One of my most favorite spectator sports is ice skating.Men and women perform spectacular feats on a thin blade and make it look effortless.Whether fiery skaters or more classical, I love it all!
On a recent Ice Wars competition, the 2006 Olympic gold medalist from Japan, Shizuka Arakawa, glided on the ice as though she was in another world.She met all of the required technical elements including the triple Lutz, the triple Salchows, camel spin, etc.Her signature move is the Ina Bauer, requiring tremendous back flexibility and upon watching her, I could barely catch my breath.It was awesome!
Most amazing to me was her choice of music.She skated to “Ave Maria” and another skater chose “I can only imagine” by MercyMe.Not the usual choices of music, I thought.It caught me totally by surprise, but what a wonderful surprise!God has given such gifts to these talented skaters and two chose works that touched my soul.(Part of the lyrics to I Can Only Imagine is below…)
I Can Only Imagine…
"I can only imagine what it will be like, when I walk by Your side... I can only imagine, what my eyes will see, when Your Face is before me! I can only imagine. I can only imagine.
Surrounded by Your Glory, what will my heart feel? Will I dance for you, Jesus? Or in awe of You, be still? Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing 'Hallelujah!'? Will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine! I can only imagine!
I can only imagine, when that day comes, when I find myself standing in the Son! I can only imagine, when all I will do, is forever, forever worship You! I can only imagine! I can only imagine!
Brothers and sisters in Christ, have you heard His call?You are invited to have a very real and personal relationship with our Lord and Savior.Are you ready to know Jesus as your Lord?
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I come before you today and ask your forgiveness.I ask You to be the Lord of my life and to abide in my heart.
No matter what I’m going through in life, what I’m consumed with, and or what fills up my everyday life, I need to stop and take a deep breath and remember what’s really important.Everything I’ve gone through, I realize You are there with me and I give You thanks and praise Your name!
Christians all over the world are have been clamoring about the commercialization of Christmas.We're upset that the retail industry and the media have taken "Christ out of Christmas."We want people to know that the reason we celebrate Christmas is because it's Christ birthday - The day God gave us a Savior.
Is that the only reason we celebrate - the only "reason for the season"?
For several days I've been seeing images of the crucifixion; except, instead of the rugged and barren rocks of Golgotha, I've been seeing a beautiful hill, covered with green grass and flowers.The cross was there, but the scene was strangely beautiful, not horrific - it made no sense to me.Then, finally, my heart got the message.
Was the crucifixion horrible…? No!It was beautiful… It's why He was born.The event itself was unspeakable hideous; but, the reason was love itself - beautiful, unconditional and everlasting love.Jesus spoke to my heart saying, "You were separated from Me.Golgotha is why I came.I care for you and that's how I brought you back to Me.Golgotha was My greatest glory… not Bethlehem."
Yes, Christmas is about the birth of Christ.But, we must remember the reason He was born… he was born to die for us.He was born to die so that we might have life everlasting (John 18:37 KJV).Could you ever imaging a greater reason to celebrate?
GospeLines Prayer:Father, fill our hearts with thanksgiving for the birth of Your Son, our Brother and Savior Jesus.Fill us with the realization that Your love for us is so great that Your Son would come to the earth for the sole purpose to die a horrible death that we might be returned to You eternally.Let this sacrifice, this gift of love, fill us with the resolve to worship and serve You all of our days.Let us wish you "Happy Birthday Jesus!" every day of our lives.Amen and Amen!
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
- Philippians 2:5
≈ Devotional for Wednesday: January 10, 2007
"From A Tent to a Temple"
When I was nineteen years old, my parents decided to build a new brick home with three bedrooms, a formal living room and dining room, and a den! We put our old house up for sale and it sold about six months before we were ready. That meant moving into very cramped temporary quarters with two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a one car garage (which we used for everything but cars). The closet in my bedroom had been converted into a kitchen pantry, so I lived out of a suitcase during those months. I didn't complain much, however, because my younger sister slept on the couch.
The worst part about it was being in transition all that time, knowing that nothing was permanent. I can't say that I know how the Children of Israel felt during their years of wandering, but it was as close to their experience as this city boy wants to get!
At last, Jehovah told David that is was time to settle down. "I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought Israel up out of Egypt to this day. I have moved from one tent site to another, from one dwelling place to another." (1 Chronicles 17:5) Why did God decide to exchange His tent for a temple? Some think the temple was built after Israel became firmly established in the Promised Land. Others say that the temple, built on a firm foundation of solid rock, pointed toward the coming Messiah... the rock of our salvation.
Some Christians spend their lives being "unsettled" in their relationship with God. Instead of enjoying a life built upon a solid foundation of faith, they ride the roller coaster of inconsistency. Beloved, become settled in your Christian walk. Allow the Holy Spirit to teach you the unchanging truths of God's Word. Enjoy the blessings of a firm foundation by exchanging your nomadic relationship with God for one that is secure, solid and safe.
GospeLines Prayer: (Borrowed from Psalm 84)
"How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God... Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked."
"God's curse will no longer be on the people of that city.He and the Lamb will be seated there on their thrones, and its people will worship God and will see him face to face.God's name will be written on the foreheads of the people.Never again will night appear, and no one who lives there will ever need a lamp or the sun.The Lord God will be their light, and they will rule forever." (Revelation 22:3-5, CEV)
Admit it. Like most children, there was a time when you were afraid of the dark. I certainly was. Remember that spine-tingling fear when you would cover your head in the night so the shadows would go away? Or, did you keep the light on… just in case?As we grew, we learned that despite the darkness we could hold on to hope and move toward the light. God was right there the entire time.
60 Minutes featured a most disturbing segment on the genocide in Rwanda. We were introduced to Immaculee Ilibagiza, a college-educated woman survivor who revealed her personal struggle during a very dark period in their country. (The Hutus killed the Tutsis partially because Hutus perceived the Tutsis had the better life, jobs, and housing.) As I watched the story unfold, it made me realize how cruel human beings can be!
Out of fear of the escalating violence, Immaculee’s father contacted a minister to hide and protect his daughter. (It must have been God’s doing, as the minister was a Hutu.) The minister hid her along with seven other women in a remote part of his home. These women lived in fear as they heard the militia search every inch of the house on several occasions. At any moment they knew they could be discovered and killed and the minister surely would be killed for hiding them.
Imagine having lived with seven others in a space the size of your half-bathroom. Imagine not being able to bathe, to brush your teeth, or having very little food over an extended period of time. And, you could only flush the toilet when someone else in the house did so.
This bathroom had a small window with very little light. The darkness permeated their very existence. On occasion, they’d venture out into a larger room, aware that any movement provided an even better chance of discovery.
After nine months, the women finally convinced the minister to help them reach a camp filled with their own people. They made it out of their personal darkness into the light during the wee hours of the night.
After her freedom, Immaculee also learns that a former neighbor (a Hutu) whom she’s known since childhood murdered two of her cousins. Despite that knowledge, she forgave him. She has a capacity that is beyond our understanding.
GospeLines Prayer: Father, through this story you have shown us the light of your love and how to escape the darkness in our lives through forgiveness.
Let us be reminded of the words of the hymn, “I want to walk as a child of the light, I want to follow Jesus. God set the stars to give light to the world. The light of my life is Jesus. In Him there is no darkness at all. The night and the day are both alike. The Lamb is the light of the city of God. Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus!”
The transition from high school graduate to college freshman was a mischievous journey of youthful blunders and academic laziness. In the Fall of 1962, thankfully, there wasn't a lot of trouble for an eighteen year old to get into in Brownwood, TX, especially at a Baptist College. By the time they let the freshmen on campus the first football game was history. There were rumors that some of our upper-classmen spent the night in an Abilene jail because they were caught "painting campus." The tradition was, to travel to the opposing team's campus the night before the game, paint our school's initials on everything you could, and return home without getting caught. It wasn't as malicious as it sounds - we used whitewash which could be easily removed.
A knock came on my dormitory door the night before our second game, which was against Abilene Christian College. As a part of freshman initiation, I was expected to obey my upper-classmen (within reason). "Let's go, Freshman!" they barked in mock anger. So we piled in a car and headed north. After about 45 minutes I asked where we were going. "Abilene," was the response. "Why?" I queried. "We're going to Abilene Christian College to paint campus." I had never spent the night in jail before, so I began to wonder how I would explain to my parents that on my second night away from home, at a Baptist college, I was arrested.
Our first stop was the football stadium which was surrounded by a seven foot chain-link fence with barbed wire on top. It took awhile to hurdle it but soon we were at the fifty yard line inscribing our initials with 50 pound bags of dry lime on the wet grass. About ten minutes into our work I looked across the campus where I saw the men's dormitory a hundred yards away. It was well after midnight, and there were students running out of the dormitory toward their cars. We had been caught! Instead of trying to hide we decided to make a run for it. We dropped everything and sprinted toward the fence (It didn't taken nearly as long to get over the second time). When we reached the Brownwood highway we were sure we were safe, until two cars suddenly came upon us from behind. The first one passed… IT WAS SOME OF OUR CLASSMATES. Later we learned that it was they who were running out of the dormitory where they had been painting on doors, walls, etc. etc. The second car had red lights on top and pulled us both over. The officer shined his flashlight inside and asked what we were doing. It wasn't like it was a secret anymore, we were covered with whitewash. So I spoke up and said that we had been painting campus.
What that Abilene police officer said next shocked me, but I will remember it as long as I live. He said, "Well, like my Daddy always said, if you are going to do something, do a good job, so good luck!" We made a U-turn, retrieved our whitewash and finished the job!
That night I learned about mercy, but those words also remind me that any task worth doing is worth doing right! Whether it is in relationships, work, or play, we have a responsibility to give it our very best effort. Whatever God has placed before you, He has enabled you to perform the task. Call upon His unlimited resources and invest yourself in a way that would honor your Father.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, keep me from becoming slothful in my commitments. Instill in my soul the importance of behaving as though You are the audience, when I am on the job, in my sanctuary of worship, or when I am a father and a husband. In every part of my life, give me the desire to offer the best I can give. Amen and amen.