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Archive for December, 2010

We hear this word now and then, but what does it really mean?

‘He left a lasting legacy’ often eulogizes dead politicians and wealthy people, referring to the changes they made in society, or their contributions to charitable foundations.

But did you know that you are creating your children’s legacy every day?

Legacy refers not only to the wealth we leave for our descendants, or what we do to affect or change society, it refers to whatever we leave for our children.

We leave emotional and spiritual legacies far more often than we leave financial ones.

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If you’ve been in church for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the scripture verses about the sins of the fathers being passed down to the nth generation. And that’s certainly true. Whatever habits we establish, whatever sins we become slaves to, whatever lies we believe about God will get passed down to our children and to their children, and theirs, etc.

But the opposite is also true! (Thank God!!) Whatever truths we embrace, whatever habits we cultivate, whatever virtues we live, will get passed down as well.

And this works across all the facets! Good habits of physical health get passed down. Bad habits regarding the saving or spending of money get passed down. Habits of hiding your emotions, or allowing them to spew out over everyone in sight, get passed down too. Relationship patterns are handed down, and many other beliefs, patterns and behaviors.

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Our culture encourages us to think only about ourselves, and only as far as next year’s vacation. So, few of us deliberately set out to create a legacy for our children. We’re too busy ‘spending their inheritance’ (to quote a bumper sticker). I don’t mean we are spending money that could be invested in their future (although that might certainly be a part of it). What we are doing is spending our energy and time in ways and on things that create a poor future for them.

How much time do we invest each day in our children’s future? Do we listen to their worries, dreams, ideas, concerns? Do we teach them what we know about money, cooking,  yard work, or getting along with others? Are we showing them how to have a relationship with God, and with a spouse?

Truthfully, you are building all those things every day, whether you spend time at them or not. Even the ignoring of certain elements of life builds a foundation in children.

What are you creating as the legacy your children will build their lives on?

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Recently, Father God has been showing me the legacy I received from my parents. There was no money, no stocks or real estate, left to me, but my parents’ legacy to me is better than I thought. The core value of giving that my Mom instilled is so strong that I can’t stand not being able to give. The practical stuff they taught me about how to use tools, fix things, figure out how to do something, is invaluable. The entrepreneurship that my Dad exhibited by selling stuff at the flea market every weekend for several years is actually already being built on by my children. So many things they laid down for me to use!

And yes, we’ve spent quite some time looking at the negative things they laid down, too. Poverty thinking, bad spending patterns, worth issues, have all come under God’s hands to be restored, repaired, changed, or tossed out.

The really cool thing is that, as I get free of the bad parts of my legacy, my children are set free too! In fact, I’ve learned to specifically pray for these things to be changed in me, my children, their children, and theirs, all the way to the end of history. And I see change in them almost immediately in many areas!

My children are all grown, so don’t think it’s too late to change the legacy you are leaving them. If you ask Father God to show you ways to improve that legacy, He will!

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As we enter this new year, this new decade, may you take the time to examine the legacy you are leaving for your children and their children.

May Father God reveal to you what needs to be changed, what doesn’t, and how you can begin to deliberately lay a good foundation for your family’s future in every facet.

May this be the year you build with gold and precious gems, rather than ‘wood, hay and stubble’.

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O Come, Immanuel!

We’re probably all familiar with the word ‘Immanuel’. After all, we sing it every Christmas. And most people know its meaning. (‘Immanuel’, used only in Isaiah 7:14, then quoted in Matthew 1:23, means ‘God with us’ or ‘with us is God’, according to online Strong’s.)

But did you ever stop to think about that meaning?

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I mean really think about it? The obvious meaning, of course, is the one we apply every year near the end of December – the Son of God, born of a virgin, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. God with us in a human form. Jesus – fully man and fully God – living a sinless life, dying to pay for the sins of the world, being resurrected to give us life.

But I think it might go deeper than that. So many of God’s truths are multifaceted (and fractal), and maybe this one is, too.

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God with us – this is the essence of what Jesus taught in John 14 – 17:  “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever” (14:16).   “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit (15:5). “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one” (17:23).

God with us now. Today. Holy Spirit living inside each of His children.

God in my human form, and yours.

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Before anyone starts screaming “heresy!”, let me clarify: I am not saying I am God or that you are, either.

I am saying God is in me, in you – living inside this human body, right alongside my own heart and soul and spirit. (God in your body, along with your heart, mind and spirit, if you are His child.)

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This is what Jesus came to accomplish – the union of God and man. Not just once – 2000 years ago – but every single day, of every year and century since then. Not just one man – long ago in Galilee – but every man and woman who accepts Him, wherever and whenever.

This is the truth we need to understand and believe – God with ME!!

This is where the power lies to live the life we were created for; where the truth is that sets us free of every bondage; how we do greater works than Jesus.

All that you and I were born to be and do can only happen when He is in us.

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So this year, as you sing those Christmas carols celebrating that miraculous birth so long ago, allow Father God to make it real to you that He is with you.

Rejoice in the truth that you no longer need to ‘mourn in lowly exile’, because the Son of God has appeared! He has ransomed you, set you free, and is living in you!

Open yourself up to Him, allowing Holy Spirit to be with you so completely that you become one with Him. (Yeah, that’s usually a process, but don’t let that stop you from heading in that direction.)

