Red Rover, Red Rover {3.16.18}

Red Rover, Red Rover, send [insert name] right over.

Did you ever play that game when you were a child? It seems to me that we played it a lot during recess at my elementary school. Two lines were formed after selecting teams. These lines faced each other with a fair amount of space between them (allowing for running speed). Then the team members locked arms and called someone from the other line/team “over”. That person had to run and try to break through the linked arms of the opposing line of people. red roverIf they broke through, they could take one person back to their team/line. If not, they became part of the opposing team’s line. On and on it went. However, I couldn’t remember how it ended. Maybe the team with the most people at the end of recess won. I’m not sure. But, for some strange reason, I was thinking about that game the other day. So, I just did a little on-line research and found this for how the game ended:

Play Red Rover until one side has all the team members. (With this method of ending Red Rover, note that all the children are winners, because they all end up on the same side.) If time is short, the team with the most people wins.

I don’t remember that we ever ended up with all members on the same team, but it sure sounds great, doesn’t it?

That’s what God’s goal is for all of us (His creation) – that we all end up on the same team/ same side – His side, Heaven bound, saved by the blood of Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:12 “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.”

Unfortunately, God has given us all free will and many will not choose Jesus. By the time their life ends, they will want to change their minds, but it will be too late. God tells us there are two paths (teams) – one is a narrow path, leading to life (fulfilled life here and eternal life in Heaven after physical death) the other is a wide road, leading to destruction (self-destruction here on earth leading to full-time, eternal torment in hell). www.thebookofrevelation.net

Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” 

If we want our loved ones, friends and neighbors (and yes, even our enemies) to have everlasting life with God in heaven, we must play the game (or run the race) in a way that leads others to Jesus and onto God’s team. 

Acts 20:24 “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”

I will never think of that game the same way again. I want to be ready to share the hope I have in Jesus to those people God places in my life.  Like God, I want them on His Team. So I say… red rover line

“Red Rover, Red Rover,  Send Unbelievers Right Over!”

Gift Wrapping {12.14.16}

Maybe like me, you have been wrapping gifts lately. I love to wrap gifts. Some find it a chore but I find it relaxing and enjoyable. Whether it is wrapping gifts for family, company Christmas parties, special occasions or “just because” gifts, I can sit for hours on the floor in front of the TV wrapping. When wrapping gifts I tend to use a lot of tape (so my family tells me). I want everything neat and tidy. Gift bags are great, beautiful and perfect for certain gifts but I still like to wrap boxes with pretty paper and ribbons. Of course with mostly boys in our family I don’t get much chance to make things “pretty”. I don’t think they really care that much about ribbons and bows. But, even the simplest of gifts can seem special when in beautiful wrappings. While wrapping Christmas gifts this year, I have been thinking about the best gifts any of us could ever receive, those gifts weren’t pretty by human standards but they were the most special of all – priceless in fact.

The gift, the reason we celebrate Christmas is the birth of Christ. His birth was not what we would call beautiful by our earthly standards, would we? Let’s review the special wrappings around Jesus’ birth.

“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 room for them in the inn. baby-jesus

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 of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, he is Christ 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 hosts appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:4-14)

God had a purpose in sending Jesus to earth. It was to save mankind by being the perfect, once for all, sacrifice for our sins (yours and mine). It’s sad to think that all could have been different if only obedience had prevailed in the Garden of Eden but, God loves us all so much that He made another way for us to live with Him forever. His name is Jesus. The crucifixion, cruel as it was, was a gift to us, wrapped in hardship and intense pain but mostly wrapped with a love that is beyond our understanding. This wrapping for all to see was harsh and inhumane. Jesus gave for us…oh what a love!

“What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews? Pilate asked them. Crucify him! They shouted. Why? What crime has he committed? asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, Crucify him! Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, Hail, king of the Jews! Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.” (Mark 15:12-20)

Not a pretty wrapping for this very special gift was it? Thankfully, the story does not end there. Jesus was once again going to give us a gift and it also was wrapped.

“Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid.” (Luke 23:50-53)

 “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again. Then they remembered his words.

jesus-tombWhen they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away wondering to himself what had happened.” (Luke 24:1-12)

The thing about gifts is that they can be given freely but it is up to the recipient whether or not to unwrap and receive the gift. You see, the gift of Jesus was opened that day as He rose from the dead. He unwrapped the gift for us. But, we still must receive it to ourselves. It’s simple. Here is all that is required: Believe in Jesus, repent and ask forgiveness for our sins, go in faith, loving God and others. Then, you will receive another gift – the Holy Spirit to live within you helping you to trust God and follow Him in loving obedience.

“Jesus answered, I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15)

Then, we can all look forward to the ultimate gift!

“”Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3)

So, as you celebrate this Christmas, please don’t overlook the real gift – Emmanuel – God with Us!

Thank you Jesus!

False Fantom Feelings {5.11.16}

Before I begin, I’m sure some of you are thinking the same thing I did [that is NOT how you spell phantom]. Well, I looked it up in the dictionary because I just had to keep with same letter words for this title. I can’t explain it – just one of those weird things about me. Now that the spelling issue is out of the way, on with the story…

On Mother’s Day one of our sons took me to see Phantom of the Opera. I had never seen it before and did not know the story. I was immediately impressed with the singing (and the capacity of those singers to hold notes for so long). The set design and changes though were amazing. I was enthralled just watching it all. I’m sure I had my mouth open part of the time wondering how they came up with the idea and then pulled it off. Of course, I liked the dancing too. As we came to the end though, I was overwhelmed with the sadness of the story. I have thought about it afterwards and realized that many of us have had similar thoughts as that of the Phantom. He felt alone and isolated. He was disfigured, avoided, mocked and feared. He lashed out at others because of those feelings. Don’t we often do the same? How many times have you let yourself fall into a “self-pity party” and blown things out of proportion, causing you to act unkindly to others or fabricate motives for certain actions or words of others? Like all of us, the Phantom wanted to be loved for who he was. What is so sad is that all that time, God’s amazing love was waiting for him, just like it is waiting for all of us. The Phantom’s feelings were false. For truth, we must go to the ONE TRUE GOD and HIS WORD which IS TRUTH.

God created all of us, just as we are. There is nothing in our creation that surprises or disgusts Him. We were perfectly formed and are perfectly loved. In case you have forgotten, read His Word that assures us of this fact.

Psalm 139:1-18 says:  O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake I am still with you.”

If you ever begin to think you are not good enough for God to love and that He doesn’t know all the “uglies” about you, please read these verses above. There is NOTHING about us that God does not already know. His love for us is unfailing and the depth of His love is more than we can comprehend.

He loves us enough that He sent His Son to die for us. He’s waiting for us to live with Him in Heaven (John 14:1-4). Christ has gone to prepare a place for us – for all who have repented and accepted the free gift of salvation through Jesus. If you have not done that already, would you accept His free gift now? God loves YOU (just as you are)!  The extra bonus of God’s love is that He doesn’t leave us as He finds us. When we allow Him to be Lord of our lives, He will change us and mold us to be more Christ-like so that our light might shine before men to bring others to this incredible lover of our souls. Here are just a few other scriptures that confirm God’s love for us.

Psalm 13:5, Psalm 25:10, Psalm 33:22, Psalm 36:5, Psalm 63:3, Psalm 100:5, Psalm 107:1, Psalm 108:4, Psalm 149:4, John 3:16, Zephaniah 3:17, Ephesians 3:14-19, 1 Corinthians 2:9, Romans 5:8, Romans 8:38-39, Matthew 10:29-31

But, we do have a responsibility to share that love. Read Mark 12:30-31 and Luke 10:27.

As you read this post, please pray to God to reveal His great love for you and then return it back to Him. I assure you that if you do that, your attitude will reflect Christ and His Light will shine through you as you go about your day. Remember, Fantom Feelings are False! STOP them in their tracks and reflect on TRUTH – God’s Truth, His Word, His Love. HE IS TRUE and can be trusted! God Bless!