A Life Well Lived :: By Holly Spate

I never thought I would be spending the holiday helping to plan a funeral… a funeral to honor one of the most important people in my life, my uncle. But that’s how the year ended and the new year began. My uncle’s passing was a shock to the system. He meant the world to me. He will always mean the world to me.

You see, my uncle was very kind, fun, giving. He had a true servant’s heart. He was a strong Christian and made it a point to do his best to always be there for everyone. He always gave freely of his time, his finances, his resources, and his love. He could brighten any room he entered and had a way of making everyone feel special. He was always there for me, and I’m forever thankful for the special relationship we’ve always shared.

A loved one’s passing generally has a way of jolting a person into truly contemplating the important things in life. My uncle’s passing did that for me. I have grown up knowing what’s most important in life, but viewing his life in more detail just reaffirms what I’ve known for some time… Life is best lived loving and serving others. Life is best lived being an instrument God can use to plant seeds and touch lives. I have no doubt when my uncle took his last breath on earth and his first step into heaven that he was greeted by Jesus with the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Isn’t that what every Christian, what every daughter and son in Christ, wants to hear?

His passing reminded me of the truth that none of us knows when we will take our final breath in this life. I never would have imagined my uncle would have left this earth so soon. It makes me realize even more how our time here is limited, our opportunities special and not to be wasted. It makes me realize all the more how we need to be about our Father’s business. We are not given a time table when we’re born, but we’re each entrusted with the time God gives to make an impact. We each have been given the same 24 hours in a day, and each needs to decide how we will spend the gift of a day. I’m thankful my uncle spent his time wisely. His example encourages me to spend my time wisely too.

I have peace knowing I will see my uncle again one day. I have peace knowing he is with Jesus and with family members and friends who have gone before. I miss him greatly, but I have peace knowing he’s simply changed addresses, and he’s the happiest he could ever be, and I’ll get to be with him again one day… for all eternity.

Life is truly a gift. Each day is truly a gift. The good seeds we sow now can reap a harvest that will last into all eternity. Our lives are to be lived selflessly… labors of love for those God puts in our paths.

I am so thankful God placed my uncle and me in the same family. I am thankful for his life well lived and the example he set for friends and family to follow. I am thankful God created him and thankful for the lives he touched, the seeds he planted, the love he gave, and the legacy he left.

As Christians, how shall we live our lives? How shall we spend our time?

Matthew 6:19-21 speaks to this: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

If you have never made the decision to accept Christ into your heart and know for sure where you’ll spend eternity, please ask Him into your heart today. He is waiting with open arms to accept you into His kingdom.

John 3:16 shows the deep, unconditional love He has for you: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

Asking Jesus into your heart is the BEST decision you will ever make!

I’d like to conclude with a poem by Linda Ellis. I hope it blesses and makes an impression on your heart. And I pray that as you move forward in life, that you will make the most of each day so that one day you will hear the Savior say,

“Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

The Dash by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
From the beginning… to the end

He noted that first came the date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time
That they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
Know what that little line is worth

For it matters not how much we own,
The cars… the house… the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering this special dash
Might only last a little while

So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash…
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent YOUR dash?

spate.holly@gmail.com

Look to the Skies This Christmas :: By Holly Spate

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him‘” (Matthew 2:1-2).

As we approach another Christmas, may we remember that night over 2,000 years ago when Mary and Joseph took the long, dusty journey to Bethlehem to give birth to baby Jesus. May we remember the bright, shining star that lit up the night sky leading the wise men to the place of the Savior.

What glorious, miraculous events! As we prepare to celebrate all these past events that hold such special meaning in the hearts of believers, I wanted to share something joyful that’s happening this Christmas season. Those writing about this special event are calling it Bethlehem’s Star, or the Christmas Star. It is amazing how God sends reminders our way, little miracles and blessings, to remind us how much he loves each one of us. So, as you gather with loved ones and friends this holiday, may you look to the skies and catch a glimpse of the beautiful site and think of the Magi who followed a beautiful, bright, magnificent star over 2,000 years ago.

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:9-11).

I’ve marked my calendar and am looking forward to this very special moment in time! You can read about this very unique event here:

https://www.westernjournal.com/first-time-800-years-christmas-star-will-visible/

I pray this Christmas that you’ll focus on the events of that night in Bethlehem. I hope that you’ll truly put Christ at the forefront of your celebrations and thoughts. I pray you’ll contemplate the many miracles of that night over 2,000 years ago.

Just think for a moment…

Imagine the scene: a quiet, starry night in a little town called Bethlehem. To most, if not all who lived there, the day was just another ordinary day on the calendar. A day of walking dusty streets, buying and selling, working and learning, loving and fellowshipping. Little did those in that small town know that when they woke up that day, it would be different from all past days. Little did they know that when they went out to conduct their ordinary business that something extraordinary was about to take place… something so extraordinary it would change the course of history forever. A miracle was about to spring forth. In one glorious moment, a moment God ordained from the beginning, the greatest gift would be delivered to all mankind.

To some, Bethlehem may be a speck on the map of the world, but to God it was a special place specifically selected for His Son, the world’s Savior, to make His entrance.

And suddenly, out of nowhere, in an instant, that little town would be witness to the greatest gift ever bestowed upon the entire world.

Can you even begin to imagine how wonderful and miraculous for those who witnessed that night?

Although afraid, the shepherds looked on in awe, trying to comprehend what they had seen and heard. Luke 2:9-14: An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.‘”

The heavenly angels sang in glorious praise that day, proclaiming the birth of the very One Who came to save the world… a gift for all.

Later, the wise men would journey from afar to come worship… following a star so bright that it lit up the sky, leading them to the very place where Jesus resided. They would have the awesome privilege of worshipping and presenting gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the King of Kings and Lord of all!

Many miracles surrounded the birth of the Savior. Heaven came down that one holy night. Angels rejoiced. It was a moment in time that would forever change the whole world for all time.

It’s all so incredibly amazing, isn’t it?

I pray this Christmas that you will both reflect and rejoice. I pray you’ll hold close to your heart the miracle sent from the Creator of the world, His one and only Son… the Savior! The One who would humbly give His life so all could have life. The One who would heal the sick, speak truth into hearts, and lead the way. The One who would come as a shining light piercing through all darkness, breathing fresh hope into hearts. The very One sent to be the bridge for all mankind, the Christ child, sent to bring the gift of eternal salvation to all who accept and believe. The One providing true hope and an eternal future with the Creator of all for all time.

God still performs miracles today. He still refreshes hearts. He still gives of Himself and calls all into a relationship with Him so all can be saved and have a bright, eternal future.

Christmas should usher in every believer’s heart a rush of peace, hope, love, and joy because God loved His creation with such an everlasting love that He sent a life-changing everlasting gift… the greatest gift ever given to all mankind.

This Christmas, look to the skies and be thankful for all we have because of all He gave.

God bless you and yours, and a very Merry CHRISTmas to you all!

spate.holly@gmail.com