Okay, I admit it. I'm shamelessly using this wonderful photograph of Rebekah and Scout to lure otherwise non-blog-readers into today's post. However, if this applies to you, please stick around for the words. I guarantee you'll be glad that you did.
THE PERFECT GIFT: Yesterday Rebekah and I drove to Clearwater to attend the funeral of Jack Gates. Jack, 88 years old and a WW2 veteran, was the father of our friend Tom Gates. It was one of those memorial services that celebrates a faithful life with no regrets.
The occasion was sad, of course, because no-one wants to say "goodbye" to such a good, glad-hearted person. But Jack's life had been full, his relationships were defined by self-giving love, and he left his family and friends immeasurably richer for having known him.
CHRISTMAS GIFT: My tie-in to Christmas is simple. There's one Christmas gift we all have the opportunity to give (not only to the people we love but to the world) and that is the gift of making each day just a little bit brighter for those around us.
It may sound like a "no-brainer," but believe me, an approach to life like Jack's takes a considerable amount of intention, prayer and self-discipline. It's about engaging each and every day according to a fundamental credo that measures real prosperity in terms of relationships.
ALWAYS A CHOICE: For the committed child of God this is not optional. I'm convinced that much of what we lightly dismiss as "Oh, he's just naturally good-natured" can be adopted into our personal repertoire of behavior by a thousand daily acts of will. People (like Jack) who are so universally loved tend to become that way because, moment by moment and day by day, they make the choice to be what I call "Philippians Four Believers."
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
And the God of peace be with you all - DEREK