How the resurrection changes everything

A few months ago I was in the ER when we got a call about a 5 year old girl who was found face down in a pond of water.

As the story unfolded, we learned that this autistic girl was playing on her iPad and strolled out of the house, not paying attention, and eventually walked into a freezing pond where she was eventually found face down.

We tried desperately to resuscitate her. It soon became evident that she wasn't going to make it.

Her family had shown up by now, and it was a bad scene all around.

Despite the loud groaning it didn't take long for me to pick up on the fact that the family was praying.

In the chaos around me I was reminded that I was a Christian too.

I believed in miracles.

I believed in prayer.

I put my hand on the child and prayed as sincerely as I could: "God, please raise this child from the dead. Restore her life where it seems gone."

Nothing happened.

The child's heart had stopped.

A few seconds later, I called the code.

Time of death, 3:36pm.

Two years ago my father died after a tough battle with kidney failure.

His death wasn't a surprise but it was just as unwelcome.

Suppose you had run into me the week after his death and I told you that I had just seen him and had dinner with him.

You'd have thought that I was crazy or deluded with grief.

Then if ten other people told you the same story  you'd have thought us all crazy.

And rightly so.

As hard as it is to swallow, death is so final. 

Except for the one time that it wasn't.

Two thousand years ago, a man named Jesus was crucified on a cross.

Because he had claimed to be the Savior of the world and promised to rise again from the dead, the Roman government made sure his tomb was sealed and guards kept watch at the place of his burial.

Yet three days later, His body went missing.

Pretty soon a handful of people claimed that they had seen this man who had been crucified.

They claimed he had risen from the dead.

Crazy?

One might think so  except that pretty soon a few hundred more people were saying the same thing.

Most of us today would call this a cult.  A bunch of loonies. Hashtag wacky.

Today we call it Christianity. 

And because of this resurrection a family burdened with grief thinks to pray to a God who might heal their dead.

And because of this resurrection I can stand by my father's grave hopeful that this is not the end.

Yeah, the resurrection changes everything.

It is the cornerstone of Christianity and without it we have nothing.

The apostle Paul used to murder Christians before he too saw the resurrected Christ and eventually penned these words in 1 Corinthians 15.17-20:

"And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep."

But in fact.

Because of the resurrection anything is possible.

Because of the resurrection hope is alive.

Prayers can be answered.

Change is possible.

Are you holding a sick child, wondering what might happen to him?

Are you sitting at the bedside of your ailing parent afraid of the future?

Are you burdened by the cares of your own life? Are you stuck in a cycle of hopelessness?

Turn your eyes to the cross.

Follow the blood stained road.

Look inside the tomb.

You'll find it empty.

Jesus is alive.

Anything is possible.


And here's a featured video from Simply Jesus Gathering: Hope With Jesus. 


For Those Who are Weary in Waiting

Weariness creeps up on us unawares - sort of like the flu.

One minute we're fine, the next we feel like death swarmed over us.

I finished speaking at a singles event last week when a woman with kind eyes came up to me. "I loved your message", she said, "I'm still waiting on the Lord", then her eyes filled with tears as she continued, "But I'm weary in the waiting."

Weary in the waiting.

I knew exactly what she meant.

Lately it feels like the waiting just won't stop. No matter how hard I pray, I'm still waiting. No matter how smoothly I try to negotiate my situation with God, it's like He's not listening.

I get weary in the waiting. I don't start off weary, but somewhere along the line the weariness creeps in. And it won't leave me alone, no matter how many psychological techniques I try. Every step feels like a ton of bricks. Every prayer feels unanswered. God's presence feels far.

You know the gig.

We're not alone in our weariness. A few of the greats felt it too.

Abraham was weary in the waiting - and took matters into his own hands. The result was strife in his home.

Moses was weary in the waiting and ended up spending 40 years in the wilderness for it.

Saul was weary in the waiting and his impulsiveness lost him the kingdom.

