All posts in Christian Living

A Clean Page

I clapped my hands and jumped with delight while an unsuspecting client and reserved office manager looked on.

“Yay!” They had no idea a new $4.95 desk calendar could make me jump for joy.

It’s like that with organizers, too. In late November, I visited Staples and stared at the assortment of day planners, notebooks, and organizers. Several other women stared with me. I would pick one up, flip through the pages and put it back, mentally calculating how it would or wouldn’t fit in my purse. Or if I had enough space to write everything  down that was important in my life. Or if it had pretty pages that made me smile.

I even struck up conversations with fellow shoppers. One woman was a hair stylist, so she needed a large planner with a month in advance. Another woman refused to speak with me and looked uncomfortable. A soul-mate shared her suggestions and criticisms about each.

Finally, I chose one. Checking out with a smile on my face, I drove quickly home and ran into the house. I grabbed my pencil to mark appropriate birthdays, and holidays only to realize the planner began in July of 2017 and ended in July of 2018. Disheartened, I phoned my daughter and explained my predicament. (She too, is an organizer junkie.)

“I bought mine from Target, and I love it. I think you’d like it, too,” she suggested.

“Could you go to the store right now and pick one up?” I asked hopefully.

She laughed. “I’ll look tomorrow.” And then I pouted.

A few years ago, when I worked at a school, my friend and co-worker and I would search out desk calendars with flowers and various colors on each month that made us happy.

There is something about tearing the sheet off of the old calendar, and flipping over to the new. It is like a new start.

I don’t know about you, but I need new starts.

Philippians 3:13, 14 states:

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.…”

It is easy to look back. It’s also hard to change. But I am not alone. The God I serve has forgiven me of past, present, and future sins. He gives me both the desire and the strength to become more like Him. And He loves me–just the way I am.

So, tomorrow, I start with my new planner given to me by my daughter. (It even has stickers.) I do not know what 2018 holds. But I know The One Who does.

And He is good.

I’m going to write that in my organizer.

Have a happy and a Blessed New Year, my friend.

 

 

 

Jesus, The King

Let’s review the Christmas story…Angels announce to a young virgin that she will bear a Son miraculously. Her husband-to-be receives an angel appearance also who tells him that he should marry this girl even though she is pregnant because her child is of the Holy Spirit. Joseph obeys. They travel to Bethlehem for a census, and Jesus is born. Shepherds hear of his birth through angelic announcement and they come.

It is the wise men I’d like us to think about. They were actual kings. They sought for a king at great inconvenience to themselves. They studied the stars, followed them and showed up to find out this special child.

In essence, the kings sought the King. Shouldn’t we follow suit?

Next, they worshiped. Not even understanding the entire story, they knelt before this peculiar child and worshiped. I know I can’t begin to understand the incarnation, but isn’t that just like God? He does the unimaginable–the impossible, and expects His creation to believe and trust and wonder.

That is how the incarnation affects me. How about you?

Third, they obeyed. God told them to leave Herod out-of-the-loop and go. And they did. They went away with belief, and trust, and wonder.

Because Jesus is The King.

Jesus claimed to be a lot of things while on this earth…the bread of life, the gate, the Good Shepherd, the way, the truth and the life, the door, the vine, even the light of the world. But did you know He claimed to be a King?

Take a look at John 18:36-37. This is what Jesus said while being questioned by Pilate before His crucifixion:

“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.

“Therefore PIlate said to Him, ‘So You are a king?’

“Jesus answered, You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.’”

Not only did Jesus claim to be The King while on earth, at His death, The King of the Jews was inscribed at the cross. (Matthew 27:37)

In Revelation 19:16 states, “And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

This baby in a manger is much more than a cute story and an intriguing narrative.

He is The King.

Is He yours?

Here is a link to the most majestic song written about the Kingship of  Christ”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUZEtVbJT5c

 

How’s Your Voice

“All human beings have an almost infinite capacity to take things for granted.”

Aldous Huxley

If you can wade through the blow up Santa’s, 5000 different kinds of Christmas lights, and fake trees, you may be able to find a few token Thanksgiving items.

The Salvation Army even starts ringing the bell for the famous red kettle before the last Thursday in November.

But Thanksgiving is important. Not just one day a year, but every day, especially for followers of Christ.

Sunday, our pastor spoke from Luke 17. Ten lepers cry out to Jesus from far away. Grotesque, smelly, voices raspy and weak from the disease, they beg, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

And He does. In fact, He tells them to go and show themselves to the Priest, and as they obeyed, they were healed. Nine of the ten continued on their way, ecstatic over their physical healing. After approval from the High Priest, finally, they could eat a meal with their loved ones, sleep in their own bed, and worship in the temple.

Physically healed, they were satisfied.

Here is what Scripture states about one of the lepers,

“Then one of the, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Luke 17:15-16.

Turned back is another word for repentance in the Bible. Turning from our own way, we turn to Christ for salvation–for healing. This man knew there was more to Jesus than the healer.

Then, he cried to Jesus with a loud voice. Not only were his sores healed, but his voice became strong once again. With that new, strong voice, he began to praise God.

After he returned to Christ, he fell at Jesus feet gave thanks, and worshiped.

Christs’ response is surprising. He asks three questions of the crowd, pointing out that the man is a foreigner from the half-breed Samaritans. Jesus also notices that nine were healed and only one came back to give thanks.

But it is His last statement that is astounding. “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

All ten experienced healing in this life, but only one was saved for eternity.

