We realized the seriousness of our endeavor right from the startling beginning. When you study the heavens, it’s a shocking discovery to find something new and so specific, something so amazingly bright set in place by some outrageous force. It beckoned to us, and after much discussion we knew we must pursue the phenomenon because not only our minds were in agreement but our hearts pulsed in our chests and stirred us like none of us had ever experienced. This star marked something, and we became determined to follow its marker.
Packing our satchels and gathering our wealth, somehow knowing there would be a requirement at the end of this journey, we loaded our best beasts with our survival gear and treasures and bid our associates farewell. Each one wished us good traveling and remained anxious to learn of this special light in the sky never before noted in the history of the stars. We weren’t entirely sure we could find our destiny with this star, but we knew we were all compelled to follow it.
The journey wore on, long and sometimes difficult. We faced some weather storms and had to rest more than we’d hoped. One thing was sure throughout our travels: the star never once hid itself in the clouds or diminished in its opaque brightness.
At night we wondered aloud to each other why it could’ve appeared at this time, so stark, so evident, so impossible to ignore. So we studied the publications we had, the prophecies of old, and we realized together that there was to be born a king of the Jews, and it was then that we knew this special birth must have a marker because of the unique description of this new king’s life. Something sacrificial would be required of him, something beyond the scope of mankind and the usual service of kings. We dared to assume this child was set apart for things too grand for us to fully comprehend. Perhaps those heavens we studied held a greater message than our simple hearts could compute, and at night when we discussed our journey and the gifts we felt we must bring as an offering, we’d often retreat to silence as we contemplated the magnitude of our destination in this moment in time. We sensed eternity placing its request upon our hearts, and at times we quaked in what could only be called a holy fear.
Since we were all our own personalities, some of us light-hearted and generally jovial, others of us severely focused and serious, we began to notice we had a joining of our souls on this journey and our usual petty grievances with one another which every so often occurred while we argued over the heavenly bodies no longer persisted. It was like we were joined in purpose, resolution, and a kind of faith we’d never known together. This star had presented an opportunity for us to set aside our professional differences, our dislike of certain characteristics in each of us, including ourselves, and I cannot recall one single incident of discord along the occasionally perilous journey.
We approached the great city of Jerusalem and the star shone even brighter—as impossible as that seemed, but we were all in agreement about that fact. Knowing we were in foreign lands, we asked some local teachers of their law about the prophecy to determine the exact location of this tiny king because the star seemed to shine over the entire area.
Shortly after seeking our information we were summoned by the Roman King Herod who inquired about the exact time the star had appeared. He made a strange request after telling us to go to Bethlehem, asking us to report back to him so he could go and worship the child.
When we packed up and headed out for Bethlehem, the star, in what could only be referred to as a miraculous compass, once again appeared more specifically and led us right to the exact home of the young child. We thrilled with anticipation for we knew the purpose of our journey was nearing its climax. The mother Mary’s eyes widened at our appearing and the extravagance of our gifts, but she seemed to understand the magnitude of our visit and her gracious welcoming allowed us to experience the marvel of the whole journey and culmination of supernatural events here in this small and common dwelling. The child's father, a gracious and humble man, seemed stricken with our obedience to make this journey but well able to understand it. Our surprise at the utter holiness of our visit overwhelmed us later that night.
We awoke having all experienced the same intense dream filled with warning not to return to King Herod’s court, so we set off for our distant home taking a different route, never to be the same again.
Following a star placed in the heavens by a holy hand who holds eternity gave us hope we hadn’t previously known. This little king radiated a glory we couldn’t have sensed without him, and we held him in our hearts as we traveled back to our land. We would never leave him behind even though we knew we would never see him again until that One who made the star we followed took us to be with Him.
No other thriller hero is as exceptional as Mitch Rapp. Yes, Agent Scot Harvath is a character full of spunk and guts, but really in the world of espionage and total lack of political "correctness", there has never been anyone like Mitch Rapp created by the late and wonderfully talented Vince Flynn. So for readers of Vince's amazing novels, author Kyle Mills has taken his time to continue the construction of Vince's next book in the series of which Vince had not been able to write a great deal due to his terminal cancer. May he do Vince Flynn and Mitch Rapp proud with his efforts.
