Unbottle-able! … ?

You know the expression regarding some wonderful experience or scene or idea that so inspires and invigorates that you just want to take it with you to tap into at will?  , “If only this could be bottled….”

Of course, this expression always regards what is not “bottleable.” God tops that list.

Unbottleable was the non-word that came to mind the other day as when I looked up Philippians 4:8, referenced in a book I’m reading.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (NIV)

Advocating to aspire to God’s mindset, the apostle Paul instructs believers to engage our brains to connect with the Spirit who indwells us when we accept Christ’s invitation to follow Him.  While the Holy Spirit is in us, He doesn’t take over.  It’s up to us to discipline ourselves to think along the line of God and disconnect from the natural thinking line of the world.

The primary physical tool at our disposal is our brain.  Paul’s guidance in this letter as well as in others he wrote is to practice thinking along God’s line until that line becomes our default. It’s not like God waves his Holy Spirit wand and we’re automatically a first string warrior for God’s Kingdom. Paul also wrote….

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV)

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2, NIV)

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 9:25, NIV)

What’s particularly interesting about Paul’s statement in the Philippians letter is the word “anything.”  “Anything” is to admit that the other words “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable” don’t cover all the lines of thinking that could align us with God.  “Anything” means God can pop up anywhere including where we might least expect to find him.

God is the least unbotteable of “anything” in the entire universe!

C.S. Lewis said as much in a reflection about his life before he became a Christian.

“A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading” (Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis).

Recall he was an avowed and very committed atheist who only came to belief in Christ very reluctantly after realizing that even his most reliable atheistic lines of reasoning failed to totally keep God out of the picture.  (Check out in the link in “notes” below for more on this quote.)

God has this potent way of finding us wherever we are and to cleverly introducing doubt into lines of thinking we hold devoted to keeping him out.  Jesus Christ himself is God transcending the mere, albeit potent influence of the surreal and spiritual.

“The great God became incarnate in flesh and blood; the great thoughts of God became crystallized in words,’ said Oswald Chambers. (The Moral Foundations of Life)

To think of God as unbottleable is on the one hand frightening to me because I can’t really hold him off or out of areas of me that I’d prefer to keep to myself.  However, an unbottleable God is ultimately best, at least for me….because, you see, I am not God.

You’re welcome.

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Notes

Be careful what you read, C.S. Lewis: http://apilgriminnarnia.com/2013/03/04/be-careful-what-you-read-c-s-lewis-literary-encounter-with-george-macdonald/

The Real (I-) Deal

January morning moon

January morning moon

When I consider your heavens,
   the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
   which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
   human beings that you care for them?  (Psalm 8: 2-3, NIV)

 

I marvel when wonder catches me unawares.

The other morning I was retrieving our Sunday paper from the bottom of our driveway.  A frigid January morning, I threw on a jacket and bolted out in my slippers.

On my way back to the house, the morning sky was, well…. I was so transfixed, I hurried to grab my camera.

About the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words?”  Well, the real deal must be worth at least a million words.

Picture-takers know what I mean.  No photo even approaches what we see with our eyes. Even with the best of cameras, the real view is so much more than what even our eyes take in of it.

My wife’s childhood featured memorable family vacations in their pop-up tent trailer.  Her love of nature, especially mountains, grew during those many trips.  Her father enjoyed taking photographs but when he didn’t have his camera with him to capture a particularly stunning view, my wife recalls him saying, “This one is just for us.”

Since I share her fondness for nature and the out-of-doors, I am drawn to Jesus’ illustrations from “His Father’s handiwork” as Oswald Chambers put it….”from sparrows and flowers, things that none of us dream of noticing.”

A man of the land, Jesus often retreated to the mountains to pray, and his parables and miracles featured animals – sheep, sparrows, doves, pigs, ravens, wolves, fish – and other natural elements  – rain, trees, rocks, grapevines, mud, fields, seeds, sun, day and night.

Of course, Jesus drew most from the people he encountered along the way, often those most of  us do our best to avoid – the poor, widowed, diseased, disabled, disdained , children…

Drawing from settings and people that are typically hurried through or around, Jesus elevated the proximate and the present over the aspirations and worries that most of the people of his time were more attentive to.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34, NIV; For context see Matthew 6: 25-34)

Said Chambers, “When we are born from above, the Spirit of God does not give us new ideals, we begin to see how ideal the real is, and we find them to be the gate of heaven for our souls. ”

Even though I’ve always appreciated nature and engaging with people I encounter day-to-day, as a disciple of the Lord Jesus, my ‘near radar’ is increasingly more acute. Like Chambers describes, the Spirit in me tunes my view to elements and people.  I pray that comes through in these Road Reports.

