Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I got this in an email and thought it was really good. So, decided to share it today for Christmas.

Once again it is my pleasure to have the opportunity to wish all of you a blessed Christmas. May the peace and light of Christ shine upon and through your hearts as you celebrate God's coming to earth as a man to save us.

Christmas is an extremely hard and painful time for many and if that is true of you I pray that the true message of Christmas will bring you the comfort that only God can give in our darkest of days.

One does not have to look far to see that the world is pretty messed up these days - a messing up that drips down into and impacts everyone's life often to horrific and sorrowful degrees. The message of the Angels that first Christmas, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." is needed today just as much as it was the night Jesus was born.

That angelic proclamation begs a question though - on whom does God's favor rest and what is the evidence of that favor? The answer to both of those questions can be found in Psalm 2. That psalm references the nations of the world warring against God in their desire to have their own way instead of His. Their efforts, of course, are pitifully comical in the light of God's sovereign power and He sends King Jesus anyway. The psalmist then gives this moving exhortation: "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him."

On whom does God favor's rest? It is clearly upon those who embrace Jesus, God's Son. Bob Dylan is right - "Everybody's got to serve somebody" so it only makes sense to serve the One God made King - Jesus

And what is the evidence of God's favor in the life of one who embraces Jesus? It is plain, simply, and wonderfully refuge. It is nice that today and tomorrow many people are enjoying storybook and idyllic Christmases, but hot turkey, wrapped presents, laughing friends, and loving families are not the evidence of God's favor. Others are enjoy a bountiful season of life, but health, wealth, and prosperity are not evidence of God's favor either. Refuge, refuge, refuge - refuge through Jesus is the evidence of God's favor.

To a world racked with the consequences of sin - war, financial hardship, addictions, broken and stressed relationships, oppressive poverty, sickness and death - God shows His favor to those who turn to Jesus by giving them refuge within because the soul that trust's in Jesus is safe no matter what calamity storms and threatens in life. And let us not forget that that refuge extends beyond this life. Jesus was born so He could live and then pay the penalty of our sins by dying for us on the cross of Calvary - a sacrifice that guarantees refuge from the condemning judgment of God at the end of time.

Jesus was born. Embrace Him. Let your soul refuge in Him.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Gifts that Heal
By Debbie Guinn © 2007

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son….” John 3:16a

This time of year, we talk a lot about giving gifts to others. We take great care in finding that “perfect gift” for those we love. We have our lists and we're checking them twice, making sure we get just the right size, the right color, the right model, etc. to bring a smile to the face of someone special. Today, I want to talk about gifts we can give that bring more than just a smile to a face or even squeals of delight…gifts that touch deep within the heart, especially a wounded heart… gifts of compassion, hope, encouragement, value, love…gifts that show others the love of Jesus.

This past summer, I was the recipient of just such gifts and it made a HUGE impact on the healing that God was doing and getting ready to do in my own heart. In August, a friend of mine (also named Debbie ) helped me to make one of the toughest decisions of my life -- to check myself into a mental hospital. (See “ Discovering my True Purpose ” for more on that.) While sitting in the waiting room at the hospital, my cell phone rang and it was Debbie , calling to check on me and to tell me that she loved me and was praying for me. Then she told me about a prayer her husband had prayed for me just prior to her calling me. What she told me just caused my heart to melt into a huge puddle right there in that waiting room.

I had never met Debbie 's husband, never even really talked to him. In fact, I avoided calling her if I thought he might be at home. The few times he did happen to be there and answered the phone, I would freeze and couldn't talk…I even hung up on him a couple of times. Now, I'm sure he is a great guy – Debbie talks highly of him. However, he was a man and like every other man in this world, I was afraid of him. Not only was I afraid of him, but I never dreamed that he might care even the slightest bit about me. After all, he was a man and well…caring about me did not go with the label I had placed on men.

