Alien/nation

Reflections on Trek to the Manger, chapter 6

In many places around the world, Christians are increasingly considered to be aliens. Not so much the “from another country” kind of alien; more like the “differing in nature or character to the point of incompatibility” type (merriam-webster.com).

Don’t believe me? In the article A More Secular Europe, Divided by the Cross (June 17, 2013), Gudrun Kugler, director of the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians, was quoted as saying:

“There is a general suspicion of anything religious, a view that faith should be kept out of the public sphere… There is a very strong current of radical secularism,” she said, adding that this affects all religions but is particularly strong against Christianity because of a view that “Christianity dominated unfairly for centuries” and needs to be put in its place. (Andrew Higgins, nytimes.com)

In spite of the growing animosity against Christianity worldwide, we who belong to Christ have an opportunity each and every day to “be limitless light in a world filled with lines and boundaries and borders”  –Trek to the Manger, p. 23

The way you choose to live your life has the potential to shift the focus from words to action; from ideas to illumination; from your life to the presence of God Himself. 

As members of an alien nation, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, we can choose to sit back and avoid alienation by hiding our light under a bushel… or, we can saddle up the camel and hit the road with passport in hand. “The degree to which you are open to letting the Light of God shine through you is the degree to which your life can be a beacon of hope in a desperately hopeless world.” (p. 23)

How your life answers these questions could make all the difference today:

“Who are you? What are you doing here? Now, prove it.” (p. 21)

Passport, please.

Have a comment or question to share? Click here for the Trek homepage, then scroll to the bottom where you’ll find the Reply/comment space… Or, simply scroll down and reply to this post. I look forward to hearing about your ADVENTures!

Looking for the Trek to the Manger reading schedule? Click here!

Trek to the Manger (and Advent 2015) Begins Today!

Welcome to the beginning of the church year, and the beginning of the Advent season! Beginning today, women all over the globe will be choosing faithful paths to Christmas, bypassing much of the consumerism and hoopla en route to the true Gift – Jesus Christ.

If you haven’t purchased your guidebook yet, you’ll find Trek to the Manger at Amazon.com (available in paperback or Kindle formats). A reading schedule is available here: 2015 Trek to the Manger Reading Schedule as well as free Trek to the Manger Small Group Discussion Questions (which can also be used as journaling prompts throughout the Trek).

When you visit the Trek to the Manger page throughout Advent, you’ll find reflections from Brita’s own Trek, to which you are welcome to add your own!

The ADVENTure is just beginning! Grab a few traveling buddies and strap on those traveling shoes… for a Trek to the Manger.

Trek to the Manger 2015 – Downloadable Small Group Discussion Questions Available Today!

If you’re planning a Trek to the Manger in 2015, you’ll want to download these Trek to the Manger Small Group Discussion Questions for your weekly group gatherings or Facebook group discussions!

Contact Brita for ideas on starting your own Trek to the Manger small group for Advent, which begins on Sunday, November 29th.

Trek to the Manger is on Kindle for Advent 2015!

Brita is excited to announce that Trek to the Manger: Advent Devotions for Women on the Move is now available on Amazon Kindle!

Whether you prefer the feel of a “real” book in your hands or the convenience of an e-reader, you can join with women everywhere for this spiritual journey, which begins on Sunday, November 29th!

Gather your girls and plan to kick-off a group Trek to the Manger this year! A reading schedule is provided here, at Pink Shoes Ministries on WordPress – just click the Trek to the Manger tab on the menu to access the downloadable pdf. Small group discussion questions will be available soon!

Trek to the Manger 2015 Begins on Sunday, November 29th!

Trek book cover

Trek to the Manger: Advent Devotions for Women on the Move

by Brita Hammit

Available here from Create Space

or at Amazon.com

Advent begins on Sunday, November 29, 2015

Get your copy of Trek to the Manger and join women everywhere who believe – like you – that Advent should be an adventure!