“We do not get at God through nature, as the poets say;” Chambers insists.  “We get at nature through God when once we are rightly related to Him, and nature becomes a sacrament of His presence…it is by coming in contact with the real that we find the ideal.”

Warming to the subject, Chambers added, “When the Lord Jesus awakens us to reality by new birth and brings us in contact with Himself, He does not give us new fathers and mothers and friends; He gives us new sight…This craving to go somewhere else, to see the things that are distant, arises from a refusal to attend to what is near.”

Consider the tension of this principle for people of 2016 where travel to the ends of the earth is readily possible and even routine for so many.  Now think about people, real or imagined, that  we spend so much time and money to look in on through various media vs. the real ones we live with or among or go visit in person.

Next time you take a stroll down your driveway or neighborhood, unplug the ear phones and dial up your awareness to what and who is immediately around you.  Perhaps an ideal in the real will catch you unawares.

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Mt 6:28-29)

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Notes:

Oswald Chambers quotes from “The Moral Foundations of Life” 1936

Just a glimmer, enough!

A glimmer is all

A glimmer is all (Image source – see notes)

In a recent message, our pastor Doug’s story about his former colleague Steve reminded me of the other Steves in my life.

Steve was one of four guys Doug managed in his first job out of college supervising a loading dock.  “Steve was the only Christian of the five of us,” Doug explained, counting himself among the non-believers.  “We all taunted and ridiculed Steve about his faith, me included,” Doug added.

To his credit, Steve’s faith didn’t waver but he also didn’t defend himself or the Lord or say anything like “all you guys are going to hell in a hand basket if you don’t repent and turn your lives over to the Lord.”  Nor did he use any inflammatory or “mysterious” Bible verses to put the fear of God in them.

None of the above.  Steve’s only response was, “I’ll pray for you guys. Now how about we get back to work?”

That’s it? He’ll pray for them? Not exactly a piercing beacon of white hot conviction.  Still, that Doug is sharing this story many years after the fact is not a small thing….

Steve’s faith was a glimmer for the guys he worked with. That’s the impression I walked away with – and I mean this respectfully, not judgmentally.  Steve presented a good, steady glimmer that didn’t bowl anyone over but that left an indelible impression that continues to linger in Doug’s memory.

Seems like this glimmer kind of faith is what Peter has in mind too when he writes about how Christians should be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us for the reason we hope.

“(Answer) with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”  (see 1 Peter 3: 15-16).

Doesn’t this glimmer image also fit with Jesus’ analogy of a light on a lamp stand?

“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.” (Luke 11:3, NIV)

I’ve had a few Steve’s in my life before I became a Christian and I’ve encountered many more such “glimmer” Christians since I became a believer.  I hope I’m a Steve kind of guy for people I encounter along the way, a glimmer in the darkness.

Great end note to the Steve story.  All the guys who once taunted Steve’s faith have since become Christians and one of those even became a pastor!   Isn’t that amazing?

I wonder which one is the pastor?

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Notes:

Image source: http://howard-carter.blogspot.com/2013/11/why-are-you-so-downcast-o-my-soul-psalm.html

Feeling small? Take heart!

turtle on pavement

Feeling small

Occasionally I have an underwhelming sense of smallness, of insignificance.  Like the little turtle in the picture when the likelihood of getting run over seem much higher than of getting safely to the other side of the road.

Yet I have always gotten to the other side of the road anyway.  Often, I can attribute getting there to the Lord.  So why do I slip so easily into this sense of smallness?

Perhaps because I attribute faltering of confidence to my own sinfulness – which is a correct diagnosis except for one technicality – the forgiveness won by Jesus on the cross for me and all who profess belief in him and live out that belief.

Professing belief is one thing but acting belief is quite another.  That’s where my disconnect happens.

The first part of James 4:8 offers a comforting assurance, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. (ESV)” As if God’s nearness is the total solution.  But heed the second part of the verse that is often left off.  “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8b, ESV).

Two thoughts on this: #1) The nearer we draw to God and he to us, the more aware we are of our sinfulness and the need to be cleansed and purified of it.  A Road Report reader once commented that he finds me “overly” hard on myself in these posts.  If so, I hope that is due to the sense of my sinfulness alongside God who is near.

