2015 (Archived)


January 2015

January is going to be a busy month. Here is just some of what is going on at Lanes Chapel:

Friday, January 9, 2015:
Our FIRST Friday Fun Night of the new year! 6:00-8:30PM RSVP with Mrs. Viki by Tuesday, Jan. 6th viki@laneschapel.com

Sunday, January 11th:
YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE sermon series begins. First title-PRAY

 

Saturday, January 17th:
CMIA (Christian Men in Action) Meeting-breakfast served at 8:30 AM and don’t miss guest speaker Dr. Paul Powell!

Lanes Chapel Committee Leadership Training 10:00-11:30 AM

Sunday, January 18th:
YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCESERVE

Monday, January 19th:
Church office closed in observance of Rev. Mar- tin Luther King, Jr. Day

Sunday, January 25th:
YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCEWELCOME

You Make a Difference CHURCH-WIDE Dessert Celebration 6:00 PM FLC
Your Lanes Chapel Staff will be providing and serving desserts for our en- tire church family as a way of saying THANK YOU!!!  Please join us!

Saturday, Januar y 31st-
24 Hour Prayer Vigil 8:00 AM Saturday to 8:00 AM Sunday, February 1st  Sign-up will be available soon

Blessings to you all, 

D. Jeff Gage

 


February 2015

The month of February so often seems to be thought of as the month for love.  With Valentine’s Day at the center of the month there is plenty of time to build-up to that moment when we celebrate or commemorate that romantic love between husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, beaus and belles.  We mark it with pretty red and pink cards, beautiful flowers and sweet chocolate. 

Valentine’s Day is on the 14th because that is the day when the man we know as St. Valentine was jailed and martyred for performing weddings when Emperor Claudius had outlawed them.  He had done that in order to increase the number of single men who would be available to be in his army.  Valentine is celebrated and remembered for encouraging romantic love.

The challenge with romantic love – regardless of what the media tries to portray – is that is comes and goes from time to time.  One day it is in full swing with a blazing fire, while the next it is barely but a pile of drenched ashes.  From our friends and family and in the media we hear of those who were dating or married that have now decided to part ways because their love for one another has died.  They used to be in love, but no more.  That love has come to an end.  It is sad when two people make that decision.

That is the kind of love that two people might have for one another; but aren’t you glad God that doesn’t love us with that kind of love for us – a love that ends or comes and goes with the smallest of incidents?  Aren’t you blessed to know that he will love us forever and he lavishes that love upon us?  What a great joy that is!  Call it grace, mercy, charity, agape or love, it is from God and it is tremendous and never-ending.

The love that God has for us is patient and kind; it celebrates when you are blessed.  It is humble, considerate and “other focused.”  It is slow to anger, and it is forgiving.  It is truthful, protective, trusting, hopeful, and it perseveres.  It is steady and true.  That is the kind of love that God has for us.  What a beautiful kind of love that is.  It is a love that we should cherish and never take for granted or abuse.

Shouldn’t we love each other with that same kind of never-ending love?  Shouldn’t we seek the best for others and help them attain it?  Shouldn’t we forgive them when they have wronged us – even if they do not ask for forgiveness?  This is not just in the romantic relationships that are celebrated at Valentine’s Day; this should be for everyone, every day.

Yes, I know it can be a challenge from time to time to love others with such a love as this, but that is what God has called us to do.  We love him and others as he loved us.  That is a never-ending grace filled kind of love – no red card with pink hearts needed.

 


March 2015

Dear Lanes Chapel Family,

Now that spring is almost here, we will begin to see the very first signs of new growth on the trees and in our yards.  New buds will start to appear almost imperceptibly.  They will slowly push their way through the surface, first causing just a small bump, and then bursting through to bring a layer of new color to the landscape.  The light green will gradually darken as the leaves grow.  More color will come as some of those buds will blossom into flowers.  Trees will become fuller as twigs become limbs and as limbs become branches.  The warmer temperatures and new plant growth bring with it the blessing of wonderful smells and sounds.  Flowers, freshly cut grass, and birds are just the beginning of the blessings that grace us each spring.  The entire process will take place throughout the spring until full growth will be here by summer.  
This of course happens each year.  When the conditions are right the growth occurs.  Heat, light, moisture and time cause new plant life to appear.

