12.21.2010

A Humble Party

In just about every country you go, you find Christmas recognized in some way or another. All over the place there are people hanging lights, buying gifts, and singing jolly little songs. Parties and dinners are springing up everywhere, including all kinds of people. If you’ve really got connections, you could be at a different party every week. Social butterflies love this season!

Only a few select people were included in the first Christmas party, however. As important as the event was, you would think that it would be held at a glitzy country club with thousands invited. But it wasn’t. In fact, the invitation was more like, “Come join us at Bethlehem’s most reclusive stable. Hay will be provided . . .” The only “glitzy” thing about it was the system of delivery in the middle of the night: a host of angels.

Now, I’m sure the recipients of this invitation were not expecting this it all. They were forgotten shepherds in the backwoods, minding their own business while minding their sheep. But God didn’t seem to mind their occupation or lack of social glamour. So He joyfully gave them directions to the birth place of His baby boy. Someone had to know! (Luke 2:7-18)

Of course, like any proud parent, God couldn’t keep the good news to shepherds alone. So when Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem to consecrate Jesus to the Lord, they were met by Simeon and Anna. These two Godly people didn’t get the pleasure of hearing Jesus’ birth announcement through the resounding voices of angels. But the clear voice of the Holy Spirit in their hearts was enough. They’re savior had been born! (Luke 2:21-38)

But what about all the religious leaders like the High Priest, Pharisees, and Sadducees? Surely, as spiritual as they were, they would have been in on the invitation. They had spent their whole lives declaring that Israel’s Messiah would come one day. Why no announcement to them?

This reminds me of I Corinthians 1:27 – 29:

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and
God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;
and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the
things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His
presence.

For something as great as the arrival of a nation’s long-awaited Messiah, the religious leaders expected something more glamorous than a stable birth. They expected pomp, power, and prestige. But their hearts were so full of pride that they would have scorned such a humble arrival. They rejected Jesus as an adult performing miracles. How could they have joyfully received Him as an infant?

Just like we want people to rejoice over our good news, God wants us to celebrate His greatest show of love to us. His challenge is to find people who will appreciate it. From the beginning, He chose to invite humble shepherds to the celebration because there was no pride that said they were too good for the stable. They recognized the miracle of it all and weren’t afraid to tell others. Then God revealed His promise to two faithful elderly people who had waited expectantly for years for His arrival. Their hearts were pure before God. They didn’t care who knew that they had seen the Child. They were satisfied in knowing that God had fulfilled His Word.

I admire the shepherds, Simeon, and Anna who weren’t too proud to see God’s glory in the “base” things of the world. They understood that God could work His miracles in whatever way He pleased. If we had hearts like theirs, what kind of miracle party would He invite us to?

12.03.2010

This Baby Is His

This Baby Is His
One night you gave it all away for a love that would not stay,
But one thing still inside remains, a beating heart within your womb.
Let him live, let him live.

This baby is His, this baby belongs to Him,
The child that you might throw away is precious in His eyes,
This baby is His, this baby belongs to Him,
What others say is just a form is heaven's gift to you,
This baby is His.

You determine this destiny; will this child still live to see,
A future made by God to be greater than you'll ever know.
Let her live, let her live.

Let him live; let love decide the truth,
Let her live; give hope to this new life.

(c) 2007 Words and Music by Christa A. Heider


A few years ago met someone who was considering getting an abortion. The very thought makes me want to cry. The baby's life now hangs in the balance. And like most abortions, the mother's decision is based on convenience; she doesn't want to deal with the responsibility that her "one night" brought into her life. You've probably heard – in reference to pro life groups – the phrase "sanctity of life." Webster’s definition of sanctity is "the fact of being sacred or inviolable (not to be violated, profaned, or injured).” Another similar word is "sanctified," meaning "set apart." When a child is conceived, God breathes life into that new person. He or she then belongs to Him – set apart for His plans, His desires, and His love. Regardless of whether or not the child chooses to submit to God later on in life, they are still God's created being. So when God sees a life taken in the womb, He sees one of His sacred masterpieces being destroyed. A plan that He envisioned before the world began has been snuffed out. What could grieve His heart more?
For those who have had an abortion, there is 100% forgiveness upon their repentance. God's willing to cleanse them and welcome them to Himself with open arms. If you know someone who is thinking about an abortion, don't let the truth go unsaid. Fight for the baby's life – through persuasion and prayer. You never know what kind of future the child might have in light of God's loving destiny.
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
before you were born I sanctified you . . ." Jeremiah 1: 3a

11.07.2010

My Faith's In You

My Faith's In You
You’ve brought me far, still some to go,
But the power of Your love, it conquers all,
God, You’re my hope, my confidence,
And Your blood declares all promises are true.

