Expectations at Christmas Time

What are your expectations at Christmas time? A better question may be, “What were Mary’s expectations at the time of Christ’s birth?”

Considering what happened all those years ago can help us gain perspective. We are told many times through scripture and from the pulpit of Mary’s situation, but for Mothers in particular – this deserves another look.

Why? Because we mother’s, even humankind as a whole, have a commonality to behold. We all worry about what other people think. Read (1 Samuel 16:7).

We want our families to look perfect and act perfect, when we know that is not realistic. None of us are perfect (Romans 3:23).

We fuss over the house, the food, the sleeping arrangements, when Mary had none of these options. We mourn over those children who do not share the faith anymore, but then we read not all of Jesus’ brothers believed (John 7:5). And we can assume quite reliably that the siblings did not always get a long.

We want all of our family together at Christmas time, and especially shining radiantly in the pew beside us, but the shortcomings we focus on make us feel out of place, perhaps even condemned?

Mary felt condemned. Not many understood the miraculous birth of Christ. And as he grew older, the rumours of who Jesus’ real Father was, still rumbled.

Mary’s focus had to be on what she believed in, not what was happening all around her, and certainly not on what people were saying.

As a mother of diverse children who are all on a journey to test their faith and make it their own, or not – my focus this Christmas is on my relationship with Jesus, and the purposes He has for me to live out. Both my husband and I taught our children about Jesus while they were growing up underneath our roof. Now we teach our children through how we choose to live our lives, even after they’ve moved out.

It seems terrible to compare Mary’s suffering or even Christ’s suffering, to ours, but that is part of the why Christ came – to identify with us in every way (Heb. 4:15). As parents and children, there will be sufferings, and temptations of all kinds.

When you observe Jesus’ birth this Christmas ask Him to help you focus on Him, and not all of your (our, their) imperfections. When I see my brothers and sisters at church I am not thinking of their wayward children, or comparing my children to their godly offspring. I am not remembering how they fell yesterday, or how I fell last week. I am looking in their eyes as one child of God to another with faith and hope for our future because of what Jesus Christ’s birth came to accomplish.

Finally, if we can focus on what faith means “faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1), we can TRUST instead of worrying. Mary chose to trust in God no matter what. She could have worried her whole life about her calling as a mother, her children’s paths, and appointments, about what her family looked like to everyone who lived around them, about how her children bonded, or didn’t bond, but instead she trusted God.

Even as I close I recognize a slight deviation from that trust, the temptation to add words to please everyone’s ear. Perhaps this sounds too fluffy, or maybe there’s not enough focus on character and consequence? How quickly we can get caught up in what is going on around us, and what we think people might be saying, and how we might adjust our lives to please someone else.

Forgiveness Only Goes So Far?

The next time you mess up, remember we serve a God who runs after our heart!

“Forever is Ours”

I get stuck in the ‘here and now’, although free of my past.

I forget forever is ours.

I can fret all I want to, but you pray for me.

I’m never too far from your arms.

Why is it easier to picture a King who reigns on high,

than a friend who runs after my heart?

Because it’s in my stinkin’ nature to propagate the lie,

that your forgiveness only goes so far.

 

So I’m struck by your patience and freed by your truth.

Reminded forever is ours.

You purchased my soul, you’re not trading me in,

and you died to hold me in your arms.

Why is it easier to picture a King who reigns on high,

than a friend who runs after my heart?

Because it’s in my stinkin’ nature to propagate the lie,

that your forgiveness only goes so far…

written in May of 2012 ©Cindy Palin

Psalm 103:12, Hebrews 10:17, Isaiah 1:18, Proverbs 18:24

Live TRUTH, and combat UNTRUTH

The choice to focus my thoughts on Christ is very personal, and an effective way to live with purpose and meaning, within the relationship we enjoy together. I get very disheartened when friends, and family abandon their faith for some new teaching, introduced by the latest, and greatest guru.  It is perfectly normal to keep our ears open, to listen and learn – but watch out if the teacher’s motivations and messages do not measure up with scripture.

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Tim. 4:3, 2 Tim. 3:7, Eph. 4:14).

 

The Gospel is still the message I choose to believe in, and the person of Christ has made himself known to me in many ways throughout my life thus far. My new worship song is entitled: I Love You Jesus. The lyrics are very simple, but the message means more than meets the eye (discussed below).

