Did you miss it?

Each year it seems that the Christmas decorations go up and sales begin earlier and earlier. Summer is barely in full-swing and we are thinking about Christmas. I believe it was early July when I noticed the first Christmas items appear in a local store, giving shoppers a full six months to get all their shopping and decorating completed in plenty of time for Christmas. Decorations go up and Christmas music plays in stores and on the radio. TV commercials advertise items that we simply must have.

The recent trend is for the spectacular Black Friday sales to begin a week or so prior to Thanksgiving, and many stores are open on Thanksgiving Day. And, many stores are open on Christmas Day, so people do their “last minute” shopping, or spend money they received as gifts. The after-Christmas sales, lasting through around Valentine’s Day, give you the opportunity to purchase decorations for next year at greatly reduced prices. So basically, the Christmas retail season lasts eight months.

Amazingly, the extended shopping time-frame does not seem to have an affect on the busy-ness and frenzy that has become Christmas. There are decorations to unpack or purchase, so our homes and yards are well decorated. We begin shopping very early in the year for the best price on the items that those on our gift-giving list want. Endless phone calls, emails and text messages are exchanged in our attempt to get all of our family together at the same time and in the same place for our Christmas celebration. There are church, school, office, neighborhood and various organization programs and parties to attend, and the concomitant foods and goodies to prepare and share.

With all the hoopla surrounding Christmas decorating and shopping and football rivalry and championship games, we seem to have repurposed Thanksgiving.

Are you familiar with the term repurposed?

According to Merriam-Webster online, repurpose means “to change (something) so that it can be used for a different purpose.”

Sadly, Thanksgiving is no longer a day set aside to thank God for His bountiful gifts as the Pilgrim’s did, as our nation did in the past. Throughout our history, the United States of America has set aside national days for prayer, humbling ourselves before God, and giving thanks for His blessings and provision, and to ask for His continued blessings. Since 1942 that day has been the fourth Thursday of November.

… in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  I Thessalonians 5:18

We have repurposed Thanksgiving as the official starting line for the mad dash that we call Christmas.

Oftentimes, we skip over and miss our opportunity to give thanks to the Lord. Now, don’t misunderstand me. We are to give thanks to the Lord for everything in our lives, at all times, not just at Thanksgiving. But, Thanksgiving provides a unique opportunity to gather with family and friends to share with each other, and join together in giving thanks to Him.

As the crazy busy holiday season ramps up to warp speed, it is very easy to set aside your personal time in the Word of God. This holiday season, make your relationship with God your top priority.

Devotional for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year

If you don’t already have your copy of Glimpses of the Savior: 31 Meditations for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year get yours now!

This time of year we get busy preparing for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year, and all too often we forget the real meanings of these celebrations. As Christ-followers, we can guard against this by focusing our hearts on God’s Word.

Thanksgiving is a time to give God thanks; Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the Savior; the New Year brings new beginnings. This devotional book contains thirty meditations for that purpose. Begin using the book the week before Thanksgiving and it will carry you through into the New Year.

 

Faith to Survive: The Lee Lucas Story

This is a testimony to the mighty power of our Sovereign God!

Many of my friends walked alongside side our family in the hours, days, weeks, months, and years that followed my nephew, Lee Lucas’ burn injury.

Protective Life (where Lee worked at the time of the injury, and continues working now) made a video about the book he wrote. Grab your hankies and watch Faith to Survive: The Lee Lucas Story.

His book, The Struggle Within, is available at Amazon in print and Kindle versions.

 

Is your heart prepared for Christmas?

Thanksgiving is over, yet we should have a thankful heart 365 days a year. Now we begin thinking, is your heart prepared for Christmas?

It is only through the work of God that our hearts can be prepared for Christmas. We must ask Him to prepare our hearts to see Him in and through everything we encounter during this holiday season.

Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart;

Using Psalm 10:17 (above) and a devotional from Glimpses of the Savior by Shirley Crowder and Harriet E. Michael as our spring board for discussion, we will look at what Scripture tells us about how we can prepare our hearts to seek God—during the holidays and throughout the year!

