Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Of pastries, protein and Scripture

Have you ever had a meal that you enjoyed so much that you didn’t want it to end?  The meal was so delicious, so well prepared and everything was just right?

Perhaps it was the perfect steak; an awesome pizza; pasta; or maybe dessert?

I have many food weaknesses – cake & ice cream; really good wedding cake; apple crisp; peanut M & Ms; pastries, and much more!

Yesterday marked a year of change in my life.  On a Tuesday morning in 2009, I found myself in the checkout line at the grocery store with my usual fare:  a cherry bismark and a chocolate star, along with a six-pack of Coke.

As I stood in the checkout line, my cell phone vibrated.


“Hi, what are you doing?,” the voice on the other end asks.

“I am at the store,” I say.

“What are you doing there?,” the other party asks.

“Getting a donut.”

“Just one donut?”

“Well, two donuts, and some pop.”

The silence on the other end was deafening!  The other party, you see, was my wife.  She loves me and cares for me and wants to grow old with me.  The fact that I was gonna cram these pastries into my mouth, in her mind, was irritating because of her desire for me to take care of myself.

I ate the pastries and drank one of the cokes – but that moment in the store was the beginning of a change in my life.

The next day I began a diet that eliminated most of the carbs, sugars and other negative dietary things from my life and replaced it with healthy food – namely fat-burning protein!

With the bad stuff removed from my diet:  things like pasta, sugars, pop, breads, cake, ice cream and desserts, the protein I ate was able to skip having to burn that stuff and go straight to the fat on my body. That's how this diet works, and every diet, really.  Protein burns carbs and then fat, but with more of the carbs and sugars - the toxins - removed from the body, the protein can attack the fat cells.

I was 307 pounds on Tuesday, September 21, 2009.  I lost 62 pounds by the time I went off the diet.

What does this have to do with anything is probably running through your mind?  

Our lives are filled with pastries – or other stumbling blocks – that keep us separated from the lives that God desires us to live.  Things that look so good to us for some reason; things like gossip, pride, money, covetousness, lust - you name the sin.  Pastries (sins) are so alluring, and yet they are the sugars and the carbohydrates that build layers a spiritual fat in our lives and separate from the life that God has for us.

So each day we make a spiritual dietary decision:  a choice between right and wrong; good and evil; pastry and protein, if you will.

The good news is that healthy living is possible if we follow the appropriate diet.

I want to invite you to hear these words from the Book that we love:

Psalm 1
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked; stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. 

He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields it fruit in season and whose leaf never withers.  Whatever he does prospers.

Not so the wicked.  They are like chaff that the wind blows away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.  For the Lord watches over the ways of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish?”

Similarly, several hundred years later, the disciple John was aging and an old man when he receives these visions while exiled to the island of Patmos:

“Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven.  He was robed in a cloud with a rainbow above his head; his face was the like the sun and his legs were like fiery pillars.

He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand.  He planted his right foot on the sea, his left foot on the land and he shouted like the roaring of a lion.  When he roared, the voices of the seven thunders spoke.  And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write;  but then I heard a voice from heaven say ‘Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.”

Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land reached his right hand up to heaven.  And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever; the creator of the heavens, and all that is within them; the creator of the earth and all that is withing it; the creator of the sea, and all that is within it, and said, ‘There will be no more delay.’  But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.

The voice I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more, saying:  ‘Go, take the little scroll from the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.’ 

So I went to the angel and asked him for the little scroll.  He said to me, ‘Take it and eat it.  It will turn your stomach sour but will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.’

I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and I ate it.  It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.”

This is the word of the Lord!

In 2010, as we live, move, and breathe on this earth, we have choices to make each and every day.  Our health has great impact as to how we live and move and breathe and the choices we make.

The temptation of the pastry is all around us.  We see pastry everywhere, don’t we?  If you are like me, you can even smell the pastry sometimes?  Sin is all around and it is all we can do to not give in sometimes – to be healthy.  These are the times when we really need a healthy diet of protein – of knowing the scripture and what it says – and its sin-fighting capabilities.

For those of us who desire to follow Jesus there is a healthy-eating manual at our disposal.  In fact, God beckons us to us to this life; that we might eat healthy, for he tells us in scripture that he has come that we might have life, and have it to the full.

