NEW BOOK: “Jesus Is…”

Kindle & Paperback Editions

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Ryan+Stratton+jesus+is&ref=nb_sb_noss

“Who do you say Jesus is? Some say he was just a good person. Some say he was a prophet. Others say he didn’t exist. CS Lewis says, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn’t be a great moral teacher. He’d be either a lunatic on a level with a man who says he’s a poached egg or else he’d be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.” It is important for us to know who Jesus is because this is who we are being formed into. We are not forming Jesus into ourselves, but rather he is recreating us to make us into his image.

This 8 chapter book goes over the big moments of Jesus’ life to help us see how the life of Jesus is still impacting our life today. The next time you’re asked “Who is Jesus?” you can have some answers to help people understand the power of the Risen Christ that is with us always and who is giving us our identity.”

Springing Forward

As I sit here this morning, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, all of creation is awake! What a beautiful morning. Even in the beauty of this morning, it was still difficult to wake up. Changing our clocks an hour ahead over the weekend, and losing an hour sleep never seems to be a good combination.

Acts 1:1-11 is where my devotional time led me this morning. Something interesting struck me as I was reading and praying. There is an interesting balance of sorts between remembering the suffering of Jesus Christ and looking forward to what he promised would happen when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles. The apostles were afraid of what was going to happen to them after their teacher had been crucified; yet they were filled with joy and excitement over what is going to happen.

I think this is a good reminder for us as we enter into the spring season. Some mornings it feels like winter. There will still be snow in areas. Trees will begin the process of budding. This is a wonderful time of year!

There are people who will read this, and I hope the Acts 1:1-11 passage, and not be able to get past the winter season. We can easily be pessimistic about the new thing that God is doing in our midst. I find it intriguing it is easier, and more comfortable for some reason, to allow the past to stay ingrained in our minds to the point we cannot see past it to see what new things are being developed, being created, being renewed.

Where are you today? Springing forward is not always easy to do; but I remember the words of the prophet Isaiah this day:

“Don’t remember the prior things; don’t ponder ancient history. Look! I’m doing a new thing; now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it? I’m making a way in the desert, paths in the wilderness. The beasts of the field, the jackals and ostriches, will honor me, because I have put water in the desert and streams in the wilderness to give water to my people, my chosen ones, this people whom I formed for myself, who will recount my praise.” Isaiah‬ ‭43:18-21‬ ‭CEB‬‬

I pray each of you remembers the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in you and how Jesus Christ lives. Yes, the winter may still seem to be too close for us to look past right now; but look at what’s new and what is happening all around us that is good!

Peace of God

The hustle and bustle of the Christmas season will bring even the best of us to out wits end. We hear the story of Christ being born; yet we go about our busy lives as if nothing has changed. There are so many things to worry about. The media doesn’t help. God is with us and yet we still get frustrated, angry, sad, depressed, irritated, etc.

The letter to the Philippians is a great book to read, especially in this time of year. The Apostle Paul wrote this short letter. In it, he proclaims the simple message of finding joy and peace in God through Jesus Christ.

Click here to read Philippians 4:4-7.

There are many things we worry about; but do we really have to? Lifting up our concerns, our anxiousness, our worry, etc. doesn’t change our circumstances; but it does change our perspective. This is so much more than just changing our attitude. This is about complete trust in God through Jesus Christ.

When we share our burdens with Him, is it He who makes our load light. We do not have to carry it, because He carries our burdens for us and with us.

God coming down to earth as Jesus Christ tangibly shows God is with us and understands our lives. This year, allow peace to enter fully in our hearts, a peace beyond understanding, to make Christmas really come alive.

O come, O come, Emmanuel.

Sing to the Lord

What are some of your favorite songs to sing this time of year? Mine are “Joy to the World” and “O Holy Night.” In fact, these are two songs I would like to be sung at my memorial service after I pass away. The reason is because, even in death, there still can be joy. We do not pass over the grieving period; but JOY has been brought into my life through Jesus Christ and is here in the world too.

“O Holy Night” is a song that I used to sing and listen to with my great grandmother when I was a child; so I have great memories with this song. Besides, it is a song that helps me focus my mind and heart focused on the beautiful night that Christ was born, bringing God to earth in human form.

There are lots of passages in Isaiah that talk about destruction and bringing the exalted low; but this is one of the many passages which bring hope and God’s grace and joy into the the picture.

Click here to read Isaiah 12:2-6.

Though this passage has several Psalms re-written, this is a great reminder that God is where we draw our strength from. Our salvation from. Our life from because He has done great things!

This Christmas, we are invited to keep our hearts calm and focused on the Christ child who lived, died, was resurrected, and will come again. Sing to the Lord. What song will you sing today?

O come, O come, Emmanuel.