What Do I Want for Christmas?

I want the starving children fed--in my own little town, among the membership of the LDS church, and throughout the whole world 

I want the orphans, dependent upon the generosity of others, provided for.

I want the exploited rescued, and to have safe places for them to sleep and learn. 

I want the street children in Manilla, abandoned by their destitute parents who simply couldn't feed them, to have the basic things they need: shoes, school supplies, regular meals, combs, toothbrushes, a shower to use, and a safe place to sleep.

My family is operating under a tighter budget than we ever have had to before. We are living in the least square foot per person we have ever lived. And yet, compared to so, so many, even in our own little community, we are wealthy. We have a lovely little home. We have decent beds to sleep in. We have all the first world conveniences we want: cars that run reliably, gas to run them, washer & dryer, dishwasher, heat, air conditioning, electricity, running water, hot water, a roof that doesn't leak, and our floors aren't made of dirt. (Although sometimes during mud season the mats inside the front door might fool you for a minute.)

My children have a family that loves them, and a safe place to grow and learn. Contrast that with the early life of one of my best friends, who was born into prostitution to a sex-trafficked mother, and rescued at eight years old, after her mother's death, by God working an absolute miracle in the Canadian court system.

My children are well-fed, and are in no danger of suffering from the debilitating or deadly effects of malnutrition, unlike 80,000+ active LDS children in the world, and too many in my little town.

My husband and I love one another. Our marriage is strong--strong because we have learned to forgive, and are learning how to grow, both together and alongside one another. 

We definitely have our share of difficulties and trials. We are given weaknesses, after all, that the Lord may show forth His strength in us. But our basic needs are met. The Lord will continue to provide. I just wish we had endless income, so I could feed and clothe and house every cold, hungry, lonely soul.
      11 Wherefore, I must tell you the truth according to the plainness of the word of God. For behold, as I inquired of the Lord, thus came the word unto me, saying: Jacob, get thou up into the temple on the morrow, and declare the word which I shall give thee unto this people.
      12 And now behold, my brethren, this is the word which I declare unto you, that many of you have begun to search for gold, and for silver, and for all manner of precious ores, in the which this land, which is a land of promise unto you and to your seed, doth abound most plentifully.
      13 And the hand of providence hath smiled upon you most pleasingly, that you have obtained many riches . . .
      14 And now, my brethren, do ye suppose that God justifieth you in this thing? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. But he condemneth you, and if ye persist in these things his judgments must speedily come unto you.
      15 O that he would show you that he can pierce you, and with one glance of his eye he can smite you to the dust!
      16 O that he would rid you from this iniquity and abomination. And, O that ye would listen unto the word of his commands, and let not this pride of your hearts destroy your souls!
      17 Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.
      18 But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.
      19 And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted. (Jacob 2)
We don't have riches. But to those who might . . . please consider those who not only don't have riches, but suffer hunger and cold.
      34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
      35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
      36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
      37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
      38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
      39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
      40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:40)

Let go already!

Scripture: Job 11:4-20 NLT

You claim, ‘My beliefs are pure,’ and ‘I am clean in the sight of God.’ If only God would speak; if only he would tell you what he thinks! If only he would tell you the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom is not a simple matter. Listen! God is doubtless punishing you far less than you deserve! “Can you solve the mysteries of God? Can you discover everything about the Almighty? Such knowledge is higher than the heavens— and who are you? It is deeper than the underworld — what do you know? It is broader than the earth and wider than the sea. If God comes and puts a person in prison or calls the court to order, who can stop him? For he knows those who are false, and he takes note of all their sins. An empty-headed person won’t become wise any more than a wild donkey can bear a human child. “If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! Get rid of your sins, and leave all iniquity behind you. Then your face will brighten with innocence. You will be strong and free of fear. You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away. Your life will be brighter than the noonday. Even darkness will be as bright as morning. Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety. You will lie down unafraid, and many will look to you for help. But the wicked will be blinded. They will have no escape. Their only hope is death.”

Observation: Zophar isn't trying to give Job the smackdown here . . . despite the fact that I've read it that way my whole life, and some Bible translators saw it that way. Today, I read in these words hope. So much hope. Zophar is telling Job to stop complaining and whining "poor me" (even though he had tremendous reason to do so!), and to trust that God knows what He's doing, let go of whatever is past, look forward, and get back to giving the Highest His due. 

Application: How often do I handwring and analyze and latch on to what is past . . . worrying more about why I got into the mess I'm in, instead of getting down to business and humbling myself before my Maker, listening carefully--for He will tell me (is crazy to tell me!) what I need to be to get out of it. 

Prayer: Father, help me to let go of what's behind me. Show me the peaceful path of submission, for I'm so incredibly glad  I know I can trust Your judgement fully, for You are faithful! :-) So show me the next step into freedom! In Jesus' most amazing name, amen. :-)



On Fasting

S: “No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. (Isaiah 58:6-11 NLT)

O: When The Lord asks for fasting, He's talking about something COMPLETELY different than I was taught. I was taught that it was mostly about going without food so we could make a contribution to help feed those who needed it. But this passage shows it's SO much more than that. 

A: When I fast, what is my intention? How do I use the fasting time I have to fulfill something further on that list above?    What ways can I turn my everyday into a fast of some kind, so I can be of more use to my God?

P: Lord, show me Your work. Show me the way to walk after Your example every day. Release in me Your love, and let me see those around me with Your eyes. Let me free the captive and bind up the broken-hearted. I want to love your children more, and to have the safety of Your rich & loving grace to transform my efforts into Your work. In Jesus' name, amen!

Sweet Healing

S: On that day I will make a covenant with all the wild animals and the birds of the sky and the animals that scurry along the ground so they will not harm you. I will remove all weapons of war from the land, all swords and bows, so you can live unafraid in peace and safety. I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord. “In that day, I will answer,” says the Lord. “I will answer the sky as it pleads for clouds. And the sky will answer the earth with rain. Then the earth will answer the thirsty cries of the grain, the grapevines, and the olive trees. And they in turn will answer, ‘Jezreel’—‘God plants!’ At that time I will plant a crop of Israelites and raise them for myself. I will show love to those I called ‘Not loved.’ And to those I called ‘Not my people,’ I will say, ‘Now you are my people.’ And they will reply, ‘You are our God!’” (Hosea 2:18-23 NLT)

O: Oh, how our God LONGS for this day! The tenderness and sweet comfort shines through so, so clearly to me. 

A: This is what Jesus wants for each of his people, individually. Each one of us can realize this--can be Israel to Him in our lives. I love how fully infinite Jesus's love is. When you divide infinity, no matter the number, you have infinity left. He loves me--and you--completely and wholly, with everything He has & is. He gave everything He had & was on earth, and still stands waiting to give us everything He has in His Father's kingdom now! And I literally have an audience of One when it comes to my relationship with Him, as do each of us. Complete, whole, and as though I were His only creation.

P: Lord, bless Your children. Let the knowledge of Your love spread to cover the whole earth. Pour out Your love upon those who seek You, and teach them how to shed Your love abroad as healing waters. Show me how to love--fully and unreservedly--so others might come unto You. In Jesus' name, AMEN.