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Through The Lens of God’s Gifts

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” – John 14:27 (NLT)

Joy and Peace are gifts of grace already given to each and every one of us… Receiving, embracing and allowing those gifts to shape us however, is a choice.  And when we make the choice to see our lives through the lens of those gifts, we begin to recognize how truly present God is with us every day.

If there are words for Him, then I don’t have them…

The True Nature of Love

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)

As I read and prayed on these words this morning, God reminded me of the depth of this fundamental truth; that when we embrace the true nature of the Love He freely offers and seek to share that Love in all that we do, we clear the way for God’s peace and joy to overwhelm all those things in our lives that pull us down.

Defined by Our Blessings

“Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” – James 1:17 (NLT)

When we allow our attitudes, our outlook, our words and our actions to be expressions of the many Blessings God places in our lives each and every day, we not only share His light with those around us but also find that our struggles and circumstances no longer define who we are.

It Began in a Lowly Manger

Dear Lord; Happy Christmas Eve Father!

When I think of Christmas Lord, so many things come to my heart…

Hope…

Love…

Peace…

Joy…

And an overall sense of Wonder.

And yet, with all of the situations that have surrounded me throughout this Blessed Season Father, I’ll admit that much of that child-like excitement has felt quietly subdued this year…

However this morning as we talked Lord, You breathed some life back into my weary spirit.

Today Father, I asked You a very pointed question and You very clearly answered it… Although I’ll admit Your response wasn’t even on my radar…

“Lord… You know my heart hasn’t been in the right place this Season, and for that I’m truly sorry.  I need You more than ever Father… Please tell me what You want of me this Christmas… What do You want me to learn?”

And in the prayerful silence that followed Lord, You Blessed me with an answer…

“Forgiveness, Phil…”  You whispered… “For yourself most of all.”

Silence returned as I grappled with Your intent…

Forgiveness??  At Christmas??

And then Father, in a moment of realization reminiscent of the Grinch’s heart enlargement it came to me…

Christmas is all about forgiveness.

In the midst of our pain, our sin, and our brokenness Lord,

On that Silent Night so many years ago,

You came among us in the humblest of ways…

That by Your life we could know Your will for us,

And by Your blood we would be…

Forgiven.

“Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” – Luke 23:34 (NIV)

The redemption of our world…

All began in a lowly manger.

And today Lord, as I sought the light which beckoned the Magi You parted the clouds around my heart and let me see…

That I’d allowed my circumstances to define me, and permitted my self-imposed feelings of guilt and disappointment to divert me from that Holy Pilgrimage.  And that for me to begin that journey forward Father, You needed me to let go of it…

To forgive myself, as You forgave us all.

So as Christmas day approaches Lord, I yearn to meet You with a lighter heart; to rest by the manger’s side and know that sense of newness and hope.  To leave those burdens which keep me from You along that tired path, and renew my spirit with the peace You ushered in that Holy Night.

Come Lord Jesus…

~Phather Phil

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The Isle of Misfit Toys

Dear Lord; Happy Thursday Father!

Ever since I was a little boy Lord, I’ve loved this time of year.  Beautiful lights and decorations adorn our homes, joyful Holiday music overwhelms the airways, and our hearts eagerly await the celebration of that Silent Night so many years ago.  And along with the many festive practices that grace this season Father, December also ushers the return of some of my favorite childhood Christmas shows…

Dr. Seuss’ Grinch once again attempts to steal Christmas…

Linus reminds us of the miraculous meaning behind this Holiday…

Frosty the Snowman makes us yearn for that serene blanket of white…

And Rudolph… Well, Rudolph’s story was on my mind as I drove into the office this morning…

“I certainly feel like I belong on the Isle of Misfit Toys…” I mumbled to myself…

For the first time in a very long time Lord, I’m having a difficult time filling my heart with the joy this Holy Season offers.

As You know Father, this year has seen a great many trials for my family and I; many of which still have uncertain endings.  And although I have faith that You’ll see us safely along this valley path in Your perfect time, the light from that Holy Star seems dimmer through the clouds this year.

And as I look around at the world joyfully celebrating this Season of Hope Lord…

I feel out of place… A “Misfit Toy” stranded far away from You.

And yet Father,

I know You’re with me all the same.

Even in my hurt…

Even through my pain…

And even on the Isle of Misfit Toys.

So Lord, as I make my weary pilgrimage to rest by the side of that Holy Manger this year, I pray that You walk that path beside me.  Give clarity to my sight Father, and resolve to my steps that I may seek this Celebration of Hope with the wonder and awe of a child…

Your beloved child.

For it’s in Your precious name I pray Jesus,

Amen.

~PhatherPhil

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