What Jeff and God have in Common!

What Jeff and God have in Common!

Jeff Miller says he and God have something in common, it is that they both first loved me. Jeff Miller picked me out of stack of pictures on his father’s desk long before we ever met. You see my father was a minister and his father was the deacon in charge of the resumes for the opening for a Pastor his home church had. One day Jeff decided that the ripe old age of 16 that, he didn’t want to die a bachelor so he set out to find a wife and what better girl to have as a Pastor’s wife one day then a Pastors daughter.

 

He says he took the pictures that came with the resumes, of the families that had daughters and began to narrow down his favorites, first the top 10, then the top 5, then the top 3 and then number one, and Jeff claims it was me.

 

As God saw fit, my dad did become the Pastor of Jeff’s home church and that only gave Jeff more confidence that God had a plan for us together, and it just enriched his love for me. The problem was, I was just 13 years old at the time and really wasn’t interested in dating yet, after all I was still playing with barbies!

 

I have to be honest with you, I wasn’t impressed with Jeff at first, I didn’t care for his cowboy boots, or cowboy hat and he seemed to be everywhere I was, but that didn’t detour Jeff, my dad even overheard a conversation between Jeff and a few of the other teenage boys in the church. Where Jeff under no uncertain terms told them, that I was his so there was no need from them to pursue me, and we hadn’t even started dating yet!

 

Then there was the note Jeff gave me, sharing his undying love to me. Which still did nothing to convince me to like him. It didn’t even matter that he showed up when I was sick as a dog, and looked horrible. Jeff was right there asking if I needed anything, ready to help in anyway he could.

 

But the topper was when he went and talked with my father, I don’t know what happened in that conversation on the fateful day, but I do know that when my dad came home from the office, to my dismay Daddy informed me, that Jeff would be coming over to visit a few nights a week after he got off work.

 

I think back now, and feel my father, saw something in Jeff that I didn’t and he felt as soon as I spent time with him, I would see it too, and he was right.  

 

Isn’t that a lot like our relationship with God, He loved us before we loved Him and He pursued us before we even cared about Him and He refuses to give up on us. He has chosen us, because He loves us, not because of anything we have done. Then God sent His word to us as a love letter to prove that.

 

Like with Jeff, I had done nothing to do earn Jeff’s love on that day when he found my picture in his dad’s office, yet he loved me anyway. And I have to tell you, like Jeff when I have been at my worst, God loved me anyway,

 

That is just like our Heavenly Father, who sent His son, to this earth so he could suffer, and go through all that we have been through. He knows every temptation you feel, Christ felt it all when He was here. God sent His son, because He loved us so much.

 

It didn’t matter if we reject Him God does not give up on us. He loves us so much He sent His son to die for our sins, so we could have eternal life with Him forever, and all He asks from us is to choose to worship and trust Him. But He loved us before we even loved Him.

 

If we could all simply realize the depth of the love God has for us. What would we do differently? Would we freak out less when things don’t go as we planned because we know, God will take care of us. Would be more responsible with what we have because we know He gave it all to us? Would we love others with that same unconditional love that God has showed us? Would we live a life in attitude of gratitude and grace, because we know we don’t deserve such unconditional love?

 

We will all be starting a new year in just a few days. It is the time of new year’s resolutions, so how about we resolve to live like that?

 

1 John 3:1 NIV reminds us “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! …..

 

I live differently because I know Jeff Miller loves me, and he loves me more that I have words to explain it or ways to show it.  I am not deserving of this love nor have I earned it, but yet Jeff Miller loves me, and so does Christ.

 

We are all loved more than we can even hope or imagine or have words that could ever explain it. But God loved us so much He sent His son to be born to a virgin, born in a manger know he would ultimately give His life for us. So in all the hussle and bussle of this season. Let us know forget the most important gift, the gift of Christ which is the greatest example of God’s love for us.

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The Unexpected Christmas

The Unexpected Christmas

The Christmas Season is usually a super hectic time of year at our house, besides the traditional stress that we feel during this season. I usually choose to add additional levels of stress by hosting an open house. I love hosting people in my home, and Jeff and I feel,it is a gift of love we can give to all our friends. For probably 25 years or more we have,, more than likely, had an Open House in our home, now mind you not every year, but a lot of them. Having a Open House during the holidays is not easy task.