In order to do so, we must know what he says.  And in order to know what he says and how he wants us to live, we need to spend time with him…in prayer and in the Word. He reveals himself to those who love him in his Word and equips us to cope in this world that is not our home.

The best way to do so, according to the Psalmist, is to the follow the example of the blessed man.  “His delight is in the law of the Lord; and on his law he meditates day and night!”

In Revelation 10, John says “take it and eat it!”

This is not a skimming of the Word, is it?  This is stopping to meditate on it – to eat it.

But what does that mean - to eat the scroll?

In his work, “Eat this Book,” 21st century theologian Eugene Petersen writes:  “Words – spoken and listened to, written and read – are intended to do something in us, give us health and wholeness, vitality and holiness, wisdom and hope.  Yes, eat this book.”

He continues…“Reading is an immense gift, but only if the words are assimilated, taken into the soul – eaten, chewed, gnawed, received in unhurried delight.”
“Christians feed on Scripture.  Holy Scripture nurtures the holy community as food nurtures the human body.  Christians don’t simply learn or study or use Scripture;  we assimilate it, take it into our lives in such a way that it gets metabolized into acts of love, cups of cold water, missions into all the world, healing and evangelism and justice in Jesus’ name, hands raised in adoration of the Father, feet washed in company with the Son.”

I may be pushing a little too far with thoughts from theologians, but may I share a thought from John Calvin with you?

Here’s what the 16th century theologian says:  “And here we again ought to observe that we are called to a knowledge of God:  not that knowledge which, content with empty speculation, merely fits in the brain, but that which will be sound and fruitful if we duly perceive it, and if it takes root in the heart.”        Calvin’s Institutes 1.5.9

Sound and fruitful if it takes root in the heart – this word that nourishes our souls – this protein that wards off the fat of pastry and sin.  You see, God’s word – meditated on, chewed on and gnawed on - is transformational.  It changes us when we eat it.

We find the pastry of the world less appealing and this protein – the Word – more and more edifying.  When we make time to meditate on it, that’s what God does; and it becomes part of who we are and how we respond to the world.

“The most striking biblical metaphor for reading was St. John eating a book:  He eats the book – not just reads it --  he got it into his nerve endings, his reflexes, his imagination.  The book he ate was Holy Scripture,” says Petersen.

This was true of kids thousands of years ago.  Teenagers and even pre-teens would memorize the entire torah, the first five books of the Bible.  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy – memorized!  They ate the scroll, and it fashioned who they became.

Our lives are so full of activity that it truly requires something of us if we are going to meditate on his word day and night; if we are going to eat this book.  But eat it we must!  The other choice is a life of spiritual obesity – with layers of pastry and sin separating us from all God has for us

I have found this true in my life.  Not that I have already attained all this, but I press on in my “eating” as I look forward to attaining the Prize.  My cravings for the things of this world have become sour in my stomach, as I have endeavored to eat this book.  The more and more protein I digest, I see two things happening:  I crave pastry less and less; and I carry around less fat!

How about you?  Are you sick of pastry?  Are you hungry for some fat-burning protein?  Carve out some time, throw open the Word and let it nourish your soul!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Great and unsearchable things

It has been so long, so much has happened that I can't even...rather don't even know where to I will start at the present!

I pound out this short piece this morning from another time zone.  I am some 700 miles from home in beautiful downtown Holland, Michigan in a quaint little coffee shop this morning reflecting on God's goodness to me and mine.

I am excited for day two along this journey in which I am officially a student.  I have been studying and diving into the Word for some time now, but back in January, my wife and I officially succumbed to the call God has placed on my heart to seek out ministry possibilities.  

It has been a whirlwind - one amazing blessing after another from a God who has passionately been with me and with us from the very beginning.  He has carried us through the storms and is blessing us beyond anything we could ever ask or imagine.  The blessings and obvious favor he has shown since coming to grips with swinging this door open to really follow him blow me away.

In a classroom for the first time in 20 years yesterday I find myself encountering Christ in incredible ways and today promises to be even more exciting.

Where is he leading, what does all of this mean?  Who knows!?!

