Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Missing the Messiah

The Old Testament of the Bible is filled with prophecies of a coming Messiah. Jews living at the time of Jesus’ birth had long been anticipating the coming of their savior. Hundreds of years before his birth it had been predicted that the Messiah would: be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14a), in Bethlem (Micah 5:2), from King David’s bloodline (2 Samuel 7:12-16). It was also foretold that He would be: Anointed by God’s Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2), a worker of miracles (Isaiah 35:5-6) and that he would ride a donkey into Jerusalem (Zechariah 9:9). The way Jesus would die was also accurately predicted by the prophets, who said He would: be rejected (Isaiah 53:3), be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12), have his Hands and feet pierced (Psalm 22:16), and that he would rise from the dead (Psalm 16:10) and ascent into heaven (Psalm 68:18).¹

In fact, Jesus fulfilled every one of the hundreds of messianic prophecies in the Bible. So, I just cannot fathom how or why the Jews of his day who spent their whole lives learning and studying the scriptures did not recognize Jesus as their Messiah. How could they have missed it?

The truth is that 2000 years later we are still missing Him. Some miss the invitation to enter into a relationship with Him, even though he keeps knocking, waiting to be let in. Others miss the opportunity to grow closer to him by allowing our busyness to replace His presence. We also miss him when we neglect serving those in need….after all, He is most easily found among the least of these.

As we join together with family and friends to celebrate Christmas…let’s not miss Him, especially since this is His party after all. And, throughout the year, let’s keep looking for Him with determination and vigilance. Let’s also make sure we continue to train our children and grandchildren to look for and find Jesus, each and every day.

1. http://www.messianic-prophecy.net/

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What are you saying...really?

I was recently visiting someone in the hospital when I noticed an inconspicuous sheet of paper hung on a wall near the nurses station. The note was apparently a weekly exercise for the nurses to work on, meant to help them improve their job performance. The lesson this particular week was, “I will let my patients know that they are important to me by my body language and my words”.

As I read this message, I thought to myself, “Wow! What a great lesson. We could all stand to work on the message we send to others with our body language and words.” I felt ashamed, too, when I thought about how often I have made the people important to me feel like they were anything but.

So, I read the statement again and again, but this time personalizing it with each read. “I will let my husband know how important he is to me by my body language and my words”. “I will let my children know that they are important to me by my body language and my words”. “I will let my mother know that she is important to me by my body language and my words”.

I’m sure there will still be plenty of times that my body language and words do not send the message, “You’re Important to Me”, but this little exercise sure did bring things into better perspective for me, serving as a good reminder to think about the way I treat the people in my life.

Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 12:36-37? "But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

Careless words, I have spoken so many of them. You probably have, too. Let’s pray today for forgiveness for these words we will be judged by. Let’s also pray that God will give us n the discipline to guard our hearts, minds and tounges.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remember Me

I watched a 9/11 special the other night on TV. The show basically revisited the tragic events of the day that changed our nation and our world. I was surprised at the strong feelings of dismay, grief, anxiety and anger that came rushing back as I watched the awful images captured of the attacks replayed.

It’s amazing how very deeply felt emotions can quickly fade into the background of our crowded consciences. Events in our lives that once consumed our every thought become distant memories as life continues to go on.

God knows how prone we are to forget things, which is why in the Bible he so frequently implores his people to remember his miracles, his covenants, his promises and his word. He urges us to keep these things top of mind so that we stay profoundly aware of His relationship with us and his presence in the world.

Jesus used what would be his last time around the Passover table with his disciples to encourage them to remember Him. Paul paints the scene in 1 Corinthians: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Following this example and taking Communion or the Lord’s Supper is a very intimate way to reflect and remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us on a regular basis. We can also look for other ways to remember God’s faithfulness. Maybe it’s a prayer journal that you keep. Periodically, you can look back through it to remember God’s intervention and answered prayers. An artist might create a picture or write a song expressing a spiritually significant experience. Parents, you can use time at the dinner table to ask your kids about the things they are thankful for and to talk about the way God is working in your family’s life. Be creative! How you do it is not important; but, what is important is that God’s love stays always fresh in your mind.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Is Your Hidden Agenda a Hinderance?