You’re so good to me, Jesus (Jesus)

So good to me, Jesus (Jesus)

I give you my whole heart, mind and soul. I love you Jesus.

You’re truthful to me, Jesus (Jesus)

So truthful to me, Jesus (Jesus)

I hide your Word within, You’re life to these limbs. I love you Jesus.

I lift your name on high before all men.

Never to turn away from our covenant.

You’re faithful to me, Jesus (Jesus)

So faithful to me, Jesus (Jesus)

And I have a faithful heart, because of who YOU are. I love you Jesus. ©CindyPalin/May 2018

The first stanza “You’re so good to me Jesus” are words of honour and gratitude, acknowledgement of God’s goodness regardless of my circumstance.  My choice to worship Jesus for His goodness is not based on material wealth and health, but on who He is, what He has done for me, and how He continues to grow me.

“I give you my whole heart, mind and soul” are words of obedience to Christ’s command in Matthew 22:37.

The second stanza declares “You’re truthful to me Jesus, I’ll hide your Word within, you’re life to these limbs, I love you Jesus.” Check out what Randy Alcorn writes about Jesus and the truth… He begins by quoting “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6), and continues to say “Jesus is the reference point for evaluating all truth claims.”   http://www.jesus.org/is-jesus-god/names-of-jesus/how-is-jesus-the-truth.html

The third stanza shouts “You’re faithful to me Jesus, and I have a faithful heart because of who you are, I love you Jesus”. Our faith does not depend on us, but on God’s faithfulness to us.  “So that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Cor. 2:5).

The words “I love you Jesus” are significant. Even believers can struggle saying these words, but they are not based on feelings, or whether we’ve had a faithful day or not. Again these words are a choice. The more we say them, the more we are shaped by them, and the more we reflect Him.

The chorus is a declaration of unwavering commitment.. “I lift your name on high before all men, never to turn away from our covenant.” I am tired of all the psycho-babble out there. To quote another songwriter – “Just Give me Jesus” – Jeremy Camp.

We need to speak our faith in Jesus out loud (and sing it). This is not something I do to convince myself of what my heart already knows, I do it to LIVE the TRUTH, and combat all UNTRUTH.

Song Sample to be posted shortly – Cindy Palin

An Encouraging Word

The other day I was at the gym. I didn’t feel like going. It was my day off, but I knew I had to be there. Thanks to my hubby, our friend John, Lucinda, and so many others for their faithfulness and steady inspiration.

As I was going around the track an acquaintance told me I was walking at a good pace. I thanked her.

Later on I was on the bike, and she came up behind me and said “good for you”.

As I was walking out of the gym I saw a man who I knew, but could not remember his name. I spoke up and introduced myself, and we were able to connect the dots as to where we knew each other from. We had a pleasant conversation.

As I got into my vehicle I couldn’t help but think about how far an encouraging word goes. I sincerely think if that lady had not encouraged me I would not have had the courage to reach out to the familiar fellow who frequents the gym the same time I do.

Moments later I was waiting to pick up lunch and saw a couple of ladies waiting to order. I normally would have waved from where I stood, but instead walked over to them and had a great visit while we all waited for our food together.

The positive impact of encouragement fills us with joy – and that joy bubbles up and over into other’s lives.

This week at work I asked a couple of colleagues if they would start preparing to facilitate a class. Right away their shoulders were straighter, their chins were higher, their smiles much brighter. When we believe in people, build them up and encourage them – they find their wings and soar.

When we don’t take the time to speak kindness and truth, and encourage one another, we leave others living in the shadows, shrinking. They can break free and become who they are supposed to be eventually, but now is the time to share the joy. Why wait to say and encouraging word?

Cindy

The Pretty Things or Jesus?

While walking to a meeting this morning my thoughts drifted to a relative who seems to have traded the faith of her youth (in Christ Jesus), for the moon and the stars.  I’m not sure what happened. I think of the verse in Galatians 5:7b “…who cut in on your to keep you from obeying the truth?”

I’m reminded of history, where Israel was rescued from the Egyptians by the hand of God, and in a short span of time – were complaining about the desert and worshipping idols.

Why is it some will be rescued and seek to know their rescuer deeper, while others will be rescued and tire of His faithfulness? I believe God can give us the gift of faith, a desire to seek Him more. As I get older I thank him for his mercy, and pray that I will not wander off after some pretty, empty thing…..

google free images

The Pretty Things

Vs 1. You can sway, you can swoon, you can stare at the moon

but I know the one who hung it for you.

