"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" (Luke 2:14).
Bad news is everywhere. It seems even worse during holiday celebrations. All you have to do is open a newspaper to find out there is no peace on earth right now. There never has been. That's because men's hearts are evil unless they are connected to God. Jesus Himself foretold of "wars and rumors of wars" as a sign of the last days (Matthew 24:6).
When the angels said to the shepherds, "peace and goodwill toward men," they were not referring to the absence of war. Peace between God and man is the gift of Christmas. That is the good news.
There is no war between God and man any longer unless man refuses the perfect sacrifice. But sometimes we forget what He really gave us. We get caught up in shopping, traveling, cooking, and parties and in the frenzy of it all, we lose our peace. Rushing to purchase that last gift, getting cut off in traffic, and long check-out lines can frustrate us to the point of losing the meaning of the celebration.
In all the haste of the season, take a few moments to stop and leave it all behind. Focus only on the baby, the reason for the season. Ponder these words from Jesus, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you: not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).
May His peace be the best gift you receive this Christmas.
Merry Christmas to all!
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Sunday, December 9, 2012
“Do you think you need a chainsaw for that one?” A worker at the Christmas tree farm said as he passed us on the lot.
Every year our youngest son wants a freshly cut tree, and he really gets into picking out the largest one he can find. I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to get this monstrosity in the house. Even the handsaw we were given to use wasn’t big enough to get through the trunk. But in a few seconds the chainsaw the man brought cut through it like butter, and the handsaw was saved some unnecessary wear on its teeth.
It hardly seems like Christmas yet. Even though music is playing on the radio and stores are decorated, it is still in the 60’s and 70’s here in Georgia. After walking around the tree lot, I was starting to sweat and long for a cold bottle of water. I must say, the free hot chocolate being handed out didn’t have many takers that day.
But I can remember some Christmases where I could barely feel my toes in my shoes while walking around trying to select a tree. I was willing to take the first and closest one to the truck just to get back inside. Ah, Christmas in the south. You never know what you will get!
But weather is not what makes Christmas anyway. It’s remembering the reason we decorate, give gifts, and visit with family and friends. It’s all about Jesus.
Not all of life’s curves are difficult. Some are as fun as an amusement park ride. Like Christmas.
What are some of your Christmas tree memories?
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Thanksgiving Day has come and passed by for another year. The leftovers are gone (except on the waistline!) and now the Christmas decorations come out. Shopping has started with a frenzy and the tug of war to get the best deal has begun.
In the midst of all this chaos, I encourage you to take time to continue to be thankful. Being grateful is not just for a special day, but it should be a frame of mind we live with always. It only takes a few minutes to stop and think about all the things we have that are sometimes taken for granted.
Remember those who paved the way for our country to be what it is today. Pilgrims braved a journey to an unknown world so they could thank and worship God. Revolutionaries and patriots fought, sacrificed, and died so we could keep it.
Have fun when you are out shopping this Christmas season, but don’t forget that curve of ungratefulness can come upon you unexpectedly. It’s easy to navigate. Just stop and say “thanks”.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
|Patriot Guard Riders|
Last weekend we were honored to be in the presence of a group of American veterans. Candler Field in Williamson, Georgia hosted a ceremony to give these special people our thanks and praise for the sacrifices made to keep us free.
We heard stories of heroism, memorials to those gone before us, and songs of America. Several times God was mentioned and thanked for His blessings and protection to this nation. We even had a prayer—and the absence of objections spoke volumes.
|Flag folding ceremony|
Maybe that’s because the honored vets and their families and friends realize what this nation was founded on. It’s what they fought for. It’s what some died for. It’s what all came home for.
I’m thankful we still have places where we can mention God, thank Him, and pray in the name of Jesus without repercussion or liberal bleeding hearts crying about being offended. It’s because of our veterans that we can.
Thanks to all of you who have served our country.
Sunday, November 4, 2012
Recently we made a weekend bike trip to Maggie Valley, NC with some friends. The weather was perfect, even unseasonably warm for late October. No matter how many autumns I have seen, each one has its own distinctive way of changing colors. The yellows, reds, oranges, and purples are a reminder each year of the creative palette of our awesome God. It's amazing how much He gives us to enjoy.He didn't have to create different trees, plants, or food for us, but He did because He wants us to have every aspect of His goodness.