The same can be said for us.  Under the right conditions new growth appears.  This is not physical growth, mind you.  It is spiritual growth.  When we expose our spirits to the right combination of factors, they begin to grow and flourish like that of new plant growth each spring.

If we will nourish our souls with practices like prayer (talking and listening to God), reading scripture, attending and participating in worship services, and serving others we will give our spirits the best chance to grow.  We will grow closer to Christ and we will grow to become more of the people he wants us to be.

The beautiful thing is we don’t have to wait until the springtime for this to happen.  We can grow all year long.  The opportunity for growing in Christ never ends.  We just need to be continually immersing ourselves in the activities which foster that new spiritual growth.

So, this spring as you look around at the beauty of nature, let it serve as a reminder to you that you, too, can experience new growth.  You can nourish your spirit on the things which help us get nearer and nearer to Christ, so that we can become more like the people he wants us to be.  Our spiritual growth will be a blessing to others as much as nature’s growth is a blessing to us.

In Christ,

Jeff

 


April 2015

Dear Lanes Chapel Family,

As I write this, the church has just had a full weekend of great festivities.  Saturday morning saw us up on Lleyton’s field with more than a 100 people playing games for simple prizes like pencils and erasers, guessing the contents of a jars – from 65 rolls of “Smarties” candies to almost 2000 jelly beans, bouncing in a castle, and picking up thousands of eggs.  The weather was beautiful and everyone had a great time. 

On Sunday, we lifted our voices in songs of praise as our children processed throughout the worship center waving palm branches.  We did so to mirror the grand celebration and impromptu parade the people had so long ago.  They led Jesus through town on the back of a donkey exclaiming, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”  They were showing how they wanted Jesus to be their king and they were blessed to do so.

On Easter Sunday we will have a similar celebration as we rejoice that the tomb that held the body of Jesus Christ was empty.  We will proclaim the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The altar will be adorned with lilies.  We will be dressed in our Easter best.  Our hearts will be full of joy because Jesus Christ is alive.

And that feeling – joy – is what will define our day.  It is what defined the Easter Eggstravaganza, as well as our Palm Sunday.  It should define every day for us, the body of Christ, The Church, Christians.  Joy should be our driving and sustaining force through every circumstance in our lives.  Not happiness – joy.  Happiness is dependent upon external circumstances.  It comes and goes.  Joy is constant.  It looks to a more eternal source for its sustaining power.  Happiness is a state of mind.  Joy is a state of the heart.

The reason we have that joy is of course because of Easter. The tomb is empty; and the empty tomb shows us that if God can defeat death, he can defeat any other challenge that we might encounter.  Yes we will have hardships in this world.  Wayward children, wars, cancer and other physical illnesses, mental illness, job loss and unemployment, financial crises – all of these problems are just a small picture of the challenges we face in our daily living.  Satan uses them to discourage us and to try to convince us that God will not and cannot deliver us from them.  He will use those tribulations to divert our eyes away from Jesus Christ.  But we must keep looking to him, certain of the truth that he will lead us through them and there is nothing that he cannot do.

So let the joy that filled our hearts this past weekend and will fill our hearts again on Easter Sunday be our constant companion throughout the year.  Amidst all that vies for our attention, let us keep our eyes on the empty tomb, and know that with the Living Savior by our sides and in our joy-filled heart, we can live a life like no other.  I pray you have joyful Easter.

In Christ,

Jeff

 


May 2015

Friends, I’m not sure where I found this, but I think it is funny and hope you get a chuckle out of it like I did.  Since it is May and that brings thoughts of Mothers’ Day, I thought I’d pass it on. 