Wherever I go and wherever I live,
My faith’s in You, my faith’s in You,
Whatever I need and whatever I face,
My faith’s in You, my faith’s in You.

You hold my hand, You lead the way,
There is joy in ev’ry season that I face,
You’re Lord of all; in You I boast,
‘Cause I know that I will see my great reward.

You’re the only one that I could trust,
You’re the only one that I could lean on, Jesus.

(c) 2010 Words and music by Christa A. Heider

10.10.2010

Life Steps

I love the mountains! It so much fun to go on a hike to a mountain top (not the highest one, of course), and explore what only a few brave people will see. Big blue sky, shimmery lakes, wild flowers, and trees, trees, trees everywhere! I could live on that mountain top . . . at least until winter.

All those breath-taking hikes didn’t come without a price, though. The uphill climb most of the time is rough going on uneven, rocky ground. It can be tiring enough to make me wish we could just leap to the top in a single jump. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. I’m human, not Superman.

Our lives are a lot like a mountain hike. Challenging things come up and we would just love to put on our super-hiker gear and leap to our mountain top. But what’s required of us isn’t a leap – just a trail of consistent, faithful steps.

Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way.”

God delights in a relaxed, worry-free hike. That’s why I Corinthians 5:7 says that we “walk by faith and not by sight” (italics added). The hike through life is made up of steps of faith, not gigantic leaps that send us falling and tripping to our desired destination. We think we know the path, but in reality, we really need some “ordering,” a lamp to guide our way.

Psalm 119:105 is God’s idea of trail guide, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

A lamp – or flashlight – doesn’t shine all the way to the other end of the trail. It gives just enough light to take the next step. Just the same, God directs our lives by His Word – one step at a time. It’s a matter of faith. Do we trust Him enough to obey His last instruction before moving on to the next step? His promise is that He will get us to our destination safe and sound. His steps won’t lead us to our demise; they’ll lead us our success!

9.05.2010

God's Panoramic Camera

After a long day at work when my brain’s too fried to think about anything significant, it’s nice to sit down and watch a good movie. Though a heart-warming, family-oriented chick flick would rank as my favorite, in the right mood, something with some adventure and excitement is appealing. You know the type. The climax isn’t a couple’s first kiss or a child’s adoption into a loving family. Nope, it’s more like a hero risking his life for his comrades, or a couple struggling for survival in the great unknown. Now those kinds of stories will get your heart pumping and your adrenaline going! It’s excitement that gives us a thrill.

Back to our own personal lives, though, we would really prefer everything to stay even-keeled and happy. No heart pounding climaxes, please! But like it or not, we all face a crisis of some sort that sends us into the great, vast unknown. Something that requires some faith and perseverance.

Ever seen one of those movies where the main character is lost somewhere in the desert and it looks like no one is around for miles? Thirst kicks in, the legs go weak, and it’s all they can do to stumble across the vast nothingness. From their point of view it looks hopeless. But from the camera’s point of view that all the movie watchers see, it is anything but hopeless. The panoramic view, oblivious to the character below, reveals a lush oasis on the other side of the hill. As the hiker slowly sinks to the earth with the last of his strength, the viewers jump to their feet and cry, “No! Don’t stop! Just one more step!”

That’s God in our lives. He’s the camera man in the plane above, sweeping the scene with his wide panoramic viewer, totally aware of everything that’s going on. Though we don’t see exactly where the next step is taking us, He’s cheering us on with Hebrews 6:10-12: “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

This verse is all about perseverance, “continued patient effort and persistence.” It’s not easy to keep the legs going when the heat’s beating down and our tongue is sticking to the roof of our mouths from a lack of water. But despite all the symptoms, there’s far more going on than we can see. The grace of God has created an “oasis,” or promise, for us just a few steps ahead. He wants us to get there more than we do! But it takes giving up the sluggish movements of a quitter, and putting on the determination of perseverance. Like Galatians 6:9 says, “let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Don’t stop walking! God’s got your destination in view!

8.08.2010

From the Heart

My brother and I didn’t grow up watching Saturday morning cartoons and playing Nintendo all day like a lot of kids. We were homeschooled, so our mom was our primary teacher. And since she was a bookworm from her days as a kid on a farm, she made sure we discovered the world of books when we were young. I don’t even have enough book shelves for all the books I own anymore!