ToTT logoLive-stream, listen, or watch at 2:00 PM Central.

Live-stream at: gleniris.net

Listen locally on WGIB 91.9 FM or:
92.3 FM – Springville
101.5 FM – Columbiana
106.1 FM – Moody / Odenville
106.1 FM – Jasper
107.9 FM – Tuscaloosa

Watch on WAY-TV Channel 40

Preparing for Thanksgiving

give-thanksDo you realize that Thanksgiving is less than a week away! I’m sure many of you have planned your Thanksgiving meal, and some of you may even be celebrating with your families this weekend. Most of us spend time planning the menu, and who all to invite for quite some time.

It’s sad that we don’t spend at least the same amount of time preparing our hearts for Thanksgiving, isn’t it? Join us today as we look to Scripture to focus our hearts on Thanksgiving.

ToTT logoLive-stream, listen, or watch at 2:00 PM Central.

Live-stream at: gleniris.net

Listen locally on WGIB 91.9 FM or:
92.3 FM – Springville
101.5 FM – Columbiana
106.1 FM – Moody / Odenville
106.1 FM – Jasper
107.9 FM – Tuscaloosa

Watch on WAY-TV Channel 40

 

 

Thanksgiving Day is Coming

Glimpses of the Savior FRONT cover“Thanksgiving Day is Coming” is a poem I heard my mom recite every November from the time I was very young. I have not found the author’s name anywhere. The poem is the exchange between a turkey and a pumpkin talking about becoming turkey dinner and pumpkin pie.

While we do not have to be concerned about becoming part of some family’s Thanksgiving dinner, we are often very busy with our regular responsibilities, and then add to that the concomitant responsibilities that come with our Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year preparations and celebrations.

This is a great time to get your copy of Glimpses of the Savior: 30 Meditations for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year that my Nigeria MK cousin and I co-authored.

These make great Christmas Gifts! The devotions begin the week before Thanksgiving and take you through the New Year.

Available on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, and in paperback from Amazon and most bookstores by request.

Dr. Howard Eyrich – Special In-Studio Guest

eyrich_picMARK YOUR CALENDARS!

You will not want to miss the next three Saturday’s (October 29, November 5 and November 12) episodes of “Think on These Things” programs with Dr. Howard Eyrich as our special in-studio guest.

Live-stream, listen, or watch at 2:00 PM Central.

Live-stream at: gleniris.net

Listen locally on WGIB 91.9 FM or:
92.3 FM – Springville
101.5 FM – Columbiana
106.1 FM – Moody / Odenville
106.1 FM – Jasper
107.9 FM – Tuscaloosa

Watch on WAY-TV Channel 40

 

 

 

A Blessed Woman

Yesterday, on my birthday, Psalm 34:3 kept running through my mind:

Proclaim with me the Lord’s greatness, let us exalt His name together.

I received so many birthday cards, emails, texts, phone calls, and FaceBook messages from so many family and friends. Some of those from whom I heard have known me my whole life, others I have just recently met. Yet, with each voice I heard or message and name I read, memories flooded my mind.

What do I remember from birthdays past? Presents? Well, a few of them, yes. However, the things I remember are the precious family and friends who have loved me year-round, and celebrated my birthday with me. So many have shared wonderfully fun times, and, have walked alongside me through myriad very difficult times.

In the wee hours of this morning, as I read back over my cards, emails, texts, and FB messages, and thought about my phone calls and those with whom I spent my birthday, another verse resonated in my heart:

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; (Philippians 1:3-6)

I’m looking forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for all of us in the coming year!

“Thanksgiving is the way to grow and learn, and become victorious in your life with Christ. ” – Lauri Bucci

Lauri Bucci
Lauri Bucci

Last week Lauri shared the story of her son, Daniel. This week we will talk about her health issues and how the Lord has worked in and through that situation and God’s people. Lauri Bucci joins us again via Skype as we continue our discussion on wht it means to be a disciple-maker, and how God uses evens and people in our lives to sanctify us.