God bless you all,

Jeff

 

WHY GOD MADE MOMS - Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions:

Why did God make mothers?

1. She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.

2. Mostly to clean the house.

3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

 

How did God make mothers?

1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us..

2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.

3. God made my mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

 

What ingredients are mothers made of?

1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean..

2. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

 

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?

1. We're related.

2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's mom like me.

 

What kind of a little girl was your mom?

1. My mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.

2. I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.

3. They say she used to be nice.

 

What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?

1. His last name.

2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?

3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

 

Why did your mom marry your dad?

1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my mom eats a lot.

2. She got too old to do anything else with him.

3. My grandma says that mom didn't have her thinking cap on.

 

Who's the boss at your house?

1. Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof ball.

2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.

3. I guess mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

 

What's the difference between moms and dads?

1. Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.

2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.

3. Dads are taller and stronger, but moms have all the real power cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friends.

4. Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

 

What does your mom do in her spare time?

1. Mothers don't do spare time.

2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

 

What would it take to make your mom perfect?

1. On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.

2. Diet. You know, her hair. I'd diet, maybe blue.

 

If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?

1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.

2. I'd make my mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it not me.

3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

 


June 2015

One the Sunday before Memorial Day, I made my way down to Houston for a yearly meeting called “Annual Conference.”  It is an annual affair where Methodist pastors and laity from the eastern quarter of Texas from Texarkana to Mt. Pleasant down south to Bellville and across to Galveston and Matagorda gather to discuss the business of the churches in that area.  For me, Annual Conference is a fairly pleasant time.  I get to see friends I have not seen since last year.  We visit and “catch-up” on each other’s ministries.  We worship and pray together.  We share struggles with one another.  We reconnect.  We eat.  Those aspects are pleasant.

However, there is also an unpleasant aspect of Annual Conference.  First, I have to fight downtown Houston traffic to get there.  Then, I have to sit through a never ending procession of meetings where we listen to reports and make decisions about the future of the Annual Conference.  In those meetings, we discuss numbers and people – baptisms, membership and attendance.  We discuss money – pension plans and health insurance.  We vote about the future of our church.

This year the voting took-on a very crucial issue.  We voted to send delegates, both clergy and laity to a quadrennial meeting, “General Conference.”  Every four years, United Methodists from around the world gather to discuss issues pertinent to the entire denomination.  Official denominational policy is set at this meeting.  The next meeting will be in Portland, OR, May 10-20, 2016.  The delegates we elected will represent our annual conference at these meetings. 

At General Conference, many of the same “number issues” are discussed; but also, much more discussion occurs around the denomination’s stance on key issues, particularly our view of marriage and the ordination of self-avowed, practicing homosexuals to be clergy in the denomination.  (Many other topics are addressed, but these two receive the most concentration.) 

Since the formation of the United Methodist Church, we have recognized marriage to be between one man and one woman.  Also, we do not ordain self-avowed, practicing homosexuals to be clergy.  From scripture, we know how God defined marriage and to succumb to the temptation to participate in homosexual acts is a sin.  Thus, we do not bow to societal pressure to believe otherwise, and we carry-on, basing our beliefs on the authority of scripture. 

However, there is a vocal faction within the church that regularly pressures the denomination to believe otherwise and change the denomination’s stance on these two issues.  These changes would be reflected in a re-writing of our official stance in the United Methodist Book of Discipline, our book of church law.  This faction also sends delegates to General Conference, and the debate continues.

The good news about the delegates that we elected to send to this conference from our annual conference are all thoroughly bound to the authority of scripture.  We will send 9 clergy and 9 lay persons.  All 18 of them believe in the authority of scripture.  They are thoroughly convinced of the timeless, unchanging nature of God’s Holy Word.  They will be met by other delegates typically from the south and southeastern U.S. and from Africa who believe the same.  If historic trends hold, based on delegate numbers, the denomination should continue on its current path of guiding our denomination by scripture and not redefining marriage and sin according to society’s pressures and whims. 