The list is long. I bet you could make your own.

Weariness in the waiting is common but not fatal if treated rightly.

Consider David.

At first, he looked unstoppable. After killing a lion and a bear with his bear hands, he went up against Goliath and won. A total Gonzaga if you ask me.

The guy just couldn't lose for the life of him - until he started losing.

And just like the flu, one day he looked like God's favored child, the next he was hiding in caves on the edge of despair: he'd come down with a case of the waiting.

And all his dreams looked unfulfilled.

And all his hopes were deferred.

All God's favor seemed lost.

But it wasn't.

David's dreams did get fulfilled. God's favor was still alive and active in David's life. David's future was secure.

Are you weary in the waiting?  Do what David did. In 1 Samuel 30:6, David strengthened himself in the Lord.

If you're weary in the waiting, strengthen yourself in the Lord.

You do that by spending time with the Lord, not running from him.

You do that by letting go, not trying harder.

You do that by resting in the Lord, not just wrestling with Him.

Are you weary in the waiting?

Open up the Psalms and read them. Think how weary David was as he wrote the words to the Psalms.

Are you weary in the waiting?

Use your words to sing praise to God. Most of what we say when we're weary we don't even really believe. Focus your energy simply on praise.

Are you weary in the waiting?

Ask God to help you endure.

I've come to the conclusion that I am utterly unable to rev up enough hope on my own to overcome my weariness in the waiting.

I am totally and completely dependent on God to renew my strength in the waiting.

All I can do is humbly come to him and ask.

Are you weary in the waiting?

Run to your Father of mercies, this God of all comfort who will comfort you in your affliction. Share in Christ's suffering. Remember our God who raises the dead. Stand fast in hope that's unshaken.

God will deliver you yet again.

Are you weary in the waiting?

You're not alone.

The great revivalist R A Torrey once said "I must pray, pray, pray. I must put all my energy and all my heart into prayer. Whatever else I do, I must pray."

Are you weary in the waiting?

Pray. Pray. Pray.

And just like the flu, one day you feel like death has swarmed over you, and then the next, just like that, it's gone. 

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life" Proverbs 13:12


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Are You Looking for a Safe and Comfortable Life?

I was invited to go on Moody Radio last week to participate in Share 2017.

Frankly, I was dreading it.

See, this year, I'd decided that I wouldn't give. I even wrote it down in my journal. And nothing was going to change that.

It's not that I have anything against giving. I'm all about giving - especially when it's in favor of my stuff.  But this year, "my stuff" had been suffering.

This year I'd noticed a huge drop in the giving towards my own ministry and medical work with Syrian refugees. What I'm really trying to say but am almost embarrassed to confess is that since January 2017 I'd seen less than $500 come into our entire donation fund.

And I was hating it.

Why had God allowed our well to go so dry?

I'd done more than my share to raise awareness of our work and non profit status: social media blasts, an awesome video summary of our work in Lebanon, prayer, faith, hope. I'd done it all and still...nothing.

Why would God hold back from me in a work that seemed to be so Him?

After hashing it out with God, I'd resolved to stop giving towards "other" ministries and start giving towards my own stuff. I would just re-allocate resources away from one thing towards my thing. If God wouldn't raise up a village to help support my thing, I concluded, I might as well start building my village myself.

My decision felt safe and I was 100% behind it.

When I got to Moody I was ready. I took my seat across from Karl and June and I started talking.

I talked about how God honors those who give.

I talked about the joy of giving.

I talked about how to overcome the fear of giving and how giving is our tangible expression to tell God how much we love him.

True story. 

And the more I talked the worst I felt.

I was a hypocrite - and beneath my veneer of religiosity was a raging spiritual battle.

Did I believe God and His word, or did I trust me more?

Was I willing to come to God on His terms, even if those terms were far different than mine? Or was I trying to manipulate God into my own terms?

Did I really worship God, or had I simply reverted to using God to make my things happen?

