Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pressing into the New Year...and Eternity!

One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind
and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).

“The upward call of God…” What better time to reflect on that upward call than on the final day of the calendar year? And yet, how easy it is to get sidetracked from that upward call by focusing instead on “those things which are behind”!
I have a tendency to judge myself harshly, to expect more from myself than I am able to deliver. And I have a terrible time forgiving myself for past sins and failures.
How can God use me to bless others when I’m guilty of…?
How dare I call myself a Christian after I…?
How can I even consider going out to minister to others after what I did when…?
Did you find yourself filling in the blanks? We all do it, don’t we? And what more effective way can we employ to render ourselves impotent to the Kingdom of God than to beat ourselves up for the past? If we want to ensure that 2010 is a personal failure, all we have to do is hang on to the failures of 2009 and before. But if we are determined to heed the admonition of the Scriptures to reach “forward to those things which are ahead,” knowing that ultimately they are good things because God has promised they will be so, then we must forget “those things which are behind” and PRESS toward the goal, which is responding to the “upward call of God.”
Allow yourself to reflect and rejoice on the blessings of the past, but leave the sins and heartaches with the One who has already paid the price for them. There is a great prize ahead of us, just waiting for us to press in and receive it. Don’t miss it, beloved! It is God’s good and perfect gift to us in the New Year…and throughout eternity.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A "Throat-Grabber" that'll Blind-Side You!

When I'm not writing my own books, I'm reading a book by someone else--but there's never enough time. My reading stack is a mile high! But I've been taking it a bit slower this past week and actually had a chance to read at my leisure. Problem is, I picked up Blind Sight by James H. Pence--and forget leisure reading! The author had me on the first page--first paragraph, actually--and never let go right up to the last word. I read it in 24 hours! (And yes, I took a break to sleep.)

Seriously, folks, if you want a really good read that'll hold your interest from start to finish, and leave you second-guessing and blindsided at every turn, this is the book for you! It's the first book I've read by this author, but it certainly won't be the last. Keep 'em coming, James!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Poor Planning and Emergencies

Poor Planning and Emergencies
Kathi Macias

Having been raised by “old school” parents who believed that choices had consequences—and therefore let me reap them—I tended to raise my children the same way. To this day my youngest son, who is now in his mid-thirties, nods his head and grins when he starts to whine at me about something and I reply with, “Poor planning on your part…”
He knows the rest by heart because he heard it so many times during his growing-up years.
When he goofed off and didn’t finish his homework, then frantically begged me to help him so he could turn it in on time, I replied with, “Poor planning on your part does NOT constitute an emergency on my part.”
When he frittered away his weekly allowance the same day he received it and then asked for more a few days later, I’d say, “Poor planning on your part does NOT constitute an emergency on my part.”
When he failed to complete his agreed-upon chores and was therefore unable to go out with his friends at the end of the day, he knew better than to ask, for all he would get from me was, “Poor planning on your part does NOT constitute an emergency on my part.”
You get the picture. And yes, by today’s standards, my unbending stance may have seemed overly strict. But did Chris learn from it? Absolutely. Not only does he understand that the paycheck he receives this Thursday has to last until next Thursday, but I’ve even heard him pass the “poor planning vs. emergency” advice on to his own children.
Here’s my problem: If a child can learn and benefit from this simple lesson, why can’t a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” do the same? I’m more than slightly disturbed by the fact that “we the people” are being pressured to respond to a so-called emergency that was created by the poor planning of people who are supposed to represent our wishes. It is obvious from every poll in the country that our wishes do not include forking over more of our hard-earned money to those who have already proven themselves to be inept at best, devious and self-serving at worst, and who now ask us to “trust them” yet again.
I feel betrayed. I feel robbed. I feel cheated. No matter how clean and neat the thugs may appear, they are cleaning our clock—and it’s wrong. Yes, we plan to fire many of them as soon as we are able, but how many more of our God-given liberties will they wrest from us in the meantime?
First and foremost I am praying for our nation, including its leaders and regardless of their party affiliation. But I am praying for “we the people” too, that even as we “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God,” we will also follow in the courageous and uncompromising footsteps of those who went before us and paid such a heavy price to ensure the freedoms we enjoy today.
If you, like me, consider yourself part of “we the people,” I hope you are praying with me for our great land. I hope too that you will stand with me and declare to those whose actions threaten our children’s future, “Poor planning on your part does NOT constitute an emergency on my part.”
It is time for the government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” to listen to the people’s voices, to move slowly and cautiously, and to commit only to those actions that will preserve our future as a nation. Our officials have taken an oath to “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution of the United States; it is time we held their feet to the fire and insist they follow through!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Making Christmas Personal