It seems like a “cut & dry” issue, but this will not happen though without a lot of prayer and discussion.  So please keep the United Methodist Church in your prayers.  Pray that every decision that is made is made with the truth of scripture at its basis.  The path ahead will not be easy, but it must be traveled.  Even though the road may be rough, I believe God will lead us through this tumultuous time.

If we – both as Lanes Chapel and as a denomination – do everything with our eyes on Christ, there is nothing we cannot accomplish for the kingdom of God.  I pray for our church, our denomination, and our delegation.  I ask you to do the same.  God bless you all.

In Christ,

Jeff

P.S. As a side note, I have been reappointed to be the pastor of Lanes Chapel for another year.  Thanks be to God!

 


July 2015

Dear LC Family,

Today as I write this to you, I am sitting by my kitchen window looking out on my backyard, the birdfeeder, and the vacant lots that make up a good portion of my neighborhood.  I am at the kitchen table doing this because… well… IT’S HOT OUTSIDE.  But then, it should be, shouldn’t it?  Summer in Texas equates to hot.  The mixture of heat and humidity is almost like a slurry that somehow, forcefully extracts sweat from our every pore. 

Of course summer is not all bad.  One things it does do is serve as a reminder that we have seasons.  The regularity of the seasons give witness to the rhythm God set into motion in his creation.  “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years.” (Genesis 1:14)  Seasons mark the passing of the years.  They give us time to both work and rest – depending on the weather and daylight hours.  They can also serve as concrete spiritual lessons to us.  In the summer, the lessons we must learn are to wait and to trust on God.  As we wait and trust, we know there is something more, something better, a harvest to come. 

I take my cues from my father-in-law.  As an Illinois corn & soybean farmer, he did a lot of waiting and trusting – over 50 years’ worth before he “retired.”  As a farmer, he prepared his fields by disking the soil, spraying herbicide, and adding fertilizer.  When the soil temperature was right and the threat of frost was gone, he would then plant the seeds.  After the seeds were planted he could do nothing then but wait and trust in God.  He would wait for the right amount of rain and sun.  He would trust that both would come.  He would trust the seed company had been honest and effective in formulating the seeds for that year’s crops.  He would watch and pray, wait and trust.

Watching is not all he did, I assure you.  He got to work doing others things, too.  He bred and fed and “med-ed” hogs and sheep.  He mended fence rows and farm equipment.  He bailed hay and tended the family garden.  He held down a “regular, paying” job for a few years to offset the low corn prices.  He did all he could to run his life in all other areas while waiting and trusting the crops into the hands of the Lord.  He could do nothing more and nothing less.  The crops were ultimately out of his control.  Sun and rain were not his to manage.  He could only look forward to the harvest.

That is a lesson for us.  In our spiritual lives we do all we can to prepare our fields and plant our crops.  We do our best with both, and then we wait.  The fields and our crops are our children whom we raise up in the church, instilling the love of Christ into them every day.  We then launch them out into the world, waiting, trusting they will follow Christ on their own, but sometimes having to wait for them to come back when they stray. 

The fields are our workplaces where we do all we can for the Lord and for his glory, waiting and trusting that our work will be appreciated and will produce a crop of better pay and more job security.  Our relationships with family and friends are a field.  We plant honesty and love and truth, waiting and trusting our efforts will yield a crop of the same in others.  We commit all we do to the Lord, and then we wait and we trust. 

Like my father-in-law, we also do other things along the way.  We occupy our hearts, minds, and lives with other things that need attention, but we are always looking forward to the harvest.  We continue to wait and trust.

So… I know it’s hot.  It’s Texas.  It’s summer.  What did you expect?  Let us not let the high temperatures get us down, though.  Instead let this summer be a reminder of how we must spend many of our days waiting and trusting for the harvest to come in.

In Christ,

Jeff  

 


August 2015

Dear Lanes Chapel Church Family:

Even though our calendars do not necessarily change in the month of August, our mindsets often do.  Despite the oppressive 100 degree temperatures, we know the long hot days of summer will not last forever.  They always comes to an end, giving us the joy of cooler temps and gentle breezes.  But – we also know in August, we are about to “hit the ground running.”  School is about to begin. 