Can’t you hear him calling for you now?

But it’s all about the pretty things, the sound of your voice analyzing.

Your heroes wear capes, and the cross is passe – hey,

I’ll take Jesus any day.

Vs 2. You can gaze at the stars, read your horoscope charts

but I know the one who knew your birthday

long before your parents said hello.

But it’s all about the pretty things, your ideas advancing.

Let your heroes parade, there’s no room for a grave, hey,

I’ll take Jesus anyway.

Chorus: When tradition falls hard, and contrition fades

I will not be alarmed, He predicted today

When the moon waxes cold and your magic is frayed

Lay your pretty things down and pray.

Vs 3. You can question the truth, you can trust in your youth

but I know that somewhere in the middle

everyone plays second fiddle soon.

Well I highly doubt the pretty things, it’s all about the meaning,

and the life that He gave when the stone rolled away, hey,

I’ll take Jesus any day.

©Cindy Palin, September 29th, 2017

Scriptures you may want to read: Mark 13, Colossians 2:6-9

 

 

Summer Church Camp Saves

At the risk of sounding psycho, there is a dark force that keeps us from surrendering to that which is good for the soul.

SUMMER CHURCH CAMP for example. So many people excuse themselves from pinching pennies and marking calendars in order for their children to attend camp. I still regret that my husband and I did not make time for family camp!  I regret saving my pennies for other less important things.

There is also this frame of mind that creeps in and tells us that summer church camp is maybe just a little too churchy. We don’t want our kids to be too churchy do we?

When I was a child SUMMER CHURCH CAMP saved my life, or should I say that is where the ‘saving’ began? Thank you to my parents for allowing me to go. It was at summer church camp I was introduced to God’s love and truth, and a relationship that would never let me down.

Do you want your children to develop integrity? Do you want your children to understand the importance of friendship? Do you want your child to understand the importance of commitment? Would you like your child to become a leader in the community?  Do you want your children’s eyes to be opened to possibilities? Do you want your child to know there is someone who loves them, who will never let them down, who can transform them into a relational and faithful person?

Don’t let your earthly wisdom cloud your brain. Allowing your children to be taught about God is not forcing them to believe, but giving them an opportunity to choose. Allowing your children to be around other people who are seeking God’s goodness, is a positive and real experience. Real people working, and playing, and learning along side other real people in the midst of a myriad of issues, in an adventurous outdoor setting, away from the usual pressures of life.

Choose SUMMER CHURCH CAMP for your children, choose IT for yourself. Choose it for your family, and watch your joy multiply through the years!

1 Cor. 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”

James 3:13 “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom

Signed: Saved and proud to be churchy, happy, healthy and a leader in my community – Cindy Palin

P.S. I love you Jesus

 

Louder Than The Lies

Recently,  building with Shelter Canada in El Salvador, I noticed one of the family’s relatives had a television in their nearby home. I was immediately reminded of a dear friend of ours who visited a Zulu Chief in South Africa. Upon his arrival he noted that the Chief was watching Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “terminator” role on television. Even more recently I was having a discussion with someone in my own neighbourhood regarding a prominent Hollywood celebrity who works as a bounty hunter.

All of these observations, and subsequent conversations have something in common. Each occurrence was in the midst of an impoverished reality, people needing homes, food, education, facing life threatening situations. I ached at the thought of the pseudo reality many have chosen to live in. I grieved at the realization millions of souls around the globe are influenced by false truths that offer no real food for their spirit. Many of the messages streaming into our minds are negative and violent, encouraging a tough and calloused approach to life.

A character’s persona, and imaginary world, whether on television, in a video game, music video, or novel – offers the observer an escape from reality, a reality that may be very difficult. This escape is only temporary. Reality is always right around the corner.

What kind of real food do we need to be sharing with one another so our lives have purpose, and meaning, and hope? What kind of truth can we be living out loud to help our loved ones, and neighbours get up every morning and seize the day? With God’s help truth can be louder than the lies.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drowning in a Feeling, or Living in the Truth?

I was going through some of my writing and came across this rough draft, and video. It speaks loudly of where I once was, searching for self, longing to belong. I know now that drowning in a feeling will never be as good as living in the truth. Thank you Jesus – I choose you!

