Category Archives: WORDS TO ENCOURAGE THE FLOCK … AND THE SHEPHERD

Shared words and stories, from different sources, to uplift, encourage, and edify both the Pastor … and the congregation.

“Light Reflections”

Ever since we did the “A Little Light” series, I have added to my daily prayers the request for God to allow me to be a “light” to those around me. Every day. For me to be a light in a dark world, into which I, like all of us, walk every day. We wrote about how, if we will be that light, other people will notice-whether they like it or not. We have that Light inside of us, but do we “let it shine?”
Ouch!
We also wrote about, “God, Why did You put me here? In such a dark place?” Exactly! That’s the reason!

The darker the place, the more light is needed. And, the darker the place, the greater difference, even a small light makes. So, the answer to “God … What am I doing here?” is answered, as Jesus always did, in the form of a question: “What am I doing here?” As in … “What am I doing here?” Enough? Doing what He placed me here to do?” Being the light He put me here to be?
Ouch!

So, this past Friday night … somewhere around 6:00-7:00PM, we had a power outage. Way up here, in the North County, this is a rarity. Our power, our lights, just don’t go out very often. But, here, on the first night of School Vacation, the power went out.
Total Darkness.

We lit candles. And, it was beautiful. It always takes me back to when I was growing up, and we lost power, especially during an ice storm. We used wood for heat, and we had plenty of candles and lanterns, so when the power went out, we were, sometimes, the only house on our road which had heat. It was so warm. It was always a reminder of the “old days,” when there was no electricity. Since we were too young to remember how it was “back then,” our only glimpses of that life were from watching the “Waltons” and “Little House on the Prairie.”

So, here we were, just Carol and I, and the lights were out … no telephone … no internet … We don’t watch much TV, if ever, but, it still seemed like a “loss” of some kind not to have it available … no radio either … even though we listen less to radio than we watch television …
It was so awesome, just sitting there, both in our rocking chairs, just talking (remember that?)
There is still no one else I’d rather talk to, or rock with, than Carol. She rocks! And, the candlelight in her eyes … matched only by the glow of just being with her …

It was 9:00PM when we figured that, even if the lights went back on, it was too late to cook supper. So, we made the decision to go to McDonalds (in the next town over). Keep in mind that we don’t go to restaurants often, and, for us, McDonalds is a real treat. I always joke if we should call ahead to let them know that we were coming, and that, “This evening, we’ll be ordering from the Dollar Menu.” Call me whatever … but, and after working at McDonalds for two different periods in my life … I still love going there, and I had just as soon go there as any fancy restaurant anywhere … We are thankful for everything, so we are not hard to please.

Anyway, as we were leaving, blowing out one candle at a time, it was amazing … amazing … how much light just one candle made. God reinforced it again for me … just one candle … one light … makes such a difference … And, the darker the surroundings … the more of a difference just a small light made …

I thought about something I write about every day … how I thank God for the (what we call) “simple things” of life … like electricity … and heat … the things we take for granted every day … I thought to myself, “Did I thank God for Electricity this morning???”

We got our order at McDonalds, and then went to our “usual table,” which, even months between visits, we go directly to. At our booth, me on one side and Carol on the other, we joined hands, across the table, and prayed. Said “Grace.” Regardless of where we are, we don’t eat until we pray. Even if one of us is away from the table, neither one of us starts to eat until we pray. That’s just what we do. Don’t you? Anyway, it seemed like just seconds after we prayed, that a young man who worked there, in full uniform, appeared between our table and the soda machine. He got our attention as he walked over, both arms outstretched, and exclaiming how wonderful it was to see what he had just seen … two people praying “in public,” and how rare a sight that was. And, most of all … what it meant to him, personally, to see this.

I tried to answer him, as best I could, with “We do it because we are thankful,” and that’s why we do it. We are thankful. Man! Even at McDonalds, on a cold, windy, and dark night … you just never know who is watching. Just know that people are watching you … every minute of every day. Even if you aren’t at work! But … he was …

It reminds me of a time when Carol and I were at the airport in Philadelphia, PA. We literally spent the day at the airport, as weather had halted air traffic all across the eastern seaboard. We’ve spent a lot of time in airports, and rarely eat a meal there (no Dollar Menu in Airports!). We had ordered from one of the “fast food” restaurants, and had taken our seats at a table near a window, as I still love to watch the planes come in and out. Once seated, Carol on one side of the table and me on the other, we joined hands across the table and said a prayer over the food. From out of nowhere, a lady came over and introduced herself to us. I’ll never forget what she said:
“I knew, when I first saw you, that you were Christians. When I saw you pray, that just confirmed it.”
We have met some great people at airports.