It was Christmas Eve, my favorite night of the year, as we sat shoulder-to-shoulder on a rear pew in the quaint but packed country church. I had been a Christian for slightly less than ten years, but each day since that unforgettable moment in July 1974 when I had received Jesus as my Savior, I had prayed for my dad’s salvation. Dad was the last “holdout” in our family. Prior to 1969, none of us had known Jesus as Lord and Savior, but since that time we had all become Christians—except Dad. My stubborn German father, though raised by a praying mother, had rejected his childhood faith and now insisted he was an atheist.
That night my family was sure all that would change, for Dad had agreed to accompany us to the Christmas Eve service. We had been shocked but thrilled when he accepted our invitation, since we invited him to church quite often and he always refused. For the first time, on that night of all nights when the faithful gather together to commemorate the birth of God’s Son, my dad was with us.
As the service progressed, I found myself peeking out of the corner of my eye every few moments to make sure he was still there, sitting next to my mom, whose face literally shone with joy and excitement. But so far nothing was happening. Dad sat perfectly still, his big hands resting in his lap, his broad shoulders straight, his lined face expressionless. With the service about to end, I found myself fighting discouragement.
And then the lights went down and, as if on cue, the parishioners seated on the center-aisle end of the pews passed small unlit candles to everyone in their row. At the same time two ushers began to make their way down the center aisle, stopping at the end of each pew and lighting the candle of the first parishioner in each row. Those parishioners then turned and lit the candle of the next person in the row, and so on until everyone held a lit candle.
Clutching my own candle as I waited for the usher to reach our row, I glanced over at my parents and realized my ever-practical father must have decided the process was going much too slowly, for he suddenly fished his cigarette lighter out of his pocket and started lighting candles. Within minutes he had lit every candle at his end of the pew and was reaching over to the people in the pew in front of us to start on theirs.
Fighting humiliation, I closed my eyes and felt the sting of unexpected tears as I realized my dad was simply trying to be helpful. I heard a couple of chuckles in nearby rows, but no one said anything until the usher arrived at our pew. With the glow from his candle illuminating his face, the smiling man thanked my father for his assistance. Dad returned his smile and assured him he was glad to be of help, and the gracious usher moved on.
It was nearly fifteen years later before the last “holdout” in our family responded to the loving call of his heavenly Father. At eighty-eight years of age, less than one week before his death in October 1999, my sweet but stubborn German father received Jesus as his Savior—and then promptly went home to be with Him.
I have thought of that Christmas Eve so many times over the last couple of decades. With the exception of occasional weddings, funerals, or baptisms, Dad never came back to church with us after that night, though we asked him nearly every week. There were times we wondered how God would ever penetrate Dad’s seemingly hard heart with the gospel, but we clung to the knowledge that God is faithful and nothing is impossible with Him. And how we rejoiced when God finally broken through Dad’s resistance and we saw the tears of joy in his clouded eyes. Though a series of small strokes had left him bedridden and unable to speak, we were thrilled each time he grinned and lifted his finger to point heavenward at the mention of the name of Jesus. And we were so very grateful. But I have to admit that, despite my gratitude and joy, I also wondered why Dad had waited so long to receive such a truly awesome gift. As it turned out, because he died in October, he never got to experience the wonder of Christmas as a believer—or did he?
As I thought and prayed about that very issue, I realized how I had allowed myself to get locked into dates. I knew, of course, that Jesus may not have been born exactly on December 25, but I hadn’t really considered that Christmas could be celebrated at any time other than on that precise date. And yet, I reasoned, wasn’t Christmas the celebration of the birth of God’s Son into the world? What, then, had happened in October 1999 just days before my dad slipped out of his earthly body and was whisked into the presence of God? Hadn’t Jesus been birthed by God’s Spirit into Dad’s heart? If I believed that—and I certainly did—then that wonderful day of new birth for my dad, though it took place in October, had been his personal Christmas celebration here on earth.
I was thrilled—not just because of what had happened to my father, but because I suddenly realized that the day of our salvation—our new birth—is also the day of our own personal Christmas. After knowing and walking with Jesus for more than a quarter of a century, I had come into a new and fresh appreciation of the most beautiful of all holidays. In fact, I realized how much more meaningful Christmas would be if, when we get together as a family to celebrate the gift of Jesus, we also recount our own Christmas stories, telling of the day Jesus was birthed into our hearts. If we have guests who have never received Jesus, it would be the perfect opportunity for them to do so.
But we wouldn’t have to stop there. Why not have several Christmas celebrations throughout the year? Regardless of the date, each time one of us comes to the anniversary of our new birth, we could have a Christmas party in honor of the event. Guests could bring gifts, and the person celebrating his or her own personal Christmas could designate a charity to receive them. It would provide us with opportunities to invite unsaved friends, neighbors, and loved ones, and to present the gospel to them throughout the year.
I will always cherish the memory of my dear father “helping” the ushers at that Christmas Eve candlelight service so many years ago, and the opportunities that it generated to make Christmas personal all year long and to tell others about the greatest gift ever given—God’s own Son, born into a world of sin that He might also be born in our hearts and wash those sins away forever.

*Printed first in “Victory in Grace” Magazine, December 2005; second in, December 2006.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Interview Available

I just completed an interview about Mothers of the Bible on the Debbie Chavez show. To hear it simply go to, click on archives and scroll down to today’s date to hear it. Blessings!

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Brilliant and Heart-Changing Read!

All right, I confess. Athol Dickson is my friend and he gave me a copy of his book in exchange for one of my own. But I promise you that my glowing review of his book has nothing to do with any of that.
Lost Mission by Athol Dickson is one of the most brilliant and compelling reads I've come across in a very long time. This skilled author has the ability to span the centuries and interweave two stories to make them one; the result is a breathtaking and epic saga of human endurance and humble love.
If you're looking for just the right Christmas present (for yourself and/or someone else!), I highly recommend this excellent book. You can learn more about Athol and his books at Blessings, dear readers!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Invite someone--and give them a free book

Want to help me and bless a friend at the same time? Invite someone to follow this blog, and if they sign up AND send me an email ( with their contact info AND tell me who sent them, that new blog follower will receive one of my books as a thank you/welcome. So get busy and start inviting!