Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas Letter

As I think about this Christmas season and all that it means I am reminded that often there are those to whom this is a very difficult time of year. Maybe this is your first Christmas without one of your parents. Maybe it’s a first without the one you have loved and shared your life with for so many years. Possibly you lost a child or your much loved child has gone a direction that you don’t agree with. So many ways that this time of year brings sadness and hurt. So many times when the family gets together we are just reminded of past hurts our current differences. How do we cope? How can this year be an improvement on the Christmases that have past?

I have found personally that when I am down or regretting the times together that the best way for me to overcome this attitude is to give myself to others. Rather than to look at what I am missing out on I try to focus more on what I have been given. The list is long and when we focus on the things we have to be thankful for we should be overwhelmed at the extent of our many blessings. Spend a week in Ethiopia and you will return with a new look at your life.

Here are just a few of the significant things I would like to share with you and maybe this will encourage you to be more thankful this season.

This morning we celebrated our first Christmas with John, our new 14 year old Chinese son. Can you imagine the thoughts going through his head this morning as he dressed up as our family Santa to hand out the gifts? Never has he known the meaning of Christmas. Never has he received a Christmas gift.

Kimmy and Ian came home from NC, where Ian is in seminary, and joined us for their first Christmas as a married couple. We were all there once, without much money and living on love more than anything else. But they made the trip to be here with us and to give us what must be the best gift they could ever give us- a grandbaby, due in Aug. We miss having them here close to us, but we also understand that this is the reason we raised them- to go and make a difference in the world. What a blessing for us.

We have many things that have happened this year; a trip to China, a wedding and a trip to NC. Our lives are filled with material, emotional and spiritual blessings that are too numerous to count, but we must look at or lives and recognize their abundance.

Our greatest Gift is the gift from our Father who loves us more than is earthly imaginable. I would never have given one of my sons to save my enemies and yet this is what God has done for us. He devised the plan to win us back to Himself and that plan included the life and death of His only Son. I pray that this Christmas we would understand the depth of His love for us and that each would follow His leading. He desires that we love Him more than anything else and yet I find myself often looking to the temporal gifts and blessings that are in front of me each day; how fleeting they are. He is worth more than any gifts or blessings we have here.

Have a Merry Christmas as you celebrate the greatest Gift we have ever received.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Maybe this is YOUR first Christmas

Maybe this is your first Christmas like it is our first Christmas in some way.

This is our first Christmas...
With an adopted son.
With all of our biological kids graduated from HS.
Without the same church family we have had for 16 years.
Without being small group leaders in a very long time.
Without being in the worship band for a very long time.
With a married daughter.
Without Kimmy living in our house all the time.
With a son-in-law.
With an inside grand-baby.

This is NOT our first Christmas...
Not really having any idea what the future holds in terms of PG and work.
Being completely dependent on God's provision of all we need.
Looking forward to Heaven's glory with great excitement.
Having friends and family who love and care for us very much.
To be following Jesus.

The Christmas celebration is about the greatest Gift we have ever received and we should not take for granted the words "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

That is the Good News we needed to hear and without those words we would have nothing to celebrate. Look around you and tell those you love that you do. Tell someone you know does not believe the Good News what is so good about it. Share the Hope that is in you with one who has no hope.

What a privilege we have to celebrate.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2010 partners in prayer

I just want to say "thank you" to those who have prayed for us so much in 2010. Every time I talk to my dad he tells me that they pray for s every day and that is such and encouragement. What better gift can be given than to pray for someone? God loves to be asked and He loves to give. May we believe this in every aspect of our lives.
Thanks again.

Not my will but Yours

As I sit here and listen to the ticking of the clock and wait for the phone to ring, I was compelled to write some thoughts on the page by an old friend of mine. So here they are.

There have been many times in my life that I have come to what seems like a decision that has no clear answer; all directions seem plausible yet I know there is only one way that would be most pleasing to God. How do you choose and how do you know you are mot making the wrong choice amidst all the options? Right now I am in a few of those on various fronts, so will I make the right decision? When there is no verse that tells us which way to go then what do we do?

Here is my process.
I try very hard to take my own will out of it. This is difficult as we are sinful/selfish creatures and we want our own way first. We must endeavor to take this out of the equation and I believe the best way to do this is to be like Christ when He said, "Not my will but thine". I have had to force myself to believe that whatever I am looking to do may be completely lost and force myself to think about my life w/o whatever it is. A REAL reality check.

Once this is done I then try to look at where I am with or w/o the particular item and force myself to look through the lens of who I am in Christ. Will I be better off with this or w/o it? More often than not it makes not real difference in light of eternity; which is the only thing that is important.

The decision gets easier when this is played out even further. If we know that God is sovereign and He gives what is best for us in every situation then what do we have to fear? If we have worked as unto the Lord to achieve whatever we are after then God can either give or take these things away and the choice is His. This is really freeing. He can close whatever doors He knows are best and open the ones He knows we should go through.

We are left again saying, "Not my will but Yours Father". To fight for "our rights" is foolish. Work hard, study hard, pray hard and leave the choice up to God. He will give and take away but never will He forsake us or withhold any good thing. If we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, then He will add all the things we need. What more can we ask than to have all we need?

Hopefully this is both helpful and encouraging.