Crossing the Bridge of No Return

Crossing the Rubicon
In January of 49 BC, Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon river.
That doesn’t seem to be a bad thing at all…except that he crossed this little river with his devout band of the 13th legion with him. There were strict rules about disbanding army’s before entering Italy and its capital Rome. To enter this way was viewed as an act of treason. It is recorded however accurate it may be, that Julius Caesar uttered the words “alea iacta est” upon crossing the river with his troops. “The die is cast”.

It was the bridge of no return.
This would start a civil war, which would forever change the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.

Do we as leaders come to bridges of no return?
Do we make decisions that will forever change the landscape of our ministries, our families and the lives of others, including our own? Sure, we may not have the 13th legion by our side, but we have many who follow us.

The troops who did not disband and instead followed Julius Caesar into Rome did so knowing that if they were stopped their fate would be execution.

The weight of leadership is great at times.
How often do we give thought to those we lead and the impact our decisions will be upon them? Perhaps a time or two we have made decisions flippantly and without forethought and the consequence of such a decision has led to low moral or even the loss of team members. The burden of leadership is, at times, a heavy thing to carry.


Titanic Mistakes…
Bruce Ismay was the chairman of the White Starline company that was responsible for the building of the Titanic luxury cruise ship. The Titanic was to be the ultimate ship upon the seas and would be admired by all. One crucial misstep on July 12 1908 moved Ismay and the White Starline across that metaphorical bridge of no return. In an effort to make the Titanic as grandiose as possible, Ismay had the designers make the grand staircase larger. This one design change effected the entire structure of this monumental ship. Because of this adjustment, the bulkheads of the Titanic we lowered which made the flooding compartments lower and the ship was not as stable as it should have been. Also in order to reduce some expenses Ismay decided against “cluttering the deck” with 28 extra life boats on the main areas unless current old regulations demanded they do so…which they did not.

Thus the Titanic was commissioned with 28 missing lifeboats. If that were not enough, the demand of riveters and steel rivets were in high demand and would take more time to install. Since the Titanic’s commission was on a time schedule and in an effort to speed up the process some iron rivets were used instead of steel rivets. Iron is weaker than steel and so some bow plates contained the weaker iron rivets. This decision, coupled with the other decisions made that day in July 12th 1908 led to the disaster we all know today.

Had Bruce Ismay worked with the builders to consider the structure and safety of the passengers and crew first and foremost, they would have been delayed in delivering the Titanic to the public, but perhaps the Titanic would be known to the world as something positive rather than a Titanic disaster.

Questions:
What kind of mistakes do we as leaders make?
Do we treat some discussions and decisions callously or flippantly?
Is there ever a chance that the power of our authority might go to our heads, causing us to be blind to certain consequences which could lead to titanic disasters?

It is said that hindsight is 20/20…but can certain missteps we make be avoided altogether if we only take the time to hear the consult of others and consider all of the variables? Of course we cannot always fear crossing our rubicons…but it should be sobering at times to feel this mantel of leadership that we carry and to count the costs along the way. You and I have most likely served under leaders who were excellent at this and it has encouraged us to lead in such a way as well. And for every good leader we have worked with, perhaps there is always another no-so-good leader who has galvanized us to never repeat their mistakes.

What sort of rubicon bridge are you facing right now?
How do you plan on weighing all of the variables before deciding which direction to go?
Have you become blinded by your power and authority, or has it humbled you?
Do you see those who follow you as a priority or as mere subordinates that you command?

There is a time and place for making the executive decision, but as leaders we ought to understand when the die is cast and we cannot go back once that decision has been made…so tread carefully and hear the counsel of others as the bridge comes into view.

Something more to ponder today.

References:
Bustin, G (2019). How Leaders Decide. A Timeless Guide to Making Tough Choices. (Chapters 2 & 4 – References to Bruce Ismay and Julius Caesar). Source Books.

The Death of a Fallow Prayer Life…

But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” John 4:14

I was cleaning our kitchen yesterday.
With four children this is almost an everyday occurrence. If not, dishes tend to pile up and creates a chaotic leaning tower of Pisa sort of mess. Anyway, I digress…As I was washing off dishes and putting them into our dishwasher, I looked up at the windowsill and noticed our non-thriving plants. They were all dead. We might make excuses about these dead plants. Perhaps we might say that they are simply dormant in the winter. Or maybe they just needed to be pruned back for the season. A few more excuses come to mind, but in reality these plants are simply dead. They were once promising green, thriving plants in pots and sun lamps. Many on the cusp of producing some sort of fruit or vegetable. Yet, due to our travel schedule and our lack of green thumbs, they have shriveled up and were husks of their former living selves.

