20 Days and Counting!

So, how’s everyone doing with their Christmas shopping at this point? All the gifts purchased? Everything wrapped? All the Christmas cards sent? No? Well, take comfort because I’m right there with you! I always enter each Christmas season with the best of intentions to start early and get everything done in plenty of time so I can really enjoy the holiday. But without fail, every year at this time, it seems there are still so many gifts I need to buy or make . . . and I only have so much money . . . and I can’t just get any gift; it has to be the right gift for the right person . . . and so my mind goes into overdrive, creatively trying to come up with that perfect, you know, “Martha Stewart” type of gift for everyone.

Then there are the cranberry and banana nut breads and the assortment of cookies that I need to bake and, of course, “taste-test” (which for me means eating at least one for every batch baked!). And that wouldn’t be too hard to accomplish with joy if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve been trying to stay on a diet since Thanksgiving and so every bite of cookie makes me feel guilty.

Then there are those once a year, “keep in touch with friends and family” cards that I need to send out. Now you would think a woman who can whip out stuff on the computer would have enough sense to whip out a generic pre-printed letter for her cards and not feel this huge need to write a personal note for every card. But, no ~ not me. Each one has to be handwritten and personalized.

And how about all the Christmas activities we get invited to? Sometimes I wonder why it seems that all the fun things have to happen between Thanksgiving and New Years, and then we sit around bored for the rest of the year. It’s so overwhelming trying to decide which event to go to, with the risk of who will be offended if I “no show”.  I’ve decided that what really happens during this time of year is most people, who intended to have some kind of a party all year long and didn’t, get the “Now or Never Syndrome” at Christmastime!

It happens every Christmas with me. Along with the fact that my office workload always seems to increase this time of year with year-end proposals and, of course, company Christmas greetings to clients, there is also the hustling, bustling, shopping, traveling, cooking, parties, luncheons, banquets, pageants, church Christmas cantatas and children’s programs, decorations, trees, lights, and holiday clothing purchases. Sadly, every year I seem to get caught up in the busyness of Christmas, stressed about making arrangements to see and please everyone, pressured to balance an already busy schedule with unlimited amounts of additional activities, and pushed to attend, give, join, gather and perform.

And then, in the midst of all of the hustle and bustle, I hear that still, small voice of the Father in His unceasing love whispering to me, “Cheri! You’ve forgotten again the reason for the season, my daughter. Choose the better thing and come away with me for a little while.”

And as I listen to His voice and do as He asks . . . it becomes an “ahhhh” moment. Instant peace. And my perspective comes clearly back into focus as I’m reminded once again that:

The best thing, Lord, I can do today is love You,
and it’s such a very simple thing to do ~
when I consider Your divinity
and everything You’ve done for me,
as I contemplate these things ~
How I love to love You!

The best thing, Lord, I can do today is love You,
for when I love You, I can’t help but want to serve You too ~
and as I take the focus off of me,
I’ll become who You want me to be ~
committed to You totally!
It is a very good thing to love You!

The best thing, Lord, I can do today is love You,
for when I love You . . . You so freely love to love me too!
You said You love those who love and serve You ~
what a mistake it would be to refuse You!
I was created to love You!
This woman lives and breathes to worship You!

You said:

You will shower mercy on the ones who love You . . .
You will give them their very heart’s desires . . .
You’ll set them on high and deliver them . . .
You will preserve them and fill their treasures . . .
No eye has seen nor ear has heard,
nor has there entered into the heart of man ~
for those who love You ~ all the wonderful things
that You have prepared for them!

Yes, the best thing I can do today is love You,
but it isn’t because of the things You’ll do for me.
It’s for the wonderful thing You’ve already done
when you gave the gift of Your only begotten Son.
For this thing alone, Lord ~
It is my joy to love You!

So, everyone, in the last few weeks of this Christmas season, I just want to encourage you to take some time in the midst of your busy days to choose the better thing, to find a quiet place with the Lord, and make loving God your first priority! It truly will renew you and empower you to make Jesus the reason for every gift you give, every cookie you bake, every card you write and send, and every activity you attend. And the true Christmas Spirit, the Holy Spirit, will fill your lives with the joy of Christmas!

