Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Celtic Trinity Knot

trinity knot1

The Celtic Trinity Knot is a tradition Celtic symbol representing God the Father, his son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.  Celtic knots are perhaps the most recognizable artwork in Celtic history.  They are an iconic symbol of Ireland and a popular feature in Celtic art dating back to 450 A.D.  Trinity knots are frequently used in Insular art.  Insular art is believed to have originated from the Irish monasticism of Celtic Christianity in the early middle ages.

trinity knot2

Trinity knots can also have a circle incorporated into the symbol.  Depending on who you ask, the circle represents eternity, eternal life, or the love of God. Regardless, the knots are a beautiful way to communicate a spiritual truth.  In each knot, there is no beginning and no end.  So is the timeless nature of our Heavenly Father, who showers us with mercy, grace, and love.

God bless your Saint Patrick’s Day!

 

A Time for Tulips

snow tulips

Most of America has snow on the ground.  People are inside, trying to stay warm. Recently, I looked out my window at home to see a dozen tulips poking through a snow drift.  I marveled at the strength and power that made those plants grow in such harsh and demanding conditions.  I didn’t want to go outside because of the freezing cold, but the tulips pushed through the layers of dirt, soil, leaves, and now several inches of snow.

We forget it, but people are like those snow covered tulips.  Folks can push through tremendous difficulty and hardship.  We often grow during the most difficult times in life when there is an inner strength guiding us forward.

Scripture provides a picture of this in 2 Corinthians chapter 4.  Paul writes to the church and says, “do not lose heart.”  There is an inner strength in you that the world will not understand.  While it may be confused with personal strength, it is a “treasure in jars of clay.”  This extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.  It gives the ability to endure, maintain, and move forward even when life gives us the worst conditions possible.

Paul also shares how resilient believers can be because of God strengthening us in times of sorrow. In verse 8 he shares that God provides so well that “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed . . . .”  The Lord who helped Israel endure the desert sands will also strengthen you during the challenges of today.

God provides a covering that shelters us during the storms of life.  He also allows His Holy Spirit to guide us and strengthen us when we only see darkness.  The inner strength protects us and allows us to move upward, beyond the dirt and soil of difficulty.

Don’t lose heart.  Remember what God can do with snow covered tulips.  He renews their inner strength day by day, allowing momentary afflictions to prepare them for a greater reward and a new season of life.

 

lent journey

Lent is an important time where Christians focus on personal sacrifice and ready themselves for the celebration of Easter.  On the liturgical calendar, Lent runs six weeks from Ash Wednesday to Easter.  It is a religious observance where Christians focus on fasting, sacrifice, and abstaining from different foods, acts, or luxuries.  Others will observe the season of Lent by adding a spiritual practice to grow closer to God.

No matter how you decide to take this six-week journey, focus on where it ultimately ends; the Son of God on a blood stained cross for the sins of humanity and an empty tomb proclaiming his resurrection.  May God bless your journey and the path that takes you there.

Costly Christianity

cost

The brutal slaying of 21 Coptic Christians by ISIS this weekend serves as a grim start to the season of Lent.  While Lent is often celebrated as a time of sacrifice and inflection, today it seems more of a reminder that there is a price for our faith.

As our hearts are heavy and our prayers go out to the families of these 21 brothers in Christ, let us also focus on discipleship.  Let the Church hear this message again and again. There is a cost to discipleship.  There is a figure for service to the Savior.  There is a price when one decides to follow Jesus.

These tenets are not new.  Jesus teaches His disciples that they will be ridiculed, reviled, and rejected.  There is a hard road for us to travel as we grow stronger in faith.  Matthew 10:22 shares, “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.”

Those are not easy words to hear, but they allow us to focus on what is truly important and to keep our perspective.  While there is a great price to pay in service, one will also find value in the salvation of Christ.  There is something greater than all my hardships and struggles.  There is something bigger than all my troubles.  The value of Jesus.

The point becomes clear in Matthew 10:32, “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.”

As hardships, struggles, and difficulties come your way remember the examples we see in Scripture; hold on to your confession, stand fast in the truth, and endure to the end.  The value of Jesus will soon be clear.

 

Marriage Heart Health

Do you have a five star marriage?

People want to stay at the best hotels and resorts when they travel. These hotels earn a five star rating because they consistently deliver excellent service, provide great amenities, and offer that special touch of class like little chocolates on your pillow. They go the extra mile. People instead settle for a two or three star establishment because of proximity, cost, and time. We often settle for less instead of striving for the very best.

This is also true in marriage. We can have a great relationship with quality time together, kind words toward each other, and sacrificial acts of service. But too often we settle for a mediocre marriage with little strength, support, or commitment.

How can we flip the switch?

