Intentionality: Focus Your Energy

February 4th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Intentionality.

For me this word promotes encouragement to set and obtain goals.

Perhaps even more energizing is viewing lives lived with intentionality.

 

In Hungry for God: Hearing God’s Voice in the Ordinary and Everyday by Margaret Feinberg, I encountered this phrase:

 Don’t look where you don’t want to go.

This was the advice Margaret’s friend, Valerie, was given when attempting her first mountain biking excursion…I find it applicable to a life lived with intentionality.

If in fact we are not to focus where we do not want to go then the opposite must also be true: we must focus where we want to go. Which begs the questions:

Where do I want to go? What are my thoughts and vision set upon? Do I need to shift my thinking in some areas?

One Wednesday night a month, our middle school and high school ministries join forces for worship and Bible study during a time we call Unite. At last month’s Unite the high school students were given the opportunity to share what God put on their hearts.

I loved the intentionality of the testimonies of three students as listed below.

  • “I want to pray with 100 homeless people this year.”
  • “Please hold me accountable to gaining all attention for myself. If you see that I am drawing everyone’s attention to me, please stop me and ask me to put that energy into drawing attention to God. “
  • One student is joining with her peer to realize his vision for “Kneel United” a prayer concert to coincide with the Republican National Convention meeting in our backyard of Tampa, Florida. Kneel United would focus the prayers of God’s people within our country to pray as one.

Indeed this was a 1 Timothy 4:12 moment.

What movement is Christ drawing you to by the power of His word and the testimony of the saints?

Why not raise the risk with me and strive for intentionality? Determine where you want to go and press on to change yourself and the world through Christ Jesus. We are the body that Christ has chosen to bless others in this moment in history.

 

Life Lessons from a Child

January 25th, 2012 § 1 comment § permalink

I was addressing our leadership team about some important changes for the new year.

I was casting vision for what others couldn’t see right now but hoped they would be able to see soon. I was on the mountain top explaining what I saw for the near future concerning our ministry; they were still blinded by the mountain that stood in front of them. But soon, they too would see the huge payoff that we would experience before long in our quest for making disciples in our church’s student ministry.

And then she walked in the room.

 

Life Lessons from Emily

My Little Teacher

She being my beautiful and articulate three-year old daughter. Emily was in the back of the room as I stood up front. We were separated by a sea of adults but in that moment, all she could see was, “Daddy!”

She never saw the crowd…never took notice that I was speaking to my team…never bothered to remember her manners and say, “Excuse me, daddy.” She quickly weaved her way through the maze of a carefully designed set up of tables and chairs and embraced my right leg looking up at me with a trusting and secure face. She knew everything would be okay because daddy was with her.

Wouldn’t it be great if that was reflective of our relationship with God?

Wouldn’t it be great if we never saw the crowd…never got distracted by the things that carry no lasting value…never cowered in fear seizing every moment with Daddy? Jesus’ disciple, Peter, tried to live his life that way, and little Emily, in one of her first Raise the Risk moments, was giving it her best shot as well.

The ability to focus on the Savior is what got Peter out of the boat and onto the water-turned-sidewalk (Matthew 14:29). We possess the ability, through the Holy Spirit to focus on Jesus. When we do this, like Peter and Emily, the only thing that matters is Daddy, and we are free to live outside the realm of fear allowing us to take more risks for Him because He is the only One that matters.

I learned a lot from my little girl that evening, and I pray that I will be ready to learn future lessons that teach me how to live with childlike faith.

I just need to clear the clutter in my mind and find Daddy.

Taken from Scribbles of a Cluttered Mind

Profiles in Character: Katie Davis of Amazima Ministries

January 17th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

There have been several moments in my life where I have met a person, read their book, or heard them speak and then decided that they would make it to the”they follow Christ and I should attend to their teaching” list. My husband is at the top of that list. That being said, Ron would indeed tell you that David Platt easily comes in at the top three! Hence, when I saw the (54 minute) video below, I knew that the “list” had grown to also include Katie Davis of Amazima Ministries and the author of the New York Times bestseller, Kisses from Katie. (There is a shorter 3 minute video introducing Katie and her book at the bottom of the post.)
 

