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December 31, 2009

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Romans 12. 6a

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Swans have an elegance that is nearly larger than life. They themselves are not small birds by an stretch of the imagination and their trumpeting brings all eyes on them as they glide across the water. We even know the transformation story of the ‘Ugly Duckling.” They could be called majestic creatures and to this day in England swans that are unmarked belong to the ruling monarchy. Some might say they are gifts fit for royalty.

The SEVENTH day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, SEVEN SWANS A-SWIMMING. My first thought of a gift of seven swans that were swimming was the pond or river this lady must have possessed or lived by to accommodate them. I love flyfishing and so it wasn‘t difficult for me to consider the movie title “A River Runs Through It“ to harbor my imagination. But, I also had to consider the cacophony of sounds by this time in this lady‘s home with all these birds present: one partridge, two turtle doves, three French hens, four calling birds, a ring-necked pheasant, six geese and now seven swans. Her house must have started to sound like Noah’s Ark. None of these birds spoke the same language and no one was there to interpret either. Either she prayed for silence or began preparations for a feast rather soon. Yet, the thought of all these sounds led me to think about the gift of speaking in tongues which comes to many Christ-followers through the Holy Spirit. On Pentecost, the disciples were imbued with the Holy Spirit and they were able to speak in the languages of others. Some onlookers thought that they were drunkards, leftovers from a party spirit. Yet many heard the word of God that day and believed that Jesus was the Christ and accepted Him as their Lord and Savior.

Bearing this in mind, tradition attributes the seven swans to represent the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit: prophesy, serving, teaching, exortation, charity, leadership and mercy. When taking into mind the tradition that swans were property in that day of those to whom the monarchy had given permission, we could see then how it is understood that these gifts were the property of the King of Kings. He shared them with those He loved. They were used to promote the work of the King and bear witness to His kindness and generosity for all people. God’s mighty men have received these gifts from the King, too. The use of these gifts can certainly trumpet the triumph of faith, hope and love (other gifts of the Spirit) over evil. Their presence can dominate the scene and turn all eyes to what is good. This is the benefit of being blessed by God’s love and is a message to shared with everyone. Thank you, God, for loving these men so much You have given them awesome and awe-inspiring gifts.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will be traveling home again or returning back to work following the Christmas holidays
* For the lessons from history to propel God‘s children into the gift of a secured future through faith, hope
and love
* For the safe ending of the year 2009 and the beginning of a happy new year 2010
* For all political leaders in the world to seek the means for true peace on earth which comes from God’s
charity and commitment to honor life
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of God-
centered obedience; especially with the continued bombings throughout the Middle East and most
recently in Afghanistan
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the revealing of the job God has for Lisa as we make preparations to move into the house He desires
to become our home as we will be working in Waco ministering to His people there

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the answered prayer we receive as we trust in God to provide for our family while waiting
to transition to that place of confidence with a job for Lisa and as He has made it possible for us to find
a house to be our home
* For family to be safe in all their travels today and in the days ahead
* For gifts of love and those who share them with us

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Thank you, Father, for the reminders of the true gifts we have been given through Christ our Lord. As you reveal them to Your mighty men may they in turn share this good news with others so that we might live out the truth together of Your Great Love, Your Great Gift, and Your Great Desire for all people. AMEN.

December 30, 2009

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Genesis 1.31 – 2.2

“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. There was evening, there was morning- the sixth
day. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had
finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Let‘s take a gander at this particular verse in the Christmas carol, “The 12 Days of Christmas.” Oh, that‘s right, there is no gander to be mentioned only six geese. So the question is begged which came first “the goose or the egg.” Well, in this instance, I believe that there had to be a gander or else no one would be laying an egg.

The SIXTH day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, SIX GEESE A-LAYING. In most European barnyards, and perhaps some backyards, it would not be uncommon to find geese in large flocks. Easily domesticated, as easy as chickens, they were a ready source of food with meat and eggs. It was no mistake that this lady’s gift consisted of egg-laying geese. They were fertile and ready to produce more eggs to be eaten or hatched so as to increase her flock. These birds were larger than chickens, as were the eggs, and so represented a “larger gift.” Remembering back to Scrooge’s awakening moment on Christmas Day in Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol,” he asked the young boy passing by his house if the prize turkey was still hanging at the butcher’s shoppe. It, in fact, was. To the delight of Scrooge, the profit of the young boy and the beneficial blessing of Tiny Tim and his family, the largest turkey anyone had seen was bought and delivered to the Crachet home. Never mind there was little time to cook the grand bird, it was the opulence of the gift that mattered. Now Ebeneezer could use his vast wealth to benefit the poor and appropriate the financial side of the Christian calling. His life had been spared by his confession of hard-heartedness and a pledge to honor Christmas in his heart throughout the years. His honoring of Christmas was in becoming human again, revived to kind-heartedness and generosity. And it was “good.” Scrooge was no turkey and on that Christmas he did not lay an egg but hit the proverbial “home run.”

And what of the spiritual side of the Christian calling? What do these six geese have to do with the gifts of Christmas? Are we merely concerned about prosperity and sustenance? Tradition has it that these six geese represent the six days of creation. I can almost see the six geese lined up in a row. If they were, perhaps the sixth one would have been the prize turkey because it was the largest and most valued. Why the sixth one? Because humanity was created on the sixth day (or, as some read it, man was created.) It was good to be reminded that God had a plan for creation. It took Him six days to perform the miracle that would reveal His crowning creation- man. A good object lesson and reminder for a work-oriented society. Six days you shall labor just as God worked for six days. Was there a back-handed reminder that we should rest on the seventh as God did? There were only six geese a-laying. Did they get a day off, too?

