I pray that your New Year will be filled with vision
I pray that your New Year will be filled with faith
I pray that your New Year will be filled with prayer
I pray that your New Year will be filled with worship
I pray that your New Year will be filled with grace
I pray that your New Year will be filled with gratitude
I pray that your New Year will be filled with hope
I pray that your New Year will be filled with patience
I pray that your New Year will eb filled with love
I pray that your New Year will be full of oportunities bless others
I pray that your New Year will have more time for you to "be still and know" that He is God
I pray that your New Year will find you surrounded by family and friends
I pray that your New Year will find you closer to God than ever
I pray that your New Year will find you connecting to God in ways that you never thought possible
grace and peace, jimmy
We spent our Thanksgiving in Colorado with my brother Ben, and his lovely bride Lindsay! We had several day trips up to the mountains, to take hikes, and this trip to Red Rocks.
Here is the whole family! This is the first time in years that we've had all the siblings in one place at one time! Here's the list of who's who, from the left; Sam, Me, Mary, Dad, Mom, Josiah, Ben, and Hezekiah.
We drove through the Rockies all day Friday to find snow. The boys really wanted to play in the snow. This is the first time Malachi has been in the snow. They had a blast!
It was really cool to be with the whole family for the holidays.
I was a little stressed though. Not because of Thanksgiving, but because I was scheduled to make my speaking debut at church the following weekend! I can usually put my thoughts together pretty good when I can sit down and type something up but speaking to a live audience really freaks me out. So, when we weren't off on field trips I was studying on my laptop preparing for the weekend. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. If you would like to hear the message click the link below. If you don't have time to listen to the whole thing I think the last 15 minutes were the best.
CLICK HERE to listen to Jimmy's message on worship.
I do believe that we, as believers, should spur each other on to good works. I believe that iron sharpens iron, but I've also come to the conclusion that when our attacks on each other are less than loving, and all too public, that it can be damaging to the witness of the church. I cringe when I think of the possibility that a non believer could stumble upon my rants and raves as I tear apart the church, and decide that they want nothing to do with such a dysfunctional family.
We are the body of Christ. We are flawed for sure, but we need each other, we need to build each other up, we need to support each other.
"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life, your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life, and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.
In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.
"Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with, even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.
For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ's table, wouldn't it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn't eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God's welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.
Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.
What's important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you're a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It's God we are answerable to, all the way from life to death and everything in between, not each other. That's why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.
So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I'd say it leaves you looking pretty silly, or worse. Eventually, we're all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren't going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture:
"As I live and breathe," God says,
"every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will tell the honest truth
that I and only I am God."
So tend to your knitting. You've got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.
It's been two months since we lost Katie's father. The grieving process is a fascinating thing. It sucks. We're still neck deep in dealing with all the emotions that go along with this process. The interesting thing is how vastly differently we deal with it.
I've thrown myself into work and helping out at Albert's house (we're almost finished with the remodel and getting ready to put it on the market). Katie is still having a really hard time with all of this. She still cries a lot.
Obadiah understood immediately what we were telling him when we walked him home from school that day. His grief came in quick, unexpected, violent spurts. Malachi didn't get it for a long time. He would bring the phone to Katie and ask if he could talk to Grandpa Albert. He knew that Grandpa was in heaven but he kept asking when he was coming back, as if he was just on a trip. On this past Saturday we were on the way over to the house to work some more on the remodel and Malachi asked once again, "when is Grandpa coming back from heaven?" I told him, "buddy, he's not coming back. That's where he lives now."
And it finally clicked. He cried all the way to the house.
Still, every day gets a little better. Little by little. I've got a friend who lost his father a few years ago and he tells me "it never goes away, you just get used to it." Maybe that's what is happening. Maybe we're just getting used to the pain, little by little.
Thanks again for your prayers.
grace and peace, jimmy
Two months ago I told you about my favorite place on earth. I told you about the grove in Northern California, the place that makes me feel closer to God. I told you that in my opinion it was the most beautiful place in all of creation.
What I didn't tell you was how I found the grove. I was introduced to this amazing place by my Father In Law, Albert Merritt.
The first time Albert took me to the grove he told me that this was his favorite place on earth, that it made him feel closer to God, and that in his opinion it was the most beautiful place in all of creation.
We visited the grove again yesterday. This time it was to spread Albert's ashes.
I learned a lot of things from Albert. He had a deep love of God, and it was contagious. He was passionate. If he loved something you had to love it too. If he liked a book, he'd buy 6 copies and hand them out. Same thing with CD's. He was the same way about his love for Jesus. He wanted you to experience the same joy he felt. He had a relationship with his kids and grandkids that I hope to have with my kids and grandkids. He accepted me into his family and loved me as one of his own. He talked straight. You never head to guess what he was thinking. He loved life, but he didn't hold on too tightly. He wasn't afraid to die.
His death was tragic and unexpected and our family is still in shock. We are mourning the loss of his companionship for ourselves and our children. We will miss him.
We appreciate your prayers as we navigate this painful chapter in our lives.
I can't believe how big my kids are getting! Obadiah is getting so tall, and Malachi is outgrowing all of his clothes! I'm amazed at how smart they are getting and how quickly they are turning from little kids into big boys!
Today was a milestone for us. It is Obadiah's first day of school! He's been so excited! For the last two weeeks he's been counting down the days to when he could start school. He would frequently say, "I wish summer was over so I could go to school!"
I'm gonna remind him of that someday.
There are two podcasts which I just listened to the other day that were on this very topic. One podcast was featuring an interview with Rob Bell, author of "Velvet Elvis", and the other was an interview of Eugene Peterson, author of "The Message".
Both podcasts are from the people who put on the Catalyst Conference. You can go to www.catalystspace.com to download the podcast and sign up for their online newsletter, and you can subscribe to their podcast at iTunes.
Katie and I are going to endeavour to make Sabbath a priority for our family. We are committing one day a week to relaxing. No work, no lists, no errands, no shopping, no church, no cell phones, no email, nothing, just relaxing and enjoying God's, and each other's presence.
When I want to get close to God I try to find a quiet place, outdoors if possible, where I can experience the beauty of God's creation. Last week Katie and I went with family and friends to the Northern Coast of California. We spent several days in one of the most beautiful places on earth. As soon as I got out of cell phone range it almost felt like I could feel my soul batteries being charged. I love getting away like this.
This makes me feel closer to God.
But there was one thing that caught me off guard. One of the first things that you see when you walk into the exhibit is coats that were taken off of the backs of the Jewish prisoners before they were lead into the gas chambers.
At about eye level were two children's coats that would have fit my sons perfectly.
This was an inscription at the Jefferson Memorial. It's kind of hard to see in the picture, but the first half of the inscription is pretty amazing. It reads:
"God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are a gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever."
We had a great trip and it was very refreshing, but it's nice to be back home and to tuck our babies in at night.