Dance Week Is Almost Over

All the rehearsals are done.  Two Nutcracker performances are finished.  Three more shows to go.

Community and family are a beautiful thing.  I get to experience the holidays with my family, my church and my extended family at the Dance Academy.

That's why it is so important to treat our families and our extended families right during this time of the year.  While it doesn't appear that there is an increase in family fighting during the holidays, we apparently don't forget them for a long time.

As a kid, I can remember one family fight between my dad and a family friend at the Thanksgiving table.  To be fair, the family friend didn't have a clue.  Even I knew the correct answer to the question.  However, my dad couldn't let it go until the family friend conceded that he was wrong.  That never happened.  I never ate my turkey and dressing so fast.  I was sitting in the middle of the fight.  Fortunately for me, the mashed potatoes never did fly.  Thankfully, the family friend, he never came back.

Ps 133:1 It is truly wonderful when relatives live together in peace. (CEV) 

How do you treat your family (and extended family) properly?

Offense - Deal with your offense immediately and appropriately.  Often during the holidays we get so caught up in what we are doing that we unknowing offend people.  ALSO, do not take up someone else's offense.  Listening to them gripe about someone else isn't healthy for you or them. Politely tell them to take their offense to the person who offended them or drop it - gossip is a sin.

Arrogance - Don't treat other people like your servants.  Sometimes we can come off that way, especially when we are under a deadline.  (If you're like me, manners are often sacrificed in the name of efficiency.) Just because someone is doing a job that you think is beneath, doesn't mean that it is beneath you.

Serve - Do everything that you can to serve.  How do you know if you are serving well?  Are your hands dirty?

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, help me to treat my family well this holiday season.  AMEN

Christmas Challenges

My day started at 8:15 am when I arrived at the High School for my daughters 2nd Nutcracker performance.  

Finished by 12 noon and off to lunch. 

Then I was informed by my daughter that we will need to pick up her friend at said High School at 2:45 pm.  That would be in 45 minutes.  

But we cannot go back for the 5:30 pm rehearsal for another 45 minutes. 

45 minutes pass at Dunkin Donuts drinking coffee.  It’s cold outside. Brrrrr

Back to the High School where upon arrival my daughter informs me that she forgot 2 costumes back at the church.  WHAT?  Then my wife informs me that she needs something printed off her computer.  Ahhhhhhh!  

Drive there, drive back.  Get ready to take pictures of my daughters dance rehearsal practice.  

Hope to be home by 10 pm.  

I want off at the next exit.

1 Cor. 14:33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. 

How to keep Christmas challenges from ruining your day. 

#1 Don’t let the, “surprises” ruin your attitude.  I have to admit I growled a lot when I discovered that I had to drive back to the church.  But I am not going to let it ruin my evening. 

#2 Don’t forget your, “Why.”  Today I get to watch my daughter dance with grace and style.  It is a thing of beauty to me.  A little chaos is worth this. 

#3 This too shall pass.  My life isn’t like this everyday.  So what I had to drive back to the church.  So what if I’m exhausted.  I’ll live. 

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, guide me through my day. Chaos and all.  AMEN 

Christmas Changed Everything

You and I live in a world where we work hard to keep everything balanced and even-keeled. If we can keep everything the same (or close to thereof), we'll do it.  Chaos isn't our friend and when schedules get confused, and you end up having to be in two places at once - nerves get fried.

Here is another thought you might want to consider.  What if God doesn't respect our efforts to keep everything the same?  Could it be possible that our efforts to control our lives is nothing more than a futile form of idolatry?

Consider the words of Jesus.  Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me.

Do you think that #1 He was just talking to the disciples or #2 He was talking to you?
- Answer: #1 and #2.

Think about Christmas
- Mary and Joseph were planning a beautiful and quite life together.
- The Shepherds went to sleep thinking they would wake up to another day.
- Wisemen were doing what wise men do - until . . .

- An Angel visits Mary.
- Joseph has a dream.
- Shepherds are visited by an angelic choir.
- Wisemen have to discover who is so important to be born under a specific star.

Seems to me that God doesn't have a problem making changes to your life.

- Mary was willing.
- Joseph was obedient.
- The Shepherds were courageous.
- The Wisemen were honored.

Ask yourself this question, "Have you give God permission to mess your life up?"

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, I give my life to You, for You to do as You please.  AMEN

Christmas Behaving Badly

It's no surprise to any of us that we hear more horns honking, see more one-finger salutes, hear more yelling and endure more grumpy people during the holiday season.  Makes one think about saying, "Bah Humbug!" 

