Category Archives: Michelle Avery

Warm Up the Outside First

The little boy walked into the church, shivering from the cold. His lips were so chapped it hurt too much to smile. Not that he had any reason to. It was Christmas day, and he was going to starve. He slipped into the unlocked foyer and curled up beside a heater vent – at least it was warmer.

Across the street a boy ran to the preacher. “There’s a little boy in the church, Daddy! Doesn’t he know we don’t have church on Christmas day?”

The pastor considered. A little boy? Why would he be in the church today? “Son, why don’t you get your coat and boots? We’ll go see if we can find out why he’s here today.”

The cold little boy was afraid of them when they first approached but finally agreed to go across the street to a warm home, delicious meal, and some hand-me-down clothes. As he sat waiting for some authority to decide his fate though, he became curious. “Mister, why didn’t you let me stay in the church? One time I heard someone say that the church always had the answer to your problems. And it was warmer in there than it is outside.”

“Would you rather have stayed over there?”

“Oh, no! It’s a lot better here! But you didn’t have to come get me.”

“Well, whoever told you that church has all the answers was right, but I think we could put it a better way.” And the young father began to explain the story of Christmas and the love of God to his new friend. This story is entirely fictional, but I like to think that something like this might happen. Sometimes you have to warm up someone’s outsides before you can thaw out the heart.

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Don’t Bow!

Imagine with me what it would be like if you had been born in Egypt back when the Israelites were slaves there. Suppose your parents were slaves who every day had to make bricks for the Pharaoh’s pyramids. Suppose you never got to go to school and learn to read or write because for as long as you can remember, you have been collecting sticks under the watchful eye of one very stern looking master.

Then one day you hear your father telling your mother about a crazy man who used to be a prince of Egypt and had started causing trouble for all the slaves. He had gone to Pharaoh and said something that made him so mad, now all the slaves had to work twice as hard! The next days were filled with all kinds of strange happenings. The Egyptians complained of overwhelming frogs, flies, blood, disease, and all kinds of nasty things, but you saw nothing unusual in the slaves’ quarter.

Finally, it happened. Something you did not really think was possible. Pharaoh ordered all the slaves to get out of his country! Everybody grabbed what they could, and even took gifts from the Egyptians, and started walking out of the country. What a sight! There were slaves – but not slaves anymore – for miles around, just walking, walking toward freedom.

But something else terrible happened. Pharaoh changed his mind! The soldiers were coming for you again! Just when you were sure everybody was going to die, God jerked back the Red Sea and you and your family and all the other former slaves walked across to freedom. Finally safe from Pharaoh and his soldiers!

When God told Moses that the people of Israel should never make a “graven image,” He was talking about the statues and such that the Egyptians had worshiped. God wanted to make sure no one ever forgot that He had saved the slaves from Egypt. He had conquered Pharaoh and his army. Why would you ever want to bow down to anything else?

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Castles in the Sky

In the mid-1400s, the thrilling Renaissance Period, an imposing summer residence was erected for the Archbishop of Salzburg. A beautiful and lasting castle.

Since then it has been captured, confiscated, sold, rented, and auctioned. That marvelous building was intended to bring honor to important men. Today it serves as a novel vacation spot for tourists.

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matthew 6:19, 20).

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Our Place to Stand

Archimedes, a Greek mathematician of the second century before Christ, said, “Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the world.”

When a king demanded a demonstration, Archimedes had a huge ship brought ashore; then, using a series of pulleys and a carefully placed fulcrum, with the one-handed turn of a lever, he moved the ship.

Jesus once gave His disciples a promise like that. He said, “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove, and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matt. 17:20).

In other words, faith is our fulcrum. So where is our place to stand?  “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (v. 21).  We stand on prayer and move the world through faith.

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Did You Ask Any Good Questions Today?

Every afternoon when he got home from school, the little boy had to answer the same question from his mother. “Did you ask any good questions today?” That one question created a habitual curiosity in one small immigrant child who would grow up to be a well known physicist of the mid-1900s. In fact, in 1944, Isidor Isaac Rabi was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for his work with the magnetic properties of atomic nuclei.

Thanks to his mother, he asked some very good questions.

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A Ridiculous Christmas

Scripture is full of ridiculous things – armies fleeing in inexplicable terror, parted waters, walking on water, and formerly dead people. However, there is a verse quite near the beginning of the New Testament that could lay claim to the prize for most socially ridiculous statement in the Bible. Matthew, when writing to the religious Hebrews of  all people, said, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child.”

This is how it all started, he wrote. It was time for the wedding, but Mary was pregnant, and it wasn’t Joseph’s baby. Well, now, there is a nice start to a story. What a conversation piece! And Matthew was not finished. “She was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” If that is not ridiculous, nothing is. It is the very definition of ridiculous: “That which may justly excite laughter with contempt.”

How could anyone believe that the God of the universe would actually choose this poor, unknown girl to carry His Child? If she was pregnant, she was guilty! She needed to be punished!

Yet God’s ways are higher than ours. He saved her from the humiliations that could have legally come. Joseph did not leave her. She was not punished. In fact, she did not even need to send out “It’s a boy!” announcements. Angels took care of that for her.

Yes, the idea of God Himself coming into a poor family and living the life of the required sacrifice is crazy to any thinking person. But I am glad He doesn’t think so.

Merry Christmas!

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The Bread of Thanksgiving Dinner

Have you ever noticed how often we use food in our spiritual word pictures? The need for food is universally understood, even though the sorts of things we will and will not eat varies wildly. Food, no matter what our preferences, must be consumed if we want to stay alive and healthy.

That is exactly why the Scripture calls Jesus the Bread of Life. In the Old Testament, the Garden of Eden had a tree which provided life-giving fruit. Adam and Eve had to stay close to the tree if they wanted to live. In the New Testament, we learn about a life giving Bread which not only sustains us but also is available wherever we may be. You may be physically present in a land with no Bible, but with Jesus in your heart, you will always be spiritually near His life-giving bread.

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