With the new, fresh start of a year, a lot of attention is given to change. Sure, some changes might be easy, like some smaller, trivial ones, but honestly, most changes are hard. There are some changes I've been working on for years [sigh]. The best environment for change, I believe, is when we have a partner, a strengthening help, a powerful support for the whole change process.
Last week our family experienced a great candlelight Christmas show with an amazing orchestra and choir. Almost unbelievable, all the music was about Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas . . . freely performed in an open public amphitheater with many thousands of people and passers-by hearing it all! Christine and I commented on how prominent Jesus was in that production, so refreshingly unusual for an open-air, public atmosphere like that. Amazing on so many levels.
What's not to love about gifts? I'll say it if you won't, "I love getting gifts!!" I know, I know . . . it is more blessed to give than to receive. What the Bible teaches us on that is SO true. I've seen and experienced that truth over and over again. But no one can deny the joy, the excitement, the smile that comes from getting a sweet gift.
This song has gotten a lot of loud airplay in our home . . . both parents & kids loving it:
So much of life feels like it's in process and incomplete. That can make us restless, unsettled, frustrated with ourselves, others, circumstances . . . even with God. We long for rest, finished work, and a sense of completion. I know I do. Christine and I often process together the perseverance required with so many life areas requiring work and re-work.
I've been paying a lot of attention to my heart, and I long for all of us to be on that same journey. This is such unnatural work for us humans, but God will keep you in this and not let you go if you dare give Him access. Something I read last week in John Eldredge's Waking the Dead urges us about our hearts:
Last week Christine's mom sent me a quote by Max Lucado that has since surfaced several times. It addresses our perspective on the pain, difficulties, and hard times we face. As an author and pastor, Max found himself offering these words to others as he learned of their personal painful experiences:
Make a power move. Push it through. Muscle it. Brute force. Take Control. You're stronger. You're better. It's surprisingly easy to jot down a bunch of statements we regularly hear about believing in yourself and your own strength. That message is mainstream.
Every year the start of September has the feel of beginning a new chapter, like an important page is turning. Perhaps similar in ways to that new year feeling in January. Time for changes. A new lease on life. A restart.
Maybe it's because of our church name, but I feel like I'm always on the lookout for a great explanation or definition of hope. Last week I read an especially good description of hope, written as if Jesus is explaining it for us in His own words, first person: