Kimmer: December 2006

Friday, December 15, 2006

Don't Miss Christmas....

- by Mary Southerland

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son" -John 3:16

The Christmas rush is on! I know many of you are still looking for the perfect gift, wrapping presents, baking your famous sugar cookies, packing the car for a long trip and wrestling with overly excited children. Ho! Ho! Ho!

Right where you are...STOP! Take a deep breath and travel back with me to a time when there was no celebration. I can’t imagine a world without Jesus and yet, many times I live my life as if He doesn’t even exist. A trial comes and I try to handle it on my own. Loneliness floods my heart and instead of reaching out to Him, I withdraw into the darkness.

Then, He interrupts my life and fills each black corner with Light. His love flows over the pain like a soothing balm and once again, I experience the manger. Once again, He steps into the smelly, unlikely and very ordinary existence that is mine to change everything – everything! He could have come to us in many ways but He chose to interrupt the very ordinary with the most extraordinary! He could have chosen to be born in a palace. After all, He was a King. Yet His life on earth began in a manger - a dirty, smelly barn. The simplicity of His birth is one of His most precious gifts to me and one of my most profound life lessons.

I often wish that I had been there that holy night when Jesus was born but then He reminds me that I have my own manger, my own holy moment when God became a reality to me, and I worship Him!

Every year I am reminded of the very heart of Christmas - Emanuel, God with us. God wants to be involved in the simple, ordinary happenings of daily life: where we go - what we do - the smile we give the harried stranger - the patience we wear in the crowd of impatient shoppers - the love that prompts the secret gift - the heart that constantly celebrates His birth through every sparkling light, every beautifully wrapped gift, each special meal, every card, phone call and visit.

Join me in this quest - to celebrate Him and His birth in everything I do. Have a birthday party for Jesus! Adopt a family in need! Reach out to the lonely! Look for Him in the crowd! Emanuel, God with us! WOW!

Father, today I celebrate the reality of Your presence in my life. I celebrate Your birth, Your life, Your death and Your resurrection. And as I celebrate, Lord, help me to be “God with skin on” to those in need around me. Open my eyes and let me see them as You see them! I love You! Happy Birthday!
- by Mary Southerland

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Cup of Christmas COCOA

~by Tracie Miles (condensed)

"On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh". Matthew 2: 11

One of the things I adore about the holiday season is hot cocoa. Who doesn’t feel warm and snuggly while sipping on a steaming cup of cocoa with marshmallows or whip cream piled on top? The word ‘COCOA’ can be used to help us remember the important aspects of Christmas, reminding us of the happiness and warmth we can enjoy being a part of God’s family.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18
Jesus Christ is the reason for the season. Remember to spend as much time searching for God’s truth, as you do searching for that perfect gift. Christ IS Christmas – there is no Christmas without Christ. During this season, share the gift that Christ has given you with someone else.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
1 Peter 3:3
Do you spend more time fretting over whether or not your house could be featured in the holiday edition of Southern Living, than whether or not your inner spirit is adorned with God’s love and compassion for those in need? Put a stronger focus on blessing others this holiday season.

A happy heart makes a face look cheerful. But a sad heart produces a broken spirit. Proverbs 15:13
As the gift list grows, the budget drains, and the calendar fills, it is easy to get discouraged. And although Christmas is meant to be a joyous season, many people also struggle during the holidays with depression and discouragement. Despite the reasons that you might feel discouraged during this time of year, focus on how much you are loved as a dear and precious child of God. The holidays are merely a season, but God’s love and compassion for His children is permanent. Now that is something to celebrate!

When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. Matthew 2:10 –11
The shepherds saw the star, and they were overjoyed – they were overcome with delight, awe, motivation, encouragement, love for God – they were overwhelmed with the gift of life. Think of a time when you were overjoyed- the birth of a child, a graduation, a wedding, a beautiful sunrise, sparkling white beaches, a baptism. Your feeling of happiness was likely so overwhelming, that tears filled your eyes, you had a lump in your throat, or your heart was beating rapidly. For many Christmas-a-holics, we are overjoyed when we kick off the holiday season, but overwhelmed by the middle of the month! Try to find ways to remind yourself each day of December to be thankful for the birth of our Savior and overwhelmed by the blessings that have been bestowed upon you, rather than being overwhelmed with your holiday to-do lists.

..mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance. Jude :2
Whenever I think of Christmas morning, from my childhood to the present, the word abundance comes to mind. As soon as the sun rises on December 25th, until it sets in the evening, we are bombarded with an abundance of presents, candy, baked goods, fruit, and other delectable foods. But these things are temporary.
What we really yearn for is the abundant life promised to us in God’s word. Our true heart’s desire is for mercy, peace and love, not just on Christmas day, but every day throughout each year. ...
seasonal prayer:
Dear Lord, thank You for giving us the gift of your Son, so that we could have eternal life with You. Please help us not to get so caught up in the earthly celebrations of Christmas that we forget to celebrate Christ. Grant us joy and peace this season and into the future.

...this season, allow the warmth of God’s love to pour into your heart, and then pour that love out abundantly onto others~

blessings :)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Can God Reach Those With Closed Minds?

Acts 26:9 - 18"I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them. "On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. About noon, O king, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' "Then I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?' "'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied. 'Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to themto open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me."

Responses to the Gospel vary. Some people believe it’s true. Others resist learning what the Scriptures say about salvation. Many have closed minds and refuse to have anything to do with Jesus. These individuals respond to Christians in one of two ways. They’re polite but firm in their rejection of Christ. Or, they’re aggressive and antagonistic toward those who call Jesus, “Savior.” In their opposition, some even cross over into violence.Can God’s message of salvation penetrate those whose minds are shut? The conversion of Saul of Tarsus, who became the apostle Paul, proves that no one is beyond the reach of God’s love. Paul was a devoutly religious man who professed faith in God the Father. But he rejected Jesus as God, the Son.His hatred of the Lord extended to all those who followed Jesus. Paul went to great lengths to persecute believers and persuade them into blaspheming Christ. God’s Spirit convicted this violent man of his sin, gave him an awareness of his own need for a Savior, and revealed that Jesus was the only solution for him and everyone else.

Dr. Stanley believes Paul came under conviction by the Holy Spirit when he was persecuting Christians. The future apostle witnessed unwavering devotion to Jesus even as believers were being killed for their faith (Acts 7:59-60).Today, the Holy Spirit continues working to bring men and women under conviction. He uses the lives and testimonies of believers to reveal the truth about Jesus to those with closed minds and hard hearts.Do you know people who seem beyond God’s reach? Be encouraged. Continue to ask God for their salvation(Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. )
-from Dr. Charles Stanley
Do you have unsaved family members or friends that came to mind as you read this? As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, let's be steadfast to remember them in prayer, that God would soften their hearts and give them a hunger to come to know Him.
Ask Him to prepare their hearts, to give you divine appointments in which they are seeking answers, and to give you the right words to say to encourage them in coming to know Jesus. If no friends or family come to mind, then you might pray for others you know who have unsaved family members.
blessings! :)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Passion 07 Conference Live Link

Tonight the Passion House had an hour live link of prayer and worship time to unite the students who are coming to Passion, those that are in general supportive of Passion, and the volunteers who will be helping at Passion. I know a few other people who are going to volunteer that could not be online for all or part of the Live Link so took some notes for them, so they could know what took place….

So here is a very paraphrased summary of the evening:
Louie began and asked people to send an email or maybe post on the blog if you are connected… they’d kind of have an idea of who all was out there…I was a little distracted right then but I think that he said Steve Fee was leading worship and they wanted us to all join with them in worship
They sang the song Salvation Is Here (I think that’s a Hillsong)..

Then Louie talked for a while and said something like this link isn’t about passion or an event but about us worshipping the Son of God who loved us enough to come to earth to die for us...There are people all around the world singing with one heartbeat, loving the same Jesus, with one voice and one heart tonight lets tell God how much we love Him.
Then he asked people to if they were in groups to pray in groups of 3 or 4 and he said that a 3 strand cord is not easily broken (Ecc 4:12) and joked if you were by yourself you could pray with me,
myself, and I :) He directed that for those in groups, one person should pray for the need out loud and the others should actively pray in agreement with them. They should take turns leading throughout the evening.