God knows - and after all I have been through, particularly in these past six months, where he leads I will follow.

Enough rambling.  This is my thank you note to God for blessing me beyond anything I could ever ask or imagine, for revealing to me great and unsearchable things I do not know and for simply deeming me faithful, calling me to his service.

Today, this amazing June morning in Holland, I am experiencing a full measure of grace and peace!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The leaf

So there I was, braving bitter cold wind chills in the -20 range last week blowing out my driveway yet again after another onslaught of snow and wind filled the end of the drive.

Bundled up in nearly every piece of clothing I could find, including facemask and hooded sweatshirt tied tightly so there was just a little window through which to see, I cleared a path - again.

As I ran the snow blower I couldn't happen to notice through my narrow little window white everywhere.  We have gotten roughly 30 inches of snow here since Christmas.  Pelted with snow is the best way to describe it, I guess.

On this Thursday morning as I was going about my business there was much on my heart and mind, so as I blew away I prayed for all of those things on my heart.  Just 12 hours before I had been dealt a blow in one of my businesses that left me staggering and stumbling, much like this winter's snow - yet again.

This business has been a perpetual source of questions hurled at my Savior..."Why God?"  "What do you want me to do with this, God?"  "What am I going to do now, God?"  Know what I mean?

I am not a very astute businessman, but we have managed to function in this business for a number of years and I have learned much.  The timing on this news was perhaps the toughest to take, as a lot of things are going on now and are on the horizon.

So Thursday, as I blew snow in the arctic temperatures, I petitioned the God who sent his Jesus to die that I might live, yet again - asking, "Now what God?"  "Why God?"  "I know you tell me you have plans for me, for hope and a future, but I am sick of this, God!"

It isn't too often that I am phased by these kinds of things, but I headed for the tank all the while wanting to trust in those promises God makes me. Mark 10:24 was fresh on my mind, though - "I believe, help my unbelief."

Hearing my petitions, as Jeremiah writes..."When you call on me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you," God showed up.

Through my tiny window in the facemask and sweatshirt, amidst the white everywhere, it blew right in front of me.

A leaf.

"What in the world?," I thought to myself.  "Where in the world did that come from?"

Tumbling from north to south down the street at the end of my driveway, a LEAF!

A leaf, you ask?

My mind immediately went to the book of James.  While not talking about leaves, the passage jumped to my mind and into my soul - as it often does when I want help with my unbelief.

James 1:6
"But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."

I so often petition Jesus to hear my prayer.  I play it off like I am some super-Christian who never doubts, but I do.  I do in the prayers for my business, for my family and for my ministry.  I am so often like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

Kinda like that leaf.

There are so many for whom I am in prayer today.  The people of Haiti; others in hospitals; friends with incredible hurts in their lives; others in the midst of transitions in life.

When my phone rings twice within an hour Wednesday from people needing prayer, do they have any idea who they are asking to pray for them?  If they knew that I am often like a wave of the sea - or that leaf - maybe they should have called someone else!?!?

Jesus, help me believe.  I beg you to hold me close, to draw me ever nearer to your heart, to know - I mean KNOW - that you hear me and are listen when I cry out to you.  Jesus, may the cries of my heart align with yours.  May my prayers be yours, Jesus.

May we believe - believe in the sovereignty of a God who loves us so much that he was willing to send his one and only son as THE atoning sacrifice for our sins; believe that the creator of all things loves us with a love that we cannot fathom; believe that when we cry out to him that he hears us!

He is in control, He is mighty to save, He is the Alpha and the Omega - the beginning and the end.

Thank you for the leaf, Jesus.  Please continue to help me through my unbelief!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Be like a child

There is something about a child.




I sit here on this Christmas morning in one of my favorite seats in the house.  Mine is the only chair that gets to look the other five members of my family in the eye as we dine at this bar – my wife and four kids.

I also have a beautiful view out of the front and back windows of our home at the winter storm that rages on this Christmas that has us holed up in our own home – just our family and no one else.  The beauty of the snow is breathtaking, but as I sit here with a little background music, my wife running around doing this or that, all kids are tucked in the basement watching a movie.

