Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The New Year's Challenge



2017 is days away, have you decided...how you're going to change the world this year?  It's time for the  New Year's Challenge!   

I may...or may not be challenging myself.  After all, I've never been one to push myself beyond my comfort zone.  In fact, in high school I only chose classes that I knew I could ace.  I was number 25 in my class of 303 students.  If you're a math wiz you will figure out quickly that I was in the top 10% of my class.  

I'm sure student #26 would have been peeved, if he compared his class schedule to mine--swimming, creative writing, listening and discussion, independent reading, typing, band, cooking, family finance...I think you get the picture.  It was more important for me to do well at what I did--than push myself beyond my comfort zone.  

That's part of the reason I dislike the whole New Year's resolution thing.  We are being challenged to do more, push ourselves, committee to stuff we probably won't ace.  I know...I sound lazy or a bit of a perfectionist...either way...New Year's seems a little pushy if you ask me.  Expecting me to challenge myself to be better...do better...  

Then...two years ago...my husband preached a message the first Sunday of the New Year.  He made this statement:    If you can do it in your own strength, without partnering with God, then it’s not really much of a challenge. 

Ouch!  Now that was unnecessary!  Then he went on to challenged the congregation in three areas:
·         A Personal Challenge
·         A Spiritual Challenge
·         A Family Challenge

After this message...I don't know what came over me...I never listen to him.  (Kidding..maybe!) 

So, I took The New Year's Challenge.   I finished writing a Christian Fiction book I'd played around with for yearsI know...crazy right.  REMEMBER: If you can do it in your own strength, without partnering with God, then it’s not really much of a challenge.  

 
There is no possible way I could have written a book without partnering with God.  Hillbrooke New Beginnings is a testimony of my partnership with God in 2015/16.  

In Phil. 4:13 the BIBLE SAYS this:  "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

2017 will be gone before you know it.  Do it--take The New Year's Challenge and partner with God.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

God Bless You!


I sneezed the other day and a stranger passing by said, “God bless you.”  I really didn’t want anyone to acknowledge my nasal outburst, but his comeback was obviously conditioned within him as was my reply. “Thank you.”

We are fully immersed in the cold and flu season which means there will be a lot of "God bless yous" out there.  

We just finished expressing our thankfulness for all the wonderful things we enjoy on a daily basis and now we take two steps forward and it's Christmas--this is the time we celebrate the birth of Jesus, Immanuel--God with us.

Ministers lament over finding those cutting edge sermons for the weeks leading up to Christmas hoping to wow their congregations with a new and deep revelations no one else has discovered.  

I was feeling a bit the same way as I prayed and asked the Lord to give me an amazing devotional to share for Christmas week.  I read Luke 1 in the Living Bible and my eyes locked on this phrase.   for God has decided to wonderfully bless you!..."

“Don’t be frightened, Mary,” the angel told her, “for God has decided to wonderfully bless you..."  Luke 1:30 (TLB)

God decided to bless you!  "God bless you, Mary!"

You probably were wondering when the sneeze was coming back.  Here it is...God has decided to wonderfully bless US TOO!   It's HIS plan for your life. 

In the next weeks, you or someone around you is going to have a nasal outburst and you or someone around you is going to say, "God bless you."  Their response is taught--but God's is a choice!  His heart is moved towards your needs.  Just like Mary--God has decided to wonderfully bless YOU--too! 

Merry Christmas, my dear friends, and God bless you!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Yours, Mine Or Ours

When Bob and I married in 1975, it was the merging of "Yours & Mine."  The optimal goal of the merger was to arrive at OURS.  The best way I can describe this is...Christmas.

The first few Christmases at the newly established Roberts' home could best be described as "Yours & Mine."

Here were a few of our differences: 
  • Should the big meal be on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?
  • When will we open presents?  (Growing up, our families did it on different days)
  • Who is this Santa you speak of?
  • Why is the table covered with plates of peanut brittle, popcorn balls and fudge?
  • Live Tree vs. Fake Tree or can we even afford a tree?  Our 2nd Christmas we had a cardboard fireplace we bought for $4.95.  Those were the Bible college years.
  • Birthday cake for Jesus vs. cookies and milk for Santa.
  • Can we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus?
  • After we (I) decorate the tree, lets sing carols, drink hot chocolate and eat powered donuts in the dark with just the tree lights on....All together now...We Wish You A Merry Christmas...Never gonna happen!
  • Please don't make me watch Charlie Brown's Christmas, Frosty The Snowman or Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer...again!
  • Can we read the Christmas story as a family on Christmas morning?
I won't say which traditions came from which side; but over the years, the Roberts have merged their differences into some solid family traditions.  We are no longer "Yours & Mine."  We are "Ours."

Now that our children are all married, and each forming their own Christmas traditions; I hope some of "Our" traditions made the cut.

“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end..."   Isaiah 9: 6-7 NKJV

Wherever your family may be, "Mine, Yours or Ours," don't forget the real meaning of the Christmas celebration and build solid family traditions around the Christ of Christmas.



Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Obstacles


While working in the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning, I heard one of the grandkids cry out. I left my Thanksgiving preparations in a hurry to check on the afflicted one.

As I rounded the corner into the living room, I came face to face with an obstacle course of toys separating me from the wounded.  (actual photo)

We have a kid-friendly, family room for all these obstacles (toys), but one by one the grandkids bring them upstairs and skillfully place them in the high traffic areas. They are so talented.  What can I say?

I spotted the crying grandchild across the room and made the split second decision to maneuver through the toys to comfort him. (A bit dramatic, but I'm making a point--People!)  I scooped him up in my arms and after a few minutes of hugs, he was ready to get back in the game. 

While passing back through the toys to the kitchen, my heart was quickened with the thought of obstacles.  They block us, slow us down, make our way difficult...but this determined Grandma had no trouble getting past each wooden block and sharp-edged game piece hiding in the carpet.

I moved with the grace of a high hurdler when I heard my grandchild cry out.  (Maybe more like an elephant balancing on a high wire.)  Good luck getting that picture out of your head!

As I worked my way back through the toys on my way to the kitchen, I thought of another who overcome obstacles to get to me.  He left a place of honor to become a lowly baby.  His obstacles looked something like this:

  • The womb of a virgin 
  • Death threats
  • Lowly beginnings
  • Temptation 
  • Judgemental bullies 
  • His chosen team bickering and deceitful
  • Mocked
  • Beaten, beard plucked out, and crown of thrones pressed into his brow
  • He suffered a cruel death on the Cross--and he pressed on through it all for one reason!  
Why would he bother?

Why not just give up?

Because of His great love.  When we cry out to Him--He, with the skill and grace of a high hurdler maneuvering  all obstacle in His path to get to us.

Here is what the Song of Solomon says in 2:8-10 (The Message)

Look! Listen! There’s my lover!
    Do you see him coming?
Vaulting the mountains,
    leaping the hills.
My lover is like a gazelle, graceful;
    like a young stag, virile.
Look at him there, on tiptoe at the gate,
    all ears, all eyes—ready!
My lover has arrived
    and he’s speaking to me!


There are no obstacles so great--the Lord wouldn't leap over them ALL to get to YOU!

It Takes Time

Years ago, I was counseling kids camp and about midway through the week, I received a phone call from my husband.  He informed me that o...