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Screen Shot 2018-07-28 at 9.38.04 PMI cannot remember when or where I heard it, but I doubt I will ever forget the acronym K.I.S.S. for Keep It Simple Stupid.

Life can get easier when we replace the confusing with the clear, the complicated with the simple.

When the Christian church first began, in a most unexpected way, there was a K.I.S.S principle that was loud and clear (though maybe a bit smokey).

It began at Pentecost, when all who were gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks were (literally) lit by the Holy Spirit.

This is what Christian community was birthed from, and it wasn’t without it’s doubters, as some thought that those speaking in the tongues of other nations were simply a little too full of the liquid spirits.

There are always cynics, always doubters.

The apostle Peter addressed the crowd, explaining the legitimacy of what was happening in terms of the prophesies of Joel, and the prophecies of their very own David, who shared the bloodline of their very own Messiah and Savior.

When the people heard the reference to their David, “they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37)

This is conviction, and …

 conviction of truth always makes us willing to do something.

Now, here’s a bit of bad news for those who teach and preach …

conviction does not come from the messenger,
but from the source of truth

Awhile back I watched an interview between Woody Allen and Billy Graham. As one might imagine it was a conversation of opposites in so many ways. It was also a conversation of light-hearted laughter … from both individuals. What I was reminded of was that Billy Graham understood and utilized the ultimate source of truth. When a question was asked of him, he did not respond with “I think …” but with “the Bible says …” He understood that it was not his words or thoughts that would convict, but the only source of truth we have at our disposal … the word of God.

And how did Peter respond to the conviction of the people gathered at Pentecost?

“Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39)

Peter didn’t pull that message out of his … hat. This was not his instruction for the people gathered, who were to become the early Christian church. This was the message that he received at the feet of Jesus himself … Jesus who is the truth incarnate.

For it was when the raised-from-the-dead Jesus commissioned his disciples that the truth of the instruction for conviction was given:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

There were no baptismal or membership classes to take, for this challenge was between truth that convicts, and the individual who is hearing the truth … with clarity that no other teacher or preacher can deliver.

Conviction is the igniting of the spark of the Holy Spirit

The passage, in Acts, ends with an alter call to be baptized, “and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (Acts 2:41)

They believed, and were baptized

It was that simple … it is that simple.

If we are convicted by truth, our conviction must cause us to do something. The next step is not dependent on first getting the whole of our lives in order. It does not require us to first cleanse our lives of every sin, or attend a class.

The Bible tells us what that when we experience such a conviction we simply must repent, and be baptized. Easie peasie. No perfection required, just obedience.

This is keeping things simple … K.I.S.S. principle, simple.

 

 

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As the Christmas season moves forward, our mailboxes provide delightful posts of encouragement, reconnection and well wishes with cards, letters and photos. I especially love the humorous one!images-13

I have the habit of sending mine out the week after Christmas …

Some years it was a card, some an update letter and now it is usually a family photo card … every second year.

Today’s guest post (Linda Ann Nickerson) is one I discovered when looking for Christmas poems. It is The Top 10 Famous Poems for Christmas Cards, and I am certain that many, if not most you have heard or read before.

The list caught my eye because I was certain that my most favorite of poems (Christmas focused or not) would be included in the list, and it was!

Just leave me a note here, or on Facebook as to which poem you think is my favorite, and maybe tell me if one of them is a favorite of yours too.

“To many folks, Christmas poems may be the most memorable verses of the entire year. These treasured verses do echo annually through our Christmas picture books and holiday greetings.

Here are our top 10 favorite famous Christmas poems for use in Christmas cards.

These famous Christmas poems include both lighthearted and lingering verse, but all are appropriate for holiday greetings. Readers may recognize some of these verses from traditional Christmas carols, as many of the most famous Christmas poems have been set to music over the years.

Favorite famous Christmas poems (or excerpts, in some cases) are listed here in alphabetical order (by author).

The Holy Night

We sate among the stalls at Bethlehem;
The dumb kine from their fodder turning them,
Softened their horned faces
To almost human gazes
Toward the newly Born:
The simple shepherds from the star-lit brooks
Brought their visionary looks,
As yet in their astonied hearing rung
The strange sweet angel-tonge:
The magi of the East, in sandals worn,
Knelt reverent, sweeping round,
With long pale beards, their gifts upon the ground,
The incense, myrrh, and gold
These baby hands were impotent to hold:
So let all earthlies and celestials wait
Upon thy royal state.
Sleep, sleep, my kingly One!

Elizabeth Barrett Browning
British Poetess
(1806 – 1861)

Some Children See Him

Some children see Him lily white,
the infant Jesus born this night.
Some children see Him lily white
with tresses soft and fair.

Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
the Lord of heav’n to earth come down.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown
with dark and heavy hair.

Some children see Him almond-eyed,
This Saviour whom we kneel beside.
Some children see Him almond-eyed
With skin of yellow hue.

Some children see Him dark as they,
Sweet Mary’s Son to whom we pray.
Some children see Him dark as they
And, ah, they love Him so.

The children in each different place
Will see the Baby Jesus’ face
Like theirs but bright with heav’nly grace
And filled with holy light.

O lay aside each earthly thing
and with thy heart as offering
Come worship now the infant King
‘Tis love that’s born tonight!”

Alfred Burt
American Composer
(1920 -1954)

The Christ-Child

“The Christ-child lay on Mary’s lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary’s breast
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary’s heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world’s desire.)

The Christ-child stood on Mary’s knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down.”

Gilbert K. Chesterton
British Author
(1874 – 1936)

Before the Ice

“Before the ice is in the pools,
Before the skaters go,
Or any cheek at nightfall
Is tarnished by the snow,
Before the fields have finished,
Before the Christmas tree,
Wonder upon wonder
Will arrive to me!”