Instead of planning vacations and leisure activities to fill our kids’ days, we start filling our calendars with schedules of tests, practices & ball games, and parent-teacher conferences.  We look for new school supplies and buy new tennis shoes.  We stock-up on after school snacks.  All of this fervor signals the coming of a bevy of activity that lasts for nine months.

However, don’t let the activities that orbit around the new school year be the only things you undertake this fall.  Along with – or maybe instead of – adding another school or sport responsibility to your plate, get involved in a Bible study that will nourish your soul rather than drain your spirit.

This fall we will start a new round of Bible studies all designed to feed your mind on God’s word and help strengthen you in your Christian walk.  Two of the new classes will begin on Wednesday, August 26th.

Bob Green will be leading, “God’s Answers to Life’s Toughest Questions.”  The six sessions will cover: 1) How Can I Cope with Stress? 2) How Can I Rebound from Failure? 3) How Can I Be Confident in a Crisis? 4) How Can I Live Above Average? 5) How Can I Overcome Loneliness? and 6) How Can I Ever Change?  The $10 fee will cover the cost of class materials.  At the conclusion of this study, Bob will begin a new class, “Christians in the Workplace.”

I will lead a class, “Does God Exist?”  The 10 sessions will study several areas, searching for evidence pointing to the existence of God:  The Big Bang, DNA, and Moral Behavior.  This is a companion class to one I taught in the spring, “Is the Bible Reliable.”  The $5 donation covers the materials.

Beginning September 2nd, Dr. Bill Burgdorf will teach a class throughout the fall on the Old Testament book of Daniel. 

Each of these classes begins at 6pm on Wednesday nights.  Don’t worry about childcare.  Your children can be a part of our children’s choir program and your

teenagers can join our youth in their Wednesday night Bible study.  And, after class, feel free to go to choir practice and prepare to lead our church into God’s presence through song.

Don’t forget, we also have a Man in the Mirror that meets on Tuesday mornings at 6:30 a.m.; we host the Women’s Bible Study Fellowship on Monday nights at 6:45 p.m., and we have a full slate of Sunday school classes, too.  You can deepen your faith in any one of these classes. 

So, don’t fill your days with activities that will leave you empty.  Instead, spend some time – just an hour a week – in fellowship and study of The Word that will nourish your soul.  I hope to see you there.

In Christ,

 

 Jeff

 


September 2015

Dear Lanes Chapel Family,

One of my favorite books in the whole Bible is Psalms.  It has the full range of human emotions.  There is great celebration and joy, sadness and heartache, anger that grows to rage, repentance and forgiveness, and always overall, praise to God for what He has done, is doing, and is going to do. 

The Psalms are written as a form of Hebrew poetry.  One of the distinctions of Hebrew poetry is that it is not dependent upon rhyme or meter as English poetry is.  Rather, it utilizes repetition.  I believe this is by God’s providence, for this kind of poetry can be translated into any language.  As you read through the Psalms, at times you will find a phrase that is repeated or is restated in different words. 

Often times it is described as a prayer journal for much of the Psalms are prayers.  Because it is a prayer journal, if you are having trouble praying and don’t know what to pray, read a few Psalms out loud and let the psalmists pray for you.  Out of the 150 Psalms, I am certain they will hit upon a nerve or say exactly what you need to say.  This is a practice I have utilized myself and have recommended to others for several years.

It is also an early hymnal for the Psalms were meant to be sung in worship.  The leader of the singing would sing or chant the first line of the psalm (The Lord is my shepherd) and the congregation would answer back with the next (I shall not want). 

The use of Psalms in worship and as inspiration for other songs continues today.  They are the basis for some of our hymns, such asThe King of Love My Shepherd Is (Psalm 23), and for some Contemporary Christian songs, such as King of Glory (Psalm 24) by Third Day.  Their timelessness affects us even now.  They bring joy and comfort, conviction, forgiveness, and inspiration.  I encourage you to read one today.