You just never know who is watching. Just know that people are watching you … every minute of every day. Even if you aren’t at work! But … she was …

Lord Jesus, help me to be that light to others … at home, and away … to reflect Your Light … always …
Even on dark days … where it’s needed most …
And, help me to remember, most of all, that it is not only them who are watching …
But, You …

Blessings,
Richard.Vincent.Rose.

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“A Little Light” Reading: Part Three

What a difference a little light makes!

Now, we look at the New Testament and what it says about the importance of “light,” and, in particular, how having this “light” should affect the world around us-regardless of how dark that world is when we first arrive in it.

The first time “light” is mentioned in the New Testament, it is referring to the fulfilled prophecy of Isaiah (9:1-2), regarding where the Messiah would live, and His effect on those around Him:
“The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up” (Matthew 4:16).

It is most interesting to note that Matthew’s first recorded words of Jesus, regarding light, are not that Jesus is the light of the world, but that WE are!
“Ye are the light of the world … Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

Yes, according to Jesus, we are the light of the world! This should both encourage and remind us that Christian light comes from us, and our light comes from Him! Even as we reflect His light to those around us, His light is reflected to the world. Jesus spoke so often of being “I AM,” but this was the one time that the words of Jesus turned toward us,
telling us that YOU ARE … the light of the world.

When we have this light within us, those around us-both believer and non-believer alike-will recognize the fact that we have this light:
“No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light”
(Luke 8:16).
This Word is so important that Jesus included the example in His Sermon on the Mount (from Matthew, above), here in Luke’s recording of “The Parable of the Candle,” and Jesus would repeat these exact same words in Luke 11:33. So, the question is, when I enter a place, whether it’s a room or a building, do “those who enter in” see this light?

John wrote this about Jesus:
“In him was life; and the life was the light of men … That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:4, 9).

When John the Baptist appeared on the scene, he “came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light” (John 1:7-8).

It must also be said that, yes, while others will be able to tell that you have this light … this doesn’t mean that everyone will be glad about it. In fact, Scripture says that yes, you will be hated for the very reason that you do have this light:
“For every one that doeth evil
hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved”
(John 3:20).
This fully explains why, sometimes, just your

presence in a room changes the atmosphere of that room.

Let us never forget that it is Jesus’ light which shines from us … not our own:
“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not

walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Ever seen someone who just seems to wander aimlessly through life, not knowing where they are going? Jesus explains this: “for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth” (John 12:35).
Well, guess what? For someone like that, we are called to help them: “that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness” (Romans 2:19).

Aren’t you glad that you know Jesus? “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:46).

Paul would testify that it was the “spreading” of this light which was his call to ministry:
“For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have

set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for
salvation unto the ends of the earth … To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light …” (Acts 13:47; 26:18).
And, in 2 Corinthians 4:6: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Peter would also write of the calling:
“But ye are a chosen generation, a
royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9) … whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place …”
(2 Peter 1:19).

When Paul wrote of “the armor” of God in Ephesians, chapter 6, he didn’t include this:
“let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12).
Paul reminds us “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light”
(Ephesians 5:8).

Let us not forget how dark the world was, when Paul wrote these words …
To the Ephesians: “… Christ shall give thee light”
(Ephesians 5:14)…

To the Philippians: “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15) …
To the Colossians: “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light”
(Colossians 1:12)…
To the Thessalonians: “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness”
(1 Thessalonians
5:5) …

I think how overlooked the significance of being a “light” is, yet, the importance of it is all around us, in our daily speech. For instance, when someone is considered to be “not very smart,” we say they are “not very bright.” How about someone who is considered to be intelligent? We say they are really “bright.” A great idea is a “bright” idea.

