“Christmas Miracle 1953”?

Absorbing God’s Word

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

Applying God’s Word

It was Christmastime 1953. Our tree was decorated with the manger scene directly underneath. Our train-set and little paper houses added a unique touch to it all.

My older brother Jimmy (9) and myself (7) were waiting patiently to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and the birth of a new little baby brother or sister, also. Our mom and dad had been faithfully praying for a little girl, but the doctor assured them it was a boy.

On the evening of December 23rd, dad rushed mom to the hospital. The next morning, Christmas Eve, mom gave birth to our sister Patti. What a doll! We got our Christmas miracle.

My dad asked us if we could wait to celebrate Christmas when mom and Patti came home. We agreed. We did not want to have Christmas without them.

We celebrated Christmas on December 29th. That was the day we unwrapped one of the most beautiful gifts you could ever receive; a healthy beautiful new life to share with the rest of the world.

Accounting of God’s Word

Do I remember a Christmas when I was joyful in hope, patient in affliction or faithful in prayer?

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“Only In Love”?

Absorbing God’s Word

“Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14

Applying God’s Word

Jesus did everything in love and left instructions for you and me to do the same.

This month marks the seventy-third year I’ve been in the world. When folks ask me what I’d like for my birthday I tell them nothing. God has pretty much taken care of providing what I need.

On special occasions during the year, I like to celebrate by receiving less and giving more.

Recently, a lovely lady, who was obviously pregnant, sat down at the table next to Louise and me. She said she had selfishly snuck away from her husband and two young sons for some alone time. We quietly asked the waiter for her check and without her knowing it paid for her meal.

Accounting of God’s Word

Is everything I’m doing done with God’s love? Am I focused on getting or giving?

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“Who’s Missing”

Absorbing God’s Word

“May the LORD keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other.’ Genesis 31:49

Applying God’s Word

Every Thanksgiving, our family has tried to keep important traditions alive. This year, we had a traditional dinner with all the trimmings.

As the day progressed, I realized how thankful I am for family. I caught myself thinking a lot about those who were missing. My parents are both gone, my older brother, my late wife Joanne and numerous friends and relatives.

At the beginning of our meal, we prayed and then each of us shared what we are most thankful for. I shared how thankful I am for all the people I’ve been blessed to share Thanksgiving with over the years.

The Thanksgiving meal is always a treat, but it’s all the relationships I’ve experienced that have impacted me the most on Thanksgiving Day.

Accounting of God’s Word

What relationships am I most thankful for? How have I showed my appreciation?

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“Two Out Of Twelve”?

Absorbing God’s Word

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.” Titus 3:3

Applying God’s Word

A couple weeks ago, I found myself complaining about all the early Christmas decorations. The stores where stocking shelves with ornaments, Christmas trees and gift items. Christmas lights seemed to be showing up all over, too.

One morning in prayer I sensed the Lord was smiling at it all as He said, “Isn’t it wonderful, Jack? My children used to only celebrate my birth during the month of December. Now, they are celebrating it during November, also. They are giving me two out of twelve months.”

I remember when I only gave God one hour a week on Sunday and some weeks I didn’t give Him that.

Accounting of God’s Word

What does my relationship with God look like today? Am I still foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures?

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“Attitude of Gratitude”?

Absorbing God’s Word

“Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Luke 17: 17-18

Applying God’s Word

I am not without trials, aches, pains, bothersome situations or circumstances beyond my control. I know what it means to have been so contaminated with sin that my shame kept me from asking God’s forgiveness. Like the ten lepers, I would stand at a distance begging for mercy.

Each and every time I’ve come to Jesus, He has cleansed me of my short comings. Too often, I have taken for granted His love and mercy. I don’t any longer. I make sure I return to give Him praise and thanks.

Accounting of God’s Word

Will I be approaching this Thanksgiving and Christmas with an attitude of gratitude? Will I stand off at a distance begging for God’s mercy or come close to be cleansed?

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“Shake Rattle & Roll”?

