Enjoy The Ride

For me one of life’s greatest pleasures is a good roller coaster ride. I love that feeling of slowing heading up that first hill, heart racing with anticipation as to what will happen next, then rounding the top of the hill and off it goes! Whipping around corners, wind blowing through the hair, taking sudden dips twists and turns, and all at break neck speed. It’s one of those get in, sit down, and hold on experiences! There is nothing you can do to control the ride. All you can do is enjoy.

As the byline of my blog states “… enjoying the ride, I have often looked at life in such a way. Life is indeed a ride. I have often said, “Just when you think you have life figured out, God takes you in a completely different direction.” 2009 has been one of those experiences. It has been a year in which God has literally asked me to sit down, hold on, and enjoy the ride.

It was at this time last year that Robin and I knew our life was about to take some unexpected twists and turns. By February the ride had begun. Due to leadership restructuring at the church in which we had served for 11 years, we found ourselves unemployed and without a church home. God had literally asked us to step out in faith and trust Him. He was asking us to trust Him to meet our needs, and place us where He could best use us.

If at the time you were to ask us if it were our desires to be facing such an uncertain future, I am sure no would have been our answer. Not knowing where God was going to take us, we sat down, held on, and off we went.

Over the next three months it was the promises of God, found in His Word, that kept us going. There were a couple of scriptures in particular that I clung to as reminders that my job was simply to trust Him, and not worry.

The first was Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

There were plenty of times in which I wanted to figure it all out, to in my limited understanding of what God was up to, figure out what He was doing and determine what was next for us. It never worked. Those three months were nothing less than a journey of trusting God and acknowledging that He knew exactly what He was doing with our lives.

The second scripture God used was Philippians 4:6-7 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

As I sought to trust God during this time, I was reminded of the value of prayer and the peace that comes along with it. Being anxious about our future only brought about panic and stress. As we spent time seeking God in prayer, He filled our hearts with peace. Indeed a peace that transcends all understanding.

As we emerged from that three month period of wandering and wondering, God began to make it clear what was next for us, and that of course was to join the community of Rock Harbor. We now feel tremendously blessed by where God has placed us.

One year earlier we would have never dreamed of being where we are today. Had we not trusted God to guide us to this place, we would have not had the privilege of joining with such a fine group of people. We as well would not have had the opportunity to be a part of so many people’s lives and spiritual journeys.

There is no better place to be than in the center of God’s will.

As we approach 2010 we approach a year of unknowns. May it collectively be our hearts desire to sit down, buckle up, hold on, and enjoy the ride!

Love All

We all know Jesus performed great miracles during His time here on earth. He healed the sick, made the bind to see, and raised the dead. Because of His love for humanity, particularly the suffering and marginalized, He brought healing and restoration to the lives of many. He did these things for one reason. It was so people would experience Him for who He is, and as a result enter into relationship with Him.

Here's the beautiful thing about Jesus. Though being rich, He became poor, so that He could show love to the poor, the needy and the outcast (2 Corinthians 8:9). This Christmas and during the season of Advent, we have been given the challenge to Spend Less. Through the simple act of spending less we are able to show love, and enter into this week's theme ... Love All.

It's easy to fall victim to the line of thinking that says, I can't possibly have the same impact that Jesus did. May we not forget, it was Jesus who said in John 13:12, I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. Jesus has left this earth, and in doing so has given us the opportunity and responsibility, to now be His presence here. We are even told we will do even greater things!

The needs of people abound. The opportunities are limitless. May we be asking ourselves this week, how might Jesus use me to Love All? Don't let the great need overwhelm you, rather let it move you. You may not be able to change the whole world, but you can change the world of at least one person.

Here are a few activities our church will be engaging in this week. Might you join us?

• Sponsor a Compassion Child or give to World Vision through their gift catalog.
• Donate time or goods to a local charity.
• Pray for people in your home, community, and around the world.
• Put a gift for God under your tree. Put into practice what you have learned through the Advent Conspiracy.

Give More

Today we enter  week three of the Advent season, and the Advent Conspiracy.  This week's theme ... Give More.

Like you, I have been given many Christmas gifts over the years.  Some deeply thoughtful and greatly appreciated.  Others, well let's just say while appreciated, they likely ended up in the white elephant gift exchange the following Christmas.

As I think of why Christ came to be with us on that first Christmas, I think of time.  I think of presence.  Christ came to spend time with us, to love us, and through His presence lead us into a deep and meaningful relationship with Him.  In fact the depth of His desire drove Him to give the ultimate gift ... His life.  Out of gratitude for what He has done, I can think of no greater gift than to emulate His.

Time is the greatest gift we can give.  It is of much greater value than a Christmas sweater, an electronic gadget, or a subscription to the jelly of the month club.  Time is lasting.  Time changes lives.  This Christmas may we consider how we might give more through the giving of our lives.

Here are a few activities our church will be engaging in this week.  Might you join us?

• Set up coffee or a meal with a friend this week.  Call a long distance friend.
• Serve another family or individual (one that doesn't attend church).
• Write affirmation cards to friends, co-workers, or family members.
• Pray for our public servants and write them a note.

Next week ... Love All.

Living Nativity

Once again The Skit Guys or Skit Guy as it were in this video, hit it out of the park!  Very funny.  Very powerful.

Watch video and ask yourself ... could you??

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

Sure thankful we aren't "out of luck."

Spend Less

Today we begin week two of the Advent season, and the Advent Conspiracy.  This week's theme ... Spend Less.

At Christmas time, we like to spend.  The National Retail Federation reports that we spent 41.2 billion dollars over the Black Friday weekend.  That is an average of $372.57 per person!  As one who both hates spending and getting up early, I am equally blown away by their finding that nearly one-third (31.2%) of all shoppers on Black Friday were at the stores by 5 a.m.!

Each year since 1984 the PNC Wealth Management Company calculates the cost of the beloved carole, "The Twelve Days of Christmas."  One thing is certain:  It's getting quite costly to buy our true love all the items mentioned! Here's are this year's numbers.

This week's theme of Spend Less could not be more appropriate.  Just the simple act of buying one less gift this year has the potential of freeing us up to be more available to celebrate Christ during this advent season.  What if instead of buying that one gift, we used that money saved to present Jesus with a birthday gift this year?

Here are few activities our church will be engaging in this week.  Might you join us?

• Set a budget for your Christmas spending - don't forget about the next two themes (Give More & Love All).
• Pick one person you were planning to buy a present for and make one instead.
• Make some homemade Christmas cards with personal messages for friends.
• Invite friends or another family to share a meal with you.

Next week ... Give More.

World Vision Gift Catalog

I love that Christmas is a time for giving.  Giving is a wonderful expression of love and gratitude toward those that are most important to us.

Two years ago our family began a new Christmas tradition.  While we still give gifts to one another, we place more emphasis on giving gifts to Jesus.  It is after all...His birthday.

In Matthew 25:31-46 we read of Jesus honoring those that gave to the "least of these." Those that suffer and have been pushed to the margins of society.  He goes so far as to say that when we give to the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the imprisoned, the strangers, and the sick, we are actually giving to Him.  What better way to give to Jesus than to give to those that have real need!  I love that World Vision has provided a fun way for people to do that very thing.

The World Vision Gift Catalog is filled with incredible giving ideas.  Opportunities to give to the poorest of the poor in the name of a loved one that you would normally give a gift to.  It's an opportunity to let someone a world away know that they have not been forgotten.  An opportunity to be a blessing to those Jesus referred to as "the least."

As you consider the gifts you will give this Christmas, consider how you might also give to the One in which we celebrate.  It will change your whole outlook on how you celebrate Christmas!