Father, you gave us Vince for a short space of time and loaded him up with an important role in novel writing. Thank you for the blessing he was to those of us who value such amazing talent and insight into important things of this day. Let him know how much he was loved, Jesus. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Father, your beauty is portrayed in so many ways. Your generosity, grace, and mercy in lovely pictures. Christmas tells us all of your love and beauty. Thank you, Jesus, for giving us you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Of course as Christians if we hear the word “savior”, we think of our Lord who is the Savior. We are pleased to celebrate His birth this time of the year and give Him the honor He deserves year round.
I told you how much I admired Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus Christ, and the young mother Mary who demonstrated both her love for and obedience to God instantaneously after being visited by the angel Gabriel. The profound honor placed upon this couple was full of personal sacrifices and required enormous faith. As humans, I’m sure they experienced their share of tearful confessions to one another during the trials of relocating and raising the son of God. And then Mary lived to watch the One who had been miraculously conceived in her die a gruesome and sorrowful death, only to see Him rise again to deliver her and the entire human race from punishment if they so choose to believe in His sacrificial act of redemption.
So what about those who are called to be single, without a spouse, without a mate or helpmate? According to Paul, it is the better choice to remain singular. “An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord.” (1 Cor. 7:32) "An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.” (1 Cor. 7:34) “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: it is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.” (1Cor. 7:8)
Those of us who are married know there are multiple sacrifices made to stay married, to work out the problems of sinful humans cohabitating. Our selfishness strives against benevolence. Our demands strain to be concealed or rise to be satisfied. We have all kinds of issues to face and overcome. Some do, and sadly some don’t. Marriage is hard work. Worth every effort in almost all cases, but very hard work to keep it functioning at a godly and inspiring level of operation.
So this is a tribute to those who have been called to the sometimes lonely office of being single. To find that you have the unique place of being devoted to the Lord’s business without the distractions of trying to keep another person satisfied in a living arrangement does not mean that the requirements of that life are any less difficult or potentially stressful when neglected but rather allow for a possible greater extension of service in the kingdom. There is no greater duty, call, privilege, or responsibility than being about His business. Every position in the kingdom is valuable, but it is also part of a grand design. No one should feel less or more because he/she is single or married. We all have our things to do.
The single person must forge his way without the help or interference of another human partner. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the partners in making the way for decisions to accommodate the business of God. Who better and more helpful? What better way to become more dependent on God instead of on another human being?
This supernatural kingdom has a place for all of us. God dictates the ways and supplies the means to enter into His service. No more noble duty for the people of earth than to follow Him. Some will volunteer and serve faithfully. Others will begin their service and then be drawn away. Some will snub the Savior of the world and carry on with His enemy’s business. And still others will be pursued by the Spirit of God and give up and give in to His overtures to embrace the Savior.
Christmas always causes me to reflect on all aspects of humanity. As some work tirelessly within the holy kingdom without recognition while others give their lives for the King of Kings while succumbing to torture, each person given life on earth has a worthwhile place in the kingdom of God if he so chooses. No one need be excluded. There is a plan for every individual, yet some will never come to believe it’s possible for them.
Here’s to all my brothers and sisters who have looked upon the Savior and said: I want you, I need you. Take over for me, Jesus. Thank you for coming to live and to die for me.
Heavenly Father, we honor you. Your high ways are beyond our abilities to comprehend, but we accept them with our finite understanding. We ask to receive your revelation for more of you. As always, we are desperate for you. Increase our insights and discernment during these hard times. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
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. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" - which means, "God with us."
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And He gave him the name Jesus.
Netflix just aired the brief one season of Reckless. People who'd never heard of it, never saw it advertised on CBS, have become solid fans and have joined the #RenewReckless brigade. Really baffling how this one got canceled.
Father, you provide the talent. It's amazing what people can do with it. It's a shame when it's overlooked. Please bless those who work so hard to do things well. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
For whatever reason, by design, genre, or insufficient access to money or imagination, few television series dramas can muster "having it all". From costumes, set designs, hues and colors, stunning photography, even future episode previews to perfect casting, great acting and creative direction with character understanding/development, superb dialogue and original/provocative writing and editing, and a carefully scripted inclusion of poignant soundtracks, Reckless had it all. The CBS summer replacement series kept upping its game and culminated in a two-part, same night dynamite Series Finale. As it stands, Reckless ended its run in the shocking Series Finale, leaving viewers in desperate need of a Season Two.
