Bring you good news

If an angel suddenly appeared before you, what would be your response?  Would you be excited, realizing what exactly is before you?  Would you doubt what you are seeing is real?  Would you challenge what is being told to you because maybe you don’t believe in the angels at all?

Many people know the basics of what the Bible says about Jesus being born.  They’ve seen the nativity scenes where subdued men and animals surround a baby lying in a feed trough with his mother kneeling next to the trough.  Simply told baby is born and some men come and see what is going on.

But why are they there?  Who told them about this baby?  Did they just happen to be standing around the farm yard working and realize there were sounds of crying so they rushed to see what happened?  No.  Half these guys where greeted by a massive group of angels who announced the birth.  Now wouldn’t that be an amazing, albeit shocking birth announcement.  You look up to see the sky filled with angels and they are talking to you, “Hey!  We’ve got some good news.  This baby was just born and you’ve got to go see him.”  To top it off they start shouting praise for the birth.

So if you saw that, how in the world would you respond.  I think I would feel a bit dumbfounded.  Looking at others, I would be like, “Did you just see that?  Did that really happen?  Should we go find this kid?”  The shepherds, well, it doesn’t really mention their exact response, but they do decide among themselves to go check things out.  You can read this account in the book of Luke, chapter 2, verses 8 to 20.  They were pretty stocked.

In the same book of Luke, you can read about two more account of angels delivering good news to people.  The first is Zechariah, whose wife Elizabeth gave birth to Jesus’ cousin John.  Zechariah questioned what was happening and ended up not being able to talk for months.  The second account is with Mary.  She is a bit surprised at the news that she will have a baby but comes to terms with what is happening to her and praised God for choosing her.  You can read these accounts in Chapter 1 of Luke.

I really like the responses of people as the angels come to talk with people about how Jesus will be coming to earth.  Who would have ever expected for God to show up in the form of a baby?  Each response is very human and very different and speaks to me about different events that happen in my own life.  I very much enjoy reading the book of Luke.

Oh, those other guys at the nativity scene.  The rich looking wise men.  You can read about them in the book of Matthew, chapter 2.  They had no angels come and announce Jesus.  Instead they saw a star shining in the sky and followed it until they found Jesus.  That’s pretty crazy.  Seeing a massive star and knowing that is leads you to an expected king.  They followed it all the way to where Mary, Joseph and Jesus were living.  Yep, not the feeding through.  This was actually at a house – different time period than the shepherds.  Jesus was a bit older by this point.

I would say check out both accounts if you haven’t.  They are worth pondering and helping you understand why you see a nativity scene at Christmas and just what (or whom) made these men come to see a baby.

 

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Inspiration from “Rescue the Captors”

I have been recently reading “Rescue the Captors” by Russell Stendal.  This is an autobiography of Russell’s kidnapping by guerrilla soldier in Columbia and how he responded to his captors.  Also included in the book are lessons that Russell and his ministry partner took from the beatitudes in the book of Matthew.  They used these lessons in their ministry of reconciliation in relationships and families.

One of the lessons is about having the right attitude in our relationships.  In this lesson, he has included a poem on love written by Doris McLaughlin titled “True Love.”  I hope you find this as inspirational as I did (and I recommend reading the book.)

TRUE LOVE

True love is such a rarity.

There is so much disparity, between what is good and kind and pure, and what is really used as a hook and lure

to hunt men’s souls and destroy their hearts to keep them from loving and doing their part

to alleviate suffering, pain, and disgrace to demonstrate true love to the whole human race.

There are those whose affections are based on sex, and pride, and selfishness

whose motive is that their own self be blessed.

And when the one they love doesn’t do what they said or wanted them to,

they say, “That’s fine! OK! We’re through.

Get out! I’ve had enough of you.”

Now, I ask you.  Is that true love or is it just lust?

Do they devour one another and eat up their trust to take what’s given and reject you when through?

So when you’ve been hurt and played for a fool, do you clam up and become very cool towards the one who has done this to you?

Do you walk though life burned and spent?

Do you allow bitterness, anger, hurt, and pain to cause you to stumble and rob you again of life in Jesus and the peace that he gives you?

And when you’re in this spot what do you do?

Who is there to comfort you?

Well, you call upon God when you’ve walked away from the one who has hurt you and done you this way.

“But,” you say, “They have done it before and they will do it again. How can I continue being hurt by them.”

You must give it to God and forgive that sin.

Confess your faults. Ask God to forgive them.

If you choose to love, the healing will begin.

Cleanse yourself of all bitterness and strife.

Cleanse yourself and begin a new life.

Love is not bitter, is not unkind, so put on her heart and renew your mind.

Her thoughts are tender, gentle, and good.

You can’t give love and carry dead wood.

Let go of the old and begin anew.

Today is a new day made just for you.

Put their needs first, pay no attention to wrongs, just go on loving all day long.

If not, you’ll suffer for what you do.

You will suffer and they will, too.

Give up envy, jealousy, and spite– just love your spouse with all your might.

