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I have sensitive feet. Whenever I go to the beach, I always wear sandals or shoes. I watch so many other people running around with bare feet and walking over sand and rocks and I can’t imagine.

But, the time to be extra careful when you have sensitive feet is if you are walking barefoot in the dark in your own home and you have grandchildren.

No matter how much they clean up and you clean up afterward, the random lego or piece of some farm house or something is going to jump out and you are going to step on it. Go into the kitchen in the middle of the night for a drink of water and you might get… Ouch!!

Walking in the dark can be dangerous.

But, no matter how careful you are, you can get hurt walking in darkness.

The Bible talks about walking in darkness.  Especially comparing walking in darkness to not walking with God.

Take Proverbs 4.

The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,

which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.

But the way of the wicked is like total darkness.

They have no idea what they are stumbling over.

When we aren’t follow God’s ways, it is an invitation to stumble along a lot in life.  And you can get hurt along the way.

But, there is something else that can happen when you walk in the darkness.

You can get lost.

I was recently camping with Greg up in Yosemite. We hiked North Dome. I had never been to this campground before and for one thing, there are no lights at night. So, when I have to go to the bathroom it is wise to bring a flashlight. I didn’t need no stinking flashlight! I found the bathroom, but when I set out back to our campsite, of course I go the wrong way. I end up wandering in the complete opposite direction into some other campsites in the middle of the night.

When you walk in darkness, you can get lost. Like the familiar passage from Isaiah 9 says,

The people who walk in darkness

will see a great light.

For those who live in a land of deep darkness,

a light will shine.

Yes, when you aren’t following God’s ways you can get hurt and you can get lost.

This is why God uses a pillar a fire to guide the Israelites in the wilderness. This is why my Yosemite salvation is similar.  NEXT SLIDE

I am saved because Greg loves fire, and I so I just stopped, and looked for the brightest campfire. Sure enough, the campfire above all campfires leads me home. Greg builds a beacon!

Here he is he just preparing for the evening.

This time I learned two things.

One is, you can get lost walking in the darkness. Follow the light.

The second thing I leaned is the next time I had to go, the forest behind the tent is just fine.

But, you can get hurt walking in the dark and you can get lost.

ME

When have you had a problem with darkness?

Quiet Christmas

Thursday Evenings 6-6:30 p.m.

beginning November 30

It is helpful for us to have times of quiet and shalom where our minds, bodies and spirits experience soothing refreshment. Since ancient times, Christians have set apart just such times to gather together around prayer, God’s Word and….quiet.

In our world today, the busiest time of the year is probably the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We call this time the Advent season. No better time to rediscover what our ancient brothers and sisters knew as “soul care.”

We will gather from 6-6:30 p.m. in the Fireside Room, where we will enjoy a real fire, along with a symbolic, theme-based fire for each week.  For this time of quiet and refreshment, we will use prayers from ancient Celtic tradition and modern times, along with the prayers of our own hearts. Each week we will leave space for individual healing prayer.

Why not let God “restore your soul” this Christmas season?

November 30 Breath

December 7 Light

December 14 Grace

December 21 Birth

(More insight from Dr. Jim Wilder on holiday blues and what can be done. Read the prior posts)

God designs ways that make it possible to join with him and make progress in addressing attachment pain. For instance, if you are missing someone, try doing the things you think they would want to do during the holiday. Fir example, if grandma has died, bake her favorite cookies. Decorate like she would decorate.

Remember, all good attachments are an expression of God’s love to us. As I receive the love of God, I can become the love of God for others, and I can carry on the love and goodness that God placed in that person, the one I miss so much, even if they are no longer here. When I share the love and joy they shared, they are here.

Whatever was good about them can be shared by me.

And when your dreams don’t come true with some of those around you who aren’t glad to be with you, take that to God. Ask him. God you made me. How are you dreaming for me, God? Who do you want me to be? Who do I want to be? Listen to how he answers. Get a sense of what he might be saying.

Now, if you are being physically hurt or damaged you will need to remove yourself from the relationship for any healing to occur.

But, if it is just an unhappy relationship, it is mainly because you are not being the person you really like to be.

Just be who you are. Your best true self. Go back to acting like the person you would be if you were loved and cared for. How would you act if you were treated like you want to be treated?

Be that person. Go ahead and act like yourself.

Oh, and one more thing. If your pain isn’t too overwhelming, then what if your dream is to start joy in low joy places? That is God’s dream for every one of us. Grace is when God puts his people in the middle of the parts of the world that could use extra joy.

If our dream is to show up in some low joy places where we bring a bit of joy to the world, there’s a chance to grow joy in a way that people don’t really ever dream of. And when you think about it, some of the people we admire most are those who bring joy in low joy places…

ME

When we act like we would act if we were treated like we want to be treated, how might that change the way others see us?

Is there going to be somebody missing this holiday season?

Are there people who will not be glad to see you?

Are there people you won’t be glad to see?

Using some helpful insights from neuroscientist and theologian Dr. Jim Wilder, I look at why we may have difficulties with holiday times, “Blue” Christmas and such, and what can be done about it.
Can we be a joy to the world?

God Time: Joy To The World?

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Matthew 2

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. “Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and his mother. But when he learned that the new ruler of Judea was Herod’s son Archelaus, he was afraid to go there. 

Joseph continues to be guided by God in his dreams. Normally we hear from God through the scriptures, hearing the word taught and preached, through study, and through our own prayer life. God’s main way to speak to us is in our thoughts.

Why is it different with Joseph? Well, we don’t need to assume he is not hearing from God on a regular basis. Undoubtedly he is because he is a faithful man. But, there are some things Joseph needs to know that he can know no other way. If the holy family is isolated in Egypt, how else are they going to get news concerning Herod?

So they return to Judea. In other words to Bethlehem which is in Judea. It seems they won’t be going back to Nazareth after all. Except that Joseph hears Herod’s son is now ruler. Jesus is still in danger! Now what do they do?

It is a father’s place to support and protect his family. Joseph is such a great example of this. But his heroism doesn’t come from his great strength or wisdom. The reason Joseph is such a strong father is he has a strong father. God his Father. The human Jesus is protected by his human father who is protected by his heavenly Father. This is the most important thing fathers can do in the lives of their children. Be a model of trust and openness to God.

ME

Who has been an important man in your life?