Okay, I am pushing the image too far but I do so intentionally. I want to read into this storied song, this mnemonic catechism, the intentional reminder that the productive element in creation is not in its produce but its producer. There is no gander for the geese except that the lady has one. The gander must be provided for with fertile geese ready to be a-laying. Equally, the six days of creation could not be produced if it were not for a fertile God whose mind imagined this splendor in the midst of chaos. So, too, in the midst of a dark age, there was the need for the light of the world to shine as on the night when the Babe of Bethlehem was born. He, too, was the product of a loving God whose Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit which created the heavens and the earth at the command of God, came upon a faithful and faith-filled virgin named Mary who conceived and bore God a spiritual son in the flesh. And the “rest” is history. It is history because there could be no rest without God. There can be no salvation if it were not for God’s love manifested in Jesus the Christ. There can be no hope if it were not for God’s insertion of a vision of the future awaiting those who choose to believe that Jesus of Nazareth, that Babe of Bethlehem, was and is and will always be Christ the Lord.
So, what are our lives but great gifts empowered by a greater God whose shares these gifts into the world because of His great love and then enables them to be more than produce and results. He has decided to make us productive so that we can bring to the world faith, hope and love. He does not want us to be turkeys. He wants us to soar like eagles. He does not want us to lay an egg as if we are failures but be ready to be filled with His Holy Spirit so that Christ can live in and through us into all the world for His glory, our salvation and the world’s benefit.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will be traveling home again or returning back to work following the Christmas holidays
* For the lessons from history to propel God‘s children into the gift of a secured future through faith, hope
and love
* For the beginning of a happy new year
* For wisdom for all our political leaders as they marshal their efforts to lead their constituents into a new
and prosperous year that will benefit all people everywhere
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of God-
centered obedience; especially with the continued bombings throughout the Middle East and the recent
news of Jewish apartments being constructed in East Jerusalem which may stop peace negotiations
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the revealing of the job God has for Lisa as we make preparations to move into the house He desires
to become our home as we will be working in Waco ministering to His people there

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the answered prayer we receive as we trust in God to provide for our family while waiting
to transition to that place of confidence with a job for Lisa and as He has made it possible for us to find
a house to be our home
* For assignments to be completed and relaxation to be enjoyed; rest for the weary

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Thank you, Father, for the reminders of the true gifts we have been given through Christ our Lord. As you reveal them to Your mighty men may they in turn share this good news with others so that we might live out the truth together of Your Great Love, Your Great Gift, and Your Great Desire for all people. AMEN.

December 29, 2009

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Hebrews 10. 16

“This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts
and I will write them on their minds.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Sometimes things get a little lost in the translation and the same might be true for the “five gold rings” as the gift shared on the fifth day of Christmas as told in the Christmas carol “The 12 Days of Christmas.” Literary critics have scoffed at the assumed use of this song as a mnemonic teaching tool for poor English Catholics forced underground in the centuries long faith war with the Church of England. Their most poignant observation is that no other religious holiday song was ever used in this way so why assume this one as genuine. Of course, the battles of faith were often the venues of kings and emperors. The King of England not wanting to be subject to the Pope in Rome nor to the kings who allied themselves with the Roman Catholic Church established the Church of England as singularly authoritative. Charlemagne as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire declared that the celebration of Christmas would occur on December 25th to counteract the pagan ritual of Saturnalia and bring the light of hope which is in Christ to the darkest “cabin fever” time of the year. Of course, there were other instances where kings made “faith” decisions but serves this purpose well enough to highlight these two. Kings make the laws whose enforcement influence the lives of those under whose rule they live. Kings, laws, rules, enforcement, guilt, sin, love and forgiveness. These are not topics that are left to the birds. They are very real concepts that challenge the way people think and act for and against those who are in authority.

The FIFTH day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, FIVE GOLD RINGS. So, why change the wording of the song to “five gold rings”? Maybe gold rings are the better symbol of wealth and power than a five-ring necked pheasant. Kings were invested with power and one of the symbols of the power is a ring. On that ring is borne an emblem that witnessed the status of the king and his right to be king. A signet ring was as important as a crown or a scepter. It provided the evidence of a seal in wax of his word as ultimate truth which could not be undone save by death. Whether a king, emperor or pope, the ring was a powerful testimony. If one ring was so important, then why not five rings! Easy enough to make the connection to five gold rings and a five-ringnecked pheasant. Pheasants were not indigenous to Europe. They were introduced by European explorers who ventured into Asia. They value and worth because of their rarity made them most accessible to kings. They would be a lovely and fine gift; a feast of pheasant fit for a king.

So, the religious connection of five gold rings were proposed as the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. The Pentateuch revealed the law of God as set before the kings of the world by the nation of Israel. These laws and the history associated with them were meant to guide the nation of Israel on the paths of righteousness. They spoke of what righteous living looked like, what unrighteous living would be judged by and how forgiveness of sins could be gained. All well and good, however, it seems impossible for man to be that good and obedient. The consequences of sin reduced man from his place next to God to the position of stragglers in the walk of life. Until the King of Kings was born whose life fulfilled the requirements of the law and whose sacrifice made it possible for Christ followers to be known once again as sons and daughters of the Most High God. It would be the law of love that reigned supremely. The law of love would fulfill all the law and the prophets as Jesus taught. This one man was more than the equal of “five gold rings,” he surpassed them in mercy and grace.