Katie is a mere 23 years old and began her life in Uganda at the even younger age of 18. Fresh out of highschool, she chose to forgo the persuasions of her family to begin college and instead committed to a 10 month stent of teaching pre-school in Uganda, Africa. Through a God-honoring commitment to say yes to raising the risk, Katie now finds herself a committed life-time resident of Uganda, adoptive mother to 13 girls, adoption advocate, New York Times bestseller of Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption,  and the Executive Director of Amazima Ministries. Here is an excerpt from her book. (p. 100)

Fear. It’s part of human nature, but it’s not something we got from God. Second Timothy 1:7 says: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. ” When I imagine God creating each one of us and planting a purpose deep in our hearts, I never imagine that purpose being mediocrity. While the Bible doesn’t tell every person on earth specifically what his or her life’s calling will be, it does include a lot of general direction:

“You are to find me in the least of these. ” Yes.

“You are to leave your earthly possessions and come follow me. ” Yes.

“You are to love and serve the Lord God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.” Yes.

“You are to go make disciples of all nations.” Yes.

“You are to show mercy.” Yes.

“You are to live a life of mediocrity and abundance, holding on tight to your comfortable lifestyle, lest you lose it.” No.

I don’t think so. “Mediocrity and abundance” aren’t there. However, mediocrity and abundance, comfort and ease, do seem to be safe choices for many people, myself included. In stark contrast, leaving our possessions, following Jesus when we don’t have a well-defined plan, and entertaining strangers– well, that does sound a little scary, But what if, just beyond that risk, just beyond that fear is a life better than anything we have ever imagined: life to the fullest.

 

Today, I encourage you to read Katie’s book, her blog, or her guest post here, and then ask yourself, “How should I act in response to this and in light of the gospel?” In the words of my friend Jason, “Don’t do nothing.”

~Brooke

P.S. Reading Katie’s story reminded me of past missionary, Gladys Aylward to China. To read more about here visit the Bookshelf for listed readings.

 

Tangled Christmas Lights

December 24th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

written by Ron Cooney

Christmas lights.

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When properly displayed on a house or a tree or a garden, it depicts something beautiful… something to be observed… something to be admired. But most of us don’t have the time or patience to work through the process to get those lights to their awe-inspiring state. One individual who has entertained millions of us during this time of year is Clark Griswold, who is famously known for his attempt at the perfect family Christmas in the movie Christmas Vacation.

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In one of the shorter scenes in the movie, Clark is just outside the garage with his young son, Russ. With a stack of boxes all around them, the overly optimistic father begins to lecture his son about hard work, dedication, and stick-to-it-iveness that will pay off big in the end. He then pulls out a tangled strand of lights about the size of a giant beach ball and leaves it to his son to figure out.

This got me thinking about life.

Sometimes in life we can create such a mess in our relationships, finances, career, etc. that we don’t know how to untangle what we have created. Untangling one end of the strand only seems to create another three tangles elsewhere. This can lead to frustration and anger, which can quickly lead to surrender. Often times, this surrender isn’t to the Savior whose birth we celebrate this Christmas season – instead, we surrender to the tangled mess and say, “What’s the use? It’s not worth trying.”

We also try to figure out our most complicated tangles on our own. The Bible gives us a different remedy. Study the book of Proverbs and see what the Bible says about having good counsel around you. In your attempt to untangle your mess (whether you created it or not), here are a couple of practical tips to turn that tangle into a display that others can admire:

  1. Go to friends who will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.
  2. Go to friends you know you can trust; avoid leaky faucets. A slow leak can cause a flood of rumors that entangles you further.
  3. Go to friends/pastors/mentors/family who love Jesus and display a vibrant relationship with Christ.

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In the end, it is apparent that there are few who are willing to take, as Robert Frost simply put, “the road less traveled.” This is what raising the risk is all about – taking what seems to be the more difficult path and untangling that mess for the glory of God and finding that it leads to a more simple way of living.

It truly is a life or death decision.

Raise the Risk Challenge:

  1. Read these verses from the book of Proverbs (1:3, 4:1, 8:14, 8:33, 12:15, 15:32, 19:20). What do these verses mean? How can you apply them?
  2. What mess do you need to untangle in 2012? Who can you confide in? Email me at rcooney@calvarybaptist.org if you don’t know where to start.