So, to find out that a MAN had prayed for me was special in and of itself. This man, whom I had never met, cared about me! It also touched me that upon hearing what was going on with me, he immediately stopped everything (he was at work at the time) and prayed for me. He placed enough value and worth on me to put my well-being above his business. Debbie told me what he had prayed and two things really pierced my heart. In his prayer, he called me “precious” and he asked God to protect and heal my “fragile heart.” I can't even begin to tell you what hearing those simple words did to me. I didn't even realize until several weeks later the full impact they had in bringing healing to what was indeed a VERY fragile heart.

My friend's husband did more than pray for me that night. He gave me some gifts that touched my heart in a very deep way. He gave me compassion, hope, encouragement, value, love and so much more as he exemplified the love of Jesus in his words and actions. It would take pages to fully explain the extent to which God used that in my life. I will summarize it by simply saying that it opened my heart to be able to receive love and healing from everybody, especially the men that God placed in my life those next two weeks, while in the hospital.

We all know people who are hurting…people who need far more than new clothes, toys, electronics, even new cars this Christmas…people who need to know how much God loves and values them. Even Christians often fail to recognize just how deep God's love is for us…just how much value He places on each and every one of us. Stop and think, for a minute, what 1 John 4:9 means when it says, “ This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. ” Really meditate on John 3:16 which tells us that God loved every single person in the world SO much that He sent His one and only son to die for us so that we would not die, forever separated from God, but that we could live with Him forever.

Now THAT is love!!! That is what Jesus was referring to in John 15:13 when He said, “ Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. ” This type of love is what people need to heal their wounded and fragile hearts. Showing people the love of Jesus is the greatest gift we could ever give them – not just at Christmas, but all year long. If we back up to John 15:12 , we hear Jesus command us to “ Love each other as I have loved you. ” Loving as Jesus loved means giving – sacrificing – whatever is necessary to meet the needs of others. 1 John 3:16-18 says “ This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love.”

My daughter is involved in a local musical theater group, Kids Who Care . They have a song they sing, that goes along with this idea.

Angel of Hope ©

Lyrics by Deborah Jung, Music by Jay Adkins

The young boy was watching As the woman was walking

Her arms brimming full At the end of the day.

The bus stop was waiting Her energy fading

With care and concern She was moving that way.

Her baby was singing Some goo-ga-lee music

She smiled as he nuzzled His head in her cheek

Her steps growing weary The boy could see clearly

Her load was too much And her arms were too weak

So the boy took a step And he smiled as he offered

To carry her bags The last little way

And the woman's eyes sparkled As she thanked the young hero

And he smiled to himself As he went on his way.


The heroes are there Some are standing in shadows

They don't make the headlines When their wings brush your sleeve.

But these angels of hope Far outnumber the heartaches

And the goodness they give us Remains when they leave.

The young boy was watching As the newsman was talking

The airwaves were full At the end of the day.

The radio blaring The public is staring

As stories of terror Keep coming their way.

So they lock up their doors And their shops and their houses

Soon they lock up their hearts And they can't find the key.

In a world growing smaller With walls growing taller

A young boy is searching For you and for me.

His hand reaches out To those who are weary

His smile leaves a trace Of hope deep inside.

And you know that he's in you And you can do something

For someone who needs you To stand by their side.


The heroes are there Some are standing in shadows

They don't make the headlines When their wings brush your sleeve.

But these angels of hope Far outnumber the heartaches

And the goodness they give us Remains when they leave.

We give Jesus to others by seeing their needs, reaching out a hand to offer gifts of hope, healing, peace, compassion…most of all love. It is my prayer that this Christmas, you will look beyond the fancy packages, and “wish lists” and look into the hearts of those around you and give them the gifts they need most…give the gift of Jesus .

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity .” ( Colossians 3:12,14 )

Originally published in HeartBeat the Magazine, December 2007

Angel of Hope © Used by permission of Deborah Jung , Founder and Executive Director, Kids Who Care