Here I was on air with a choice to make: would I succumb to my fears or would I dive into the waiting arms of Jesus?

By God's grace I did the only thing I could do.

I jumped.

To the average listener tuning in that morning the spontaneous challenge I gave to match every $1000 with a thousand of my own might have sounded like the whim of a rich doctor with extra money to throw around because I had it.

The average listener would have been dead wrong.

To the Holy Spirit of God the truth was a bit more obvious. I had looked at my own despicable heart and dismal circumstances and chosen to believe - even at great risk for myself and my dreams.

In Luke 9:24 Jesus says "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."

The stunning truth of Christ's words is this: that the greatest antidote to protecting ourselves from danger is not in increasing our safety and comfort. The greatest antidote to protecting ourselves from danger is to give it all to Jesus.

Even when it doesn't make sense.

Even when you don't see the answer right away.

Ironically, in the last week since my radio challenge, I haven't received any big checks in the mail. In fact, God has seen fit to  invite me to join him on a couple more of His unexpected endeavors. It ain't cheap to follow Jesus! 

But I've noticed that each time I say yes it gets easier.

And each time I say yes His presence gets sweeter. 

I think a part of us secretly hopes that if we give God everything that He'll somehow see the great sacrifice we've made and will show his appreciation to us with a small return - preferably financial but other forms of blessings will do too.

As if.

The truth is far better.

The truth is that the only way to safety is through surrender. Let it go - your expectations, your discontent, your fear. The cure to your aching heart is not in building higher walls of self protection but in giving everything to Jesus.

Are you struggling with your fear? Are you holding on to your unmet expectations? Are you wondering where God is?

Are you looking for a safe and comfortable life?

Perhaps it's time to surrender.


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This 40 DAY DEVOTIONAL will encourage you to free fall over the edge of safe living into the welcoming arms of Jesus Christ.


What you can do about the Syrian refugee crisis

Does your brain ever go numb because of the size of the problem you're facing?

Mine does.

And when it does, I'm tempted to mentally check out - to catch up on my ever growing Netflix queue instead since that is a massive problem I know I can manage.

Right now on the other side of the world is the ongoing and mind numbing problem of the Syrian refugee crisis.

And the more I think about it, the dumber I feel.

A few days ago I found myself at a gathering of leaders and pastors from the Middle East. These are some of the key players doing the work of evangelist/relief worker/discipler and all that goes along with finding yourself as the recipient of an unexpected humanitarian crisis of mammoth proportion without any advance notice. How dare they just show up unannounced?

What's even more astounding is this:

While Lebanon has welcomed over 1 million refugee, it is home to only about 100 evangelical churches. Yeah, I said one hundred. As in 100.

And while Jordan has close to 2 million refugees, it boasts just 55 evangelical churches. Yes. Fifty five.

Then there's Turkey. A quick google search on Turkey shows that only 0.008% of people in Turkey are considered evangelical while close to 3 million refugees now call Turkey home.

While evangelicals are certainly not the only people helping refugees, I want to focus on evangelicals here because I am one.

And when it comes to helping people in need, evangelical Bible believing Christ followers ought to have the market on this.

Helping people in need and pointing them to Jesus is our calling - every single one of us.

And pastors and leaders in the Middle East recognize it. They have set aside politics for the sake of love. They have refused to settle for other priorities. They have allowed God to interrupt their agendas for the sake of His kingdom.

As a result, they are seeing God do mammoth things in their communities. They are seeing people who have never heard of Jesus come to know and love Him. They are seeing miracles beyond my capacity to describe. They are living first hand stories that they can't even talk about for safety purposes. In fact, many of them are doing this work in secret for safety reasons, risking their lives daily.

Yet they have refused to settle for fear.

What's more amazing is that these church leaders have been at it for over 5 years. They are swimming upstream at a pace so fast it's a surprise they're still going strong.

I believe they need our help. 