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May ‘Immanuel’ truly be so in your life this holiday season, and increasingly so throughout the coming year.

John 17:20 – 23

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Merry Christmas!

’tis that time of year again!

Time to remember all those people you never talk to except through exchanged cards.

Time to eat way too much food, especially Christmas cookies!

Time to stress your brain and your wallet, figuring out just what gifts to get for everyone on your list.

Time for children’s plays at church or school, caroling, parties, and other fun.

Time for exhaustion, family fights, and disappointments galore.

And time to remember why we have hope!

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Hope! Yes, that’s the real reason for the Christmas celebration.

Christ was probably born in October, not December, but the church created this holiday, at this time of year, to cover up several pagan ritual days.

We can argue about which of our customs are truly ‘Christian’, and we can feud about whether to say ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays’.

We can ignore the whole thing, cursing it as too commercial, or pagan, or whatever.

We can wear ourselves out with  shopping and wrapping and mailing. And baking and cooking and eating.

But the real reason behind all the hype and drama and excess is – hope!

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What is there, in this fallen sinful world, to hope in, other than Christ?

He is the sacrifice for our sins, the healing of our minds and bodies, the truth that sets us free, the spiritual ‘bread’ we need to survive.

He is the way, not only to God and heaven, but also through this often dreary life.

Indeed, He is Life.

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Whether this is really His birthday or not;

whether you refuse to have a tree or decorate your house so thoroughly that no one can find the couch;

whether you exchange cards and gifts, or act like the Grinch;

this is the time we have set aside to remember why we have hope!

So take the time to do just that, remember the reason behind the season – the birth of the One who saves and heals and sets us free.

Take time to renew your hope. That’s what Christmas is all about.

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May you make time during this joyous season to draw close to our Father God, allow Him to wrap His love around you like a warm blanket, and receive anew the gifts of hope, joy and peace He gives to everyone who receives.

“ Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:14

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In Genesis 1:14, 15, God creates “lights in the firmament of the heavens” for “signs and seasons, and for days and years”.

In agricultural societies, seasons are an important part of life. With industrialization, though, these natural rhythms are lost, and we rush from one day to the next, not understanding that life was never meant to be lived at the same pace year in and year out. But no matter how attuned to the seasons (or not) our society is, they still exist. If you look closely, you will find them everywhere, even in your spiritual life.

Winter is a season of rest, but can also be a season of harsh storms, cold winds, and isolation. Some winters are harsher than others, but all are times to draw closer to Father God, to send our roots deeper into Him, in preparation for the coming spring. Some plants – apple trees, for instance – require a period of very cold temperatures in order to produce fruit the following spring.

In fact, a fruit tree planted in the fall will produce fruit a whole year earlier than one planted the following spring, because during those cold months of winter, the tree is using no energy for growth, so it can put all its energy into sending its roots down deeper into the soil. So when blossom-time comes, the tree planted in the fall is stronger, and has a better root system to gather water and nutrients. The tree just planted in the spring has to spend the summer growing, so it can’t expend the energy to deepen its roots until winter finally comes.

Spring comes with a burst of life and color, sometimes overwhelming us with vibrant change and an abundance of new growth. Spiritual or emotional spring is like that, too. All of a sudden, new ideas/beliefs/activities are bubbling up inside. We are restless, eager for change, so full of life we don’t know where to start.

Once those ideas and changes settle in, though, we edge into summer. Ah, lazy summer. This is actually the quietest season. Things are growing, but slowly, silently, almost invisibly. This is the season when we sometimes feel that nothing is happening, that all that spring blossom has died, that we’ve missed the boat or been left behind.

But wait! Don’t give up on your spiritual garden just yet. One day it looks hopeless, and the next, it’s full of ripe fruit, just waiting to bring life and health and joy to those you share it with. At last – autumn! Harvest time!

As we reap the rewards of this season, things begin to quiet down, and we gradually move into winter again.

And so the seasons change, over and over again, our whole lives long.This can feel like we are ‘doing laps’ or ‘going around the mountain again’. But in reality, we have grown since the last time we were in this season, so it is not the same.

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If we understand which season we are in, we can optimize our time there. We can learn what we need to learn, do what we need to do, rest when we need to rest, go deeper in Him when it’s time for that.

When we learn to recognize our own seasons, and learn to live in them properly, instead of trying to rush through this one to get to the next, we may find that our lives are richer, more satisfying, and much less stressful. Our roots go deeper and deeper, our branches grow stronger and stronger, and our fruit becomes more abundant, sweeter, and more nutritious (because it’s less stressed). We become the ‘trees planted by the river’ of Jeremiah 17:8.

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The better you understand your own seasons, and how to live in them, the more you will be able to understand another’s seasons. And this is important; because, while we all live in the same climatic season, our personal, internal, seasons are individual. I may be in spring while you are in autumn, and another is in winter.

If we demand others to be in the same season we are, we can do much damage to their spiritual life and growth. Each season has its own tasks and changes, and each is valuable, so we should not denigrate the season another is in. In fact, we can often be more helpful to our siblings in Christ if we are not in the same season they are in. We can see more clearly what they are going through, understand it because we’ve recently gone through it ourselves, or just be able to be there for them because we are not currently in that season.

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May you be blessed with His understanding of your personal seasons, wisdom to know how to live in the season you are in now, and the love and understanding to extend grace to others in their seasons.

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