This Christmas…

I had one of those….”wow” moments the other day with a student.

They have a large family and money is always very tight for them. Their parents work very hard to do the best they can for their family and I asked this young lady about her upcoming Christmas.


Me: So, are you getting excited for Christmas?
Girl: Yeah, I am.
Me: That’s awesome. Will you guys be able to have much of a Christmas this year?
Girl: Oh yes, we have everything we need. The one thing that I do want I can’t have though.
Me: Oh, what is that?
Girl: My grandmother passed away last year on Christmas Eve. I wish so badly she was still here (her eyes start to well with tears). I miss her so much. 

As I reflect on that moment, I believe this young junior high student has a lot to teach us in a culture consumed by materialism. I was so struck by her statement, “we have everything we ne
ed.” When I know very well this family struggles financially, yet what they do have is love for one another, and love for Jesus Christ.

In our culture, we lust after the latest and greatest clothes and gadgets, when all the while what God created us for was not to have an abundance of things, but to live in deep and loving relationships.

He created us to know Him first and to live in relationship with Him. Then, to live in relationships with others. He gave us family and friends to share life together with. May we remember our happiness or our “Christmas” is not defined by the presents under the tree. Instead, let us seek joy in Christmas, first and foremost, through a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. Then, out of the overflow of that relationship we’ll be able to deeply love our families and experience greater joy this Christmas.

Lets live with the same type of attitude as this young junior high girl and be thankful, for in Christ, we have everything we need.

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” – Phil 4:11-13


Following at a Distance

I’m a lot like Peter.

I talk too much.  I think I know it all.  I don’t listen well.

Not to mention, I’ll think to myself, “I would never do (fill in the blank).”

Yet, in my sinful nature, I would.

I think the demise of Peter can be found in Matthew 26:58

“But Peter followed him at a distance”…..

As Jesus was on His way to appear before the Sanhedrin Peter followed Jesus, but at a distance.  He allowed His pride to say He would never deny Christ and now he lets his fear keep him from following Jesus closely.

Peter got away from following Jesus closely and before you know it, he denies Christ three times.  Three times!  Within minutes of each other.  The rooster crows immediately and Peter weeps bitterly, because he had done the unthinkable.  He denied knowing Christ three times.

In Jewish culture to deny your Rabbi three times was to cut yourself off completely from him.  It was as if Peter was flipping Jesus the bird and saying, “I’m done with you!  Get out of my life!”

We should be careful to say, “I would never.”  God just might put certain circumstances in our lives to humble us, showing us that without staying close to Him, without abiding in Him, we are capable of grievous sin.

Thankfully, Jesus restores Peter back into fellowship with him in John 21:15-17.  Jesus is full of grace and mercy towards Peter, even though Peter does not deserve it.  Jesus offers that same grace and mercy for us.  That is good news indeed!

Father, hold me close, for I, Heather, am capable of grievous sin without you.  May I walk in humility, daily, coming as a beggar at the door of your mercy.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Quiet, Be Still!

True, abiding faith is far from passive; it is fiercely active.

When the wind and the waves began to overtake the boat, Jesus and His disciples were traveling on, as they crossed Sea of Galilee Jesus lay sleeping on a pillow, in the stern of the boat.  In a panic the disciples came to Him, crying out,

Lord, don’t you care if we drown!?” (Mark 4:38)

Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and the waves and with a loud shout said,

“QUIET, BE STILL!” (Mark 4:39)  

The wind and the waves immediately died down.

I wonder, if in that moment the disciples heard the same truth in their hearts, “quiet, be still,” as they frantically scrambled around the boat trying to save themselves, all the while, Jesus, in the midst of a great storm had everything under control even when it seemed they would drown.

Abiding faith teaching us to rest in the middle of what seems like an overwhelming storm.  As our hearts run; unguarded, filled with fear, worry, and anxiousness we seek to take over control, forgetting all the while that our Lord is resting at the helm, asking us to join Him there.

The rebuke of, “quiet, be still,” was not just for the storm, but for the disciples as well.  In their panic they forgot their Lord was in total control.  They allowed worry and fear to overtake them.  They become controlled by it and quickly forgot the faithfulness of God.

I can totally relate with the disciples.  Far too often, I forget about the faithfulness of God.  I focus on the storm and allow myself to be held captive by fear and worry, quickly finding myself reaching towards the helm to take over control.  Yet, there my Lord sleeps, resting, asking me to join Him there.  If I allow myself to be over taken by fear I’ll find myself stepping over him, maybe even, in my panic, kicking him out of the way to grab for the reigns of control.