Therefore, it is the mission of God’s mighty men to continue to share this feast fit for a king that is called faith. In the act of communion, a feast of common union between believers and God through the body and blood of Jesus as the Christ, we find our true worth and value. A feast fit for a king that is made available to all who would believe and allow the law of God to live in their hearts and be written on their minds. I could make another connection that is contemporary building on the theme of five gold rings- one for each finger. Yes, the five-finger evangelism tool: God loves you, all have sinned, Christ died for your sin, believe in Christ and last, but not least, believers in Christ gain eternal life. These five rings of faith would be excellent gifts to share with others so that their new year coming will be one fit for a king, the King of Kings whom we love, serve and adore.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will be traveling home again or returning back to work following the Christmas holidays
* For the lessons from history to propel God‘s children into the gift of a secured future through faith, hope
and love
* For the beginning of a happy new year
* For wisdom to rise up in athletic coaches everywhere as they exercise their leadership of young men and
women
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of God-
centered obedience; especially with the continued bombings throughout the Middle East and the recent
news of Jewish apartments being constructed in East Jerusalem which may stop peace negotiations
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the revealing of the job God has for Lisa as we make preparations to move into the house He desires
to become our home as we will be working in Waco ministering to His people there

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the answered prayer we receive as we trust in God to provide for our family while waiting
to transition to that place of confidence with a job for Lisa and as He has made it possible for us to find
a house to be our home
* For health and healing in my family

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Thank you, Father, for the reminders of the true gifts we have been given through Christ our Lord. As you reveal them to Your mighty men may they in turn share this good news with others so that we might live out the truth together of Your Great Love, Your Great Gift, and Your Great Desire for all people. AMEN.

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December 28, 2009

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

2 Timothy 3. 16, 17

“All Scripture is God-breathed, useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so
that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Like a parable, perhaps it is best not to try and over-interpret the Christmas Carol, “The 12 Days of Christmas.” The song was not composed to espouse the basic founding principals of a Christian life and so the images used are not imbued with associated meanings. At some point in time, whether contemporary or historical, this song was adopted to help promote the idea that someone could use it for a teaching tool. In that regard, I am reminded that all of God’s Word is an inspired teaching tool. When we stop to consider how someone was able to make this association and then promote it as a mnemonic catechism successfully, that in itself is inspiring to me. How Jesus could take every day events and turn them into learning moments concerning the kingdom of God was inspired. Listening to symphony orchestral compositions in all of their detail and know that one man or woman could hear all of that and write it down to be produced over and again by musicians is awe-inspiring. We are a fortunate people into whom the Lord God has breathed life since the beginning of humankind when He took a clump of dirt, fashioned the form of man as He imagined and then breathed into him/them life is inspiring. It points to the work that can be done by simply sharing the Word of God with others whose lives may be deflated by sin, hardship, depression or sad circumstance and watch as they receive hope and are able to stand again on their own two feet. This is the work of the gospel! It is the truth! So, it isn’t hard to imagine then that someone could see this song of extravagant nonsense whose sole purpose was to have a little fun at Christmastime and give it a “soul” purpose of reminding others about the real meaning of Christmas as a time to remember what all God has given us and “called” us to be and to do as Christ followers, His Mighty Men of faith, hope and love.

The FOURTH day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, FOUR CALLING BIRDS. For all intents and purposes, the appropriate interpretation of this line is “four collie birds” or blackbirds. When I think of blackbirds my mind embraces the crows that often plague gardens and can be seen picking at garbage or road kill. I also can see the flocks of grackles that swarm telephone lines, tree-lined mall parking lots and countless other places. Their sound is cacophonous and maddening. They do Alfred Hitchcock proud as a recreation of his thriller “The Birds.” Not a pretty picture to be sure. Why would anyone want to give blackbirds as a Christmas gift?

In the hopes for literary conciseness, some have suggested the association with the nursery rhyme line that calls out “four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.” Disgusting! I don’t think we will find that dish in the food line at Luby’s! But, in Europe during the 16th century, blackbirds were a consumable food. The first seven days of Christmas are filled with gifts of “poultries.” So, maybe there is something to this gift that merely gets lost in a change of appetite as the years have passed. To a hungry world blackbirds might look tasty. What would appeal to those who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness? Maybe they would be called to the Word of God.

So, the application given to calling birds whose number is four are the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Their writings inspired by the very presence of God on earth in the person of Jesus of Nazareth who is the Christ, Savior of the World, call those who are seeking the truth to feast upon the good news.: the gospel! These pillars of truth have withstood the test of time and the trial of investigation. Their content is immutable and call God’s mighty men, all Christ followers, to the kind of life and living that is godly and a good work. It is inspiring and life-changing for the better. It is a power to deflect the darkest of nights and the harshest of criticisms. It moves mountains and enemies. It creates peace. It gives joy. It would seem to be a great gift to give at Christmastime, or at any time for that matter. It is a consumable that the enemy of God cannot consume because it is filled with the light of life and I don’t mean low-calorie. It is rich and full- good to the last drop! So, share this good news with others and give them the Word of God which is life-giving and God-breathed. Maybe we are supposed to be “gospel calling birds.”

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will be traveling home again or returning back to work from the Christmas holidays
* For the lessons of history to propel God‘s children into the gift of a secured future through faith, hope
and love
* For the beginning of a happy new year
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of God-
centered obedience; especially the bombings of schools in retaliation for destroying Taliban offices and
hideouts
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the revealing of the job God has for Lisa as we make preparations to move into the house He desires
to become our home as we will be working in Waco ministering to His people there

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the answered prayer we receive as we trust in God to provide for our family while waiting
to transition to that place of confidence with a job for Lisa and as He has made it possible for us to find
a house to be our home
* For the many opportunities to share the witness of love with family and friends, near and far; even in
snow

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Thank you, Father, for the reminders of the true gifts we have been given through Christ our Lord. As you reveal them to Your mighty men may they in turn share this good news with others so that we might sing the truth together of Your Great Love, Your Great Gift, and Your Great Desire for all people. AMEN.

December 27, 2009

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

1 Corinthians 13. 13

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.”