I am reminded that this is a living parable (pun intended)…for myself. I feel as if the Lord teaches us through the world around us – like my plant pots holding dead things in them. Caskets containing death instead of nourished soil of growth. I am drawn to this life lesson. It is something simplistic and yet stark in its reminder to me. For I am sometimes this casket containing death, when I should be a vessel containing life.

Image result for desert land


In my prayer life…
My un-uttered words.

Image result for dried cracked lips male


my parched lips and forgotten promises to God.
My prayer life can look like husks of its former self.
Dried up.
Dehydrated out of lack of spiritual water and nourishment.
Neglected and empty.

How many times have I forgotten to go back to the Living Water?

Image result for dying of thirst

How many times have I gotten so busy in the concerns, fears, transitions and schedules of life that I have simply left my conversations to God to go fallow life I harvested fields? And before I know it, the once rich, dark vibrant soil is now cracked and as dry as bones in a desert. From this neglect enters apathy, harsh words spoken out of frustration and shallow roots.

Have you stood on this fallow ground?
Is this you? I know that I have found my shamed identity here.
what are the conversations that you have neglected with God? He desires to nourish your life again.
He longs to shine on the soul-soil and help you grow once more.

For me?
I am convicted here.
I find myself licking my parched, cracked lips in longing for that Living Water once more. I feel the guilt and shame of leaving Him out of my life…and I must seek Him out again. I must return to His living water and replenish my mind, body, soul.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, create in me a clean heart once more.
Renew in my a right spirit again.
Re-hydrate my broken, crumble soil.
I long to find rest and rejuvenation in you anew.
Re-ignite your passion and compassion in me.
Take away the casket of death and flood my heart with life and love.
Here I am, spark in me the joy of your salvation once again.
Lord, bring your Living Waters once more.

Something more to ponder today.
Be Blessed and thrive not just survive!

“Re-filling The Well.”

The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.” – Mark Twain

To those today questioning your self-worth…you are important and loved.
To the person seeking hope in what seems to be a hopeless dark mass of despair, God’s light will shine and guide you through this.
To the person who has been beaten down by the world, has zero confidence left and wonders if they matter at all – well, guess what – YOU DO!

Why do we need to hear words of encouragement and comfort?
That is probably a dumb question, isn’t it?
We want, no that’s not a strong enough word, we all need a sense of belonging, acceptance, love and knowledge that who and what we do matters.

So let me ask you, when was the last time someone affirmed that in you?
When was the last time you felt that deep warmth of belonging?
I’m not just talking about your workplace or career, I’m talking about every facet of your life. Do you have a well of encouragement from yourself and others to draw from? If not, just like water in a desert, it can evaporate and run dry. We need to constantly draw from this well of assurance and encouragement. That’s why God provides to us companionship and friendship. We cannot go about our lives on our own. We cannot live vicariously through episodes we binge watch on Netflix. We need other humans and their interaction in our lives to help us draw from this well again and again.

This isn’t to say that we become an attention sponge or needy in our attempts to self-congratulate ourselves, but rather we find a healthy medium of friendships that challenge us, drive us forward and offers to us a safe space where we can refill our minds, bodies and souls.

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I am sorry if this sounds like an episode of Dr Phil, but the truth of the matter is far too many of us are running on empty when it comes to deep accountability, encouragement and human connection. We were made for fellowship with God and that of other human beings. We need to be encouraged and to encourage others – thereby refilling that well over and over again. -This is humanity…this is where we live and breathe and where we exist…we may want to dissect ourselves and separate it all out in neat little compartments, but at the end of the day humanity is us and we are humanity.

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Questions:
Who can you encourage today?
What will you say to them? What will you do for them?
How can you brighten someone’s day? It is not something mystical, but what we find when we encourage is that we too are drawing from that well…we too are replenished and renewed. Encouragement, love and a sense of community is infectious and our world needs more of it.

Be encouraged today…“He who began a good work in you will carry it on into completion.” Philippians 1:6

Go and refill the well.
Something more to ponder today.

