Saturday, January 16, 2016

I Have No Gloves!

"I have no gloves." The girl standing outside of my car said after I handed her some money. Then she showed me her red, cold hands.

I looked around our car to see if we had a spare pair and then checked to see of any of us in the car were wearing gloves. "I don't have any gloves," I said apologetically.

She showed me her hands again. "I don't have any gloves." Her face was sad. I noticed her skimpy skirt with leggings underneath; a pink backpack lay on the sidewalk.

I asked my daughter to look under the seat to see if we had any hand and foot warmers.

"I have hand warmers," she said a little frustrated. "But I have no gloves."

"I don't have any gloves." I had shaken my head before we drove away. I felt sad for her.

My first response - go to the nearby store and buy her a pair of gloves.

Until I saw the parking lot filled with cars waiting in line to park. Last minute shoppers on Christmas Eve.

Then after I bought the gloves we would have to get on the northbound freeway, curve around to catch the southbound freeway, then take the exit that led to her, who knew how long that would take.

Traffic was thick and getting thicker. People were on their way home from work and on their way to start the holiday fun...she would probably be gone by the time we got back to her.

I prayed for her.

As we drove, I wondered about her. Why was she on the corner begging? Where was her family? Where would she spend the holidays, with family, friends, under a bush for shelter? Why wasn't she a part of society? Would she be alone on Christmas Eve?

I prayed another prayer for her as we went to continue our Christmas Eve festivities. We were coming from our first family gathering, and on our way to church, and then onto another family gathering. We would be warm, safe, and with people we loved, who loved us back.
I wondered about the girl and hoped she wouldn't be alone. I prayed for her.

Years ago on the first Christmas night, Joseph was knocking on doors, "We have no place to stay."

"We have no room." He would hear.

Until finally an innkeeper allowed them to stay in his stable.

There the Lord, who came down from heaven to live among us, came into the world as a baby.

While others were in their warm shelters, Jesus was born in a dirty, stinky manger. The angels appeared to shepherds, who were not high on the social scale, to let them know that Jesus was born.
The shepherds went to see Him. They were among the first to know that a Savior of the world had been born.

Jesus could've been born anywhere, yet, God the Father planned for him to be born in a humble place.

It wasn't a fanfare beginning.

But it is so true to how God works in this world.

He goes to the stinky, dark places and reaches out to those who don't fit in society. He hears those who are brokenhearted; he heals those who are sick and hurting; he loves those who feel unloved.

He came down to walk among His people and do for them what His people could never do for themselves.

He paid the price. He gave His life.

When I heard that girl say, "I have no gloves." And I didn't have the means to help her, I prayed. I say that with confidence because of who I prayed to about her. I know, He is capable of doing more than finding her a pair of gloves.

I know just like on that first Christmas, He is faithful to show up and meet that girl right where she is at and do for her what she cannot do for herself.

Christmas is the incredible story of Jesus, who showed up.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

I LOVE the Red Cup

The day after Thanksgiving one of my friends posted on Facebook that the Starbucks holiday cup was out. She included a picture of the red cup. It enticed me to know there was steaming hot coffee in it. Typically, I like iced coffee, but leading into the holidays, I love to carry around warm coffee in a red cup.

A few days later, though, I started to hear and see some negative things about the holiday Starbucks cup. Ridiculous things.

Shortly after I saw a post on another of my friends Facebook wall that hurt my heart. It was a post about "the stupid CHRISTIANS" and their attitude about the Starbucks cup.


STUPID Christians? Attitude?

I'm a Christian.

Along with the post, the comments about Christians took me by surprise.

Obviously, I didn't participate in that conversation.

I hadn't paid too much attention to the issue since it seemed non-legit to me, but all of the sudden I was put in a group that was "STUPID" because I am a Christian, and it was on a friend's wall, and other friends agreed.

I felt disheartened that such a silly thing would cause such an attacking conversation. I mean really, who cares?

Truth? I happen to love the red cup that comes out every Christmas season.

In all honesty, it saddens me that the Christmas holiday has lost its beauty to a lot of people. It hasn't lost its beauty to me, regardless, the red cup has absolutely nothing to do with it.

I am grateful that every year at Starbucks, during the Christmas season, they distribute their coffee in a holiday colored cup. And right after the holiday is over they go back to their white cups. How many companies take the time to do something like that each year?

So with all of this swirling through my mind, it struck me as funny, although I wasn't surprised, to read something in the Bible, which connected with the issue.

I opened my Bible to the book of Esther, chapter 3 verse 5, it told a story about a man named Haman who the King had given a place of honor too, higher than all of the nobles. Everyone was to bow down to him. When he walked by Mordecai, he wouldn't bow, and this infuriated him, but instead of just getting mad at Mordecai, he wanted to kill all of Mordecai's people. His anger spewed onto people who didn't even know what happened between him and Mordecai.

When I read this verse, it stirred my thoughts about the silly controversy and the time people spent on this whole cup thing, and the horrible things that spewed from people’s mouths, and how they grouped ALL Christians into the same category.

Although there are many good uses for social networking, it seems it has also created a platform for people to spew their opinionated stuff and stereotype another with no regard for their feelings. And for other's to jump on the bandwagon without really thinking the issue through. Some of the stuff I read completely shocks me.

Is there that freedom to cut people down and not have relational consequences?

I have been witness to people I care about arguing on their wall with each other, and saying horrible things about one another. Really? And then, other people join in.

I've had people hop on my wall and say things negative things about my faith, instead of private messaging me. I've deleted it, and private messaged them.

What is up with that? When a person is on the receiving end, it can hurt. And yes, on the other side of those words written, somebody is reading them. And that somebody has feelings. That somebody could be someone who cares but is hurt enough they stop the relationship.

Shouldn't we consider the words we write? Be responsible about who may be reading them, and be considerate to the minds and hearts that are receiving them?

A man asked Jesus what is the greatest commandment? He answered, "Love God with all of your heart, your soul, and your mind. And to love your neighbor as yourself." (Can find story in Matthew 12:29-31)

I think that applies even when posting on a social network.

Back to the "CUP" controversy - maybe there are a few Christians who are offended by the cup...but, not me (and probably not many others). When I carry that red cup full of warm coffee, it has nothing to do with my belief in Jesus. It does, however, add to how I celebrate Him coming to earth as a man. It also stirs up sweet memories of all the past birthday’s and Christmas’s.

I love to pick out a fun winter cup to use during the Christmas season where I take the time, along with other believers, to celebrate the Lord's gift to those who believe. And even those who don't believe in Him enjoy the season in their way.

I love to say Merry Christmas to people. I don't expect them to say it back because they may not believe in Jesus yet.

I do wish everyone loved and believed in Him. I do wish everyone wanted to follow Him. And that is His desire too, I know this because that is the story of Christmas. Not how a company decorates their Christmas cup.

John 3:16 tells us, He sent His Son into the world and whoever believes WILL be saved.

I can't force someone to see how wonderful Jesus is. I can't force them to do things the way I do because I love Him.

But I can carry a red cup as part of MY proclamation that I am celebrating the best gift I could ever receive.

And just a note - You will not find me wearing an ugly Christmas sweater. That - I just...will NOT do!

I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas and having a great start to the New Year.