2009 to 2010 He Still Loves Us

2009 is over. Thank God. Most of us are saying that because the year brought economic downturn, unemployment, political instability, government gone crazy, people gone crazy…just to name a few. Speaking of crazy, I think all of that’s a good thing..a God thing…signs He still loves us.

There can be no question that God loves Israel. The Jews are His chosen people. Sometimes, they wished they weren’t. God disciplines those He loves. He doesn’t tolerate it when His loved ones focus on anything other than Him. When one of His begins to rely on anything more than Him, He takes that thing away. Can there be any question that we have relied too much on money? Have we not over relied on our government? Have we not relied on the concept that our country is special? Hasn’t He made it clear that all that reliance was misplaced?

It’s painful to be disciplined. Discipline is a bad word now. We have come to believe that love can not include discipline; when the Word teaches that discipline is the evidence of love.

How have we handled this discipline? Generally, not well. We’ve pointed fingers of blame for the problems of the economy and the government. Even when we’ve seen God in all this; we’ve either generalized the response…The Nation Needs to Get Back to God; while not getting back to Him individually. Or we’ve called for repentance, not to be secure in Him again, but to get back our security blankets of money and a Government We can believe in.

We’ve not handled the discipline well. We have awaited the return of the goodies He’s taken away: Our Money and our Country. Consider they may not be coming back. He wants all things to be new. A new reliance on Him and not the reliances of the past. But that’s scary. And most of us are acting scared. The truth is He loves us and He promises:

You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the LORD will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind. Isaiah 52:12.

The old reliances left us in 2009. Let’s step forward with excitement with our reliance where it belongs. Let us let the God of Israel, not money or government, be our reward.

Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.

Be blessed.

Nick

Note for the careful reader: I have borrowed extensively today from Oswald Chambers and the devotional for today from MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST. That’s the plan for 2010. I hope it helps. I won’t point it out each day; but you’ll know.

Happy New Year’s from 1969

Christmas vacation 1969 was the most exciting ever. At least it changed my life forever. 1969 was an eventful year. Nixon was elected President and Armstrong walked on the moon. It was a big year for me. I had joined the Navy in October 1968. The Vietnam war was raging and I had suffered through three majors in three semesters at USL. The draft was alive and well and the Navy sounded better than the Army (or, Dad forgive me, the Marines). I was in electronics school in California after boot camp and in October 1969 I was home in Lafayette on leave on my way to a computer school in Maryland. My sister Pat had a friend Donnah who had a sister named Rosemary and we were introduced. I don’t think we said more than a couple of words to each other. After my eight week school was over I returned to Lafayette, this time on Christmas leave, on my way to still more computer schooling in Biloxi. (Remember I had joined the Navy because I was sick of school.) While in Maryland I had no vehicle and nothing to spend money on so for Christmas 1969, I had two months of pay in my pocket and was bored. My sister suggested I call Rosemary. I said “Who?” In short, I called and Rosemary and I saw each other every day for the next ten days. On New Year’s Eve I went to pick her up. She was all dressed up to go out. I was in jeans. We didn’t go out that night. We just talked. About midnight I realized that my wonderful Christmas vacation was about over. I didn’t want it to end. So I asked Rosemary to marry me. After 10 days of dating she said “Yes.” We were married May 9, 1970, just before moving to California. For a little more school.

This will be the 41st New Year’s Eve we don’t go out. It’s now a tradition. We tell people we don’t go out on New Year’s Eve because we didn’t go out that first year. In truth, we spend it together (except one year I was in Vietnam.) We know we will never top New Year’s Eve 1969. This New Year’s Eve Nicky and Samantha may come over. We promised them a sleep over during the Christmas holidays and the holiday are almost over. We may set off some fireworks. Have some hot chocolate. Who knows. I know we won’t go out. But we will remember the most exciting Christmas/New Year’s ever and 40 years of being blessed.

Happy New Year and

Be blessed.

Nick

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me – Philippians 4:13

The self-assessment we discussed yesterday takes the Christian down a different path. For me, Philippians 4:13 says it all. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
If we consider this verse carefully, the New Year’s Resolution process can be life changing.
1. The corollary to “I can do all things through Christ” is that “I can do nothing on my own.” It took me a long time to realize this truth and, even now, it keeps slipping away. Things will start going well and suddenly I believe I’m the reason and I try to grab the steering wheel from Jesus, with tragic results. Face it. You can do nothing. Stop trying. It might be easier to take if we consider it this way. I can do no GOOD thing on my own. After all, do you really want to do things that aren’t good?
2. The secret is to do things through Christ. We sometimes look at Philippians 4:13 as a super vitamin pill. When times get rough and my agenda isn’t working out, I just take a Jesus pill and get strength to do what I want. It just doesn’t work that way. The only way we can do all things is THROUGH CHRIST. Maybe better put: “in Christ.” For me that means, turning control over to Him. We give up our agenda. (Face it. It ain’t working anyway.” And take up His. We move from God as our co-pilot to God as our Pilot.
3. He strengthens me. This concept is not like the federal government. We don’t just take up a comfortable position on our couch, confident that Uncle Jesus will do it. No, we actually do things, strengthen by Christ, we do the things he would have us to do. We move from “God help me do this.” to “God what should I do?” and then strengthened by Him we do it.