Advent Pondering #4 – “Peace”.

Do we know peace in our lives?
This is a question that I have often considered, and for that matter do we really know what peace actually is?

When we say “peace” do we mean quiet or rest?
As in, when I get off of work I will put on my pajamas and lay in bed and veg on episodes of Netflix? Is this what peace is, and if so…is that all there is to this so called peace?

Perhaps peace is like this: these moments of respite and quiet are just glimpses or small reflections of true peace on earth. It is like that walk through beautiful lush, green pasture in the spring time that leaves us whispering to ourselves, “this is so peaceful”. This might also happen as we walk on a sandy beach as the waves ebb and flow and come cascading down onto the shoreline in a cadence that settles our hearts and slows our breathing. Or it takes places when we have all of our family under one roof again and after everyone is in bed there is that stillness that settles and we feel content and at peace.

I imagine the birth of Jesus was a visceral affair. A first time Mother, a virgin mother has travel for many miles to a town of Bethlehem for a census. She is very pregnant and about to give birth…there was nothing peaceful about the specific event, and yet following the most humble of births, Mary is recorded to have composed a song. Perhaps this song was crafted years after the event, perhaps right on the spot she forges this prayer that has become forever imbued with we the reader of this holy nativity story. Mary gives glory to a faithful God. It is a whisper of contentedness, a thanksgiving after the pained labor of birth. From the moment God’s redemptive story began to unfold before her eyes at the visit of the Angel, Mary has placed her entire existence into the hands of the Almighty. Here we find Mary, in this moment of exhaustion and post labor delivery singing her praise to a God who never forgets His people.


I imagine Mary’s words spoken…and in between each breath, cadence, and phrase of sentences formed together there is this Shalom peace that binds everything together and in it all contains the love of God wrapped in swaddling cloths asleep in Mary’s arms. It is more than just a peace of walking in a tranquil place. It is more than the sweet exhale of having all of your children under one roof again…it is the very presence of God in our lungs. It is the assurance from the Creator of those precious children. It is the very Artist’s hands who sculpted those pastural scenes coming into our presence and we cannot help but breathe and exhale shalom peace.

Gideon’s Jehovah Shalom Altar…
Gideon built at altar in the place the angel visited him Ophrah. He named that place: Jehovah Shalom. Which essentially means existing peace, or He exists and there is peace.

Is there Jehovah Shalom in your life right now?
Does Jesus exist in your narrative today? Do acknowledge not just the provisions of peace but the provider of that peace…even the small glimpses in our day of peace? The amazing thing is that Jesus is here and now – present with us. His spirit – The Holy Spirit can be the peace that we breathe in and out and the binding of one word upon another in our hearts and lives. Do we know this kind of peace today in our Advent? My prayer is that we all would know the depth and width of that Jehovah Shalom today.

May God richly bless you as you encounter and consider this sacred time in our Christian calendar…but beyond mere observances, may God’s shalom peace be upon you.

Something more to ponder in this Advent season.

One Snowy Night (A Poem)

In the late evening snow
we walked hand in hand
Our foot prints
deep and purposeful
every which way
wandering
from the country lane
and into
pastures blanketed
with white
all of it made
clean, fresh
and whole again.

Our breath made
winter spirits that
danced for seconds
vapored forms weaving its way
upon the descending snow
As the dance ascended
out into the bright
colored sky.

We walked hand clutching hand
careful not to fall
but when we did
we stretched our arms
out as wide as we could go
as if to embrace each falling flake
and then we made
snow angels
and we laughed
unbound,
undone,
unafraid of what tomorrow
could bring
We lived within
that moment.

3rd Sunday of Advent Pondering: Seeking After Eternal ‘Wisdom’…

Perfect goodness can never debate about the end to be attained, and perfect wisdom cannot debate about the means most suited to achieve it.
C.S. Lewis

Oh that’s right, we’re talking about Wise men, not Wise Guys…got it.

I had always envisioned the wise men miraculously showing up just at the nick of time at the nativity of Jesus, but entering just minutes after the shepherds and other townsfolk took their leave.

It didn’t dawn on me as a young man that their journey may have taken them a very long time. Some scholars even suggest that the Magi (aka the Wise men) did not visit Jesus as a new born but rather when He was 2 years of age. Imagine that, devoting your life to the study of the stars only to discover a very, very bright star…or was it something else?

