Last night we went caroling, but you’ll never believe what happened next!!

I have this friend who is always thinking of ways to make me step out of my comfort zone. She is bold, loves Jesus, and lives to serve God and others. About 4 years ago, she decided that our home school co-op needed to go caroling. My first thought was, “People still do that?”  My second thought was, “AWK-ward!” But just like everything else she dreams up, I went along with it, and even agreed to go in my own neighborhood……where people know me. 
I was nervous. After all, there is a war on Christmas, right? The mainstream media would have you believe that 90% of humanity are horribly offended by all things Christian… especially Christmas. So what, pray tell, would we encounter? Would they slam the door in our faces? Call the cops? Throw eggs? I steadied myself for the worst and held onto the thought of hot chocolate when it was all over. Between our four families we had about 12 kids. So we bundled them up and headed out.
 
As we approached the first house, I still couldn’t believe we were about to sing on someones door step. And yet with all my preconceived notions, nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. House after house we got such similar reactions. First they were surprised. I mean, think about it. When is the last time someone showed up on your door step to sing to you? I can tell you with certainty that my answer to that question would be never!
 After the initial shock came the smiles. These huge soul moving smiles that came from a place of hope and love. Next there was gratitude. Repeatedly and enthusiastically,  they thanked us. Many joined in the singing, and some even responded with tears. I don’t know where those tears came from, whether loss or nostalgia, but their presence confirmed our  little venture.
This Christmas season , however, our family is in a different place in life. My husband Paul is now the pastor at Calvary Chapel Midtown, a regional campus, near Fort Lauderdale, a little ways away from where we normally go caroling. Yet despite the distance, instead of going to one of our neighborhoods, our sweet friends decided that they would like to go  with us to a neighborhood near our new church to invite those neighbors to our very first Christmas service. I knew that we had had great responses in years past, but Fort Lauderdale? Or more specifically, Wilton Manors? That would likely be different. Surely they would balk at our lyrics of silent nights and angels singing? I mean, this is offensive stuff people! There is no way that they would tolerate our songs to a newborn King. And I was right. They didn’t tolerate it… They embraced it! Let me explain. The first house was a sweet lady and her ninety year old mother. Upon hearing why we were there, they came outside and reclined in their wicker chairs soaking in the melodic carols and adorable faces. They joined in singing, eyes brimming with tears, yet smiling from ear to ear. Our first song, she told us, was her late fathers absolute favorite. 
 House after house we were received and welcomed with love. There were more tears. So many thank yous. And one sweet lady was  overcome with such shock that we would do this, this small thing.  “But it’s just me here,” she explained. Surely we needed a bigger audience. But what she didn’t know, was that everything we do is for an audience of One.
I need you to know, however, that this is not me saying “Wow, we changed the world tonight with our humble hearts and awesome vocals. Aren’t we great?” No, not one bit. Especially because our hearts are likely not very humble, and our voices are not awesome…..except the kids. Oh man they are adorable and cute!! But I digress…This is not about what we did. This is about what HE did. The reason I am sharing this is to remind you that our world actually really needs more of Jesus. But not only do they need Jesus, a staggeringly large number actually really wants more of Him. Even though we are being told that nobody wants Jesus  anymore. Yes, even though a select, albeit noisy, few tell us that His words are offensive and His truths un-welcome, it is often not the reaction we get when we approach with love! This world is hungry for Emmanuel, God with us. And I am eternally thankful for the boldness of friends, who encourage us along, year after year, to share the love of Jesus, invite a stranger to church, and watch the world change from the inside out.
Let’s pray together for more sweet divine appointments as Christmas draws near. Let’s pray for boldness and wisdom with our words everywhere we go! As the Apostle Paul reminds us:
Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19
Amen!!

Strength for the Season- Psalm 18

I will love You, O Lord,
The first time I read this verse I missed one simple word that changes everything.
Will.
I will love you.
That’s different.
Just this morning my sweet littlest child told me he loved me. In fact, he loved me super duper much. And my heart melted. Like it does every time.
I am not sure, however, that I would have had the same reaction if he would have said “Mommy, I will loveyou.”
You will? Like, when?
This whole passage is future. You will do this, and I will do this.
And that is so good. You may not feel it now. But take hope. God is going to deliver you, and you will love him.
my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
We all need supernatural strength. All of us. For different reasons. But none of us can do it on our own. If you think you are doing fine on your own, I guarantee you the people around you might beg to disagree. But this is the good news. He is our rock. Our strength. In whom I will trust. 
My God, my strength, when I blow it again.
My God, my strength, when my will is weak. 
My God, my strength, when the answer isn’t clear.
My God, my strength, when my doubts are overwhelming.
My God, my strength, in WHOM I WILL TRUST!

My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I will call upon the
Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.
Prayer.
The action is simple, but the result is profound.
I will be saved from my enemies.
We all have enemies. Can you think of any?
No, not your boss. Not your ex. Not your (fill in the blank.) Don’t be confused. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. Sometimes we can feel like people are against us. But the Bible tells us in Ephesians 6 that our battle is not against flesh and blood. This is the most exciting news. If we can remember that, we are so home free. The devil’s best offense is to set us against each other.  You see, we cannot change people. We try. We manipulate. We punish. We conspire to get people to change their offensive ways but all to no avail. Here is the good news though. Despite what you may have been told, you CAN change people. Namely, but not limited to, yourself. Prayer changes everything. And everyone. Can you change someone by nagging? Not likely. With passive aggressive behavior? Doubtful. On your knees with humbled prayers ? Oh yes! But be forewarned, if you truly spend time on your knees with a humbled heart, the person that will be changed the most is you!
So shall I be saved from my enemies? Yes, because oftentimes, our greatest enemy is our own self.
 
Ok, now read the next part slowly, and drink it in because it is so good. And it is all for YOU!!

For You will light my lamp;
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
29 For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God I can leap over a wall.
30 As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He isa shield to all who trust in Him.

31 For who is God, except the Lord?
And who isa rock, except our God?
32 It is God who arms me with strength,
And makes my way perfect.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of deer,
And sets me on my high places.
34 He teaches my hands to make war,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

35 You have also given me the shield of Your salvation;
Your right hand has held me up,
Your gentleness has made me great.
36 You enlarged my path under me,
So my feet did not slip.

The Lord lives!
Blessed be my Rock!
Let the God of my salvation be exalted.
That portion needs no commentary, but it probably needs to be read again. Slowly.
FOR BY YOU, I can leap over a wall!!
THE WORD OF GOD IS PROVEN!!
HE IS A SHIELD TO ALL WHO TRUST HIM!
IT IS GOD WHO ARMS ME WITH STRENGTH!
Alright that’s it. This one is going on the wall. I just love it!! Who is God, except the Lord? Not me, that is for sure! His gentleness has made me great! Let Him enlighten your darkness!
This time, this season, although it brings great joy, for some, it actually brings great pain. My prayers are with you. My heart is holding you up. I bear these burdens with you and bring you before my God. I pray that you would feel His support, that you would feel His right hand holding you up, and that your feet would not slip. This is a great time of year to meditate on a verse that can hold you up and this passage is full of great ones. Choose one, write it down, hang it up and hold on to it.
The Word of God is proven!!  

And tell someone! Allow them to bear your burdens, share in your story, and be Jesus’ arms around you.
What verse do are you needing to meditate on? Tell us in the comments 🙂
My verse,hands down, is “My God My Strength.”  Because I blow it a lot. Like even moments after typing “Publish” on this blog. And I need to know that it is His strength, not mine. And He is proven! Amen!!