Although Reckless was initially promoted as a southern steamy evening soap opera, Reckless proved to be so much more.The "steam" diminished and was replaced by the much more desirable UST (Unresolved Sexual Tension). There were definite flare-ups of the sexual scenes because of the overall defining theme of the first season focusing on the wrongful termination/defamation of character trial of Lee Anne Marcus v. the City of Charleston and the CPD. As her character became more exposed, we watched as she wielded her sexuality like a powerful weapon, intoxicating men and bringing them under her spell.
Creator and writer of RecklessDana Stevens closed the season with a knockout punch preceded by writer Corey Miller's tantalizing set-up power jabs. Their Season Finale efforts activated shock and awe from Reckless viewers and have successfully spawned the #RenewRecklesscampaign for a Season Two.
Although I enjoy several CBS dramas, few contain every possible element of creativity - not that they all should. However, the fact that all of these amazing elements weren't only included in Reckless but were so exceptionally done is not only surprising for a summer replacement, it's generally unheard of in TV dramas. From Dana Stevens to the Sander/Moses duo to the producers, actors, writers, editors, directors, casting crew, camera crews, costumers, sound technicians, and the multitude of people who worked hard to make this show great: you did a fantastic job. You deserve another chance to keep the excellence going, but I must admit it will be very difficult to sustain such a high level of performance at all levels.
Thank you to all of you for producing such quality TV with such riveting drama.
Father, you give all the talents and gifts to us. I pray each one would be thankful for the blessings you've given them in creating their lives. Thank you, God. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
As we approach our celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, I would like to encourage men today with this message from the Christmas account.
Men today have multiple challenges of all kinds. For example, their visual instincts are exploited by every medium known to the human race, enticing them into sexually sinful thoughts and/or ways. Books such as Everyman’s Battle break it all down for them in a working and understandable way, but many Christian men won’t read the book(s) which identifies the problems of their gender, some because they’re unwilling to face their weaknesses and be required to do something about them, some because they think their reactions are all just part of being a man, and some because they feel hopeless and just can’t take one more jab of criticism from the holier than thou set.
The requirements are stiff for a man in this world. Especially in Christianity. Because Christianity requires a guy to be a man about everything. To step up. To take responsibility for himself, his wife, his family, his place in the body of Christ. It’s a tall order, and it can be daunting.
The Bible tells us in more ways than one, and history bears it out as well, “There is nothing new under the sun.” The only new things are the advanced technological ways to present and exploit the same old problems.
Well, men, if you want to usher in the new year with some fresh resolve, take a look at the earthly father of Jesus Christ, a carpenter by trade, not wealthy, a man of faith, placed in the middle of a difficult dilemma with the young woman he was pledged to marry. (If you’re some wayward wanderer in the blog kingdom, landing upon my title of this entry and certainly not expecting to find anything biblical, of all things, I urge you to complete your reading anyway—you just might learn something.) As most of you know, you can find the account in the following places in the New Testament: Matthew 1:18-25; 2:1-23; Luke 1:26-56; 2:1-51.
Joseph had dreams and visions of angels which both challenged and amplified his faith. In the process of receiving life changing instructions through these supernatural encounters, he became an amazing man who is only discussed in these few places in the Bible. When he anticipated having to divorce his pregnant (not by him) fiancée, he thought of her, not wanting to “expose her to public disgrace”. It was after his practical consideration that the impractical took place: specific instruction of the how and who of this anointed child to come. What did Joseph do? “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name of Jesus.”
Through the course of time, Joseph was required by the Roman government to leave his home with his very pregnant bride and travel a considerable distance to Bethlehem for a census where this unusual child was born nearly upon arrival there, started a new life in that town, sometime later was told to leave in the night for an immediate escape to Egypt, travel back to Israel and eventually settle in a not so desirable town known as Nazareth where the family started over once again.
Each decision that Joseph made had to be a difficult one: uprooting his family because of dreams and visions. The consummate man of faith with the family who trusted his ability to hear and obey God’s leading. This was the man God hand-picked to be the earthly father of the Lord Jesus Christ. No one has ever held a more difficult role in humanity. So much weighed upon each decision he had to make. Yet God sent messengers, dreams, and visions to guide him from his simple life as a man pledged to be married to the awesome task of being the husband to the woman who carried the Christ or Messiah.
Never again. Once for all. But, men, I urge you to consider the depth of faith of the man Joseph. Are you willing to listen, dream, endure visions to hear from the living God? And then are you willing to obey? Single, married, divorced—are you willing to make a new commitment to the supernatural God who desires to find men who are anxious to upgrade their spiritual lives instead of just their computers or sound systems or football channels? Are you a real man of God who knows there is so much more available to you, and you want it? Regardless of what’s required of you? Are you willing to hear and obey?