Professor David Hughes in the 1970’s surmised that perhaps the “star” that the Magi saw, wasn’t a star at all, but rather a triple planetary alignment, or ‘triple conjunction‘. This kind of phenomenon only takes place every 900 years or so. This would have been a very alarming event for ancient astronomers such as the Magi to witness. They would have felt compelled to investigate, to seek out and to discover the wonder of such a sign.

Image result for wise men still seek him bumper sticker

What sort of signs and wonders do we need in order for us to seek the newborn Kings? Do we still seek after Jesus? Is there still awe and wonder involved in our search? Or, have we become jaded and perhaps deaf to His still small voice?

Image result for i believe polar express gif
The Polar Express


One of my favorite modern Christmas movies is the Polar Express. We watch it as a family once a Christmas season and it still brings a tear to my eye. There is the simplistic message of “I believe” which comes through loud and clear as the little boy closes his eyes attempting to recapture his child-like faith in Santa Claus and the true mystery of Christmas. At first he couldn’t hear the jingle of the sleigh bell, but he is determined and in an emotional scene he recaptures his childhood with the jingle of the bell.

If only belief in Jesus were that simple.
Some find it easier than others to uncover the wisdom of the season year after year…while others, because of personal history, family tragedies, a hectic work schedule (the list goes on)…find facing the Advent season again daunting and some, date I say, find it almost unbearable. But the thing is Advent isn’t just a season. Yes, we recognize Jesus’ birth, as we ought to in a religious calendar year-sort-of-way…but belief in the Messiah should not be limited to just four weeks of recognition. It needs to go deeper than that. True wisdom takes us from a place of ignorance and shame to the very foot of the Throne room of Heaven in penitent manner of constant worship.

You see, going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sitting in an airport makes you a pilot…what does make you a Christian is love and the deep need to want a relationship with the Creator and Sustainer of all life. Without this desire, we are mere seat warmers, heads to count on the stats line and a member of a social club. True faith runs deeper than an emotion, a preference to a pastor, sermon style, music style or architectural style. Regardless of ambiance, setting, and worship style, faith and love ought to drive us to our knees before the Maker of the Universe who stepped out of Heaven, assumed human form and showed us how to live and love.

Seeking after God constantly IS WISDOM.
Learning, studying, applying and living for Him is wisdom on display.
One might say, “but I’m not smart enough” or “I’m too old to learn“…this is nonsense. Gaining Heavenly wisdom takes place just as a toddler learns to first walk. The child takes one step at a time, and before you know it, they are walking and even running. So it is with Godly wisdom. We never presume to ‘know it all’, for Godly wisdom is infinite and will never be contained in the finite mind. But, we can say to ourselves and to God, “I don’t have much to offer you Lord, but what I do I have I give it all to You, use me.” From this place of penitence and humility we begin (or begin again) our search and study of the Most High. From our search and study comes worship, and from worship – adoration and love.

(In the midst of this pondering I cannot help but think of a friend and session-mate who suddenly and tragically lost his wife Miranda this week. My heart hurts for him, his family and children. I read his post on Facebook and it brought tears to my eyes to read the deep, unimaginable pain in those words, and yet he expressed in those sentences a testimony of faithfulness to God even in this horrible season. Even in this time of mourning, he testified to their love of the Lord and a deep reliance and trusting in Him. This is wisdom that the world will never comprehend and yet we have an amazing eternal promise that all of us cling to in this time of tragedy. To RC and the Duskin, and extended family we send our constant love, support and prayers in this very difficult time.)

Prayer:
Lord, teach us to love you with fresh eyes today.
Help us to seek after You with all of our might.
Thank you for this season of Advent. May we seek after your wisdom that is eternal more than the wisdom of this world that is temporal and fading. Protect us as we labor in the many fields of service this week. May Your light be seen in us and may others be drawn to You. It is in Your name we pray all of these things. -Amen.

When Words Fail Us…

Ten…?!
(has it really been that long?)
years ago
words evaporated…
they were ushered
off tattered pages…
where silence,
like a vacuum
filling that space
As if the Lamb,
foretold in Revelation
breaking that
seventh seal
and words failed then too.
Words broken
dared not uttered
too immense the scene,
too deep the stain
of the end of all things…

We do not
dwell here much…
for pain
still resides.
lives here full time
dark residue
tarnished the festive
multi-colored lights
as one of its brightest
was extinguished,
how long will the
shadow be cast
long and mournful?