Unto us a child is born; unto us a Son is given!
Wonderful Counselor! Mighty God! Our Prince of Peace!
During this Christmas Season and for the remainder of my life,
is there any greater gift I could receive?

For Who, but You, gives eternal life to me?
Who, but You, loves me wholly just for me?
Who, but You, heals my soul and sets me free?
No one. No one, but You!

And who, but You, always intercedes for me?
Who, but You, supplies everything I need?
Who, but You, would die solely just for me?
No one. No one, but You!

For You are God. You’re my Provider.
You’re my Healer, Comfort, Shelter.
You’re my Rock and I’m covered by Your hand.
You’re my Savior, my Deliverer.
You are my dearest friend.
For every need I have, You are I AM.

What a Christmas present! What a perfect gift!
Thank you, Lord, for being all I need.
Help me to remember what this season’s all about:
there IS no greater gift than You for me!

Let’s pray.

Dear Father,

It happens every Christmas. Sometimes we get so caught up in the hectic busyness of the season that we lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas, and the reason for the celebration in the first place: the perfect gift of your son, Jesus Christ. I pray that your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control would fill us and be seen in us and that our lives would bring you glory during this Christmas season and throughout the New Year. In the precious name of our precious Savior, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

Cheri Henderson

 

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Playing by Ear

200483368-001I love music.  I love playing the keyboard, listening to talented musicians, and singing along to beautiful compositions!  As such, you’ll frequently hear a radio or CD playing in my home, office,  or car.  Yesterday morning as I was driving into work, I was overwhelmed by the sound of a particularly powerful instrumental emanating from the radio.  It was one of those moments where I wanted to pull off of the road, close my eyes, and absorb every single note, wishing with great longing that I was able to “play by ear” . . . to take the melody I was hearing and funnel it through my fingers to my keyboard that night.

I’ve always envied people who are gifted to be able to play music by ear because I am one who is confined to the printed sheet . . . and if it’s not in front of me, I cannot play.  Furthermore, when I play, I am often constrained by my limited musical knowledge . . . or dimming eyesight  . . .  or lack of light . . . and the music never flows as beautifully and effortlessly as those who can play by ear.

In the same way spiritually, we can try to do our best using our own strength . . . our own wisdom . . . our own imperfect human devices, but we’ll always come up short.  If we, however, listen consistently to the direction of the Holy Spirit and “play by ear” as He directs, our lives will be a beautifully divine melody before God . . . and man . . . even causing those who hear the powerful instrumental emanating from us to “pull over, close their eyes, and absorb every single note”!

. . . what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.  Matthew 10:27

I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.  John 5:25

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path for wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.  Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways. It will save you also from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words, who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. For her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. None who go to her return or attain the paths of life. Thus you will walk in the ways of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it.  Proverbs 2

Cheri Henderson

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Missing a Headlight?

waitress
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’re going peacefully along . . . enjoying your life. . . feeling really good about the day . . . and suddenly that “still, small voice” speaks, pointing out something you overlooked, or something you did or didn’t do 
. . . and it’s one of those moments that  makes you go “ouch!”?  Well, that happened to me recently . . . and when it does, I’ll usually take up my pen and write a sermon to myself. Here’s the latest one.

Followers of Jesus gather round a restaurant table,
in fellowship they laugh and talk and eat.
Their waitress, just a servant, doesn’t seem quite capable,
and her demeanor, well it isn’t up to speed.

But what a wonderful blessing they had just received;
they’d sought the Lord in praise and prayer and song.
The sermon was anointed and the pastor strongly preached
that the time of Christ’s return would not be long.

The Holy Spirit filled them and the Lord’s presence drew them near,
as they cried “More, Lord!  Have your way in me today.”
For the waitress, though, her morning was one of sickness and of fear;
she was pregnant and unmarried and afraid.

She struggled as she tried to meet each customer’s demand,
while inside the fear consumed her like a cancer.
She longed for someone she could talk to; who’d maybe understand;
was there anyone who could help her find an answer?