So as you’re doing your end of the year assessment and you notice how messed up you are (I am assuming you’re like me.) Recognize there is much to do… too much.. you can’t do it. Admit that to yourself and acknowledge it to Him. Then just say. What would You have me do? He’ll tell you and He’ll do it through you. And you will…

Be blessed.

Getting a Baseline

Most people with financial problems don’t know how much money they owe. Most with weight problems don’t know their current weight. On Sunday Pastor T encouraged us to consider our personal development for 2010. He discussed goals and dreams and some of the tools we might use to achieve them.
The first step in this process, however, is assessment, sometimes called “getting a baseline.”  We really need to completely understand where we are, before we can decide where we want to be.
You can do an excellent health assessment at the Mayo Clinic web site.
Dave Ramsey can help with a financial assessment and goal setting. 
Rick Warren has a nice tool for spiritual assessment.

We have a few days before New Year’s. Why not do a bit of self-examination? You may find the tools cited above helpful. The most important thing is to spend some quiet time with God and ask Him what you need to work on this year. If you are like me, going through assessment tools points out so many areas that need work that I tend to be overwhelmed and end up frustrated and do nothing. We all need a little help in prioritizing the things in our life that need fixing. God is up to the job.

Take a look at your life…after the initial jolt of reality..and some direction from above,  you will be blessed.

Nick

It’s Complicated

Rosemary and I have a tradition of going to a movie on, or close to Christmas Day. Based on the crowds we ran into yesterday while carrying out that tradition, we are not the only ones. We saw “It’s Complicated” because Rosemary likes Meryl Streep and I like Rosemary. It was an entertaining movie.  As the New York Times review puts it: “Ms. Streep plays Jane Adler, a successful restaurateur who’s about to nest happily alone in an upscale Southern California coastal community, or so it seems. Divorced with three adult children who enjoy her company (the middle one is just moving out), Jane lives in a large house on a lush sprawl surrounded by trees and no visible neighbors. It’s such a bucolic vision you half expect a few deer, a couple of bunnies and the bluebird of happiness to swing by for a visit and a quick song.”

In short, this idyllic situation is disrupted because  Jane has an affair with her ex-husband who is remarried to a younger woman. The movie is intended to be light and heart-warming, which it is; but it is also a sad reminder of the long lasting pain of divorce.

It also reminded me of what life is like without Christ. All of the characters are “successful” or well on their way toward success. The principal characters are about my age and so I can relate to the “looking back” and the “what if” perspective. It comes with the territory.

There are certainly things I would have done differently in my 60 years and many I could have done better. But, for me,  there is no haunting sense of loss that the the characters in “It’s Complicated,” and much of the world, experiences.We are created to serve God and it’s His desire for us that we be born again as His Children through the sacrifice of His Son.  Any other path is doomed to “complications.”

The Meryl Streep character is told by her friends that she  “deserves” the fun of an affair, because she’s never done anything bad in her life. It seems she’s pour her life into her career and her children. And, relatively speaking, that’s not bad. But that’s also not the standard. Of course, the affair leads to complications in Jane’s life with her children and her blossoming new relationship.  Her years of psychotherapy won’t do for Jane what walking with Christ would. Those of us blessed with a relationship with Him rest in his forgiveness and move in His will for us. We don’t dwell on the mistakes of the past and don’t drown in a a sea of regret.

It ain’t complicated at all.  It’s just heavenly.

Be blessed.

Christmas – The Morning After

It was a great Christmas. It began with a great Christmas Eve Eve Celebration. Every year on the 23rd of December the descendants of my parents gather. Since I am the oldest of nine children with whom God blessed Rene and Mary Lou Sigur, the gathering is large. This year was the first time I took responsibility for the organization of the event. I gained great respect for my sisters who have taken that role for years.

For the first time, we ended the gathering with a Christmas service with readings, music and a meditation. The service was well-received and I hope it will be the commencement of a new tradition.

My Dad died this year and he was a great fan of John Wayne. You need to know this if you view pictures of the event. I posted those earlier this morning.

Our Christmas day was also great. Perhaps the best ever. We were blessed with thoughtful gifts, great fellowship and fabulous food. Some pics of that are to be posted as well.

There was one bittersweet element. My granddaughter and her child, Kaydence, live with us. Well, Kaydence lives with us for three weeks and then stays with her father for three weeks. Christmas evening her dad picked her up for her three week visit. He is a great dad and she was excited to see him. But the fact of her leaving brought tears to my eyes. I stood at the sink washing Christmas dishes and crying like a baby.

Christmas is a time to enjoy and appreciate those we love. I sure appreciate my great family and this morning… tearing up again… especially my Kaydence.

Be blessed.