JTC: On the Road

I find myself currently somewhere between the “Lone Star” state, and the “Buckeye” state. Neither of which are my home. The spot on the map I currently sit on is in front of a Shell gas station and rain is giving us a free car wash. It occurred to me as I stretched outside the white and yellow walls of the station that I may be mugged at anytime and not one passer by would care. Now I know that’s not true, at least I hope it’s not.

However, with the number of unfriendly people I have met on this trip, it feels like the closest thing to the truth. Every individual I have had contact with on this trip has been unfriendly and even rude. Unlike the friendliness I am accustomed to in Colorado. Out here on the highways and by ways I feel alone and unwelcomed. This feeling got me thinking about how Mary and Joseph must have felt on their long journey to Bethlehem. Far from home and surrounded by strangers. Many slamming their doors in their faces. I thought about when my sister and I will arrive in Ohio my mom has made room for us. Mary and Joseph were not so fortunate or blessed.

They arrived to a “No Vacancy” sign, and were finally led to a home for livestock. Weary, and undoubtedly afraid, Mary gave birth to the Savior.  And although we often sing silent night during this season, I doubt it was indeed a silent night. I don’t think it was a serene, pristine environment with animals rooting about.  Then there was Mary’s labored breathing and Joseph gently encouraging Mary through her labor pains. Then to add to the commotion, God sends angels to herald the good news. Definitely NOT silent.

Then just as Mary gets Jesus to sleep, the shepherds appear. Arriving at the invitation of the angels. Talk about annoying. No wonder the Catholic church dubs her a saint. To endure all that she did is inspiring to me. I hope I will continue to ponder Mary and Joseph’s journey as I continue down the interstate. Feeling more grateful for these holy parents of my Jesus. Grateful for their perseverance and their care of my Savior.

And I am reminded that, because He came, I can now love on each person along the way to wherever I am going in life. I can ask Jesus to give me eyes to see where they’re at on their journey towards the King. Maybe they’re close. Like the shepherds in the fields. Maybe they’re still in the desert, following a faint light. Or maybe they’re 30 years down the road fishing in the Sea of Galilee. Wherever they are, I trust that Jesus will find them, and bring peace to their worlds. I pray He brings peace to yours too. As well as a heart to bless other weary travelers on this road towards heaven.

Remember this world is just a rest stop,

WV

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JTC: Journey Home

I am sitting in the San Antonio airport feeling grateful. Grateful that even though it’s not my birthday, it’s Jesus’, He found a way to get me home for Christmas. Through the help of one amazing boss and the love and generosity of my “man half” I will soon ne hugging the necks of my entire family.

I hope the same will be true for all of you as well. Be Merry.
WV

JTC: Buying Christmas

For God SO loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. John 3:16
For God SO loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.
John 3:16

As tradition goes, I love watching Hallmark Christmas movies this time of year.  Hour after hour of cheesy, romantic holiday films.  I love the over the top way that every actor/actress portrays their celebratory joy.  The on set trees, and bright colors,  and even the way that I want to believe that there really is a Santa Clause.  But alas, every movie ends, and so does the urge to shout, “I believe, Santa! I believe!”

Every once in awhile one of these yuletide photodramas ends and I walk away with a thought deeper than Santa.  This happened the other day.  I was watching a film that depicted Santa as having two daughters.  One “naughty” one “nice.”  The naughty one was trying to sell off pieces of the North Pole.  Until the nice daughter intervened.  Through magic powers and a little help from technology, she reclaims all of the “pieces of the Pole” that have already been sold and shipped.

The nice daughter makes a speech about how the Pole is meant for ALL people and cannot be owned by individuals.  As she was delivering her monologue I was struck by this thought, “Isn’t that what we try to do every year? We don’t try to ” buy the North Pole,” but we do try to ‘buy Christmas.'”

We run and rush around, stressing over the perfect gifts for others, and ourselves.  Seemingly trying to “own” a piece of Christmas.  Thinking that if somehow we can just please the right person or own the right present that our lives will be complete.  Yet year after year pass, and we are no happier than the last.  For the joy, happiness, and contentment, we wish to attain stay just out of reach, for we reach for the wrong things.

