I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.”
(AP PHOTO/Hal Yeager) – Interstate 459 at US highway 280 – Birmingham, AL
1 Thessalonians 5 1-8 (The Message)
I don’t think, friends, that I need to deal with the question of when all this is going to happen. You know as well as I that the day of the Master’s coming can’t be posted on our calendars. He won’t call ahead and make an appointment any more than a burglar would. About the time everybody’s walking around complacently, congratulating each other—“We’ve sure got it made! Now we can take it easy!”—suddenly everything will fall apart. It’s going to come as suddenly and inescapably as birth pangs to a pregnant woman.
But friends, you’re not in the dark, so how could you be taken off guard by any of this? You’re sons of Light, daughters of Day. We live under wide open skies and know where we stand. So let’s not sleepwalk through life like those others. Let’s keep our eyes open and be smart. People sleep at night and get drunk at night. But not us! Since we’re creatures of Day, let’s act like it. Walk out into the daylight sober, dressed up in faith, love, and the hope of salvation.
Tuesday, the southeast experienced a “surprise snow storm.” Only a handful of the counties in the state had prepared for a mild case of inclement weather. However, what started as the predicted “light dusting” soon became a serious issue for all residents in central Alabama, in addition to many other areas of the southeast.
We are not used to snow in these parts. When snow or ice is in the forecast, we typically have time to get ready. In fact, I can’t tell you how many times schools have closed, and nothing out of the ordinary took place. Usually, at the first forecast of snow flurries, the grocery stores are cleared out of milk and bread. Not sure why just milk and bread.
Piggly Wiggly River Run Bread Shelf Aftermath
The images posted on television, Facebook, twitter, and Instagram merely scratch the surface of the many stories that will come from “Winter Storm 2014.” Thankfully, to my knowledge, few lost power, which is a huge blessing!
Tuesday, everyone went about their normal routines and suddenly, within minutes, this city was paralyzed. The floodgates of snow and ice opened out of the sky – the floodgates of students opened out of the schools and the floodgates of men and women everywhere opened out of places of business. Everyone was released at the same time. The simultaneous panic increased the seriousness at hand.
I am convinced that a divine blanket covered me as it only took two hours for me to make it from my office near the Birmingham Race Course to my home in Liberty Park. I was one of the few who made it home, as students, children at daycare, and families were displaced throughout the area and the state. The last time I recall a similar occurrence took place in 1982 when I was an 8th grade student at Hewitt Junior High School and the forecast was a little late. Of course the Blizzard of 1993 was a bizarre experience, but we anticipated the enormity of what was to come for more than a week, although still not fully prepared.
My point in this post is that we must recognize that WE NEED TO BE PREPARED. I was grateful to have a four-wheel drive vehicle, although I had never used this function until Tuesday. Knowing what could have happened, I will now have a coat and a blanket and a couple of bottles of water and a safety kit in my vehicle. We do not need to dismiss that things like this won’t happen again.
We must also know that we have been warned in The Word about the signs of the return of Jesus Christ. My pastor shared recently that all of the prophecies written in The Bible have now been fulfilled. We don’t have the excuse of ignorance. When Jesus returns, abandoned vehicles and families displaced will be the least of the worries in this world.
WE KNOW WHAT IS TO COME, FRIENDS. Please share Jesus with those you know do not know Him. There will be many left behind. The only difference, we won’t be here to help them at that time. Therefore, we must help them now. It is a life or death situation. It is serious. Let this week’s experience in the southeast be a wake-up call for what is to come – what we may possibly face in our lifetime, the return of Christ.
Thank you for your blanket of protection during this winter storm. Please be with those who are still dealing with the aftermath of this snow and ice predicament. Please give us the courage to share what is and WHO IS to come. We have been warned, and we understand the grave consequences of those who do not know YOU. Help us to take action and share YOU with others so that your coming will not be a surprise. Help everyone prepare for your return.
In Jesus Name
But he was hurt because of us; he suffered so.
Our wrongdoing wounded and crushed him.
He endured the breaking that made us whole.
The injuries he suffered became our healing.