And so, for a few minutes, I have quiet in one of my favorite seats – and I can see each face as I look at their respective chairs around this island.  The beauty of the snow is one thing, the images I see as I imagine them sitting here with me is quite another.

Those images evoke feelings that only a parent can understand.  Love, laughter, irritation, pride, thankfulness – and those are just a few.

God knew the power of the child, too, didn’t he?

“Today, in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord,” it reads in Luke 2:11.

This child was conceived of the Holy Spirit, to a child, who would raise the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  From the beginning of time, this Jesus we celebrate today was innocent, dependent and reliant.  So was his mother, the teenager whom God chose to carry and give birth to our Savior.

As Jesus grew and grew, he remained innocent all the way to the point of death on a cross, fulfilling his purpose for living.  He was dependent on his Father and reliant upon that same Father to teach, live a life that is an example for us to live by, and to complete his mission.

Children were important to Jesus, too.

In the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke these words were recorded:  “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)

Let the little children come to me.  But why?  What was so special to Jesus about these children?

It is that innocence, dependence and reliance that enables a child to hear the message and to receive the gift – the GIFT – that is Jesus and all that he affords us.

Children don’t have the weight of the world on their shoulders.  They haven’t lived long enough to see the world at its ugliest.  In most cases, they are still innocent.

It is that mentality in which Jesus hopes the Gift to be received.  He requires, it in fact.

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 18:3-4

As I went through the photos that were shot while we opened our gifts night before last, several pictures jumped off the computer at me and I wanted to share them with you.  These words from Matthew jumped out at me, as did some of the words from Luke 2.

The amazement, excitement and wonder expressed in the eyes and expression of a child while opening a gift is a sight to behold.

As the angel of the Lord appeared to them and and was later joined by the choir of angels who sang “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests,” I see our four year old Anna looking in wonder.

(Anna as if to say "What?")

After hurrying to Bethlehem to find Mary, Joseph and Jesus lying in the manger, I can see her looking in amazement that what the angel and prophets had foretold had actually came true.

(Anna surprised at her gift)

And this last image, this is the image that I love the most.  It is this picture that I pray sticks with you – it is this image of child-like innocence, dependence, reliance and excitement that will allow us to live life to the full, as Jesus declared in John 10:10.

(Anna opening one of her presents)

Each day as we unwrap the Gift that is a new day, may we open it with the excitement of a child.  May we live each day with that child-like faith – relying and depending on Father, Son and Holy Spirit in all we do. 

I fall woefully short of this mark, but it is the mark I aspire to.  May we become like children this Christmas and accept anew the Gift each day we are allowed to walk the face of this earth.

Merry Christmas!  (Alex opening the new Bible we gave him)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

And yet...

There is a snowstorm of epic proportions en route to the Midwest, with 12-20 inches of snow predicted beginning Dec. 23 and ending Dec. 26...

And yet Christmas is coming!

The world prepares for the impending struggles that come with travel troubles and all that comes with snowstorms...

And yet Christmas is coming!

The storm rages on in the south, making its way north...

And yet, Christmas is coming!

This isn't the only storm that is raging, however, as it would seem that an inordinate amount of "storms" have left a lot of people around me in a position of mourning rather than celebration this Christmas.

My friend Billy Coffey over at What I Learned Today referred to what I am talking about like this:  "What did I do that was so bad, Daddy?" when talking about his sone having to open one of the gifts he had wrapped.    Billy apparently doesn't wrap well, and so uses a lot of paper and even more tape.

Those ugly packages, he writes, sometime look like some of the "gifts" in our lives, those things that look ugly but wind up blessing us.

In my world today, I know a lot of people who are grieving some poorly wrapped packages, if you will, this Christmas.

There is the family mourning the loss of a beautiful daughter and sister in her early 20s...a young lady who died unexpectedly from complications to a seizure...

And yet they have hope in the Gift that is Christmas!

There is the family from our church who lost a father and a grandfather in the past week after a battle with illness...

And yet there is hope that comes in the form of a babe in the manger!

There are marriages that are on the rocks.  One I know of where the husband has moved out in this week and one that I know of where  the husband wants to walk out...

And yet, Christmas is coming!

In one conversation I had while on the road this morning, despite everything that is going, this individual has hope.