Try this at home – draw near to God and then reassess your sinfulness relative to him.  But don’t hang out there too long.  Thought #2) God doesn’t want any of his people to dwell on their sinfulness, no matter how bad we think ours is.

My sinfulness and yours is a given with God.  That’s why Jesus came, to deal with sin. Remember the Cross?

When we sin, repent ASAP and pull the “forgiveness lever” that banishes our sin “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12) from further interfering with our relationship with and connectivity to God.  With sin out of the way, we can consciously engage in the work of God’s kingdom.

It really is that easy for us because of what Jesus did that was not so easy for Him!

“… the central test of Christianity … (is) who is Jesus Christ to me?” wrote Oswald Chambers.  “(Our) understanding of (what forgiveness means) depends not on Bible study, not on praying, but on spiritual growth.  As we ‘grow up in all things into Him’ (Ephesians 4:15), we get moral understanding of the mystery of Redemption and understand why Jesus said “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). The Spirit of God brings people to the place where they begin to discern with their hearts, not with their heads.”

Discerning with my heart, not my head… This is where I so often break down. My spiritual growth falters when I don’t make Jesus Christ my all and all IN all and all.  Parts of me that I hold back from the Holy Spirit in me still need regeneration.

Matthew 6:21 comes at this from the other direction. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Whether our dilemma has to do with dispelling what we don’t want (sin?) or replacing what we do desire that falls short of what God wants for us, the key is still our hearts.

Amazing that God has given us this wonderful “heart” principle to so simply recover from the sense of smallness that we encounter to again stand tall, fully engaged with the His work in our lives and the greater work of His kingdom that he has drawn us into.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV, italics mine)

We must really matter to him.

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Notes:

Oswald Chambers quotes from his book “The Moral Foundations of Life.” See Biblical ethics – 3 Oswald Chambers books in 1

Image source: Feeling small – turtle crossing a road

 

 

… and everything in between

faith_of_our_fathers_movie_poster

Faith of our Fathers movie poster

Just saw the movie, “Faith of our Fathers” on Netflix about a quest arising from a young man’s curiosity about his father’s death in the Vietnam War.  When John Paul George begins searching for his dad’s army buddy Eddie Adams, he meets Eddie’s son Wayne and the two embark on a trip to find their dads’ names on the Vietnam War Memorial.

While the dads, Steven George and Eddie both died in Vietnam, the movie is less about their deaths than about the day-to-day, sacrificial “deaths” each man made or didn’t make before either set foot in Vietnam. Their stories unfold in letters the men wrote home that their now-grown sons have.

Steven George was a Christian who often sought comfort in the little pocket Bible he carried with him in Vietnam.  In several scenes, his fellow soldiers taunt him about his faith.  As his story unfolds, it’s clear he’s more enthusiastic about his faith and his roles as a husband and dad to his infant son back home than to making his mark on the battlefield. But how he honors the Lord while dutifully giving himself to soldiering impacts his comrades in ways revealed only in the present time of the movie many years after his death.

The move recalled for me a form of daily dying to self touched upon in a conversation between Jesus and Peter in John’s gospel.  After Jesus announced that he must go to a place where his disciples could not come, Peter protests he will follow the Lord anywhere, even boasting, “I will lay down my life for you.” (John 13: 37b, ESV)

Jesus’ reply would have sobered anyone.  “Truly, truly I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.”  (John 13: 38, ESV)

Notice how provocatively Jesus’ answer expands the sense of what Peter laying down his life really involves? I can almost hear my wife replying likewise to me making a similar boast, “So on your way to laying down your life for me, would you mind folding these two baskets of laundry?”

Few of us will be asked to put our lives on the line for Jesus but all of us are invited to live into what Jesus expects of his disciples multiple times every day. As the movie depicted of Steven, the manner by which he sacrificially “died to himself” for his Lord, family and comrades seemed to make the moment of paying the “ultimate price” more natural and less momentous.

Jesus’ response to Peter draws the claim of laying down our life for another from a distant future that may never occur to the present moment, starting immediately…

from present to future and everything in between.

Ornamental Journey

Packing up Christmas

Packing up Christmas

In our home, packing up our Christmas tree is almost as much a ritual as setting it up.  With most of our ornaments identified with the year and occasion received, we relive the memories each represents twice every season.