Matthew 2. 11b

“ Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

It remains quite interesting to me to see how the Church sought to Christianize the world by taking worldly practices, ideologies, and myths and gave them Christian meanings and purposes. In the hope to overcome the world, the Church continues to believe that it might garner the attention of the unconverted masses with such “hooks” and thereby find the missionary opportunity to bear witness to the life-transforming Word of God. Jesus used His parables, descriptions of every events empowered with a redirection of thought and application, so that the wise would be confounded and the simple gain insight into the ways and works of God. Paul preached in Athens about the “unknown god” who was recognized by the Greeks with an empty pedestal but whom Paul declared was actually the One True God and Father of Jesus the Christ. Even the celebration of the birth of Christ was moved to the season of the Winter solstice to counteract the pagan practice of Saturnalia (although it remains a mystery to me why it was not placed on the solstice itself which is the longest night of the year and thus the time of greatest darkness instead of the alternating second or third day after which is December 25.) Even the Christmas carol “The 12 Days of Christmas” is purported to be a catechism tool of French Roman Catholics who had taken a secular song, given it redefined applications so as to keep English Roman Catholics inspired while they were being inundated by the Church of England’s teaching during the 15th-16th centuries when it was illegal to be Roman Catholic and thereby gave hope to a “French” revival and perhaps overthrow of England. It would be difficult to place so much credit on a secular song but I find it interesting that there is much to be discerned in “what could be.”

The THIRD day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, THREE FRENCH HENS. Chickens? How theologically powerful can chickens be? Of course Chik Fil A is closed on Sundays in order to honor the place of family in the lives of their employees. I am sure that does not please the fatted cow being prepared for sacrifice in the traditional roast that simmers in the oven while Christians are off to worship. So, maybe there is something to the inclusion of domesticated chickens in the litany of Church-rearing! While other game birds flock around the proverbial pear tree (peacefully, I might add), I doubt that anyone went out hunting for chickens as if they were a valuable commodity. But, then again, chickens were important as a mainstay to many diets around the world. When all else fails there is chicken! But, could that be the key to understanding the symbol created and defined by this secular love song turned Christmas teaching tool?

Tradition hearkens to the espousal of true Christian virtue as the proper understanding of three French hens. Being French has nothing to do with the value of the chickens and gives us perhaps a hint as to the origin of the song itself. But, the number three is important as the three primary Christian virtues are ‘faith, hope and love.” What tremendous gifts God has shared with the imbuing of His Holy Spirit into the lives of true believers! God’s mighty people are empowered by faith, hope and love to live in this world as an awesome witness to others about His presence and His desire for all our lives. When Jesus asked the rich young ruler if he obeyed the commandments as the stepping stone to perfection, He listed only those that would be an indicator of right relationship with others in community with him. Not breaking these commandments would certainly have been an indicator that the young man was a virtuous one. Of course, he may not have had the opportunity to be tested in those situations and was virtuous by default but that was of little matter because the greatest test of virtue was yet to come. If one is truly virtuous then he or she should understand the priority of faith, hope and love as the true indicators of obedience to God as defined in the first four commandments. The first four commandments describe one’s right relationship with God. The test came in the request to “sell all that you have and give to the poor.” He did not tell him to give it all to the poor but challenged him instead to be generous to the poor as he became a follower of Jesus in the circle of other disciples who were following Him. Such a decision would require “faith, hope and love.” Without these three things how difficult it would be to not only follow Christ but survive in the world when all else was depleted! Let them eat chicken! (Sorry Marie-Therese… the actual proclaimer of “Let them eat cake.” Was she speaking for the poor in France or was she making a statement about their lack of “virtue“?)

Yes, I know I am stretching a point here but what if the third day of Christmas was to be a Sunday? No hunting or work should be done by a sincere Christ follower of the day and so the procurement of a game bird would have been unthinkable. Whereas the provision of chicken would be sensible. Not only that but it might give credence to the domestic relationships we should build up so that we are all in one accord. There is no sin in having great wealth unless that wealth is ill-used in supporting one’s self instead of providing compassionately and productively for the poor. It might be along those lines that even the gifts of the Magi from the East in honoring the King of Kings could be seen as opportunities to provide for the poor holy family as they would be called to live in Egypt for a short time. With little resource to undertake such a journey, find suitable living arrangements and work accommodations someone would have had to be their benefactor. Who else but God could make such a provision for those who were making the decision determined by such faithful, hopeful and loving consequences? God provides for the poor and the rich alike. As it was for the babe of Bethlehem, so it could have been for the rich young ruler from Jerusalem. And so it would be for the underground English Roman Catholics who would surely be persecuted in their day when the Church of England held great fearful power. So, too, would it be for those who would make the decision to be Christ followers today! It isn’t easy to break with the “conventional wisdom” concerning the appropriation of the Christmas holiday by the world to serve its purpose of commercialism and the spreading of a false prosperity gospel taking advantage of the poor who in keeping up with the “Dunns and Bradstreets” would find themselves deeper in debt while the misguided rich fall deeper into spiritual poverty. But, Christ followers who seek to live and to share the virtuous gifts of “faith, hope and love” actually fulfill the great commandment found in both the Old and New Testaments “love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and your neighbor as yourself.”

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who are leading God’s people in worship, service and praise in this Christmas season
* For the lessons of history to propel God‘s children into the gift of a secured future through faith, hope
and love
* For those who will discover a renewed meaning of Christmas by celebrating the fullness of the promised
new life through the gift of a child unlike any the world has known or will ever know
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of God-
centered obedience; especially the bombings of schools in retaliation for destroying Taliban offices and
hideouts
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the revealing of the job God has for Lisa as we make preparations to move into the house He desires
to become our home as we will be working in Waco ministering to His people there

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the answered prayer we receive as we trust in God to provide for our family while waiting
to transition to that place of confidence with a job for Lisa and as He has made it possible for us to find
a house to be our home
* For the many opportunities to share the witness of love with family and friends, near and far

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Thank you, Father, for the reminders of the true gifts we have been given through Christ our Lord. As you reveal them to Your mighty men may they in turn share this good news with others so that we might sing the truth together of Your Great Love, Your Great Gift, and Your Great Desire for all people. AMEN.

