Comforted by God to Comfort Others-The Voice of Peace

There are bloggers I enjoy following for personal enjoyment and then there are bloggers I follow because they inspire me. One blogger that inspires me is The Voice of Peace. She inspires me because she is willing to share about how God has helped her and continues to help her overcome trauma. Her vision is to help others who have been assaulted by sharing her story and encouraging others about how Jesus can help them heal.

In my blog I try to share different ways Jesus has helped me with various issues such as health problems, past abuse, personal failures etc.

I love 2 Corinthians 1:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

God comforts us so we can in turn comfort others with the comfort God has given us. It is a beautiful process. God brings healing and restoration to our lives and in so doing prepares us to be vehicles of comfort for others, so they may experience God’s healing and restoration.

So many blogs I follow are because of how they are willing to share how God has comforted them. I plan to continue sharing their blogs in coming weeks and months and shining a spotlight on them. I have done so and will continue to do so.

For today, I want to shine the spotlight on my little sister in Jesus and her blog The Voice of Peace. I want to share one of her videos with you. She has recently begun a youtube channel too, so I want to share her video- Just Like You. She shares about how just like other victims of trauma, she knows what it is like to be assaulted, but also knows the healing Jesus can bring. I am so proud of her. Please check out her video.

 

 

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Happy Birthday in Heaven to my Earthly Father- God is a Loving Heavenly Father.

January 6th has special meaning in many countries as the celebration of 3 Kings Day to remember the 3 wise men coming to visit the baby Jesus bringing gifts to worship him. However, January 6th has a different meaning for me. It is the day of my father’s birthday.

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He passed away in April 2009 and I was with him when he died reading from 1 Corinthians 15 about the resurrection of Jesus. Ours was a complicated father son relationship. He was an alcoholic who was at times abusive and most of the time withdrawn and unavailable emotionally. It was determined in his last year on earth that he had clinical depression, so I think he self medicated. He had been sober for about 30 years when he died. I wrote last year about how forgiveness from me led to my father receiving forgiveness from God. You can read that by clicking on- forgiveness from me.

For anyone who has problems with their relationship with their father, it can make it more difficult to embrace that God is a loving heavenly father.

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And yet that is exactly who God is, a loving heavenly father. If we read through the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we see that Jesus called God father and not only in reference to God being his father. Jesus called God, “You father in heaven” as he spoke to those following him. Jesus used the possessive your father teaching about relationship with God. When his followers asked Jesus to teach how to pray, the example Jesus gave as a model of prayer that we call the Lord’s prayer begins with:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,”

Jesus taught that our heavenly father knows what we need before we ask showing God’s concern for us. He taught that we are valuable and precious to God. He taught us that God loves us many times including the famous John 3:16:

“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.”

Paul wrote in Romans 8 that we can call God Abba which for us means that God is a deeply caring father:

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

God does not want his children living in fear of him in the sense of being scared of him, respect yes, scared no. He wants us to come to him, receive forgiveness, and live in a father child relationship with him.

God is patient and knows our weaknesses and hurts. If it takes time for us to be able to embrace him as father because of past abuse or neglect by our earthly fathers, God will patiently bring healing into our lives.

God is a loving heavenly father. Because of that, I was able to forgive my earthly father and am able to say today, Happy Birthday in heaven to my earthly father.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

Matt The Wedding Coordinator?

In my post yesterday about the Liebster Award I shared as one of the random things about me that I have been a wedding coordinator before and that I might share the humorous story in a future post. A few people commented they wanted to hear about it, so here goes.

My life proves that God has a sense of humor. I often find myself in situations where I think perhaps God gets a chuckle out of seeing what I am willing to try to help others. For example, one year close to Thanksgiving I decided to cook a Thanksgiving lunch for the people who come to my weekend groups at church. I put two turkeys in the ovens in the basement at church and started cooking the turkeys. Then I had a thought, more of a question, in my mind. How do I know when they are done. I had never cooked a turkey before.

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So I went upstairs hoping to find someone in the church that knew. I found a friend of mine Kris in the church. I asked her how to know when a turkey was done and she asked me why. I told her. She came downstairs and took over.

A few pastors at church have received emails from me that are basically- I have an idea. I don’t mind stepping out with no solid plan in situations such as meeting a new people group that has come as refugees that no one knows anything about. I enjoy getting to know them and learn as I go.