I’m going to miss Tim Russert. I didn’t know him personally, but I greatly admired his work and his seemingly unbiased style of presenting political news. I always felt that when I heard it from Tim, I heard it straight. Washington DC is a world driven by opinions and agendas, and I am sure that Tim had his share of them as well. But, he somehow managed to put them aside when he was on the job. His honest and fair delivery created a trust between him, the guests on his show and his viewers. I can think of no other person in the media today who has garnered that kind of respect from such a vast and diverse audience.

We can all learn a lesson from Tim. Especially those of us who are hoping to tell people about the best news of all…the Good News about Jesus. The message of the Gospel is very straightforward and does not need to be sensationalized, manipulated, dressed up or dumbed-down. But, all too often we allow our own agendas, opinions and biases to cloud its message. When we do this, not only do we lose credibility in the eyes of the people we are trying to reach, so does the Gospel.

Paul had the right perspective about evangelism when he wrote this verse in Corinthians "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow." (1 Cor. 3:6-7)

Later in Corinthians, Paul reminds us that our own words and ideas can do way more harm than good. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (1 Corinthians 1:17)

The next time you feel led to tell someone about Jesus, take a moment to ask God to help you to clear your heart of anything that comes from you and not from the truth. Pray that your motivation will be pure and that the message you deliver will be the unadulterated truth about Jesus Christ.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A New Name

Hi, I’m Suzanne McCann and this is a Moment for Mom.

I hope I didn’t startle you with that introduction. But, if not for the parents who chose to adopt me, that might have been my real name. In fact, on my hospital records and initial birth certificate, my name is listed as Suzanne McCann. With a name like that, I think I was destined to work in radio!

However, my adoptive parents had a different name in mind for me…Tamera Jane. And, of course I took their last name as well. Tamera became Tami, and the rest is history. But, the name changing didn’t stop there, once I got married, I took my maiden name as my middle name and my husband’s last name as mine.

There’s a verse in the book of Revelation that leads me to believe that my name changing is not complete, it says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” (Rev 2:17)

So, why does God have a new name for me? And, what is it? Just as my adoptive parents had a name selected for their child, God has a name chosen for me. How cool that he loves me so much as an individual that he has a name for me. Even though I don’t know what it is…I am sure it will suit me like no other name could. After all, He created me and he knows me better than any earthly parent ever could.

So, think about this today. The same God who created the earth and the heavens and named everything in them also has a name just for you!!

And, speaking of new names…I would like to rename a Moment for Mom. I realize that a lot of people who listen every day are not moms! Many aren’t even women! So, I’m asking for your help. Please send your name suggestions for my daily devotional to me via email…tami@wbfj.fm.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Mess of Olympic Proportions

The city of Beijing is scrambling to clean up its mess before the 2008 Summer Olympics. When Beijing was selected to host the ’08 Games, the Chinese Government promised to get the city’s pollution in check and to comply with air quality standards set by the World Health Organization. However, with just weeks to go, the air is still so polluted it poses a health risk to Olympic athletes and spectators.

So, in a last ditch effort the city has poured over $16 billion dollars into halting the haze. Factories have been closed, commuters are only permitted to drive their vehicles every other day and construction projects have come to a screeching halt. They are even firing artillery shells into the sky filled with a chemical thought to trigger rain showers, hoping a good rain will help clean the air.

Here’s what gets me. For decades, the Chinese government has allowed this problem to exist and worsen. Concern for the health of it’s citizens has been far outweighed by China’s desire to become a world power. How sad for the people of China that it’s only now, when the rest of the world is watching, that Beijing is taking drastic steps to end pollution.