A personal highlight for me is my own “FarmingtonGlenn” ornaments.  Now 16, they warrant their own container that also includes the explanation card I wrote for each one.

Just after the introduction this year of my 2016 “Trust…” ornament, I devoted a morning to re-reading the other fifteen ornament cards.  During this little “Ornamental Journey,” I discovered something both sobering and comforting about myself.

Sobering – I have this TRUST problem – specifically TRUSTing in God.

Comforting –   As the ornament stories show, God has my problem surrounded

So before we close the book on another Christmas season, come along for a brief ornamental journey….

2000 – 1st “Priceless Pearl” Ornament – Jesus’ illustrating the worth of TRUSTing in him – priceless!  (Matthew 6:23,13:45)

2003 – 4th “Faith Diploma” Ornament – The fine print that TRUSTing in God is faith countering human wisdom.  (1st Corinthians 1:27)

2004 – 5th “Snowflake” Ornament – The restorative properties of enTRUSTing our lives to Christ – erasure of all flaws, faults and wrongs (Psalm 51:7; Colossians 1:16)

2005 – 6th “Mustard Seed” Ornament – Acknowledging how difficult TRUSTing in him is, Jesus lowers the bar – faith as small as a mustard seed is all that’s necessary to move mountains in our lives.  (Matthew 17:19-21)

2007 – 8th “He humbled himself” Ornament  –  To counter our natural inclination to disTRUST God, Jesus made himself approachable by becoming human.  (Philippians 2:5-11)

2008 – 9th “In All Things” Ornament – Harkening again to the failure of human wisdom to make sense of the “God puzzle,” TRUST (“faith”) finds Jesus, the missing puzzle piece. (Romans 8:28)

2009 – 10th “Life to the full” Ornament – Roads marked with more questions than answers are exactly the kinds of roads Jesus invites his followers to venture onto. When we TRUST him, we find fullness at every turn.  (John 10:10)

2010 – 11th “Daily Bread” ornament –  The amount of TRUST God requires of us is just enough for today.  Leave to God our yesterdays and especially our tomorrows.  (Exodus 16)

2011 – 12th “Abide in Me” ornament – TRUSTing in God as a way of life that involves submitting to a fair amount of painful pruning (John 15:1; ,4)

2013 – 14th “Upside Down” ornament – To appreciate the oddities of Jesus’ arrival is to accept that God’s ways are best for us, though counterintuitive for us (Isaiah 55: 8-9). Faith requires TRUSTing both brain AND heart. (Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34)

2015 – 16th “Trust in …. and lean not on” ornament – How TRUSTing in God also requires leaning NOT on our own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5-8).

“Christian discipleship may be summed up in one phrase, “dying daily… Faith is a form of dying because it means we must choose to believe things that are contrary to what we naturally trust.” (Gospel Transformations study, page 219).

Repenting of desires that compete with God and loving others more than myself are a couple of those anchor beliefs that makes TRUST so hard for me to incorporate into my life. Stay tuned.

Maybe even more TRUST-themed ornaments?

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Click on “CREATIONS ” tab above to “visit” all my ornaments

 

His Most Prized Possession

Christmas lights 2010Christmas 2015 is now past but we decided to delay taking down our decorations until after the new year that arrives next weekend.

In America at least, Christmas lights have become an essential element in our celebration.  James, in his epistle, describes God as “our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.” He goes on to add that “we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.” (from James 1:17, 18, NLT)

The reason we have Christmas at all is because we are God’s prized possession.  Imagine being so prized and loved by God that he chose us.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

The most prized “out of all creation…” Really?  How can that be?

In notes I put a link to a four-minute You Tube video entitled “The Detailed Universe.”  Take a moment to watch it to gain some perspective on how minuscule earth is in the scheme of the known universe.

My lead photo for this post is a favorite taken several years ago of a strand of green  Christmas lights winding up around the bare branches of a small maple tree in our front yard with the moon as its backdrop.  Something about our dim little lights against the moon and the inky winter sky….

The other photo is a depiction of our Milky Way that I grabbed from the video where our entire solar system is a mere spec in one of its outer bands.  Incredible.Milky way

The psalmist rightfully asks, “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4, ESV)

Indeed. Incredible as it is, God loved us so much that he chose US (!) way out here in our tiny little planet in our tiny little solar system buried in one of billions of galaxies.

