Saturday, December 27, 2014

When We Face Raging Rivers

Raging rivers come in all sizes and dimensions. 
Some are called “financial ruin”.
Some call them “divorce”.
Others use the name “dreaded illness”.
Some face the waters of depression.

What do you face?

My thought for you is a simple one really.  When you and I face the raging rivers that come our way, it is good to remember these words to a very simple, very profound chorus we sometimes hear in church.

Got any rivers you think are uncrossable
Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through
God specializes in things thought impossible
And he can do what no other power can do

In Isaiah 59:1 we find this:

“Surely the arm of God
is not too short to save,
and His hearing is as good as ever.
(PMB paraphrase)

Need more?

We have just come through the Christmas season.  It is good to remember the words of the angel of God when He comes to Mary and tells her she is the chosen one to deliver God’s Son to this world. 

“For with God nothing is impossible.”
Luke 1:37

Let’s go back in time to when the children of Israel were wandering around in the dessert.  They came to the waters of the Red Sea.  The Egyptians were close at hand.  There appeared to be no way out. 

God stepped in.  He caused a strong East wind to blow all night long and made a path in the middle of the ocean, and the children of Israel crossed on dry ground.

Moses said this to his troops: 

Got the picture? 

God specializes in the impossible situations. 

He doesn't always do things our way, yet He gets the job done.

As our little chorus says:  “He can do what no other power can do”

What does your raging river look like?
Is your mountain looming large?

Hang on!  God is already working on that.

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Where Hope Meets Fear

If we read the newspapers and watch the news, we find enough wrong with this world to throw us into a fit of fears to last a lifetime.

We fear beheadings, invasion from evil empires, the ultimate monetary crash of all crashes, rising taxes, shrinking income and rising prices at every turn.  We do have more than a few fears with which to ponder, don’t we?

And then along comes Christmas – the season of hope, joy, and peace on earth good will to mankind. 

Perhaps we ask the obvious question:  Where is hope and peace to be found?

It is in the manger in Bethlehem.  The heart of the message of hope is found in one key phrase in the carol O Little Town of Bethlehem.

The hopes and fears of all the years
are met in thee tonight.

Even in the days before Christ’s birth, oppression ran rampant, economic conditions were at a low ebb.  People were discouraged.  They had fears.  They needed hope. 

Sounds familiar doesn't it? 

Note the phrase “of all the years.”  Those years reach all the way to where you and I sit today.  God’s plan was not only for the present day Bethlehem.  It included Seattle, Des Moines, Selma, Nashville, Rochester, Baltimore, Albuquerque, Berlin, Baghdad, Dubai, Paris, Bombay, Hong Kong, and all other points east, west, north and south.

The fears we face today, this very moment, are met in the birth of Christ.

To borrow another phrase from a great Christmas song – O Holy Night:

He knows our need,
our weakness is no stranger.

My message of hope is simple – We are right in the middle of God’s eyesight.  He knows everything that is going on at this moment in every corner of our world.  He hears the cries of the oppressed, the downcast, the imprisoned, the hungry and lonely, and the discouraged and depressed soul.

Psalm 121:4 reminds us of this: 

“He who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.”

That reminds me of the great phrase in I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead nor doeth He sleep

In the middle of the chaos of our world, take heart my friend.

God really does have it all under His control.

Be encouraged and Merry Christmas!

And now, a musical moment on this beloved carol.

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Saturday, December 13, 2014

What the Bells Say

Perhaps you need a word of hope this Christmas season.  If you do, keep reading.

From the Christmas carol I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, we find this phrase.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead nor doeth He sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men

Sit with that for a few minutes.  Some in our world might sing a doomsday song. 
Some paint a bleak picture.
Debt on every hand
Dissonance at every turn

However …

However, these words ring out loud and clear.

God is not dead, nor doeth He sleep

This gives me amazing comfort.
This gives you and me tremendous hope.

God is on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days each week.  How about that?

Is the world going to hell in a hand-basket?

Not on His watch.

God is real, alive and in control.  He doesn’t even take Sunday afternoon naps.

Simple message?

You bet.

Take heart.  God is watching over you and me, and He has the whole wide world in His hands!

Please take a few minutes and listen to this marvelous recording.

 Merry Christmas!

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Man and the Birds

(This story is based in part on the version as told by Paul Harvey.  I have cherished this story for many years and hope it is an enriching experience for you as well.)

We do not know the creator of this wonderful story, but our gratitude abounds for his or her contribution to our understanding of the essence of Christmas.

THE Christmas story, the “God born a man in a manger” version simply escapes some people.  Perhaps they seek complex answers to their questions, and this one is really very simple.  So for the cynics and the skeptics, and the unconvinced, I submit this modern parable.

I want you to meet our main player in this story.  He was not a Scrooge – he was a kind and descent man.  Some would say he was a good man.  He was generous with his family, fair in all of his dealings with other men, yet he just did not believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmastime.  It just didn’t make sense, and he was too honest to pretend otherwise.  He just couldn’t swallow the Jesus story, about God coming to earth as a man. 

Christmas Eve came and his wife and family were preparing to go to the nearby Christmas Eve church service. 

I’m truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, “but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas Eve.”  He said he would feel like a hypocrite.  He would much rather stay home, but he would wait up for them.   So he stayed and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away, snow began to fall.  He went to the large landscape window and watched the flurries get heavier and heavier, and then went back to his fireside chair to read his newspaper. 

Minutes later, he was startled by a thudding sound, and then another.  At first he thought perhaps some kids were throwing snowballs against his living room window, but when he went to investigate, he found a flock of birds

huddled miserably in the snow.  They had been caught in the storm and in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window. 

Well, he couldn’t let the poor creatures lie there in the snow and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony6.  That would provide a warm shelter, if only he could direct the birds to it.

Quickly he put on his coat and goulashes and tramped through the deepening snow to the barn.  He opened the doors wide and turned on the light, but the birds did not come in.  He figured food would entice them so he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs and sprinkled them in the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted, open doorway of the stable, but to his dismay the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow.

He tried catching them; he tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them and waving his arms.  Instead they scattered in every direction, except into the warm lighted barn, and then he realized that they were afraid of him.

“To them,” he reasoned, “I am a strange and terrifying creature.  If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me.  I’m not trying to hurt them.  I’m trying to help them.  But how?”

Any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them.  They just would not follow.  They would not be lead, or directed because they feared him.  ]

“If only I could be a bird,” he thought to himself, “and mingle with them and speak their language, then I could tell them not to be afraid.  ‘Then I could show them the way to the safe, warm … to the safe, warm barn.  But I would have to become one of them so they could see and hear and understand.

At that moment the church bells began to ring.  Their sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind and he stood there listening to the bells ringing out – “O Come Let Us Adore Him” – and as the bells rang out the glad tidings of Christmas, he sank to his knees in the snow. 

Here is the perfect song to capture the heart of this story, 

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time