Reading someone else’s books was great, but I soon discovered how fun it was to write my own. So as a kid I took folded pieces of writing and construction paper and wrote my own stories – complete with illustrations by yours truly! (Scary to think that at one time I thought they were good!) My brother and I even came up with our own “publishing company” that we dubbed “Heider Incorporated” with a logo to boot. None of our creations made it to bookstore shelves, though. But, hey, ya gotta start somewhere . . .

As I reflected the other day on my past fiction plots, I saw a common theme. I wrote a short story in grade school, Why China, about a girl who went with her family as missionaries to Asia. Under His Wings, a historical fiction novel, came while I was in high school. It was about another girl who spent her summer volunteering away from home at an orphanage. Just before going off to Bible school, I wrote A Miner’s Will, another historical fiction novel based on the life of a missionary’s daughter. Looking at those books, you would think that my heart was set on missions work in other countries. But in reality, it was the furthest thing from my mind. In fact, doing something so adventurous scared me!

I’ve known for years that I would be in full time ministry, but while writing those stories, I didn’t really know what I was called to do with my life. So while I considered my past written works, I wondered, “Why would I so consistently choose ministry plots?” The answer came to me in Luke 6:45:

“ A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

God chose the assignments for our lives before we were ever born (Jeremiah 1:5). He has placed in each of our hearts that call, regardless of whether we know or understand it with our minds. I may not have known why I wrote the stories I did, but deep down inside me, there was a call from God that was aching to become real. The creativity was influenced by my Spirit, not my head.

I have heard it said that the heart of an artist is in his creativity. The heart of a musician is in his music. The heart of a preacher is in his preaching. And the heart of a writer is in his writing. Whatever is inside a person is going to decide what is going to come out. Whether good or bad, our actions are going to be colored by the greatest desires and convictions of our hearts. But when a heart is submitted to God, those actions will be nothing but an eloquent masterpiece.

6.27.2010

The Big Picture

Some art work baffles me. I think they call it abstract. A wash of color over here, an eyeball over there, half an arm off somewhere in the corner. I’m not sure I’d call that a picture. More like someone threw a fit with their water colors . . . or decided their two-year-old’s handiwork was worthy of being hung in the gallery. No offense, but I think I’d prefer something a little more complete.

As creative as people try to be, they can’t quite match up with the art work that God starts . . . and finishes. Think about it. He didn’t end Creation on day four just because He got tired or frustrated. He didn’t get discouraged because the hippopotami weren’t cooperating. He completed His work with excellence and declared that it was all “good.” (Genesis 1:31; 2:1-3)

The plan of salvation was a complete work as well. Jesus didn’t abort when faced with death. He plowed through His assignment because He saw the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). And when hanging on the cross, He completed it all by saying, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

The great work of Creation and redemption weren’t the only things that God was interested in completing. Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ . . .” How amazing! Like all the other great projects He began, God started a good work in each one of us!

When God began to create our lives, He wasn’t an abstract painter who threw up random images, hoping that someone would have the creativity to fill in the gaps. He painstakingly planned out every inch of our “picture” in vivid detail. Not one part was missing or forgotten. Not one body part, background, or setting was left undone. It was a good work . . . and He loved it so much that He chose to complete it.

When we face frustrations and discouragement in our lives, it’s easy to think that the Artist who began our painting God bored with His work and walked away. We look at our lives and think, “Hey, you forgot the nose, God! Wait, wasn’t there supposed to be some sunshine in this picture?” The devil would love for you to get caught up in thoughts like that. But the truth is that God never starts something without the passion to finish it. Our lives are valuable to Him – so valuable that He’ll complete His promises to us. It’s not dependent on what goes on around us, or how we feel. It’s totally dependent on our trust in Him to do exactly what He said He would do. We can be “confident” because He is faithful to complete the big picture.

“He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” I Thessalonians 5:24



5.29.2010

For Such a Time

The story of Esther can be one of the most inspiring stories for a girl. Only in the movies do you see someone not related to royalty become queen! Esther was a forgotten orphan, raised by her uncle. She was part of a nationality that had been taken captive by their enemies. If anyone had reason to believe that she would never become something great or significant, it was Esther. But regardless of her weaknesses, Someone saw her God-fearing heart, and declared that she was placed in her era “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14) Though she once questioned her ability to save her people, she came to realize that it was her time to be alive. There was a purpose for every moment she spent in the king’s courts – even when things got tough.

