Tuesday, November 29, 2011

No Room Within

            Most of us are familiar with the Christmas story and how Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem.  As you may recall, they were traveling to register because Caesar Augustus had issued a decree that everyone travel to their home town for the census.  A very pregnant Mary traveled with her husband, Joseph and arrived just in time for nightfall.  Here’s where the story gets interesting.  Joseph tries to check in at the hotel but there is no room at the inn.  Those famous words have been repeated for centuries as the Christmas story has been told and retold; and those are the words I want to focus on today.
            No room at the inn!  Now that is interesting.  Think of all the pomp and circumstance that a King or Queen receive.  Even here in America where we do not have monarchs that rule, we understand that they are to be celebrated.  All of us remember Princess Diana and how much she filled our news, and she was only ex-royalty.  Oh we know how to treat “important” people.  How about our president, I doubt that he goes too many places without an entourage of people to escort him.  These people are special, we celebrate them, protect them, cherish them.  If President Obama was coming to the little town of LaMoille, imagine the preparation we would do.  Room at the inn, shoot we might even build a new high class hotel to house him and “his people.”  A few years ago, the children of our church were working had on their play for Christmas.  It was called, “A King is Coming” and took place in the little town of Rumors Mill.  In the story, the people in town catch wind of the news that a king is coming and the town is set to work preparing for this important visitor. 
            Israel knew that a king was coming.  They should have been ready to welcome him, celebrate him, cherish him.  They should have been waiting like a child for Christmas morning, in eager expectation for His coming, but that is not at all what happened.  There were no preparations made, no celebrations, and no news reports.  In fact, most of them missed it.  A tiny baby wasn’t what they expected.  They were looking for someone with more power and certainly someone more majestic than a baby.  You know, a real king.  Most of Israel slept right through the coming of the Christ child.  Not only was there no room at the inn but there was no room in all of busy Bethlehem, save for a lowly stable.  Few people even took notice.  Perhaps the Inn Keeper muttered a “congratulations” to the new parents but no one called the mayor.  There was not a rush of visitors to the stable only a few shepherds. There is Casting Crowns song that puts it this way, “O little town of Bethlehem, looks like another silent night.  Above your deep and dreamless sleep a giant star lights up the sky.  While you’re lying in the dark, there shines an everlasting light, for the King has left His throne and is sleeping in a manger tonight…O Bethlehem, what you have missed while you were sleeping.  For God became a man and stepped into your world today.  O Bethlehem, you will go down in history as a city with no room for its King…” 
            Wow, they missed it big time.  Good thing we aren’t like them, right?  Or are we?  This question is two fold.  First let’s look at this Christmas season.  The time has come once again to celebrate the birth of our Savior.  How much time have we spent celebrating that?  Have we been too busy buying gifts, decorating, baking, etc. to stop and celebrate this King?  Has Jesus come only to find that there is “No room Within?” 
           Now the second part of the question focuses on the promise that this very same Savior will come again.  Like Israel, we have read the prophesies.  We know that this same King is coming again.  The truth has been told and retold for generations.  We should be waiting in hopeful expectation for His return.  But are we ready?  When He comes will He find that we still have no room within?  The final verse to the Casting Crowns song goes like this, “United States of America, looks like another silent night.  As we’re sound asleep by philosophies of save the trees and kill the children.  While we’re lying in the dark there’s a shout heard across the eastern skies.  For the Bridegroom has returned and He’s carried his bride away in the night…America what will we miss while we are sleeping?  Will Jesus come again and leave us slumbering where we lay?  America, will we go down in history as a nation with no room for its King?” 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


