In His Steps

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You were called to this kind of endurance, because Christ suffered on your behalf. 
He left you an example so that you might follow in his footsteps.  

 

I this trophy that sits on a shelf in my office.  It has been with me for a long time.  I received it in the summer of 1983 at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Camp.  Scribed on the base are the words “in His steps” and the scripture reference.  I received this “trophy” for having been voted as someone who ‘best’ exemplified the theme ‘in His steps’ during the week of camp.

It still seems a bit strange to get a trophy for being like Jesus for just a week.

That trophy and the words “in His steps” have stayed with me – probably why it still sits in plain view for me everyday.  It has taken on a new significance for me this week as I prepare to literally walk in His Steps.

This is an unique opportunity designed and planned two years ago to walk in the places Jesus walked and to take time to consider the meaning of these places in our lives.  But what started two years ago is now here.  I leave Monday to walk in the land of Jesus.

We will walk and travel the land that Jesus walked.  We will travel in the region of Galilee and then to Jerusalem.  We will be on a boat on the Sea of Galilee.  We will wade into the little strip of water called the Jordan River.  We will pray in the Garden of Gethsemane and at the Western Wall.  We will walk the narrow streets of Jerusalem.  We will gaze upon the Judean Wilderness and the Mount of Temptation.  We will visit the tomb of Lazarus.  And we will visit Nazareth, Cana, Bethany, Bethlehem, Capernaum, and Jerusalem.

I invite you to follow along.  I will share some pictures, stories, and experiences as I walk the land that Jesus walked.

Not trying to earn a trophy on this trip, but certainly hoping to come back with a new understanding and a deeper connection to Jesus and that’s better than any trophy on this Earth that I can think of …

 

Happy Anniversary … 25 and counting

It’s my blog … but I share my thoughts with you all …

but this time, it is really for just one … my love and my partner in this life!

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With You By My Side

This beautiful and memorable day,
has been carved into my mind.
A precious moment in time,
when our lives became defined.

Let’s rejoice and celebrate,
our love and our bond.
I cherish what we have,
with my heart I respond.

This journey of life is so sweet,
with you by my side.
My smile radiates,
with each passing stride.

Whether one or a thousand,
journey’s we take.
With you by my side,
I feel alive and awake.

My soul is filled with bliss,
due to the love that we share.
I promise you my dear,
I will always be there.

To the stars and the heavens,
our anniversary I shall proclaim.
My love for you burns like the sun,
with an infinite flame.

{by anitapoems.com}

 

 

Merry Christmas

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Past, Present, and Future

At the heart of ‘A Christmas Carol’ lies Scrooge’s transformation from a selfish, greedy and bitter old man, to a grateful, generous and compassionate individual. Scrooge was taken on a journey in which his life passed before his eyes. He was shown his life as it had been, as it was, and finally how it would be in the end. As a result, a man filled with deep regret has his life transformed, to the point where as Dickens concludes “he became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew.”

The story of Scrooge is a story of past, present, and possible futures. Through the story, Dickens delivers a message of hope and transformation. Christmas is but a part of God’s story of love for each of us. God’s story of love is also a story of Past, Present and Future. At Christmas we receive God’s message in the form of his Son, Jesus Christ who came to us long ago in a manger in Bethlehem. It is a story from the past. But Christmas exists within the story and the promise of Easter – an empty tomb and a promise of life eternal.

At Christmas, we must also be mindful of the affirmation of faith declared by the early church:

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

Christ – past, present, future.

Christmas past – the birth of a small baby in Bethlehem – Emmanuel – God with us;

Christmas present – Jesus alive and living within each of us this day;

Christmas yet to come – Jesus will return one day to rule as King on this earth.

Christmas is a time of great joy because of all three – past, present, and future.

We can rejoice that God has forgiven us for what we were once –

We can rejoice for all of God’s blessings that make us what we are today –

And we can be thankful that God is not done with us – for there so much more that we can be.

As Dickens’ wrote, we can declare, “I will live in the Past, Present and Future. And I will keep Christmas in my heart all the year!”

For those of us who believe in Christ, we need to honor Christmas in our hearts and “keep it all the year” Then others would say of us, “they knew how keep to Christmas well.”

Perhaps more importantly, others might say that “you knew Christ well.”