Look at Joseph, an ordinary man of faith, selected to be an extraordinary man because of that faith and willingness to obey the God who asked him to do what some would have considered out of the question, not in their house, huh-uh, no way. What kind of man are you?
Father, your love is endless, your desires often plainly expressed, but you also use unpredictable means to communicate at times. You are the one true God. You make ordinary things extraordinary when you enter into them and participate actively. I am so in awe of you. Help me to listen and always obey. I want all that you have for me. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
If you’re anything like me, you have an opinion on a lot of things. And you’re not afraid to express it. In the flesh you’ll jump in with unsolicited commentary and in the Spirit you’ll regret some of what you said.
I grew up—or attempted to—during the heyday of the “drugs, sex, rock ‘n’ roll” generation. I resisted it for as long as I could before I wondered why I was still holding out or holding onto any kind of innocence. I believed in God but didn’t know His Son.
My generation saw the ushering in of the “Ms.” women, better known as the decline and fall of real womanhood. Don’t get me wrong here. If you’re a woman doing the same work as a man as well as or better than a man, you deserve to be paid accordingly. If in your family, you have to work outside your home and put in as many or more hours than your husband, work together to manage your household chores. If you feel called to engage a job or service in a predominantly man’s field of endeavor, go fulfill your call.
But through all these trials and decisions, never ever forget who God made you to be . . . “But for Adam, no suitable helper was found.” (Gen. 2:20) Many women cannot accept their God-given roles, as if it’s degrading to be a “suitable helper” to the man God has for them. God saw the need, and he filled it with the perfect complement, the one who could meet the loneliness, the one who could inspire the desire to lead, to be responsible, to love emotionally, physically, and spiritually, the one who could maximize who he was made to be. Only a woman made just for him could fill that incredible order.
The woman was made from a man indicating she would always be a part of him, and he would always be attached to her. He would be responsible for this one who owned a piece of him. It was a perfect combination.
Enter the temptation to “do it my way” under the beguiling influence of “female reasoning and logic” and insert the male inertia of not wanting to take responsibility for direct disobedience, and the fatal flaw of sin entered a perfect world setting off the ticking time bomb of utter depravity and eventual destruction.
How generous of God to allow a very young virgin woman named Mary to bear the child who would redeem this fallen mess of humanity. He could’ve done it multiple ways—far more creatively than I could ever imagine—and eliminated the use of a female in the process. This young female was strong in her faith and absolute in her worship of God Almighty. Read Mary’s declaration after her encounter with the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:46-55). Humble obedience. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38)
Mary would be required to follow her husband to a strange town to have her baby, to a foreign country to protect her son, to return to a new city to start life over again. And she would do it. Because it was her call to do so. She fulfilled her God-given role. Her faith and her obedience allowed her to live the most important role of all women in the Bible. She was allowed to carry and bear the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Never again. Once for all. But the female gender was redeemed by being obedient, first to God, then to her husband. Was it easy? I highly doubt it. How many of you women could pack in the middle of the night to leave for a foreign country where you wouldn’t know a soul and couldn’t even speak the language because your husband woke up with a start after hearing from an angel. Not many of us would be too willing, perhaps arguing it was bad pizza. Life was not ordinary for this family. Because God was directly and actively involved. Someone had to lead. Someone had to follow. Mary followed.
Ladies, this isn’t my idea. I’m a strong-willed, independent woman, and my husband gives me a lot of freedom. He respects me spiritually and often seeks my thoughts, even my advice. But when it comes time for the heavy-hitting decision making, he knows it’s ultimately his responsibility to make them because one day he will stand before Jesus Christ and give an account for his manhood. We women will do the same for our womanhood. Do you really want to stand before the Lord and testify that you acted like Eve when you should have acted like Mary?
Every home is different. Every household has its own order. This Christmas I would just suggest to you women who profess to honor Christ, to take inventory of your willingness to obey the One who made the rules, set the tone, gave you life, who adores you, and treasures you, and desires to guide you through the wicked world with His steadying, encouraging, loving hand. He knows you best, and He knows what’s best for you. May we all say along with Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”
Father, it’s been a long and difficult journey for this woman, as you know. But I’m ever more willing with each hour that passes in my life to obey, to seek your face, to be your servant. There is no better place to be. Help me to be the one you want to be. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.