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Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

What Can I Give Him?

“What can I give Him,

Poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd

I would bring a lamb,

If I were a wise man

I would do my part.

Yet what can I give Him?

Give my heart.”

–Christina Rossetti

In my former church we sang this poem/song every Christmas.  It asks a great question.  At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus and give each other gifts.  It is only reasonable to consider what we might give Jesus for His birthday.

nativity ornament

He has given us some solid clues.  I will describe four of them in this post and four more in my next post.

I think Jesus would be so grateful for these gifts (more…)

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I will never forget the first time my mother came to visit after Steve and I were married.

My mother was an impeccable housekeeper.  I am not.  Everything in her home was clean, neat and in it’s place.  That might have been true in our home right after we moved in, but not since.

So I went into a frenzy trying to restore order, hide messes and clean every inch.  When she arrived I was exhausted.

At this season of Advent we anticipate the arrival of Jesus, the Lamb of God, the King of Glory.

And yet most of us scurry about getting ready for the coming of Christmas, not the coming of Christ.

Just think of it!

Jesus came to earth to be like us so we can be like Him.

Jesus came to visit us to tell us how much He loves us.

Jesus came into the darkness to shine as the light.

Jesus came walking on water, subduing the storms of our lives.

And so much more.

Every day during Advent I will post a very brief reminder of the gift to us that His coming is.

I will also be taking part in an Advent Blog Hop Series, based on Deeply Loved:  40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of Jesus by Keri Wyatt Kent.  It is hosted by Angie Mabry-Nauta.

I would also recommend you look at Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent, a “lovely, thoughtful book” by Enuma Okoro.

Most of all, I invite you to welcome Jesus into your heart and life, letting His coming be the center of your Christmas season.

And you don’t have to clean up the house—or your life—first.  He comes to you as you are.

What about you?  How has Jesus come to you lately.

C2012 Judy Douglass

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Please welcome Redbud Writer Karen Yates to Kindling.  I think you will like what she has to say.

I ran away for the first time when I was five years old.  I packed a little purse of a few stuffed animals and made it as far as the house two doors down, the home of my friends Ericka and Laura.  Their mother called my mother.  Running away morphed into a glorified playdate, complete with dress up, giggles, and a sugary treat.

When my mom picked me up, the only reminder of my running away was FeeFee, my stuffed hippo, stashed away in a little handbag.  And my parents that night, telling me how much they would have missed me while I was gone.

Truth is, I have always been a runner.  As I matured, running turned into ‘pulling back,’ which sounded more reasonable, but was of the same genre.   Bottom line is, when it gets too close, too scary, too overwhelming, I collapse in, pull back, withdraw, or run.

I take comfort in knowing that, no matter how much I run, how much I pull back, my Heavenly Father is there.  I simply cannot run from Him because I am in Him and He is in me.  He is with me when I am grounded, and He’s with me when I’m afraid: “Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139: 7-10).

There is no running from Him because I have been grafted in—I’m a co-heir—I’m a member of His Body: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15: 4a, 5).  Is there anywhere I, the branch, can go, even if I’m withered from worry and fear, even if I try to escape, that is not connected to the Vine?  No! We are attached—He and I.

This realization that I am connected to a Source that never runs dry, to a river that reaches every secret hiding spot of my flesh and sin, brings great comfort.  And overwhelming joy.  Perhaps the bigness of God, the fact He is with me everywhere, should make me afraid.  But in actuality, I genuinely and sincerely do not want to be alone.  I crave His comfort.  I long for His peace to rush into me.  I desire intimacy and community and confidence.

One of my favorite books is Hudson Taylor’s biography, “Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret.”  In it he describes the joy of realizing his true identity in the Vine.

  . . . It is a wonderful thing to be really one with a risen and exalted Savior, to be a member of Christ! Think what it involves. Can Christ be rich and I poor? Can your right hand be rich and your left poor? Or your head be well fed while your body starves?

The sweetest part, . . . is the rest which full identification with Christ brings. I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this; for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest position He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult His grace is sufficient. .. His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me.

Are you a runner too?  Do you find you pull back in times of fear, worry, or pressure?  What can you do to remember that you are connected to the True Vine? 

Karen Yates lives in Orange County, CA and is a partial homeschooling mother of 3 children. With a BA in English from Westmont College, Karen has worked for 12 years in the Christian non-profit sector, is an adoption advocate, blogger, and member of the Redbud Writers Guild. She blogs at www.KarenEYates.com and tweets: @KarenYates11.

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Texans are often characterized as independent, strong, loners.

Maybe that’s where I got it—growing up in Texas.  Or maybe God just put it in me.  I like to be independent.  I love to be by myself—even for weeks.  I have always had to deal with wanting my own way.

But God has refused to let me live in my independence.

He has repeatedly clarified for me that I cannot do anything all by myself.  He has created me for community and he has amplified the holes in my life so that I will be forced to let others in to fill in those many gaps.

