Monthly Archives: December 2016

Do you have a Christmas heart?

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By Carol Round
Special to Inside The Pew

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” –Isaiah 9:6 (NIV).

Are you ready for Christmas? I’ve been asked this question by friends, as well as those I meet at the grocery check-out, in the post office line and other public places where I’m waiting.

Children are also waiting. Waiting to see what’s underneath the Christmas tree, wondering if they will receive the desires of their hearts. Time seems to stand still as they count down the days until Christmas.

Others I’ve observed while shopping reveal faces void of hope, a knowing that there won’t be much to unwrap. The desires of their hearts, as well as many of their needs, will go unmet.

In a devotion excerpt by author Ann Voskamp, she wrote, “What we’re really getting ready for is love. Preparing for the holidays is primarily a preparing of the heart. Because what comes down is love, and the way to receive love isn’t to wrap anything up –but to unwrap your heart.”

With the approach of Christmas Day, the season of Advent is almost over. It’s a time to prepare our lives for Christ to enter in. Voskamp says, “Is that the ultimate purpose of this life—the preparing for the next life?

“Is this why Christmas, Advent, unlike any other time of year, glimmers with a glimpse of heaven—because it’s the time of year we’re fulfilling our purpose, preparing for Christ and His coming again? The Christmas tree’s been lit for weeks, a beacon, a preparing, an anticipation,” she adds. “Then, why is it easier to make Christmas cookies than to make our hearts ready for Christ?”

Why is it so difficult for us to reject the lure of commercialism and turn to the heart of the One who came down for one purpose? Why do we find it hard to simplify our physical preparations, instead of preparing our hearts for His coming?trailer movie

American newspaper columnist George Mathew Adams said, “Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide-open heart that thinks of others first. The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world of the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years… Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart.”

What does a Christmas heart look like? In “Our Advent Journey,” Mark Zimmerman wrote, “This Advent we look to the Wise Men to teach us where to focus our attention. We set our sights on things above, where God is. We draw closer to Jesus… When our Advent journey ends, and we reach the place where Jesus resides in Bethlehem, may we, like the Wise Men, fall on our knees and adore him as our true and only King.”

Let Him fulfill your heart’s desire this Christmas.

Round is available to speak at women’s events or to lead prayer journaling workshops. Email carolaround@yahoo.com

 

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His instructions are clear: watch and pray

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By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

President-elect Donald Trump is moving on past his victory on Election Day. Yet, based on the Trump reactions I’ve read on socialphilippians 4 19 the message media and seen on news shows, there are still Americans who are not satisfied with the Nov. 8 results. It is OK to hold a bit of dismay because your candidate didn’t win, but how long will you wallow in despair? It is time to let it go. While this column is not intended to endorse Trump, it is to tell Christians to never forget what God has assured believers.

The madness revealed after the election at the hands of the enemy has led people to become misguided. You know what the Bible has outlined for us; he will supply all your needs (Philippians 4-19). The people who are upset are the ones who are situational Christians. If you completely believe the world is going to hell in a handbasket because of Trump, put the brakes on refer and back to God’s instructions (I Peter 5:7). To rise above anything, you have to believe in Him.

When you understand His instructions, He clearly tells us to watch and pray. Matthew 26:41 tell us to “watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” There is a reason that God tells us to watch and understand who your enemy is, comprehend His tactics, prepare by knowing His word, and to pray without ceasing to win the battle.

When the Almighty tells us to watch, it is the Christian’s duty to know what the enemy is doing to destroy His people and His church.

Due to fear and lack of recognizing what the enemy’s capabilities, people begin to believe the prophecy of those whoGrelan Muse Sr. don’t understand God’s intent. Fear is a feeling derived from people who have not faith in the words of God; He tells us not worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34).

Christians truly understand that it time to heal from the presidential election. In this process, we all must become humble and accept what God has allowed with a clean heart and renewed spirit.

Grelan A. Muse Sr., a Baton Rouge resident, is founder of Inside The Pew and Pew Talk Radio.

© 2016 Inside The Pew

 

Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank receives $1.4M from FEMA

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Special to Inside The Pew

The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank has been able to continue its feeding mission with the help of a nearly $1.4 million FEMA grant.

The grant reimburses expenses to dispose of debris, clean and disinfect property and equipment and restoregreater baton rouge food bank refrigeration and freezing at the Choctaw Drive distribution facility damaged in the August flooding event. It also provides the food bank with a temporary facility to support its essential community service.

The nonprofit stores food at the distribution facility that faith-based and community groups then distribute to pantries, meal sites, homes, shelters and soup kitchens in the Baton Rouge area.

The funds were made available through FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) program. The program reimburses expenses to eligible local and state government and certain private nonprofit entities in 26 designated parishes to repair or replace disaster-damaged facilities and infrastructure.

The 26 designated parishes eligible for PA funding are Acadia, Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Cameron, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Livingston, Point Coupee, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vermilion, Washington, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana.

