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It’s Official

February 5, 2018 — 1 Comment

He was asking me all about Egypt. He wanted to know how long they had been a nation and why they chose to worship the gods they did. I’m not sure what sparked the conversation but I answered every question he threw at me because he wanted to know. This was from one of my grandsons who suddenly had a great thirst to understand Egypt. It meant I had a great thirst to try to come alongside him in discovering those answers. He ended the conversation with the declaration that he just might want to become an archeologist when he grows up.

Because a whole lot of the Indiana Jones quest to discover dwells in me, I was thrilled. My answer to him was to go for it. It would be a great thing for him to pursue.

What are we going to be when we grow up?

It’s a question most of us have asked and answered at least once. Maybe you have even fielded that question more than once.

We have.

This last week, we four sisters signed a contract with the FaithWords division of Hachette Publishing Company. I have to be honest, my hands shook more than a little and my heart was in my throat. We have been writing for years but contract signing, deadlines, launch dates and forms to complete were new steps in the process. But it’s part of the adventure and we are going for it.

Signing the Contract 2

So back to my question: What are we going to be when we grow up? It’s a good question.

The book we are writing has the working title of Second Run…If You’re not Dead, You’re not Done. The theme is that we keep discovering, keep pursuing, keep moving forward as long as we have breath. Every day of our lives we have a job to do.

Today I am writing. Sunday I was greeting people at church. Tomorrow I will be helping with homework.

What is it we’re going to be doing?

We are going to do what is in front of us to do, reminding ourselves that if  we’re not dead, we’re not done.

 

The Four Sisters: Kris, Karen, Kathie, Linda

 

The Lord knows that we need new beginnings. We need times to regroup and start over. The New Year does just that.

We wrap up the season, put away the decorations, clean-up the leftovers, vacuum the glitter, step on the scale, and go out to buy workout clothes. How can I up my game?

We take a look and see some changes we want to make. Yes, it’s a good time to get rid of old habits and welcome in some new ones. Of course we all know that new habits are not so easy to bring to the table. Especially if it means we have decided not to spend as much time at the table.

Time, diet, health are evaluated by a lot of people as the year takes on its new name. And those are good areas to look at, but an even more important look is where we are spiritually.

Church, serving, using my time to make a difference in the Kingdom, prayer, Bible study and sharing my faith…those are the most important areas to up our game.

It’s the gift of a new year, a new beginning.  Let’s make the most of it.

The Four Sisters: Kris, Karen, Kathie, Linda

 

The Gift of Angels

December 31, 2017 — Leave a comment

We don’t see them, at least if we do, we most often wouldn’t recognize them.

But have we ever encountered angels?

Think back.

Have you ever felt compelled to go immediately to check on the kids? When you did you saw something that could have been harmful had it played out. You know, like putting a tall 2×6 board up against a tree and seeing your child at the top with a skateboard.

Maybe your car wouldn’t start right away and you wondered what on earth could be wrong since you just had it serviced. But in a few moments it starts and that puts you seconds behind at the crossroads just as a car races at break neck speed past you. You suddenly realize that had you been a few seconds earlier you might have already been out in the road.

You try to pull into the passing lane but the car doesn’t move fast enough just as another car zooms past. You realize it had been in your blind spot.

You feel your child’s forehead and yes, a slight fever, but overall things don’t seem quite right. You feel like you just have to make the trip to the emergency room. “Good call,” says the doctor when you arrive.

You have a sudden urgency to stop at your mom’s house to check on her. She is quite ill and needs to see the doctor.

Over and over again in our lives we have things happen that we can’t quite explain.

So we ask again, have we ever encountered angels?

There are multiple accounts of angels in the Bible. They usually came to bring good news like in Luke chapters 1 and 2. But they also showed up to protect. In 2 Kings 6 we see the account of Elisha. The city was being surrounded by an army and Elisha’s servant was so afraid.

Elisha wasn’t. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 

Elisha then simply prayed and asked God to let the servant see. When he did, the servant saw a whole different army, a heavenly one with chariots of fire that had come to protect.

No, we often don’t see them, and even if we did we most likely wouldn’t recognize them, but have we ever had an encounter with angels?

Chances are we have.

The Four Sisters: Kris, Karen, Kathie, Linda

 

The Gift of Receiving

December 30, 2017 — Leave a comment

“Here’s a gift for you.”

“Oh! Wow! Ummm, thank you, I uhhh didn’t get you anything. I’m sooooo sorry.”

Ever been there? It’s a bit embarrassing to get a gift and not have one of equal or even greater value to give back. We suddenly feel like we haven’t balanced the playing field. We’ve shortchanged the giver somehow by not having a return gift.

It’s kind of in us once we become adults. Of course, kids don’t care. They get absorbed in the getting part, but as adults we want this gift giving thing to be equitable.

But it isn’t, and it never will be.

The gifts God gives us require nothing on our part. It takes no effort to attain it, and we can never give back something that even comes close to its value.

God freely and graciously gives us salvation.