Isn’t it amazing how important this “light” is?
Just as amazing is this:

The exact same light which lights us, which lights our world, which shines in the darkness around us … that exact same light will be the only source of light in Heaven … for all eternity … the same light you have right now!
“And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof… And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it …And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 21:23, 24; 22:5)

Amen!

Over at our Christian store, we have this wonderful work of art, which captures this expression of being “the light” to a dark world. Here’s a picture and link for you:
The Light of The World
Hope you enjoyed the series!
Blessings to you, and your family,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.
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“A Little Light” Reading: Part Two

“…it all started when I looked at my neighbor’s driveway …  and, then, looked at my driveway … What a difference a little light makes …”

Now, we look at the Old Testament and what it says about the importance of “light.”

How important is “light” in Scripture? Consider this:

The very first recorded words of God:
“Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3).

God’s very first act of creation was creating light:
“And God said, Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3).

Make no mistake: If we will be that light, God will see it:

The second recorded words of God:
“And God saw the light, that it was good” (Genesis 1:4).

Are we supposed to be separate from the world?

God’s first act-after His first act of creation?
“God divided the light from the darkness” (Genesis 1:4).

In the days of Moses, one of the plagues which struck Egypt was the absence of light:
“there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days” (Exodus 10:22).

Not only does our light separate us from the darkness … regardless of how dark the world gets … we must be, and have, within us, that light:
“all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings”
(Exodus 10:23).

Nehemiah wrote that, in their travel across the wilderness, that God “leddest them in the day by a cloudy pillar; and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way wherein they should go” (Nehemiah 9:12).

God still gives us His light, to guide us, in the way we should go.

King David wrote a lot about God’s light, and, when you consider that part of the Davidic Covenant promised “that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there” (1 Kings 11:36), it makes sense that David would refer to this “light” often.
Other writers would write of this covenant, and the importance of this light:
“Howbeit the LORD would not destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and as he promised to give a light to him and to his sons for ever”
(2 Chronicles 21:7).

David would write:
“LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us” (Psalm 4:6).
“For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness” (Psalm 18:28).
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).
“For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light” (Psalm 36:9).
“And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday” (Psalm 37:6).

Other Psalmists would also refer to the light:
“O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me”
(Psalm 43:3).

“Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous”
(Psalm 112:4).

“God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light” (Psalm 118:27).
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).
“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130).

David’s son, Solomon, would also refer to light:
“But the path of the just is as the shining light”
(Proverbs 4:18).

This light inside of us is so important to guide our way. How does the world act? Those who don’t have this light?

“They grope in the dark without light, and he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man” (Job 12:25).

The book of Job contains several references to light, including this: “Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine” (Job 18:5).

Solomon would agree with this in Proverbs 13:9: “The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.”

Isaiah would plead, “O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD” (Isaiah 2:5).
Isaiah would describe the words of those who don’t have this light:
“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them
(Isaiah 8:20).

Isaiah’s great words of prophecy would often refer to light:
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined (9:2) … I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles (42:6) … I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them (42:16) … Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people (51:4) … Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward (58:8) … Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee (60:1) … And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising (60:3) … The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory (60:19) … Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended” (60:3).

I love the book of Isaiah!

And, Daniel … who wrote this of the wisdom of God:
“He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him
(Daniel 2:22).

I often write that, when the Spirit of God is with you, you can’t hide it: Others-even unbelievers-will clearly see this … and, when they are in a desperate situation, they will come to you, just like what happened to Daniel. The King was greatly troubled over both his dreams, and the fact that his “wise men” could not interpret the meaning of his dreams. His wife, the Queen, came to the King to report that “There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him …” (Daniel 5:11).

When Daniel was brought to the King, here are the first words the King spoke to Daniel: “I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee … And I have heard of thee …” (Daniel 5:14-16).

If God’s Spirit … the Light … is really in you … word will “get around.”

Make no mistake: Life is tough, and the world around us is dark. Let us all look to the words of Micah:
“Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me … he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness” (Micah 7:8-9).

Before I close, let’s go back to Daniel for the great soul-winning verse:  “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).
Amen!

Next time, the New Testament!