Absorbing God’s Word

“Your love has given me great joy. It has cheered me up. You have renewed the hearts of God’s people.” Philemon 1:7

Applying God’s Word

Louise and I pray each day and wait for opportunities, presented by God, to bring other folks His joy, peace and love.

As we walked by the barbershop, an old song from their outside speaker grabbed our attention. It was Jesse Strong’s song titled “Shake, Rattle and Roll” as sung by Bill Haley. We looked at each other, smiled and began to dance (East Coast Swing).

The barbers inside the oversized window smiled and turned their two customers around to watch. All of them were laughing and smiling ear to ear.

Sometimes, God asks us to reach the hearts of his people in different ways. This was one of those times.

Accounting of God’s Word

Am I shaking, rattling and rolling for Jesus? Is God’s love through me giving others great joy?

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“Sooner or Later”?

Absorbing God’s Word

“Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 13:9-16

Applying God’s Word

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that my ability to hear has diminished. I catch myself saying “What” a lot. I’m also turning the radio and television up more often.

Presently, I’m in the market for hearing aids. What an eye-opener that’s been. The prices range from $1,000 to $13,000. You can buy the basic ones or the ones that do everything. Doing a comparison study of the different products and options is exhausting.

I was amazed to find out that hearing and our memory of sounds are tied together. The longer we wait to purchase hearing aids the less likely we are to recall certain sounds.

That’s true of our ability to hear God, also. The longer we avoid hearing the voice of God the less likely we are to know what God’s purpose is for us while we are here.

Accounting of God’s Word

“How’s my ability to hear? Am I making an effort to hear God?

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“Real Heroes”?

Absorbing God’s Word

“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.” Romans 15:1

Applying God’s Word

Where are the real heroes in today’s culture? They are closer than we think. In fact, most of them are among our own family and friends.

One person that comes to my mind today is my friend Bob’s wife, Joan. She knows what it means to be strong during adversity and to bear with the failings of the weak. Bob has Parkinson’s disease.

Joan is still working her job as a drug and alcohol counselor, which helps pay for Bob’s ongoing care in a private residence. She handles the upkeep of their home, the finances and all of Bob’s medical appointments. When transporting Bob by car became an issue, Joan bought a customized van that allows her to move him in his wheelchair.

Joan is one of the real heroes. Her love for Jesus is lived out in the way she loves Bob.

Accounting of God’s Word

Who is a real hero in my life? Is my love for Jesus lived out in the way I love others?

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Absorbing God’s Word

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:8-9

Applying God’s Word

Parkinson’s keeps my friend Bob confined to a small bedroom. Most of the time, he is either in his wheelchair or in bed.

The other day, I caught myself grumbling about going to see him, even though I had already allocated the three hours on my calendar. My excuses for not wanting to go boiled down to pure selfishness on my part.

My attitude changed when I walked into his bedroom. Jokingly, Bob said, “Can I take you out for lunch? I’d give anything for a hamburger.” I said, “You got it. I’ll be back in twenty minutes.” I cried all the way to the hamburger place.

Watching Bob eat that burger made both of us smile. It made me realize that love does cover a multitude of sins, especially selfishness. Acts of hospitality to one another, without grumbling, is God’s way of using us to spread His love.

Accounting of God’s Word

How have I been living out 1 Peter 4:8-9?

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“Personal or Business” ?

Absorbing God’s Word

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Applying God’s Word

I have had some incredible accountability partners over the years and still have a handful that keep me in line.

Alex was my good friend, my attorney and one of my accountability partners. We were the same age, married with children and on fire for God. He and I gave Christian in Commerce retreat weekends together until he died of Leukemia at age forty-seven.

Whenever I called his office, his receptionist would put me on hold to tell him I was on the phone. She would come back on the line asking, “Is it personal or business?” If I said it was business, he would call me back. If I said it was personal, he would take my call. Alex always placed someone’s personal issues ahead of business.

A few days before Alex died he told me he was in a win/win situation. If he lived, he would be with Jesus and if he died, he would be with Jesus.

Accounting of God’s Word

Am I too busy to listen to my friend’s personal issues? Do I have friends who hold me accountable?

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