"Welcome to my blog space. I believe that God has carefully placed gems in our paths to fill our days with joy. The challenge for us is to take the time to notice them. My desire is to share the gems in my life so that, hopefully, you will see the ones He's placed in yours. I hope what you read here will be worth your time and you'll want to return often." - Cathy

Friday, December 20, 2013

Advent 2013, Week Three - Be Discerning


            Week Three of this busy Advent season brings us to the week before Christmas. Are you feeling harried, unprepared, behind schedule, or afraid you’ve forgotten something important? The scripture for this week (printed below) indicates a need to be discerning.

            A large group of children was asked the question, “Who are you looking for at Christmas?” All of them answered, “Santa!” John the Baptist heard about the deeds of Jesus while he was imprisoned. His mind was reeling with questions, the main one being, “Is this the one I came to prepare the way for?  Unable to go himself, John sent some of his trusted followers to discern the answer for him.

            The evidence spoken by Jesus offered the truth John was seeking – “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” John could finally stop looking. Jesus is the one who was spoken of by the prophets.

            Who are you looking for this Christmas – Santa or Jesus? Be as discerning as John the Baptist was. Meet with Jesus and seek His plan for this season in your life. Are you looking for a one-time-a-year visitor who comes at the end of the year or the One who is available to you every day of every year? Are you seeking the one who will fly over and drop a gift down your chimney or the One who comes to live in your heart and bring order out of chaos, counsel you, and love you forever?

            This Christmas examine the facts, discern the truth and spend your time and efforts accordingly. The important items on your list will get done and your focus will guide you into all truth.

Going out with joy today-

Cathy

 

Matthew 11:2-11

English Standard Version (ESV)

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
    who will prepare your way before you.’

11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Advent, 2013 Week Two - Be Prepared


          In Week Two of the Advent season, we focus on being prepared for “the coming” as we look forward to celebrating Jesus’ birth and the celebration that will manifest itself at the Second Coming.

            In the scripture passage for this week, Matthew 3:1-12, we see that God sent Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, to prepare the way for Jesus’ coming by informing the people in advance. Many folks followed John the Baptist in his ministry so there is a body of people who know about Jesus before He actually starts His earthly ministry. This body has been prepared by John’s preaching, by Isaiah’s long-ago prophecy, and the effects of repentance and baptism.

Biblical Oil Lamps
            This preparation reminds me of the story of the ten brides who were waiting for the bridegroom to come. They were to have plenty of oil on hand for their lamps in case he came at night. Half of them had the requisite oil, half ran out before the bridegroom arrived. I am a list maker so this “Be Prepared” which involved items they could physically attain and mark off a list speaks to me.

            Then as I further pondered how to be prepared to meet the
Esther is taken
before the King
King, I was reminded of the story of Esther. She was a candidate to become the new queen but she knew nothing about being a queen. For a year before her first appearance before the King, she was bathed, lotioned, perfumed, taught how to dress for the King and how to act when she met him. Our King is coming soon. During this waiting season, let us bathe in His Holy Presence, allow His essence to perfume us, and permit  the Holy Spirit to instruct us and guide us.

            This week as you look forward to His birthday, think about how you will “Be Prepared.” Are you more like one of the ten virgins or Queen Esther?

Going out with joy today-

Cathy

John the Baptist Prepares the Way – Matthew 3:1-12 (ESV)
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”
Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Learn more about Esther by reading the book of Esther in the Old Testament.

The story of the Ten Virgins can be found in Matthew 25 in the New Testament.

If you missed Advent 2013, Week One- Be Alert, read it here.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Advent 2013, Week One - Be Alert


         The four-week season of Advent is upon us. Advent means “the coming” and it is the time before Christmas when we focus our thoughts on the coming of Christ as a baby and the future coming of Christ, the victorious King, who will bring His children home to reign with Him.

          Each week has four scriptures (Old Testament, New Testament, Gospel and Psalm) aimed at bringing a message of love, joy, peace and hope. This year I have chosen to give my attention to the four scriptures from Matthew.

Week One - Matthew 24: 36-44 - Be Alert

For centuries people had been looking for the Messiah to come to their rescue. Finally, He came, but not in the form they expected. They were looking for a warrior King riding on a white stallion. He came as a baby in a manger. Wonders happened on and around His birth-angels appeared to His mother, earthly father, to shepherds tending their flocks, and a new star appeared in the heavens. Some people were alert and recognized the signs. Others weren’t. Many could have seen, but only a few did.

Jesus grew up and started His ministry at age thirty. People began believing He was indeed the Messiah they had expected. But, the faith of the believers was shaken as they watched Jesus dying on a cross. After the resurrection, their faith was restored and the looking for His coming began again.

How will you look for Jesus in your celebrations this Christmas? Will you be alert to the ways He shows Himself to you? Or will you miss Him altogether?

Be alert, He’s coming again, and even He doesn’t know the day or the hour.

Going out with joy today, looking for Jesus-

Cathy

No One Knows That Day and Hour

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Write2Ignite! Conference Registration Open!


             
Write2Ignite! Logo
For writers of literature with a Christian world view for children and youth, I am devoting my blog to Write2Ignite! this week. I am the new kid on the leadership team and I’m excited and want to share a little about the ministry and the writer’s conference coming in March, 2014.

            From their website comes the vision of the organization: We envision Write2Ignite! as an organization that provides conferences, workshops, support groups and other services to Christians who create, publish, represent or sell literature for children and youth.  We see the role of the Write2Ignite! Team as that of teachers, encouragers, facilitators and inspirers.

We want Write2Ignite! participants to leave our conferences with three things:

  • The knowledge that they heard from God about something specific in their writing and/or personal lives
  • New or improved skills to use in writing and/or publishing
  • New or strengthened connections with other writers, illustrators, teachers, librarians, agents, editors, reviewers, and/or book sellers

This past March was my first time attending a Write2Ignite! Conference. I was extremely pleased with the investment in my writing future. Using the three goals for participants listed above, I will share a bit of my experience:

Knowledge from God – Thanks to our worship leaders, Donna Earnhardt and Rachel Welch, we were able to enter God’s presence and listen for His desire for us as writers, illustrators, publishers and agents. This conference, more than any I have attended, focuses on God first by sprinkling the day with opportunities for deep worship.

Improved Skills – Classes are taught by authors who are seasoned in the skills they are presenting. They projected a selfless attitude, giving us much more than the syllabus promised. The teacher of one of the classes I took had been sick for weeks before the conference. She probably should have cancelled but instead came and honored her commitment. She apologized to the class for needing to sit while she presented her subject matter. The skills I learned in her session are serving me well this year, and I refer to the notes from her class often. What I learned is transferrable to all genres, not just limited to children/young adult writing.

Connections –In the hallway, between classes, I made contact with some friends I hadn’t seen in years and I made new contacts over cookies and coffee at the hotel. We’ve shared ideas, blog and website addresses, critiques, calls for submissions, and even some quilting tips.

The conference this year will be March 28-29, 2014. Registration is now open on the website and, at $100 for adults and $50 for teens (yes, there is a special teen track available!), I consider it a bargain. Come join us at North Greenville University, Tigerville, SC. Look for me. I’d love to talk to you.

Going out with joy today-

Cathy
 
Hop on over to these other blogs to get their take on the conference!
 
Samantha Bell at www.samanthabellbooks.com