Blessings,
R.V.R.
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“A Little Light” Reading: Part One

Well, it all started on Saturday, when I looked at my neighbor’s driveway … and, then, looked at  my driveway. His driveway was completely cleared of ice and snow.
Neighbor Driveway

My driveway, on the other hand, except for tire tracks leading to the garage, was completely covered in snow.
Our Driveway

How can this be? His house is directly across the street … they got blasted with the same amount of snow … yet, here, days later, his snow is gone, and mine remains. There wasn’t enough snow to bring out the snow blower, and I know he hadn’t shoveled. Why the difference?

I then looked around my yard, and saw all the trees. Surrounded by trees. While my neighbor does
have trees … for a couple of hours a day … the sun hits his driveway, while mine remains in the
shade. It was then that I realized what a huge difference just a little light makes. Then, God started working on me. What a huge difference just a little light makes.

I know we are all called to be lights in a dark world. It is the darkest places that need the most light. And, the darker the place, the greater effect even a small light makes. This explains why God has placed so many of us in places where … let’s face it … we say (or cry out), “God … what am I doing here … in this place?” My own answer to that is another question (much like Jesus would answer a question), such as, “Yes … what are you doing in this place?”

Well? What are you doing in “your place,” the place where God has placed you? Yes, so often this refers to a work-place. Surrounded by unbelievers … what are you doing in your place? Are you, am I, being that light that God has placed us there to be? I heard someone say once that God will
surround us with exactly the right people … to do “in us” what He wants done in us.

Wow, the more I think about it, the more that question grabs me: “What am I doing here?” Am I doing what God put me here to do, to be?

We live in the great North Woods of New Hampshire, USA. According to statistics, our county receives less sunlight per year than any county in the contiguous United States … if not in first place in this category, we are sometimes listed as second. After heart disease, suicide is the leading cause
of death in adult males in the state. I don’t need to remind anyone that certain practices and lifestyles are legal here, which, well, are also legal in other states.

I think it’s safe to say that, spiritually, this is dark territory. But, is it any darker than other areas? One of the “darkest” areas I’ve ever visited, and I mean I could feel it, was a certain town in Georgia. I’ve seen others. I’ve “talked the gun” out of someone’s hand in “brighter” states, and, I’ve also gotten there too late. So, it may be fair to just say that the Bible is true … we live in a dark world, that darkness abounds “everywhere.” And, it’s not a geographic issue. I must admit that I do praise God for the opportunity to give the devil a black eye by operating a Christian business in the heart of this particular territory. That, from here, “out of the darkness,” we are able to bless people all over the world. From here. We are especially blessed to, from here, be allowed the privilege to bless Pastors all over the world. From here. And, to God’s glory, our writing has flourished here. From here.

Much as when I moved to New England from Georgia, when we moved to Northern New Hampshire, I had absolutely no doubt that it was God’s will for us to do so. It seems like every day, I get another confirmation that this is true. Yet, I also feel that we’ve only just begun. I hope that you feel this same way, too. About where you are, and “where you are.”

So, where I am doesn’t matter as much as “where I am.”

At the top of my list of “Other People’s Quotes,” is this quote, listed number one, from Helen Keller:
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

So … as I look around, and mostly, inwardly, I must ask, “What am I doing here?” His will or mine?
Let’s face it, and I seem to know so many who share this same sentiment about where they live: The will of so many is to leave. “I hate it here.” “I can’t wait to get out of this place.” Sound familiar? I think the one thing that surprised me the most after moving here is how many people here hate the cold weather. I mean, they hate it! My first response often goes unsaid: “Well, then, what are you doing here?” I do, however, often add this bit of advice: “You can be miserable anywhere. “Here’s another “Let’s face it:” I get the feeling that these people would be miserable regardless of where they lived. Right? Sound familiar? We have a habit of leaving one area, moving to another … but, we carry the same bags with us. I think this may be another subject for another time. Another saying I’ve heard often: “When a man is right, his world will be right.”

I do know this: What is true for us here in the North Country is the same for every town, every city, every “Country” on earth: God needs people here, and He will always need people here. I know that, in this town, God has brought certain people here for a particular reason … I feel that the
same can be said for your town, any town. Because, it is God’s desire for us to show forth His glory to the world around us … regardless of where that “world” is.