Of Christmas Without “Them”

December 19th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

I can still hear her voice quiver as each year she gathered her houseful of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren around the table. Just before the blessing, she would recount her love for her family and her thankfulness to God for being alive to share in the celebration of Christmas with those she loved most.

via Pinterest

My great-grandmother was a mother to five, three girls and two rambunctious boys, but known as “Mama” to most. I called her Grandmother Cost. She lived through the depression, along with her husband and children, and her life-long work ethic was a testimony to this.

Each Sunday she would prepare a home-cooked (usually home-grown) meal complete with a made-from-scratch, scrape the plate clean, chocolate cake. For any and all family that would gather to eat after church, Mama’s was the place to congregate.

via Pinterest

Her home would not grace the spreads of any fashionable magazines, but rather was a place of memories made. I can picture in my mind the brown and gold shag carpet and worn linoleum floors. Feel the coolness of rooms long ago filled with laughter and quarreling, that in the later decades remained shut to sustain heat in the main living areas.

It always felt to my childhood mind that the presence of those past memories and people,  namely at that time my great-grandfather I  never knew, roamed about in those rooms, but that is probably attributed to the overactive imagination of a child.

Mama worked her own garden and mowed her own lawn until her death in her mid nineties.  If the Braves or Crimson Tide were playing, you could find her in her matriarchal recliner occasionally arguing with calls made.

Sunday’s you would find her at church.

via Pinterest

My Grandmother Cost knew that her days were numbered, but she did not know the number of her days. That is why with tears and a quivering voice each Christmas before grace was said and thanks was given, she would let her offspring know of her love and appreciation for us all.

When we were ready to eat, we knew that Mama would be making her yearly speech and the room would grow uncomfortable with the thought of not having her presence at the table in subsequent years. They were the words of a woman who loved and was loved and needed to tell you one more time.

As we are entering Christmas week, my thoughts turn to broken hearts that have lost loved ones this year. How they must weep with their loss. I can recount the lives that I know have passed this year. A father, husband, and cop. A daughter, mother, and sister. A friend, co-worker, Papa and dad. These are only three lives who have in someway intersected with mine, but who bring hot tears when I think of their loved ones who miss them so much.

What about us? Who is it that we need to express our love, extend our gratitude, or grace with verbalized (perhaps unsought) forgiveness this Christmas?

This may be the last Christmas… or the beginning of more meaningful friend and family-filled Christmas’ to come.

I would much rather be remembered for a quiver in my sentimental voice than have regrets that I did not say, “I love you, He loves you, and the only real decision that will matter in light of eternity is:

What did we do with Jesus?”

When the coffin is closed, when death has stung, when our time has come, what did we do with the baby born in Bethlehem? The Christ-child turned crucified Savior and finally the risen King of Redeeming Kings?

We may have some regrets as we contemplate the thought of one last Christmas or that last Christmas with the one we loved. Our Father knows that we are but dust-formed lives. He sees, He knows, and He forgives those who ask. I pray for healing in hurting hearts that may read this post. After being a wreck earlier this year, I know even more fully that it is God who numbers our days.

As we joyfully celebrate this blessed season, may we seek restoration in Him and seek to restore others who are hurting and broken over Christmas without them.

If you are reading via e-mail subscription, get out your tissues and click here to watch the accompanying music video by Matthew West.

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Raise the Risk Challenge:

  • Say, “I love you, I forgive you, or thank you,” to those whom God speaks on your heart.
  • Write a card or word of encouragement to someone who is spending their Christmas without a dear family member or friend.
  • Help a family in need in spiritual and physical ways this Christmas.
  • Watch this message by my pastor, Dr. Willy Rice.

Going the Distance

December 14th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

From one of the greatest risk-takers I know personally and am privileged to call a friend, Doug Garner of Going the Distance Adventure Ministries. ~Ron

Rappelling over the edge of a 100′ cliff is exciting to say the least. It’s one of those few surreal moments in life that cause you to feel fully alive. For many people, the fear of heights makes rappelling a very difficult activity – that same fear also happens to be what makes rappelling very exhilarating.

