Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Do You Hear What I Hear?

The following video was sent to me by a friend. It is from a web site called

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Season of Wonder

"Snow Swing" Photo by Pat Barrett

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” ~ Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)

The following poem was written by my friend, Patricia Barrett. What I like about Pat’s poem is that it addresses the reality of the stress that goes along with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but then it gently reminds us how we can combat that stress – by focusing on Jesus, the true “reason for the season” of wonder.

Season of Wonder
By Patricia Kohls Barret

The season of wonder is upon us
As stores start displays earlier each year
How do we value Advent moments,
As observance of His birth draws near?

Are we in awe of that strange phenomenon,
When God confined Himself to a womb?
Because of love for His rebellious creation
He came to save them from eternal doom

Do we listen to the words of the carols?
Do we think of the meaning of each verse,
As we rush to shop and buy presents,
And dig down for money in our purse?

Is there joy in our hearts as we sing,
Familiar words, “The Lord is come”?
Does “Loves Pure Light” glow in our spirits?
Or do “worldly cares” make them numb?

To celebrate “the reason for the season”
Each person must prioritize his mind
Keep God’s Word and message in the forefront
Looking for ways to be loving and kind

The Spirit uses The Word to stir within
He creates peace and love that pours out
To spread and multiply blessings to folks
Creating harmony and joy worth a shout


"Maybe Christmas", he thought, "doesn't come from a store."
"Maybe Christmas ... perhaps ... means a little bit more!"

In Who-ville they say
That the Grinch's small heart
Grew three sizes that day!

~ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957)


The Greatest Gift

By Eileen Umbehr

The greatest gift of all
Isn’t diamonds or gold
The greatest gift of all
Never rusts or gets old

The greatest gift of all
Isn’t being wined or dined
The greatest gift of all
Is the easiest to find

The greatest gift of all
Isn’t the latest craze
The greatest gift of all
Lasts more than three days

The greatest gift of all
Can’t be purchased in a store
It comes straight from the heart
And lasts forevermore

Yes, the greatest gift of all
Doesn’t cost a dime
For the greatest gift of all
Is the gift of time.

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins."

~ Matthew 1:21

"Icy Limb" Photo by Pat Barrett

Perfect Peace (of Mind) Part II

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that . . . But love your enemies, do good to them . . . Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

~ Luke 6:36,37

Last week I wrote about two of the three areas of life that we have no control over: the past and the present. This week I’d like to continue with #3 on the list.


I’ve actually covered this subject in some recent columns. In my column titled What’s Wrong With Being Right, I included the following excerpts from Dr. John Townsend’s book, Who’s Pushing Your Buttons:

“It makes sense [that] you care about the button-pusher and want things to go well between the two of you. Yet that person is free to choose his behavior toward you, his attitudes, and whether he even wants to be in a relationship with you. . . .

God understands
this dilemma. He knows it conceptually, and He knows it in experience. God lives in it every day, caring about us and just wanting a relationship with us that is for our best; yet He gives us the freedom to say no to Him, which we often do. . . .

God desires the connection profoundly, yet He does not violate the free will that He also created within us. He allows Himself to experience that sort of tension, not because it is good or pleasant for Him, but because freedom is the only way that we will ever have a relationship that comes from within – from the heart – and is not forced or controlled. That is the only sort of relationship He is interested in.”

When a friend of mine was going through a divorce, she wondered why God didn’t fix her situation and save her marriage. But when the answer to your prayer involves another person and their choices, God is limited in what He can do. He can’t interfere with or violate that person’s free will. It’s just like salvation – God offers it freely to everyone, but He won’t force anyone to love Him, serve Him, or believe in Him. And even though God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell, the choice is up to each individual based on whether they choose to accept – by believing – or reject God’s gift of forgiveness.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
~ Romans 5:6-8

In the November 2008 edition of “Our Daily Bread,” published by RBC Ministries, they explain it this way: “Not even God, with all His power, will force a human being to love Him.”

As for dealing with other people, the only person you actually have any control over is yourself. (And for me, that’s a full time job!) Oh, but how often do we try to control those around us: our co-workers, friends, parents, siblings, children, spouses and partners? But instead of trying to change people or control them, we should just focus on loving them and praying for them.

