Our family’s Christmas decorations include trees and lights, candles and wreaths, and several nativity sets scattered throughout the house. This year, I thought it would be fun to have my two-year-old grandson, James, help me set up the manger scenes, partly because he enjoys animals so much. While we worked, he named the animals and the sounds they made, but one thing that surprised me was his fascination with Baby Jesus, not only then, but also during the days leading up to Christmas. Continue reading “Captivated by Christ”
Rejoicing in the “Wilderness”
When I was growing up, summertime promised a break from school and homework, but it also meant separation from most of my school friends who I didn’t see otherwise. I could be excited about the summer break, or find reasons to be sad. It’s all about perspective: Would I view it as an adventure to enjoy or as a desolate wilderness to muddle through?
As Christians, we have very great and precious promises available to us (2 Peter 1:3). Jesus offers forgiveness, everlasting love, reconciliation to God, a coming restoration of all things. But He also promised we will have troubles (John 16:33), seasons in the “wilderness,” so to speak. Like my attitude toward childhood summers, we must choose whether we will view these challenging times as an adventure to enjoy or as a desolate wilderness to muddle through. Jesus came to give us abundant life (John 10:10) and full joy (John 15:11), so we don’t need to settle for “muddling through” anything. Continue reading “Rejoicing in the “Wilderness””
From Worrier to Warrior
Recently, a friend said to me, “You’re such a warrior.” Maybe it was her Southern accent, or maybe it was my poor hearing, but I didn’t hear “warrior.” I heard “worrier.” So, my response to her was, “Well, I used to be, but I’m not any more. God rescued me from the pit of worry.” She was puzzled by my response and spelled it out for me: “W-a-r-r-i-o-r, not worrier!”
Me? A warrior?
I’ve shared before about my struggles with worrying (read more in “The War with Worry”), and the Lord has done a great work in me. He has rewired the way I think. No longer do I jump headfirst into the deep end of the pool of worries and woes. No longer do I let my thoughts run over the cliff like a runaway train with no bridge ahead. How did He do it? It was a process, for sure, but the final blow to my habit of worrying came through the gift of cancer. Continue reading “From Worrier to Warrior”
A Pleasing Aroma
What’s that smell? Cookies baking in the oven? Popcorn popping in the microwave? Burgers on the grill? Those aromas can create a hunger in me even if it isn’t mealtime! But while these scents can make my mouth water, there are other food-smells that have the opposite effect. I’m not a fan of collards. They give off a distinctive, strong odor while cooking. It is such a strong smell that I’ve heard some people cook them outside so that the odor will not permeate the whole house. I wouldn’t want my house to smell like collards, but you may love the way collards smell. The way we evaluate scents depends on our own preferences – it is very subjective.
Like foods emit aromas to us, if we are Christians, “we are the aroma of Christ to God” (2 Corinthians 2:15). Continue reading “A Pleasing Aroma”
Hope: Handcuffs for Grief
By Sheri Ellington
Like many others, we are facing our first Christmas without close family members. My mom and my husband’s brother died this year. She died after a short battle with cancer, and he died at the hands of a murderer. Both sides of our family are hurting. Each person is dealing with the grief in his own way. If you are in a similar situation this Christmas, dealing with the mixed emotions that come with grief and holiday festivities, my prayer is that this will be a blessing to you.
First of all, it is helpful to acknowledge that we all grieve differently, and that we cannot look at others from the outside and know how they are coping on the inside. From my own experience and observation, there are many ways to process grief. Some cry, while some are quiet; some stay busy and try to get out of the house as much as possible, while some long to withdraw into isolation and avoid all celebrations.
There is no magic formula for grieving, but there is a Godly and biblical way to grieve: with hope.
A New Thing…from a Scorched Place
By Sheri Ellington
Ever been in a dry place? A scorched place? A desert? Where things just seem to keep going wrong and no matter how much you pray, it feels like your prayers are going no further than your ceiling?