The words caught
in my throat,
ten years ago…
I choked on them
I couldn’t breathe
as, eyes stinging,
wet with tears
buried the sorrow
deep as the fallen snow.
Words will never
quantify such grief…

words are never enough
they will not
fill that void
that shadow
that empty space
that bright star
now missing,
extinguished way
too soon.

And still
this space
is tender and sore.
The hurt
runs miles deep
where no light can
enter,
no utterances
can reach its depths.
Ah, but memories,
still vivid
brilliant and terrifying
imbues us with its
sorrow here…
where words
still
fail us.

In loving memory of Deb Fiorini…we will always miss you, but in our rememberings you are still here in this space between in our hearts.

Pastor’s Pondering – 2nd Sunday of Advent: It’s All About Worship!

In the same country there were shepherds in the fields. They were watching their flocks of sheep at night. The angel of the Lord came to them. The shining-greatness of the Lord shone around them. They were very much afraid. 10 The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. See! I bring you good news of great joy which is for all people. 11 Today, One Who saves from the punishment of sin has been born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord. 12 There will be something special for you to see. This is the way you will know Him. You will find the Baby with cloth around Him, lying in a place where cattle are fed.”

1At once many angels from heaven were seen, along with the angel, giving thanks to God. They were saying, 14 “Greatness and honor to our God in the highest heaven and peace on earth among men who please Him.”

15 The angels went from the shepherds back to heaven. The shepherds said to each other, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see what has happened. The Lord has told us about this.” 16 They went fast and found Mary and Joseph. They found the Baby lying in a place where cattle are fed.
– Luke 2:8-16 NLV

The second advent candle that we light this week symbolizes the Love of God and that of our love to Him…

A number of years ago, while ministering in a small rural community in Southern Minnesota, I had the privilege of being a part of a very encouraging and loving Ministerial Association. This was essentially a pastoral monthly “get together” to pray for one another and to fellowship. We all became good friends as we shared each other’s burdens and had the commonality of ministry. It was during one of these meetings that I was asked to fill in for a local pastor’s prison ministry while he was away.
Initially I was really nervous, I had never participated in a prison ministry let alone lead it and I wasn’t sure I had anything helpful to contribute. But I planned a message and selected some songs and went that next Sunday afternoon to correctional facility with guitar in hand. After a brief security check I was led into a common room where I waited for the inmates to arrive. The room was sparse except for a black metal music stand in the front and an ominous looking cross hanging on the wall. Two small windows were located on an institutional white wall, both windows barred and they only allowed a small amount of day light in.

I could feel the sadness of this place and was given a very small glimpse into what it must be like to be a prisoner here. When the inmates arrived I thought perhaps a guard or an official would lead or say a few words of introduction, but they did not. The guard simply left and I was all alone standing there amidst a sea of orange jumpsuits and staring faces.

I would like to say that I preached a powerfully moving message and that there were tears shed and it was like a Billy Graham revival service, but it was not. The songs were sung…mostly as a solo…the sermon preached…without any emotional response. It seemed as if I had preached to statues. I felt like a complete failure, as if what I had shared wasn’t what they needed to hear. Perhaps I had missed the mark and at the end of my time there I was escorted out and I left feeling defeated and somewhat sorry for myself. I remember saying to God, “well at least I tried” as I conjured up images of Jonah preparing to speak to the Ninevites.

For a number of months I put this Sunday afternoon in prison behind me and didn’t think much about it…until one day while in my office at the corps, a young man popped his head into my door. He told me he had been an inmate at the local correctional facility and that he had attended that Sunday service I had led. He told me that the message I had spoken seemed to have been directed at him and that he had felt convicted and had given his life to Jesus.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. What I thought to be a complete and utter failure of an afternoon turned out to be just what God had intended for this young man.

Isn’t it interesting what we believe to be rubbish and consider to be failures God can take and use for the amazing, even the miraculous? Isn’t that what faith is after all? Stepping out in faith, doing our very best and trusting God knows what He is doing with our feeble attempts? You see God hasn’t called us to be the most eloquent of speakers, or the most insanely talented musicians playing moving music for Him…no, what He asks of us is our best effort, our trust and faith.

