Monday, December 21, 2015

Bethlehemian Rhapsody

Even if you are not a fan of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody
I think you will love this!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Linus Drops His Blanket!

I saw this article this morning 
and couldn't wait to share!

We all know and love the
Charlie Brown Christmas Special

Did you know that it was predicted
this cartoon would fail miserably
because of its religious message.

But after reading this article:

"Just Drop the Blanket:  
The Moment you Never Noticed 
in A Charlie Brown Christmas" 
by Jason Soroski

There is more to that message 
than meets the eye!

Throughout the story of Peanuts, Lucy, Snoopy, Sally and others all work to no avail to separate Linus from his blanket. And even though his security blanket remains a major source of ridicule for the otherwise mature and thoughtful Linus, he simply refuses to give it up.
Until this moment.  When he simply drops it.
In that climactic scene when Linus shares "what Christmas is all about," he drops his security blanket, and I am now convinced that this is intentional. Most telling is the specific moment he drops it: when he utters the words, "fear not" (at :38 seconds).

Looking at it now, it is pretty clear what Charles Schultz was saying, and it's so simple it's brilliant.
The birth of Jesus separates us from our fears.
The birth of Jesus frees us from the habits we are unable (or unwilling) to break ourselves.
The birth of Jesus allows us to simply drop the false security we have been grasping so tightly, and learn to trust and cling to Him instead.

Monday, December 7, 2015

What's the Proper Way to Pray?

I received this question today from a good friend:

 "What's the proper way to pray?  Is there one?  What do we say to God?  My prayers have been sounding like requests and I'm not sure how it's communicating to God"

My first reaction to this question was "It doesn't matter how you pray, as long as you pray."

I think the relationship is what is important, God loves us as we are, He shouldn't care how we pray, as long as we do.


Then I thought deeper.

In the Book of Matthew, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explains how one should pray, and I thought---if the "HOW" wasn't important, then why would it be in the Bible?

If it doesn't matter HOW we pray, then why did Jesus go through the trouble of telling us HOW to pray??

Jesus said in Matthew 6: 5-13

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
10 thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our trespasses,
    as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.’

This prayer is a template for us to follow when we pray.

When we begin our prayers we need to recognize that God is our Creator and He is Holy and above all things.  The fact that this is the First thing we are to do in our prayer tells us that it is of utmost importance.

Why is it so important that we praise God and be Thankful to Him before anything else in our prayer?  

It is to keep us humble.  We must recognize that it is through Him that all blessings flow.  It is not by our greatness, but by HIS greatness that we are blessed in this life.  If we do not recognize this, then we will have a wedge between us and God as we think we don't need Him.

We would be like the 2 year old that tells his mother "I do it!"  There may be lots we can do, but we should not do all things, and like the 2 year old that cannot recognize the danger in some of the things he chooses to do independently of his mother, we do not recognize the danger in things we choose to do without God's blessing.

Pride is at the root of all evil.  Think about will see that it is true.

So in our prayers, we must first recognize that God is Supreme and we must humble ourselves before Him.  We must show our gratitude for His grace and mercy.

And we also need to recognize that as He rules in Heaven, He also rules here on Earth.  And although we may wish for things to be a certain way, we do not see the greater picture.   So ultimately, we must wish for His Will to be done.

Again, like the 2 year old who can't see the danger, we cannot see the greater picture.  As we lose loved ones, for instance, we cannot see the good in this.  But we have to trust God and trust that when His Will is done on Earth, it is only for Good, never anything less.

We also need to recognize that we need His grace and mercy daily.  Just as we need "bread" to nourish and sustain our bodies, Jesus is the "Bread of Life" and His Word will nourish and sustain our soul.

We need to recognize that we need Him in our life every day--that when we start drifting away from Him we will feel that ache in our heart.   There is a place God carved out in our hearts for Him to place the Holy Spirit within us.

Think of it like God planting a little seed of himself within us to care for.   If we do not nourish this seedling every day by spending time with it and caring for it (through prayer and bible study) it will wither away.  It never truly dies, but may go dormant, and after a time you will feel an ache in that spot.