“Can you take our order now?”  “We need silverware.”
“I ordered a Sprite, not a Coke!”
“Where are my fries?”  “This burger’s too rare!”
“When you get a minute, please bring me a clean fork!”

Filled to overflowing, they sloshed right out the door,
the name of Jesus never crossed their lips.
A dying soul, so easily ignored,
fights off tears as she counts their paltry tips.

Fill us with a passion for the lost, Lord!
Let us see each one we meet through Your own eyes.
Overwhelm us with a longing that all men would be saved.
Let salvation through Christ Jesus be our cry!

Help us set aside our selfish plans and motives
to step out boldly and proclaim Your words of truth.
Let us
… reach out with Your hands
… speak out with Your words
… and lead the lost and dying unto You.

No chance meeting,
no coincidence,
every person you encounter
is one who needs the chance
to see Jesus, hear Jesus,
receive some seeds of Truth,
and the only Good News they might ever receive
is the Good News that comes from you.

THEN to add insult to injury, I was reading a Christian blog this week where someone posted the following:

“This past week some friends of mine got together for lunch. After the waitress had done her best to serve them, she asked them, “Is there anything else you guys need?” They said, “No, we’re fine. Is there anything we can do for you?”  And when they asked, she opened up her heart to them about problems she was having with her family, job and paying the rent. Before long they were all circled around her and were having a prayer for her. With tears in her eyes, she thanked them as they left, not knowing that they had also put together a tip big enough to help pay her rent.”

OUCH!

Proverbs 25:11: “The right word at the right time is like precious gold set in silver.”

Isaiah 50:4: “The Lord God gives me the right words to encourage the weary.”

One morning this past winter, I had to leave earlier than usual to attend a company meeting, and because my husband was out of town, I needed to walk the dog before I left. We generally walk her down the street and back, and since we don’t have sidewalks and it was “dark as molasses” that morning, I thought it would be wise to take a flashlight . . . not just so I could see, but so passing cars could see me! I switched it on while in the house to make sure the batteries were strong, but because the lights were so bright in the house, I had to turn it towards my face to make sure the light was on. Once outside, the light became a bright beacon, announcing my presence to the darkness and safely lighting my path. It was amazing to me the difference between how fairly indistinguishable the light was while I was in the house, yet how brilliantly it could be seen in the darkness.  And immediately I thought: this is how it is for us as believers. When the Light of Christ within us shines forth, it is really the most efficient and the most powerful, when it’s shining forth in the darkness.

There was nothing wrong with the fellowship I was having with my Christian friends that Sunday after church . . . but my light was shining “into the light” that day as I totally ignored the waitress and perhaps an opportunity to shine some light into her life.

Have you ever been out late at night, driving on one of those open stretches of country road, where the road seems to go on forever and there’s not a vehicle in sight but your own?  Then, in the distance, the faint glimmer of a motorcycle headlight begins to approach from the opposite direction.  As it draws closer, you feel a slight apprehension because it seems to be hugging the center line just a little too closely for your comfort.  It isn’t until it’s about to zip past you that you realize it’s not a motorcycle at all, but a car with a burnt-out right headlight.

The other night after experiencing this misconception for probably the umpteenth time in my driving career and really never thinking much about it . . . this time the Lord had something to say.

“How many of my children are walking through their lives with only half of my light shining forth?  When only half of my light shines forth, the ones in the darkness see you as something other than what you truly are. You are unrecognizable as my own and perceived to be something other than what I have called you to be.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – truly let the Spirit lead, guide and direct you so my Light will FULLY shine forth from you to every person who crosses your path.  I have seen you as you worship me with abandon in the sanctuary.  Worship me in the same way in your daily encounters with others.  For I have called you to be the light of the world. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.”

In Ephesians 5:8,9 Paul says, “For you were once darkness but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.”