Two days after Halloween our Christmas decorating began. I know it’s against social rules, but it’s something we enjoy doing. We want to make the effort worthwhile. We get to enjoy the lavish lights and decor a little longer this way. However, it seems each year, time speeds up. Before you know it, Christmas came and went. It didn’t help this year that my husband and I were quarantined due to viral bronchitis on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Not what I had in mind when preparing for the most anticipated day of the season.
Christmas means many things to many people. As we were coughing, and watching movies within the boundaries of our abode, I realized that this was a special Christmas for us. We were able to recognize that even though we were broken, we could capture the “silent night” that was meant to be observed. The cabin fever and flu-like chills and fever we endured were much less traumatic than what Mary, Joseph, and newborn Jesus experienced that special birthday in a dirty stable with the company of farm animals and shepherds. We were able to appreciate that we are better off than most, no matter what pity party we were throwing for ourselves.
I could go on for days and days listing all the blessings we have, but the one that meant the most on that day resonated with me due to our circumstances.
The truth is that we are all broken. There’s only ONE WHO is able to repair the broken. That’s the ONE we celebrated this week.
Flash back to a couple of weeks before Christmas, my husband and I went on our annual anniversary trip to the beach. There were more shells on the shore than I can ever remember before. Interesting, most of the shells were broken, yet, they were so beautiful because they were together, clinging to one another. God gave us others as a bonus to love, support, and encourage.
Most important, HE came into our world to be BROKEN so that we could be made WHOLE – mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and even financially. It’s our choice to be restored. It doesn’t just happen. We can stay in that broken state without hope, or we can choose to reach out to the HOPE OF THE WORLD!
He is our PEACE to make us WHOLE mentally
He is our HEALER to make us WHOLE physically
He is our COMFORTER to make us WHOLE emotionally
He is our SAVIOR to make us WHOLE spiritually
He is our PROVIDER to make us WHOLE by meeting our needs.
The purpose of the baby in the manger was to live among us and relate to us — AND ultimately to die for us. I wish there was more of Christ in Christmas. We all get carried away with the commercialization, the decorations, etc. – when the real GIFT of Christmas is the JOY of JESUS.
I wanted to leave you with the last stanza of a poem called “A Christmas Cross” by R. Fogle on a bookmark my mother-in-law gave me a few days after Christmas. I cherish the words as they spoke to me in a meaningful way.
Christ came to us from heaven
And did not count the cost.
Yet behind the humble manger
Stood a waiting, rugged cross.
Have a beautiful year in 2014 dear friends!
Make it a year that echos CHRIST, THE CROSS, and HIS JOY each and everyday!
Six weeks before Christmas and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, except my computer mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
Long before St. Nick had planned to be there.
Connor Man is grown up and away at school,
We decorated early, breaking social rules.
The distraction to decorate is a cure for the blues,
The lights of five trees pop with bright hues.
Though Connor’s room is empty, it isn’t all that sad,
For Momma and Jeremy, there’s still fun to be had.
Less laundry and dishes fills Momma with joy,
But, Jeremy misses guitar time with that cool college boy.
We spoil and we pamper our sweet Lena-Belle,
That pup’s our second baby, so we hold up pretty well.
But, nothing can top the wonderful bliss,
Of Connor Man in the house, for he has been missed.
After finals on The Plains, that kid will be back,
The best Christmas is coming, that’s a fact.
A house full of love, laughter, and fun,
THIS IS THE REASON GOD GAVE US HIS SON!
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
We hope you enjoy a BEAUTIFUL CHRISTMAS
with a NEW YEAR in 2014 filled with HIS BEST in abundance and favor!
In His Love,
Jeremy, Susan, Connor, & Lena-Belle
Is your cup 1/2 Full or 1/2 Empty? My Cup Runneth Over!
Philippians 4:12 (NIV)
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
We are complainers. ALL of us share an “entitlement” mentality. It’s part of the human nature. However, every once in a while, we are humbled back to a place of reality. As we begin this month observing Thanksgiving, where do we start? Being grateful is not a natural gift. It’s a choice, it must be learned—we are not born with an attitude of gratitude.