I would challenge you to reach for something new this year.  To look higher than the tallest shopping center, past the brightest light display, and through the mounds of sweets that you will find yourself surrounded by this season.  My prayer is that you would grasp something new this year.  Not the things that you  can receive or buy.  But the only piece of this season that we can truly “own.”  God’s love.  Demonstrated to us by the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God with us.

I pray that He would reveal a new piece of Himself to you.  That you would experience this gift in a new way, and find a contentment that you have never experienced before.  Wrapped in His arms.  Not unlike a baby swaddled in cloth and lying in a manger.

Merry Christmas.

WV

JTC: Redefining QT

I was an Awana’s child.  Actually our church program was called the Olympians, but really it was the same concept. You earned prizes for Scripture memorization and model behavior.   More than just learning scripture, I was learning, what is now known as “Christianese.”

QT

Part of the  “Christianese” dialect was the acronym “QT” or “Quiet Time.” That devotional part of your day, usually morning, that you spent with “JC” AKA Jesus Christ.   This morning task  supposedly earned you a better ranking among believers.   At least that was how I viewed it for years.  Subsequently carrying around the guilt of not “performing” well enough because my “QT” was not up to par.  It was more an activity to stave off guilt than it was to spend time with God.  It wasn’t a relationship builder, it was a bullet point on a “good Christian” check list.

Over the years I have moved away from my “Olympian” background and their said “checklists.”  It was been a journey that has taken me farther and farther away from the guilt that Satan tries to saddle me with, and brought me closer and closer to the heart of the Father.  Learning along the way that it is about my RELATIONSHIP with Him, more than the little performance pieces that I try to perfect to impress Him.

A recent sermon at my church, gave me a deeper understanding of “QT”  by changing its definition.   I don’t think the pastor even knew that he was redefining a huge part of my life by simply addressing the topic of our “quality time” with the Lord.  Quality time is the same as a “quiet time,” right?  Not for me.  For me “quiet time” insinuates a “have to” mentality.  While “quality time” paves the way for a deeper more grace filled time with the Lord.

I believe that part of why Christ was born in a manger over 2,000 years ago was to reestablish our ability to have this “quality time” with Him all over again.  No longer a list of books to read, and people to pray for, and feelings of guilt for missing appointed “quiet times.”  Now we are able to accept His invitation to just BE with Him.

I felt like He said this to me, “I don’t care what we do together, I just want you to acknowledge Me in every activity.  To realize that I am walking right beside you through every hill and valley.  That I do not require you to do ANYTHING, but just BE with ME.  There is nothing you can check off or accomplish that is going to make Me love you more, accept you more, pursue you more.  I came as a baby long before “Christianese” was invented, long before a “QT” was ever established.  I loved you then, and I love you now. I came simply to be with you.  So let us enjoy each other.  There’s no need to impress Me. Not now, not ever.”  

So I pray that as we continue on this journey towards Christmas that you will take some time to be with the Lord, to answer the deepest desire of His heart.  Quality time with you.

May your enjoyment of His presence increase this season.

WV

JTC: Christmas in Color

Friends in color.
Friends in color.Photo Booth 1

Some of my favorite things...

Some of my favorite things…
Santa was here!
Santa was here!
Finally a man who loves Christmas as much as I do. :)
Finally a man who loves Christmas as much as I do. 🙂

Just a few pictures of this years Christmas party.  But more than that pictures of things that I am thankful for in my life.  Find what you’re thankful for and give thanks for it. 🙂

Thankful for you.

WV

JTC: O Holy Night

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Nothing gets me in the spirit more than Christmas carols.  They are a constant reminder of the sacredness of the season.  A reminder of the Who we have celebrated with gift giving, decorations, and festivities for thousands of years.  So take a moment.  Let the words of this carols sink into your heart.  Find a quiet place, enjoy reading through one of my favorites, and imagine this Holy Night:

o holy night

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,

With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

May you find new meaning in this season,

WV