Categories
Christian Living Truth

A Surprise in the Fireplace

It had been a long weekend at the church where I served as an associate pastor. I’d spent most of the day, and all Saturday night, with a family whose father was in intensive care at a local hospital. Sunday was, well, Sunday—the busiest day of the week for me.

So on Monday (my day off), I slept in for some much needed rest. But even with the extra sleep I still felt frazzled; folks in the ministry call this “compassion fatigue.” Feeling emotionally depleted from the long weekend of pastoral ministry, I decided to take a walk at a beautiful Christian conference center nearby.

But as I made my way around a scenic tree-lined trail, wouldn’t you know, it started to rain! I quickly went from a stroll to a sprint, ducking into a nearby multi-purpose building—that just happened to be unlocked. It was a gymnasium with a kitchen and reception area: a “cafegymatorium.”😀

Wanting to stay dry, I continued to walk laps around the basketball court, using a massive stone fireplace as a waypoint. But then I heard something: a fluttering sound coming from behind the darkened glass doors covering the hearth. A bird had somehow fallen down the chimney and was unable to escape.

I cautiously opened the doors. Stepping back quickly, I felt the breeze as he flew past me—into the empty gym. It was a male cardinal, flashing brilliant red! He circled near the ceiling, trying to figure out where he was.

Tip-toeing over to a side entrance, I opened the door. The rain had stopped and the sun shone brightly—bathing a corner of the building in light. But mister curious cardinal wouldn’t take the exit; he continued his holding pattern, looping the gym over and over. So I stepped away from the door and froze, still as a statue. Finally, my “brother from another mother” flew out the door to freedom.


I call my hapless bird friend “brother” because I’ve been where he was: trapped and unable to free myself alone. Leaving full time ministry, a failed marriage, both were impenetrable doors blocking my escape. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks from your own life.

The point is, Jesus Christ is the only person who can truly set us free. And He opens the doors with one word:

So Jesus said to those who believed in Him, “If you obey my teaching, you are really my disciples; you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31 (GNT) emphasis mine

Kind reader, may I remind you that all the truth you’ll ever need is found in Christ Himself? At the cusp of His own crucifixion He comforted His dearest friends with these words, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”— John 14:1 (NIV) And when Doubting Thomas questioned this, Jesus answered with a one sentence summary:

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6 (NIV)

It’s 2022 and Jesus is STILL the way; we don’t need another road map. God’s best to you always. Thank you for reading. 🙏❤️

Categories
Christian Living joy

⏸ for Joy

Photo by Bekka Mongeau on Pexels.com

I’d left the ministry and moved three states away, with a marriage unraveling. It was my second job in four months. Being the consummate over explainer, I shared my troubles with my boss. The next morning, when I showed up for work, I was no longer on the schedule.

At that exact moment, it was like someone pressed the pause button on my life. I stood frozen, looking at the schedule–without my name on it–and prayed, “Lord, what now?”

My prayer was immediately answered with a sense of deep calm, an assurance that my life was still in God’s hands. Despite the circumstances, I was able to work my entire shift–like it was any other day. The boss called me in at closing time, marveling at the poise with which I’d faced uncertainty. I told her it was the Joy of Lord. She put me back on the schedule.

Perhaps you can relate? You’ve stood before, back to the wall, with limited options. But rather than running away you stayed put, empowered by the Holy Spirit. At such times we can choose joy, but can’t produce it. This brand of eternal confidence only comes from God (Galatians 5:22).

Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.

Colin Powell

King David calls it a mega-multiplier:

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)

It was a recent post, What if Joy? on Praise2worshipdotnet, that jogged my memory about the power of genuine joy. Pastor Pete shared an inspiring thought: the Joy of the Lord is a good escape plan. Believers under its power can face whatever God has for them with confidence. (Think Paul and Silas singing in prison or Christ facing the cross).

On this Christmas Day may we pause for joy, like the shepherds out in the fields on the night of Christ’s birth, scared half to death by a visiting angel.😇

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

Luke 2:10 (NIV)
Categories
Christian Living Christmas

GPS Jesus

Photo by Alex Perez on Unsplash

For the fine citizens of Wellington, Florida enough was enough. The baby Jesus was stolen from their community center nativity two years in a row!

But during the next Noel they were ready–with a creative way to catch a crook. Christmas season number three featured a baby Jesus with a GPS locator onboard. Sheriff’s deputies tracked the life-sized figurine, when it was absconded yet again, to an apartment–where it was found lying face down on a carpet.

Tis the season once again, and the Christ child is missing. There are plenty of lights and Santas and reindeer on the lawn. But where is Jesus? Lots of folks aren’t even looking for Him this time of year. No worries. We may not be searching for Christ, but He came searching for us.

This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:10

Remember the first thing God said to Adam and Eve after they ate the forbidden fruit? They were hiding from Him and He called to them, “Where are you?”

Yes, there is a God’s Positioning Signal (GPS) inside each one of us. We have been searched and fully known (Psalm 139). God knows EVERYTHING about us–the good, the bad and the ugly–yet He STILL sent his Son to redeem us (Romans 5:8).

You did not choose me but I chose you.

Jesus – John 15:16a

People leaving Christ out of Christmas doesn’t change one iota what God did for the world (John 3:16). Through the gift of His Son, He shows us ALL how much He loves us.

Yet it is a gift we must be willing to receive.

Photo by Trinity Kubassek on Pexels.com