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Answered Prayer 
Wednesday, January 30, 2008, 08:45 AM - Extra Christy
The governors of Alabama and Georgia asked the people of their states to pray for rain due to the drought that has griped the southeast United States. The call for prayer has brought a shower of gripes. From folks complaining about state sponsored religion to folks who want their governor to do something about the water problem, and, for them, prayer doesn't count as "doing something".

One person observed folks would rather pray for rain than conserve water. Ouch. I resemble that remark. Prayer is suppose to be time spent with God, but too often it seems like buying a celestial lottery ticket and hoping to get lucky.

Jesus was once asked to "do something" in a crisis. It was a small famine, not a large drought. Hunger instead of thirst. There were thousands that came to hear Jesus, and no food vendors in sight. Jesus' rejects the disciples idea to send them away before dinner and the disciples reject Jesus' direction for them to feed the crowd. After all, "Doing something" like giving hungry people something to eat was too costly.

Jesus has the disciples take food inventory, thanks God for the food, and distributes it (barely a taste for a so large a mob!) Yet once the disciples shared the food as directed by Jesus there was plenty and leftovers to boot. They were the answer to their own request. They fed the crowd.

Prayer is great. Being the answer to prayer is great too.


Do Something?

By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. "This is a remote place," they said, "and it's already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat."

But he answered, "You give them something to eat."

They said to him, "That would take eight months of a man's wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?"

"How many loaves do you have?" he asked. "Go and see."

When they found out, they said, "Five-and two fish."

Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.-- Mark 6:35-44 (NIV)

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Getting Unstuck 
Wednesday, January 23, 2008, 08:47 AM - Extra Christy
"Did you follow Google Maps?" said the man from the Jeep with tires that loomed over the roof of the stuck car. He knew they were stuck, where they were stuck, and why they were stuck. His winter sport was patrolling the closed road highly recommended by Google and hauling out the cyber trusting city folk. It seems it is always summer in mountains if you go by Google Maps.

"Yeah, I get one or two every day this time of year", he said as he hooked up their car for the tow back to open roads. Our friends were soon on their way, by another way.

How do you know you need counseling? The best answer I've found is "when you are stuck" The maps you have followed, that have served you well in the past and earned your trust, fail. Losing a job, death of a loved one, a sickness, parenthood, and other life events can get you stuck even though you have followed the map. You can't go back to safety and the road is closed ahead, your stuck in the middle of the road.

Christians believe that, humanity got stuck following the map laid out in the First (Old) Testament and God love us so much he came down the road himself to tow us out. We needed the Wonderful Counselor because we were stuck. We needed a tow because we couldn't continue without help.

Thank God for saviors when we are stuck in snow or in life.
Need a Tow?

I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

He won't let you stumble,
your Guardian God won't fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel's
Guardian will never doze or sleep.

God's your Guardian,
right at your side to protect you-
Shielding you from sunstroke,
sheltering you from moonstroke.

God guards you from every evil,
he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
he guards you now, he guards you always.

-- Psalm 121 (Message)

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Where to Park 
Wednesday, January 16, 2008, 01:49 PM - Extra Christy
My family has a special spot to park at the airport garage. It is a little used area, but convenient to the terminal walkway. Through the generations, our family has always parked there. Before cell phones, travelers and welcomers of our tribe knew to head to that area to find the home bound and the way home. Even now, when phones allow us to navigate a successful landing in familiar arms, our clan continues to camp on those old happy hunting grounds.

Young Jesus went missing after a family trip. His parents looked for him everywhere, finally backtracking to Jerusalem, where they found him in God's temple, discussing the scripture with the scholars. Jesus seemed surprised that his parents were looking for him: "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49 NIV)

Where do loved ones go looking for you? Or where do you go when you're lost and looking for a way home? For some it is a house where spirits are served instead of the house of the spirit, but for many it is a church, where family, both inherited and chosen, gather in happy reunion after the travels of the week.

If you don't have a place where loved ones look for you, there is no need to search, give a church near you a call, we'll talk you in.
Look No Farther, Father

Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you."

"Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.-- Luke 2:41-52 (NIV)

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Are Your Dogs Old? 
Wednesday, January 9, 2008, 08:51 AM - Extra Christy
His voice was a sigh dripping with disappointment. "I had to put down my dog today." He told me that she just couldn't go on, had lost over half her weight battling the cancer that filled her. "I just put down my other dog in July", he admitted.

Then he gave me some advice to avoid some of his pain, "Don't let all your dogs get old, pastor."

He had regretted not investing the time and hassle in a puppy a few years ago, so he would now have a canine friend to accompany him in his grief for his old friends, now gone.

It is easy to continue with the familiar rather than break in something new. Investing in a new friend, a new trip, a new recipe, a new group, or a new hobby seems to be impractical and unnecessary. Yet one of the ways we know something is alive is that in changes, grows, and changes.

If your breathing has more sighs than laughs...get a "new puppy". They are unruly and trouble at the beginning, but the newness can surprise you with the joy that the familiar used to give when it was just a puppy. Don't let all your dogs get old.

New Wine Needs New Containers

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.-- Mark 2:22 (NIV)


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Repeat or Repent 
Wednesday, January 2, 2008, 08:53 AM - Extra Christy
January is named after the Roman god, Janus (or Ianus) the god of beginnings and endings. He was a two faced god, one face looking forward, and one looking backwards. (Hmm, anyone protesting this intrusion of religion into our secular calendar?)

Some folks observe the beginning and ending of the year with new beginnings called Resolutions. They resolve to start or end a practice or habit. Fitness Clubs are filled in January as people seek to begin a new healthier lifestyle. (Ok, some are just being good sports about the memberships bought for them by loved ones...Why is everyone looking at me?)

Christianity has a form of new beginning. It is called Repentance, meaning "to turn". The idea is that Christians turn from the path of sin and selfishness to the way of Christ and his love. It is good to rededicate oneself to the path at the beginning of a year, maybe that is why we have a festival recalling baptism, a Christian's new birth, a spiritual beginning in January.

I hope this year you resolve to repent...turn to something good, loving, and healthy and not repeat regrets of previous years.
A New Year's Repentance

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,-- Acts 3:19 (NIV)

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