"Good morning," I said as the gentelman answered the phone.  "How are you doing today?"

"Good, you too?" he asked.

"Yeah, I am doing really well," I told him.  "Just wanted to call to tell you we are praying for you in all that you are dealing with."

"Thanks," he said.  "This is even tougher than when we lost our son."

"I am sorry," I said.  "Try to have a Merry Christmas" I weakly conclude the conversation.

"We still remember the reason," he said!

"We still remember the reason!"


Satan would do everything he could to disrupt Christmas - to disrupt Christ's coming - and yet he came.

"Sorry, Joseph there is no room for you here!"

And yet he came!

He was a perfect man - he never did anything wrong - EVER...

And yet he died for you and for me!

Snowstorms come, travel becomes impossible, lives are full of pain and suffering...

And yet we have hope that comes in the form of a baby, born in the most humble of settings some 2000 years ago.

Things for many can look bleak and dark this Christmas.  For some there packages appear to be poorly wrapped.  For others people are moving away and leaving a void behind.  For still others there isn't going to be much of a Christmas this year because of financial struggles.  For still others, Christmas is going to be really hard because it is spent in a hospital waiting room while their patient recovers.  And for more, someone will be missing from the celebration.

And yet, Christmas is coming. 

He always comes - this Jesus we celebrate - he always comes to meet us when we call on him.  When we have cause to rejoice and celebrate in good news, he comes!  When the despair is too much to handle and we cry out, he comes!  When the storm rages on, that star - His star - still shines!

The Prince of Peace was born to bring just that, peace, in the midst of the storms, the poorly wrapped packages and all that this world offers. 

Jesus told us himself in John's gospel:  John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives."

I don't know where you are this Christmas.  Perhaps you are eager to celebrate our dear Savior's birth.  Perhaps things are tough this Christmas - I don't know - but I do know in this world we will have troubles...

And yet, Christmas is coming!  Praise God!

Click the ling to read more about Christmas Coming from Jennifer's perspective, or on this one to see what Ann has to say this Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A baby changes everything

A baby changes everything!

Can't you see the headlines of the Bethlehem Herald

A baby, who is to be the Messiah, was born last night in a dirty, grungy manger out back of the hotel because there was no room for him.  No one was willing to give up their room for the teenager ready to give birth to a baby, so the hotel manager sent them out to the stables.

For Mary and Joseph, that baby changed everything.

For the next 33 years, that baby changed everything around him as he grew and ministered to the people of his day.

That baby still changes everything - this Jesus we worship and celebrate!  He has changed everything for me and has done the same thing for a lot of people in my world.

A few examples for you this Christmas:

This morning, in my inbox, I find a message from one of my dear friends with a link to a Youtube file that simply reads "Thinking and praying" for an individual who is close to me.  Legions of people in my Christian community are praying for this person - the number of prayers would certainly bring him to his knees if he had any idea how many people were petitioning our Savior on his behalf.

The Youtube link is a video of a song by Faith Hill called: A Baby Changes Everything.

The life of my friend who, in the midst of everything he has going on in his world is thinking and praying for someone in mine, is a shining example of someone whose life - whose heart - this baby has changed.

•  Another example, from just this morning, is one I will share with you.  My wife and I own small businesses.  One of the ventures we publish is in a community 45 minutes from here.  Two employees were out of town, one works from home most days and the main receptionist called at 6:30 a.m. to tell me she was sick and unable to make it in.

After swinging and missing at a couple of solutions, God led me to a call someone from my Christian community.  Explaining the situation and how I wondered if I could hire her to answer the phone for a day, she said, "I will do it.  Absolutely, but you are not paying me for it.  If I can't do a favor for you without you paying me, I won't do it."

"I love you," I simply said.

"Don't think anything of it, I am happy to help."

Trying to argue over the whole money thing, she interrupts...

"Love you...have a good day!"

Another life that has been changed by this baby.  We have known each other for years, but this baby whose birth we celebrate this week, has united us and grown a love for one another and His kingdom that can only be explained in Jesus.

And how about when Jesus shows up in a ballcap?  Another individual who would testify that this baby changes everything dropped by Saturday with a $25 gift card to Applebee's that he wanted me to deliver to someone in Rock Valley - someone that God laid on our hearts moments after he left.  You can read more about this at the link above, or read what Jennifer has posted over at Getting Down With Jesus.