I'm not talking about American politics here or partisan practices and what the US should do in the face of the refugee crisis here.

I'm talking about the Church.

I'm talking about you.

I'm talking about us seeing with fresh eyes.

I'm talking about us awakening to the biggest opportunity of our lifetime:

Muslims are coming to Jesus in droves. They are running to him. They are begging us to tell them about Jesus. God's kingdom is advancing at a mind boggling pace and most of us are missing it for American Idol.

There are 150 evangelical churches in the 3 countries with the most Syrian refugees. If I had to guess I'd say there are at least 150 evangelical churches in my city of Chicago if not 150 satellite campuses of one single megachurch in my town.

If you are a follower of Jesus and care about the lost, this isn't just an issue du jour. This is the opportunity of our lifetime.

If you have prayed to be used by God in any shape or form, if you long to see God do miracles such as He did back in the days of the early church, if you wonder where God is and why you don't see him anymore, you might just be looking in the wrong places. And it might be time to reframe your question.

Instead of asking what you want God to do in your life, you might want to start asking God what He wants you to do with yours.

A few days ago I met Ken, a retired Home Depot employee now working with a Christian ministry in Jordan and travels back and forth regularly from New Hampshire to do this.

Then there's Annie, the 22 year old college grad who moved to Lebanon to live with a Kurdish family and help disciple them.

And Anna, my friend Carl's daughter who moved to Beirut to make movies about the refugees. On her own. Just because.

The list goes on.

Many are heeding the call of the Spirit of God and saying yes, Lord, I'll do it. I'll go where you want me to go. I'll do what you want me to do.

They're choosing to put themselves smack dab in the middle of God's amazing story and they're loving every minute of it.

Look, this isn't meant to be a guilt trip.

I mean, I totally get it. You might not be able to pick up and move right now. I know I'm not ready yet. But have we stopped long enough to think about it?

Maybe it's time we pause and ask God what He wants us to do about the Syrian refugee crisis.

Maybe it's time we act.

We can start by fighting the temptation to switch the channel simply because we're overwhelmed.

We can start by refusing to go numb.

Of course here's a quick and easy way for you to act: become a monthly partner with us. Support our medical and dental work with Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Our next medical mission trip to the Middle East will take place April 28-May 6. Find out more about it all by clicking here.
Or you can just click here to Donate and as a 'thank you,'  you'll get my Free Falling Devotional - A 40 Day Journey Of Faith 
(oh, and feel free to share this article!).

https://vimeo.com/202532707

Medical-Dental Trip (Jan 2017) from lina abujamra on Vimeo.


How to Influence People Deeply

There is something awesome that happens in my soul when someone prays for me.

My friend Bob calls to invite me to something.

He stops himself early in the conversation and asks what I should expect him to ask by now: "How can I pray for you, Lina?"

And then He does. He prays out loud for me.  He speaks to the God of the universe, the God who spoke this world into existence, the God who is able to move mountains on my behalf. Bob speaks to Him as a man speaks to his friend.

He prays for me and my soul is moved.

My friend Heidi texts me to remind me: "I'm praying for you right now."

Later in the week, she calls me, typically a day or so before my speaking engagements, and she prays for me. She prays that God would humble me, use me, and do whatever it takes to glorify His name. She prays for me in the waiting, she prays for me to become more like Jesus, she prays that I keep away from sin.

She prays for me and my soul is moved.

I run into Joy at church. This woman is a gift in God's family. With tears in her eyes she tells me she is praying for me. She chokes up when she says it, and I know she means it. She prays for my ministry. She prays for anointing. She prays for endurance.

She prays for me and I can feel the heavens move on my behalf.

She prays for me and my soul is stirred.

I can't comprehend this gift that God has given us. 

I'm not just talking about prayer.

I mean, we all get that prayer works. We don't need to be convinced of the importance of prayer. We understand it intellectually. We've felt God's peace and seen his answers when we finally settle down enough to pray. And most of us, if we're being honest would admit that prayer is the first thing to go in our over committed busy lives.