Lauri is a committed Christ-follower whom I have had the privilege of ministering alongside for many years.

“Thanksgiving is the key to being a triumphant over-comer.
It is the way to grow and learn,
and become victorious in your life with Christ.”
-Lauri Bucci

Lauri and her husband, Fred, are active members of Cornerstone Community Church and serve as full-time biblical counselors with the Cornerstone Biblical Counseling Ministry. They also serve on the National Advisory Team of The Addiction Connection led by Dr. Mark Shaw, and Lauri serves as the Administrative Secretary for the ministry. Lauri and Fred have been happily married for 35 years and live in Mayfield Heights, Ohio with their daughter, Melissa.

Join us as we remain on the topic of “Women in Ministry” by continuing our journey through the book, Paul the Counselor: Counseling and Disciple-making Modeled by the Apostle, edited by Dr. Mark Shaw and Dr. Bill Hines. Chapter 11: “Paul and Women in Ministry” written by Ruth Froese and Shirley Crowder will be the springboard for our discussions.

Live-stream, listen, or watch at 2:00 p.m. Central.

Live-stream at: gleniris.net

Listen locally on WGIB 91.9 FM or:
92.3 FM – Springville
101.5 FM – Columbiana
106.1 FM – Moody / Odenville
106.1 FM – Jasper
107.9 FM – Tuscaloosa

Watch on WAY-TV Channel 47

I Can See, Hear, Smell, and Taste …

Paul & Lil-TimThis week marks the 30th anniversary of the deaths of my big brother Paul and nephew ‘Lil Tim. Rarely a day goes by that I do not think about both of them.

I shared my memories of that night and the next morning after the accident with my family and some close friends last year, and have expanded those to share with you.

That Saturday is one of those events in my life where I can STILL see, hear, smell, and taste, all the things that happened around me as the event unfolded.

I was at a hotel in Nashville, attending a Tennessee WMU Acteens Conference where I was to lead a seminar. I had already gone up to my room that evening when my mom’s brother, Uncle Bill Thomason who lived in Nashville, called me from the lobby of the hotel and asked me to come down.

As I made the trip down in the elevator, myriad questions flooded my mind: Why was he there? How did he know where I was? These questions were accompanied by a foreboding sense that something horrible had happened—someone had died.

I sat on the sofa as Uncle Bill began telling me the details about the train hitting Paul and ‘Lil Tim. I sat stunned, in silent disbelief, trying to process all that I was hearing. ‘Lil Tim, dead. Paul, seriously injured, will not live. Chas, cuts and bruises, but OK.

I can still see the tears trickling down my Uncle’s face as he gently and lovingly answered my question, “Are you sure you got this right? This is impossible!” I remember the scent of my Uncle’s cologne and remember the strength of his arms as he hugged me tightly. I remember hearing his gentle whispers, “It’s OK. I love you. You’re OK.” Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration” played in the background. I remember the smell of roses in a beautiful flower arrangement on a nearby table. I remember the taste of the salty tears I was crying. I remember seeing and hearing groups of people talking animatedly.

My friends, Carol Kelley and Sheryl Churchill, and all the WMU staff, were so thoughtful and helped care for me that night. I went up my room and called the ER waiting room to speak with my family. Paul had sustained serious injuries, yet at that time his heartbeat was still very strong. When the phone rang several hours later, I did not want to answer, because I knew it was my daddy calling to tell me that my big brother had also taken his last breath here on earth.

I remember sitting on the edge of the bed crying, trying make sense of it all. I remember talking to God and various Scripture passages running through my mind, mingling with the thoughts of disbelief, prayers, and yes, even anger.