We must really matter to God – me, you, all of us. Before you pack up Christmas or as you do, think about all of this for a moment.

O.K.?

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Notes:

4 minute video: The Detailed Universe (on You Tube)

Trust in the Lord … (2015 Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn)

2015 Trust in the Lord .... ornament

2015 Trust in the Lord …. ornament

After my dad’s death in December 2014, I received some items of his – shirts, a jacket, shoes, boots, and a walking stick. While these items were welcome replacements for a tired wardrobe sparingly maintained through years of variable employment, wearing them often caused me to muse how I was literally ‘walking in dad’s shoes’ during this year after his departure from us to be at last “face to face” with our Lord. (1 Cor 13:12)

Keeping his walking stick and boots near our back door often reminds me of dad and figuratively of life as a journey in need of sturdy shoes and a stout walking stick. A photo I took of them there adorns my 2015 journal cover and inspired this ornament design and message – offering context for situations that arose this year. It regards shoes, a walking stick and Proverbs 3, about what we “Trust in” and “lean not on…” in our journey along life’s roads.

Glenn Trevisan (Christmas 2015)

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“Trust in (the Lord) … and lean not on (your own understanding)” (Proverb 3: 5-6)

Figuratively, we each have a walking stick for our life journey – a belief system or constitution that casually guides us during normal times and that we lean more heavily on when the road gets a little rough or treacherous. God’s message to believers in Proverbs 3:5-8 is essentially, “Make me your walking stick.”

The Hebrew verb “batach,” translated “trust” in verse 5 occurs 118 times in the Old Testament. In the literal, physical sense, it means to lean on something for support. While the verb often depicts people trusting in things that prove to be unreliable, here the object of trust is the LORD. Trust in (lean on) me with all your heart. In all your ways submit to me.

Not only does the LORD insist he is always reliable for trusting in and leaning on, our own understanding is not so reliable. Adding “lean not on your own understanding” renders this as a “both/and” proposition – to both “trust in” the LORD and to “lean not on” our own understanding.

Even though Proverbs 3 is God inviting ancient Israel in the older testament to “Trust in me,” the principle follows all through the Christmas story that launches the newer testament. After Israel vacillated wildly between the blessings of trusting in the Lord and the repercussions of failing to do so, along comes Jesus. The long-awaited Messiah not only modeled how to walk out life trusting in God, he audaciously presented himself as the way to do so. (John 14:6)

That Jesus’ beginnings didn’t follow a Messiah-like script should prepare us for the unusual form of “understanding” that trusting the LORD requires. A sampling from Jesus’ messages: “To be rich, become poor …

to be comforted, mourn…. to be satisfied, hunger for righteousness… to receive mercy, humble yourself…. to save your life, die…the first are last… to be found, become lost… love your enemies….”

To both trust in the Lord AND lean not on your own understanding is to affirm that God has the “why” fully covered because he is also the way. Mind you, dulling followers’ minds is not the LORD’s goal here. The exact opposite in fact, “life to the full” – to flourish in the freedom of grace found only in Christ! (John 10:10)

Also in Proverbs 3, God offers some great benefits to those who accept the both/and proposition: 1) crooked paths made straight (v6); and, deep, “bone-felt” well-being (v8).

How does God deliver such lofty claims? Follow the story that unfolds all through Scripture. “What he desires, that he does,” proclaimed Job (23:13b). “Our God … does all that he pleases,“ said David (Psalm 115:3). “As I have planned, so shall it be,” wrote Isaiah (14:24). Christmas is the unveiling of God’s ultimate stroke – Jesus Christ who said of himself, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18).

All this year, I repeated this verse over and over to counter unsettling thoughts, situations and developments – “Trust in” and “lean not on…” When what life brings seems vexing, insurmountable or both, be assured that God is trustworthy beyond your understanding. True well-being comes when we take him at his word and live accordingly. (see John 16:33).

“Trust me on this,” says the LORD, “and lean not on your own understanding.”  ——————————————————————————————————-

Notes:

1. COMMENTS WELCOME and ENCOURAGED here at FarmingtonGlenn.net about how the ornament and/or message struck you ESPECIALLY from ornament recipients. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO RECEIVE a 2015 “Trust in the Lord” ornament, simply request one by emailing me at FarmingtonGlenn@gmail.com.  No guarantees but if I can get one to you, I will.  If shipping is required, I may ask you to cover those costs.