That we can pray is a gift underused and underestimated.

But I'm talking about an even bigger gift.

I'm talking about the gift of praying in community.

Jesus once said in Matthew 18:19-20 "if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them."

Are you lacking anything today?

Are you facing a mountain you can't overcome?

Are you worried, afraid, tired, weary, overcommitted or pressed down?

Or do you know someone who is?

You don't need a crowd.

You don't need a quorum.

You just need a friend, a moment, and the willingness to humbly step out in faith and ask.

Will you do it?

Will you call someone today and pray for them?

When you do that, I guarantee you, something awesome will happen deep in their souls. And perhaps even in yours.

Can't think of anyone to pray with? Shoot me an email with your phone number. I'd be honored to be that one. (lina@livingwithpower.org)

Featured Resource
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A Letter to my Christian Friends in the West

My dear fellow western Christian - 

We are finally coming of age.

After hundreds of years of relative comfort, after generations of being well thought of and feeling culturally accepted and looked favorably upon, we are finally, finally coming into our own.

We are finally no longer the in the majority.

We are finally no longer the dominant ones.

We are finally feeling the stain of dislike.

We are finally experiencing what Jesus meant when He called us to be aliens in a world that would not understand us.

Some of us are angry about it, miffed that our rights are being threatened.

Many of us are struggling to grapple with it.

A few of us are insisting on yelling about it one Facebook update at a time.

We used to look at the rest of the world and feel sorry for them.

We used to take pride in living in the land of the free.

We used to consider ourselves blessed. God's favor was on us and our great nation and lucky was anyone who was granted the privilege of participating in our comfort seeking security loving approval hungry ways.

What we didn't notice was that we were wrong.

While we were working so hard to fit into the world, our brothers and sisters around the world were learning to stand strong.

While we were striving to make it, our persecuted siblings were striving to praise him.

While we were running hard after our next vacation and promotion, Christians all over the world were running hard after Jesus.

They grew stronger while we became weak.

They grew lean while we became soft.

And now - now we are finally coming of age.

We are finally waking up to our destiny.

In a world that prefers the dark, we've been exposed as different.

We've been outed as strangers in our land.

We've been recognized for the misfits we were always meant to be.

It's time we grow up.

It's time we decide.

The choices we make today will reveal who we really are.

Our choices will reveal who we love.

Some of us will turn back, unwilling to bear the cost.

Some of us will try to hide, preferring the safety of anonymity.

But many of us will rise.

We are awakening to our destiny.

We are coming of age.

We've been given a gift.

We've been set free from our own wants and our desires.

We've been given a second chance.

Will you take it?

Will you prove to be faithful?

 


Christians and politics

Politics.

Some love it.

Some love to hate it.

What would you do if I told you Jesus modeled an approach to politics that we need to embrace?

This week has been a crazy week in politics. No matter what your opinions are on what's happening in our great country, you might want to listen to this podcast I recorded on Christians and politics.

podcast-politics

Got an opinion on this podcast? I would love to hear it. Leave a comment or send me an email at lina@livingwithpower.org.

Oh, and I almost forgot: I'm in Lebanon this week. You can follow my medical mission trip to the Syrian refugees via Instagram and Facebook.


What do you want the most in your life?

There's this guy I have a massive crush on.

We're Facebook friends and, yeah, I stalk him from time to time.

Let's say, theoretically speaking, that he came to Chicago and asked me out on a date.

And let's say, theoretically speaking, that I checked my schedule and was busy that day.

Do you think I would:

a. apologize and ask him to try again next time?

or

b. get the heck out of my other commitment and buy a new dress?

You don't have to be a genius to figure this one out.

I WOULD GO ON THE DATE!

It's not that complicated when you think about it.

Last week I asked you for your help and thought 2 of you would answer.

But you floored me! Not only did a TON of you respond, but you really shared your heart with me. And you wrecked me with your answers.