Don’t seek a reward for the things that you do, and keep no record of the wrongs suffered you.

Don’t be proud or seek your own glory– just let love tell her own story.

Don’t be boastful, haughty, or loud and don’t show off in front of a crowd.

Promote the others, be gentle and meek and tell your old self to take a back seat.

To be lowly and humble is not being weak.

Praise and appreciate others, and speak of the good, kind things that they do.

Think of the others and take not thought for you.

This is His love which will flow though you.

Give up all rights which you have for yourself — set them aside. Put them on the shelf

Resist the temptation to think evil in your heart, for this day, God has given you a new start.

True love endures and bears all things, so let love develop and let your heart spread wings,

as joy overflows from God’s heavenly springs.

Let God’s peace umpire you, as you go on loving in the things you do.

Tear down those walls that were built like Jericho.  Look to Him and expect your miracle.

Doris McLaughlin

How important is a name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet;”  — Juliet, Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II.

 

Sorry, Juliet (and Mr. Shakespeare), but I need to disagree with you on this one.

Yes, I understand that Shakespeare is talking about how, if, Romeo wasn’t a Montague but had a different name, he would still be the same guy Juliet fell in love with, and would no longer be her mortal enemy based on his name.

What I want to talk about is why a name is important.  Let me tell you a story.

I have been working at my job for about a month now.  I work in cafeterias for our school district, and have been subbing for a woman who just had a baby.  As I have gotten to know my co-workers, we have gone through the formalities of, “what is your name?”  It took me a couple of days to remember them.  One of the ladies there kept forgetting my name.  She would be calling for me and I wouldn’t recognize that she was talking to me.  She kept calling, “Megan, Megan!”  Megan?  How is that even close to Erin?  I kept telling her, “No, my name is Erin.”

She just couldn’t get that in her mind.  She would tell me how she didn’t know why but she kept thinking I was Megan.  That went on for about a week.  Finally, her mind recognized my name is Erin, but she decided that she wants to keep calling me Megan.  Like a nickname, and now that I recognize she is talking to me, I will actually respond to Megan.  The only backfiring bit is one of the other woman called me Megan today.  I don’t think she realized what she did.  More random is for some reason she was thinking my name was Ariel.  Ariel?  Really?  Four weeks of Erin and you get Ariel?

So what is the point?  I can hear you asking that.

My point is this.  We identify with our names.  Some of us received our names before we were born, and were addressed as so by our parents.  Our names distinguish us from each other.  There is history that is spoken and future promised by our names.

 

Isaiah 43:1 “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:  Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”

There is heritage in our names!  I honestly believe that our names speak volumes about us.  That when God formed me, he saw me as Erin and saw my future and all the amazing pieces of me that would form my story.

My name, Erin, means Peace.  It also is a name for the country of Ireland.  I can think of many time that people have talked to me about my demeanor, what they fell around me.  I want to honor my name and be a bringer of peace.  Not sure how the Ireland part would fit in…

Looking up the meaning of Megan, I hope that this is what my co-worker saw in me and why she thought it was my name.  Megan means pearl, child of light, strong and capable.  I wouldn’t mind being the bearer of such.  Maybe you even know a Megan and you see these things in her.

One last thought on the point of recognition.  People calling us by our name means they know us.  It almost jolts me when a new group of people starts using my name.  I feel warmed by the fact that they recognize me enough to know my name.  In the sense that I have arrived and people care enough to acknowledge me.  How you choose to address someone carries a lot of weight.

 

 

Like shifting sand

Doe you ever think about perspective changing?

I have in the last few weeks been realizing how many times perspective on my life and those around can be outdated.

Last week, on Halloween, I assigned myself to candy duty.  I am currently living in my parents house.  I am doing this for a chance to rest and see how this new season of life is unfolding.  I also just finished serving as a missionary for a year and a half and don’t have much to my name at the moment.  So on Halloween, I dutifully answered the door, smiled at the kids and wished them a good night.  Near the end of the evening, there was a gentleman escorting two kids around.  As the kids left the door, he looked at me and asked, “Do you live here now?”

“Me?  Yes I live here,” I replied but was a bit uncertain to his question.

“What about the older couple?” he asked.

“What older couple?  Maybe they lived here before?  We’re renting this place.” was my response to him.

After bit more talking, it finally dawned on me who he was talking about:  My parents.

I was a bit shocked.  When did my parents become the “older couple.”  My mind felt so confused.  Are they really that old?  Am I?

Along with this realization, I have also been struck by the fact that my aunt (on my mom’s side) is a great-grandmother.  That may not sound too surprising, but really gets me is that she is not a first time great-grandmother.  She is at least nine-times over great-grandmother.  How am I old enough for my aunt to have nine great-grand kids?!!  That just does not make sense.