Couples need to honestly evaluate the relationship with their spouse. Are your expectations being met? When expectations are not met, we are disappointed. Disappointment often carries with it frustration, anger, and isolation. If our reality is less than what we expected, then the reality equals a disappointed spouse. Share expectations with each other so that you are both on the same page and can work toward mutual goals.

Couples need to focus on each other. I can tell when my wife is upset, stressed out, or angry. Most of us know that look or phrase from a spouse. There is a cue that reveals his or her inner thoughts. That is a signal to ask questions, share an encouraging word, help around the house, fix a problem, take the kids for a walk, or just listen. Don’t ignore the cues and signals that your spouse sends you. Take notice. Respond and act to support each other.

Couples need time together. Husbands and wives are great at making time to discuss problems, schedule school events, and play taxi service for the kids. While this is important, couples also need to spend quality time together. They need to get away, go on a date, and make time for their one true love. Don’t lose the fire and energy that brought you to the altar in the first place.

February 7-14 is National Marriage Week. Use that time to evaluate your marriage and strengthen your relationship. Check out their resource page at http://www.nationalmarriageweekusa.org and discover how a few simple steps can improve any marriage.

No matter where your marriage is today, you can build a stronger relationship that will last for the rest of your life. Make a five star marriage part of your life today.

blank page

It is that time of year again. We stand at the threshold of a new year and people are full of excitement and anticipation. Part of that excitement is making a list of resolutions or goals for 2015.

We make resolutions because we want to improve our circumstances. We want to improve ourselves and our quality of life. The top resolutions, for most people, tend to revolve around the same three areas: money, health, and family.

I encourage you to also make faith a part of your “wish list” for 2015. Here are 5 resolutions that can strengthen your Christian walk next year.

Read the Bible. Spending time with God’s Word is vital to any Christian. It encourages and educates us. It provides direction when we feel lost. It reminds us that God is near. Examine your daily schedule and find the right time when you can reflect on Scripture.

Speak more carefully. While we ignore much of what we hear in a typical day, words matter. Words can build up or tear down. Don’t allow destructive talk, gossip, or vulgarities to rule your speech. Resolve to watch your language and speak in a manner that glorifies God, especially when it comes to the name of God.

Go gadget free. Yes, your smart phone is fun and it is a great way to stay in touch with others, but it also robs time from important areas of life. Make a rule to turn off your computers, cell phones, tablets, etc. at least once a week. While it may seem like this is hindering your ability to connect, it will actually allow you to make even deeper connections with those around you. Bless your family and friends by being present in their lives.

Pray frequently. Prayer is central to our faith. It is deliberate communication with our Heavenly Father. It is an act of worship. It is a spiritual discipline. It allows us to adore, petition, praise, and confess. Scripture shares several occasions when Jesus made time and space to pray. Follow in the example of Christ and find time to pray to our Creator.

Volunteer your time. You can make a difference in someone’s life by investing minutes each day. Take time to volunteer at a local charity, non-profit, or ministry organization. Live your faith and demonstrate that you are a servant of Christ. There are programs designed to help pregnant girls and teenage parents make good choices and establish a solid foundation for their lives and the lives of their babies. There are programs to feed the hungry. There are programs to mentor married couples. All of these programs need volunteers to strengthen others in need.

As we prepare for 2015, make faith part of your improvement plan.  Make a plan to strengthen your faith now and into the new year.

Waiting for Christmas

emmanuel

What is the longest time you had to wait for something?  We wait a matter of minutes for food at a restaurant and it feels like a long time.  We wait 5 years to start kindergarten classes at school.  We wait 20 to 30 years to find a spouse.  As a people, we do not wait well, no matter how great the reward may be.

The Advent of Christ is also a story of waiting.  The time between the Old and New Testaments total 400 years.  This time span moves from Nehemiah to the birth of Jesus Christ.  These years are known as the intertestamental period, but they are often called the “silent” years.  A time when people were waiting to hear something from God.

The New Testament gospels give us more than a whisper.  They announce the long-awaited birth of the Messiah, the Desire of nations, the Son of David, the Prince of Peace.  Jesus arrives as our Emmanuel.  Jesus arrives as our Redeemer, Savior, and King.  The most precious gift we could receive.

His birth shows the faithful promise of God to provide salvation.  His birth allows God and sinners to be reconciled.  His birth brings light and life to a world that has only known darkness and death. Jesus was born that mankind may have life, a second birth, a home beyond this world.

We celebrate the Advent of Christ on earth.  We celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and the deliverance that it brings.

Now we wait again.  We wait on the second Advent of Christ and His promised return.  May God hasten the day when we can finally see Jesus, the one pierced for our transgressions, the one crushed for our iniquities, the one who died so that we may have eternal life.

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 170 other followers

%d bloggers like this: