Encouragement When God Feels Far Away

Christmas is a special time of year. There are all of the “regular” things we do at Christmas. We bake cookies, decorate trees and homes, visit with family, and have huge dinners. Alongside those are the “churchy” things we use to celebrate the season. We sing Carols, light candles, put on Christmas pageants and plan Christmas Eve services. Chances are there are still more dinners to attend.

We take this season to celebrate, not all of the things, but Jesus. It’s one of two big days every year we make an extra effort to put Jesus at the forefront of everything. And we even have a measure of permission to do it.

Most of us are used to celebrating Christmas in one form or another every year. We expect it to come. Many of us are also familiar with the Scriptures detailing the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. It would be hard to forget for some. But when Christ came, God’s people were in the middle of wondering if God would ever speak to them again.

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Don’t be Afraid of the Fear of the Lord

Most of us woke up this morning in a place of safety. Whether your doors were locked or your windows left open, you felt safe enough to close your eyes and go to sleep without wondering if something or someone was going to harm you. We are truly blessed to have this safety.

Others live in constant fear. There are places of unrest around the world where people don’t know what they will wake to. Will there be food for them to eat? Will strangers be holding a gun or a knife to them? Will there be peace or war? Will they wake up at all?

We equate fear with a horrible existence. “How can people live like that?” we ask. When it appears in our “safe” part of the world we call it paranoia or chalk it up to a psychological disorder. The Disabled World website lists and defines 87 known phobias. Yet Scripture tells us the importance of a unique type of fear.

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Don’t be Afraid of the Storm

Do you remember what it was like to be afraid of thunderstorms? As children we might’ve thought the lightning was just another kind of fireworks show, until the crash of thunder rolled in behind it. We try to tell little ones they don’t have to be afraid, but it rarely works. One story I heard when I was little was that the thunder was the sound of angels bowling. Apparently they’re a lot better at it than I am.

My family has a little dog. I call him a “scaredy-dog” because he’s afraid of everything. If the smoke alarm goes off when I’m cooking, he whines until he can get out of the house. When one of the cats gets near him, he whines and tries to get away. And when there is a thunderstorm in the forecast, he whimpers all day, dreading its coming. He used to belong to my mother-in-law. She tells us how he would try to hide under her pillow during a storm. While she was sleeping on it. He’s a crazy little dog.

bench rain

What about you? Are you afraid of thunderstorms? Do the claps of thunder still catch you off guard? I still count the seconds between lightning and thunder to see how close the storm is and whether it is coming or going. I still expect to hear the sound of smaller footsteps entering the bedroom. But not every storm we face is found in the clouds and rain. Thankfully, there is a powerful key to weathering the storms of life.

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Book Review: “Every Leader’s Everest” by Jim C. Molloy

molloy_everyleaderseverestAs a leader, do you know what your greatest struggle is? Various answers may be running through your head. “Getting people to follow.” “Knowing how to make good decisions.” “Coming up with some kind of vision or direction for the people I lead.”

While all of these are genuine concerns, they are not your greatest struggle. It is not an external force, but an internal one; one that lies within you and threatens all that you hope to accomplish. Jim Molloy reveals the worst enemy of leadership in “Every Leader’s Everest.”

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