Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends. Welcome to 2009 and all it holds. Do you ever start the New Year out wondering what’s going to happen? It’s a fresh new year and we make resolutions and have big ideas of what we are going to do. In January of 2006, I was getting ready to move back here and come on staff at the church. I was looking forward to that year. In January of 2007 when my mother was sick I knew her time with us was limited and we had spent our last Christmas with her. I wondered when and how much longer we would have her. Last year I was excited because our son, J was coming home from Iraq in January and after fifteen months away we were all more than ready. I also knew that our daughter, Cassandra, would be getting married in February and we would be adding a son-in-law to our family. Little did I know that our son and another daughter would be getting married as well this past year, all within six months. Life is like that. It catches us by surprise and off guard sometimes with good things and sometimes difficult things. I was reading in Oswald chambers last week and it was about life and our experiences.

The Great Life

Whenever we experience something difficult in our personal life, we are tempted to blame God. But we are the ones in the wrong, not God. Blaming God is evidence that we are refusing to let go of some disobedience somewhere in our lives. But as soon as we let go, everything becomes clear as daylight to us. As long as we try to serve two masters, ourselves and God, there will be difficulties combined with doubt and confusion. Our attitude must be one of complete reliance on God. Once we get to that point, there is nothing easier than living the life of a saint. We encounter difficulties when we try to usurp the authority of the Holy Spirit for our purposes. God’s mark of approval, whenever you obey Him, is peace. He sends an immeasurable, deep peace; not a natural peace, “as the world gives,” but the peace of Jesus. Whenever peace does not come, wait until it does, or seek to find out why it is not coming. If you are acting on your own impulse, or out of a sense of the heroic, to be seen by others, the peace of Jesus will not exhibit itself. This shows no unity with God or confidence in him. The spirit of simplicity, clarity, and unity is born through the Holy Spirit, not through your decisions. God counters our self-willed decisions with an appeal for simplicity and unity. My questions arise whenever I cease to obey. When I do obey God, problems come, not between me and God, but as a means to keep my mind examining with amazement the revealed truth of God. But any problem that comes between God and my self is the result of disobedience. Any problem that comes while I obey God (and there will be many), increases my overjoyed delight, because I know that my Father knows and cares and I can watch and anticipate how He will unravel my problems.

A few years ago when I was in Lubbock I was really struggling with some things. I just thought it was everyone else that was in the wrong. I was doing a Bible study and through it God showed me I was the one who was wrong, I was the one who had been stubborn, and I was the one who was not being very Christian. I was devastated. I couldn’t believe how I had been and that I had let my pride keep me from admitting that I was wrong. I cried and I begged God for forgiveness, and I apologized to some people for my attitude and actions. I just couldn’t believe what an awful person I had been. Looking back I can see all the difficulties that were happening around me and how I blamed God for even taking me to Lubbock. God showed me a lot in those five years. I had gone there for the wrong reasons. When we were praying about coming back here I wanted to be sure that I did not make the same mistake again. I asked God over and over to please show me if we were not supposed to come. Once I said yes there were all kinds of difficulties. But this time there was a peace that only God can give and with each one I kept thinking God has a plan and He is going to work this out and I can’t wait to see how He does it. There were times when I really struggled, but I would repeat to myself that God was in control and knew what He was doing. Then there was that incredible deep peace. I watched with amazement how He worked things out and unraveled my problems. I really prefer being on the obedient side of the difficulties than the disobedient side. I know that there are still going to be those times. But I hope I realize sooner than later the error of my ways. So for 2009, I look forward to all that it holds, the good and the bad, and to watching how God is going to work through me and work out all the difficult times for me.
Peace that God gives to you and yours in 2009.

The Best Gift

Cathy’s Corner - borrowed

On Christmas Eve, the children watched out the window for
visitors, but no one came. "Blow out the lamp and go to
bed", Dad said. "Nobody is going to come. No one
even knows we're out here."

The children turned out the lamp and got in bed, but they
were too excited to sleep. Was this not Christmas? Had they
not asked God to send them the presents He wanted them to
have? Did Mom not say God answers

Late that night, when one of the children spotted
headlights coming down the dirt road, everyone jumped out of
bed and ran to the window. The commotion woke up Mom and
Dad. "Don't get excited, children," Dad said.
"They're probably not coming here. It's just
someone who got lost." The
children kept hoping and the car kept coming. Then, Dad
lit a lamp. They all wanted to rush to the door at the same time, but Mr.
Canaday said, "Stay back. I'll go." Someone
got out of the car and called, "I was wondering if
someone here can help me unload these bags." The
children dashed out the door to lend a hand. Mom said to her
youngest, "Stay here, Judy, and help Mom open the bags
and put up the gifts."

A deacon from the church in town had gone to bed that
Christmas Eve, and lay there tossing and turning, unable to
get the Canaday family off his mind. Later, he said, "I didn't know what
kind of shape you folks were in, but I knew you had all those kids." He had
gotten up and dressed and went around town, rousing people
from their sleep to ask for a contribution for the Canaday family. He filled his car with
bags of groceries, canned goods, toys, and clothing. Little
Judy got a rag doll which remained her favorite for years.

With so much food, Dad wanted to have a Christmas feast,
to spread it all out and eat as they had never eaten before.
Mom, ever the caretaker, said, "No, we need to make
this last." And it did last, for weeks.

The next Sunday, Mrs. Canaday stood in church and told
what the members---and one deacon in particular---had done
for her family. There was not a dry eye in the house.

Years later, the oldest sister Eva wrote up this story
about her family for a school project. Eva said, "We
were so thrilled by all the wonderful things in the bags,
for a while; we lost sight of the most special gift. The
best gift that Christmas was not in brown bags at all. It
was Mom's faith, as she taught her children to bring
their needs to Jesus and trust Him to meet them. And a
Dad's love that wanted only to protect his children from
hurt and disappointment."

When Carrie finished telling her story, she added,
"Little Judy is my wonderful grandmother." Today,
Judy Canaday Dryden lives in Sanger, Texas. As she relived
this event from seventy years ago over the phone,
one could hear the tear in her voice and feel her pride in
being the recipient of such a precious heritage from her
mother and father.

At Christmas, we celebrate praying mothers and caring
fathers and believing children. We give thanks for sensitive
deacons and generous friends and sleepless nights. And we praise God for the
hard times that teach unforgettable lessons, stories of faithfulness that
get told and retold through the years inspiring each new generation to
place their faith in a loving Savior.