Friday, December 16, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Some of you may remember this picture from Christmas 2010. One year ago on Christmas morning, my husband snapped this photo of me with my 89-year-old mother. Just over six months later, on July 2, 2011, we all gathered together to celebrate her 90th birthday. Then, on August 3, just one month and one day later, Mom "graduated to heaven," where she is now spending Christmas with the One whose birth we now celebrate.
Wow. What a difference a year makes! Or even a month or a week or a day. We aren't promised any time beyond this moment, at least so far as our temporal life here on earth, but we are promised eternity with Christ if we receive Him as our Savior and turn our lives over to Him.
Mom did that when she was fifty years old, and she lived the last forty of her years as a child of God. That's why, as Christmas 2011 closes in on us, we can rejoice for her even though our celebration is tinged with the sadness of missing her. We know where Mom is at this very moment, and one day soon we will join her there. What a great and precious promise!
If you haven't already settled that "forever issue" in your own heart, don't let another minute go by without doing so. None of us knows where we will be this time next year, but if we know the One who holds the future in His nail-scarred hands, we can rest in His eternal security. Just ask Him to forgive you, to be your Lord and Savior, to keep you close to His heart for all eternity--and He will faithfully do so. And then, if there's someone you need to visit or call or just makes things right with, do it now...while you still can. Trust me; you'll be glad you did.
Merry Christmas, beloved ones, and a joyous New Year to all of you!
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage (Psalm 84:5, NKJV).
Having just celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday, the word “pilgrim” is still fresh in my mind. I also can’t hear the word without thinking of John Wayne and his unique way of addressing others by the term “pilgrim.” But it’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come” (yes, that’s the full title!) by John Bunyan (published in 1678) that really captures the meaning of the word “pilgrimage” in Psalm 84.
The primary character in this never-out-of-print allegory is Christian, whose earthly journey is followed from his hometown of “City of Destruction” (this world) to “Celestial City” (that which is to come). Along the way Christian encounters nearly every temptation imaginable, is sidetracked, discouraged, and exhausted. But Christian also meets a friend on his journey—Faithful—who encourages him to keep going.
We can learn a lot from Christian and Faithful, the most important being that if we think we can survive our journey in our own strength, we will certainly meet with destruction. But Psalm 84 assures us that if we understand that God Himself is our strength and if we have set our hearts on allowing Him to carry us to the end of our pilgrimage from this temporal world to the eternal one, we are blessed indeed.
As we come together to celebrate our Lord’s birth and to look forward to all that God has purposed for us in the year to come, may we set our hearts afresh on pilgrimage and rejoice in the knowledge that God will surely bring us through.
Monday, December 12, 2011
Christmas greetings to you all!
I just realized I haven’t sent out a mass update since July 22, two weeks before my 90-year-old mother “graduated to heaven.” She’s spending this Christmas rejoicing in the presence of her Savior, reunited with my dad and so many other loved ones who went before her. We’re glad for her, of course, but it makes for a very different Christmas for our family, as she was the last of our parents and our children’s grandparents, so we will certainly miss her presence here with us.
As for publishing news, I released three more books this year, all novels—People of the Book in April, and Deliver Me From Evil and A Christmas Journey Home in September. Of course I’m now working fast and furiously on the next ones!
Al is still working in aerospace during the week, playing golf on the weekends—and enjoying his new 2005 sunburst orange Corvette, which he got when he finally traded in the Harley. So I’m still “Easy Writer” but now in a bit more comfort.
The kids and grandkids are all doing well, and our family continues to grow as we just got the announcement that our grandson Mikey (actively serving in the Navy and newly married) and his wife, Brittney, are expecting their first child (though not for about eight months yet). I can’t believe we’re talking about being great grandparents—again! Wow, are we getting old or what???
But we’re not so old that we can’t jump on a plane and fly to Hawaii for Christmas—which is exactly what Al and I are doing on Sunday, December 18. We’ll return on January 1 and dive right into the New Year then; meanwhile, MELE KELIKIMAKA to you all!
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
“If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way.
First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift”
(Matthew 5:23-24, NKJV).
Regrets. We all have them, don’t we? But one thing I’ve learned as we come closer to the end of our earthly life: ultimately it isn’t what we didn’t do for ourselves that we regret so much as what we didn’t do for others. I have absolutely no regrets over any kindness I’ve offered, any selfless deed I’ve performed, or any gift I’ve given. If I regret anything it’s those times I could have given but chose not to; times I served myself rather than others; times I spoke an unkind word rather than a healing one.
Billy Graham, in Nearing Home, writes, “Don’t come to the end of your life and look back with regret over a hurt that could have been forgiven or a relationship that could have been healed—if you had only seized the initiative and taken the first step.” Now is the time—right now, today, even this very moment—to seize the initiative and take that first step toward reconciling a broken relationship or encouraging someone in need or giving of yourself. How easy to put it off and tell ourselves we’ll do it “later,” but we aren’t promised later. This may be our only chance.
If we love God and regularly offer up praise and worship, prayers and thanksgiving to Him, then we need to heed the admonition in Matthew 5 to FIRST go to that one we’ve offended (or who has offended us) or from whom we are estranged for whatever reason—and do whatever we can to make it right. That person may or may not accept our efforts, but we will have gone a long way in ensuring we don’t reach the end of our earthly journey with a cartload of regrets following along behind us.
Friday, December 2, 2011
I love my church...and I imagine you do too. But have you noticed how easy it is for us to get trapped inside its four walls where everything is comfortable and familiar? God is calling us to "take it to the streets," to "go into all the world and preach the gospel." This excellent new resource from New Hope Publishers, Beyond My Church by Jason C. Dukes, will help propel you out those doors into effective, powerful ministry.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Thinking beyond your church matters because the unity of the church is imperative in order for the work of God to happen in our city and in our world. And not just unity in the one local church family that you call your
own. When all followers of Jesus actually love one another like Jesus loved us— living according to His ways rather than our own—then the world will see and, in turn, believe that Jesus was actually sent as the Son of God. This is the unity Jesus prayed for. It should be lived out among His followers and can only be present when
God is the force holding us all together.
In this new release by pastor Jason Dukes, you will explore this unity and discover how it can become part of the DNA of your local church expression.
For more info about the author or to order the book go to www.jasoncdukes.com