The first time of prayer he wanted us to pray that God would invade this time right now-Come into the middle of our space wherever we are; into the lives of every person linked into this site (and I would imagine that includes those who wanted to be linked in but couldn’t right then) right now let Your power and presence be known; let’s believe and agree together; and invite God to fill up this time and invade this time with all that He is; so there was a pause for us to pray for that.

Then he asked us to pray for more than just to get to Passion07; ‘We want to see a move of God ....Moving on the campuses of this world...Prepare the way in our hearts and lives for His kingdom to come..." then we had another time of prayer...

Then they sang Prepare the way (I think that’s a Charlie Hall)…

Then Louie asked us – if we were students to spend time praying that our campuses would have a move of God in them; or if we aren’t college students to pray for campuses nearby us or for our city that God would move in them for His glory….. he also mentioned praying for South Dakota, still the only state with no one registered. (so far there are registrants from all other states and 24 countries)… time of prayer….

Then the worship leader (Steve Fee?) sang Mighty to Save (I think another Hillsong?)

Then Louie encouraged us to lift our eyes up from our little part of our story, to see His global story – the story of God. And asked us to pray for the students and or student leaders coming from various countries, I don’t think I quite got these all exactly right but to pray for students and leaders coming from other countries like Taiwan, Canada, Ireland, Poland, England, South Africa, Brazil, Romania, Slovakia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Japan, Australia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Holland, Malaysia, Botswana, India, Afghanistan, China although I may be off on a few of those…... He asked us to remember that these people are talking about a massive journey to get there; much more of an undertaking than those of us in the US.
Especially pray for Rodgrigo from Brazil – he’s been turned down already and has a second hearing for a visa application tomorrow.& for several in Romania – who wish to come and are having some problems; they have interviews tomorrow for visas. Pray that God would open doors all around this world to bring all who want to come. Pray for their finances, for visas, for smooth flights, etc for God to work out all of these details that they might be able to come. And also that God would bolster in them the confidence that they can make the journey.... Praying for the nations and the world to see that Jesus is mighty to save! (another time of prayer)

Singing chorus…(from Mighty to save?) I think it was...Shine Your light in, let the whole world sing; For the glory of the risen King

Then he said something like even if you have a lot facing you tonight with exams and finals in college right now; or if you aren’t a student joining with us there may be other big challenges you are facing right now, we want to take time now to pray for you guys connecting with us on this journey. It’s creates wonderful perspective to remember that you are a part of a huge world wide story of God. Maybe you are sitting by yourself wondering if your life is making any difference.... You need to know tonight that you are created by God... you are not here by accident... you have a purpose He has created you for...and in His mind you are already more than amazing! :)
Phil 2:12 -15 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky

Then he had a time of Shelley praying for us after which another Shelly(or Sheli?) from Passion prayed for us as well…Part of their prayers were along the lines of .. ..
Shelley G - Lifting the Lord up to His rightful place in our lives and thanking Him that we know Him. For both students and for non-students who have gathered I thank You that You are present everywhere and all at the same time, what awesome thing it is that You are able to do that. Thank You for their lives and we pray especially in these days before passion that you would grant them the ability to make more space for them to be able to spend more time communicating with You... During these days of preparing our heart... That they would give themselves more fully to you and let you do what you want in our hearts and lives

Shelly 2 – Let us come with expectancy and believe You for more, that you would be magnified and lifted up; for travel mercies for those who are coming from far away places and work through the authorities; You are the King of kings and we want you to reign. Then she prayed for a while in the native language of I think Brazil, I think it was Portugese. It was beautiful and sounded like tonuges to me.

In Closing – Louie was saying a big ‘right on!’ that we have all prayed and believed together! If you are one who is on your way to ATL then we will be seeing you in just a few weeks. Thanks to everyone who carved out a space to listen to us tonight. Please keep us in prayer this week as we have over 1100 volunteers who have volunteered to come help in this; They will have Team Leaders. The Volunteer Team Leaders who have devoted so much of their time, help bring this all together. Passion house and volunteer Team Leaders will be meeting this Thurs, Fri, & Sat going over many logistical details that need to be worked out. There is still room to register more students if you know of any that are thinking of coming.