So one day a refugee family from Ukraine had a need. Their daughter wanted to get married but their Ukranian church rented a 7th Day Adventist church building on Sunday mornings and they had no access to it on Friday evening or Saturday for their wedding. They had no money. So I asked one of the pastors at my church and arranged for them to have it for free at my church. The women who usually coordinated weddings for the church did not feel confident helping people with broken English, so I agreed to do it. The bride had friends who lived here long enough to know where to get wedding stuff, so my job was really them asking me if they could do something, I asked the building manager, he told me yes or no, and I told the bride’s family yes or no. Wedding coordinating seemed simple.

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So a year later, when a young lady from China wanted to have a Christian wedding, I thought no problem I can coordinate it. I met with her and her fiance and realized they were so new to Lincoln and their friends were too. They didn’t know where to get wedding stuff. So I called my friend Kathy from church. Kathy and her husband had helped with my ministry before. I asked Kathy, “what are you doing tomorrow afternoon at 2:30?” She responded by asking a question, “Why? What have you got yourself into this time?” I told her the situation and she said she would be there. Kathy met us at the church and took over, I think I still had the title Wedding Coordinator, but I am not sure.

So Lily of retrospectivelily, you are single and have a boyfriend. When it is time for your wedding, I will coordinate it for you for free since you are one of the ones who asked me to share the story. 🙂

Hope you all enjoyed my story. Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Merry Christmas :)

Merry Christmas to all of my followers and readers. 🙂 As I start my Christmas Day this morning, I am looking forward to visiting some friends today. I will wear my cheap Christmas hat as I visit them.

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First I will visit some Mandean friends from Iran. I have some candy canes to give them and some small toy puppies. They are wonderful friends who experienced oppression in Iran. I enjoy my friendship with them and like to see them smile, so the silly hat will be on my head when I visit.

Then this afternoon I will visit a family from Iran. They are a special family to me. They have been through so many hard times. The father is a good man but cannot work due to disability. Their daughters are precious little girls. I will bring them candy canes and toy puppies too.

There was something I learned during my trip to Romania during Christmas time in 2005.

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Christmas has so much more meaning to me when I spend time sharing God’s love with people from other cultures. I loved that trip to Romania. I went to preach their Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services and do other ministry activities. It was my favorite Christmas of all time. Since that Christmas, I have tried to visit my international friends here in Lincoln to show them some love.

In the spirit of sharing Christmas with my friends from other countries, I would like to say:

Feliz Navidad      Feliz Natal     Joyeux Noel     Craciun Fericit

счастливого Рождества  Veselé Vánoce    क्रिसमस की बधाई

Fröhliche Weihnachten  Giáng sinh vui vẻ

메리 크리스마스  щасливого Різдва  Buon Natale

عيد ميلاد سعيد  glædelig jul  Nollaig Shona  Merry Christmas

and especially for those who occasionally read my blog from Indonesia praying for you- Selamat Natal

Thank you for reading. God Bless. Merry Christmas 🙂

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

 

 

Home for the Christmas?

This time of year the theme of home is constantly in front of us in song, movies and TV specials. Songs like I’ll Be Home for Christmas and There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays are played repeatedly. There are special TV movies about people coming home for Christmas or finding love at Christmas. I am not anti any of that, but it can be very misleading as to what home is really all about at Christmas.

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For some references to home bring to mind painful memories of growing up in a dysfunctional family, the loss of a loved one, abuse, or compounds the loneliness they feel.

What is home really about?

Home is really more about belonging and being loved. It is where we feel loved, accepted, encouraged, and a place where we belong in this world. Jesus talked about home in John 14:

 “Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them”

If we love Jesus, receive him, Jesus and God the Father will come and make their home with us. We will have a place where we belong forever. We will have a place where we feel loved, accepted, and encouraged. That is why Jesus came.

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Jesus came so that anyone who will receive him will have their eternal home with him in heaven as he said in John 14:

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Jesus is preparing a place for those who trust in him, an eternal place in heaven. But he also stays with us in this life as he promised in John 14;

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

He is always with us in this life whether we feel it or not.

Jesus came so that we can be with him now and forever.

If we are feeling lost in the shuffle and that we do not have a place we belong during the holidays or at any time of the year, Jesus says we have a place with him if we will receive him.