So in our prayers, we need to renew our commitment to God to spend time with Him daily, as He is our Daily Bread.

Then we are reminded that we must forgive those who have hurt us.  If we are holding a grudge against someone for something, then our prayers cannot be pure.  It is like "static" or "buffering" in our attempts to "talk" with God.  We cannot get a clear, 4G /  HD connection with Him.  God knows as we hold onto those grudges that anger will fester and grow and it will separate us from Him

Think again, back to that little seeding of Holy Spirit we are to care for---if we nurture our grudges instead of that seedling, which one will grow and take over?

And that final part of the prayer template is to remind us that Satan is real, evil is real and we cannot face it alone.  There is spiritual warfare all around us and we cannot face it without Him to strengthen us.

So what Jesus teaches us is really not just "How" to pray.....but also very much "How" we should live..........

So to put it in a modern way, a typical prayer might go something like this:

Dear Father in Heaven

I rejoice in You and the beauty of all your creations
I am thankful for this beautiful day, for my loving friends and family,
You have blessed me abundantly
Much more so than I could ever deserve.

But God, please hear me now
Please hear my prayers that  I send to you for I recognize that I need your help.

I have had a disagreement with my friend
I have a loved one who is sick
I am struggling with class in school

But if it be your will that...
I loose my friendship,
my loved one dies,
I fail this test

Then I ask for your strength and guidance to help me through it.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

PEACE: The Second Sunday of Advent

Image result for advent sunday peace

On the heals of a recent string of violence, I can't think of a more appropriate Advent this Sunday than that of Peace.

Violence seems to be on the rise in the world.   The world mourns recent terror attacks in Paris and in the US and in the Middle East.

As the Christmas season of 2015 unfolds over the next few weeks, I think we may see further attacks.   But we must not loose our focus on the meaning of Christmas.   

We cannot loose our compulsion for Peace . We may long for vengeance, but Jesus calls for Peace.  He is the Prince of Peace, as foretold by Isaiah 9:6

Image result for prince of peace

For to us a child is born, 
to us a son is given,
 and the government will be on his shoulders. 
 And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, 
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, 
Prince of Peace.  

We seek peace in the world, peace in our nation, peace in our communities and in our families.  But peace will only come when there is peace in our hearts.  

Not the kind of peace that our culture tries to sell,  where we must all get along and put aside our differences--which often means turning a blind eye to the evil around us-- but the kind of peace that reaches down deeply into our very soul.  

This is only possible when we have peace with God.

And that is why the Prince of Peace came to this earth as a little Babe in the manger.  He came to bring us peace, the kind that lasts for eternity, the peace that cannot be broken.  
Jesus Christ came that you and I might have peace with our Creator.  
He came to lay His body down as a bridge between us and God, 
Ensuring peace in the most important place of all, our hearts.
Image result for jesus is peace

Much of this post was taken from this wonderful new blog I have found:  Deeper Roots

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

What's In A Name?

In Hebrew there are four words translated "God": 
El, Elah, Elo'ah, Elohim.

The oldest word meaning "God" is El

Linguists believe its base meaning is strength or power. 
"El" is the Strong One, or the Deity (God). 

"El" is used in many names found in the Bible
and I was curious as to how they would translate

This is what I found:

Among God's Messengers we Find:

 Michael--Who is like God
Gabriel--God is Powerful
Raphael---God Heals
Uriel---God is my Light

Remember when Jacob wrestled God's angel
for God's blessing
and he received a new name:

Image result for jacob wrestles god

Israel---Struggles with God

Some other Names you may recall:

Samuel---Name of God

Image result for samuel of the bible

Daniel--Judged By God

Image result for daniel of the bible

Elijah--God is the Lord and 
Elisha---God is Salvation

Image result for elijah and elisha of the bible

Ezekiel--God will Strengthen

Image result for ezekiel of the bible

Ishmael--Named by God

Image result for ishmael of the bible

And Perfect for the Christmas Season:

Emmanuel  / Immanuel--God is with us

Image result for nativity

Oh--and this one I found most surprising
because I never thought of this as an "El" name:

Elizabeth--My God is Oath

Image result for elizabeth in the bible