Every day—every moment— God provides me with divine appointments, and He wants to use me where I am, with what I know, right now. And sometimes I think I sidestep these opportunities because I’m afraid I’ll say or do the wrong thing . . . but I guess that’s really putting God in a box, isn’t it?  Jesus is in me, the Hope of Glory, and it’s an appointment that He’s arranged, so I don’t need to worry about what I’ll say or how I should minister.  The Holy Spirit will lead me to say and do the right thing.  After all, He knew about the need long before I arrived on the scene, didn’t he?  Esther 4:14 says “Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” But let me paraphrase it and say “Who knows whether you have come to this restaurant . . . this Walmart . . . this Kroger . . . this hair stylist . . . this day care center . . . for such a time as this?”

Colossians 4:5-6:  “Behave yourself wisely in your relationships with those of the outside world (the non Christians), making the very most of the time and seizing the opportunity.”

Just like the flashlight I carried the other morning . . . light shows the way, doesn’t it?  And the light of Christ . . . the Light WE carry . . . can show those, who are lost, the way out of darkness, hopelessness and death.

I was thinking today about a song we sing in church sometimes, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord; open the eyes of my heart, I want to see You”.  But I think maybe He wants to open the eyes of my heart . . . so I will see the lost ones He’s longing to save.

People on the street were just faces,
mixed together in a hurried blur.
Some I might notice, others I’d not;
they certainly weren’t my concern.

There was no desire to know them;
they had their lives, I had mine.
To give much thought to a stranger
was for me just a waste of time.

But then I became a child of the Lord,
and I could actually see
that those “faces” were His creations
with as good a chance as me

to accept Him as their Savior,
thus being strangers to me no more,
but rather my brothers and sisters,
together praising the Lord.

Now I scan every face that approaches,
and praise Him for allowing me to be
an instrument by which He can radiate His love
to the people I pass on the street.

Let’s pray:

Lord, we ask for your mercy and healing on all those who are lost and broken, groping in the darkness of sin or despair. Send forth the Spirit of your Son to be the Healer and Light to their pain and darkness  . . . and, Lord, send us, as disciples of your Son to extend His Love, His Mercy, and His Truth.  Don’t let us settle for “shining our light into the light”, but open the eyes of our hearts, Lord, and help us to see the ones you are longing to save.  Give us strength and power and boldness to overcome our insecurities and to trust that you have arranged all of our divine appointments, you are in control of each one, and you will give us the words to say.  We want to be obedient, Lord, and we want to be used for such a time as this.  We look forward to tomorrow, Lord, and the appointments you have arranged for us.  Let us bring you glory.  In Jesus’ Name we pray!  Amen.

–Cheri Henderson

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Workplace Thanksgiving

thankfulIn less than 7 days, America will celebrate one of its favorite holidays: Thanksgiving. Yes, next Thursday many of us will gather with family and friends to participate in an annual eating extravaganza! We will feast on things like roasted turkey, dressing and gravy, cranberry sauce, deviled eggs, sweet potatoes and a host of yummy, decadent desserts . . . and then retire to comfy couches and chairs to share new stories and old stories with our loved ones, watch football, and sneak a power nap or two! Although most of us consider the food, football, and camaraderie to be the most important parts of this tradition, Thanksgiving is about much more.  It’s a holiday that has been celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November since 1863 when during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”.

Typically, when expressing thankfulness to the Father, we mention such things as our spouse, our children, our home, health, and job. I never considered, however, parsing out the specific things about my job that really made me thankful . . . until I read the article, “Top Ten Reasons To Be Thankful At Work” (at Biggest Book). It has some good points that I thought were worth passing along in anticipation of the upcoming holiday.

“Long hours, difficult bosses, and lack of appreciation are just a few typical workplace complaints. But while occasional grousing may help ease tension, if negativity dominates your daily thoughts it’s time to swap it for an attitude of gratitude. And there’s no better time than Thanksgiving to do it. Here are the top ten reasons to be thankful you have a job.

1. You get paid
Truth is, most of us show up every day for the money. We have financial obligations to meet like a mortgage, car payment, school loans, as well as everyday living expenses. With these tough economic times, not everyone can say that. Simply receiving a regular paycheck ranks high on the list of reasons to be thankful at work. Whatever your income, you have a job that pays you for your time and effort, often with benefits like paid holidays and vacations.