During this month we will see a spike in alcohol sales.  Again, no surprise we will see a spike in drunk driver convictions. 

During this month we will see a surge in visits to the divorce lawyer.  January has more divorces than any other month of the year.  

Romans 12:9 - 13 9 Be sincere in your love for others. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good. 10 Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself. 11 Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord. 12 Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying. 13 Take care of God’s needy people and welcome strangers into your home.

I read this passage this morning and thought, "Wow!  If we all could behave this way!"  

9 Be sincere in your love for others. 
- Don't fake it.  Be concerned for others.  You cannot fix the world, but you can help someone address one problem. 

Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good. 
- If it's evil, don't ignore it.  Push it away.  But remember, you have to hold tight to what is good.  The world will do everything it can to rip it from your hands. 

10 Love each other as brothers and sisters 
- That is a love that goes beyond what is "expected".  It is a love that goes the extra mile.  The person who is receiving this love doesn't have qualify for it - they simply deserve to be loved by you. 

and honor others more than you do yourself. 
- Encourage others and lift them up.  Don't become arrogant and self-righteous. 

11 Never give up. 
- If Paul is telling you to never quit that means you will be given ample opportunity too. 

Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord. 
- Follow, don't lead.  The Holy Spirit knows where you need to be.  Serve God by serving others in need. 

12 Let your hope make you glad. 
- Biblical hope is based on the promises of God.  Promises that He never breaks.  Therefore, you have hope in God. 

Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying. 
- These are acts of faith.  When in trouble, wait.  God is on the move.  Never stop praying.  Persistence will build your faith. 

13 Take care of God’s needy people 
- There are those who cannot help themselves.  Find a need and fill it. 

and welcome strangers into your home.
- Be hospitable to people that you don't know.  Especially when they cut you off in traffic.   

PRAY: Dear Jesus, help me to be an example to others.  Let me treat others as You would treat them.  AMEN  

Christmas Quiz:  From the picture above, can you name the movie this house was in? 

Angels We Have Heard On High

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly, sweetly through the night
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their brief delight

Gloria, in excelsis Deo

Written in 1862 by James Chadwick, a Roman Catholic Bishop in northeast England.  Obviously it is inspired by Luke chapter 2 where the Angels visit the Shepherds.  

Lk 2:12 - 14 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Humility meets majesty.  When you look for Christ, what do you see?  Do you see a humble Savior who came to this earth as one of us?  Do you see a majestic King who rules and reigns over all?  He was worshipped by humble Shepherds.  He was also worshipped by majestic Wisemen.  He lived as a humble carpenter.  He transformed before Peter, James and John into all of His glory.  

How do you approach Jesus?  Both the Shepherds and Wisemen approach the child with humility.  Why?  Because the heavens approached them with majesty.  The Angels and The Star told them that one had arrived that would rule over them all.  

The majesty of Christ surrounds you today.  Look!  You will see it.  His love, grace, and mercy are there.  His provision, His life and His promises are always there to let you know.  Jesus is here.  

He is here right now.  Just for you.  Take a few moments to let His know your heart.  What is going on in your life.  How you feel.  Take a step of faith and do what the Shepherds and Wisemen did.  Worship Him. 

PRAY: Dear Jesus, I humbly approach you today and worship You.  AMEN. 

Stop and Think! Please!!!

Ever had anyone like a parent or a friend say that to you?  "Stop and think"  It usually is indicative of a moment when you're about to do something you'll regret.

The reason why we tend to do, "stupid" things is simple.  We feel before we think.  When we react out of emotion, we often leave reason out of our decision.

Today was a day that required me to stop and think - a lot!  Not that there was anything different or unusual about the day, there wasn't.  But it needed me to check my emotions and think through my words carefully.

To give you an example of what I am saying here tonight.  I have probably retyped each sentence you are reading at least three times.  I don't know what these to be my words.  I want them to be the words of encouragement from the Holy Spirit.

I am painfully aware of this verse today.

Matthew 6:10   Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Jesus is teaching the disciples how to pray.  He instructs them to set aside their will and ask God for His will to be done instead.

On more than one occasion I have said, "Discover what God is doing and getting on board with it, rather than trying to get God to bless your mess."  Or something like that.  Salvation is the end of your life; it is the beginning.  Discover what God has in store for you and do it with all your heart.  How? You ask?

Stop and think!  What is Gods will for my life at this moment?

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, what do you want me to do right now?  AMEN