The Bible says that to as many as received Him, He gave the right to become children of God.

We get to be in the family. We become heirs. We acquire everything God owns.

The only requirement, receive it. In the same way we receive those gifts given to us by friends and family, we can receive God’s gift of eternal life.

This Christmas remember that we are given the gift of receiving.

What a gift!

The Four Sisters: Kris, Karen, Kathie, Linda

 

The Gift of Myrrh

December 29, 2017 — Leave a comment

We’ve sung about it. At Christmas time we see nativity scenes with Wise Men carrying it. But what is myrrh?

Myrrh is a spice. It is mentioned numerous times in both the Old and New Testaments. It was used in the making of perfumes and in the formula for the anointing oil in the Temple. In the book of Esther myrrh was added to baths for the women.

But myrrh was also used for the dead. It was one of the spices that was brought when a loved one died. The body was covered in linen wrappings and myrrh.

So why did kings come from far away and bring a tiny child the gift of myrrh?

Each of the gifts not only helped to sustain Joseph, Mary and Jesus when they fled to Egypt to get away from Herod, but also the gifts each represented something in Jesus’ life.

Myrrh represented His death.

Mark 15:22-23 tells us, “They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). Then they offered Him wine mixed with myrrh, but He did not take it.” 

While Jesus was hanging on the cross the executioners offered Him wine mixed with myrrh. Then at His death Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took the body of Jesus and brought over 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes to wrap His body.

Myrrh represented His death.

At His birth, Wise Men brought a spice that represented His death.

We can be grateful for the gift of myrrh.

The Four Sisters: Kris, Karen, Kathie, Linda

 

The Gift of Frankincense

December 28, 2017 — Leave a comment

The Wise Men came. They brought gifts, a wise thing to do for a baby, but these were not your typical baby shower type gifts.

Oh, but they were gifts packed with great meaning.

One was frankincense. So why incense? Why out of all of the gifts these magi could have included would they bring incense? You can’t eat it. A baby can’t wear it. Perhaps it doesn’t seem at first like an appropriate gift for a baby.

But it was a gift fit for a priest. Frankincense was part of the incense used at the Temple. Twice a day it was burned on the altar of incense. Its scent rose straight up out of the Temple and then settled down over the whole city of Jerusalem and all the cities around it. It covered over the very earthly scents in those cities.

Jesus came to be our Great High Priest. He offered His life as a sweet smelling sacrifice. His death and resurrection do more than cover our very earthly scent. He washes us clean from all the dirt, grime, uncleanness, and unrighteousness we have walked in.

So this Christmas as you walk into stores or homes and smell the sweet scents of cinnamon or pumpkin or peppermint, or perhaps even frankincense, remember that Jesus brings more sweetness than that to our otherwise smelly lives.

Breathe in His scent. It is one of the Christmas gifts.

The Four Sisters: Kris, Karen, Kathie and Linda

 

The Gift of Gold

December 27, 2017 — Leave a comment

It’s shiny. It’s rare. It’s durable. It’s beautiful.

Gold is prized all around the world. It has been used as jewelry and currency. It can be used to decorate the most expensive of wedding cakes, but is also used to fix broken teeth. Take apart your cell phone and you’ll find a little, but you’ll find more if you win first place in the Olympics. And you’ll find even more if you explore the ocean depths.

It is believed that about ten billion tons of gold are in the oceans, but there’s not an economic way to recover it. Figure that one out and you’ll be given the name of King Midas.

Gold is a gift.

It is one of the gifts presented to King Jesus by the Magi.

It would have been used to provide for the family when they had to flee to Egypt to escape Herod’s infanticide. It was an incredibly important gift to Jesus.

But it is also an important gift to us as we explore its use in heaven. Scripture records that it is the building material of choice to pave the streets.

The streets in heaven are gold paved.

What does that tell us?

I think it’s letting us know that there is an important use for gold that didn’t make our list above. It’s probably more important than any we’ve already mentioned.

It needs to be used to pave the way for people to go to heaven.

Gold can fund missionaries, churches, Gospel presentations, concerts, printed materials, Bibles. It can build buildings and bring food and shelter for the hungry and homeless. It can provide for widows and orphans.

Gold is a gift. It is a gift that can give eternally.

Yes, it can be used for jewelry, currency, and beautiful things. But when it’s used to pave the way for the Gospel, what a gift it becomes!

The Four Sisters: Kris, Karen, Kris, Linda

 

The Gift of the Wise Men

December 26, 2017 — Leave a comment

They were astrologers. They studied events in the sky. How marvelous to have a job where you are always looking up. They knew the night sky. Although they never flew, the sky was friendly to these men.

Until one evening something appeared that they didn’t recognize. It was different, unique and that star spoke to this group of wise astrologers.  And what that star said to them was that a King was born.

Who was the King? Where was the King? Questions rose from deep within those men and those questions demanded answers.

Without a map or a GPS system they set out. Their goal? Follow that star. These wise men knew, they KNEW that what they saw in the sky was majestic, kingly, beyond their comprehension. They had to follow it to its destination.