Me: “God, I can’t do this.”
God: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities (weaknesses), that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV)

Me: “God the weight of this burden is unbearable!”
God: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

Needless to say it was a very long and restless night. I got a very early start the next morning, and went to my apartment to pack. As I chose a dress to wear for the visitation and funeral, I remember thinking that each time I wore the dress in the future, I would remember that I wore them for Paul and ‘Lil Tim’s funeral. I remember looking at the pictures on display throughout my apartment, studying the features of Paul and ‘Lil Tim’s faces as fond and bittersweet memories flooded my mind. I remember the coolness of the kitchen tile as I sat in the floor sobbing. I could hear Paul playing the guitar and singing. I could hear ‘Lil Tim’s infectious laugh.

I finally gathered everything I needed and began the trip from Nashville to Gadsden, which, although it was very familiar to me, this time it was a much-dreaded trip.

I dreaded the drive that morning because I did not want to face the reality of my brother and nephew’s deaths, and I did not want to be alone with my thoughts and emotions.

But guess what? I WAS NOT ALONE!

I sang hymns, and prayed, and poured my heart out to my Heavenly Father!

That day, I experienced in full the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding that will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV).

I miss my big brother Paul. He had a beautiful singing voice, played the guitar and numerous other musical instruments, wrote songs and poetry, could fix anything, had a wonderful sense of humor, lived life to the fullest, and loved his baby sister—OK, he loved his big sister and his little brother, too! Paul would be so proud of Chas, and would absolutely love being Mira’s granddaddy!

I miss ‘Lil Tim. He had a wonderful smile, he was always excited to see you and would run to you with open arms ready to be picked up and hugged, he loved to play ball with his big brother Chas and Grinnie (my mom), and run. I loved watching ‘Lil Tim and Chas play. I had them convinced that I could make the traffic lights turn red or green on command. I would say, “Light … turn … (pause)” and both the boys would start yelling “Now!” Finally I would say, “Now!” and the light would change. I wonder what he would be like today had he lived, and think about how he would dote on his niece, Mira, just like his Uncle “Big” Tim doted on him (and Chas).

There have been numerous events in my life—before and after Paul and ‘Lil Tim’s deaths—that I can still see, hear, smell and taste all the things happening around me as the event unfolded.

The constant in each of these events? The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirt!

In John 14:25-28, Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.”

What do you do when your world is turned upside down? Someone has said, “When your world is badly shaken, begin with what you know to be true and build from there.”

What did (and do) I know to be true? Something my friend, Dr. Bryan Chapell, said comes to mind. He said that the first theology lesson we all probably learned is: “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.”

In the midst of these “world turned upside down” moments, did I—and do I now—know that to be true? Absolutely!

What did I remember next?

We love Him because He first loved us (I John 4:19 NKJV). And then, God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8 ESV). And, The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; (Psalm 28:7 ESV).

How do we have the strength to carry on when things seem unbearable and totally out of our control?

First of all, we must come to a saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as we read in Romans 10:8-13:
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (NKJV)

Once we have become Christ followers what do we do?

Psalm 1:1-3 gives us an idea:
Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper. (NKJV)

Christ-followers are to be totally immersed in the Word of God, which, as the basis and preoccupation of our life bears fruit that is the result of living out (obeying) the Word of God. Some of the resultant blessings manifest as stick-to-it-iveness, steadiness, resiliency, and the ability to withstand whatever comes our way!

The job of the Comforter (Holy Spirit) is to “enlighten” darkened minds as He illuminates the Word of God in the hearts and mind of non-believers to bring them into relationship with Christ, and, in the hearts of believers in order for them to understand the Word of God, and to be strengthened and comforted by His presence within them.

In 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 we read:  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

When I was a GA (Girls in Action), I memorized Isaiah 46:4 which has stuck with me throughout the decades as a reminder of God’s love and protection, and, it has continually helped rekindled my Hope in the midst of difficult situations:

And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you. (NKJV)

I am so grateful that the Lord has been with me BEFORE, DURING, and SINCE March 1986.

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

AMEN!

 

Scripture references are from: New International Version (NIV) of the Holy Bible; New King James Version (NKJV