Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Christmas story mentions several encounters with what we call angels.
In fact the Bible is full of stories on how they interacted with God and us humans here on earth.

What I love about angels is how they seem to just show up when people lest expect.
I don't recall reading about anyone who planned to see an angel, or anyone who know ahead of time they were about to arrive.

Looking back at my life I think I have met an angel or maybe two angels to be precise.
It took on the same pattern. I was taken by surprise.
The circumstances were so random that you couldn't have planned it.
As you read on, I will let you decide for yourself…

While in Russia many years a go, I was traveling around with a Pastor.
Part of that journey required us to take two different trains within Moscow itself.
The problem was that we couldn’t figure out once on the first train where we needed to get off. If we missed the right station, we would most likely miss the next train???
Someone took notice of us and introduced himself as a Doctor from Afghanistan.
He stayed with us until we got to the correct stop and made sure we were ok.

Some years later I found myself in Japan on my own, having to catch several different trains to a remote part of the country.
Part of my problem was that I don’t speak or read Japanese.
The further we went from the main centers, the less English was used on the signs.

The last train I had to catch pulled out on schedule. I knew I needed to get off at a place called Inuyama, but didn’t know how many stops away that was.
At the first stop I looked out the window and to my horror, found all the signs in Japanese only. Now I had no way of finding out where to get off!
A man approached me (I must have looked distressed) and in English, asked if he could help.
He introduced himself and explained he was from….yes you guessed it Afghanistan!
He also stayed with me until the correct stop and even got off the train to make sure I made it off the platform ok.

What are the chances of that happening in two different countries under those circumstances!
I have wondered ever since whether maybe God sent an angel to help me???

Hebrews 13:2 says...
Some have entertained angels without knowing it

So when you read the Christmas story in the Bible…
Matthew 1:18-2:18; Luke 2:1-20
Maybe you could imagine what it would be like to be visited by an angel?
Maybe you have already experienced that at some time in your life?
Or maybe it is something for you to look forward to!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I think that it feels good when you know where you are going…

When I am driving my car to some new location, or a street in a part of Auckland that I haven’t been to before...there is part of me that is uneasy. It is that ‘unknown’ or only having part of the picture that effects your thinking.
You find it sometimes hard to relax on the journey.

When I was in Japan a few years a go I really experienced this feeling.
I was on my own and had to catch several trains from different stations to get to a meeting.
Not speaking any Japanese didn’t help much.
The last train I caught pulled into it’s first stop on the journey. I looked out the window and my heart sank...the station signs were only in Japanese. I know the station name I was going to, but had no idea what I was going to do as I had no way of knowing where to get off…
It is a long story, but I eventually did make it ok. Will tell you another time.

Anyway, having a clear plan and knowing some steps along the way feels so much better than having no idea!

Many people I talk too seem to not have much idea what God wants them to do with there lives.
That is why we did our little series called ‘Chazown’. It is the Hebrew word for vision.
I think God wants a balance in this for us. Yes, we are to walk by faith...but he doesn’t expect us to walk blind. Remember that his word is a lamp for our feet. Light is something that is seen!

God wants you to not only know some direction for your life, but also to see some of it.

If you want something practical to do help you find some more direction over Christmas…
How about doing what I did and read a book.
In particular Chazown by Craig Groeschel.
It is real easy to read, and fun to work through.

What not give it a try???

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It seems Christmas is a ‘deadline’ time of the year.
We treat it as such a pivotal moment of our calendar, not necessarily because of the meaning of
Christmas but because of it’s position on our calendars.

Recently we had the roof replaced on the church building because it was so rusty you could even get wet coming to church.
The goal was to have it complete way before Christmas, and we have signed off completion today!
For me personally I have a number of goals...which all have to be complete you guessed it…before Christmas.

Many people have lots left to do before the magical Christmas date…
Whether it be getting their car fixed, buying presents or even visiting the dentist.
Many companies that I deal with are sending me Christmas type cards, pushing me to get in quick with orders before they shut early for Christmas.

Now add to that mix all your normal day to day activities…
Now add to that planning for Christmas day with family and who needs what, and who we are
giving this and that to…
Now add to that preparations for Christmas services…
….ahhhh….stop the bus...I want to get off.

No don’t panic I am not that bad.
I have learnt that I have a pace that I can go over this time of year. That has come from over
doing it many times over many years. I have learnt that I have the power to control how I behave and feel leading up to Christmas. That power does not belong to anyone else!

1 Timothy 4:16
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both
yourself and your hearers.

It is one of the few Bible verses I know that talks about saving yourself…
So how? Very simply this is talking about keeping a close eye on yourself (not other people).
Are you doing too much? Are you organized? Are needing more sleep? Are neglecting time with God in prayer and his word? When was the last time you hung out with other disciples?
All stuff that you are qualified to answer for yourself.

If you want a Christmas time with less stress...look at yourself and do what you need to do…
Look after yourself.
Enjoy the Season, don’t just survive it!