This Jesus in a ballcap is someone of modest means, but "this baby" changed everything in his life, so much so that he followed the Spirit's prompting and scratched out 28 names of willing elves in some 30 seconds who God would use to spread $700 of Christmas cheer this week.

A baby changes everything!

He has for a mother whose son is in prison.  He has for a group of guys who were willing to spend a weekend behind bars because His plans for their lives are not what their plans are.

A baby changes everything, indeed.

As I sit here this afternoon, I am overwhelmed by the number of people I know whose lives have been turned around by this baby.  I am overwhelmed by the depths and degree to which this baby has changed everything in my life.  What matters, what I think about, what I desire.  This baby has changed EVERYTHING!

My prayer during this Christmas week is that a baby changes everything for you.  My prayer is that if you are struggling, that this baby would change everything.  My prayer is that if you are in a good place, that you still might let this baby change everything, that he might lead you in directions and ways you never imagined.

The last verse of this Faith Hill song says: 
"My whole life has turned around,
  I was lost but now I'm found,
  A baby changes everything,
  A baby changes everything!"

May it be true for me, may it be true for you!

"An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'  - "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
Luke 2:9-12, 15

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jesus in a ballcap

I laid awake last night - and again this morning - wondering what it was that this would-be visitor wanted.  Why would he drive all the way over here?  What did he have for me?

I got a message a day or two ago telling me he wanted to drop by Saturday morning.

"Will you be around Saturday morning?," he asked via that wonderful social networking tool, Facebook.

"I should be," I said.  "I don't have much going on," I replied.

"Good, I will drop by around 9:30," he told me.

And so I wondered what this might be about, but I really was clueless.  I didn't give it much serious thought even, until last night.

Wednesday I began to catch wind of a phenenom sweeping through northwest Iowa that began with the Spirit's prompting of this person while he was at work.  As the prompting persisted, he told me it became clear that it was time to begin writing this down.

And so he did.

Some 28 names were penned on a sheet of 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 yellow note paper - with instructions on how to bless others - names that came to him in about 30 seconds Tuesday, he told me at 9:35 this morning.

People from various walks of life, but all people within this man's "community."

Most of the names had already been crossed off, mine was one of the last to be delivered.

His instructions were pretty simple:  give this to someone in Rock Valley that God lays on your heart, tell them "God cares for you and so do I," and then let me know that it has been delivered.

Tears filled my eyes and a warmth invaded my heart as I realized that I was one of the 28 called to be blessed by being a blessing for someone else this Christmas.

We talked for a couple of minutes about God's prompting; some of the stories and comments that he has experienced through the past few days; the act of obedience to part with the $700 he has spent on $25 Applebee's gift cards to fulfill this blessing; and then exchanged a Spirit-filled hug and wished one another a Merry Christmas.

The words to a simple, yet prophetic hymn filled my heart as he drove away - one we have both experienced in the past couple of years as the Gift has been received and become a part of who we are.

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me!
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me!
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me!
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me!

Jesus came knocking this morning in a ballcap and jeans!  This man has certainly had the Spirit of the living God fall afresh on him - and I am here to testify that it is a beautiful thing! To see Jesus at work in one's life to the point of obedient sacrifice is a testament to God's greatness and this persons devotion to the Gift.

God's gift to us was a baby, born in a manger - a dirty, grungy stable - the most humble of settings.  Today, God sent his Spirit to my doorstep to do his bidding in the most humble of servants.

Pretty cool, our God!

I willingly accepted the call to deliver this gift card and will be doing so later this afternoon.  The perfect recipient was laid on my wife Kathy's heart, and we will humbly pass on to this person the words "God cares for you and so do we," just as Jesus in the ballcap asked that we do.

Another way that I am able to experience grace and peace in this lifetime.

If you would like to read more about this piece of yellow paper and the blessings it is bring about, I encourage you to check out Getting Down With Jesus .

Another way to see some rich blessings this Christmas is to click to the Ten Dollar Blessing at What I Learned Today!

Grace and Peace this Christmas!