Pondering this Moment
NOTES FROM THE VALLEY
January 20, 2008
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.
Pondering This Moment
Christmas, or at least the trappings of Christmas, have finally been
packed up in boxes and stored away for another year. We've taken our
first few steps into the New Year and Monday we'll observe the
holiday remembering Dr. Martin Luther King's Birthday. A sequence of
events celebrating diverse moments in human history. The emotional
residue of those celebrations has a cumulative effect on us, on how
we feel and think, as we stand at this moment in time and ponder
where we've been, where we are going, and what awaits us on the road
I am one of those people who believes nothing happens by accident.
There is a reason and significance behind every sequence of events in
human history. The events of the past "set the table" for the events
of the future, all of them guided by God's divine will and purpose.
What happened to me yesterday, what I learned from it, the way it
changed me, has prepared me for today. What I learn today will
prepare me for tomorrow. Because of that belief, I was pondering our
celebrations of Christmas, New Years, and Dr. Martin Luther King's
Birthday and wondering if there was some lesson to be learned from
this specific moment in time; this position in the sequence of events
God has ordained?
In John, Chapter 15, Jesus says, "Live in me. Make your home in me
just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes
by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit
unless you are joined with me. I am the vine, you are the branches.
When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and
organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't
produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered
up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home
with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that
whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon." (The Message)
This "joining" with Christ is often referred to as our "walk" with
Christ. This life is the journey we take. That journey begins at
birth and is completed when we reach our eternal destination. The
journey takes us through foreign and hostile territory, a physical
world dominated by sin and death. The 23rd Psalm refers to it as a
walk "through the valley of the shadow of death."
At the instant of our creation, our Father, God, gave us a gift. The
gift of "free will." That gift gave us a choice. The choice to walk
with Him or walk separated from Him. To share in the "abundant
harvest" or become "deadwood."
Christmas. The birth of Christ. God's Son takes on flesh and
becomes a defenseless child. His first step into the "valley" on a
journey that would take Him to the cross and then His eternal
destination, seated at the right hand of the Father. At no time in
our journey through this "valley" are we more like Christ than at
that moment of our birth. Our first step into the "valley" is placed
exactly on top of His first step. But as the journey begins, our
steps move away from His. We accept the "worldly" wisdom Christ
refused to accept. We make choices Christ would never make. And
with each step the separation between our steps grows. The Genesis
account of man's beginning offers a direct parallel. Adam and Eve
walk arm in arm with God, their Father, in the Garden of Eden. Satan
(the Prince of this World) whispers his lie. They accept it and make
the first wrong choice. They can no longer walk with their Father.
They are separated from Him and the Garden. But deep within each of
us is that void created by His absence, our separation from Him, and
the longing to be reunited with Him again. To be one with Him as we
were at birth. To walk with Him as our ancestors once did.
Christmas - we remember where He and we began.
The New Year. The birth of another year gives us the chance to
reflect upon where we've been and where we want to go. A time, for
most of us, to resolve to do better. A clean slate upon which to
write our resolutions to make better choices. To be more like Him.
To walk closer to Him. To respond to the longing deep within our
spirits to be with Him. For some, those resolutions are written in
chalk so they can be easily erased. For others, they are written in
faith on the tablets of their hearts. Christ's journey took Him to
the cross were He laid down His life for you and me so we could
be "born again." So we could have the promise of a fresh start. A
chance to wipe our slates clean and start over. New Years - we
remember the promise.
Dr. Martin Luther King's Birthday. The birth of a man. A man
uniquely created and gifted by God as you and I are unique and
gifted. We celebrate his birthday so that we can remember his life.
A life in which he attempted to use God's gifts to serve others and
walk as closely to Christ as he was able. A life which illustrates
what a struggle that attempt can be and the high price it may cost.
A life that also illustrates just how much God can accomplish if just
one of His children will try to "walk" with Him. Dr. King's
Birthday - we remember the possibilities.
Christmas, New Years, and Dr. King's Birthday. The birth of Christ,
the birth of a New Year, and the birth of a man. Remembrances of the
beginning, the promise and the possibilities of our journey through
the "valley." Each one directs our focus to Jesus, the one who took
the journey to show us the way The one who offers to join you in
that journey now. All you have to do is take His hand.
Sheltered under His wing and overwhelmed by His love,
SteveFRUITS OF THE SPIRIT
(From "When God Whispers Your Name" by Max Lucado)
It's quiet. It's early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The
world is still asleep. The day is coming. In a few moments the day
will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun.
The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day.
The calm of the solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the
human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by
decisions to be made and deadlines to be met.
For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day's demands. It
is now that I must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I'm free to
choose. And so I choose.
I choose love... No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants
bitterness, I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.
I choose joy... I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I
will refuse the temptation to be cynical...the tool of the lazy
thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human
beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything
less than an opportunity to see God.
I choose peace... I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may
I choose patience... I will overlook the inconveniences of the world.
Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I'll invite him to do
so. Rather than complaining that the wait is too long, I will thank
God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new
assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.
I choose kindness... I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone.
Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for
such is how God has treated me.
I choose goodness... I will go without a dollar before I take a
dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will
confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.
I choose faithfulness... Today I will keep my promises. My debtors
will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word.
My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear
that their father will not come home.
I choose gentleness... Nothing is won by force. I choose to be
gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my
fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of
I choose self-control... I am a spiritual being. After this body is
dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the
eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will
be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I
will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed,
I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek His grace. And then when
this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest."
© Copyright 1994, Word Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee. All Rights
Max's Website: www.maxlucado.com
DO IT ANYWAY !!!
(Author - Mother Theresa)
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, People may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.
Copyright © 1998 - 2008 by Stephen J. Hall - Notes from the Valley
and Humor from the Valley are meant to brighten your day and
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Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling
everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of
your love . . . Psalm 89:1-3 The Message