Several themes popped up. One of the most common ideas mentioned sounded a little bit like this:

I wish I spent more time with Jesus.

You long for intimacy with Jesus.

You know who He is.

And you want more of Him in your life.

Desperately more.

Yet you struggle with making the time for Him.

You don't know how to make Him a priority.

You're too busy with family.

You're too overwhelmed with your physical needs.

You're simply exhausted.

But it's not that complicated when we think about it.

We make time for the things we love.

We re-arrange our schedule for our Facebook crushes.

We re-order our lives for the commitments that mean more.

We say no after saying yes because we recognize that a better yes is staring us in the face.

We do whatever we need to do to make time for the things we love.

Even if it costs us something along the way.

I got out of a medical mission trip once at the very last minute because I accepted a job at a church instead. My friendship with the organizer of the trip suffered because of it.

I broke off an engagement two weeks before the wedding once because I realized I was in love with someone else.

And on and on it goes.

We make time and space for the things we love.

People ask me all the time how I manage my life. How do I make time for Jesus as an ER doctor/author/speaker/global medical missionary?

It's simple: I've found out I can't live without Jesus.

I mean it literally. I cannot live without Him.

I need him daily.

I need him deeply.

I need him desperately.

I need him because my life is too complicated.

I need him because my people are too complicated.

I need him because I'm too complicated.

I have dreams that I can't accomplish on my own.

I have disappointments I can't reconcile without Him.

I have temptations that suck the life out of my soul.

In a world where everything is competing for my attention, I've found that I have to say no to some things in order to say yes to the more important things.

So I sleep a little bit less.

I socialize a little bit less.

I exercise a little bit less.

Because I love Jesus more.

What about you?

What are you choosing over Jesus?

Is it the gym? Your job? Your rest?

Is it your friends? Your small group? Your church?

In a world where everything is competing for your attention, it's time to say no to some things in order to say yes to the more important things.

It's time to say yes to Jesus.

I'm talking to you.

What are you going to scratch off your list to make time for Jesus?

I know you're really pressed - I mean, who isn't? We have Facebook, and Instagram and snap chat to keep up with these days.

But let's make 2017 the year we chase after the things that matter most.

I want to tell you about an app I've started using for my quiet time.

It's called first15.org.

Wanna try it with me? We can do this together.

Let's run hard after Jesus because we simply can't do it without him. 

My verse for 2017 is Exodus 33:15 where Moses says this to God: "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here".

Would you pray this verse with me for 2017?

One last thing, you sort of spoiled me with all the emails last week. I've come to expect you to actually talk to me. So will you do it again? Will you leave a comment with your verse or word for 2017? I'd love to hear from you.

Here's a teaching that I think will help you as you focus your thoughts on the one thing that matters most in 2017: 

podcast-purpose-pic-2


What do you Want in the New Year?

What do you want in 2017?

Stop and think about it.

This year could turn out like all the others.

A bunch of well intentioned resolutions meant to rev us up a bit, a list of good intentions and exhausted attempts at being more, doing more, wanting more.

And still - the same results: failure, disappointment, and unfulfilled longings.

Not me.

Not this year.

This year I want more.

This year I want a closer walk with Jesus. I want more power, more fruit, more flavor. 

This year, I want Jesus.

I want to cease from striving. I want to quit fearing. I want to simply rest in Him.

And God wants exactly the same for me.

I'm learning that there are 3 main ways God uses to teach us to trust him:

#1 He breaks down all our security structures

What is it you trust? Is it your job or your income? Is if your pastor or your Church? Is it your talents and your reputation? You can tell how much you trust something by how you react when you lose it. If you feel threatened and fear encroaches at the prospect of losing it, then you've likely put your trust in it. God knows that you'll never be happy with just that thing and will do whatever it takes to break you out of that security structure. He is committed to show you that He is more than enough for you. It's only when you lose what you trust most that you learn how dear and trustworthy God is.