I read an article this weekend that I just cannot stop thinking about.
Kari Kampakis who writes for 280 Living shared the following thoughts in “A Silver Linings Mindset.”
“Whatever is bothering us, whatever we’re taking for granted, someone else is praying to have our problem.
*The noise and chaos that awakes us each morning because our kids are wild as bucks – an infertile couple prays to wake up to that music.
*The check-out line at the grocery that tortures us because we’re impatient—someone prays for money to buy food and a reason to wait in line.
*The date-night with our spouse we’re tempted to call off because we’re tired—someone prays for a spouse who loves them and wants to spend time together.
*The toddler who drives us mad because they never quit running—a mother prays her child will walk one day and enjoy life like other kids.
*The work we dread going to, day in and day out—someone prays to find work today, because the stress of employment is far better than the stress of unemployment.
*The child who constantly calls for us and asks for help—someone is praying their child in college will call them because it’s been five days since they’ve heard their beloved voice.
*The bad hair day that makes us want to stay home—a woman who’s lost her hair to chemo prays her hair will grow back.
Perspective can be gained when we learn to appreciate everything. A daily thankful book is something my husband and I started, but it’s gone by the wayside. I am pulling that book out right now!
Is your cup 1/2 full or 1/2 empty? The truth is, my cup runneth over! I know my life is full, and I won’t soon forget that when my thoughts begin to maneuver toward a less than grateful mindset.
WE ARE SO BLESSED!
Guide me each day to recognize the abundance, blessings, and favor you so freely provide. Please forgive me when I take things for granted. Help me recognize the blessings that abound all day long. Teach me to choose a silver linings mindset. I know when I keep my eyes on YOU, I can’t help but be thankful.
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
WORDS have POWER. What we speak is a reflection of what is inside us. Negative words come from stinkin’ thinkin’ because everything we say begins with a thought. Positive words come from a joyful spirit.
We have the ability to choose who we spend time with, what we listen to, what we watch, and what we read. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world, and it’s very easy to fall into a trap of believing the lies of the enemy.
We have to make sure we listen to the voice of our Savior and shut out the voice of the enemy. If you hear in your spirit that you are a loser, then it should be obvious that voice is from the deceiver, not our Father. So anytime you hear words of death in your spirit or if you hear those treacherous words in your environment audibly…
KNOW IT’S A LIE!
I wanted to share a link that includes one of my favorite new songs called “Hello My Name Is” by Matthew West. The lyrics describe how we can get careless when it comes to “taking captive every thought.”
Hello, my name is regret
I’m pretty sure we have met
Every single day of your life
I’m the whisper inside
That won’t let you forget
Hello, my name is defeat
I know you recognize me
Just when you think you can win
I’ll drag you right back down again
‘Til you’ve lost all belief
These are the voices, these are the lies
And I have believed them, for the very last time
Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed,
And I have been set free
“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing
Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I am no longer defined
By all the wreckage behind
The one who makes all things new
Has proven it’s true
Just take a look at my life
What love the Father has lavished upon us
That we should be called His children
I am a child of the one true King
© 2012 Songs of Southside Independent Music Publishing / External Combustion Music / Songs for Delaney (ASCAP)
Practice speaking ONLY WORDS OF LIFE, so that you can add light to your environment!
Ignore anything that doesn’t radiate our Lord.
Help us to remember that we are who You say we are. Teach us to ignore the manipulation and the lies of the enemy. His plans are death, and Your plans represent LIFE. Guide us to speak words that build up instead of tear down. We want to reflect Your light and Your Word in everything we say and do.
In Your Precious Son’s Name,
Ecclesiastes 4:9 & 12b (NIV)
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. A cord of three stands is not quickly broken.”
