Christmas 2016

I wrote the following as a submission for a published devotional.  My submission wasn’t chosen, but maybe it will bless someone — Christmas, 2016.

It touches every one of us.  It blares across the headlines in the news and plays out across our country and world.  It also comes to every one of us personally.  It may come as sickness.  Or betrayal.  It may come as sadness.  Loneliness.  Pain.  Death.  This. The darkness of sin’s consequences.

And it doesn’t just touch our lives through the pain and destruction wrought by others upon us.  If we are honest we must admit that this sin lives in me and you.  That we create darkness through the consequences of our sins.

“The way of the wicked is like deep darkness.”  (Prov. 4:19.)  “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to Him but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  (Romans 1:21).  “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.”  (Romans 7:14).  “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”  (John 8:34).

Yet, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”  (Isaiah 9:2).  This is what we celebrate today.  A great light.

“In the beginning … God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Gen.1:1).  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”  (John 1:1, 4-5).  “Jesus spoke again … he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”  (John 8:12.)

We celebrate today that the light of life came as a tiny baby.  To our weary, dark land.  We celebrate because the light of life has invited us to follow Him – because He has offered to quench the darkness within our souls with His light.

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6).  And so, “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”  (1 Peter 2: 9).  “You are the light of the world…Let your light shine so that all men may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  (Matt. 5:14, 16).

And so, friends, let it be light!  In my life.  In yours.  Here on earth.  Joy to the world, the Lord is come!


I had the misfortune of listening to much of the second presidential debate on Sunday.  Although Kagan keeps abreast of current affairs, I diligently avoid them.  I was sickened, distraught and angry. Then, worried.  (I literally had visions of myself and our family trying to find food, shelter and warmth in the middle of winter in a post nuclear blast landscape.  My babies!  I’m not equipped to take care of my babies in a post-apocalyptic world!).

In short, I became burdened by the state of affairs of our country.  Not only by the national spectacle that is the race for President, but also by the moral degradation that has gotten us here.  In talking with a friend, I realized what I’d been doing.  I’d been taking the burden of national affairs upon my shoulders.  So, I surrendered it back to God.  I realize how silly that sounds.  I, Becky, have no responsibility for the behavior of the presidential hopefuls.  I have no control over who wins or loses (yes, I will vote, but really, out here with our meager college electoral votes, we don’t count).  But, I was taking responsibility for it.  Ownership of it. 
Over the last few days, the Holy Spirit has been reminding me of how worry is really a symptom of pride in my life.  Arrogance that I can change something by worrying.  Too, He reminds me, worry is lack of faith.  Lack of trust in God.  
He has been reminding me to do what I can and have faith that He will take care of the rest.  And He is good.  So, friend, I offer these beautiful verses as a reminder of who has called you and the living hope that He gives despite the situation you may be facing.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.  (Matt. 11:28-30).  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing,s why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the lilies grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the filed, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!  (Luke 12:25, 28).  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  (2 Cor. 10:5).  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – (1 Peter 1:3-4) – Therefore, prepare your minds for action: be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  (1 Peter 1:13) For you know that is was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.  He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.  Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.  (1 Peter 1:18-21).  And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to His purpose.  (Romans 8:28).   

Resolved for 2011

Holy moly, is it already twenty-eleven?!?

Some people are big into New Year’s Resolutions, and some people scoff at them. I am not ‘big’ into New Year’s resolutions, but I do like the concept of taking time every year to reflect on how the past year went, what I think I did well, what I want to do better and then make a conscious effort to do a certain number of things better than I did the year before.

One way I’ve done this in the past is to categorize my life and evaluate, like this:

1. How did I do as a Christian this year? What was my overall attitude like? What struggles did I encounter? What did I do well? — Why do I think I had these struggles/successes?
2. How did I do as a wife this year? What struggles did I have? What did I do well? — Why do I think I had these struggles/successes?
3. How did I do as a mom this year? What struggles did I have? What did I do well? — Why do I think I had these struggles/successes?

This year I’ve had a particularly good chance to reflect because I’ve had a lot of time on my hands. And, maybe the Lord was working me up to big reflection, because as I thought about a lot of the Bible verses that had been standing out to me in the last several months, they were all along similar lines:

You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted with its deceitful desires; to be made new by the attitude of your minds and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:23-24.)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for the building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29).

Be careful then, how you live, not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is…Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:15-17, 19-20).

The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. (Ephesians 4:7-10).

For this very reason make every effort to add to your faith, goodness and to goodness, knowledge and to knowledge, self control and to self control perseverance and to perseverance godliness and to godliness, brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:4-8).

Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him. This is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2).

I have been a Christian for all of my adult life. I grew up in the Church, going to Sunday School, listening to sermons. I have made it my business to really study the Bible. I’ve participated in a lot of Bible studies.

I did well in school, top of my class. High school. College. Law school.

Not only that, but law school teaches, not the law, but how to think. How to analyze a ‘text’, what questions to ask, how to draw logical conclusions … It’s nerdy to say, but I found that the ‘thinking’ tools taught in law school, in many ways, mirrored the way I had been studying the Bible since high school. I attended a Bible study full of law students in law school and LOVED IT because we were all on the same page about analyzing the scripture.

Where I’m going with this is that, for all my education and study, I have trouble where the rubber meets the road. As in, acting on all this head-knowledge and pretty good theology I’ve got going on.

I get busy with my life. I hurry. I have a family to take care of, a mortgage to help pay, student loans, career goals. Impatience issues. A critical nature … Well. If you’d like a more exhaustive list, let me know and I can oblige.

Most years my past New Year’s resolutions have been along the lines of: “I’ve been too busy to spend time reading the Bible and praying, so I’m resolving to adhere to this Bible reading guide and praying.” Where I’m at right now, though, I think my resolutions need to be more about action and less about study and self-reflection. Not that study and self-reflection are not worthy New Year’s resolutions – I am finding that they are probably not what I need to resolve for this year.

And herein lies a dilemma. How do I ‘make the most of every opportunity,’ ‘use the gift/s the Lord has given me to administer his grace,’ ‘add to my faith, goodness … etc’, ‘offer my body as a living sacrifice’?

More practically, how do I do these things when I’m expecting my second baby soon and I just KNOW things are going to get really sleep-deprived and hairy?

That’s what I’ve been mulling over. And last week I read this book my friend Ruhiyyih sent me recently called Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson. Mark asks some good questions and poses some good challenges in this book and says, in one of his opening chapters (further convincing me that my resolutions need physical action outside my own personal quiet time) that we American Christians needs to step out of our pews and DO something.

I know that when I resolve to do something this year, I can’t resolve to do anything herculean. Realistically, I’m going to have a bleary, busy year. BUT, I can resolve a few small things that will help me, hopefully, put feet to my faith. Here’s what I came up with:

1. Consciously try to take time with people.
2. Encourage at least 1 person per week – person and encouragement means t.b.d. on a weekly basis.

So … are you a New Year’s resolution person? Are you making any for 2011?