Usually an argument breaks out in your mind as you weigh the idea of an amazing experience versus the perceived risk of falling to your death. Internally you experience a storm of opposing emotions that grip your heart with both anticipation and hesitation. I’ve seen many strong men become paralyzed with fear and consider walking back down the mountain trail instead of rappelling down the cliff face. The astounding thing is that most people beat down their fears in order to risk everything so they can experience this amazing adventure.

In order to do this they have to connect onto an 11mm rope tied to an anchor, walk to the edge of a cliff, lean back and push-off… gravity and rope pretty much do the rest. The hardest part is leaning back over the edge.

It feels very unnatural because at this point, you are taking the greatest risk.

It’s also when you are taking the biggest step of faith as you put your trust in your anchor, your rope, your harness, your hardware, and even in your own abilities (not to mention your faith in God!). It’s common for the fearful rappeller to get to the bottom of the rock face after conquering their fear and let out a shout of celebration looking up and yelling, “That was awesome! Can I do it again?”

A great one-word definition for faith is risk.

As Christians, we all want to be people of great faith, but do you realize that in order to be a person of great faith you must be a person of great risk? Obedience to God is always an act of faith and it always requires an element of risk. It may not be a life or death level of risk each time, but you will be risking something – rejection, loss, hurt feelings, being misunderstood, judged, falsely accused – in order to obey.

It’s this risk, this life of faith, that makes following God the most adventurous lifestyle known to mankind. There’s nothing more exciting in life than to follow God’s call because in doing so you are setting off on a lifelong faith journey in which God will bring you face-to-face with every fear and inhibition that robs you of living out your God-breathed potential. Taking steps of faith isn’t quite as exciting as rappelling… it’s much better. There are times when God will prompt you to “lean back over the edge” and share the Gospel with a total stranger – or even more difficult, a close family member – or stand up for someone being ridiculed or ask someone out on a date or pursue a dream He has planted in your heart. In each situation you will have to connect to your spiritual rope, walk to the edge, lean back, and push-off in faith as you risk everything in order to live life to the fullest (John 10:10). As you obey each time you will look up towards God and shout in celebration, “That was awesome! Can I do it again?”

There is no greater adventure than following Jesus. Don’t retreat back down the mountain trail! Instead, raise the risk by leaning back over the edge and watch God exhilarate your soul.

Holy Greetings of Grace and Peace

December 10th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:2

Paul’s letters begin with these words: grace and peace. Each time they are accompanied by, ” from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” In his letters to Timothy, Paul also adds mercy.

Jesus mercifully came to pour out His grace so that the Holy Spirit might forever reign in believers hearts giving them peace.

That I would carry a greeting of grace and peace to my brothers and sisters in word, heart, and spirit.

How often is my soul in a state of unrest? Worry, sin, and striving can lead to this state, but abiding in Christ Jesus and growing in love and knowledge of Him ushers forth His grace and peace in my spirit and yours.

When the angels told of the birth of Christ, they ushered in their tidings with,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased. ” Luke 2:14 (emphasis mine)

In the form of a warm and fleshy baby boy, peace and joy were birthed to earth so that striving and death could be ceased.

I long to behold the baby boy of Bethlehem whose birth we celebrate over two thousand years later. To be one of the lowly shepherds to coddle, kiss, and worship his tiny fingers and toes. To bask in the earthen glow of a heavenly Savior is to know Love.

Our King.

That I would carry grace and peace in my inner being alone is enough to change the countenance of my face.

My face tells the signs of my time spent with Jesus. When worry grips me and piles of laundry, clutter, my own self-inflicted to do list, or even worse, my sin, start to wear at my soul it is then I must recognize my thirst for my Savior and His Word beckoning to me, “Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The shepherds momentarily laid down their duties to partake of His grace and joy. I should do the same.

How did the lowly shepherds spend the rest of their earthly days?

What joy did they take forth into their mundane tasks?

Was that moment in a stable enough to sustain them till heaven or did they ask God for more? How many of them lived the thirty-three years more to receive the eternal anointing of the Holy Spirit?

Indeed the baby boy of heaven changed everything.

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This Christmas season, might we remember to receive His grace and peace in all things as we worship the new-born King of Kings turn Risen Savior? Might we pause from tasks, turn from distractions, and then bow our heads in meditation and wonder at the gift of Christ our Savior?

Grace and peace to you in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ this Christmas season and every one thereafter.

