Favorite 2016 Posts

Poetry Saturday—Prologue

the-empire-striketh-backO, ’tis for the Rebellion a dark time.
For those they have the death Star all destroy’d,
Imperi’l troops did from the ashes climb
And push the rebels closer to the void.
Across the galaxy pursu’d with speed,
The rebels flee th’Imperi’l Starfleet vast.
A group with Luke Skywalker in the lead
Hath to the ice world known as Hoth flown fast.
Meanwhile, the cruel Darth Vader is obsess’d
With finding young Skywalker. Thus he hath
Through ev’ry point of space begun his quest
By sending robot probes to aid his wrath.
In time so long ago begins our play,
In war-torn galaxy far, far away. —Ian Doescher

For Christmas I received the innovative The Empire Striketh Back—Star Wars Part The Fifth by Ian Doescher, in which the entire movie is retold as William Shakespeare would have told it. For both Star Wars and Shakespeare aficionados, a delightful read!

It’s fun to read the Lucas version and the Doescher version of the Prologue side-by-side, so check out the film version here…

Thursdays With Oswald—Living In The Now

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Living In The Now

     Jesus did not use figurative language in talking about the Hereafter. He said: “Let not your heart be troubled”—“My Business is with the Hereafter.” Our business is to live a godly life in the present order of things, and not to push out beyond the durations God has placed as limits. … 

     I have no power to choose whether or not I will take the consequences of my choice; no power to say whether or not I will be born…but I have power to choose which way I will use the times as they come. … 

     Jesus Christ taught a reasonable life on the basis of faith in God—“Be carefully careless about everything saving your relationship to Me. Don’t be disturbed today by thoughts about tomorrow, leave tomorrow alone, and bank in confidence on God’s organization of what you do not see. Yesterday is past, there is no road back to it, tomorrow is not; live in the immediate present, and yours is the life of a child.” … 

     Jesus Christ deliberately chose “the long, long trail”; we choose “the short cut,” and continually go wrong until we understand the meaning of the 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is my Shepherd, He leads me in the right paths.” 

From Shade Of His Hand

In Shade Of His Hand, Oswald Chambers is taking an in-depth look at the book of Ecclesiastes. In chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes, Solomon says there is a time for everything.

Chambers reminds us that we don’t choose the time we will be born, and we don’t choose the time we will die—God alone chooses those. But everything between birth and death is our choice. Jesus taught us that our choices and our level of joy in the moment will be much better if we seek God’s wisdom for all of those choices we make.

5 Quotes For The New Year

cto-low-expectations“God, forgive us for expectations of You that are too low.” —Craig T. Owens

“I am the God of unlimited creativity; expect Me to do surprising things in this year that stretches out before you.” —Jesus (from Sarah Young’s Jesus Always)

“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.” —Benjamin Franklin

“Of all persons the Christian should be best prepared for whatever the New Year brings. He has dealt with life at its source. In Christ he has disposed of a thousand enemies that other men must face alone and unprepared. He can face his tomorrow cheerful and unafraid because yesterday he turned his feet into the ways of peace and today he lives in God. The man who has made God his dwelling place will always have a safe habitation.” —A.W. Tozer

“Real peace is knowing that no matter what I do, God will never stop loving me. Real peace is knowing that no matter what happens, God will never leave me alone. He’ll always be with me. Real peace means that no matter what happens in the New Year, or in the years to come, I know that God is going to give me the strength to handle it. Real peace is living by God’s Word, the Bible, so I can avoid a lot of the needless hang-ups and hurts and habits that mess up my life.” —Rick Warren, in On This Holy Night

Book Reviews From 2016

We Should Be Better Christians

clouds-and-water“We should be better Christians if we were more alone; we should do more if we attempted less, and spent more time in retirement, and quiet waiting upon God.

“The world is too much with us; we are afflicted with the idea that we are doing nothing unless we are fussily running to and fro; we do not believe in ‘the calm retreat, the silent shade.’ As a people, we are of a very practical turn of mind; ‘we believe,’ as someone has said, ‘in having all our irons in the fire, and consider the time not spent between the anvil and the fire as lost, or much the same as lost.’