As I took a walk this morning I was struck by an encouraging thought.  It occurred to me how incredible consistent the Lord is.  Every morning the sun is there to greet us and each evening the moon lulls us to sleep.  Every spring the grass greens up and the flowers start budding.  Summer always brings warmth and beauty from the ashes of winter. God is a faithful father, a consistent and reliable father.  Oh how I long to be that kind of parent to my children.  To say what I mean and mean what I say, to never break a promise or fail to be consistent in anyway.  Lord that is my prayer today.  Please help me to be consistent with my children so that they know what to expect from me.
            I wonder if that is why we get complacent.  Is it because we just expect the sun to rise? What if we woke up one morning and the sun didn’t rise??  What if spring never came to chase winter away?  I bet it wouldn’t take us long to begin grumbling and questioning God.  Why is it we often only notice the blessings when they are gone?  Maybe that is why sometimes things don’t go as WE plan.  How many of us have heard the stories of how a near death experience awoke someone to the everyday blessings in their lives.  How that kept them from taking these things for granted. But is it that God has failed to be consistent when someone gets sick or passes away too soon from this earth?  No, God never promised that life would be fair or that there would be smooth sailing.  He only promises to comfort those who mourn, to love us unconditionally, and to never give up on us.  And of course He sent His one and only son to bring us the promise of an everlasting life, should we choose to accept.
          As we head into this Thanksgiving season, will you join me in thanking God for the things we might have been taking for granted?  


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Watch Your Words

Have you ever noticed how quick people are to speak and how slow they are to listen?  I even find myself doing this all the time with my kids.  They start to tell me something and I interrupt to "correct" their thinking, without ever really listening to what they had to say, or to see if their thinking even needed correcting.  Maybe it comes from thinking I am wiser than them and I have some sort of need to share that wisdom, but the truth is a truly wise person rarely speaks!  The book of Proverbs is full of verses that tell us things like, "Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues." (Proverbs 17:28) and "The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, but a fool's heart blurts out folly."  Proverbs 12:23 Ouch!

Recently, my husband and I have been on the other side of the advice cart.  We have been receiving loads of advice, and honestly, most of it is not helpful.  You see, we are expecting another child.  Not in the traditional sense, as I am not pregnant, but a sibling to my niece and nephew (whom are in our custody) is about to be born and we have been asked to consider taking the child in.  For us, this means child number 7, and I know that it seems crazy to even think about.  My husband and I are not rich. He is a pastor and I am an unemployed teacher.  However, we live in a house that is overflowing with love and acceptance, and isn't that what children really need?  We have sat down and talked as a family, we have prayed about the decision before us, and then we made it.  From the outside looking in, it may not seem like a wise decision. 

What I am learning is that there is a difference between wise words and helpful words.  There are a lot of well meaning people who say things like, "You guys have no business taking in another child." and "There are plenty of other foster homes this baby could go to."  And in truth, there is some wisdom in their words.  However, their words are not helpful.   The decision has been made.  On the other hand do you know how many offers I have had for someone to come help with laundry or cooking or cleaning or any other type of support we might need?  There have been some, but I can count them on one hand.

I am not saying all of these things to make anyone feel bad, but I am hoping to wake all of us up, me included.  We can see a situation from the outside and think we have all the answers, but the truth is, unless we know all of the details, we probably don't have all of the answers.  I was the best parent in the world BEFORE I actually had kids!  Now, I have more questions than answers! 

I have a friend who has been going through some life changes due to circumstances beyond her control.  She lost her job and has decided, to return to school and get a degree in a different area.  She recently shared with me some of the hurtful comments people have made to her regarding her decision.  Now I bet if we asked those people, they would be surprised to hear that their words caused her pain.  The intent of their words was to help but the effect of their words was pain.

The truth is your words are either a blessing or a curse...they cannot be both.  They either bring life, or they bring death.  So the next time you go to speak, stop and think about what effect your words are going to have.  God gave us 2 ears and only 1 mouth!

In the wise words of James (1:19) "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak..."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What Would Matter to Your Son

I woke up this morning
overwhelmed by all that needed done.
Then this thought crossed my mind,
“What would matter to Your son?”

If the halls are neatly vacuumed
the laundry - not piled high.
If dinner is served right on time
and the dishes are clean and dry?

Is that what really matters
on Your scale of one to ten?
Am I serving God
or am I serving men?

So, I need to focus
on the people in my life
and serving You completely
 to be a better mom and wife.

When I stand before you,
when all my days are done
What will I have accomplished
that mattered to Your son?