If you are blessed to have a loving home and family, that is wonderful. But if you have struggles in life because of family whether due to loss of a loved one, abuse, divorce, or any other issue, Jesus says we belong with him if we will receive him.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Immanuel- God with Us to Lift Us Up

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When a baby is brought home from the hospital, no one thinks about the possible traps in life that a child will grow to fall into as a teen or adult.

When we look at a baby, we don’t think about the baby growing to be trapped in addiction, being deceived in a relationship that turns abusive, being bullied in school, or any of the other adverse circumstances that people can fall into in life.

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When we look at a newborn baby we don’t entertain the possibility the child could grow up to commit a crime and be put in jail.

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We don’t look at newborn babies and think about how the child could become a refugee and flee genocide.

In this life there are a myriad of potential pits that people can fall into, but the good news is that 2,000 years ago a baby was born to rescue us from ruined lives.

When Jesus was born he was called Immanuel, God with us. Interesting to note that in Matthew 1 where Jesus is called Immanuel, it also says of him:

“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.”

Jesus left his throne in heaven to be born a human baby to grow to be a man to die on the cross for us, so we can be forgiven by God and enter into a life changing relationship with God.

Jesus shared the reason he came when he talked with Zaccheaus the tax collector in Luke 19:

 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Jesus came to seek those who fall into life’s traps and free us from the snare. He came to give us eternal life and also to free us to live freed lives.

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A new blogger uncomfortablyvulnerable shared about how God chased her to bring her to a new life. The title of her post is God Chased Me? It is a good post to read about how God chases us. God doesn’t give up pursuing us. That is why Jesus came.

Ktjennings shares about how God met her when she had gone to another country and ended up encountering Jesus. In her blog Gloriousruins she has a post He Saves that is encouraging to read for realizing that Jesus can meet us where are in life and lift us up.

There are so many bloggers who share about how Jesus has lifted them up from despair. Several months ago I shared a post titled Forgiveness from Me Led to My Father Receiving Forgiveness.

These are just a few examples of people, including myself, who Jesus has sought out and saved. There is no situation that Jesus can not help us in. He has all power yet a gentle heart. Jesus is Immanuel-God with us.

Thank you for reading. God Bless

 

 

Christmas Past- Christmas Eve Service with Brazilian Friends

 

I love spending time with my friends from other countries during the Christmas holiday. When I do, it always makes me think about what Jesus said in John 3:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

One group I always have fun with are my Brazilian friends.

In July 2013 I met Jose who was in my city for research for his doctoral program in Brazil. We had a lot of fun hanging out together the six months he was here. His wife Giselle came for Christmas and New Year that winter.

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In August 2013 I met some Brazilian students who were in my city for a program called- Ciencias Sem Fronteiras- Scientists Without Borders. The program paid for undergraduates to study for one year in science or technology.

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Christmas Eve that year it was a blessing to bring four of my Brazilian friends with me for Christmas Eve service at my church. Singing Joy to the World in the service takes on a whole new meaning when one is with friends from another country.

We had snow on the ground that year. In Brazil they do not have snow at Christmas because it is summertime there, so a song like Dreaming of a White Christmas has no meaning to them unless it is to go to the beach.

We had fun going to the Christmas Eve service together. My friends enjoyed the experience. We laughed a lot in the van on the way to the service and after the service. Reaching out to others can be fun and fulfilling and reaching out to others as part of celebrating the birth of Jesus is especially meaningful.

My hope is sharing today is that maybe it can spur someone else on to reach out to somebody this year as you celebrate Christmas.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

The First Christmas- The Perspective of the Angels

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Imagine that you are one of the angels created by God and stayed faithful to God. You have seen Jesus on his throne in heaven. He is the one who created you. He is the one you have worshiped since he created you. He is the one that has sent you to do his bidding to serve human beings, sinful human beings.

As an angel you have seen Jesus in all of his power and glory and you know he is the creator God.

Now imagine coming to the manger in Bethlehem where Jesus is a human baby who has just been born. If I was one of the angels, it would BLOW MY MIND. The all powerful Son of God who created everything is now a human baby.

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The angels were perhaps astounded by it all. He left his throne to become one of the humans that dared to sin against God and who are weak and vulnerable and yet God loves them so much that sent Jesus to be their Savior. You are well aware that there is no Savior or salvation for the fallen angels.