Yet no time is more profitably spent than that which is set apart for quiet musing, for talking with God, for looking up to Heaven. We cannot have too many of these open spaces in life, hours in which the soul is left accessible to any sweet thought or influence it may please God to send.” —Lettie Cowman

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

john-14-1That first Christmas was supposedly a silent night and a holy night. Maybe there was some singing angels involved, but at least their message was about “peace on earth.”

Sometimes that idea of “peace” at Christmas time can make us feel like hypocrites. Sometimes it seems as if there is more turmoil than peace, and more ill-will than goodwill.

Even Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem called I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day starts out in celebration, but then shifts to the dark words, “And in despair I bowed my head: ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said, ‘for hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men.’”

If you have had a hard time finding peace this Christmas, this short message will bring you hope and encouragement, so that you can truly say, “Merry Christmas!”

Poetry Saturday—The Christmas Wish

purple-christmas-treeA Christmas wish is special,
It is full of heart and warmth,
Especially if you share it
With God and Jesus in your heart.

So go and tell about Him,
For He was born on Christmas day,
To teach each and everyone one of us
How to live the Christ-like way.

So when you’re carving Christmas ham
With all the trimmings and the pies,
Please hold out your hands
And thank the Lord up high.

So when someone asks me
What will my Christmas wish be,
I just look up and tell them
That I have the Christmas wish in me… Jesus! —Billie Jean Watkins

**Billie became a Christian in October 2004, and wrote this poem as she got ready to celebrate Christmas for the first time as a Christian.

An Angel’s Story (book review)

an-angels-storyReader’s of my blog will know that I seldom read fiction books, but Max Lucado tricked me into reading this one! I read the introduction to An Angel’s Story and thought, “Wow, this is going to be an interesting take on the Christmas story,” and I began reading. But before I realized I was reading a fictional account, I was hooked and had to keep on reading.

I’m so glad I did! 

We often think of the night of Christ’s birth being—as the Christmas carols tell us—a silent night of wonder, a holy night of rejoicing, a festive night of an angel choir singing in the skies above Bethlehem. Indeed this is the picture we get in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

However, the book of Revelation tells a different story.

In Revelation, we see the lengths to which the devil and his hoard went to prevent the Advent of Jesus. And we also read about the angels who remain loyal to God battling against the dark forces in the heavens. Max Lucado imagines what this might of have looked like in the unseen spiritual world around Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.

If you’ve ever read anything from Max Lucado, you know that he is a first-class storyteller, and An Angel’s Story is no exception. Believe me: this book will grab your attention, keep you riveted until the very end, and give you a perspective of the night of Christ’s birth like you’ve probably never seen before. 

I highly recommend this book to you!

Thursdays With Oswald—Cynical Or Satisfied

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Cynical Or Satisfied

     It is no use trying to find true joy in being either a fool or a wise man. Solomon drives us back every time to the one thing, that a man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him for ever. … 

     The only way we can enjoy our “tree of life” is by fulfilling the purpose of our creation. Jesus Christ prayed “that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.” The thing that kept Jesus Christ all through was not that He held aloof from actual things, but that He had a kingdom within. … Our Lord’s whole life was rooted and grounded in God, consequently He was never wearied or cynical. 

From Shade Of His Hand

In this book, Oswald Chambers is commenting on Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes. Solomon tried everything he could think of to try to make sense of life and to try to find lasting joy. But everything he tried left him flat.

That’s because we weren’t created to find ultimate fulfillment or purpose in the things of earth, but to find purpose, joy and contentment in a personal relationship to our Creator. Jesus lived His life on earth as a blazing example of a what a joy-filled, purpose-centered, God-glorifying life looks like. The wonder of the Incarnation is that He shows us the kind of eternal life we were meant to have.

So here’s the choice Solomon presents to us: Try to find fulfillment under the sun and end up cynical, or find fulfillment in the Son of God and know truly satisfying, eternal joy. Which will you choose this Advent season?

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