“You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven . . . If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others?”

~ Matthew 5:43-47

I’d like to close with this poem I wrote recently:

Live and Let Live

By Eileen Umbehr

The world is your oyster,
And my world is mine.
If we’ll just respect each other,
We should get along fine.

Although you don’t like how I sing
Or enjoy my song
If that’s how you feel,
Then just don’t sing along

But please don’t tell me that my pitch
Is too high or too low
For it’s my song to sing
And it’s all that I know

Just because we are different
Doesn’t mean that we’re wrong
Like the colors of the rainbow
We all still belong

You see life is like a game
Of tic, tac, toe
Some of us are x’s
And others are o’s

So don’t compare me to others
Nor them to me
Because we’re all different fish
In the same great big sea

And rather than get angry
At the things that I do
Why don’t I focus on me
And you focus on you?

Because no one likes to feel
Like they’re under attack
And if you growl at me
I might have to growl back!

So let’s live and let live
As the saying goes
Then maybe we’ll avoid stepping
On each other’s toes

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

~ Philippians 4:6,7 (NIV)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Perfect Peace (of Mind) - Part I

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” ~ Isaiah 26:3 (ESV)

The message of this week’s column is simple:

Don’t camp on what you can’t control!

There are three major areas of life that you can’t control: the past, the future, and other people. Let’s examine each of these a little further:


The past, represented by hurts inflicted by others and regrets over our own mistakes and misdeeds, has already passed! There’s nothing we can do about events that have already happened, so there’s no sense wasting our time and energy dwelling on them. Rehashing the past is like driving down a road and stopping every five miles to turn back around and revisit places you’ve already been. It’s hard to make any real progress that way. The same is true in life. Since we can’t change the past, the next best thing to do is to utilize the lessons learned to avoid the same situation and make better decisions in the future.

“Not that I have now attained [this ideal] or am already made perfect….but one thing I do – it is my one aspiration; forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.”

~ Philippians 3:12-14


The future is represented by events that may or may not occur at some point in the future. Obviously we have no control over something that hasn’t even happened yet. Since many of the things we worry about never happen anyway, it behooves us to focus on living one day at a time.

“Worrying happens today but it’s always about yesterday or tomorrow.”

~ Joyce Meyer

In his book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie encourages his readers to live in “Day-tight Compartments.” That advice originated in the Bible, as found in Matthew chapter 6, verses 25, 26 and 33, 34:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Dale Carnegie further suggests that we focus on the 90 per cent of our life that is good instead of the 10 per cent that is bad. Another tip Carnegie shares for reducing worry is to busy yourself with making other people happy.

“. . .[T]hose who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

~ Proverbs 11:25b (NLT)

Not too long ago I came across a box of old books in our barn. One of the titles caught my eye, so I decided to dust it off and read it. The book is titled: "Be the Person You Were Meant to Be” by Dr. Jerry Greenwald. At the beginning of the book, Greenwald refers to a philosopher named Gestalt who addresses the subject of the past and future versus the present. Gestalt believed that a person need not “undo, work through, or otherwise eliminate the toxic effects of past experiences by delving into them. On the contrary, the deliberate attempt to probe into the past for this purpose simply perpetuates the destructive power of these obsolete experiences which belong to the reality of an earlier era of the person's life. They serve largely to distort the reality of his present functioning, his concept of his self, and his ways of relating to the world. . . .”

Dr. Greenwald states that while past relationships and experiences certainly shape an individual’s attitudes and ways of reacting in the present, “the letting go of those attitudes and behavior patterns which are toxic begins the moment one focuses his attention on the present . . . “

He goes on to explain that the goal of Gestalt's philosophy/therapy is to "melt the toxic power of the past by learning to focus on the present. When a person lives wholly in the now, the past with all its destructive effects recedes into the background of his behavior and loses its power."

“We over-exaggerate yesterday, over-estimate tomorrow, and under-estimate today. We compound our fears and frustrations by taking on the cares of yesterday or tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a good day if we do the right things today. So many times we are repairing instead of preparing. Don’t use today to grieve over the mistakes of yesterday or worry about the events of tomorrow. Live one day at a time.”

~ John Maxwell, author of Life Matters

To be continued . . .