Thank you for your encouragement tonight with your blogs and emails! We want you to know that as we leave you, know that we are for you, and believe in all that God has for you, and we will serve you well to the end that you rise up and change your world for God's glory. Our God reigns!

The 268Blog 28 day Prayer Journey will begin tomorrow to keep our hearts united in prayer. (YAY!)

We want to leave this with you tonight for all of you:Isaiah 40:28 - 31 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Then they ended with the Brenton Brown song Everlasting God. It was very good and a wonderful thing to be united with so many believers in harmony from around the globe during this time of prayer and worship!

(Ok so that is my paraphrased take on what they said during the Live Link. I didnt tape it, I just typed some notes, so ..... please keep in mind that this is my paraphrased interpretaion of what they said and I hope it is fairly accurate.)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Border Order

~by Gwen Smith

Luke 10:38-40a As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.

I spent some time the other day at a coffee shop on the second floor of a Border’s bookstore. It was wonderful. It was quiet. The smell of freshly brewed coffee delighted my senses and overhead, light jazz music softly serenaded me. No body else was there. It was just me, my Bible, my laptop and coffee. Like I said – wonderful!

This particular café is elevated and overlooks the entire bookstore, which is warehouse-like because the main floor is vast and has a very high ceiling. Café patrons have a bird’s-eye view of the goings-on downstairs. I love the set up. It’s great for people watching.
When it was time to head out for my lunch date, I packed up and began my descent down the massive staircase. About mid-way down, I stopped. My eyes caught the order of the store. Like a well-planted garden, the store boasted a beautiful pattern of rows filled with content, yet separated by space. It was so impressive that it caused me to stop and to consider the beauty of the order.

The ‘Border order’ invaded my thoughts as I gazed out over the garden of books, CDs and magazines. Each row became a line of my daily ‘to do’ list. The space between the rows became the ‘grace space’ between tasks that allows for congestion on the highway, that welcomes the unexpected phone call from a friend in need, that embraces the crying child instead of snapping at her. I viewed a beautiful balance between the rows and the space. All at once, I realized that my pursuit of accomplishment, my desire to check the boxes each day, weighed more heavily on the rows than on the space! I have a tendency to be more like Martha than Mary.

Personally, when my days are filled with countless rows of things to do, the space between those rows grows thin. No matter how many times I try, I can never seem to fit more than 24 hours into one day! (Duh!) When space diminishes, I have a tendency to get grouchy. When space diminishes, I find my self with very little time to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him. When ‘grace space’ is properly placed between the rows of my list, I am more pleasant to be around, more productive in serving others and more available to worship the day through. Note to self: Factor in ‘grace space’ to your daily ‘to do’ list!! All summed up, I guess I’m going to be shooting for my days to have more Border order. When I do, my family wins, my stress level wins, my friends win, and my God wins. Hope you will, too.

Let's Pray...
Dear Lord, You are an amazing God of order. The universe is extravagant with order and the designs of our bodies are intricate with order. Thank you for demonstrating through the order of creation that hard work is very important, but that rest is an essential element as well. Please help me to broaden the isles of ‘grace space’ in my life. Help me to recognize and embrace daily opportunities that You send my way to love, encourage and worship. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Now it's Your Turn
Are you a list-girl?
Are your rows too close together?
Is there a friend, colleague or family member who needs a call of encouragement today?
Pinpoint one row on your list that can be eliminated to create more grace space in your day.

Friday, December 01, 2006

God is in Control

-by M. Southerland

"I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Psalm 32:8 (NLT)

The apostle Paul understood and lived by the truth that God is constantly at work in and around us, monitoring every circumstance. Paul writes in Philippians 4:10, “I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.” There is a truth in this verse that is easy to miss - the truth that God is always at work around us. Paul’s circumstances did not show that God was working. But Paul knew! He was secure in the belief that help was on the way so he stood firm and began watching for God to show up! He examined every circumstance, understanding that it had already passed through His Father’s hands with His permission! And God came through!