And, the darker the place, the more light is needed. And, the greater effect light will have on the surroundings. Even a little light.

A Little Light does make all the difference!

A Little Light does make all the difference!

Next, in Part Two, we examine this matter of “light” in Scripture, beginning with the Old Testament.

Blessings to you, and your family,
R. V. R.
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Guest Post: Continuing Thoughts on Thanksgiving

I just can’t stop thinking about how blessed we are here in America. Every day.

Here are thoughts on Thanksgiving here in the United States, from Don Merritt, over at the “Life Reference” Blog:

“Thanksgiving has been a central idea in American history and culture, even before there was an America … I think that this notion of Thanksgiving has had a profound effect on our Nation.  Here’s why …”

And, it’s was not just Don’s thoughts, but the comments which his readers posted which made me really continue to think, and thank …
Enjoy, and be blessed:

Thanksgiving Reflections

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CHRISTMAS THOUGHTS OF THANKSGIVING

Here is part of the transcript of a message I gave a few years ago, in a church in New England. I wanted to share this with you as close to exactly between Thanksgiving and Christmas as I could …

At the time, I had left the legal department (set for life) of a “large New England Electric Utility” in order to focus on my Biblical studies, and my degree. The job was 60 miles away … one way. Yes, I left the legal department, set for life, to clean toilets at McDonalds … Remember, “It’s not the job that brings honor to the man, but the man who brings honor to the job.” The reason I mention this is because it came up during the message … including the fact that, at that time, Carol was working in the registration department at the hospital … where, at that time, I was a regular visitor …

Good morning. Praise the Lord. And, if I may…Merry Christmas…The title of our presentation is “Christmas Thoughts of Thanksgiving.” I’d like to share with you a few items on my Christmas list. My Christmas list this year is different…It’s more of a Thanksgiving list…Not Thanksgiving…but Thanks…Giving. Instead of stuff that I want…it has stuff listed that I already have. Things I’ve already received; things that I’m grateful for. I’m thankful for how God has blessed me all year. It’s funny how we seem to be more reflective on holidays. How it is almost an obligation to think about how God has blessed us, once a certain holiday arrives. You know, maybe that’s why we keep having holidays…so we’ll keep on remembering… 

Even though it’s been just one year since last Christmas, it seems I’ve gotten older by more than one year. I’ve been to the doctor and the hospital more times in the past year than in my whole life combined…Let’s see…I haven’t been to the hospital to have tests done…to have blood drawn…in…Let’s see…just over 26 hours…I’m thankful for doctors…for medicine…for hospitals…and, yes…I’m thankful, guys…for nurses…. +

Before I leave this subject, I should also add that I am thankful for the beautiful, friendly, and efficient staff that handles the registration at the hospital and at the lab….I am thankful that Jesus Christ is still in the…healing…business! This year, Jesus Himself, personally, has healed me of individual lumps that I had in my lymph nodes, one under each arm. This is the same type of illness that has wreaked death and havoc in my family…most recently, just this past year. Then, I had a lump under my chin that was huge …Here we go again with this lymph node thing, and lumps…Well, God reached down and healed that too…Let me say again, that I am thankful for the fact that Jesus Christ is still in the healing business!

Then, there have been incidents at work. My third day on the job, I found out that a box cutter will cut more than boxes. And, I discovered that when you cut the fleshy part of your palm that it bleeds really bad. I prayed that Jesus would stop the bleeding, and he did. Something else that Carol doesn’t know about, happened this past Thursday at work. We have an area called “the corral” where the trash dumpsters are completely enclosed by concrete and brick walls. These walls are eight feet high and 15 feet wide. A tractor-trailer backed into the corral, and knocked one of the walls completely down. Of course, the wall fell inward. I had just walked out of the corral, and, and if it had happened two minutes earlier, I wouldn’t be here today.
I’m thankful for God’s protective hand.

I’m also thankful for the other people that I’ve prayed for, that Jesus has healed.
Yeah, Christmas is ok, but it’s been a great year.

I changed jobs this year. I prayed for certain hours, and I prayed that my new job would be no more than 15 miles away. My new job was exactly the hours I prayed for, and from my driveway to work is exactly 15.0 miles. This Christmas, I have a lot to be thankful for…and it doesn’t revolve around the holiday. It revolves around what Jesus has done for me personally.