I know so many who struggle with loneliness. I know you designed us for relationship, and even if we do not have biological family members with us, you have created us to be family members with each other in Christ. My heart hurts for those who feel empty and lonely. I lift up to You single moms, single dads, singles in general, widows and widowers, children whose parents are absent, parents whose children are absent, but especially those who are lonely and feel a void, because they don’t know You. One may be the loneliest number, but when we are ONE with YOU, we know that Your presence can be our strength. I ask for each person who is in agreement with this prayer be prompted to reach out to others. If someone is lonely, I ask that you provide them in connection with other believers; if someone is at peace, I ask that you move them to reach out to someone who is suffering due to loneliness. You give us each other for support, encouragement, accountability, but most of all for love. Thank You that we have the ability to love others, because You first loved us. Open doors to those who don’t know You. May they be encouraged by believers and come to know You in a personal way.
In Jesus Name,
Please connect with others in small groups—in whatever way you can. WE were designed for relationship. If you are not in a small group, please consider joining one of ours at Church of the Highlands. We meet all over and share many different interests and topics to meet the needs of relationships.
Check out a group via our online directory:
Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it.
For those of us trying to get used to the “back to school” madness with the hustle and bustle of mornings, carpools, preparing lunch, and encouraging study skills—give us peace and the appreciation that you have provided us the gift of raising children. For those of us who have entered the “empty nest” phase, give us understanding that it’s a good thing to “let go” and “let God.” I ask you Father to give our children a sound mind for understanding, wisdom from you to learn and grow according to your plan, humility to accept direction from parents, teachers and others in authority, and protection as they walk to the bus stop or drive to school.
I ask you Father to give our children the clarity to realize that even though they must be in this world, they don’t have to be “of” this world. Develop in our children an “other’s focused” attitude in a “looking out for #1” society. Help our children recognize their need for You and give them the desire to talk to you consistently throughout the day. Give our children mercy to forgive, and a spirit to love no matter what. Help them to do as you command and not what others suggest.
I ask that no weapon formed against our children shall prosper. I beg you Father that each son and daughter would look at their cup half full instead of half empty—living daily in gratitude. I pray Father that when they fall, they would learn from their mistakes and get right back up in alignment with your guiding hand. I ask that You provide balance to our children—help them realize that they cannot be all things to all people and that they must learn to properly prioritize their tasks and determine what’s most important by first looking to You. When their patience is lacking, please provide them Your grace that is sufficient.
I pray Father that each child would know the importance of wearing your powerful armor. I ask that you clothe them in righteousness and fill them with the fruit of the Spirit, not lacking any good thing You so graciously give to them.
Lastly, Father I ask you to help parents to follow this prayer in their own lives so that we can be the parents you designed us to be—Holy, Wise, and claiming the Promises You have given us. May we not take for granted the precious gift of your Son—speaking His Name over all things – in action and in word.
In Jesus Name
Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
There are times when we feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. Right now is one of those times for me. We know that as we “plug into” You, we can expect a guaranteed recharge. Help us not to be so concerned about “getting everything done.” Guide us to be balanced, allowing ourselves to rest when we are depleted. In the name of Jesus, I break off the enemy’s lie that we must stay busy. Strengthen our spirits and refresh us completely. We know that you command the Sabbath, and help us to recognize that we must be obedient to this command, and pause on a regular basis. I am grateful you did not create me to be a “Lazy Susan” but provide me and anyone reading this prayer to honor You by recognizing sufficient margin in our lives so that we can learn to rest in You daily. Forgive us for trying to do everything on our own. Thank you that you desire to carry any and all of our burdens.
In Your Precious Name,
Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses,
and He carried our pains.
Today, I am moved to pray for the sick and injured. Forgive me when I complain about minor issues, when there are so many suffering serious physical pain and discomfort. I ask you Father to give each person who is struggling in this area a reminder of Your healing touch. You are the GREAT PHYSICIAN, and we can count on You and believe in thorough healing, because of JESUS and His work on the Cross. Your Name is above ALL ailments and ALL injuries whether physical or mental. I ask Father that anyone who is reading this prayer would agree with me and trust that you desire for ALL to be healed. May miracles take place today in people who are weak and don’t know what else to do. May their cells line up with Your prescription for full and complete healing!
By HIS STRIPES we are HEALED!
In JESUS NAME,