I Am the 70%…and 78%

Rasmussen released a poll a few days ago showing for the 3rd year in a row, Americans prefer “Merry Christmas” as opposed to “Happy Holidays”, this year by 70%.    A separate poll earlier in 2011 by this same organization revealed that 78% of Americans believe Jesus Christ was the Son of God.  Obviously, there is no way to tell how much overlap exists between the 70% and the 78%.  But would it be reasonable to assume that most people professing belief in Jesus as the Son of God prefer to acknowledge the birth of Christ as the Reason for this Season as opposed to merely wishing someone benign holiday sentiments?  I’m a bit curious about that 8% difference though.

Yesterday while waiting in my favorite line at Wal-Mart…the “20 items or less” {fewer} line, I counted 5 shoppers in front of me and 4 more behind me.  At the front of what should have been an express line, the cashier stood motionless waiting helplessly on a shopper who sent her son back to the far reaches of the store to retrieve one forgotten item.  As people became increasingly disgruntled by what most considered a selfish delay, I decided to break into song.

“JOY to the World, the Lord has come…everybody join in…”  The response surprised me.  Shoppers waiting with me in line initially turned to see who the crazy woman was.  In a flash of comic relief…or I prefer to think of it as Christmas Cheer…they decided to sing along.  In mere moments, tension and frustration dissolved into festive self-amusement as several off-pitch enthusiasts joined in singing, “Let every heart prepare Him room and heaven and Wal-Mart sing, and heaven and Wal-mart sing, and heaven & heaven and Wal-Mart sing…”  Applause and laughter followed.

When finally my turn came to check out, the grateful cashier enthusiastically greeted me.  “Happy Holidays…and Merry Christmas,” she said smiling, as if somehow she knew I am in the 70%…and the 78%.

JOY to the World, the LORD has come!



Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord…

Stillness does not come easy for me.  I find myself in another season of waiting, this time for a phone call from my physician. My mind is full of jumbled thoughts.  In the grips of apprehension escape to find time alone with the Lord becomes a priority.

Less than a quarter mile north of Roosevelt National Forest on Hwy 34 E lies a piece of real estate heaven called Dripping Springs Inn.  Without question the entire Estes Park, CO, area is extraordinarily scenic.  Yet something about this particular mountain retreat calls my heart to return again and again when solitude is beckoning. 

Dripping Springs is a quaint collection of small cottages and a B & B snuggled up to the Big Thompson River. Arriving  at the break of dawn, this place is as sleepy as I am. 

I’ve been coming here for years and it has never appeared more inviting.  Only a few short steps down a concrete stairway and I am immersed in woods.  A small walking trail outlined by rocks on each side follows the river.

Fire pits encircled by outdoor chairs dot the landscape and my mind’s eye envisions last night’s guests warming themselves in the cool mountain evening as they swapped life stories.  Small canopies will partner with ample aspen and prolific pine trees to offer shade in the afternoon.  Further on down the trail a wheel barrow rests against an old shed. 


Backing up to the river, a wooden platform with its tall, white wrought iron arch conjures up images of a blissful bride and groom exchanging vows.  

At last my eyes land on my favorite spot in this idyllic hideaway…an oversized hammock dangling between two aspen.  Over the years God has cradled me here as I penned numerous private thoughts, praying countless prayers for wisdom on various issues confounding my senses.  Here, too Scripture has often come alive for me as I incline my ear to hear from the Lord.

I sprawl into the swaying paradise and begin to sing praises in competition with raucous waves .  The Thompson is raging with waters higher than I have observed in 20 years.  As the river races furiously downstream, mud and silt paint the surface a copper hue crowned with white foam.  Swirling, crashing into boulders at a frantic pace, water bounces into the air and explodes like liquid fireworks.  The sight brought laughter and feeble attempts to photograph the elusive spray.

I wondered audibly, “God, why is wisdom so often this elusive to me?”  In the midst of the river’s thunderous roar I heard His silent reply, “Wisdom danced with me before waves were ever formed, before the foundations of earth were laid.  Wisdom is mine to give and it’s plentiful but it is not for those who utter a casual request.  Wisdom belongs to those who earnestly seek me.”

Recently I spoke to a group of single women about the necessity of waiting on God.  Today I groan over how long I’ve gone without a purposeful retreat alone with my Lord, to quietly wait on Him, seek Him, and hear from Him. 

