There's something about Mary

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There's something about Mary

There’s something about Mary that we shouldn’t miss this Christmas time – I’m talking about the mother of Jesus, not the 1998 film!

In Luke chapter 2 we read that Mary had just been visited by a number of very excited shepherds. They had come to find the Messiah who, they had been told by an angel of God, would be lying in a manger in Bethlehem.  The Messiah; the Saviour; the Lord – the baby in her arms!

Then in Luke 2:19 it says “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” I think that line is put there as a point of application for us. Mary “pondered” what she had seen and heard, she meditated on them - we might say “she took time-out to think”. This caused her to “treasure” these things – it brought her deep joy.

That is Mary’s challenge to us this Christmas. In all the frantic activity will we do the same? Will we make and spend time this Christmas to think, ponder and treasure the precious truths we know? Will we grow to appreciate the gift of Christ more this Christmas?

I want to show you three easy ways to help your family to appreciate Jesus more this year:

If your kids are young… This advent calendar has short devotional readings that go with it. It will help you stop and read and rejoice. It will also reinforce the expectation that we read the Bible as a family. What a great time of year to start!

If your kids are a bit older - if you have already started a system of Bible reading as a family, XTB is designed to be done over the dinner table. If you have always wanted to, but never know the right time to start. Now! Christmas.

If your kids are in secondary school - we have read through this excellent seasonal devotional as a family. Short enough to be done every night at dinner. Full of material you will want to follow up.

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Divine scribbling

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Divine scribbling

Scribbling shows we’re created in God’s image

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Prayer Works!

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Prayer Works!

A brief history of CEC prayer meetings

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Encouragement works with the dog... and people!

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Encouragement works with the dog... and people!

The dog and I have an ongoing battle. He's decided that he doesn't like pavements or the lead. The two things usually go together in his life. As soon as we approach the pavement section of the walk his usual happy amble slows to a crawl. This means that, when it comes to putting the lead on, I turn round to find him standing 10 feet behind me with a look somewhere between defiance and despondence on his face. If he could sing "We will, we will not be moved!", he would.

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All my best efforts to get him to come to me fail. He might just shuffle forwards, but at a rate that seems to emphasise the fact that he understands me, but it refusing to cooperate. So, rather irritated, I go back and put the lead on. I then proceed to drag him along beside the road. The lead taught stretched out behind me. The dog looking like a man being led to the gallows.

I used to think this was physical issue. The lead section comes late in the walk, perhaps he's tired? Maybe the hard pavement is bad for his arthritis? But when we get to the next wooded section, and I take the lead off, he skips off in front of me like a happy puppy! The issue is psychological. 

Those who know me, will confirm that I am a man who likes to be in control. Therefore, the dog's behaviour was beginning to do my head in. I had even changed our walking route so that he couldn't pain and humiliate me with his grumpy shuffle!

But then I had a revelation. Why not try encouraging him?

So I took the lead off (he walks to heel - almost) and started to say "Good boy!" Repeatedly. Constantly. It felt a bit awkward, I mean he was just walking, what's so hard about that? But it worked! He restored his normal gait: happy amble with occasional trot. He might even have been smiling. I took this to be the joy and love he felt towards me, his now reasonably master. Rather than the sweet taste of victory!

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We've been preaching Hebrews at church. As Bible books go it is pretty serious about both the dangers of stopping walking with Jesus and the results if you do so. Throughout the book we've seen that one of the keys to keeping going is to encourage each other. Hebrews 3:13 says:

"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness."

It may well feel a bit awkward encouraging each other daily. We live in a cynical British culture, where we're quicker to run people down than build them up. A culture where you certainly don't interfere in anyone else's life! But we need encouragement. Lots of encouragement. According to the Bible, daily encouragement. Encouragement to look to Jesus and rejoice in Jesus. 

So I'm going to try and be more encouraging. To tell people what I'm rejoicing in about the way Christ is at work in them, rather than what I feel they're not doing or could do better. I'm going to start with my wife and then my children, because they get the least encouragement from me. But the aim is to do it with the church as well! I might even try my mother.

It worked with the dog. So maybe it will work with people too!

 

 

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