Monday, December 29, 2008

Squirrel Makeover

A friend of mine told me about the time he was trying to get rid of the abundance of squirrels in his yard. He was trying to humanely trap them and release them far away, but was convinced that the same squirrels were returning to his yard. Since nobody believed him, he decided to paint the squirrels to see if they were the same ones. You guessed it. They were!

I read a story this week that reminded me of my friend. It seems that in a community called Stubbington in the southern part of England, a purple squirrel has caused quite a stir. No one can explain why the squirrel is purple. The color doesn’t seem to be topical, the purple goes right down to the roots of his fur and is very uniform throughout.

Dr Mike Edwards, an English teacher, said, "I was sitting in my classroom and looked out the window and saw it sitting on the fence. I had to do a double take. Since then it's been a bit of a regular at the school - everyone's seen it. We thought it might have been paint or something but then when you look at it up close, it's an all over coat, not in patches like you'd expect if it had been near some paint. Its fur actually looks purple all the way through. It's an absolute mystery."

The article about the purple squirrel goes on to say that they had seen him hanging around a dumping area for old computer printers. They think he may have rolled in ink toner or perhaps ingested some to create his purple hue.

Perhaps this is the squirrel’s new look for the New Year. Many of us make an effort to start a new year out with a new look, a new attitude, new habits, or new commitments. Many times these last for a while but are not lasting changes.

The problem is twofold. First, habits that need to be learned or unlearned take time. We are a culture of instant satisfaction, so when in 30 minutes we don’t look like the guy on TV who is selling 30 Minute Abs; we give up and stop trying. The second problem is that when we try to accomplish things on our own, we sometimes fail. We need to strength of God and others to help us truly change.

Jeremiah 13:23 says, Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil. In other words, if our habits are evil, then we cannot become “good” on our own without true change that comes only from God.

Does that mean we should stop trying to do good? No, but we should try to allow God to do good through us, rather than trying and failing ourselves. There are many habits and desires that we can control. We can choose to avoid that certain website or refrain from stopping by the local watering hole. We can choose to speak positively instead of negatively to others. There are many choices we can control, but without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are likely to make the wrong choices.

There are several ways to allow true change in your life this year. First, if you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, please contact me or another Christian who can talk with you about that. This is the first step to true change. Second, avoid the things of the world that you know will stain you. Just like the squirrel, you might wind up a very odd color that might look good and interesting to the world, but will be unappealing to God. Third, seek the help of a friend or family member who can help you on your journey. There is power and strength in numbers, especially when they are all under the command of the Father.

Whatever your resolutions are this year; I hope they include Christ and His Kingdom. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a New Year filled with the blessings of God.

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:25a-27 NIV)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of my readers. It has been another wonderful year in Edgefield. My children continue to grow, my wife and I are closer than ever, and the church is doing well. My hope and prayer is that you will find Jesus Christ in your Christmas, and that God would bless you beyond measure.
Just for fun, I thought some of you might enjoy reading about some of our Christmas superstitions and traditions. (Follow this link to read the article.
From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Blue Christmas

The hopes and fears of all the years, are met in thee tonight.

Christmas is here! For some of us, this time is filled with joy, family, friends, too many gifts to buy, too many parties to attend, too many snacks and meals to prepare, and too little time in which to accomplish all of it. Homes are decorated, carols are sung, and festive colors are worn.

For many people, however, it is a time that comes and goes without much fanfare. To them it is a lonely time. It is a time when perhaps loved ones who have gone to be with the Lord are missed or money is extremely tight or other circumstances get in the way of experiencing the joy others seem to have during this season.

Those who truly enjoy the season try to help those who do not in a variety of ways, and it may help for a short time. However, after the food, fruit baskets, inclusion in a dinner, or some small gift is gone, the feelings of despair and loneliness often come racing back like a cold December wind.

We know that there are these two extremes during Christmas, but I believe there is another group of people we must pray for and embrace this holiday. These are the people who seem to have it all together, but are empty on the inside. These suffer silently. There are no extensions of goodwill to them, because they do not seem to be in despair. These people are hard to spot, because they go through the motions of Christmastime well. They smile, shake hands, hug, give gifts, decorate, and enjoy the festivities just like everyone else. If we could see inside them, we would see that they are on auto-pilot.

These are the people who skip meals quietly to make sure their kids have something to eat. They use every little bit they can squeeze out of toothpaste, soap, and laundry detergent so they can have enough money to buy that one special present for their spouse. They reluctantly spend the money to bring that $5 present to the office Christmas party, not because they don’t want to participate, but because they could use it elsewhere. They sing carols about a King born in a stable and laid in a manger, but they feel as though He has been forgotten in the season that bears His name. Perhaps they too, feel forgotten in the shuffle of Christmas.

You’ll never hear them complain of their problems. You’ll see them at the parties. You may sit beside them at church. You will just see them going through the empty motions of an otherwise joyous season. Maybe this person is actually you.

This Christmas season, pray for God to lead you to someone who may have a need that they would never share with anyone. God knows who they are, and if He places someone on your heart, do not hesitate to act. If you are actually the person I described, know that God loves you very much. So much, that He wants to give you a full life. Turn all of your dreams, hurts, burdens, and fears over to the God who loves you enough to send His Son, into this crazy, misguided world to show us the way back home to Him.

The Lord hears his people when they call to Him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. (Psalm 34:17-19 NLT)