Raise the Risk Challenge:

  • Do not take my word for it. Look at the Pauline epistles (Romans, 1/2 Corinthians, Galatians,  Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1/2 Thessalonians, 1/2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon) and see for yourself his holy greetings of grace and peace.
  • How might you extend grace and peace to your family and/or circle of friends this Christmas? To other Christians around the world? To your neighbors?
  • In what areas of your life is there unrest? Ask Christ Jesus to rain down His peace. Seek His leading to discern areas of necessary change.

Now What?

December 6th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Written by Ron Cooney

Poverty. Starvation. Emptiness. Distant. Filth.

These are the images I witnessed this past week as our church emphasized missions, and I researched the extreme poverty that exists in our world to find stories and videos that I could share with our students to raise awareness of the needs of the world we live in. It is reported that over half of the world’s population live on less than $2 a day and before we try to explain that statistic away let’s be careful to consider first how richly God has blessed us.

I have also learned that a child under the age of five dies every four seconds due to extreme poverty. Consider this: in the time that it takes you to read this post, 45 children will have died from circumstances outside his/her control. Many of these children exist without adult supervision because their parents are deceased or are trying to survive themselves. Many are being raised by older siblings who are just children themselves. Many are being expolited sexually or through child labor or a combination of the two.

Images of tiny skeletons thinly wrapped in skin expose more than the structure of their bodies’ 208 bones – it exposes the reality of the world we live in… inequities that can be easily observed… scales that have been tipped in the favor of a few… believers desperately in need of compassion and children desperately in need of food.

While the images may cause us to be nauseous, ignorance is not an option.

And the question begs, now what?

What do I do with this information? What is my responsibility as a Christian whose God says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).

I am going to take a risk here and admit, “I’m not entirely sure.”

But here is what I do know: the devil would like nothing more than to distract me from the spiritual needs of this world by causing me to focus and be broken for physical needs only. Even a starving child who receives nourishment, shelter, medicine, and an education will do so for just one lifetime. As bad as the physical needs of others are in this world – and we have a clear command from God to care for the widowed and orphaned – each one of us is in desperate need of rescue because of the sinful state we are born into.

There is not one physical need in this world that is greater than our spiritual need.

As you consider what your role will be in answering the call of (1) the Gospel and (2) James 1:27, do some research looking for churches/organizations/ministries that put the spiritual need ahead of the physical need. Post your findings to our Facebook page or comment here.

Raise the Risk Challenge:

  1. Meditate on extreme global poverty this week. Use your lunch break to fill your mind/heart instead of filling your stomach. Watch videos, view images, read scripture/blogs, pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit.
  2. The purpose of the church can be best summed up in Matthew 28:19-20 and Matthew 22:37-40. Set up a meeting with one of your pastors exploring how you can live out the Great Commission (missions) and how you can love your neighbor biblically.
  3. Take a chance and do something. For inspiration, see what 9-year old Austin Gutwein did with a basketball for orphans in Zambia. www.hoopsofhope.org

Why Santa Doesn’t Deliever Presents to our House

December 2nd, 2011 § 7 comments § permalink

I remember defending his existence in fourth grade, then finding out I was wrong soon thereafter. A man I had never met in the flesh, but looked forward to his coming on December 25th every year.

Santa Claus.

via Pinterest

The good-will ambassador for many girls and boys across the world is truthfully presented as a character along with Charlotte, Wilbur, Rudolph, and any other fictional characters we encounter in the children’s literature in our home.

As far as I know we are the only people in our family who do not teach our children to believe in Santa Claus. We have not been ridiculed for our choices, but I want to lay out my reasons here to prompt your thinking on the matter. Truth is too important to flippantly follow the status quo, and therefore, I want to give you some meaty measures to add to your milk and cookies for Santa this year.

First, there are  attributes we assign to Santa that are only manifested in God: omniscience and omnipotence.

Omniscience, means that one is all-knowing.  The holiday song, Santa Clause is Coming to Town, goes, “He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when your awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good. So be good for goodness sake.” 

Only God knowns our thoughts and ways, our lying down and waking up.  He judges the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts like no one else can.  Omniscience belongs to God in His triune state alone.

Omnipotence, or unlimited power, is attributed to the man who can fly around the world in one night, fit down chimneys or pass through locked doors, and magically provide your heart’s desire one day every year.

