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"it's a wrap"

Well, Christmas is over; it’s a wrap. It is amazing how many preparations go into it and then it’s over all too fast. Annette has given me the dreaded news that tonight I need to bring in all the Christmas storage bins and begin to take all the decorations down inside and out. This is my least favorite part of Christmas, but I find some symbolism in this process. We are not only wrapping up Christmas, we are also wrapping up a year and beginning a new one. Is there anything that is going on in your life or something that happened this past year that you need to take down and put away? I bet there probably is for all of us. Some of these things that we need to put away have been left out far too long, like the person who still has their Christmas lights on the house in May. Something about that just looks really wrong.
Of course the real strategy should be to put those things away and then get rid of the bin all together, not to ever bring those things out again. So, as you take down some decorations and store them away, examine what should be put away in your life, heart or mind and get rid of it for good. 2018 here we come!


I recently had the opportunity to commit an act of kindness last week that cost me very little but it turned someone else from sorrow to joy. The look of gratitude on her face when she finally realized something was for once going to go right for them was priceless. Overall, we live in a world that can be very mean and cruel. The news bombards us with the stories of how creative men can be at hurting each other. The news screams outrage and blame. A friend reminded me that kindness can go a long way. I don’t know how far my little act of kindness went for the individual I helped, but by the huge smile on her face as she said to me “God bless you!” I’d like to believe it went a long way. Can I ask you a question? What if for a whole week you paused before every conversation, every encounter, every hard moment, every casual encounter, and simply asked ourselves, “What would Kindness DO right here, SAY right here, BE right here?”.  I think we might be stunned in what we would see and experience. I think kindness could do a whole lot more than we think. “Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32


Well, the Simmons house got a new cat about a month ago and it is still very much more like a kitten than a cat. Now, anyone that knows me knows I am not a real big fan of pets, but of course my wife loves cats. After several years of not having a cat around the house, Annette really wanted to have one again so she found this little feline and brought it into our home. Everything has worked out just fine because Annette works from home and has the availability to watch him, take care of him, and give him attention, which allows me and the cat to stay in our own spaces. Well, things changed drastically this week as Annette had to leave on a business trip for a WHOLE WEEK. That Cat of ours has been spoiled by the constant attention of Annette and now she is gone and I am gone all day. I think you can probably see where this is going. That Cat needs attention. Now, when I say needs attention I mean NEEDS ATTENTION!! The minute I wake up in the morning until I walk out the door that cat is all around my feet, purring and meowing, demanding attention. When I get home from work it’s at a whole other level of neediness. So, the other night I was sitting on the couch watching baseball and he came and sat by me. I was cool with that. He laid there and would paw at my arm but that’s as far as the affection was going to go. All of a sudden he reached back and clawed at my hand. And yes, he broke the skin! Then he just looked at me. Of course the Cat (whose name is Nigel) was simply insisting that I pay more attention to him and striking at me was his way of saying that.
How much is that just like us as human beings? We crave attention. There is nothing wrong with wanting some attention. God made us that way so we could reflect His desire to know us and love us and for us to know Him and love Him. The sad thing is that sometimes we crave attention so badly we srtike out in hurtful and painful ways thinking that’s the only way we will get our needs met. I have seen too many painful and hurtful things done by people desiring attention. 

Be careful when you feel the need for attention or affection that you don’t lose sight of your position as a child of God who promises to never leave us or forsake us. Set your attention on Him first and see what He has for you.
“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

back to school

It is back to school season. I see all over social media pictures of kids of all ages all dressed up in their new clothes and fresh haircuts standing outside their front door or in a classroom and it makes me smile. I loved back to school days when my kids were in school and not because Summer was over and they would be out of the house, but because I loved the excitement and adventure of it. I loved going shopping for school supplies with them and I loved going to the outlet mall in North Bend to get them some new things.  I loved back to school days!
There's a side of it that I don't like so much though. Back to school now seems to mean that there is a life lesson, a leadership lesson, a relationship lesson, or a discipline lesson that generally carries some level of pain and disruption to the status quo. I love status quo, especially when it allows me to stay blind to areas of my life that should change or be addressed.
So, as the kids head back to school maybe we adults should be open to going back to school as well, whether we like it or not.

all things new

I was sitting and studying for Sunday today in one of my favorite Starbucks. As I was sitting there with my headphones on listening to worship music, a couple came in and sat down fairly close to where I was and I could tell they were having a very sad or difficult conversation. The women was wiping tears away as they talked and the guy was listening and holding her hands. As they were conversing, the song “All Things New” came on over my headphones and it reminded me that we live in a world with a lot of brokenness. Now, I don’t know what the couple was conversing about, but my heart went out to them and I prayed that Jesus would draw close to them. There is a line in the chorus of the song that I prayed over them and over you today if your are in the midst of difficult circumstances. It goes like this, "When I'm shattered you rebuild me, when I'm broken you will heal me, when all hope is gone you restore my soul".
I pray today that you will know Jesus to be your rebuilder and your healer.

cold and heat

It is amazing how the weather can shift so drastically here in the Northwest. Last Sunday it got up to 100 degrees but by Wednesday we woke up to a low of 52, an almost 50 degree drop! Now, I’m not complaining because I am grateful that we see 52 a lot more often than 100. I am so much more comfortable at 52 then at 100. Those temperature swings remind me of the promise that God made to Noah after the flood. God promised this, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22
Some of you are heat people, you like those hot days of 90’s and above. Others are more like me and we are just fine with the cool 70 and lower weather. Either way, the reality according to God's promise is that the seedtime and harvest we all want requires the cold as well as the heat.
 Some of you today are in a cold season and you long for the heat. Some of you are in a heat season and you long for a cool breeze. Know that this season will change eventually and the two, cold and heat, are working to provide you a harvest.
This reminds me of the promise that He works all things together for our good.
Be blessed today!