This situation kind of reminds me of the way I approached my faith when I was a teenager. I knew about God and I knew that I was not behaving in a Godly way. But, I also figured that I was a teenager and I had plenty of time to get my act together and get serious about being a Christian. What foolishness!

Here’s the bottom line…we all have souls that are clouded with spiritual filth. There is only one way to clean it up, and that is by accepting the gift of forgiveness that Jesus has to offer. Unlike Beijing, we do not know when our deadline is…tomorrow is not even a guarantee, so be ready.

Remember Jesus’s words in Matthew: Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

So, are you ready?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Kung Fu Panda

My family recently saw the movie Kung Fu Panda. The story is about a group of Kung Fu experts, known as the furious five, and their trainer. When they find out that their evil arch enemy is preparing to attack they must find the legendary “Dragon Master” who, according to prophecy, is the only one who can defeat this powerful enemy.

When the wise temple leader determines that the “chosen one” is an overweight, out of shape Panda bear named Po you can imagine the skepticism and frustration of the furious five, who felt certain that the Dragon Master would be one of them. However, much to everyone’s surprise, Po the pudgy panda manages to overcome his weaknesses and fulfill his role as the Dragon Master.

How often do we find ourselves like the furious five, selling other people short? Or, like Po, selling ourselves short. The voice inside our head protests, The problem with selling people short is that we really have no idea what anyone else or ourselves are capable of. We also are forgetting that God can use anyone to accomplish his purposes. The bible is filled with stories of unlikely heroes...Moses, Rahab, David, Paul and even Jesus were the last people anyone would have suspected as history makers.

Nathaniel, one of Jesus' disciples, was one of the people who sold Jesus short. When Phillip told him that they had "found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Nathaniel's response was, " "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?"

Unfortunately, I can relate to Nathaniel. There have been too many times that I've allowed my narrow minded judgments to get in the way of seeing a persons full potential. So, let's pray today that God will help us overcome our stereotypes. Ask Him to allow you to see people with his eyes and an open heart.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Made to Love

I am currently in Nashville for GMA week. The highlight of the time is the Dove Awards, it’s sort of like the Grammies of Christian music. So, I’ve decided to use Moment for Mom to dig a little deeper into some of the nominees for song of the year.

One of those songs is Toby Mac’s, “Made to Love.” Toby starts this song describing waking up in the morning and realizing he’s lost his fire, his passion for the Lord…he asks, “What became of the flame that made me feel more?”

I think we all have seasons of feeling distant from God, in need of a spiritual re-awakening. Even King David, a man after God’s own heart struggled with these feelings…In Psalm 10 he says, “Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” In Psalm 22, David’s despair is again evident...“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.”

When we’re feeling like our passion for God has dried up, it’s important to remember that God has not gone anywhere. Most often, we are the ones who have moved away. So, how do we get back to that place of deep relationship with him? I think the answer is to return Him to His proper place in your life…first place. Listen to these words from Proverbs 20: "Love and faithfulness keep a king safe; through love his throne is made secure." When we love the Lord with all of our hearts, minds, souls and strength we secure his throne in our lives.

Toby Mac echoes this idea In Made to Love. He is able return to a place of passion and excitement for the Lord when he realizes that his main purpose in life is to love, and be loved by God. He says, “I feel a breeze cover me called ‘Jehova’”.

Are you ready for that kind of refreshing of your Spirit? Then it’s time to lay it all down at His throne…telling God that you are ready to let Him take over, ready to love and be loved by him.

Dove Awards-Give You Glory

I am currently in Nashville for GMA. The highlight of the week is the Dove Awards, it’s sort of like the Grammys of Christian music. So, I’ve decided to use Moment for Mom to dig a little deeper into some of the nominees for song of the year.

One of those songs is “Give You Glory” by Jeremy Camp. It’s a worship song describing our heart’s desire to lift our voices and hands to God…knowing we can never match his greatness or repay him for his love.