I work with a man that is both deaf and mute. I am thankful that I am able to see, to hear, and to talk. I have realized this year just how much I have taken for granted.

I am thankful for electricity. If this was 60 years ago and someone said, “I’m thankful for electricity,” the whole crowd would have stood up and cheered.

I’m thankful for running water. That same 60 years ago, “running water” meant that someone ran down to the well. And ran back with a bucket full.

I am thankful for hot water. I can remember when, growing up, we didn’t have hot, running water. I took a hot shower just this morning. I liked it so much that I may take another one next week.

I am thankful for automobiles. And, the fact that you can get in your car and travel from state to state…literally where ever you want to go, and not have to go through check-points as you enter into every different state. And, how about gasoline…even at the cost we pay for it today, some of us remember when gasoline-and a lot of other things-were rationed…you could only buy a certain amount…on certain days…if you had the right coupons.

I am thankful for microwave ovens, and telephones, and a hundred other things we take for granted every day.
Things like grocery stores. Department stores. And, how about mail delivery?

I’m grateful for the things that I already have…I’m grateful for the things that I came in with…

When I look back over the years, from my earliest childhood memories to just last year, Christmas is always a time that I remember. For those of your who don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope that there are special family times that will stand out just as much. It’s important, because these special family times are the times that will continue to stand out for the rest of your lives. I was raised “without a lot of stuff.” And, maybe I don’t have that many good memories about growing up. But, what good memories I do have, are memories of Christmas. I would hate to have those memories taken away. I find, that so many years later, I don’t remember so much what we didn’t have. I remember…yes, even cherish, what we did have.

I celebrate Christmas: To me, it is a holiday…it’s a day off from work…plus, in one week, I get another day off for New Year’s! And yes, I look forward to that all year. Christmas is, for some families, the only time they are all together in one place, except for funerals.
In today’s family lifestyles, how often do families get together to even enjoy a family meal together…at the same table? So, this “Christmas” is maybe the one time all year when families get together and just “be with each other.” It is the one time that they all look at each other and say, “Ya know, this is cool. I really do love my family. I really do love my home. This is really cool.” You know, I can’t help but think that Jesus thinks that’s pretty cool, too.
I find that what’s wrong with Christmas has more to do with what’s wrong with me-my attitude.

I believe that if “Christmas” was done away with, the church would still set aside one day to celebrate/recognize His birth. I believe that if it’s ok to celebrate the birthday of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, it’s ok to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. Without going back to last year’s Christmas presentation, it strikes me that it’s ok to celebrate Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays on a day that they weren’t actually born.

I believe that the mountains, the oceans, the great works of God’s hands that surround us are beautiful. However, I believe that the greatest work that God does, the greatest miracle that He performs, is the change He makes in people’s lives. The greatest miracle that God performs is when He takes the rottenest of sinners, saves them, changes them, and makes them a saint. The greatest works of God surround us today. They are represented in every pew. And, none of this would have been possible had not God Himself come to earth as a man, born as a baby, and died as the Savior of the world. He is alive today, evidenced by the changed lives that surround us here today.

I take you back to a conversation that I had last week with a lady I work with. When she complained about not having any decorations for Christmas in the store, I stated, coldly, that “It would just be something that we would have to put up and then back take down”…As we discussed Christmas, and I was giving her the negatives, she said things like,
“It doesn’t matter what day we celebrate it on, as long as we celebrate it”… (That sounded so familiar)…
Me: Well, it’s just another day.
As she threatened to admonish me with her “Christmas Sermon,” she would not let me walk away until I told her I was just joking. As I walked away, I said:
Me: “The world has taken it over.”
Theresa: “The world has taken over a lot of things-that doesn’t mean it has to take us over.”
Me: “I’ll use that Sunday.”

Blessings to you, and to your family,
Richard. Vincent.Rose.
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PBI: Personal Bureau of Inspiration: Before Dresser, a Real Dress-Down on Relationships

Well … I studied Carol’s cards as I started to get back to our “PBI: Personal Bureau of Inspiration/What’s on your dresser?” series … but, after the first sentence, God turned it into this:

We’ve written much about how important it is to have, to set aside, that daily time of prayer and Bible study. Just you, the Lord, and His Word. Both of you … speaking. If you really think about it, that should be “all three of you speaking.” And, both of you … listening.

