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Let There Be Peace

Let There Be Peace

The hustle and bustle of holiday cooking and favored guests has quieted. The candles from the Christmas Eve service are packed away for next year’s opportunity to celebrate the birth of our King. Crumpled wrapping paper and bows with boxes emptied of shiny new toys and baubles are waiting at the curb for the trash collector even as I type (and what a blessing that is!).

 

For me, this Christmas brought joy and togetherness as we gathered with family and friends to mark the occasion—but now, a few days after the fact, a small disquiet casts a shadow amid the afterglow. I find myself listening to the news, pondering events around the world as I hear about mysterious plane crashes and tense conflicts half a world away, and then of tragedy closer to home in the form of the sudden passing of a kind boy I grew up with—who had become a father of five and was only 38 years old.

 

And as news of this nature continues in our fallen world, I am struck anew by how blessed I am to be in a warm home with the ones I love, with water and heat on demand, a reliable vehicle to take me where I need to go, family nearby to support us, a husband and children in good health…. I am overwhelmingly blessed. Blessed to a degree that I have the time and energy to ponder the people and places who do not have peace in this season and blessed enough to desperately want the struggle to end, for God’s peace to intervene in all things. A lofty goal, to be certain, but there it is.

 

This year, the belated Christmas gift I am hoping hardest for is peace on earth—and I hope you’ll join me in this prayer.

 

Would you consider dedicating a portion of your prayer time for the next thirty days to pray for peace? This isn’t a contest, a challenge, or something we’ll be tracking with an online ticker; this is a believing heart reaching out to say, “This world is crying out for peace. Let’s ask for it—together.”

 

Asking for peace might be for an end to military conflict, a resolution of racial tension, peace within your own family, peace for the struggling marriage of someone you know—peace in any form.

 

Here are a few verses to meditate on as you converse with God on the topic of peace:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.                           —Luke 2:14 KJV

 

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.                                                                                       —Colossians 3:15 NIV

 

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

—1 Peter 5:7 NIV

 

Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

—James 3:18 NIV

 

When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

—Proverbs 16:7 NKJV

 

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 4:7 NIV

 

Praying God’s peace for you as we approach a new year.

 

by Liz Sagaser

The {un}Cheerful Giver

The {un}Cheerful Giver

Mom, hurry up. We need to see if they have Hatchimals!

          I want the marshmallow cereal, Mommy. No - that one!

Mom - you said we only needed milk and cereal.  Come on. Come on! Come. On.

          Cookies! Can I please get these cookies. We’ve never had this kind before.

###

My charming children, apples of my eye, find it difficult to resist the gimme-gimme-now’s when it comes to big box retail stores. Add to that the increased agitation that accompanies life in elementary school during the month of December, and a trip to the store feels more like Survivor, Suburban Retail Edition.

I’ve struggled this year to keep expectations in check at my house. The kids know why Christmas matters - that baby Jesus, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, is God’s only son and the very best gift the world has ever received. They know Christmas is a time to gather with loved ones and cherish those we hold dear. We talk about the reason for the season, but at 6 and 8, the lure of “stuff” is strong - and reinforced by pint-sized hallway banter about the latest toy craze and questions of who’s-getting-what under the tree this year.

Back to that scene at the store - and I do mean scene.

Thing 1 begged and pleaded her way from one end of the store to the other.
Thing 2 demanded a toy “right now” and proceeded to throw a fit when denied.
Someone hit someone else, who hit back.
Witty, original insults (like stupidhead) were tossed about.  

 

By the time we got to checkout, I was ready to ditch the cart (and maybe those two pesky kids following me around!) and escape to the relative freedom of the parking lot like some epic mommy jail break.

Instead, I handed the careworn cashier a pack of chocolate chip mini muffins and box of Star Wars marshmallow cereal with a wry smile, “We won’t be needing these, thank you.” In a moment of inspiration, I held back the World’s Largest Package of Generic Sandwich Cookies, asking to pay for them separately. “Please tape the receipt to the bag and leave these in the breakroom for your colleagues to share.” She was a bit perplexed. ‘Do you work here or something?’ “No, but it’s Christmas, and I’ll bet you and your friends could use a cookie on break. Thanks for keeping the store running during the busy holiday season.”

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart,
not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
- 2 Corinthians 9:7

This minuscule act of generosity didn’t change a life, and a package of generic cookies aren’t exactly cause for celebration, but all the same - I felt I’d wrapped up an obstacle-course-style run to the store with a small win on the parenting front. On the way home, I explained to the kids how challenging it can be to work in retail at Christmas time, and we’d left the cookies behind as a thank you for the hard-working employees because Christmas is not about getting - it’s about giving.

In that moment, even though we weren’t feeding the hungry (well… sort of), clothing the destitute or changing lives in any real way, we were sharing a much-desired treat with the diligent souls on the frontlines of a major retailer.

{un}Cheerful as it was, I’d like to think the Lord still smiled at our little act of giving.  

by Liz Sagaser

 

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Gifted

Gifted

What does is mean to be "gifted?"

Beauty queens have it. Famous faces of Hollywood have it. Picasso had it, and so did Mozart and Thomas Edison. Someone in your church, your neighborhood or even in your own family probably has it in varying degrees.

The “it” factor.

We can’t always describe in words what this term means - but most of us know it when we see it: the intangible quality of a person, place or work of art that elevates it above the rest. Amid a pile of rubble, “it” is a gleaming gem, drawing the eye and igniting the imagination. It is a symphony in the midst of mere noise, a masterwork architected among the amateur.

The Christmas season is upon us, and this month we’re talking about what it means to truly be #gifted. We hope you’ll be part of the conversation, whether that means sharing a meaningful Christmas memory, passing along your favorite way to share your gifts with others or telling us about your own personal “it” factor - the unique giftedness God has blessed you with.

 

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

- James 1:17

 

We invite you to join the movement by signing up for inbox blessings via email, following us on  Facebook (use the hashtag #gifted) or sharing our weekly blog posts with a friend.

Team Kerusso