Last week we discussed the fact that God invites us into His amazing story of Salvation for the whole wide world, but you see there’s more to this invitation. There is element of worship. Our love poured out for Him, and sometimes our love poured out seems like feeble attempts and failed sermons preached. Then God comes along and shows you and me that the work of the Holy Spirit is living and active even in our doubts of success while participating in ministry. When we worship God and declare Him Lord of our lives, the sweet aroma and workings of the Holy Spirit go far beyond our finite efforts. We are merely conduits for the Eternal. He invites us into this worship experience and our part is to faithfully go despite our lack of confidence in our own gifts and abilities.

Like the Angels long ago declaring Jesus’ arrival to common Shepherds in the fields, we too are invited into this worship of declaration and praise.

Advent Questions to Ponder:
-When have you been asked by the Lord to step out in faith for Him?
What happened? How did you respond?
-Have you ever had moments of revelation in your life where you thought you had failed and yet God used your efforts and brought about an amazing, unexpected response?
How can you worship the Lord this Advent season and declare Jesus’ birth to those who have yet to hear?
What is stopping or preventing you from doing so?

Prayer:
Lord, help me to understand that it is not about my gifts and abilities, but it is about my love and adoration for You. Humble my heart and help me to declare your majesty and glory to those around me this week. Help me to invited others into this worship setting with You. I want to be used by You for Your Holy purpose this week. Guide me dear Lord. -Amen.

Pondering on the 1st Sunday of Advent: “The Divine Invitation”

Scripture Passage:This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭1:18-25‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I have always loved Christmas, even in the busyness of it all. There is so much to do, so little time and often times we enter Sunday morning worn out, somewhat disheveled and seeking rest. One might argue that we shouldn’t work so hard and we are short-changing the worship aspect of Sunday. Perhaps there is some merit to this, but I look at the journey that Mary and Joseph took in order to be where God had appointed them to be. The journey would have been difficult, and yet because of a government census they went to Bethlehem. It was hard work, it took time and Mary was very pregnant.

The entire story of the birth of Jesus took work, it took sacrifice, and a leap of faith on Mary and Joseph. This was not just a Divine story in which God shows up and there isn’t human interaction. On the contrary, the human interaction took concerted preparation, time and effort.

What are we willing to give in order to experience a Divine encounter today? Perhaps our God encounter will not be as it was with Mary and Joseph, but God has always been an active participant in humanity. He shows up, there is no question about that…what is in question is our ability to see, hear or experience Him because of our very distracted lives. Are we able to take the time to experience God in our every day lives? Do we stop what we are doing on our cell phones or televisions long enough to just listen? Are we missing out on countless Godly experiences because we have become deaf by living distracted lives?

‘The Homework Assignment’:

Perhaps this Christmas season we could do our very best to try and pay attention. Perhaps it will take a great deal of effort for many of us. This doesn’t mean that we cease our work or our passions, it simply means that we allow God entry into all of these avenues of our hectic lives. This will mean that we invite Him into our work week. Whether that is running bell ringers back and forth and back again. Or it means that as we count money, or prepare Christmas gifts for many families in our communities…all of these areas we invite God’s presence to sit with us. And as we run from one event to another, or from one location to the next, we simply say to God, “Lord, what are you teaching me through this?” And, “Lord how can I be your hands and feet in this moment?”

You see, the amazing thing to consider within this Divine Christmas story is that God has invited all of humanity (that’s you and me) to participate in the greatest story of love ever written. We are invited in. We are not outsiders looking into this amazing salvation story. So once we accept our invitation into this Divine story of love, our job is to invite others into this story too. Don’t keep it to yourself, share it with others. Allow others access to Nativity. Seek out those who feel cast out, a pariah, an outsider – and bring them in.

This is what the Divine Invitation is all about. Grace, love and peace shared to a world so in desperate need of such things. Salvation comes to all, and we can be help others see that God’s love has come freely to all.

Questions:
-Who needs to be invited into this Divine Encounter this Christmas that you know personally?
-How can you ensure they feel accepted and loved?
-When can you consciously stop your busyness and allow God’s invitation to enter your heart anew this week?
-Identify the many distractions in your life right now and help to filter out the noise so that you may hear God’s still small voice today.

Something more to ponder today.
Coming next week – Advent pondering #2 for the 2nd Sunday of Advent. Stay tuned and journey along with us!

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