I am so grateful for those he has put me in community with.  Here are just a few and some of the life lessons I have learned:

My family:  Steve believes the best of others—and especially me—all the time.  He always tells me I can do it—whatever it is.  Debbie loves what is right and has often called me on less than stellar behavior.  Michelle has helped me to enjoy the journey and appreciate the process.  And Josh has revealed to me God’s unconditional love, that He never gives up on me and that He loves to meet with me on my knees.

Some very close friends:  Susan floods my mind with her ideas and holds me accountable when I get too independent.  Jan has walked and worked by my side for many years, loving me and my children amazingly well.  Tricia has listened and encouraged and prayed through dark times.  Dayle has reminded me to laugh even when life hurts.  And many others…

Special mentors:  I had the privilege of working with and observing Bill Bright for 39 years.  He lived out  real faith and great compassion and a passion for excellence.  Vonette Bright has demonstrated such faithfulness and astounding energy.  In so many ways God has used them to transform me.

The staff of Women’s Resources:  They have been amazing servants and helpers and prayer warriors.  But most of all they have owned the vision to help every staff women be and do all God has for her—and have pursued that best contribution in their specific arenas.

Our mission’s Executive Team and Area Team Leaders’ wives:  These women have broadened my understanding, given me global eyes, stretched my faith, become my friends.

My prayer teams:  These warriors have held me up, interceded, encouraged, advised.  They have been faithful partners in my life and ministry.

And I’ve only just begun.  There are so many more on the job, in my church, next door, around the world.  Can I live just “me and God”?  If necessary, of course.  But God has put us in community, in His body, needing each other in so many ways.  He wants us to lean on and learn from and walk with others.

Yes, He is the source of all I need for life, godliness, ministry.  But most often His Spirit is poured out into our lives, filling our gaps, by the sisters and brothers God calls us to live among.

What about you?  Who’s in your community?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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I should have known it would happen.  It almost always does.

The problem with writing and speaking and teaching is that God seems to want to check me out:  Do I really believe this?  Do I live this way?

So last week I wrote about “What I Do When Someone Hurts Me.”

And Sunday night my husband and I taught at church on unselfishness and humility in relationships.

So why am I surprised that today I got to live them both out together?  I suppose I should be grateful He combined them into one opportunity for me to know if I am being authentic—walking my talking.

Someone who matters to me hurt me yesterday.  Today I went through all five of my actions to take when I am hurt.  One by one:

1.  I told God my real feelings about it all.  No holding back.  Raw emotion.

2.  I thanked Him–by faith–that He was in this situation.

3.  I looked for some glimpses of good, and I actually found some—at least the potential for good.

4.  I forgave the person who hurt me.  Not hard to do.

5.  I spoke blessings over this loved one.  Also not hard.

Then I realized that I—in my selfishness, my holding on, my grasping—was part of the problem.  I needed to humble myself, ask forgiveness and open my hand to the Lord, so He could give or take as He chooses.    So I did, rather reluctantly.

All okay now?  No. Not yet.  But better.  It is a process, a journey.  Tears return.  God has tissues.  The open hand already wants to hold on tight.  God’s grace entreats me to  let go of my rights, my desires, my needs—and trust Him.

People say I’m known for my realness.

I guess God wants to hold me to that.

What about you?  Has someone hurt you?  Are you holding on to that hurt?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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In the past two weeks I have been where natural disasters have caused havoc, pain, loss.

In Thailand, the floods continue to make their way to the ocean, covering about three kilometers a day.  In the months of October and November, about one-third of the nation will have been covered in water.  In low-lying places it is taking about a month for the water to clear.

In Bangkok, expressways are lined with cars, parked on the shoulder, to protect them from the still coming flood.  A normal 25-minute trip in Bangkok took us 2 ½ hours because of massive traffic jams due to closed, flooded roads.

I spent a morning with some Thai believers.  Their worship was powerful and beautiful.  Then they shared about losing their homes, or cars, or possessions in the floods.  Of course, there is no insurance.

Then they cooked and packaged food before heading out in rubber boats to serve those living in flooded areas.  They provided food, water, other supplies.  They helped to move furniture to upper stories.  All in their I-Serve t-shirts.

You can watch a powerful video about the floods and the I-Serve teams here.

In Turkey, earthquakes have brought death and destruction to Van in the eastern part of the country.  More than 600 people have died from the back-to-back quakes.  A heavy snowstorm has hampered rescue efforts and created great hardship for the many whose homes have been destroyed.

Once again, God’s children respond.  They have lost their own homes and their place of work.  But their worship place is still standing, with a generator providing electricity.  Day after day they are cooking and feeding those with nothing.  They provide shelter and warmth—and love.

Sometimes it will be great, natural disasters—a flood, an earthquake, a hurricane, a tornado.  Other times it will be an isolated loss—a fire, an accident, an attack.  And so much in between.

Usually many will come to help.  First among them should be God’s children.  Motivated by the love of Christ, urged on by the compassion and comfort He has shown us, we reach out to those in need.  May it always be.

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