I’ve heard the expression, “Give God Glory” many times, and it’s something I’ve never fully understood. How can we as humans do or say anything that could even could even give God a speck of the glory He deserves?

Some definitions of Glory include, a state of high honor, a brilliant radiant beauty, an indication of radiant light drawn around the head of a saint, to rejoice proudly.

Understanding the meaning of the word will helps to understand the application. We can certainly give God a state of high honor in our lives by putting Him first and treating Him with reverence. We reflect his brilliant, radiant beauty when we love and show kindness to others. These are the times that His light shines through us. Finally, we give God glory when we rejoice proudly over all that he is and all that he has done for us.

Psalm 86 beautifully expresses the longing to glorify, saying: I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.

The truth is that with each moment of our lives we are either Glorifying God or disgracing Him. There is no middle ground. Let’s pray for hearts that long to glorify him.

Dove Awards-Forgiveness

I am currently in Nashville for GMA. The highlight of the week is the Dove Awards, it’s sort of like the Grammies of Christian music. So, I’ve decided to use Moment for Mom to dig a little deeper into some of the nominees for song of the year.

Three of the songs nominated are about God’s forgiveness. For starters, “Undo”, by Rush of Fools talks about getting to a point in life where you realize just how far away from God you’ve gotten. The chorus says, “Bring me back to the place of forgiveness and grace. I need you. I need your help. I can’t do this myself. You’re the only one who can undo what I’ve done.” I think we’ve all been at this point before. Maybe you’re there right now. The good news is that God’s grace is perfected in a heart this humble and ready for guidance.

The version of “Amazing Grace” written by Chris Tomlin is another nominee. It’s a slightly new twist on an old favorite hymn. I think this song has resonated with so many people over the years because it hits all of us exactly where we are. I’ve even seen a t-shirt that says “I am the wretch the song talks about”. There’s not one of us that couldn’t wear that shirt. All are lost, all are blind. Thank God today that his amazing gift of grace offers us a way out of this condition!

Finally, “East to West” from Casting Crowns defines our struggle to fully accept God’s forgiveness. All too often we send ourselves on a Guilt Trip over sins that we were forgiven of long ago. However, we’re told several times in the Bible that once we have been forgiven…that’s it. The slate is wiped clean and God has forgotten our sin. Psalm 103:12 is the verse that inspired the song from Casting Crowns...it says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

I am so thankful that His forgiveness is so perfect and complete. Today, let’s take some time to reflect on his Grace. Let’s also pray that we will be able to fully accept his grace, never looking back.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

If the Stains a-Talkin', Which Way are You Walkin'?

One of my favorite commercials is the one where the guy is in a job interview and has talking stain on his shirt. The interview is going horribly because every time the guy tries to talk, the stain starts yelling gibberish, causing a distraction and making it impossible for the potential boss to hear what the man is saying.

I believe that we all carry around these proverbial “stains” that can interfere with our communication and relationships. This can be an especially big problem when we’re attempting to introduce people to Jesus and share His good news. James 3:10-11 tells us why, “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” These so-called stains are distractions because they are inconsistent with the good message we are trying to send.

Some stains are caused by a lack of integrity. When we tell little white lies, make excuses or exaggerate truths to make ourselves look better, it will be hard to convince others that you want to share the Truth with them.

Maybe your stain is caused by a judgmental and unloving attitude. Paul tells us in Corinthians that a message delivered without love sounds like nothing more than a clanging symbol.

Immorality is a particularly messy stain. How can you expect to deliver a message of purity and light when your heart and mind dwell in places that are so dark and impure?

There are many other kinds of stains out there… addiction, anger, pride, greed just to name a few.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we have to be perfect. If that were true Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection were pointless. However, I do think we need to be aware of our stains, acknowledging to others their presence in our lives. Pray that God will point them out to you and then allow him to help you work to remove these stains from your life. There truly is no better way to show Jesus to others than to allow them to see the real you, flaws and all, and then witness the transforming power of Christ in your life for his Glory.