The morning sun peeks down the canyon walls and smiles on my face as I read God’s Word,   

“You make me glad by your deeds, oh Lord.  I sing for joy at the work of your hands.” Psalm 92:4

 “Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for JOY” Psalm 98:8

“Praise the Lord, O my soul, all my inmost being praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul and forget not his benefits.  Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:1-5 

Reaching into a folder for paper to jot down my thoughts I came across notes from my earlier talk to the singles… “my two least favorite words paired together? ‘Waiting patiently’.  I’m not good at it, never have been.”

Jesus beckons me to wait on God.  All through his earthly journey He exemplified the importance of withdrawing for time alone with the Father.  Christ’s final act of obedience before his arrest leading to his crucifixion involved a time of waiting in the Garden.  Friends had accompanied him but ultimately He waited alone while they slumbered.  It was in the waiting, seeking, praying, that He mounted up strength to face his destiny at Calvary.  To have approached the Cross without a time of waiting before God, would have meant to forgo the strength required to endure eminent suffering.

Christ’s example compels me.  His invitation is not to be missed.  He says, “Come to the Garden of waiting and find strength for whatever lies ahead.”

None of us know what tomorrow holds.  If we have been a follower of Christ for any length of time we know that this path we walk is not always smooth.  Yet in moments alone with Him, earnestly seeking, expectantly waiting, Christ re-emerges as the sole longing of our hearts.  In the process, He speaks and our path supernaturally becomes level again.

“The path of the righteous is level. O upright one, you make the way of the righteous smooth.  Yes Lord, walking in your ways, we wait for you.  Your name and renown are the desires of our hearts.  My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you.” Isaiah 26:8-9

Fighting Giants

 This morning I  read in I Samuel 17 the account of David’s triumph over a giant Philistine.   Of all the felt-board stories I recall from childhood Sunday School lessons, this one stands out the most.    Who hasn’t heard this tale dozens of times?

 The short version: A giant Philistine named Goliath and his back-up entourage of the entire Philistine army repeatedly mocked the people of God.   Goliath challenged the Israelites to a showdown and a little runt shepherd boy stepped forward to pick up the gauntlet.  Rather than brandish a sword to slay this giant, David selected a sling and a small smooth stone, lodging the rock directly in the forehead of the antagonist, mortally wounding him.  Instantly, David ran to stand atop the giant and employed a sword to lop off his head. 

Was that really necessary?  I mean, the adversary was already dead.  Did David need to further humiliate his opponent’s entire coalition by climbing on the fallen foe and slicing off his head?

 YES!  I think he did.  David’s swift action loudly proclaimed, “Let that be a lesson…” to the remaining enemy forces who immediately fled.

If we listened at all to any Easter sermon a few weeks ago, you & I know our ROCK, Jesus Christ, soundly defeated the enemy.  When Jesus rose from the grave, the lethal stone landed squarely in the face of our adversary.  Still, the enemy’s entourage remains in our day-to-day life threatening to wage war against us should we fail to pick up the Sword of the Spirit and finish off those threats.   

How often do we face battles in our lives…unemployment, marital discord, rebellious teens, health issues, workplace pressures, financial difficulties, loneliness, depression, a quick temper…as if we are helpless to fight?   David’s story offers a lesson to all warriors. 

 Little David’s example beckons modern-day citizens of Christ’s kingdom to run to a crushed combatant.   Engaging the power of our ROCK, Christ in us, we  not only put this enemy under our feet, nor even merely trounce the offender.  We sever his head!  Our place in Christ compels us to daily wield the Sword, the Word of God, as the weapon of our warfare possessing the power to decapitate the wiles of our enemy and send his army running in fear.

“The Battle is the Lord’s…”  {I Samuel 17:47}  True.  Yet truer still, the battle is ALREADY WON!  Calvary secured the victory.  You and I would do well to stop hanging our heads in defeat, to recognize our sure victory against those giants repeatedly mocking us, to begin to live accordingly by the power of the Sword as we issue our own proclamation to forces of evil… “let Calvary and the Resurrection be a lesson to you.”    

THE LORD IS MY ROCK, and my fortress, and my deliverer.” II Samuel 22:2.

“Bow down Thy thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be Thou my strong ROCK, for a house of defense to save me for Thou art my ROCK and my FORTRESS; therefore for Thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.” Psalm 31:2,3).   

“He Only is my ROCK and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In GOD is my salvation and my glory: THE ROCK of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times, ye people, Pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”  Psalm 62:6-8

“…upon this ROCK I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  Matthew 16:18