How’s your voice? Is it raspy and weak? Is your body infected with sin. If so, you need healing. And the healer waits. John 6:37 states, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

Some need physical healing, but all of us need spiritual healing. Friend, don’t let Him wait any longer, Turn back, repent, worship and be healed.

Those of us who have experienced the transforming work of the gospel in our lives, use your strong voice to praise. Give thanks. Don’t take that miraculous salvation for granted!

So duck under those fresh cedar trees, get to those Thanksgiving plates, and when you sit down to your meal this Thursday, really, really, give thanks.

A blessed Thanksgiving from a very very close-up shot of the Hyltons. (Couldn’t delete it…please don’t look at the wrinkles.)

Jesus Has a Big Front Porch

Our voices echoed across mountains and dipped into valleys. Corn and beans dotted the sides of the peaks in a zig-zag pattern since they’d been planted by hand.

Savior, You can move the mountains, my God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save,

Forever, author of salvation, He rose and conquered the grave, yes, He conquered the grave.

Tom and I sat among about 35 travelers singing to our God in the setting on Honduran mountains. We’d been there for about 3 days, traveled to isolated villages to share the message of Jesus Christ, and now we shared, “Porch Time.”

That was my favorite time of the day. The team gathered together, talked about the day, shared their testimonies, prayed, and praised God with song.

So when Tom and I moved to North Carolina–a huge front porch donned the top of our must-have house list. After the construction men finished the 60 x 10 foot structure one young man said, “You should have just built the porch and left off the house.”

“That probably would have been okay with Pauline,” Tom said.

Porches carry cherished memories for me. Memories of friendship and laughter and solace–unhurried times that often feel “realer” than the rest of my busy life.

Thoughts like that ran through my mind as I studied John 14:1-2, Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. (NASB)

I grew up on King James Version where dwelling place is translated mansion. Don’t get me wrong, a mansion sounds great, but I don’t want to live in a mansion by myself. That’s lonely.

No, I want to live in God’s mansion with Him and my Savior and my brothers and sisters in Christ. I want to sit on the porch for hours (although I don’t think we’ll have hours in heaven) and talk and laugh and sing and pray.

On earth, we know our times on the porch have to end because we have other tasks and time is important…here. Not there.

Sometimes, I picture my parents sitting on the porch in heaven with their best friends, the Shiels. Jim Shiels is teasing Dad while Mom and Nellie Shiels sit together chit-chatting about this and that.

When we vacationed with the Shiels at The Salvation Army’s Camp Lake, or Army Lake, we’d sit on the screened porch lit only with the yellow bug light and talk for hours. When we’d get ready to go back home my father would say, “Let’s all join hands and sing.”

Jim would say, “Do we have to, Ramie?” And then he’d laugh and we’d join hands, sing, and then cry. This is what we sang:

Til we meet, til we meet, til we meet at Jesus feet,

God be with us, til we meet again.

I’m sure there’s was a great reunion and frankly, I can’t wait to join them. Cause I think Jesus has the biggest, bestest, porch. Ever.

But for now, I’ll settle for mine.

Come see me, friend.

I can’t paste the YouTube in here, but I’ll past the link. It’s worth the listen…BTW, we’ll be singing this on Sunday at Christ Community Church. Join us will you? Pretend it’s a porch…

 

 

 

Not a Traditional Thanksgiving

The Hyltons have always been adventurous when it comes to food. My kids ate squid and mussels at a young age. In fact, one of our favorite meals to cook together is mussels fra diavlo. Sure, we love turkey, but not necessarily on the fourth Thursday of November.

Sarah is with her other family this Thanksgiving but Micah will be here on #peeledpoplarfarm.

We’re not sure of the menu. We’ve talked about everything from BBQ ribs to Chinese food. Doesn’t matter, we will be together, and may even have a few visitors.

What I am thankful for is not necessarily traditional, either. Sure, when my kids were little, we went around the table and asked everyone what they were thankful for. The expected answers always appeared: our family, house, food, dogs. All good things, yes.

But today, I’m taking a break from the traditional Thanksgiving blessings and am thanking God for a few unusual things.

First, I’d like to thank Him for things He has kept from me. Like friends. Not that I don’t have friends here in North Carolina, but they are new and we are still in the be careful what you say mode. (At least they are.)

Because of lack of friends, Tom and I have become better friends. No, he won’t go Black Friday shopping with me, but we often talk while watching re-runs of our wood stove while lounging on the couch. That is a good thing. (Except the whole lack of Black Friday shopping.)

Because of my lack of friends to confide in, I’ve had to take my thoughts, worries, and fears to the Lord. I’m glad about that, too.

The second thing I am thankful for is that I’m a nobody. Most of you already knew that, but I didn’t. I actually thought I was doing God a favor by following Him. Shoveling chicken manure in old sweats has a way of defining that.

Recently, I read of an American Christian who traveled to a foreign country and attended a secret church. In that church were men bent over from years in the rice fields.  They were not allowed an education because they were Christians. The writer also mentioned a woman who had her child taken away because she followed Christ.

In my book, these people are somebodies. But it really doesn’t matter what I think, it matters what the Creator of the universe thinks. And He is pleased.

The third thing I am thankful for is God. In my Bible reading today, Psalm 115:1 says, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name be glory. Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth.

I’m glad the Almighty isn’t at all like me. He is unique. One-of-a-kind, Holy, and completely worthy of praise. And He is loving and kind and truthful.

I pray you will have a blessed Thanksgiving.

I’ll let you know if it’s ribs or Chinese this year. Or maybe we’ll have mussels.