Yet, all of this makes perfect sense.  Changing perspective is simple a part of life.  It’s a part of growing, learning and seeing the world with new eyes.  The Erin of 10 years ago, would not look at today with the same wisdom and knowledge as the Erin of yesterday.  I am happy that things have changed, that I can see them differently.  Not only does it enrich my life, but I also see a bit more of Jesus.  I can see how years of following him has changed how I view things daily, how I learn to love people in new ways and circumstances.

I do not think I would be helpful to the world if I kept my perspective the same as it was when I was 5, or 10, or even 20.  I could offer no new insight or creativity or adventure.  In fact, the younger Erin would never have the daring to travel around the world, eat bits of food that one did not know were edible (like bugs and body parts), and would never have the courage to greet her next door neighbor.

I encourage more perspective change in my life and hope for many new and exciting things to come, but I wouldn’t mind if my parents weren’t that “older couple.”  I still want them around for a nice, long time.  :0)

A horrible day: a nephew’s story told from an aunt’s perspective

DISCLAIMER:  This story is not to make fun of the nephew.  It was simply one of those crazy days where nothing goes quite right. 

The name is David.  Sometimes my family calls me D, nobody calls me Dave.  I’m just David.

Today was a normal morning… you know get up, eat something, run around, get dressed and wait to go to church.  My crazy aunt has been recovering from something called jet lag, so we never know if she’ll be awake, but my mom and grandma and grandpa all were.  We did the normal morning.  Surprisingly my aunt was awake, so everybody went to church.  This isn’t my church.  This is my grandma and grandpa’s church.  I just came with my mom to go to vacation Bible school.  It was good.  We got to play games and learn cool science tricks and have snacks and talk about the Bible and it was really hot, like so hot I was burning up.  Oh man… air condition just felt so good, cause let me tell you – it was hot!

My bad day?  Oh yeah!!  Anyway, so it was like, you know we went to church and I had to sit in the service but then I got to leave to go to Sunday School and that was good.  What did I do?  Uh I don’t know. Stuff.  But after there were enchiladas.  Yum!  I want red.  Yep that’s what I told me mom.  I want red, not the green.  NOT the spicy one.  So yeah… I got my enchilada and I took a bit and it was super SPICY!  MY MOUTH IS ON FIRE!  Ugh.  Like it was so hot, and my mom took the green one she had and gave it too me.  Even the soda didn’t make my mouth better.  Or the bread.  “Can’t you feel my hot breath?” I asked my mom cause it was so spicy.  That was not good.  For your info, you always ask in New Mexico which is the spicy one.  Red or green, it doesn’t matter.

Anyway, so we left church and got some more soda and some ice cream for my fire breath and just did things in the afternoon.  Like my mom and I went to a book and music store where I got a mug to give to my day – I didn’t buy it, my mom did, but I am going to give it to my dad, and then we went to McDonald’s, and then we went back to grandma and grandpa’s house and everyone got ready to see the white sand.  I know this is going to be cool.

Like I got to play my DS going on the bajillion mile car ride (it’s about 50 miles) and then we got there and there was a bat in the women’s restroom that I didn’t get to see and then there was a video about the white sand that we missed so my mom and I walked around the store so I could get the junior ranger pack and then we went back to the video where my grandpa, and grandma and crazy aunt were waiting.  Then when the video started this big bug jumped onto my arm and bit me!  It hurt.

So yeah, anyway, we watched the video and saw some stuff about the white sand and then we went back to the car and then drove into the park and then I was playing my DS and my grandma told me to close it and look outside.  Whoa!  There was like a crazy white wall.  Like snow.  Some parts you couldn’t see the road that well… and like augh! sploosh craziness.  Anyway, I had a plastic green sled to slide down the dunes, and we parked and climbed up and I tried to sled and I was just getting going when this crazy wind storm ripped the sled out of my hand.

It went flying past me!  I’m only 53 pounds (51 my mom says) and this was like crazy wind.  So I started screaming, “This is a horrible day.” And my crazy aunt was having flash backs about being in Kuwait and she went to get my sled that had stopped flying, and my mom took me to the car, and grandpa helped grandma get down to the car then went back up to find my crazy aunt who had gotten the sled but was being blown to different cars.  My crazy aunt and grandpa got to the car and I told my aunt she saved my life, it was good , I would do anything for her and she gave me a look and told me to never scream like that again.  Ugh.

Then, we drove through the crazy wind, to the highway to another town to get dinner.  My mom drove slow and careful because of the storm and it was like you couldn’t see anything… I couldn’t see the road, I couldn’t see the buildings or the signs.  Like you would fly off and disappear or you would come to the white sand with a friend and your friend would let you go to the dune and say bye!

We had dinner and I got mac and cheese which was good but I was still hungry and I didn’t want my mom’s yucky squash, so I got an Oreo sundae.  My mom said I could and grandpa bought it for me.  Then we drove home.  There was lot’s of lightning.

And I told everyone, “This was a horrible day.”  Then I fell asleep with my face against the car door.

THE END

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(Approaching sand storm)

Editor’s note:  Most of the sentences came directly from the nephew with just a few bits of creative liberty from the aunt.