we Write

It's that time of year when many people seem to get a bit a reflective. Looking back at the year that's drawing to a close, and then looking forward to the year that is to come. The turning of the calendar page to a new year prompts that.

It always prompts a couple of key questions for me:

  • What kind of a story did I write with my life in 2016?
  • What kind of a story do I want to write with my life in 2017?

Obviously, we can't control some of the events that have happened or will happen. We can't control things other people say or do. There's so much that we can't control.

But, we do have one thing we can control, and that is where we determine the story we write with our lives. We can choose how we respond. We can choose what we do with what happens and what we do with what other people say or do.

Our choices are the story we write with our lives. Our choices are the ways we will be remembered by those around us.

When life has knocked us down  - whether an event or something someone else does or says - we have a choice. We can choose to stay face-down and refuse to get up. Or we choose to do the hard work of getting back up - of learning from what has happened and why we reacted the way we did, so we can grow from it and hopefully respond differently the next time.

So, as 2016 comes to a close and we turn the calendar page to 2017, these questions might be good ones to reflect on it:

What kind of a story did I write with my life in 2016?

What kind of a story do I want to write with my life in 2017?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Why a Baby?

I've often had this question in mind as Christmas approaches. 

Why a baby?

Why did the Savior of the world, the Son of God, come to earth as a baby?

Wouldn't it have made more sense for Him to come in such a way that people couldn't miss Who He was?

On Sunday night, I listened to a pastor at my church talk about this same subject, based on the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 17-19. Elijah sought a powerful display of God's glory to try to turn people back to God, and it didn't happen. When God revealed Himself to Elijah, it wasn't in the powerful displays, but in a "gentle whisper." (I Kings 19:12). In that quiet moment, in that small way, is where God showed up and changed things. Elijah wouldn't have been the same after that meeting with God.

Not your typical Sunday before Christmas message, but it struck me in how it relates to the reason why our Savior came as a baby, rather than a powerful display. Those powerful displays don't often result in life change. The life change comes from the small, the quiet.

That's why Jesus came as a baby. 

A powerful display of God's glory, wouldn't have made any more of a difference. 

People still would have missed the Savior.

People still wouldn't have seen what God was trying to do.

The Son of God, the Savior of the world, came as a baby because the small, quiet places, is where God most often speaks and we have life-changing encounters.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

One Night that Changed the World

A couple years ago, I wrote a post about Christmas that struck me again when I was re-reading it earlier. The same things I wondered and reflected on then, are still the same things I'm thinking about today. I thought it would be appropriate to share it again.


As I have been reflecting on the Christmas story this year, I've been struck by how life changing the birth of this one baby was for all people - the night it happened and for all eternity.

One baby changed the world forever. 
Nothing has been the same since that night.

We often talk about how a baby changes everything for the family that baby is born into.
 None brought so much change as Jesus when He was born.

God come to earth.


God with us.

The One whose life, death, and resurrection would make a way for mankind to once again have direct access to God.

The ultimate expression of sacrificial love. Of humble service.

I wonder if Mary and Joseph, if the shepherds, if the Magi, really understood the significance of that night. They knew what the angels had told them about this baby, but did they really get it? 

A couple thousand years later, do we really get it? Will we ever really get it?

The birth of a baby, named Jesus. 
A baby Who would change everything through His life and death.

The promised Messiah. The One prophesied about.
The One missed by so many when He came because of the way He came.
The One missed by so many while He walked on earth because He came to serve, not to exert His power.
The One missed by so many because He dies a criminal's death to become the greatest sacrifice and defeat sin and death for good.
The One still missed by many today.

But for those who stop to notice . . .
for those who are searching for something more . . .
for those who are willing to be humble and serve . . .
the chance to meat the One Who changes everything.

The One Who offers hope.
The One Who offers forgiveness and a second chance.
The One Who offers unconditional love.
The One Who never fails.

It was one night . . . 
in a stable . . .
in a small town . . .
with two poor parents . . .
surrounded by animals . . .
where the world changed forever.

God put His plan in motion to redeem a fallen world,
to restore a broken relationship with His people.
A plan still in motion today.
A plan that still offers hope today.

A birth.
A baby.
A life lived.
A death.
And the greatest of all - a victory over death, a resurrection.
All because of God's vast, unmeasurable, unchanging, unfailing love for each of us.
That makes it something worth celebrating!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Helping Others on Their Journey Through the Dark

Last week, I wrote a post called "Journey Through the Dark." This post is Part 2.


She was enjoying her time on the mountain. Soaking up the sunshine. Reveling in how blue the sky was. Running free without a care in the world.

Then, one day, she was told it was time leave. Time to go back down the mountain. The mountain-top time was coming to an end.

She wondered why. It didn't seem to make sense. Until, it was explained that it was now her turn to help others make the journey, to help others keep going when they couldn't see the next step. Just as she had been helped and encouraged along her journey, it was now her time to help another.

Now that she knew the way, she could help others find their way. She could encourage them that the struggle of the climb in the dark was worth the struggle.


When we make our own journey through the dark, we hear the voices of those around us, helping us to keep going. Encouraging us along the journey. We need those people - they help us to get through and see from the perspective that comes from getting through.

We're not just supposed to make it through and just stay on the other side. Sometimes, we're also called to travel back into those places to help the next person. We're called to come alongside those who are in the midst of their own struggles, and help them to keep on going. To encourage them that they will make it through to the other side - that the hard work now is worth it.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Journey Through the Dark

Low clouds hung around her as she walked. It was a damp, grey day. Perfect weather, it seemed, for how she was feeling lately. One of those days you just wanted to stay curled up at home with a good book.

The clouds hid the mountains that rose all around. Their beauty and majesty unseen for now.

As she continued to climb the mountain, the clouds become thick around her. She could hardly see the next step in front of her as she continued on. It seemed it might be easier to just turn around, head back down. At least she could see down there.

But, she continued on, climbing up, pushing through the dark. Taking each step as it came. Seeing nothing more than where to put her foot for the next step. and that not always clear either.

Sometimes, relying on the voices of those she knows who've made it further along than us to guide her, to encourage her to keep going. Reminding her to take the next step, even when the path ahead isn't clear.

It wouldn't go on forever. Eventually she knew she's get through to the clear sky. Just a little longer, a few more steps.

She could feel the clouds starting to clear. Seeing a little more with each step, until she emerged in brilliant sunshine. Under a clear, blue sky.

Turning around, she couldn't see the path from where she had come. It was covered by the clouds - a reminder of the challenging journey to get there.

But, it was worth it now. To see this beauty. To be in this pace. It made the struggle through the dark worthwhile.


Perspective changes everything. When we're trudging through the dark times, feeling as though every step is difficult and unknown, giving up can seem easier. But, if we choose to keep going to get to the other side, we see things differently. We see the value that comes from persevering, we know it's worth it.

When we reach that place of the clear, blue sky, we feel the weight of the journey lift. We're able to see the lessons we learned along the way. The things that God taught us as we walked through the difficult times. The way we learned to trust Him.

We see the people God used along our path to help us keep going when it just seemed like too much to continue on. The voices that guided us when we couldn't see, and encouraged us when we wanted to give up.