I’ve never had to face death or the possibility of my family being wiped off the planet. And I couldn’t possibly tell you what being queen feels like! But I have had to face some insecurities. Mine, however, weren’t as heroic as being the savior of a nation. They were more along the lines of vanity and impatience.

For years I’ve been confident about what I was called to do in life. I’ve had a list of dreams that have kept my focus and excitement on my future. But my confidence began to shake when I turned twenty-five. I was bummed! By then I started showing faint, tiny lines under my eyes. Little pieces of gray appeared in random places in my hair. (Never mind that no one else noticed, and even I had to search with a magnifying glass to find them!) And worst of all, I wasn’t married yet or in full-time ministry like I had always dreamed. Surely there was something I was missing! But not long after my twenty-fifth birthday, God sat me down for a “little talk.” (You know the kind when God tactfully tells you to stop whining?) He basically said to me, “Christa, you are exactly where I want you to be, doing what I want you to do, and in the time I want you to do it.” So I shut up. A weight lifted off me and I was at peace again. What a relief! I wasn’t off track. I hadn’t missed anything. I was still in God’s will for me, and He was in control.

Sometimes we look at our lives and all the “bummers” we face and think that somehow God made a mistake in placing us where we are. We compare ourselves to other people’s lives and assume that when and where things happen to them is when it should happen to us. Our best buddy gets married when she turns twenty-one. We, on the other hand, are still standing alone. Someone goes to college, but we’re still working hard at a retail store in the mall. We don’t see our dreams coming true right away, and we think, “This can’t be God’s will for me!” But God looks at each of our lives and doesn’t compare us to each other. The plan and time line He has for one person may be totally different than what He has for someone else. Only the world puts value on time, youth, and beauty, as if without them we aren’t quite as valuable. But God declares that our value comes from Him. Following His plan for us – no matter when and where – is all the confidence we need.

I believe God desires us to be like Esther – to appreciate and act on the here and now. To quit counting the birthdays and little flaws. To forget the disappointments. Our lives, after all, aren’t our own (I Corinthians 6:19). We’re here for a purpose, even if it doesn’t seem like the events in our lives are happening as quickly as we would like. The closer we walk with our King, the sooner we see our assignment in life – and all the blessings that come with it – come into reality.

“Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 14:4b

5.09.2010

Red Light, Green Light

Ever run a stop sign, dashed through a red light, or been caught speeding down your favorite street? I have! Most was by accident – you know, the brain was off in La La Land, and – oops! I’m sure I’ve gotten a few ugly looks as I cut someone off and made them put on their brakes prematurely. All I can say is, “Sorry, folks!”

Chasing our own plan for our lives is kind of like running an intersection light. We think we have it all figured out, so we go full blast ahead without consulting all the signs and lights that can navigate us to success. Throughout our lives, God puts up strong instructions at the crossroads between pursuing our plan and going His way in His time. It’s not that He wants to spoil our fun. He’s really trying to save us from the agony of a wreck, and having to run to Him like an insurance agent to bail us out.

Some of us might be staring at a stop light and thinking that we hate the color red. No one really likes this light, but God uses it anyway. We’ve all been in a hurry to make things happen in our lives at one time or another. Yet somehow nothing really works out in our favor because God put a red light in front of us. No matter how hard we try to run it, that red shines in our faces to remind us that it isn’t our turn. We’re forced to stop and look to God for directions. And that’s what He wanted all along.

That yellow light can be just as frustrating as the stop light. It’s not that God said a solid “no” to our plans. He just wants us to relax and sit a while until the intersection is clear. It’s a light that screams “patience!” Ugh! But no matter how aggravating it may be, the it’s worth the wait. It means every step toward our plans is being organized while we yield to God’s timing.

After all the annoying red and yellow lights, there’s always a green light! And when we get that green light – go, baby, go! Putting our feet to the gas pedal is exhilarating when we know God is the one who gave us permission to move forward. The way is clear and the road all ours! We just have to step out in faith without hesitation.

Proverbs 3:5 &6 is one of my favorites: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all you ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” It takes a lifetime to totally learn to “acknowledge” God and trust Him with every intersection of our lives. But with Him directing the traffic, you can’t go wrong!

4.17.2010

Adam at the Office

Here's a fun excerpt from a book on relationships for girls that I'm writing. Thankfully, it didn't happen this way . . . (=

Adam pushed the elevator button. Tenth floor, all the way to the top. The door opened to an empty elevator cage.

Good, thought Adam, I’m not in the mood for chit chat right now.

