Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

Now What?

In the typical vernacular of American hyperbole, the recent solar eclipse was promoted as the “Event of the Century”,  and met with the greatest fanfare and attention one might expect on the occasion of meticulously aligned celestial bodies.    It was spectacular.

While everybody was looking, God did it again: His miraculous nature on display. Some expressed awe over an easily explained scientific phenomenon, however no one would ever deny that NASA scientists neither put the sun and moon up there, nor did they orchestrate such an astounding event. No, like the rest of us, they could only watch in amazement as yet another, every day miracle testified to the unfathomably  precise mind of our Creator, God.

There, plain as day, the Sun and Moon effortlessly glided past one another, exchanged pleasantries (I’m sure), waved to the watching crowd and continued on their way.
Back to work people
.    Just like that it was over.

That same Sun and Moon are still right where we left them, more or less,  dancing their rhythmic do-si-do and declaring the glory of our Creator- right now – with scarcely anyone in attendance. Pulling tides, fueling photosynthesis, boiling mist into clouds to bring rain to parched ground and the countless other miraculous things we take for granted every day.

That moment is gone with another taking it’s place in the record books as a large portion of a large Texas is waterlogged and still in terrible distress. Same God. Same sun and moon. Radically different results.

This, on the heels of media-fueled firestorms disputing deep issues of truth and equality and how to represent our shared history fairly. Even the ugly bits. For my part, I confess my testimony shines brighter because I’ve been given the gift of grace to share the darker places honestly. There are scars because there is healing and this is the reference point orienting my course for the future.  Focus makes all the difference, even for a nation.

If we’re truly honest (and a little quieter), it’s the truth we all must walk by and all we’re left with at the end of every day.  Whether it’s one day gazing at the heavens in stark amazement or the next with eyes cast wide in disbelief at the overflowing waters of the sea, we must surely be struck by God’s power on display and our complete inability to do anything about it.

Not that we’re completely powerless. But we do tend to focus on things that really don’t matter– pushed along by popular opinion and media-driven mob mentality or most often frantically rushing through life striving to feed a seemingly insatiable appetite for goods and pleasure.

So bone wearying and tired.
So lost.
So meaningless.

What really matters?
I mean…REALLY.   What is the end goal?

Have you noticed?    It’s so easy to mindlessly tick off life events as if the only goal is their attainment while time slips through our fingers like the pages of a Very. Slender. Book.  If we could imagine such a book and that each page represented  a year of a “typical” life, most people would agree that 80 + years is a pretty long life, although to hold it in your hand it wouldn’t seem that long.

Our slender story begins when God the Author, in grand “Let there BE” fashion writes His miraculous “Once… Upon… A… Time…” and WHOOSH!  We’re born!      Then what?  

Well… for most of us it takes about 18 pages to grow up!  Page 3, we’re potty trained.  Page 5,  we start kindergarten. In the next 13 pages we lose teeth, fall in love, get mad at our parents,  learn to drive, go to proms work our first job and GRADUATE!  Then what? 

Possibly, we start a full time job.
Or go to college.
Maybe we find a mate
Get married, settle down and start a little family with little stories of their own!  Then what?

Pages 26 through 40-something have us raising that family. We might buy a house and a car, own some pets,  take a few vacations and lots of pictures,   SURVIVE TEENAGERS,   work a whole lot more and retire at page 65.      Then what? 

Hopefully our health is still good and the economy’s been kind.  In the final 20 or so pages we can finally enjoy life and maybe some grandchildren. Maybe we still need to work part time or there’s time to pursue some hobbies. Play a little golf… Take a cruise.  And…   then…   what? 

Nobody likes to talk about it, but at some point, the book of our earthly life will come to a close. There will be no more pages left to turn and no more time left on earth to write our story.   We will die.         Then what? 

Our earthly story is over but it’s not the end of us.

At this point, God’s word  teaches that the only two options for our final “Then What” are either eternal joy with Him in heaven because of the forgiveness we embraced through the cross of Jesus… or it’s the justice of eternal suffering and separation in hell because we refused to repent and receive His gift of salvation.

See, hopefully, at some point in the preceding pages of our life we heard and received God’s saving Gospel by faith. We understood we are sinners separated from God, but in His rich mercy, He made a way offering us forgiveness by sending his Son, Jesus who lived a sinless life and then took our place and paid the price on the cross for our sins.     And then what?

He defeated death and rose again on the 3rd day to claim the victory for us. So that we can live truly ALIVE now no matter how many “pages” we have and then.. someday when our earthly chapter closes, the next one begins with God eternally in heaven.

But only For those who believe.
Only For those who receive.
It’s what Jesus is teaching about in John 14: 6 when He said

      “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

I don’t know what page you’re on today. Me? I’m on page almost-50-something. I don’t know how many “pages” I have left.   None of us does.

What I can tell you is that at some point on about “page” 13 or 14, I heard the Gospel and received God’s salvation offered through Jesus. Since then, all of my “Then What? ” events have been forever shaped and guided by God’s Holy Spirit. Not living perfectly or without pain, but with a purpose.

That moment of decision causes me to joyfully testify and share about God’s mercy and goodness and to care enough that someone else may know Him too and ask, now what?