(Did you know that if you read 5 Psalms a day you will read the whole book in a month?)

Blessings,

Jeff

As an additional note, there is a local couple who encouraging others to write their own psalms and put them to music.  Jeff and Connie Pinkerton are sponsoring a Psalm writer competition at the We Hope Ranch in Chapel Hill.  I met Jeff while working on a home during Mission Week in Tyler this summer.  He and Connie feel Christian songwriters need to be developed, supported and rewarded, so they hold this competition. 

The contest is free to enter and open to all ages, all styles of Christian music. The event will be held over a Friday evening and the following Saturday afternoon, October 23rd & 24th.  The Saturday event is free and open to the public.  If you would like more information, go to www.wehopeevents.com.

 


October 2015

I would like to thank all of you who have volunteered to be a part of our Pumpkin Patch this October and especially Wayne and Kitty Larson for spearheading the event.  I know this will be a wonderful ministry for the church.  It will be a great time to meet some of our south Tyler neighbors, and an opportunity to for many of us to get to know one another as we serve together.

I’ve always had fun going to pumpkin patches with my family.  I like to watch my kids run through the bales of hay and look around at the hundreds of pumpkins.  I also like to watch them go through and find the “just-right” pumpkin.  They judge every one looking for the perfect one.  Too big.  Too heavy to carry.  Too small to carve.  Too short.  There’s no good side to carve.  That one has a funny shape.  This one will not stand up.  On and on the list goes as they try to eliminate all of the bad choices to make the right choice for the pumpkin that year.  Cull all the bad ones.  Choose the right one.  It is a very exacting exercise for a young child.

*****

Are you glad God isn’t like that?  Aren’t you glad God doesn’t walk through us, looking at our appearances and our hearts, culling us based on one factor or another?  I know I am!

I am comforted to know God does not go through us and say, “Too big; too small; too short; too tall; he has too much pride; she is a gossip; he is an addict; she is judgmental; glutton; sloth...”  On and on and on – you pick the fault or sin.  God doesn’t treat us like a pumpkin.  No.   He takes us just as we are and then he begins to work on us and change us into the person he wants us to be.  He knows everything about us, yet he takes us and loves us anyway.

Then… he becomes like those of us who carve pumpkins as part of the season’s festivities.  He “opens us up.”  He looks into our hearts and souls and begins the process of cleaning us out.  He takes out all the “gunk” to purify and refine us.  After that, he begins to carve upon us images, images of his son, Jesus Christ.  He also puts the Holy Spirit within us and its light begins to shine that others can see those images of Christ in us and through us. 

They see the image of Christ when we serve those who are in need, maybe by helping the Food Pantry, working with our music, children, youth, or packing Christmas Child Boxes.  When we give money to various ministries and charities, we show the image of Christ.  When we go to the hospital room of a sick friend and sit silently with them, practicing the ministry of presence, we show the image of Christ.  When we speak a loving word to a hurting friend, we are speaking words of Christ.  There are so many ways that others can see the image of Christ that God carves upon us.  We just need to let the light of Christ shine through us.

So I encourage you, as you help at the Pumpkin Patch this October, walk through and take a look at all the pumpkins.  Sure – see the imperfections on the pumpkins.  Find reasons to not use them for your carvings.  But then, pause and thank God that he doesn’t do the same with you.  He takes you as you are, imperfections and all, and carves the image of Christ on you.  Then he shines his light in you and through you for all the world to see.

In Christ,

Rev. D. Jeff Gage


November 2015

Dear Lanes Chapel,

As the daylight hours get shorter this time of year, we are greeted with the promise of cooler temperatures.  The air chills us and the wind blow a bit crisper and the thermometer drops – ever so slowly it drops.  The birds of summer have left us, the flowers cease to bloom, and with the first freeze, plants slowly begin to go dormant and some die.  Trees lose their leaves and there is a crunch underfoot as we walk across our lawns.  The falling leaf is one of those sure signs of Fall.