December 26, 2009

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Galatians 4. 24a

“These things may be taken figuratively, for the women (Hagar and Sarah) represent two covenants.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

A quick browse through Wikipedia will give you information concerning the Christmas Carole “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” No one knows for sure the exact background of this song and attribute it mostly to a very playful and nonsensical, if not outright elaborate declaration of the gross prosperity which someone may have used to celebrate Christmas. In the days of England many centuries ago, such extravagance would have been reserved for kings. Perhaps it was a type of love song produced in adoration of a royal gift-giver who remained unidentified save for the extraordinary gifts. Left to the legacy of poetry, we may simply agree that the interpretation (and its subsequent application) is in the eye and the mind of the beholder.

Yet, there is another interpretation that does not walk with the idea of a secular, extravagant gift list being promoted to show the decadence of a status system of elitism. That tale speaks of using such a song that had become popular, and therefore above question, to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some say that was a mnemonic tool to help remind people, especially the poor and destitute of 16th century England, of the riches of God shared with them through the One and true King, Jesus the Christ. In that line of thinking the twelve days of Christmas were the legend on the map of the faithful which led back to Bethlehem. It would follow the route of three kings who came to adore and adorn the babe of Bethlehem with lavish gifts that would support his position and his early life in a world. Of course, it wasn’t a literal map but a faith map of twelve days which marked the time from the Church’s celebration of Jesus’ birth at Christmas to the day of their arrival celebrated at Epiphany, the revealing of truth, on January 6.

We will journey with them and reflect upon these very same gifts which God, the good Father, has given His children. These are the gifts of faith which the world cannot destroy nor take away. We have already received the first and greatest gift which was celebrated yesterday as the first day of Christmas. Today, we reflect upon the second. Their explanations are below with the others to follow until we have come to Bethlehem again as “wise men,” God’s mighty, wise men of faith, hope and love.

The FIRST day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE. The partridge symbolizes Christ the Lord as a hen who would have gathered her children under her wing to protect them from harm. She would even lay down her life to save her own brood. Have you ever watched a mother bird feign a broken wing in order to draw the attention of a prowling cat away from a baby who has fallen out of the nest? The same principal applies here with this significant difference. Many times we find partridges gathered on the ground. The mother partridge would huddle her young together in safety as she took to the trees. Jesus, too, took to a tree to save those who were huddled nearby from the sinful consequences which man had brought into the world in rebellion against God’s Word and will. A pear tree, of course, was not the type of tree used in the crucifixion of Jesus. However, the blooms of a pear tree are brilliant white and cover the branches like snow. It was also suggested that the pear tree had long been associated with the saving acts of a loving deity (see Greek mythology for Perdix and Athena). Jesus did not save himself except to be committed in obedience to God, His heavenly Father, and God’s will enacted through Him for all humanity. One cannot be saved unless one believes in God with the totality of one’s life, including death. That pear tree in the spring would be covered with blossoms of white and the partridge in its branches would direct all eyes, even those of the enemy, to heaven.

The SECOND day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, TWO TURTLE DOVES. The soft cooing of turtle doves does bring a sense of peace into our environment. Perhaps that is why doves become the symbol of peace and hope. When Noah sent out a dove from the ark it returned with an olive branch in its beak symbolizing that peace and hope were restored. Jesus’ parents offered the gift of doves when they went to the temple on the eighth day to consecrate their son. They did not have money enough for anything more than this love gift to God in thanksgiving. The dove became a substitute offering for the first born son according to the law in the Old Covenant. But, this son would be the beginning of a New Covenant of Love, the promise of love- God’s love as only He could offer. A dove descended from Heaven when Jesus went and was baptized. Doves remain a powerful symbol today especially those snow white turtle doves declaring purity in peace. But, it would be two turtle doves drawing to mind the coupling of affection and undying love between God and His children. The marital relationship of husband and wife declare the proper course of all relationships as between God, the eternal husband, and Israel, the eternal bride (in the old testament) or Christ and the Church (in the new testament.) Even in the story of Abraham, the teaching was clear as God would remain faithful to His covenant through Hagar (whose son by Abraham, Ishmael, would be a father of nations according to the legality of God’s Word) and to Sarah (whose son by Abraham, Isaac, would be a father of nations according to the promise of God’s Word). Regardless, both women were the wives of Abraham as the young men were his sons. Jesus, therefore, would be the vision of both covenants united as one. He would fulfill the covenant of the law in his sacrificial death taking our place as first born and promote the covenant of grace and peace with his enduring life and spirit making our place eternal in the heavens.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who are leading God’s people in worship, service and praise in this Christmas season
* For the lessons of history to propel God‘s children into the gift of a secured future through faith, hope
and love
* For those who will discover a renewed meaning of Christmas by celebrating the fullness of the promised
new life through the gift of a child unlike any the world has known or will ever know
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of God-
centered obedience; especially the bombings of schools in retaliation for destroying Taliban offices and
hideouts
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the revealing of the job God has for Lisa as we make preparations to move into the house He desires
to become our home as we will be working in Waco ministering to His people there

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the answered prayer we receive as we trust in God to provide for our family while waiting
to transition to that place of confidence with a job for Lisa and as He has made it possible for us to find
a house to be our home
* For the many opportunities to share the witness of love with family and friends, near and far

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Thank you, Father, for the reminders of the true gifts we have been given through Christ our Lord. As you reveal them to Your mighty men may they in turn share this good news with others so that we might sing the truth together of Your Great Love, Your Great Gift, and Your Great Desire for all people. AMEN.

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GOOD NEWS FOR GOD’S MEN: Christmas Day

Christmas Day: Love

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Luke 2. 10

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all
people.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

It’s here! Don’t you love it? The sun shines. The Son is glorified. Love has come down from Heaven to dwell on earth. Merry Christmas to one and all.