One that honors tradition without bowing the knee to retail-bullying.

One that embraces fun and gift-giving without breaking the bank.

One that engages more of me than just my schedule and my credit card.

The season of Advent may appear to have been hijacked by a relentless stream of commercial messages – but this year can be different!

Instead of plodding through another stress-filled holiday, women on the move are choosing a different route to Christmas morning.

Fire up your GPS and grab a traveling buddy or two! Not for another trip to the mall… for a Trek to the Manger.

Trek to the Manger is a daily devotional for the season of Advent. While you could take the Trek alone, traveling is so much more rewarding with a friend! Consider inviting your small group, co-workers, or family members to join you on your Trek to the Manger in 2015.

Stay tuned for a downloadable Small Group Discussion Guide (available here, at pinkshoesministries.me)

Trek to the Manger Reading Schedule

2014 Trek to the Manger Reading Schedule

Welcome to the Trek! For those who wish to travel together, a reading schedule is provided below! As you seek the Light and ways to lighten your load during this Advent season, I hope you will make time to interact with others who are taking this journey, too. Click here to access the Trek to the Manger homepage, then go all the way to the bottom of the page where you’ll find the Reply (comment) section!

Godspeed!

  • Nov. 30 – Chapters 1-3
  • Dec. 1 – Chapter 4
  • Dec. 2 – Chapter 5
  • Dec. 3 – Chapter 6
  • Dec. 4 – Chapter 7
  • Dec. 5 – Chapter 8
  • Dec. 6 – Chapter 9
  • Dec. 7 – Chapters 10-11
  • Dec. 8 – Chapter 12
  • Dec. 9 – Chapter 13
  • Dec. 10 – Chapter 14
  • Dec. 11 – Chapter 15
  • Dec. 12 – Chapter 16
  • Dec. 13 – Chapter 17
  • Dec. 14 – Chapters 18-19
  • Dec. 15 – Chapter 20
  • Dec. 16 – Chapter 21
  • Dec. 17 – Chapter 22
  • Dec. 18 – Chapter 23
  • Dec. 19 – Chapter 24
  • Dec. 20 – Chapter 25
  • Dec. 21 – Chapter 26-27
  • Dec. 22 – Chapter 28
  • Dec. 23 – Chapter 29

Trek to the Manger: Advent Devotions for Women on the Move

Trek to the Manger by Brita Hammit

Trek to the Manger by Brita Hammit

Advent should be an adventure!

One that honors tradition without bowing the knee to retail-bullying.

One that embraces fun and gift-giving without breaking the bank.

One that engages more of me than just my schedule and my credit card.

The season of Advent may appear to have been hijacked by a relentless stream of commercial messages – but this year can be different!

 

 

Instead of plodding through another stress-filled holiday, women on the move are choosing a different route to Christmas morning. Trek to the Manger is a tool in the hands (and hearts) of busy women (and brave men!) during the season of Advent, which begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Each daily devotion presents an opportunity to redeem the Christmas holiday and reclaim our focus on the Light of the World.

This spiritual adventure is an ideal resource for small groups, Bible studies, or personal devotional reading. A reading schedule is available here (and by using the Trek to the Manger tab at the top of this page) for women wishing to join others on this journey of faith.

It’s time to fire up your GPS and grab a traveling buddy or two! Not for another trip to the mall…

for a Trek to the Manger.

 

Click here to purchase Trek to the Manger: Advent Devotions for Women on the Move by Brita Hammit (also available on Amazon).

 

Discover. Uncover. Recover. Spiritual Disciplines for the Expectant (Part Three)

Hope

Hope (Photo credit: bitzcelt)

God sure has His work cut out for Him this Christmas.

In keeping with our Advent theme of expectancy, what many of us are expecting from the Christ child and our annual celebration of His birth has changed over the past week. While we seek to DISCOVER Him in His Word and UNCOVER His Presence in our hearts, a growing number of us have another need – one which trumps the previous two…

a need to RECOVER.

