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As I contemplated what to write for the first blog post of 2024, this verse from Psalm 143 came up as the verse of the day in YouVersion today. It has been my habit of late to choose a word for the year and this verse prompted me to ask myself, Am I teachable? And maybe, more importantly, Do I want to be?


When I googled the definition of teachable, this definition from Oxford Languages was at the top of the search page.


adjective: teachable

  1. (of a person) able to learn by being taught.

  2. (of a subject) able to be taught


I had to chuckle at the example of the word teachable listed under #1! "When we think we have things already figured out, we're not teachable." How many of us fit this description?


Then I had to ask myself, How often do I think I have God figured out? Am I teachable? Does this mean that God can't teach me anything new about Himself? Nothing new about me and my relationship with Him?


This reminded me of a hymn introduced to me last year, Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord, lyrics and music written by B. Mansell Ramsey in 1919. I have been finding myself singing it in my head of late. An arranger that I follow wrote in his notes,


"As I read the words to this hymn, I could see it was a humble prayer from someone who was seeking the will of the Lord and pleading for Him to

teach and help him understand His ways."


Much like the prayer of the psalmist, David, in Psalm 143, the hymn writer lists the many things that are going wrong in his life, yet he continues to ask for God's guidance and whether "in failure or distress, teach me thy way."


I have decided that "teachable" will be my word for 2024, Psalm 143:10 will be my verse, and this hymn will be my prayer for the year. Perhaps you will join me in this endeavor for the New Year? Or maybe you have chosen another word or verse for the year? Please share in the comments section below.



 

Photo by Nicolas Cool on Unsplash





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And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:7 (NKJV)

As we have entered the season of Advent, a song that I heard about a month or so ago, came to my mind. We are so familiar with the Christmas story about Mary and Joseph being turned away from the inn, as there was no room for them. More on that in a moment...


So they needed to find a place where there was room for Jesus to be born. This song, Make Room, by the group I AM THEY talks about making room for Jesus in our lives and what that means for us as Christ-followers. It is a song of surrender, not something we normally think about at Christmas.


But what if God is asking us to think about making room for Jesus and what that looks like? It's easy to have warm feelings about making room - for the Baby Jesus. But when we contemplate what the coming of Jesus meant for us - the Savior of the world and of our lives - born to signify God with us, ultimately his birth led to his death and then his resurrection. Have we made room for him to work in and through our lives?


I distinctly remember the John W. Peterson musical (published in 1963), Night of Miracles, and the song that stuck in my mind was No Room. Perhaps some of you have heard this before?



I wonder what would have happened if Mary and Joseph had reservations and actually had a room at the inn. Would we have viewed his birth differently? As Advent is upon us - are we making room for new insights and new experiences of what Christmas means to us?


Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts about "making room" for Jesus.

 

Opening Photo by Walter Chávez on Unsplash









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Updated: Sep 2, 2023


The following post was originally written for the Voices of Faith column published in the Ashland Times-Gazette on 9/1/23. Members of our county ministerial association take turns writing this column for our local paper. I fleshed this out of a sermon that I gave at our church in August about putting on the armor of God.

 

It seems like peace is a rare commodity these days. I'm not merely talking about peace between people, governments, or countries, but peace where it matters most. Personal peace or peace in our souls -- spiritual peace.


When thinking about spiritual peace, there are two facets that need to be understood. There is peace WITH God and the peace OF God.


Peace with God means that we are no longer separated from God. The debt of sin has been paid through Jesus Christ who bridged that gap and restored our relationship with God. Therefore, we are at peace with God, but only if we have believed in and accepted Jesus as Savior. To go a bit further, God's peace "is also an inner tranquility and calmness of the soul," says Priscilla Shirer. "God's peace gives us a firm grip which we need in a world that is not firm. It gives us stability, allows us to keep our footing, and will help to keep us sane." That is the peace of God. And when a person is at peace with God, then they can begin to experience the peace of God.


Perhaps what we need is "peace hygiene." Most people equate hygiene with dental hygiene or a new one that has garnered attention in recent years -- "sleep hygiene." Just as sleep hygiene refers to healthy habits that promote good sleep, so can peace hygiene promote peace of calmness in one's soul.


In order to have true and lasting peace, you need to evaluate your relationship with God. Are you at peace with Him? As stated above, have you believed and accepted His Son, Jesus, as your Lord and Savior? Have you accepted His gift of forgiveness of your sin? If not, I would urge you to consider asking Him into your life. In John 14:27 (NLT), Jesus says, "I am leaving you with a gift -- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid." And having taken this first step towards peace, you can begin to tap into the peace of God. "Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:27 (NLT)


As with sleep hygiene, it is also important to not be focused on the bad things that are bombarding us and to remember that God is in control.

Max Lucado used this acronym for C.A.L.M. in his book, Anxious for Nothing. C - Celebrate God's goodness. A - Ask God for help. L - Leave your concerns with Him. M - Meditate on good things. I would suggest using this every day, perhaps at night before bed. A friend recently told me that she used to feel guilty when falling asleep when praying in bed, but she stated that it now gives her comfort and peace.


Space limitations prevent me from continuing with further steps. But whether you are a new or seasoned follower of Christ, we all need to practice peace hygiene.


P.S. What peace hygiene tips have helped you maintain your peace? Leave your comments below.


P.S.S. I was asked to sing "It is Well with My Soul" for a dear saint's funeral. I chose to use this arrangement by Chris Rice.





 

Background Photo Credit: Photo Lucas Calloch on Unsplash




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