What? You think I was going to leave it at that? Short, sweet and to the point? After all, it is Christmas.

Okay, so it is Christmas. We have remembered that the Christ was born as the babe of Bethlehem and is the reason for this season of celebration (despite its various manifestations.) But, aren’t you just a little afraid of the “now what” reality that comes with the announcement of the Christ reality? The shepherds were. Luke had it right when he shared the story with his congregation. It is the most wonderful time of the year with the “tales of the glories and scary ghost stories.” So, what happened to the fear factor? Was it limited to what we were afraid of not getting for Christmas or that someone might not like the gift we gave them?
Could it be that a gift so precious and heartfelt was given that it must be protected at all cost for fear of breaking it?

Isn’t that one way we approach a newborn baby? We handle with care. We watch to not allow any injury to its head because the cranium hasn’t fully closed; there is still room for growth. We safeguard the room to make sure that no infections are present and nothing is dangerous or harmful that they might touch or put in their mouths. We wrap them with care to protect them from the elements. We tell even the children how best to hold a baby (usually sitting down.) The announcement of the birth of that baby brings great joy. Everyone loves babies! Even when they are not our own we are fascinated and enlivened by them. When a baby is present we feel that there is hope. Most of all we can easily say “I am feeling a lot of love in the room.”

There was a lot of love in that room called an animal stall where the babe of Bethlehem rested in a manger. That love grew as witnesses arrived one by one to share in the good news that a baby was born. Of course, it wasn’t, and isn’t, just any baby. This is Christ the Lord, the gift of God who loves us one and all. Handle with care the One who is fearfully and wonderfully made. He was customized to meet the need of each and every one of us. Share the love so that it is never limited to a time, a season or a place. He is King of the world, Lord of the Universe and Savior of all.

Merry Christmas. God love you and so do I. Let this be the good news each of God’s mighty men share throughout the day and for all the days to come.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who are leading God’s people in worship, service and praise in this Christmas season
* For those who are barely surviving because hope and peace seem in short supply; those who have lost
their joy voice or have never even found one because the pressures of the word make it difficult to catch
one‘s breath; for those who have not yet opened the gift of faith which God has shared with them
through Jesus the Christ because the tears of hunger and thirst for justice and righteousness blind their
eyes to what God has already provided
* For those who will discover a renewed meaning of Christmas by celebrating the fullness of the promised
new life through the gift of a child unlike any the world has known or will ever know
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of God-
centered obedience; especially the bombings of schools in retaliation for destroying Taliban offices and
hideouts
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the revealing of the job God has for Lisa as we make preparations to move into the house He desires
to become our home as we will be working in Waco ministering to His people there

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the answered prayer we receive as we trust in God to provide for our family while waiting
to transition to that place of confidence with a job for Lisa and as He has made it possible for us to find
a house to be our home
* For good neighbors who are watching over our home while we are ministering with family near and far

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Thank you, Father, for reminding us how and why we exist in the world today and for the opportunity to share that life and message to bring hope, peace, joy and faith to others so they will know and share the true spirit and meaning of Christmas. Thank you for keeping Your Word and sharing it with us that we are not only loved but forgiven in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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December 24, 2009

Fourth Week of Advent: Faith on Christmas Eve

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Luke 2. 6,7

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was still no room for them in the
inn.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Those dreaded words our children speak, and sometimes our spouses, when we are traveling on the road may have even been spoken, unrecorded in scripture, by Mary as she rode her husband’s ass to Bethlehem, “Are we there yet?” I have no doubt that the journey of nearly 100 miles during the ninth month of pregnancy was difficult at best but a tribute to her faith in God and her husband Joseph. Yet, no matter how faithful and good Mary was she was still a fourteen year old who may not have traveled far from home; at least not on a regular basis. But, reflecting on more than the journey through cold nights and early mornings, hazardous terrain and endangering opportunities, “Are we there yet?” can also speak to the miraculous event which was about to happen.

There were no hospitals or registered nurses, no appointments for delivery as in a caesarian birth, and no doting parents or in-laws to provide comfort and support to this daughter of God, mother of the Son of God. As they neared Bethlehem, perhaps in a caravan of others on the same “taxing” journey, they might have seen the great Temple on Mt. Zion in the distance. It would be the reason in years past why many of these people might journey to this area. Such was not the case in 4 B.C.. All Mary and Joseph knew was that the time for the birth was near. Imagine the strain and fear they experienced when Mary was feeling Braxton Hicks contractions. Would anyone have paid much attention? Was there some knowing mother in the group who kept a watchful eye on this young maid filled with the expectancy of the promise of God yet unknown to those around her and her husband?

“Are we there yet?” “Is it time yet?” Are they questions pointed to the end of a journey or the beginning of a new day? How many of us are feeling the dread of Christmas celebrations in the making whose time is drawing near and asking ourselves “Will it ever come?” only to be followed by the question of “Will it ever end?” Christmas parties, dinners, gift exchanges, leftovers and the dreaded cleaning up are all a part of the contemporary celebration. But, the same could not be said for the birth of the savior in the coldest hours of the morning just before sunrise. I do not even think that Mary, Joseph and the animals were alone in the stable that was no more than a niche in the rock hill behind the inn at the far end of town. I believe that those in the caravan needed hostelry as well. Maybe even the animals were asking themselves “Are we there yet?” wondering if these people would ever leave their humble home. Even the night watch shepherds keeping guard of the master’s sheep were feeling the chill of this darkest and coldest night. They probably were wondering if the sun would ever rise and bring the warmth of a new day to replace that of the failing campfire. “Are we there yet?” was the question of the end of their shift and the beginning of a cozy snooze with a warm breakfast in their belly.