Searching for the light

Light in the darkness

The days are shortest leading up to Christmas.  Centuries ago, they would celebrate the Roman Festival Natalis Solis Invicti or Birth of the Invincible Sun.  This festival was celebrated on December 25 beginning in 275. Apparently, there has always been something scary about the dark and joy in the discovery of light.

In 320, Pope Julius I chose December 25 as the date for Christ’s birthday and five years later in 325 Constantine introduced Christmas as an immovable feast to be celebrated on December 25th every year.

Before we can get to Christmas and December 25th, we must travel through December 21st and the longest night.  This day has the shortest amount of daylight and consequently the most hours of darkness.

For anyone who has been lost in the dark, I do not have to tell you about the joy of finding even the smallest amount of light.

Light and Dark. Joy and Despair. Each is made greater by its counterpart.

God must have understood that when he chose to send us his Son as a baby.

The pains of birth for Mary and Joseph gave way to joy with a new baby!

Our pain in this world – filled with mistakes, tragedy, and regret can give way to Joy when we discover the light brought forth at Christmas.

And perhaps in the midst of our darkness the simple glimpse of light we find at Christmas can give us hope that a better day filled with more light is just around the corner.

See you Sunday … I’ll be the one gazing at all the Christmas lights.

On the way to Sunday …. The End is Coming!

Although well used to ghostly company by this time, Scrooge feared the silent shape so much that his legs trembled beneath him, and he found that he could hardly stand when he prepared to follow it. The Spirit pauses a moment, as observing his condition, and giving him time to recover.

But Scrooge was all the worse for this. It thrilled him with a vague uncertain horror, to know that behind the dusky shroud there were ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him, while he, though he stretched his own to the utmost, could see nothing but a spectral hand and one great heap of black.

“Ghost of the Future!” he exclaimed, “I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak to me?” 

It gave him no reply. The hand was pointed straight before them.

“Lead on,” said Scrooge. “Lead on. The night is waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know. Lead on, Spirit.”  excerpt from A Christmas Carol: Stave Four by Charles Dickens

Like Scrooge, what is it about the future that we so fear?

As a society our entire focus on the future has become one of doom and destruction. The fiscal cliff is pending – Economic collapse is upon us! And as chicken little once put it, “the sky is falling!” – Aliens are coming from Mars!

No wonder we fear the future. And like Scrooge, we so want the future to speak to us and yet it remains silent and so our fear grows.

But what if we could get past our fears (like Scrooge) and declare: I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart.

Perhaps we could, if like Scrooge, we lived on the pages of fiction.  But wait, I hear another voice from the past speaking …

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.     Matthew 6:25-34 NIV

Jesus Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the past and the future, has spoken!  Stop worrying and live as God intended you to live:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  
John 13:34-35 NIV

Should Sunday come … I’ll see you at church … until then …. love one another

On the way to Sunday …

It was a long night, if it were only a night; but Scrooge had his doubts of this, because the Christmas Holidays appeared to be condensed into the space of time they passed together. It was strange, too, that while Scrooge remained unaltered in his outward form, the Ghost grew older, clearly older. Scrooge had observed this change, but never spoke of it, until they left a children’s Twelfth Night party, when, looking at the Spirit as they stood together in an open place, he noticed that its hair was grey.

“Are spirits’ lives so short?” asked Scrooge.

“My life upon this globe, is very brief,” replied the Ghost. “It ends to-night.”

“To-night!” cried Scrooge.

“To-night at midnight. Hark! The time is drawing near.”
excerpt from A Christmas Carol: Stave 3

The story A Christmas Carol is the type of story that is so ingrained in our culture that it is just assumed that you know the story.  I must admit that I have watched too many productions to count of the story on both stage and screen and yet I never read the story until now with apologies to all of my English Literature teachers of the past whom I faked my way through any assigned readings.

So, I must say that I was stuck by the sadness of the words of the ghost of Christmas present:

                  “My life upon this globe, is very brief,” replied the Ghost. “It ends to-night.” 

Christmas is that wonderful time of the year when everyone is more kind – more generous. Unfortunately, like the ghost states, it all seems to abruptly end at midnight.  Just ask any store clerk working at a return desk the day after Christmas and they will tell you the spirit of Christmas is dead.

What happens? Why does the spirit die?

Perhaps more important, does the spirit have to die?

If in fact the Spirit of Christmas lives in each of us, then it is up to each of us to keep it alive.

What will you do in the days, weeks, and year ahead to keep the Spirit of Christmas alive and well?

See you Sunday …