Maybe today you need to believe and receive God’s gift of salvation and start writing a new story on the pages you have remaining. So when there are no more words left to write in your earthly story the very next chapter begins in His presence.  I’m here for you.

Maybe you say you believe but you haven’t been living like it and you know deep inside that needs to change. Today.

This matters because our stories are never written in isolation and in a grander way, so many of our moments blend and count in the lives of others.

We need to live like that.
We need to love….like that.

Because, let’s face it: time… is short and the pages… are really few.

Being Written by Him,

anchored in the heart of christmas

A while back I shared a bit about my love-hate relationship with Christmas. Y’all,  It can’t be a total mystery that there’s a spike in the common stress level from the mid- November through the end of the year.

I don’t wanna beat a dead camel but  truth is, you don’t have to be a genius or a Christian to see much of what gets the most attention during this “most wonderful time of the year”,  has absolutely nothing to do with the “Reason” for the season.  But that’s not what this post is about.

AND while I can neither confirm nor deny that the “Elf on a Shelf” is an agent of satan  Santa (just kidding people), this is also not what this post is about.

Anchored in the Heart of Christmas

 A few years ago, I joined my friend Katherine for a week of Christmas spotlighting her Advent devotional. Then I told you about one of our favorite family traditions; baby Jesus in our stocking.

I’ve thought a lot about that these last few days. Because my house and halls are be-decked and stockings are hung by the woodstove with care, even though one of my three children won’t be home this year and another will be scarce. This is a first…and a definite foreshadowing of Christmases to come. (sigh)

 I sat on my couch looking at the nearly-naked tree a few nights ago and  I guess I was still long enough for it to catch up with me: it’s almost over. The years of lego-strewn floors and the excited (or not) squeals of knee-knockers running through the house…hormone-laden “expressions” coupled with other loud and exasperated “exchanges”….the years of scraping together what little we had to place what always seemed like way too much under the tree.

We’ve turned the corner into new territory.

 So…for a night, I was a little sad. I’m ok now… it’s how it should be…even if it stings. We’ve done our “job” of setting TRUE Christmas before each of them, and now it’s time to stand back and watch the Truth take hold in their individual lives and bear it’s own glorious fruit.

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However,  a few of these more precious thoughts have kept me pondering in deeper waters over why we celebrate at all, the meaning behind the traditions we may choose to keep and what happens when there’s no one there to observe them with you.

 I sat with my husband that night, so grateful for the space he gave me to spill  the words, thoughts and tears  all running together into his lap. Together we worked to sort them into little piles of “truth and not-truth” and then scraped away what didn’t belong.

What’s left is the realization that no matter how we choose to celebrate or mark this time of year– with advent wreaths, Christmas trees, festivities, choir specials, caroling, whatever; no matter what we choose to include…

if  the celebration is not anchored in the heart of Christmas,
it’s meaningless.

What can it mean otherwise?  Why put up a tree, light a candle, set a creche or hang a dang thing? It struck deep; if what we do isn’t anchored to the heart of Christmas, and is instead tied to superficial things or even the presence of others, we’ll eventually find ourselves adrift and slightly lost on dark waters when (not if) things change.

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 What is this heart of Christmas? What are we anchoring ourselves to?  Honestly, I missed it for years. I think it’s what most perplexes the unbelieving (and yet somehow still celebrating) world around us.

Manger from Above

God gives us the answer through the answer He’s been giving ever since that night when, with no room in the Inn, the virgin Mary gave birth to her firstborn Son with Joseph by her side.  Wrapping him in swaddling clothes they placed Him in the manger and named Him “Jesus”.

Yet, even this is not the heart of Christmas.

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Certainly  it’s a most miraculous part of it, but the fact is,  Jesus, the Son of God, was only one of maybe hundreds…or thousands of babies born that night.

Fact is, the heart of Christmas was already beating before that night and had been since the beginning of time.  God,  the heart of Christmas,  then summoned the angels, the shepherds and the wise men,  just as He summons us now to “come and see” but not to stay there.. no:

“Go and tell.”

Go and tell…not only how this miraculous, God-sparked, angel-announced and star-marked baby has been born, but go and tell how, “unto us is born this day a SAVIOR who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2)

A Savior.

 The heart of Christmas is anchored in the WHY of His coming ,which was not simply to be born so miraculously, so magnificently…but to die, saving those who believe and bridging the gap between us and God.

The heart of Christmas is found anchored three days past His sacrifice at the cross….at the stone-rolled-away, He-is-not-here, He has risen, empty tomb

THIS is why we celebrate Christmas.
THIS is why we can have hope .

 No matter what else is going on.

Christ Born In You

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This GLORIOUS truth, their obedience and telling is why we know, can and must still tell today. Anchored in the heart of Christmas, we must consistently live and tell the whole story…the story of His coming, the story of WHY He came and what He did…and then, most importantly, we must live believing and telling of how Jesus is coming again.

Oh come to the manger and let us adore Him, Emmanuel–God with us. Pause,  remember and celebrate His life on earth but don’t stay there—that’s only half way home.

Because Jesus didn’t come for a season. Oh no. He came for all eternity and that is why we can celebrate. We are a people who once walked in darkness, who’ve now seen this Great Light.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!

Expectantly,Lorretta signature