The spiritual discipline of RECOVER requires that we look no further than the dictionary to aptly describe what our expectant hearts need most from Emmanuel today:

To get back: REGAIN

We desperately need what we had before last Friday; before the diagnosis; before the deployment; before tragedy struck and darkness hovered over the face of our deepest fears.

To bring back to normal position or condition: RESCUE

‘Normal’ is a relative term, isn’t it? We might even ask whether normal is a word we can entertain in a world such as the one in which we live. Perhaps what we need most is God’s reminder that He knows our condition. He sees our aberrations and infections and misfires. He knows that what we see and experience and read and watch each day is not His idea of normal. He knows that the most some of us are hoping for in the coming year is a new normal, since returning to an unbroken state in these broken lives we lead is impossible without a full-on invasion by the God of the Angel Armies.

But, WAIT! That’s what Christmas IS! The Baby in the manger came to be our life-line, our connection to Heaven. Our RESCUE.

To find or identify again

We discussed our great need to DISCOVER God when we began our series last week. It’s no secret that when tragedy strikes, people begin to look up and look around in search of meaning and hope. Our response to the struggles and challenges of life can take us down dark paths toward more difficulty and pain, or we can choose to seek out that which we have lost sight of. Through the tears and discomfort of knowing too much and seeing too much, we must discipline ourselves to look for the Light. Only by that Light do we stand a chance of finding what we’ve lost and in so doing, helping others to find it (Him), too.

REACH

I never thought about the word RECOVER meaning to REACH, and yet there it is – in black and white. In order to recover from tragedy and find what we have lost, we must REACH for the One Who has already reached out to us through the Presence of His Son in our dark world. If you can do nothing else to express what you find inside your head and heart today, do this one thing: reach for Him.

To save from loss and restore to usefulness

Ultimately, the work of the manger is a saving work. We have all experienced loss. In our hopelessness we know what it’s like to be rendered utterly useless. As we look forward to  reminders of God’s action on our behalf – as Christmas Eve approaches – may we be open to being saved. Rescued. Reached. Found. Restored.

Not just so that we can feel better.

Not only for the good of our own hearts and the lives of those we bump elbows with from day to day.

But so that we may be found useful in the ongoing RECOVERY work of the Kingdom of God. Agents of healing. Messengers of peace. Bringers of joy (and hugs and smiles). Sharers of tears.

Children of God.

Discover. Uncover. Recover. Spiritual Disciplines for the Expectant

Glass icicle, through a magnifying glass

Glass icicle, through a magnifying glass (Photo credit: miletbaker)

Contrary to popular belief and common practice, shopping is not a spiritual discipline.

Even if this comes as no great surprise to you, in this season of commerce (even in Christian circles) what we DO tends to outweigh what we SAY about Christmas. We may SAY that it’s all about Jesus – His birth, the Incarnation, the arrival of God on the scene – but what we DO when we spend our precious time and resources at the mall sends a crystal clear message to a world full of skeptics…

Believers are no different than everybody else.

Our unremarkable witness to heaven’s advent here on earth has me concerned today (maybe because I shop-till-I-drop with the best of ’em), yet I’m confident that I am not alone in yearning for a different way to celebrate Christmas this year. It may be December 11th, but it’s not too late – it’s NEVER too late! – for us to steep ourselves in the very real presence of God (vs. the very real distractions of the season).

For those of us who are expecting MUCH of this holiday – and of every day during which we choose to celebrate Emmanuel – I’d like to propose the adoption of three spiritual disciplines. Three ways to keep our focus on the One who is God EVERY DAY – 365/24/7. Three ways to prop open the book of our lives for the Author’s eyes to see. No more cover-ups. No more propaganda. No more societal sell-outs.

Three Spiritual Disciplines for the Expectant. Today we consider the first of these:

DISCOVER.