What a stubborn fool I’ve been.  Thankfully, the gospel can make new the most stubborn of hearts.  With humility and prayer I can learn a new way of doing life.  I can let go of the helm and rightfully, give it back to Jesus.  It is hard work to get to this point, but with active faith, working with God for our renewal, we can be made new.

Father, forgive us, we forget so quickly, that in you, is rest.  You promise to stand with us, to never leave us, you are a good Father.  May we remember to quiet our hearts and be still in your presence no matter what life throws us.  May stillness be our default and trusting you be where we land.  In Jesus name, amen.

Fearing Rest

I think people fear rest.
Although many people, myself included, need it desperately, we fear what it might reveal. We fear if we slow down we might actually have to deal with the hurt and pain that lingers deep within. We fear we won’t measure up or be able to keep up with everyone else. We fear we won’t make enough money or are children won’t be the starting player, so we stay busy, really busy. We run 1,000 miles per hour thinking that we’re doing what’s best. Yet, if we took just a moment to sit and rest we’d find that our souls are actually worn to the bone, our hearts are not full, but empty and our minds are not at peace, but filled with anxiety. 
Instead of creating time for rest we add more and more to our plate and before we know it we have quickly become our child’s chauffeur; instead of their wise counsel. We don’t know who are spouse is anymore, because we only see them in passing. Sure we sit next to them from one sporting even to the next, but there’s no real intimacy there. Now one is really sure when the last time the family actually sat down to a meal together was because, everyone is-busy.

I think in order for families to be healed someone’s going to have to say, enough is enough.

I’m choosing to rest, because that’s what is best for my own health, my children’s well-being and my relationship with my spouse.

Otherwise we’ll continue to run ourselves into the ground reaching for depression medication, the divorce papers and blowing up at our kids, because we’re not taking time to rest.
I think God wants us to rest.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”- Matthew 11:28

Even Jesus rested (Mark 6:31). We should too.
I think when we rest, a death happens. A death to fear, anxiety, worry, anxiousness and anger. A new life begins when we rest with God. It’s there where He refreshes our hearts, gives us new hope and places His joy in our hearts.
When we choose to make a commitment towards rest, true transformation happens as we hide ourselves in God’s word. That is where we spring forth to new life in our minds. The lies come crawling up to the surface, the pain becomes un-earthed and Jesus, our healer comes in to make us new.
I want that kind of rest. Go ahead, you can have that kind of rest too. Don’t worry about what others might think, just go and be with Jesus.

Bearing One Another’s Burdens


…they forced him to carry the cross….(Mark 15:21)

I often wonder what it must have been like to be Simon, the Cyrene. He was forced by the Roman officials to carry the cross from outside the city gates to Golgotha, because Jesus was physically too weak to carry it any longer.

I wonder if he understood what he was doing as he journeyed with the Savior of the world to the crucifixion. Although Jesus was too physically weak to carry the nearly 100 pound cross bar He still walked right beside Simon. I wonder if they linked arms, or if Simon helped hold Jesus up as they journeyed together to Golgotha. I bet he was afraid. I would be too. I wonder if he knew Jesus as his own Messiah or if he knew him only as a religious figure. I wonder if on their journey he looked Jesus in the eyes and saw the fierce compassion of a loving Savior who was “led like a lamb to the slaughter.” (Is. 53:7)

I’ve asked myself, why is this in the biblical narrative? What is God trying to show us? As I’ve asked Him to show me why I believe there is one point of application, to me, that stands out.

This account is meant to be a picture of the church in action. There will be many times in my life when my burdens seem to great to bear. That’s when my brothers and sisters in Christ within the church are meant to walk with me, helping me bear my burdens. Maybe they will pray for me, make a meal, clean my home, help financially, watch the kids, or sit and listen during the greatest storms and tragedies of my life.

In those moments we practice “bearing one another’s burdens.” (Gal 6:2) We walk with our beloved friends, shoulder to shoulder, helping them bear their burdens when they are too weak and beaten down to do it themselves.

There’s an old Bebo Norman song I have always loved, called “Borrow Mine” some of the the lyrics say,

Take my hand and walk with me a while
‘Cause it seems your smile has left you
And don’t give in, when you fall apart

And your broken heart has failed you

I’ll set a light up on a hilltop
To show you my love for this world to see

You can borrow mine when your hope is gone
Borrow mine when you can’t go on
‘Cause the world will not defeat you when we’re side by side
When your faith is hard to find, you can borrow mine, borrow mine

And take my love when all that you can see
Is the raging sea all around us
And don’t give up ’cause I’m not letting go
And the God we know will not fail us

Side by side, the church in action, bearing one another’s burdens. Now that, is something beautiful. Let us live like that today! For God’s glory!