Emily Dickinson
American Poetess
(1830 – 1886)

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet the words repeat,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had roll’d along th’ unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bow’d my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.

‘Til ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
American Author
(1807- 1882)

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

“‘Twas the night before Christmas,
when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
‘Now, Dasher! now, Dancer!
now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch!
to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!’

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes – how they twinkled!
his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses,
his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle,
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.'”

Clement Moore
American Author
(1779 – 1863)

Peace on Earth

“Peace on earth will come to stay,
When we live Christmas every day.”

Helen Steiner Rice
American Poetess
(1900 – 1981)

Love Came Down

“Love came down at Christmas;
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Stars and angels gave the sign.”

Christina G. Rossetti
British Poetess
(1830-1894)

Heap on the Wood

“Heap on the wood.
The wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.”

Sir Walter Scott
Scottish Author
(1771 – 1832)

A Christmas Prayer

“Loving Father,
help us to remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and the worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate and
open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift and
good desires with every greeting.

Deliver us from evil by the blessing
which Christ brings, and teach us to
be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy
to be Thy children, and the Christmas evening
bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.”

Robert Louis Stevenson
American Author
(1850 – 1894)”

 

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“He who has prepared us for this very thing is God”
2 Corinthians 5:5

I do not remember when I first heard this story, it is as though it has been in my consciousness always.

As a Christian I understand the Great Commission to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). But I have never felt called or led to ‘go’ beyond the communities that God has placed me in, so my understanding of missions to other nations is primitive.

I do not know what it is like to be called to be a missionary, but the story of the five missionary women … the five widows of slain missionary husbands, is one of great faith.

l_611aa810-7ca8-11e1-b8f8-f5714ed00001It is a true story, a missionary story, a story of faith.

It is also a story whose ending is not the tragedy, but the story after the tragic loss of the lives of the five men.

Below you will find a movie trailer for this story, and the full movie is available on YouTube.

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images-2Hum, this is a little awkward, but this guest post might be a little too … gritty for some of you.

This guest post is by a writer whose blog I have just recently subscribed to. She writes poignantly about whatever she chooses, often dealing with some of the daily plights that females might face.

The post I am providing a link to, today, is called Girl.

Girl reads something like a diary entry, written by a teenage girl. It is specific enough in it’s detail to let the reader understand the heart of this girl, yet leaves enough ‘holes’ where there is an absence of details to make you wonder.

As I read it I thought of the teenage girls I pass in the halls of the high school I work, every. day.

I thought of individual girls … girls who fake confidence … girls who ‘look’ tough … girls whose eyes … don’t … look.

Girls who struggle to fit. anywhere. with anyone.

Girls who were once …

cradled in their mother’s arms

cheered as they took their first steps

wondered at the bean seed they planted

smiled proudly as they were applauded at Christmas concerts

giggled with their girlfriends while swinging higher on the playground

What happened?

What is happening?

To our girls.

I say this as a mom who delights in the whimsical, beautiful, confusing, frustrating, magical, wonder-filled packages of hormone-filled females that my daughters are.

I say this as woman who works in a high school, and I see girls who are losing … have lost, all that they were created for.

I say this as a Christian woman, who knows that my breaking, broken heart for this beautiful creatures is breaking and broken like their Creator.

They were created for

SO MUCH MORE!

So, some of you might not want to click on the link I have provided today.

It might be too gritty.

It might be too upsetting.

But, I believe, it is the social justice issue that never gets mentioned, has always existed, and is within the power of all of us living in the First World to improve, impact, and maybe even … change.

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I was introduced to this comedian by a young lady while on vacation in San Francisco a few years ago, and I have never had a ‘normal’ pedicure since!

Anjelah Johson is a brilliant young comedian, who is able to completely entertain and amuse without violating my course language sensitive ears.

In this particular skit, Anjelah shares her experience of going to have a manicure at a nail salon. I have never been to the ‘Beautiful Nail’, but I am sure that ‘Tammy’ works at the place I have gone to!

Enjoy a four minute giggle … a great way to start the weekend!

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Corrie Ten Boom …images-2

Those of us who know of her story feel the weight of our own struggles melt away, in the shadow of what she suffered.

Those of us who know of her story and who hold onto bitterness for the things that others have done to us, feel guilt for not forgiving knowing what she could forgive the awful atrocities she had endured … even the loss of her dear sister, Betsy.

Corrie Ten Boom …

  • her family worked in the Netherlands to save many Jews running and hiding from the Nazi SS
  • someone squealed on their good work
  • Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp
  • both sisters suffered terrible atrocities in the camp
  • Betsie died
  • Corrie lived
  • Corrie came face to face with one of the guards, many years later
  • she had to choose whether or not to forgive

Please take a moment to hear, in the words of Corrie Ten Boom, about forgiveness.

… but He can!

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I remember vividly being dropped off at Sunday School as a child, and being very nervous, because I knew that the teacher would want to hear my memory verse. I was never so good at memorizing.

imagesAs an adult, I am still not so good at memorizing.

Oh, I have students memorize, I encourage others to memorize, and I still sometimes try to memorize … I am just not very good at it.

The memorizing of scripture is a good, helpful and wise thing to be actively, regularly doing.

Presently I am working on a portion of Psalm 139 … I aim to have memorized it by a speaking date in May (imagine a clammy-palmed, dry throat, finger-nail chewing middle aged lady cowering in a chair … that would me be imagining that I can actually do this!

But, I am going to try … because it really is good for me!

John Piper is a brilliant author, speaker, pastor (I also realized when watching this video that he does a great impression of a bobble head doll). Check out his eight sentences on the value of memorizing scripture.

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