Perhaps you are one of the angels sent to be the announcement choir to the shepherds, lowly men who smelled bad because they were with the sheep all day every day and God chooses to announce the birth of the one you have seen on his throne in heaven to these shepherds.

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Is it any wonder that Peter wrote of the angels in 1 Peter 1:

“Even angels long to look into these things.”

What things? The things pertaining to the gospel our salvation according to the context of the chapter.

They long to understand it all.

But they are not created in God’s image. Only human beings are. They are not called God’s children. Only human beings who have received Jesus are.

I think if we stop and try to comprehend the true first Christmas from the perspective of the angels, it will amaze us.

John tried to describe what he saw when he was taken up into the throne room of Jesus in heaven in Revelation 1:

 “I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars,and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance”

 

No wonder John’s reaction was:

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.”

Fortunately for John, Jesus put his hand on John’s shoulder and said It is me don’t be afraid.

That is the Jesus the angels had seen for thousands of years on his throne in heaven. No wonder they long to understand how Jesus could become a human baby to be our Savior. That is the core of the gospel. Because he loves us, Jesus left heaven to be born to grow to die for us and defeat death for us through his resurrection.

If you take time to ponder this, please share your reaction.

Thank you for reading, God Bless.

Christmas Is Joy to the World

My home church used to have a program to celebrate Christmas called Once Upon a Village. We decorated our multipurpose room to resemble Bethlehem complete with animals at the time Jesus was born and had a Living Nativity.

It was a blessing for me to go through the village more than one evening with my international friends. In 2013, I spent one evening with friends from Belgium, Germany, Japan, and Vietnam. We went through the village and also spent time at the Living Nativity.

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Each time I went through the village with friends from various countries, Belgium, Bosnia, China, Congo, Germany, Japan, Peru, and Vietnam, I thought of what Jesus said in John 3:

“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.”

God’s love is for all people, all cultures, all ethnic groups. God does not discriminate in who he loves. He loves all people equally. He sees us all as people who are in peril without him because of our sin. That is why he sent Jesus.

My experiences with other cultures at Christmas time is not limited to inviting people to celebrations at my church. My friend Brigitte from Belgium hosted us for a dinner at Christmas time three years in a row. I have joined in Christmas services or programs in Romania and also in Hispanic and Vietnamese churches in my home city.

Each year I try to share God’s love with someone from another country at Christmas time whether it is visiting refugees from Burma to give them Christmas candy, having dinner with refugees from Iraq, or having a small Christmas party with my friends from my weekend groups at church. Last year it was going to a program by the Children’s ministry at church with families from China.

So when we sing Joy to the World at Christmas time, the Lord has blessed me with a unique perspective on how true it is that the birth of Jesus truly is Joy for the whole world.

I am praying about how the Lord wants me to spend Christmas this year. How will you share Christ’s love at Christmas?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Christmas Past- Constanta Romania 2005

In Dicken’s book A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is visited by three ghosts one of them being the Ghost of Christmas Past. What would I be shown if such a thing happened to me? Christmas has a wide variety of memories for me both good and bad.

As I think through Christmas Past, the first one that comes to mind for me is one of my favorite Christmas holidays in my life. It was Christmas 2005 when I spent my Christmas in Constanta Romania.

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My home church partnered with a church in Constanta for many years and in 2005 their Romanian pastor was in South Africa studying at a seminary, so my church sent me to Constanta to fill in for their pastor during Christmas.

At a Christmas party for the college group of the church, I received a plate with 1 Corinthinans 13 in Romanian on it.

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It was a blessing to be able to share the message for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day worship services. I loved joining a joint Christmas celebration for university students from Baptist, Evangelical, Catholic and Orthodox churches. Home visits to spend time with members of the church were especially meaningful.

Christmas normally evokes memories of time with family, gift giving, and special meals. The reason my trip to Romania is one of my favorite Christmas memories is because I was spending my Christmas on a ministry trip in another country sharing the love of Jesus with Romanian and Turkish people in Constanta.

We don’t have to go to another country to make Christmas about sharing the love and message of Jesus with others. We can do it in our hometowns. Sharing Christ’s love is the reason we have Christmas. 1 John 4:9 says:

“We love because he first loved us”

It is because of God’s love for us that we have Christmas. John 3:16:

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.”

How will you spend your Christmas this year?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.