2. You develop friendships
In addition to a regular paycheck, enjoying your colleagues is a key contributor to a positive work experience. The conversations, support and shared interests you develop with co-workers often lead to lifelong friendships. Take time to get to know the people you work with. Besides making a friend, they may even help you with your next career move.

3. You get to laugh sometimes
In certain companies there’s a stigma associated with laughter, because it may appear you’re not taking your work seriously enough. Lighthearted moments, however, break up the monotony and help you bond with coworkers. Whether it’s the prankster down the hall or a creative brainstorming meeting, it’s good to laugh and have a little fun. The happier you are, the more productive you are.

4. You have a sense of accomplishment
It doesn’t matter if you’re sweeping a street or managing your own multimillion dollar corporation, a job well done brings satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. Reaching a goal builds confidence and encourages you to set and reach new ones.

5. You have opportunity to share your unique talents
You’re one-of-a-kind. In the entire world, there is no one who thinks like you, has your experience, talents and personality. Celebrate and share your uniqueness.

6. Your competitors challenge you
Someone is always nipping at your heels. As much as you may want competitors to go away, they also challenge you to get creative and try new approaches you might not otherwise. Thank them for keeping you on your toes.

7. You make a difference
In large corporations it’s easy to feel like a small cog in a big wheel. But without the cog, the wheel won’t run near as smoothly. Always know that whatever you do, it’s part of a bigger picture and that your job matters or it wouldn’t exist.

8. You keep your mind sharp
Working keeps you mentally stimulated and challenged as you learn new skills and deal with new people and situations. This keeps your neurons and synapses firing on all cylinders.

9. You probably enjoy certain tasks
If you’re one of the few people who enjoy every aspect of every project, you’re one of the lucky ones! Most of us like certain tasks more than others. Whether you love leading a meeting or writing a report, relish those moments and try to do them regularly.

10. You solve a problem
Your job exists because there was a problem to solve. The receptionist solves the problem of how to field phone calls. The job of inventory manager exists to solve the problem of ensuring the company does not run out of widgets. No problem, no job. We see this more and more as email has replaced postal workers and self-checking registers have eliminated grocery store clerks. Be thankful for the problem your job solves.”

Psalm 92:1 says, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord”.  We have much for which to be thankful, don’t we?

Wishing you and yours a very blessed and thankful Thanksgiving!

–Cheri Henderson

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What’s Your Title?

011
“To all who received Him (Christ) to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God”. (John 1:12) “How great is the love that the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)

What is my title?
What does God call me?
If Jesus is my Lord and Savior,
I am a “Child of the One True King”,
a position that trumps any earthly title
and every lie from the enemy.
Empowered from on high with divine authority;
My father is the King of Kings! I am royalty!

–Cheri Henderson

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Let the Wedding Begin

the-bride-ready

(Click on the picture above to view an inspirational video!)

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Some Thoughts on Labor Day

labor_day_pictures

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, and was created by the labor movement to honor the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

I like a good holiday as much as the next person . . . and will take great pleasure in enjoying the festivities of the upcoming 3-day weekend. But as I contemplate the reason for the holiday – a tribute to men for their contribution toward the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country, I’m also saddened. This country’s strength, prosperity, and well-being are due to the loving hand of a merciful God . . . the very God who many in this country are working feverishly to ignore and, if it were possible, even eradicate.

The word “labor“, when studied in the spiritual sense, provides a sobering commentary for those who want to exclude God and take the glory for themselves.

“I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 2:9-11

“What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun?” Ecclesiastes 2:22

“And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:4

“Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand.” Ecclesiastes 5:15

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. The laborer‘s appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on.” Proverbs 16:25-26

Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1

However, for followers of Jesus Christ, to “labor” means something entirely different . . . with rewards that far exceed anything this world could ever offer.

“Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.” Psalm 128:1-2

“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.” Philippians 1:21-22

“We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” Colossians 1:28-29

“We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 1:3

“(and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:10

Maybe this Labor Day, rather than “celebrating the work of our hands”, we should be celebrating the work of His hands and thanking Him for the wisdom, physical ability, and opportunity to work that He has provided each of us.

–Cheri Henderson

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