Who Needs Love?

If I let myself I can feel it again, power disguised as love.

I can see it well, everywhere that I turn, everyone’s trading up.

Cause it’s better than waiting around, it’s better assuming control.

It’s better, so much better to drown in a feeling, than to know.

If you let yourself, you’ll believe anything, lies disguised as truth.

Can’t you see it now, your heart’s underneath, the weight of a thousand moons.

Cause it’s better than waiting around, it’s better assuming control

It’s better, so much better to drown in a feeling, than to know.

Cause you were told, but what’s the fun in that?

When you get old, maybe then you’ll settle down,

but until then – you’ll take the feelings.

Yeah until then – who needs love?

©Cindy Palin, music and lyrics, all rights reserved

Why is He Not Enough?

What changes our faith statements from “God is good” to “there is a higher power”? When did you decide to pray to something, rather than someone? When was the decision made to trust in crystals, or look to the moon for guidance?

As technology races forward we have access to so much information, but this doesn’t mean all of it is good. Our brains naturally migrate to new “stuff” that stimulates our thinking. New information can challenge our traditions, and entice us to entertain new possibilities. Change can be very good, but not every new thing is truth.

Lately I havtruth-JPG-96e noticed a surprising amount of people have flocked to using fancy ethereal terminology when talking about spiritual issues, rather than mentioning the names of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, or the Holy Spirit. Is sounding politically correct more attractive than the message of the Gospel? Have you heard about the power in Jesus name (Phil. 2:10)?

It seems as though He who saves our soul has now been equated to the same importance as the latest in paint colour trends. Using today’s lingo and jumping on the newest spiritual band wagon isn’t going to give us the strength we need to navigate the storms of life, or lead the next generation into wholeness. Ephesians 6, verse 10 and onward tells us it is God’s strength alone that will help us recognize dangerous schemes, and plans that set themselves up against the truth.

If you are someone who has heard the salvation message of Jesus Christ, and responded, but now have decided to try something new, I challenge you to ask yourself why? Did you ever take steps to get to know the living Christ, and our Creator? Have you spent time reading His Word, or resolved yourself to take a person’s word instead? How do you know what they are saying is trustworthy?

Why is Jesus no longer enough? Why does finding your ‘power animal’, or purchasing a crystal, or talking to the dead appeal to you more? How has magic, and casting spells become a better option than prayer? When did the Bible, and Sunday School become something archaic and irrelevant, and why? Is it that many have tired from ‘doing’ religion, rather than ‘being’ in a relationship with Christ?

Are we really ready to trust ourselves over and above He who has made us?

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” Romans 1:20 NIV.

 

 

 

 

Understanding the Times

 

Everyone is changing their mind, or getting on the band wagon, or losing conviction, or…..and the list goes on.

So she wrote her little song on a cold winter’s day,                                             tucked the tears in her heart, sent the music to play.                                                  To fly to Jesus like a bird on the wind,                                                                          He’s coming again someday.

She knows they have their reasons for drifting away,                                             ’cause she’s caught herself in seasons of dry bones,                                                  but a change of heart is different than changing your mind,                                and the road ahead looks more and more alone.

So she strums her little song on a sweet summer’s night,                                     holds His promises close, as her whispers take flight.                                             They fly to Jesus like a bird on the wind,                                                                     He’s coming again someday.

And she contemplates the choices, the give and the take.                                     She’s no stranger to the voices man is prone.                                                          She’ll change her mind on coffee, but anchor her heart                                           on the only One who’s going to lead her home.

The hours are fleeting, the daylight is but a glow on the sea.                                   And there’s a meeting she’s keeping, she sings –                                                       He’s coming for me.

So she sings His mighty song on the battlefield line,                                                with His sword in her hand and a victory cry.                                                        They fly to Jesus like a bird on the wind,                                                                   He’s coming again someday.

And she mourns the soldiers falling, the left and the right.                                     She hears the scoffers calling to her soul.                                                                    But her heart is pressing forward and leaving behind,                                            each word that stands against the truth she knows.

Cindy Palin ©July 2016 All Rights Reserved

   The other day my daughter and I were praying, and some of her words reminded me of how I usually pray at the piano and write… Above is a word picture of a songwriter’s heart contemplating the signs of the times, and the affects thereof.

And scripture tells us…

And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:4-14 ESV).