 

I begin working about 60-45 days out. We shop most of the year for it. The house has to be cleaned from top to bottom for what I like to call, Model Home status,  which if you don’t know what that is, it means the house needs to look like no one lives in it. So needless to say it’s a lot of work and a near possible task, that often puts a lot of stress on the whole family.  

 

But this year, we are taking the year off. There will be no open house.  In fact, there is even talk about just having a low key Christmas day and driving over to Wichita, eating Chinese food and going to the movie theater for the day to catch several movies we have been wanting to watch.. So we can just chill out with our kids and focus on spending time together while we honor what the real meaning of Christmas is. Either that, or we are going to spend the day in our PJ’s just relaxing with the kids and watching Christmas movies on the TV.

 

Everyone handles the stress of Christmas differently. The problem comes when we forget what the day is really all about. We can get so focused on, trying to get the best gift, or not having enough money to afford the Christmas you would like,  or maybe it’s just missing that loved one that isn’t going to be at Christmas this year.

 

I remember one specific Christmas, times were really tough for our family, Amy was probably 6 or 7 years old. We had to struggle to get what little we could for the kids,  and at the last minute Amy decided she wanted a Baby Alive, but there was no money left for such a gift, and as much as I tried to explain to her, that Santa had already done all his Christmas shopping,  so it might have to be next year before it happened, she refused to listen to such an idea and was determined that it would come.

 

Christmas morning came and all of our presents were unwrapped, and as Amy looked around, realizing that all the presents under the tree had been opened, she stood up, and with both hands on her hips,  she calls out with an attitude that told you under no uncertain terms that she was not satisfied with the results of her Christmas. “I know there is another gift around here somewhere”she begin to look all over for her Baby Alive that she was certain Santa would bring , but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.

 

Maybe you were expecting something this Christmas and it isn’t going to be either. Maybe, there is no way you thought you would be where you are today,  but you are. Perhaps the stress level is so high at your house, you’re not for sure you even want to celebrate Christmas this year. Let me encourage you to look to the reason for the season.

 

Christ came,  born in a manger, not some palace like the people of that day expected. He was born to a mother and His step dad, not the expected family of that day either. His parents, had to run for their life because people were after Him. He came to die for a group of people that  couldn’t even appreciate the sacrifice He made by coming to earth. But yet that sacrifice is the greatest gift we could receive.

 

Nothing went like the people expected that Christmas night, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  is the question asked even years later, John 1:46 but yet it turned out to be the best thing that any of us could ask for, because without it, there is no eternal life for those who trust in and rely on Christ.

 

Nazareth was just a small town of probably about 150 people,  according to my research, with a majority of a Jewish population, the same Jewish population that rejected Him as the Christ. Imagine everywhere you go, being rejected? Christ doesn’t have to because it happened to Him. In fact the bible says, that He has been tempted and felt every pain we have.

 

So, don’t get discouraged and frustrated if things are not going as planned this season. Remember it happened that way on the very first Christmas as well. There was no room in the Inn for Jesus to be born,  and Mary had to ride a donkey for who knows how many miles.

 

The bible tells us, that we need to have a “Whatsoever” attitude when we begin to get frustrated. You know, you have heard kids say “Whatever” when they are disgusted with someone’s attitude or comment. Well, I believe God wants us to have a Whatsoever attitude,  He tells us that in Philippians 4:8 whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—think on these things,  it tells us this is the only way to have peace, and not to be anxious is by bringing your requests to God and thinking on these whatsoever list of things. The good, the praiseworthy, the lovely and so on. I am sure that night Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph could have focused on the terrible surroundings the Christ child was born, they could have focused on what bad parents they were for the King of kings to be born in such a place, they might have even thought what did we get ourselves into, but I don’t’ believe they did. I think they had a “Whatsoever” attitude and choose to focus on the glory of the Christ child before them.

 

So this season, don’t get discouraged because you aren’t getting the present you wanted under the tree or everything isn’t just how you imagined it. In fact, don’t even focus on the ones who are not with us this Christmas. But focus on the one who told us in Rev 1:8 NIV “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty. Remember, that the first Christmas all kinds of unexpected things happened,  including the greatest gift of all Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

24/365

24/365

Since my boys have moved away it is now my responsibility to watch football with Jeff. Football is Jeff’s favorite sport, and I am pretty sure it is the only sport he really likes. Of course for Jeff being born and raised in Alabama, there is only one team and you guest it, it is Alabama. What once was a time that I made snacks and went shopping while the boys watched the game. Is now my responsibility to sit with Jeff and watch the game and all sports related news because after all, he looks so lonely watching the game by himself, and he has since given in to watching Hallmark movies with me, since Amy has moved away, so you can see this empty nest thing has changed everything in our lives.  

