Blizzard weather arrived this week on the East Coast. I think whenever you hear something about snow and three feet of it, it’s a reason to be concerned and to plan to make other plans! Weather interrupts our lives. That kind of snow shuts down schools, businesses and churches! I used to get mad when the storms in my area hit on Saturday nights and, sure enough, church would have to be canceled the next day. Let us keep all those affected by the storms in our prayers.
Severe winter weather makes us anxious, I think. We don’t know what to expect and for how long we might have to be holed up in our homes. Look out trying to go to the grocery store as the shelves empty out of bread and milk and the other “essentials.” I never understood why we rush out to buy milk and bread of all things. Why aren’t we selling out of snacks, chocolate, liquor, books and magazines??? Just something I think about.
Lots of times our minds predict emotional or spiritual storms and then they end up not coming at all. Mark Twain said, “I’ve known a great many worries, most of which never happened.” Spiritually we always predict bad weather. By that I mean we always aren’t enough: I’ve heard it for over 20 years of ministry just as much in the patient rooms as I did in the pews-“I don’t ——- enough” (insert your word: pray, go to church, read my Bible, serve or give). We always think, spiritually, we aren’t enough. Then God comes along in the life, death, resurrection of Jesus and says “You are mine” and I love you (John 3:16) and that’s enough to help us through all the weather ahead!
Pastor Doug Givan
“One kind word can warm three winter months.” Japanese proverb
“Encourage one another day after day” Hebrews 3:13
I never knew how hard it is to buy eyeglasses! I have for many, many years worn contact lenses and then “readers” to improve everyday sight, etc. I went to a store to purchase glasses and, without knowing it, I bought “single vision” glasses. When they came in I could not read the computer or print. It turns out, I discovered this weekend, that the single vision glasses are for distance vision. If I want “up close” vision or both I have to buy a “progressive lens” and the actual lens progresses from far away vision to closer vision as you move your eyes down the lens itself.
Well, says the optometrist, there are many levels of progressive lenses based on my astigmatism and visual needs. So 100’s of dollars later I’m frustrated and have asked them to hold the whole thing while I think about what to do. Meanwhile, updating my teen age son and his glasses puts me in the $200 range and the great thing is that includes “poly-carbonate” which makes the lens smaller rather than larger in thickness! This appeals to my son and it adds money to the overall cost. Don’t even get me started on “anti-glare” or the extra money for eye glass lens/frame protection and warranty. Sigh…..wish things like this could be easier…
Isn’t it a beautiful thing that our God is “easy”, simple? Jesus said “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, for my burden is light and easy and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28). We don’t have to buy anything, freedom and grace have been paid for by Jesus giving His life for us and rising again from the dead! We don’t have to spend anything to have forgiveness and hope because they are free. It’s all a free gift and it’s yours and mine today and forever! Now that I can see!
“Freely freely you have received, freely, freely give. Go in my name and because you believe others will know that I live..”
Pastor Doug Givan
Visiting the gravesite of a loved one is a powerful experience. My mother died back in May of last year and Saturday I took a small, cement bunny to place next to her headstone. She loved the smaller of God’s creatures and could sit for hours on her patio watching the ducks swim in the pond behind her home. One time a rabbit had made a nest in her bushes and you would have thought she won the lottery, she was so excited!
I sat the cement bunny down knowing that it will get weathered, or it could be taken by someone else. I saw it as a gift I was giving my mother and I didn’t care what happened later. I just know it felt great placing it and I have some belief that she liked it as well.
Gifts are like that. We just give them and don’t know what will be done with them. I have two younger brothers and they have birthdays a week apart this month. We agreed to have a gift exchange but no gift cards which made it harder to shop for them! But I did gift them and what they do with it is up to them, I have no control and will likely never know what they do/did with my gift.
God is the same way! We have been gifted with the presence of Jesus in our lives, we have been gifted with forgiveness and joy, grace and peace and hope for the future! It’s a free gift God has given and it’s up to us now….how will we use it? Will others know?
Let’s give many the gift of VDC and invite them to make a weekend, invite “alumni” to come and serve with you on team or even on the Secretariat. Best yet, gather a group and come to Illinois for the annual gathering in July?? Check our web site www.viadecristo.org
Pastor Doug Givan
“The fragrance always remains on the hand that gives the rose” Mahatma Gandhi
Happy New Year!
I hope and pray you all had a relaxing and restful time off over the Holidays. It’s always hard to get back up and running as the new year begins but away we go. Some of us are boosted by the Indianapolis Colts winning their football game advancing in the playoffs! Driving back from church I was listening to the pregame radio show. One of the award winning players was being interviewed. He said (regarding the game) that “when my name is called I want to be able to shine!” In other words, I took that to mean be ready, practice, and get prepared.
What does it mean, spiritually, for us to “be ready?” Jesus encourages us in the Bible to “have our lights lit” and to “keep awake” because we do not know when our time is up (Mark13:33 for example). This time of year can be very difficult for many people. There is actually a disorder that affects some people: Seasonal Affective Disorder (appropriately, SAD). The darker, overcast days, the weather, the Holidays are over and it can be a downer time. The cure is to be around light, they say! Sun tanning booths, higher wattage in our lamps, or just finding other ways to be around light.
So friends, as we begin a new year let’s be “ready” and have our lights shine. Even if you feel down and maybe discouraged, God still has a light within each of us that brightens when we help others. We each are truly part of the body of Christ. Our eyes look for the need around us; it is our ears that listen for the cries of those who need help. It is our hands that reach out to lift up our fellow person, and our feet that take us to the place of great need. I hope for all of us we can be ready by praying, spending time in God’s Word, the Bible, and in worship. That way, when our name is called we will already be shining!