FEMA typically reimburses 75 percent of eligible PA expenses. However, applicants will be reimbursed 90 percent of eligible PA expenses given the magnitude of the August floods. The federal portion is paid directly to the state, which then disburses the funds to the applicants.

How to deal with loneliness at Christmas

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By Rusty Wright
Special to ASSIST News Service

MOUNT HERMON, CA – ‘Tis the season to be … gloomy?

Feeling low this Christmas season? You’re not alone. Amid cheery songs, festive parties, gifts and good wishes, many

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lonely people are crying or dying on the inside. Maybe you’re one of them. I was.

During a horrible year, my wife of twenty years divorced me, my employer of 25 years fired me, and I had a cancer scare. As I drove home one night, lovely Christmas music came on the radio. Melancholy aching evidenced the deep pain of abandonment and loss that I was still processing. No fun.

Blue Christmas

Romantic estrangement, family strife, and bereavement can make your holidays dismal. One of Elvis Presley’s most popular songs was “Blue Christmas.” A lonely crooner mourns heartbreaking lost love. Performers from The Beach Boys to Celine Dion, Loretta Lynn, and Jon Bon Jovi have recorded it.

Does even thinking about that song make you depressed? The spoofed “Porky Pig” version could get you laughing. Google will take you there. But please … wait until finishing this short article to search, OK?!

Several factors can produce Christmas blues. Hectic activity can bring physical and emotional stress. Overspending can produce financial pressure. Year-end reflection and focus on loss can magnify sorrow.

McGill University psychologist Michael Spevack notes, “Over eating and over drinking combined with a decreased amount of sleep is also a formula for extreme emotional swings.” Depression can lead to thoughts of suicide, especially among the socially isolated, he says.

The ‘Empty Chair’

Is your family apart this season by necessity or choice? Maybe an “empty chair” reminds you of your pain. Does Christmas “Ho, Ho, Ho” contrast with your deep anguish?

One widow recalled how she felt during the Christmas after her husband’s death: “Little mattered to me. I didn’t want to hear carols. I didn’t want to be cheered up. I didn’t want to look at perky Christmas cards. I wanted the same thing I’d wanted every day for eight months: the strength to force myself out of bed in the morning, to brush my teeth and to eat.”

One possible influence, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a form of depression the medical community doesn’t completely understand. The Mayo Clinic says genetics, age and body chemistry could be the culprits. Mayo recommends seeing your doctor if you feel down for days and have motivation problems. Symptoms can include changing sleep patterns and appetite, feeling hopeless, contemplating suicide, or seeking comfort in alcohol.

Coping

How can you cope with Christmas loneliness? Some suggestions:

Spend time with people, especially positive ones who lift your spirits. Perhaps you’ll be grateful for their cheer.

Exercise regularly.  Blood pumping can help clear your mind.

Eat right. Chocaholics beware. Overindulgence can mean temporary highs followed by disappointing flab.

Lights on! Enjoy sunlight, outdoors if possible. Brighten up your home and workplace. Light therapy sometimes helps SAD.

Budget your gift spending and stick with your budget. Prevent January bill shock.

Talk about your feelings. Keeping them bottled up can mean anxiety, ulcers, sour disposition, and/or explosion. Need a trusted, listening friend? Try a local church.

Give to others. Volunteer. Medical professor Stephen Post, PhD, is convinced that giving is essential for optimum physical and mental health in our fragmented society. He says some California physicians give volunteerism “prescriptions” to their Medicare patients.

Seek counsel. I used to be embarrassed to obtain professional counsel. Now I recommend it. We all can use good advice navigating life’s storms.

Develop spiritual roots. I’m glad that before my dark days began, I had a friendship with God.

Now, I realize you may not agree with me about spiritual matters. But – with sincere respect for you – may I politely mention a few thoughts that have made sense to me, and which you might wish to consider?

Tired of friends who betray, manipulate, disrespect, or desert you? God won’t. He cares for you, values you, will listen to you and comfort you. You can trust Him. He always wants your best.

One early believer put it this way: “Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else?” His point: God loved us enough to send Jesus, his only Son, to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our wrong, our sins. What a demonstration of love! I can trust a God like that. Then Jesus rose from the dead so he could live inside us and become our friend.

Your Choice

Would you like to meet Jesus, the best friend you could ever have? Wouldn’t Christmas season be a great time to place your faith in him? You can tell him something like this:

Jesus, I need you. Thanks for dying and rising again for me. Please forgive me, enter my life, and give me eternal life. Help me to become good friends with you and learn to follow your lead.

Did you just trust Jesus to forgive you and enter your life? If so, ask the person or group that gave you this article how you can get to know him better. Even if you’re skeptical or undecided, ask them your questions. I have a hunch they’d love to talk with you.

About the writer: Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents.  He Rusty Wrightholds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. www.RustyWright.com

This article first appeared in Answermagazine 15:6, November/December 2008.  Copyright © 2008 by Rusty Wright. Used by permission.  All rights reserved.