To find real security and contentment we must learn to search for the handprints of God in the every day circumstances of life.Life is not a series of accidents but a series of divine appointments made by our heavenly Father, designed to prove that He loves us and orchestrated to illustrate His provision for us. That interruption we complain about or that intrusion we resent may well be a window of opportunity sent by Him! God is our provider. The word “provider” comes from two Latin words, “pro” which means “before” and “video” which means, “to see”. In other words God will take care of it beforehand. God caused the church at Philippi to become concerned about Paul’s needs and it came at the time when Paul needed their love the most! He always comes when we need Him the most! It is a picture of the Good Shepherd meeting every need of every sheep.

John 10:4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they recognize his voice. (NLT)The Shepherd is always ahead of his sheep - out in front which means that any attack upon the sheep has to take him into account first. What peace and security we can have knowing that God has gone before us through every valley, across each mountain of life. He knows what tomorrow holds and will give us everything we need to face it. When we begin to understand and walk in the truth that God monitors every circumstance, we will also understand and walk in contentment. You may find yourself in a frightening place filled with darkness and doubt. Your fragile heart may be wondering if God knows where you are. Let me assure you my friend - He does. Even if you cannot see Him He can see you. And when it comes right down to it, I really prefer that God be able to see me rather than insisting that I be able to see Him!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jer. 29:11

The Hand of God...& Ezra

Wednesday nights at church are the best... this week it was about Ezra... I dont remember studying Ezra before. if you look in the book of Ezra many times it mentions how the 'hand of God was on ' Ezra and his life. some places this is mentioned include Ezra 7:6, 7:9, 7:27-28, 8:15-18; 8:21-23; 8:31-32
More than anything wouldn't you want to know that God's hand was on your life? you can see from the verses mentioned, that some of things this resulted in are God's favor with people (7:6), God's helping him with problems (7:9), because he knew God's hand was on him, it gave him confidence (7:28), His provision (8:18), and His protection in situations Ezra went through (8:21-22).so then what did Ezra do that he had the hand of God evident in his life? keep in mind

II Chron 16:9 The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.

God wants to set His hand on your life as much as any other persons - any pastor or any one you see being used of the Lord. He doesnt have favorites and He is no respector of persons. But what we do, and how we position our heart and life determine how much of His presence is evident in our lives. The more time you spend with God, the more He presence is evident. Dont you love how when you are around someone who does spend time in God's presence, it leaves you feeling like you want to spend more time with the Lord?

How did Ezra come to have the hand of God on His life?
1. He studied the Word of God.
Ezra 7:10Yes we need to be hearing the Word in church but we also need to be reading the Word each day ourselves so that you will have a good foundation on which to process the situations life brings your way and approach situations in a way that God would direct you.

2. He was obedient in applying the Word of God to his life and to do the will of God.
Ezra 7:10There is no blessing in just knowing the Word of God if you do not apply it to your life. You cant just say well the Bible says to be joyful but that just doesnt click with me, I'm not a joyful person. You cant just pick parts of the Word and only apply to your life what easily resonates with you. Some areas will come easily to you and some may not; those are things you need to work on developing in your life.

3. Seeking the help of God; seeking God in prayer & fasting
Ezra 8:21-22If you need the hand of God in a situation you need to spend some quality time in prayer and perhaps in fasting. When we seek God earnestly, His hand is on us to do good. (v22)

4. Ezra had a sensitivity to the holiness of God
Ezra 9:1-6Ezra was appalled that the people were disobeying God. What offended God, offended Ezra because he was sensitive to God's holiness.Do you hate sin enough to recognize it and not tolerate it in your life?
Ps 69:9 for zeal for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me
Ps 101:2-3 - I will be careful to lead a blameless life, when will you come to me? I will walk in my house with a blameless heart. I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate, they will not cling to me.
Eph 5:3-4 but among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

If you expose yourself to things that the Holy Spirit hates (whether it is something you watch, read, listen to, or think) then you are dimishing the grace of God, His presence, and working in your life. How can God's hand be actively working in your life if you are purposely choosing to grieve Him? To make a difference in life, you need to be different than the world around you. We are called to be set apart.
Who would not want the hand of God on your life and to live in the blessings of that? to follow the examples in Ezra's life
1. Study the Word of God
2. Apply the Word of God to your life
3. Seek God earnestly
4. Be sensitive to the holiness of God