2. Acknowledgements:

a) Was thrilled to find this great Ken doll “shoe store” at AliExpress.

b) These instructions helped me achieve an authentic driftwood look for the walking stick – although the instructions made this look easier than it turned out to be.

3. Ornament Scriptures:

The anchor scripture is Proverbs 3: 5-6 but for context read Proverbs 3: 5-8

Supporting scriptures and resources:

a) Occurrences in Old Testament of Hebrew verb “batach” translated “Trust” on Proverbs 3:5: http://biblehub.com/hebrew/strongs_982.htm

b) Some of the paradoxes in Jesus’ messages and the Christian life: http://www.3riversgrace.org/3rg-blog/gospel-paradoxes

c) Jesus presenting himself as THE only way to God: John 14:6

d) Life to the full: John 10:10

e) Claims of Sovereignty, what God says he can and will do: Job 23:13; Psalm 115:3; Isaiah 14:24; Matthew 28:18; Also see: “Sovereignty” in openbible.info

d) Encouragement from Jesus for when trouble comes – John 16:33

4. Making the 2015 “Trust in … and lean not on” ornament

 

Coming Soon – 16th Annual FarmingtonGlenn ornament

All 14 FarmingtonGlenn Ornaments thru 2013

14 of 15 FarmingtonGlenn Ornaments (thru 2013)

Merry Christmas 2015

Since 2000, I’ve continued an annual Christmas project – making and sharing a handmade Christmas ornament.  Next week  on December 22, Road Report will feature this year’s ornament, a sort of “official” unveiling.

In the first few years, immediate family were the only recipients. Our close-knit family enjoys a strong Christmas tradition.  Over the years, we’ve exchanged ornaments so my ornament project extends that practice while also providing an avenue to share with my family what Christ has been doing in my life this year in a Christmas-themed kind of way.

As I continued the ornament-making tradition, the recipient base has expanded.  Last year, more than half the 56 ornaments included friends or acquaintances from church, work and life. Over 15 years, I’ve share 630 ornaments with more than 100 different people.

At this point, my ornaments are freely given upon request.  I’ve notified most past recipients to let me know if they would like me to reserve a 2015 ornament for them.  If you would like to receive one this year, let me know and I’ll set one aside for you.

For me, the ornament itself is only half of the project.  The other half is the card I write each year explaining the meaning of the ornament.  Below is a picture of each of the 15 ornaments made through 2015 along with a link to my explanation.  If any of them “speak” to you, please leave a comment and let me know.

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About Glenn’s Ornaments…

I come to each Christmastime with a desire to dial down and steep myself in the spirit of the season – the essence of God as a child born in a manger mysteriously intersecting and forever altering human (and my) destiny. But alas, the unchecked busyness of life and what Christmas has become leaves me uninspired. So one year I decided to make an ornament to share with family and friends that:

(1) reflects on Christ, the center of this season;

(2) expresses a lesson that God impressed upon me this year; and,

(3) inspires introspection about faith for each recipient.

  15 years of creating and sharing ornaments (with love)….

1st -2000, Priceless Pearl; Link: http://www.farmingtonglenn.net/priceless-pearl-2000-ornament-by-farmingtonglenn/

2000 "Priceless Pearl" Ornament

2000 “Priceless Pearl” Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 2nd – 2001, Liberty Bell; Link: http://www.farmingtonglenn.net/liberty-bell-2001-ornament-by-farmingtonglenn/

2001 "Liberty Bell" Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

2001 “Liberty Bell” Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 3rd, 2002, Spike of Love: http://www.farmingtonglenn.net/spike-of-love-2002-ornament-by-farmingtonglenn/

2002 "Spike of Love" Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

2002 “Spike of Love” Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 4th, 2003, Worldly Wisdom: http://www.farmingtonglenn.net/worldly-wisdom-2003-ornament-by-farmingtonglenn/

2003 "Woldly Wisdom" Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

2003 “Worldly Wisdom” Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5th, 2004, Clean As Snow: http://www.farmingtonglenn.net/clean-as-snow-2004-ornament-by-farmingtonglenn/

2004 "clean As Snow" Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

2004 “Clean As Snow” Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6th, 2005, Mustard Seed: http://www.farmingtonglenn.net/mustard-seed-2005-ornament-by-farmingtonglenn/

2005 "Mustard Seed" Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

2005 “Mustard Seed” Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7th, 2006, Bride of Christ: http://www.farmingtonglenn.net/bride-of-christ-2006-farmingtonglenn-ornament/