As the door closed and the elevator made its ascent, Adam glanced at his watch and cringed. This meeting had better be quick. He had one hour before he had to get back to the estate and care for his menagerie of fowl. Not a bad job . . . but alone it was more than he could handle.

The elevator came to a smooth halt outside his landlord’s office. Adam straightened his tie before the long mirror in the hall. A quick look said “good enough,” and he raised his hand to knock.

“Come in.”

Adam entered, putting on his best serious yet professional demeanor.

“Adam!” God’s face broke into a smile as He stood to give Adam a firm hand clasp. “What brings you here? How’s the estate?”

“About that.” Adam cleared his throat. “We need to talk.”

God, concerned, sat down behind His well polished and organized desk. “What is it?”

“I appreciate my inheritance and all. Extremely generous of you.” Adam swung his lap top up onto the desk. “But it’s too much! I spend hours caring for the gardens and animals, not to mention the house. And then there’s the paperwork. I’m no administrator! And have you ever tried to talk to a pregnant elephant? I don’t have the touch! They’re so – so emotional!”

Adam opened his laptop to display his long to do list as he continued, “Housework and flowers aren’t my thing. And besides, it’s lonely out there. How am I supposed to communicate with crocodiles on my level? All they care about is their daily meals. Really, God, I’ve just about had all I can take!”

Down came the computer screen. Adam shoved the laptop into the bag and sank back against his chair.

“But, Adam, the last time we talked, you liked the estate.”

“I do! Just not . . . alone.”

At the word “alone,” God relaxed in his chair and rubbed His jaw thoughtfully. “Alone?”

“Yes, alone.”

God had never considered thousands of acres of land and hundreds of animal species as being “alone.” Seemed like entertaining company . . . until He thought about the messes. And the sweaty yard work with accompanying grass stains.

“Tell you what, Adam, I’ll give it some thought. Surely we can resolve this somehow.”

Adam sighed. “Thank you. The sooner the better.”

God saw Adam to the door. He hated to see his prized tenant so distraught. Adam had never complained before, so surely this was a sincere request. He had to put some deep thought into this issue. Heaven knew He didn’t see this one coming.

Behind His desk once more, God pulled out a stack of files. Surely He had some notes on relationships . . .


Hey, your role is important, ladies!

3.28.2010

Holding to My Way, Part 2

I've worked in a variety of places. Retail was my least favorite. Everything else was a little more down my alley - computers, papers, and files. An administrator's dream! One thing each job had had in common, though, was the colorful variety of people I worked with. And not all of them the greatest influence! When I started a new job, I had a choice to make. I could let the values of the people I worked with decide how I was going to act and live, or I was going to "hold to my way."

"Yet the righteous will hold to his way, and he who has clean hands will be stronger and stronger." Job 17:9

When I think of "holding," I picture a plane in a holding pattern, just circling, trying to land. To me, that's not the ideal position to be in. You're not accomplishing anything. It's more of a survival mode because there's not enough strength or vision to do anything different.

God, on the other hand, doesn't want us to be "stuck" in the sense that we're just surviving. His idea of "holding" is not letting go of what we believe - for anyone or anything. In fact, the more we choose to live for Him and in His holiness, the stronger we get. We don't lose fuel circling; we gain a whole new tank to keep us going!

God's blessing and strength is all over someone who won't let go of his or her standards and integrity. He'll never ask us to live a certain way on our own ability. He fills us with the Holy Spirit, who helps us not only hold our ground, but get stronger in the process! He's awesome that way!

It's not just at work that we get hit with opportunities to slip up. Step inside the mall, a theater, or a gas station, and there will be something there to tempt us. Living in the world pure doesn't require our perfection; it requires our total dependency on God and the strength that He promised. With Him to lean on, we can bypass the racks of clothes offering outfits that make us look like we stepped out of Vogue Magazine. We say "no thanks" to a night out partying, and hold our tongue when everyone around us is swearing their heart out. Each time we do, we'll grow stronger and stronger, soaring higher and higher!

2.21.2010

Holding to My Way, Part 1

Holding to My Way
(c)Lyrics by Christa Heider, Music by Tim Heider


The world waits in hopes to see,
One little flaw on my identity,
Will perfection point them to You,
Or will this nature prove You true?

I'm holdin' to my way,this path I've chosen,
Holdin' to my way, to model heaven,
When they look they'll see, good works in me,
I'm holdin' to my way for You.

It's a big responsibility,
This path I walk on steadily,
But You've not left me on my own,
Your Spirit's here to keep me strong.