#2 He allows difficult circumstances that we can't fix

You know those prayer requests that God still hasn't answered you decades later? You know those people who won't stop hating on you? Yeah, they're God's provision for you. My friend sent me this definition of God's pruh-vizh-uh n: God turning ever moment into a chance to experience the fullness of his love. Every circumstance that puts you at the end of yourself is His provision to show you His love. Will you trust him in it?

#3 He places us in the eye of the storm

See, it's in the eye of the storm that we cry out to him. It's in the eye of the storm that we finally bend our knees and pray. It's in the eye of the storm that His word becomes our lifeline, His promise become our life. And until His word becomes a priority in our life we will never really get to know him. See, He reveals himself to us in his word. That's where we meet Jesus.

I believe that Christians have lost their voice in this world primarily because of our love for materialism and our constant state of worry.

We love our stuff and are deathly afraid of losing it.

We are constantly competing with each other for more stuff.

We are not unlike like everybody else around us.

No wonder no one is listening to us.

But what if we could change?

What if in 2017 we were willing to give all that we have for the sake of knowing him more?

Wouldn't it be worth it?

Looking for a great resource to start the new year with? Check out the Resolved 10 week Bible study with DVD series. Make 2017 your best year yet. 

resolved-bookstudy_1-small


What Are You Waiting For This Christmas?

Every year, whether we're ready for it or not, it comes!
Christmas.
In an ironic twist of fate Christmas has fallen on a Sunday this year and many churches have opted to cancel their services.

Ironic, because...well, who needs to meet and worship God when instead we can celebrate him over hot chocolate and self indulgent gift giving?
I suppose I can be glib about Christmas this year since I'll be working most of the week. I will be Christmas-less Christmas this year.
To add insult to injury, here's how my gift giving went down:
The UPS truck pulled away from my house and I quickly ran to the door. The Zappos box held such promise. I opened it and sure enough, a clean crisp UGGS box sat looking at me expectantly.
I concluded that my sister had gone out of her way to kindly think of me this Christmas: a new pair of boots to replace my old beat up ones.

Then I opened the box and felt sucker punched.
The boots I expected weren't there. Instead a high heeled gold trimmed definitely not me pair of boots sat mocking me in the box.
Why in the world would anyone do this to me? I wondered. How could my sister be so careless? I was miffed. Then I noticed how small the boot was. As if the style wasn't bad enough, the size looked even more ridiculous.
It finally occurred to me to check the name on the box.
Sure enough - the ugly small boots weren't even for me.
The UPS man had dropped the box off at the wrong house!
Go figure.
Another typical Lina Christmas with its unmet expectations and sordid disappointments.
You ever feel that way?

Every year a specific part of the Christmas story sticks out in my mind.
This year it's the part about Anna in Luke 2:22-38.
Jesus is already born. The manger a distant memory. The shepherds' song long gone and the wise men well on their way home.
Mary and Joseph are adjusting to life with a newborn babe. A newborn with eczema and baby acne, and colic and gas and all the scary things that go along with a first newborn.
In the midst of all the chaos was a necessary rite. Jesus was to be taken to the temple to be purified. This was a fulfillment of the law.
God became man born in a manger. And almost every one missed it.
Well everyone except for a man named Simeon and a woman named Anna.
Anna was a prophetess, of the tribe of Asher. She used to be married but her husband had died 7 years into the marriage, and she was now old - 84 according to the passage.
A widow.
Alone on this very first Christmas.

For over 70 years she had waited - anticipating, expecting.
Would this be the year?
Would He finally show up?
Year after year she'd hoped.
Could this be the year God finally answered?

Then one day just like any other...it happened.
Hope did not disappoint.
The waiting was not in vain.
God did show up.
Jesus came.

Every year, whether we're ready for him or not, He comes.
Christmas is here.
Hope is alive.

hey, check out this podcast from the archives that will encourage you this Christmas season!

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