What Will People Think?

When Jesus came to John the Baptist to be baptized, John’s initial reaction  was to protest. He did not feel worthy to even unties Jesus’ sandals. (Mark 1:7) How did it look to have the sinless Lamb of God slosh in the same river where sinners had been immersed? What would people think?

It did not matter to Jesus; obeying His Father is all that mattered. What was God’s response? He smiled! Mark 1.1 That approval set the tone for Jesus’ ministry that was centered on pleasing the Father. John 8:29 “The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”

Being a committed follower of Jesus will not make you popular. How will your obedience look to others? It’s okay to turn heads – as long as we make God smile.

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What’s Ahead?

Like most men, I love cars. And cars, like people, are all different. Some are  flashy sports models while others are family sedans. Some come equipped with automatic transmissions and others may come equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission. Two door – Four doors. Convertible – hardtop. A lot of variety

A lot of variety but there is one similarity that they all share;  they have a windshield and a rear-view mirror. The windshield by design is rather large in comparison to the rear-view mirror. Obviously, it’s more important see where you are going than where you have been. While looking back occasionally does have a purpose, looking forward should be where are our main focus is.

It is so sad to see people living in the past. They cannot overcome how they have been hurt or how they have failed but constantly looking back hinders our forward progress. The Apostle Paul wisely said, “ Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,…” Philippians 3:12. Good advice as we come to the end of another year.

“Your most important work is always ahead of you, never behind you.” Stephen Covey.

Lights of Christmas

Every year my wife and I take our camper and spend Christmas week on James Island State Park (Charleston, SC) to see The Festival of Lights. The displays are quite awesome; miles and miles of beautiful lights. To see ALL the lights, you need to drive through, along with hundreds of other people.

But there is one section that is designed to enjoy the lights at a leisurely walk. During our walk, I always stop, watch and listen to one certain display. It is a display that synchronizes music with lights. One of the music selections is Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. My spirit is always lifted when I see and hear this presentation.

This year, I thought of all the glorious lights recorded on Scripture: The light leading Israel out of Egypt, at Jesus’ Transfiguration,  the light that stopped Paul at his conversion and  the Bethlehem Star.

As a child, I was fascinated with pictures of the brilliance of heaven. Shining angels. Saints dressed in glorious white robes. But without question, the greatest Light of all is Jesus Christ.Revelation 21:23

Revelation 21:23 And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. 

Yum or Yuck

We have approximately 9,000 taste buds in our mouths, each with ten to fifteen receptacles that send messages to the brain saying Yuck or Yum. John Harrison, the official taste tester for a major ice cream company, has developed such a sensitive tongue that his taste buds are insured for one million dollars! (I would like his job!)

All of us need a sensitive tongue, which the Bible compares honey and apples. “Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the mind and healing to the body.” Proverbs 16:24. And Proverbs 25:11 adds, “Words spoken at the right time are like gold apples in a silver setting.”

We need to ask God to give us a sensitivity of speech to speak timely words, sensitive to each situation. “…a time to keep silent and a time to speak,…” Ecclesiastes 3:7 God-honoring speech comes only from a heart that honors God.

Christmas Fears

There are a lot of emotions experienced at Christmas: excitement, depression, even anger but on that first Christmas the predominant emotion was fear. It surprised me how many people experienced fear on the most glorious event in all of history!

Mary experienced fear at the angel’s announcement that she, a virgin, would conceive! In our culture, an unwed pregnant teen is not a real “big” deal but in Mary’s world, it could be the reason for execution.

Joseph  too experienced fear at the news, that his espoused wife would have a child. What would people think? What would this do to his reputation? 

Herod was alarmed at the news of a new-born king. He was afraid he would lose his power. 

Shepherds trembled at the presence of heavenly beings.  Angels are not soft, fluffy, winged beings, but majestic beings surrounded by the glory of God. 

But what are the fears people experience this Christmas?

  • Fear that they can’t find “the” gift that their grandson wants.
  • Fear that the money runs out before all the gifts is bought.
  • Fear that the kids won’t be able to make it home. 

Friends do not allow the pressure of the holiday cause you to fear. Jesus came to earth that we might experience hope, peace, and joy.

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”              Roy L. Smith

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 I just watched one of my favorite movies; Shadowlands. It’s the story of  C.S. Lewis, one of the greatest Christian authors. [C.S. Lewis is played by Anthony Hopkins, who gives one of his best performances.]  Allow me to share how Lewis faced the  prospect his wife’s struggle with cancer.

At one point his wife started to get better. His minister commented that God was answering his prayers. Lewis replied, “That is not why I pray. I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I am helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.

Your Storm

Peter was a risk-taker. When Jesus asked him to walk on water. he stepped out of his boat and his faith was rewarded; he actually walked on water! He was on his way to becoming a super-disciple! The hardest part was behind him; getting out of the boat. Right? Then reality set in. He suddenly realized just how bad the storm was and he began to sink. Matthew 14:30

The same thing happens to us. We begin a new job, start a new relationship, go to college, or begin a family. In the beginning we are filled with hope and excitement; then the reality sets in. We see the wind: Our plans go wrong. People we were counting on let us down. Unexpected conflicts arise. Now, what do you do?

People usually respond to serious problems in one of two ways:

  1. Many simply are defeated by their circumstances
  2. Some choose to face the situation and overcome.

I see two life-lessons in this story that will benefit us all.

  • Storms have a way of teaching us when nothing else can.
  • Sooner or later, you have to turn and face the situation. Sooner or later, you have to run to God.