Finishing Well

18 12 2008

Hey guys,


Well, this will be the last e-mail devotional for the year.  I’m heading home for Christmas today and I’m sure many of you are hitting the road or will be traveling soon as well.  As you are wrapping up finals and shopping and doing all your end of the year things, I encourage you to prepare your heart to finish well.  This advent season we’ve been looking at preparing our hearts for the arrival of Christ and as we celebrate that event and look toward the next year, let’s look at the past with the anticipation of the future.


One of the cool things about being a Christ-follower is that we see Christ’s birth as the hope of something better.  The Jews had been waiting a long time for a Messiah and even though He didn’t exactly come the way they anticipated He would, He brought with Him the promise of hope for salvation and restoration.  It’s this hope that we can rest in as we finish 2008 and look on to 2009. 


I don’t know what your 2008 was like.  Maybe it had a lot of high points and only a few low ones…maybe it was the other way around.  I turned 30 this year, which turned out to be not as catastrophic as I thought it would be.  We had some crazy floods change many peoples’ lives and some crazy celebrities disturb many peoples’ living rooms.  We elected our first African American president and we saw gas prices yo-yo.  Whatever your year saw it was in God’s hands and whatever 2009 will see, it’s in God’s hands.


As 2008 now comes to a close
I’m tempted to measure the cons and the pros;
How did I grow and improve and seek change?
Were my yearly goals just too out of range?

My guess is-some of your goals were achieved,
While others were tougher than you had believed.
And now your emotions are mixed up at best,
Not knowing if you really have passed the growth test!

I think the best way to close a year well
Is not to punish yourself where you fell;
The best way to redeem those regrets and those fears
Is to lay a good plan for the upcoming year.

Tim Elmore – Growing Leaders, Inc.


Leave the irreparable past in His hands, and step out into the irresistible future with Him. – Oswald Chambers


But you will not leave in haste
       or go in flight;
       for the LORD will go before you,
       the God of Israel
will be your rear guard.

Isaiah 52:12 (TNIV)


May your Christmas be a celebration and may your New Year be blessed!  See you next year!



To the King!




Child-like Christmas

11 12 2008

Hey guys,


So I was thinking this past week about how child-like this holiday season makes people.  People turn into five year olds hoping to get that pony (or iPhone) from Santa.  Families are together celebrating memories old and new with children young and old alike.  That blind belief and faith in a man wearing red bringing gifts down your chimney.  It’s a time like no other.


Here are some recent holiday commercials that resonate with that child-like spirit:

              Macy’s Christmas Commercial

Target’s Christmas Commercial

Rice Krispies Christmas Commercial

Campbell’s Christmas Commercial

Hallmark Christmas Commercials

Betty Crocker Christmas Commercial


It’s that innocence, that wonder that surrounds this season.  A belief in something more…a joy in our circumstances and a compassion for things we don’t understand.  It’s magic!  At least that’s what the advertisers say.


Is that the experience you’ve had?  There is something innocent about a baby born in a manager…a baby, so little and soft, so cute and harmless.  A baby that later asked us to have the innocent faith of a child in things bigger and harder to believe in than Santa…things like sin and salvation, redemption and grace.  So maybe Christmas is about being child-like.  Its sure is fun.


Here’s a precious little children story read by author Frank Peretti called “All is Well” that I hope touches your heart and helps you prepare for the arrival of the Christ Child.


Blessings!  Hope you have time to be child-like this week.


To the King!



9 12 2008

Hey guys,


So it’s the first week of December, Christmas is in full swing, the busyness of getting everything done is upon us…oh and by the way it’s the season of Advent too.  I don’t know how familiar you are with the season of Advent.  For me it brings back memories of Advent Calendars filled with chocolate, the hanging of the greens at church, and hoping I’d get to light a candle on the Advent wreath.   What comes to your mind when you think of Advent? 


The season of Advent is in many churches the beginning of their church calendar and the beginning of their liturgical year.  It is the period of expectant waiting and preparation for Christ Jesus to come. 


Expectant Waiting and Preparation…


In the midst of your busyness take time to prepare for Christmas.  Prepare your heart.  Wait on the Lord and listen with expectancy. 


Some resources to help you celebrate Advent:

*O Come, O Come Emmanuel by Sufjan Stevens


*Online Advent Calendars

Do a google search of Online Advent Calendars and you’ll have many options.  Here’s a fun one I’ve been enjoying.


*The Ignatian Examen

The Jesuit priests follow a series of exercises laid out in the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola.  They have a series of meditations, prayers and questions of examen that they use to guide them and enhance and strengthen their spiritual walks.  Now I’m not recommending that you all become Jesuit priests but some Irish Jesuits have put together an online prayer site that walks individuals through a daily examen that is quick and easy and can help as you prepare your heart for Christmas.

This time last year in Germany , I was delighted to find Advent calendars in the shops. They count off the days of waiting and praying for Jesus’ coming – which is what Advent means. In most of the West, every evening’s television reminds us how many shopping days are left before Christmas. Suppose we take these advertisements as a call to pray rather than to purchase. I’ll put myself in the mind of Mary and Joseph, focused on the expected baby, wondering what he will be like and how he will affect my life. Try imagining the preparation that Mary made. She spent three months helping her cousin Elizabeth with an unexpected pregnancy. Then she had to face the awful crisis with Joseph, who could not understand how his fiancée could be pregnant (Matthew 1:19). Then when things seemed to be on an even course for the birth, she found they had to pull up roots, harness the donkey, and trek up to Bethlehem , where they could find no room in the inn. Mary’s main preparation was adjusting to the unexpected and unwished-for. The best patron for Christmas is the quiet and imperturbable Joseph. (Sacred Space)


If you haven’t gotten registered yet for our upcoming Sundesmos Winter Retreat get it done!  If you get it done this week I’ll still let you pay the $25 fee.


Have a great week!  Praying for you!


To the King!