Before the trees shed their leaves though, they often bless us with a symphony of colors.  I know in Texas the colors are not as long lasting and vibrant as say places like the upper Mid-West and New England; but from time to time we get just the right mix of rain and temperatures to get a beautifully colored Fall.  The green fades to yellow which goes to orange and then red.  Some trees even offer us a glimpse of purple.  The range of colors can be truly astounding and the picture that is created with all of the different hues is magnificent.

After this, the trees will go dormant, lose their leaves to reveal spindly branches that scratch the sky with the wind.  Even those scrawny branches can be a pretty sight.  They reveal the structure that supported the leaves and gave us shade in the heat of summer.  It is all a very stunning sight.

All of that splendor in the leaves gives evidence to something:  Only God can make something beautiful as it dies.  Only God would think to bless us with such beauty.  As we watch the leaf “age” and reach the end of its life cycle, we are seeing its beauty shining through.  The combination of environmental stressors, rain & drought and hot & cold temperatures, create that color.   The severity affects the vibrancy.

In that, there is a lesson for us.  As we age and life our lives, we need to allow life’s stressors to create beauty in us that show through to others.  Rather than just let the things we experience destroy us, we should let them create within us a vibrancy that shines through despite the cold winds.  We need to be an example to others, showing that life and its challenges do not have to destroy us.  Instead they can be an opportunity to let some of our hidden beauty shine through.

We can’t do this on our own though.  Just as we know that the Lord uses the cold of Fall to create beauty in the leaves, we need to allow Him to uses the “cold of life” to create beauty in us.  We do that by continuing to walk with Christ and look to Him through all of life’s hardships and pains.  We have to remember and know that He can use all things for his good if we allow Him to.  We have to know that He can be glorified in every trial and trouble.  We have to understand that He has a greater plan and purpose than we could ever imagine or comprehend.  We have to know that no matter what cold wind blows or what torrential storm comes, that He has us in the palm of his hand and He will never let us go.  If we will do those things, the beauty that He can create will shine through.

So as you see the leaves change and fall, as you hear the soft crunch underfoot, remember that only God can make something beautiful as it fades and dies.  Keep your eyes on Him and your heart set on his goals and plans and He will cause that beauty shine through you.

Happy Fall Y’all,

Jeff

 


December 2015

From The Cotton Patch Gospels, the Gospel of Luke by Clarence Jordan

Luke 2:1-20

It happened in those days that a proclamation went out from President Augustus that every citizen must register. This was the first registration while Quirinius was Secretary of War. So everybody went to register, each going to his own home town. Joseph too went up from south Georgia from the city of Valdosta, to his home in north Georgia, a place named Gainesville, to register with his bride Mary, who by now was heavily pregnant.

While they were there, her time came, and she gave birth to her first boy. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in an apple box. (There was no room for them at the hospital.)

Now there were some farmers in that section who were up late at night tending their baby chicks. And a messenger from the Lord appeared to them, and evidence of the Lord was shining all about them. It nearly scared the life out of them. And the messenger said to them, “Don’t be afraid; for listen, I’m bringing you good news of a great joy in which all people will share. Today your deliverer was born in the city of David’s family. He is the Leader. He is the Lord. And here’s a clue for you: you will find the baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in an apple box.”

And all of a sudden there was with the messenger a crowd of angels singing God’s praises and saying,

“Glory in the highest to God,
And on Earth, peace to mankind,
The object of his favor.”

When the messengers went away from them into the sky, the farmers said to one another, “Let’s go to Gainesville and see how all this the Lord has showed us has turned out.”

So they went just as fast as they could, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in an apple box. Seeing this, they related the story of what had been told them about this little fellow. The people were simply amazed as they listened to what the farmers told them. And Mary clung to all these words, turning them over and over in her memories. The farmers went back home, giving God the credit and singing his praises for all they had seen and heard, exactly as it had been described to them.