So many questions. So many expectations. So many needs. So many worries. So many hopes. So many dreams. So many prayers. All of them were answered in one Word whose name was “Emmanuel.” The end of one day where sin was the ruler that taxed them all with seemingly endless work that never paid the bills, that moved people at will to keep them unsettled and far from home and which fought continually to keep the fear of darkness foremost in the minds of all people came in the birth of the Savior. The beginning of a new day where righteousness liberated the poor, brought healing to the lame and sight to the blind, hope to the hopeless, meaning to the destitute and joy to the world came in the birth of the Savior. Even now these questions and realities remain with the people of the world who believe that the end of the world would be better. How many want Christmas to be over so that their sadness and sorrow and inconvenience could be behind them and they could go on with their sorrowfully normal lives? “Are we there yet?” It is a question of dread and expectation of joy! For God’s mighty men it is an expectation of joy we live for in anticipation not fully knowing the original circumstances and giving thanks that they do not. But, it will be one that is experienced on a personal level filled with personal anxieties from which we need to be delivered from. And we will as an eye is kept on that moment when we declare “For unto us is born this day a Savior who is Christ the Lord.”

Are we there yet? Almost. I can’t wait. It won’t be for presents or food or even family that I am waiting for. It will be for the renewed covenant of forgiveness which God is giving again because He loves me, you and all of us so much!

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who are leading God’s people in worship, service and praise in this advent season; especially as
we close in on the day of celebration of Christ the King
* For those who are barely surviving because hope and peace seem in short supply; those who have lost
their joy voice or have never even found one because the pressures of the word make it difficult to catch
one‘s breath; for those who have not yet opened the gift of faith which God has shared with them
through Jesus the Christ because the tears of hunger and thirst for justice and righteousness blind their
eyes to what God has already provided
* For those who will discover a renewed meaning of Christmas by celebrating the fullness of the promised
new life through the gift of a child unlike any the world has known or will ever know
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of God-
centered obedience; especially the bombings of schools in retaliation for destroying Taliban offices and
hideouts
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the revealing of the job God has for Lisa as we make preparations to move into the house He desires
to become our home as we will be working in Waco ministering to His people there
* For Brianna’s family as they resolve the hurt and pain experienced recently

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the answered prayer we receive as we trust in God to provide for our family while waiting
to transition to that place of confidence with a job for Lisa and as He has made it possible for us to find
a house to be our home
* For good neighbors who are watching over our home while we are ministering to family
* For the safe deliverance of the American Airlines passengers who were involved in the crash in Jamaica

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Thank you, Father, for reminding us how and why we exist in the world today and for the opportunity to share that life and message to bring hope, peace, joy and faith to others so they will know and share the true spirit and meaning of Christmas. Thank you for keeping Your Word and sharing it with us that we are not only loved but forgiven in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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December 23, 2009

Fourth Week of Advent: Faith

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Luke 12. 28-31

“If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire,
how much more will He clothe you who have little faith! Do not set your heart on what you will eat or
drink; do not worry about it at all. For the world of flesh runs after all such things and your Father knows
that you need them. Rather seek His Kingdom and all that you will need shall be given to you as well.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

We have found many reasons to give gifts to others, and to ourselves, including the celebration of the birth of the Christ as a babe in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago. I am sure there is plenty of logic to go around that justifies the gift-giving frenzy which has become the incarnation of the “Christmas Spirit.” It must center around the idea that we are honoring the presence of Christ in the lives of others by giving them gifts of all kinds, from practical to extravagant. It may also include the justification of “it is better to give than to receive,” but as I heard on a television show the other night, “the spirit of Christmas giving is one of obligation to return in like kind which was received.” Are these the best arguments and understandings for the bestowing of gifts on one another as symbols of our love for Christ as well as thanksgiving to God for sharing the greatest gift He had to offer to the world He loved?

If we are to give in like kind to others what we have received then the teaching of Jesus found in Luke’s proclamation would be very instructional. Consider the following:

1) God is very aware of our “earthly” needs, real or imagined or conjured up in our mind as of vital
necessity. God is intimately connected with our material and physical needs. He knows better than
anyone what is needed to sustain our lives to endure day to day the tasks which are ahead of us. We do
not need to fret about how we will survive because God has made the greatest provision for our needs-
faith. In the midst of our physical and spiritual poverty, God supplies us with exactly what is needed.
We do not always understand how it happens, but when we live by faith (depending on those we cannot
see, including God) there is a gift of food, clothing, shelter, job, friendship, support and hope. The body
of Christ, the Church, ministers to the basic needs of others in their greatest time of need. Isn’t that
what God did for His people and the giving goes on in the true spirit of liberating others from the
ravages of poverty.

2) God is equally aware of our “heavenly” needs which are so real that we become afraid of confronting
them for fear of losing touch with our earthly lives. For many, the embracing of the spiritual life as
God has ordained carries with it the divestiture of living in this world. God’s mighty people are called
to live in this world just not to live of the world. They are to live of the kingdom. That is what faith
teaches us. Faith reminds us that we cannot gain heaven by anything this world can provide. Even the
birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary who was a person in this world but not of it could not happen without
the intervention of God’s faith poured out from heaven. Our gift giving should not reflect the things of
this world but of the supreme gift of faith in Jesus Christ through whom we have life and have it
abundantly. God’s mighty people ought to be challenged by this single paradigm: are we sharing the
gift of faith in Jesus Christ to the greatest extent possible?