Mile after mile they looked up and mile after mile it guided them. Mile after mile they traveled. A star in the sky led them first to the city of Jerusalem.

“Where is He who has been born the King of the Jews?”

How did they even know to ask that specific question? But they did and the regular king, a man by the name of Herod, was not pleased. Oh he feigned interest and a desire to worship, but in reality he planned to murder the child.

The wise men had stopped for directions and got them. Bethlehem was the place for the birth of the King they were seeking. So off they went. The star stopped. In a house they found Mary, Joseph and the child. They knew the star had led them. They knew this was the King the star had announced.

They bowed. They worshipped. They presented gifts. They had traveled far but this was the most momentous event in their lives. If a King had a star to announce His birth, then this was no ordinary King. This King had come from the realm of the stars. This King had come from heaven.

Herod had asked for the wise men to return. He said he wanted to also go and worship. That was a lie. The wise men were warned by God and they left by a different way. They never returned to Herod. But those words can also mean they left changed. They had traveled from afar to meet the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and it changed them forever.

So how about us? Have we met the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? What better time than Christmas! We can go away changed forever just like the Wise Men.

The wise men are a gift because they set the example. They sought the King. We are to also find Christ and worship Him.

The Four Sisters: Kris, Karen, Kathie, Linda

 

The Gift of Jesus

December 25, 2017 — Leave a comment

It’s Christmas. Celebrated around the world, to many people, it is the most important holiday of the year. We look back at this once in eternity event when God Himself entered the world as a tiny baby.

His birth had been foretold. Hundreds of prophecies had given the time, location, circumstances and purpose of His coming. All of those prophecies came together on that one silent night in the little village of Bethlehem.

It wasn’t hailed by trumpets or announced or the evening news. The first to hear it were the most unlikely, and yet they were chosen to be the ones.

It happened like this…

 

It was a dirty job. It was a job that took you to the hills and fields. It didn’t carry any glamor and was about as boring a task as you could do.

It had no honor or respect associated with it. Quite the opposite, in fact being a shepherd outside of Bethlehem meant you were looked upon as little better than a thief. You couldn’t testify in a court of law because the word of a shepherd was not trusted. The position, not your life, told the tale. Being a shepherd was not just what you did, it was who you were, and you were at the bottom of the social barrel.

It was a necessary job because the shepherds on the Bethlehem hillside raised the sheep for the Temple sacrifices. They had to make sure that the lambs were protected and able to be presented without spot or blemish.

They knew their job, and they did it well.

When a mother sheep was about to give birth, the shepherds would take her to a protected area and keep watch over her. As soon as her little lamb was born, they would wrap its legs in strips of cloth called swaddling clothes and then place him in a manger until he had settled down enough to stand next to his mother safely.

Their job was boring, dirty, mundane, and without respect. But they knew their job and they did it well.

And then that night, that one spectacular night, the mundane suddenly ran right into the miraculous. Their boring night watch was interrupted by a heavenly messenger.

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’” Luke 2:10-12

They probably knew right where to go. They hurried off to find this baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger. They were the first to meet the One who would be the Lamb of God.

And then they told. They told everyone they saw. These lowly shepherds who couldn’t even testify in a court of law were the first to give testimony of the most important event in all of history.

They were the ones chosen to tell the world of the gift of Jesus.

Merry Christmas!

The Four sisters: Kris, Karen, Kathie, Linda

 

We entered a little before 11:00 PM. It was way past our bedtimes and the latest we were allowed to stay up any night of the year. But that night was different. It was almost too good to be true, a late supper, our best clothes, piling into the car for the ride to the church.

It was Christmas Eve, and we arrived for a very special church service that lasted until a few minutes after midnight. The music, the tree, communion and candlelight all blended together to create an atmosphere of expectation that was unrivaled at any other time.

To this day the mystery of it engulfs me as I think back. And sometimes, as we left the church, snow would have begun to fall announcing the onset of a white Christmas morning. I left glowing in the wonder of the Christmas story and reveling in the excitement that morning was just a few hours away.

I always tried to hold onto every moment.

I loved it.

I still do.

To me, the Christmas Eve service was the most wonderful church event of the year.

And it still it is, even though it’s a little different now. It’s not at midnight, but it’s still candlelight and communion with beautiful music and the expectation of the morning. I still try to hold onto every moment.

What is it about Christmas Eve?

I think the gift of it is that it’s filled with expectation. Wonderful things are usually just waiting for the morning light. Family, gifts, laughter, good food, sweets and treats all combine on the morning of Christmas.

But Christmas Eve is when you hold your breath and look forward. It’s the time you wait and hope.

It reminds us that the world was waiting, hoping for a Savior and then He arrived on Christmas day.

It reminds us that hopes are realized when we meet Jesus.

Christmas Eve is a gift. It’s the gift of church and music and candlelight but it’s more. It’s the gift of hope.

His name is Jesus.

 

The Four Sisters: Kris, Karen, Kathie, Linda