Unlimited power is only found in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Second, and equally important, Christmas is a religious holiday about the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. This Christian holiday has been secularized so that it is more palatable to non-Christian’s worldwide. Yes, there is an atheistic movement to quiet or extinguish the celebration, but Christmas is largely a money-making secularized holiday.

We have run the risk of making Christmas more about ourselves than the King born in a manger. A jolly old man bringing us more material presents is not the presence that should be celebrated this time of year.

Please understand that I genuinely love Christmas movies, music, and decorations. You will find me glued to Hallmark on many occasions during the Christmas season. Honestly, one of my favorite creations of my artistic mother is a two foot Santa and Mrs. Claus that she painted in ceramics. However, I have chosen to make Santa a fictional character in limited books and movies for my children so that they will not miss the message of Christmas found in the nativity and Christ-centered books on our shelves.

Growing up, my parents followed the three gift rule like many other parents I know. They gave my sister and I three gifts each Christmas just as the wisemen presented to the Christ-child. (Albeit there could be ten pieces to the “one” gift.)

My mom and I.

However, this post by Ann challenged my perspective on even this practice. Jesus is the gift and the three gifts were given to Him on His birthday not the opposite. What do we give Jesus on His birthday?

That is why we, along with multitudes of others, choose to give to Gospel for Asia, Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child, World Vision, and Compassion International at Christmas and throughout the year. In serving the poor, needy, orphaned, and unreached, we are presenting sacrificial thank offerings to God and His Son, Jesus at the celebration of His birth.

Does this mean that we cannot exchange gifts with others? I would say no. To show our love and appreciation for each other as an extension of the gift of Christ Jesus in our life is a blessed privilege. Must we exchange gifts to celebrate Christmas? Likewise no.

We have had the Kneeling Santa figurine since a Christmas Wedding Shower 10 years ago. As I reflect upon its meaning now,  I am unsettled in my spirit. Yes, Santa is bowed worshiping the New Born King, but this even implies that Santa preceded Christ. The true “Santa” was actually St. Nicholas who lived after Christ and gave to the poor in the name of Jesus.

via Google Images

The face of the Father of Christmas may indeed be merry and bright, but it is not found at the North Pole. Conversely, He chose the lowly and humble stable to make his glory known. Then brought forth wisemen from across the earth and angels soaring in the sky to announce His coming and celebrate His Son, the gift of Christmas. He brought His Messenger in this way so that the heart of every boy and girl could know the favor of their Creator through Christ the King.

However you choose to celebrate Christmas in your home, I hope that you will submit these practices to God and seek His will. I pray that you will make Christ predominate in your hearts, homes, and heritage this Christmas and each one to come.

Raise the Risk Challenge:

  • Read Ann’s post referenced above here.
  • Consider who the face of Christmas really is in your family and make any necessary changes.
  • Give a gift to Jesus by sponsoring a child locally or either here, here, or here.

Thanksgiving:To Lay Down a Life

November 24th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

He picks up the fallen, sawed logs and lies them in a path for others to follow.

Raking dead and fallen leaves to clear a path for tiny feet and wrinkled hands.

Pushing the dead things aside, giving of his time and energy. Eagerly working at his task that will provide direction through the woods on a dirt path to grandma’s house.

 I see him working gladly and give thanks for his work.  Thinking all the while that in laying down our lives, the dead things, and picking up our cross, new life, we are laying paths for fellow man.

24Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 16:24-25

Weeks approaching Thanksgiving meditation has been on this:

1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! 2Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!3Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him;bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100

In everyday tasks, to serve the LORD with gladness. To do this. To do this, is to lay down my life and walk in the newness of Christ’s.

This Thanksgiving as we travel the path to Grandmother’s house, may we give thanks in everything (Ephesians 5:20). When family tension can be running high, when they do not do it the way that you do, when spiritual conversations move from your head to your lips and pour forth life, give thanks.

Give thanks, lay down your will, take up your cross and lay a path for fellow man to follow.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.  May praises and thanks be on your lips and gladness be in your heart.

Raise the Risk Challenge:

1. Take the time to pray for family instead of criticize them this day.

2. Serve one another in love.

3. Give thanks in all things for this is a recipe for Thanksgiving.

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