We stayed at Lake Junaluska, a beautiful conference center in Waynesville. Above the lake sits a large cross that is lighted at night. Behind the cross the bright full moon was shining over the water. But in the picture, as you can see, the cross looks as if it is suspended in the air in front of the moon.
As we traveled back toward home, we passed a large field full of ripe cotton bolls. As far as the eye could see, it was solid white. It reminded me of the verse when Jesus was telling his disciples, “look at the fields for they are already white for harvest” (John 4:35). It made me more aware of the importance of bringing that harvest in and what my part is in that labor. Because we have received so much from our Lord, the best thing we can do for others is share that abundance with them.
Fall harvest is upon us in more ways than one. The cotton fields, apples, pumpkins, cabbages and all other fall vegetables are ready to harvest—but so is the world.
The cross shining over the water reminds me of His love and sacrifice, and the white cotton fields are people waiting to receive it.
Let's bring in the harvest.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Carolyn Clark grew up in Australia and presently resides there with her family. She is a teacher affiliated with Rhema Bible Training Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Recently she ministered at our church.
The message she shared had a two-fold purpose:
1) To get us to see the big picture and not focus simply on our little part of the world.
2) To remind us to shine our light wherever we go.
Carolyn used Matthew 5:14-16 where Jesus told his disciples to be the light of the world. How are we to do this? The same way light works in the physical world.
- Light pushes back darkness. Whenever you turn a light, darkness flees.
- Light illuminates. It shows what is hidden. You can't see what is in darkness until you turn on the light.
- Light shows the way. You know where the next step is when the light is on.
- The light can't be seen when it is covered up.
Our presence in the world shows the light of Jesus. It doesn't have to be a difficult thing. We don't have to get preachy and beat people on the head, or “go for the jugular” as Carolyn put it. Just be a light. Be kind. Be helpful. Be gentle. Let the light out and people will want to know what it is.
Sunday, September 30, 2012
Every road we travel is a new beginning, even if we have traveled down it before. Each trip is different and the circumstances are never the same. Even when the route is familiar we still need God’s guidance because we don’t know what we will be facing. Trust in Him is our roadmap. When traveling on the road, no matter how far we are going, each trip comes to an end. But there is always another one ready to start. No matter what ends, God always giving us a new beginning.
|Kenny and Lisa Latta|
We recently had a new beginning in our family. Our oldest son traveled down the road of matrimony. Even though we had experienced his leaving home years ago, there are new feelings now. He has a new beginning with his wife and we have one with a new member of our family. Even though our relationship with our son isn’t new, this trip is different because the circumstances are not the same. The single phase of our son’s life has ended, but a better one has begun. We will have new experiences to share and more additions to our family in the future. Trust in God is our roadmap.
What are some of your new beginnings?
Sunday, September 23, 2012
“For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11).
The time had come. I was about to get on the back of a motorcycle that looked like a Behemoth. My heart was beating rapidly and my mouth was getting dry. It had been forty years since I had ridden a motorcycle and it wasn’t this monstrosity I was about to mount.
We bought our first motorcycle, a Harley Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic, last year. My husband had ridden for several weeks without me, but now it was time for me to get on the back and ride with him. I knew he would be careful. I wasn’t afraid of that. I was just scared, period. This was something new to me, and equipment I wasn’t used to. The main thing I was afraid of was the fools out on the road that never seem to look where they are going.
But God reminded me of His presence by whispering Psalm 91:11 to me.
I made that ride and have made many more since then. Each one gets a little easier because I am more familiar with what to expect now. When we face the unknown, it is scary. But nothing is unknown to God and when we put our trust in His promises, the unknown is taken care of. He knows what is out there ahead of us in life and all He wants us to do is trust Him. No matter what kind of Behemoth is around that curve up ahead, stand on His promises and know those promises are for you because He loves you.
I would love to hear how you have faced and conquered some type of fear.
I would love to hear how you have faced and conquered some type of fear.