"it's coming!"

I've had a lot of conversations about how wet and cold it has been this year and how long Spring is taking to get here. I've heard of gardens not blooming, I've heard of tomato plants dying. My own freshly re-seeded lawn has large patches of no growth as the seed and soil was washed out by the storm a couple weeks ago. And now they are saying that we are only 5 days away from 80 degree temperatures. I am all for it and very ready to break out some shorts and sunglasses (though I'm not sure you will be ready to see my stark white and pale looking legs).
This long awaited Spring season is on it's way and it reminds me of all the other things in our lives that we are waiting for. All of us have things we that we are waiting for; things that we are asking God to do or bring or stop or accomplish. The hard part in the waiting is just the waiting, as life around us does not stop and wait with us. And even worse, just like my yard, our situations can get worse while we are waiting. Waiting is hard because you feel helpless. Waiting is hard because no one else can take your place in the wait. Waiting is hard because you have good reason to believe that what you're waiting for should have already come but it just hasn’t. 
There is no science or easy formula for waiting but let me take a shot at giving some thoughts on how to wait as best you can:
1.    Do your best to focus on other things.
2.    Stay thankful for the many other things that have come to pass in your life that you currently are enjoying.
3.    Invest yourself in serving others who are waiting for things themselves.
4.    Do your best to move forward in your life and not be frozen by what you are waiting for.
5.    Finally and obviously, continue to pray, read the Word, and worship.
Take heart, Spring is coming! It's on it's way, I promise!

palm sunday

Well, we are just days away from Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is the day we celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem one week before His resurrection from the dead. Jesus had come to save His people from their sin, but most did not see Him as their Savior, rather a nationalistic savior for Isreal over the Romans. He was at the height of His earthly popularity as he entered a crowded Jerusalem; everyone was there to celebrate their greatest holiday called Passover. So, as they saw Jesus entering the city, the people, including his 12 disciples, thought that Jesus was going to make a move to sit on the throne of Isreal. But they had it all wrong. 
It says in John 12:16 “His disciples did not understand these things at first. However, when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered…”.
Jesus is always active in our lives just as He was on that first Palm Sunday. He is operating at another level however, and at times we are just like his disciples, unaware of what is really happening or of the meaning behind it all. My lack of understanding in what is going on is not always a sign that there is something wrong in me or that I don’t have faith. I would ask you to consider that quite possibly  the fact that you don’t understand what is happening around you but you still choose to follow Jesus is a sign that you do have faith.
It's Palm Sunday week and Jesus is as real now as He was when He rode into Jerusalem so long ago. Look to Him even beyond what you don’t understand.

fresh eyes

Annette and I have just returned from a trip to visit Life Church in Uganda. This is a church Trinity supports monthly so they asked me to come and do some teaching and preaching as they transition to new pastors. I was blessed to be invited and it was awesome to see how God worked in me to be a blessing and encouragement to them. However, I think they taught me as much as I taught them. I plan to preach about what I learned this Sunday so I hope you will make plans to be at church. I believe God has a word for us if we are willing to hear it. Today though, I want to talk about having fresh eyes. The reason it can be so important for us to get out of our comfort zones and normal lives and visit other ministries, countries and cultures is that it opens our eyes to new thoughts, new ideas, and new perspectives. We can become so tunnel visioned by our everyday lives, everyday desires and everyday responsibilities until we are simply moving through life with eyes that don’t see beyond ourselves. We need to have fresh eyes, eyes that see more than what is right in front of us, eyes that see what God is doing on a grand scale, eyes that are willing to see the hard things about ourselves so that we can make adjustments and move into a fresh new reality. I pray you will be open to God taking you out of your comfort zone so that He can strip away the scales that keep us from seeing what God sees and what He cares about.

"don't waver"

"He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave Glory to God." Romans 4:20


This verse is speaking of our friend Abraham in the Old Testament. From reading this text you would think of Abraham as a pillar of faith and strength. You might consider him to be a perfect individual who demonstrated such faith that it would be impossible for you to imitate because you are too well aware of your weakness, your momentary doubts, or your occasional struggles with standing on Gods word; but if that is your conclusion you are wrong. Abraham lied to protect himself when he didn’t need to. He actually told people that his wife was his sister because he was afraid that Sarah's beauty might make some men want to kill him to take her for themselves. Really Abraham? Imagine what Sarah was thinking! Talk about hubby being in the doghouse! Yet scripture says Abraham did not waver in unbelief! To not waver doesn’t mean you won't stumble and fall or struggle with circumstances. It simply means that when you stumble you get back up. When you struggle with circumstances, you hang on until it passes. You won't always look heroic but that doesn’t mean you have given up or are wavering. So my friends, don’t waver; God is still writing your story.

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