In the process of learning to love this sport, I have watch a lot of documentaries of just how Alabama works because that is what I like, I like knowing about the administrative part of it. One thing I was surprised to learn was that the Alabama football players don’t just train during the school season. No! They school and train year round. Once you make the team, you are Saban’s and you do what he tells you to do. I was really kind of shocked to hear this because for some reason I just thought September through January is all the time they spent on football. But that is not the case.

If you have been locked in a cave somewhere, then you may not know that the Southeastern Conference National Championship game was this past Saturday. Where Alabama played Georgia and won 28-35. But it was not an easy task, Georgia was ahead all but just a little over a minute of the game. (the last minute at that)  Something that hasn’t happened to Bama at all this year. Up to this last game I believe the longest Alabama had been behind in a game this season was about 70 seconds.

It looks as if Alabama is on its way to winning it’s 17th National Championship and just won it’s 27 Southeastern Conference Championship. Unless you were raised around this kind of excellence you really can’t comprehend what Alabama football means to it’s fans.

But it really isn’t that different than being a follower of Christ. There is an standard of excellence that is expected from God from His creation and we as His followers are expected to train and follow Him 24/365. We can’t just expect that, showing up for church once a week thinking this is gonna get us to the level of relationship with God that we need to be, so we can tackle this day to day life we live.  

Alabama is known as a 2nd quarter team mainly for their endurance, not because they often come from behind in the last half, but because they don’t give up when they are ahead. They don’t quit. They play up to their potential all 90 minutes of the game, not their opponents abilities, but none of that would be possible if they didn’t train 24/365.

Our life of following Christ is a 24/365 choice. We don’t get to just pick and choose when to be nice to our neighbor because God already said “Do unto others as you would have other do to you” and  We can’t just tell God, I don’t have time for you right now, or when we get scared we run to anything but Him. Because He already told us that” we should have not other God’s before Him!”

Most Christians don’t know what God’s word says, that is why we are so easily deceived into doing things that aren’t true and we sure don’t either, know or believe the promises He made us like “All things work together for good to those that love Him”. because if we did, we wouldn’t get discouraged so easily.

The Alabama football team, was able to endure to the end of the game this past week because they train 24/365 and in the last minute of the game won. In fact it was sort of a restoration story as our 1st string quarterback, Tua,  got hurt and was pulled out and was replaced with the 2nd string quarterback, Hurts, who took us to the victory.

The funny thing is, almost a year ago the exact opposite happened. Last year Tua, who is our first string quarterback this year was our 2nd string quarterback, and a similar situation happened then in a championship game. These 2 quarterbacks have worked as a team this past year. They aren’t in a competition their goal is for the good of the teamWhen many people thought last year’s first string quarterback  Hurts, should leave Alabama football when he wasn’t put back in as 1st string this year. But Hurts endured and knew Saban had a plan and he trusted the process he was going through. Doing so, he was able to restore his name and now he is admired more than he ever was before because of the character it showed. Hurts is a better player by being on the second string this year, because he was able to work on the things he needed to improve on. Then, when the test came, he put that new ability to use and won the game for his team.

I wonder if any of you have ever felt like you were discarded to 2nd string in this life? Have you ever felt like you failed and there was no coming back? God wants you to know, that He is working on you and we are all just in the process of life. You may not feel like you are on the 1st string team right now, or maybe you don’t even feel like you are on the team at all.

But that is why we train everyday as Christs follower 24/365. We need to read our bible, pray, listen to God, follow what His word says, work out with His team (at church on Sundays)  Then when we play in this game called life, we are prepared, we know God’s word, we know who we are because of God’s word and because we know His promises. We endure to the end when we trust the process.

God took what Hurts thought might be the end of his career in college football and turned it around to a winning championship. Because over this last year, Hurts has been faithful to train, practice, and he didn’t quit.

I don’t know what you are going through today, but don’t quit, don’t give up! Trust the process. Just like the story of Joseph in the bible. He could of given up and turned his back on God when he was sold to slavery and the later, put in prison. But all the while God was using it for His good and God has good plans for you too – Just trust the process.