2006 "Bride of Christ" Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

2006 “Bride of Christ” Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8th, 2007, He Humbled Himself: http://www.farmingtonglenn.net/he-humbled-himself-2007-ornament-by-farmingtonglenn/

2007 "He Humbled Himself" Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

2007 “He Humbled Himself” Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9th, 2008, In All Things: http://www.farmingtonglenn.net/in-all-things-2008-ornament-by-farmingtonglenn/

2008 "In all things..." Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

2008 “In all things…” Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10th, 2009, Life to the Full Ornament: http://www.farmingtonglenn.net/life-to-the-full-2009-ornament-by-farmingtonglenn/

2009 "Life to the Full" Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

2009 “Life to the Full” Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11th, 2010: Daily Bread Ornament: http://www.farmingtonglenn.net/daily-bread-2010-ornament/

2010 Daily Bread (19)

2010 “Daily Bread” Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 12th, 2011, Abide in Me: http://www.farmingtonglenn.net/abide-in-me-2011-ornament/

2011 Adide in Me 1

2011 “Abide in Me” Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13th, 2012: Blessed Are the … Yeast? http://www.farmingtonglenn.net/blessed-are-the-yeast-2012-ornament-by-farmingtonglenn/

2013 "Blessed Are the .... Yeast" Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

2012 “Blessed Are the …. Yeast” by FarmingtonGlenn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14th, 2013: UP SIDE DOWN http://www.farmingtonglenn.net/up-side-down-2013-ornament-by-farmingtonglenn/

2013 UP SIDE DOWN Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

2013 UP SIDE DOWN Ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

15th, 2014: LYING IN A MANAGER http://www.farmingtonglenn.net/lying-in-a-manger-2014-ornament-by-farmingtonglenn/

2014 "Lying in a Manger" ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

2014 “Lying in a Manger” ornament by FarmingtonGlenn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fears imagined real

My late night prayer chair

My late night prayer chair

As if life doesn’t bring enough real perils, I have this bad habit of imagining unreal fears.  If i don’t head them off, I can really get myself worked up over these imagined perils.

Imagined fears surface most when I’m asleep. If I “over-entertain” them, they fester long enough to cross over from my subconscious to consciousness.  That’s when I pray.

“Lord, I confess this fear. Rescue me.”

Prayer isn’t a magic button or anything. It works in concert with faith, my conviction that God loves me, redeems me and is in control of my life no matter what happens.

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7, ESV)

and

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  (Mark 11:24, ESV)

Notice the parts God reserves for us – “If you abide” and “believe.”  God is ever strong, true and faithful but my faith sometimes wavers and fear gains a foothold. That’s when I resign myself to get out of bed, don my robe, grab a bible and head to my favorite late night prayer chair.

A frequent companion of these middle-of-the-night intervention sessions is a little devotional book I bought 35 years ago, “The Personal Promise Pocketbock.” It’s a simply organized index of Bible verses selected from 10 different translations regarding three groupings of God’s promises and purposes…for me, my relationship with Him, and my relationship with others.

Lest anyone mistake me for one of stalwart, unshakable faith, let me confess that the most turned-to promises in the booklet regard “feeling depressed and desperate” (pg 19) and “I’m afraid” (pg 22).

Occasionally during these anxious moments, God responds in a rescuing manner with a peaceful tranquility whooshing through me like a calming breeze swooping down from heaven.  But most often, He coaxes me in thought to figuratively stand in faith to confront the fear with the authority of His word.

Usually just a couple of verses gets me to sleep resumption but sometimes, a more determined offensive is required.  During one particularly challenging night, I prayed through a number of verses before finally locking onto 2 Timothy 1:7 in the “I’m afraid” list.

“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (NKJV)

In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul exposes where these spirits of fear originate.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12, ESV)

Wrestling is not a passive sport.  Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t the bathrobe-attired sumo-dude standing in his living room that finally dispelled that persistent principality that had ahold of me that night.  But me standing in faith was definitely a part of the equation, bathrobe and all.

I don’t why God so explicitly prefers involving little people like me in his redemptive work but I appreciate that he does.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6, NIV)

Furthermore, he cares about our well-being all the way down to assuring that we are fortified with a good night’s sleep each night.

“If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” (Proverbs 3:24)

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Notes:

The Personal Promise Pocketbock by Harold Shaw Publishers is out of print but used copies are available at various internet booksellers.