3) Finally, God honors our faith in Him with abundance in the spirit and in the flesh. The spirit is always
God’s top priority but He does not ignore the needs of the flesh. God’s priorities are always in the right
place and in the right order. Focus on the things of His kingdom and everything else that is truly
necessary for life will be provided. For God’s mighty people it might be sung “All I want for
Christmas is to do the right thing.” It starts with faith in God who provides everything we need. It
continues on in faith by becoming God’s provider through whom faith works to touch the lives of
others for the sake of their future in the gospel. It finally moves to the prosperity of truth that without
God nothing is possible that will be eternal. If we want to settle for life in this world we can continue to
keep Christmas as it has become in its commercialized and debt-fostering penchant. But, if we have true
faith, then we will continue to work most diligently to promote the debt-eliminating gift of God’s life on
earth as it is in heaven.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who are leading God’s people in worship, service and praise in this advent season; especially as
we close in on the day of celebration of Christ the King
* For those who are barely even surviving without hope and peace; those who have lost their
joy voice or have never even found one; for those who have not yet opened the gift of faith which God
has shared with them through Jesus the Christ
* For those who will discover a renewed meaning of Christmas as celebrating the fullness of
new life through the gift of a child
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of God-
centered obedience; especially the bombings of schools in retaliation for destroying Taliban offices and
hideouts
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the revealing of the job God has for Lisa as we make preparations to move into the house He desires
to become our home as we will be working in Waco ministering to His people there
* For Brianna’s family as they resolve the hurt and pain experienced recently

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the answered prayer we receive as we trust in God to provide for our family while waiting
to transition to that place of confidence with a job for Lisa and as He has made it possible for us to find
a house to be our home
* For good neighbors who are watching over our home while we are ministering to family
* For the thanksgiving someone is offering with the receiving of boots and “goodwill”

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Thank you, Father, for reminding us how and why we exist in the world today and for the opportunity to share that life and message to bring hope, peace, joy and faith to others so they will know and share the true spirit and meaning of Christmas. AMEN.

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December 13, 2009

Third Week of Advent: Joy

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Jeremiah 48.33

“Joy and gladness are gone from the orchards and fields of Moab. I [the Lord] have stopped the
flow of wine from their presses; no one treads them with shouts of joy. Although there are
shouts, they are not shouts of joy.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Some still want to talk about living the American dream with inalienable rights. The dream of self-determination as well as the pursuit of happiness ring somewhere in the background of more than just Americans. While self-determination is a standard of living to which we all ought to attain, I wonder if the general understanding of happiness is all it’s cracked up to be. I know there are many layers of understanding concerning the idea of happiness. We all certainly would like to be happy and especially in the holiday season we tend to find happiness as elusive as that glimpse of reindeer pawing on our rooftops with Rudolf in the lead. Depression seems more apparent than happiness as you drive passed the homeless on street corners, hunkered under bridges and lined up at shelters. There are countless other examples of this disparity such as the numerous advertisements for hotlines and help lines. How many people in this city, country and world will not even feel a Christmas joy?

Could it be that so many, like those in ancient Moab, no longer can shout for joy? Their aim was set on happiness and the trajectory fell short of that. Consider that the two sides of the coin of happiness are “contentment” and “dependency.” Many are content with their place in life. It isn’t about being rich or poor, powerful or weak, a resident of the most prosperous nation in the world or invisible in the poorest that defines contentment. There is a general satisfaction with what one has and a lack of concern for the need of anything else. Those who are happy in this sense sound much like Goldilocks who has found “just right” to be comfortable and restful. As God’s mighty men we should be content. Paul taught, “In whatever place I am in I have learned to be content.” But, this contentment is based not on anything of this world except for Jesus Christ. With Christ in our lives, faith teaches that we need nothing else. Those who know and have Christ are happy; or should be!

But, that leads to a brief investigation of the other side of the coin- dependency. Even as Christ followers, we are dependent on the gospel witness to keep us firmly anchored in being content. Without Christ there is no hope. Without Christ there is no peace. Without Christ we are left to our own resources to survive in this world. Our lives are not independent from the world if we do not have Christ. We become very dependent on the world for our survival and therefore for our happiness. Does that make us happy? No, because circumstances in life do not always match up with who, what and where many want to be; that includes Christ followers who are stumbling. But, we want to be happy. Mighty men of God know they are dependent on God who through Christ provides security and daily bread for our lives. Yet, they also know they are independent to chose their walk of faith as to with whom, when and where they share that faith. What must remain consistent is the “why.” The “why” declares our independence from things of this world apart from the Christ who in Jesus modeled the way, the truth and the life of happiness and more.

It is that “more” that is our JOY! Joy is the declaration of faith that I have received what I did not earn nor deserve. It isn’t dependent on anything save for grace, mercy and the blessing of God’s boundless love. Joy is not tied to anything this world can manufacture nor is it tied to any industry of the past whether it is corporate or personal. Joy is the voice of the angels who know without question that God is good and true goodness is God. Joy is nothing in the past or present. Joy is always future tense. When the angels sang to the shepherd “Joy to the world,” it was an overwhelming understanding of what was in store for those who would receive the gift of God which was Christ the Lord. They already knew what was in store for the believers! They already knew what would be for those mighty men and women of God! While they are content to be dependent on God they knew they are still free to choose another way as many of their own had done aeons before. But, they have made the choice to be one with God joyfully living out the day of the Lord forever.

Mighty men of God must not be happily content with the things of this world. Nor must they allow their happiness to be so dependent on the state of the world. Instead, God’s mighty men must be filled with joy that surpasses peace, hope and happiness in this world and embraces the best which is here in part and soon will be fully known. Don’t settle for less when you know what is the best gift of Christmas you can share!

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who are leading God’s people in worship, service and praise in this advent season
* For those who are barely even surviving without hope and peace; those who have lost their
joy voice or have never even found one
* For those who will discover a renewed meaning of Christmas as celebrating the fullness of
new life through the gift of a child
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of God-
centered obedience
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the revealing of the job God has for Lisa and the house He desires to become
our home as we will be working in Waco ministering to His people there

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the answered prayer we receive as we trust in God to provide for our family while waiting
to transition to that place of confidence with a job for Lisa and a house to make a home
* For Richard’s new vocational journey starting Monday, December 14

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Thank you, Father, for giving us our joy voice and the opportunity to use it to magnify Your desire of fulfilling our hopes and giving us peace in Christ Jesus. AMEN.

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