It is just something that you must … make time for. Yes, you must make time for it, as you must “make” time for all of those things that are really important. You may think that you just don’t have the time … that this time doesn’t exist. Ready for this? You are right: The time doesn’t exist – – – That’s why you have to “make” the time!

How often many of us, when someone asks us about our “religion,” have described it this way: “I don’t have a religion; I have a relationship.” Don’t have time for that daily time of prayer and Bible study? Then, tell me, how can you have a relationship with someone you don’t speak with?
How do you get to know someone without spending time with them? It is a relationship, that’s for sure. And, just like any relationship, it can only grow by spending time with each other.
One more: What happens … and, man, have we all seen it … What happens when two individuals in a relationship don’t “make time” to spend with each other? Remember, the time isn’t there … it doesn’t exist: That’s why you have to “make” the time.

In a strictly worldly sense, often, it is both individual’s fault when the relationship starts to turn. However, could it be said that, often, one of the two has become too busy? That one of the two wishes, more than anything, that the other would just “make time” for them. If they would … if they could … just do that … make an obvious attempt to “make the time” to spend with them … how much different … how much better the relationship would be. Why, even if the other person would just “make the time” just to talk to them, and “make the time” just to listen to them … how different … how much better … their relationship, and yes, their world would be.

Do I “need to go there,” to the place where one leaves the other … or, “strays” from the other?
Perhaps not. Too painful.

I guess it is painfully obvious the relationship we are really writing about. How Jesus must feel when we don’t “have time” to spend with Him. To get to know Him better. To speak to Him. To listen to Him. That we’re too busy to “make the time” to spend with Him. How He must feel, that, if only we would just “make” the time, take the time, to spend with Him … how much better our relationship would be … and how much better our world would be. Then, the expected result of turning away from Him, leaving Him, straying from Him … how painful, to Him, this must be. Part of His pain comes from the fact that He knows how painful it will be for us … if we continue walking away … Indeed, He can keep us from stumbling … if we will keep holding His Hand.

How many of us claim to know God, and claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus, yet don’t spend any time with Him? How can this be? Sad to say, but it can’t be. Sorry!
I am so reminded (have I spent too much time around kids?) of the times when I have heard a Pastor say something like “Just because you go to McDonald’s doesn’t make you a hamburger.”
Or, how about this one: “Just because you have a car, and a garage, doesn’t make you a mechanic.” And, other sayings like it. Usually these statements are made in conjunction with the really old one: “Just because you go to church, doesn’t make you a Christian.”

I think it goes so much deeper than that. No, I don’t see how you can claim to be a Christian, and not have a burning desire to go to where the Word is preached. It’s much deeper than that, because it is true … you can go to church … do what is expected, etc., and still not live a Christian life. I believe there is just no way you can live a Christian life without this personal relationship with Jesus. I mean, unless you have this personal, intimate relationship with Him … how in the “world” can you possibly know what He wants you to do? Without spending time with Him, speaking to Him, listening to Him … how would you even know what is expected for you to do? I mean, without this quality time, how will you get quality answers? If you don’t hear from Him personally … how will you even recognize His voice? Oh, you’ll hear voices, all right … I can assure you of that. But, His sheep recognize His voice, because He is their Shepherd. So, how can He be your shepherd if you are not in His flock?

Are you going to tell me that you are going to be led by someone you don’t know? Now, that is what I call worldly living, and worldly thinking. Just remember that if you choose to follow the world, or the crowd, you will end up in the same place they do.

Jesus loves you, and wants to spend more time with you than anyone else. You will also get more benefit from spending time with Him, than with spending time with anyone else. By the way, yes, He wants most of all for you to have this personal, intimate relationship with Him … but, He also wants you to “make the time” for the other important relationship in your life.

Ever written, or perhaps preached something that you hope was also meant for someone else???
If the Word is really from God, it changes the messenger first.
Will close for now … must “make” a little time for a conversation I need to have …

Blessings to you, and your family,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.
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