The spiritually expectant are watching for God to show up. Looking for signs of His presence. Fully expecting to SEE HIM here! The spiritual discipline of DISCOVER is for seekers only, requiring not only that we pay attention and both recognize and celebrate the times and places where God is with us, but that we actively seek Him out. In the world around us, yes, but also in His Word.

Those of us who wish to DISCOVER the realities of God are invited to sink ourselves into the pages of scripture, where God can ALWAYS be seen and heard!

  • Choose a word to focus on for the rest of Advent. Make it something that matters to you right now. Need help? Think power, light, promise or energy.
  • Look up the definition of your word in a dictionary and write it down. Be sure to include any synonyms or antonyms for your chosen word.
  • Open a concordance (or check out the online study tools at blueletterbible.org) and look up your chosen word. Write down every scripture reference that contains that word. How about your synonyms? Look those up in the concordance as well, and add those references to your list of scripture texts.
  • Over the next couple of weeks, look up all of the scripture references you’ve identified. Read each one, then read it again. Write down the ones that trigger questions or thoughts or ‘aha’ moments. Make notes about these trigger texts as you read and meditate on them throughout the day.
  • As you read to DISCOVER, ask yourself questions like these:
  1. How is my understanding of the word I’ve chosen changing or growing as I study it?
  2. How can this new understanding of my chosen word strengthen my faith journey?
  3. What can I do in response to this new understanding of my word/God’s Word?

Let’s choose to DISCOVER new meaning and create new energy for Advent! I hope you’ll take time to share your word with me (mine, in case you were wondering, is: buy). And be sure to check back on Friday for the second Spiritual Discipline for the Expectant: UNCOVER.

Until then Expect MUCH!

Expect MUCH? (a PINK Tuesday post)

advent

advent (Photo credit: Pleuntje)

With the season of Advent in full swing, the question that keeps surfacing for me is this: What am I expecting?

I’m afraid that many of us, if we’re honest, would answer that question like this:

  • I’m expecting to gain back the five pounds I lost last summer.
  • I’m expecting some tedious holiday gatherings that I’m too busy to really enjoy.
  • I’m expecting a monstrous Visa bill in January, once all of the holiday ‘cheer’ is over.

In other words, many of us aren’t expecting much from Christmas this year. It’s easy to fall into expectations built on Christmases past, and we’ve all experienced some whoppers, haven’t we? This season of comfort and joy is so often hijacked by stress and consumerism, to the detriment of those who really are seeking the Christ child – we just get distracted along the way. Caught up in these tangents, it’s easy to lower our expectations of Christmas to the standard being set by a commercially-driven world where the fondest memories we create are tied to how closely our shopping list matched the heart’s desire of our family and friends.

Psalm 31:24 might be just the cheer we need this season, in order to raise our expectations to the level of God’s great provision:

“Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up. Expect God to get here soon.” (The Message)

Expect God to get here soon? Really?! Is that what we are supposed to expect the next 21 days to deliver? Not presents? Not parties? Not a few days off from work? This isn’t at all what the world around us is expecting! From all evidence and signs, the world expects a potluck and a pile of toys for Christmas…

What would we DO if God were actually to arrive – and soon?!

In Ancient Rome it was customary for a young woman after marriage to wear a snug-fitting band of some rigid material – gold or brass – around her neck. Often nicely adorned, as jewelry, this necklace was both ornamental and diagnostic. Borne of an old wives’ tale, the understanding was that once pregnant, the necklace would become tight to the point of discomfort. Removing the necklace, then, was a tell-tale sign that she was expecting. It was her public birth announcement, you might say. A sign of her coming joy. An evidence of her new family’s ongoing journey of creation. An invitation for others to join her in anticipation of new life, which she expected to be here – soon.

Believers, it’s high time we remove our chokers and consider the ways that our lives are ‘showing’ the anticipated glory of God! Like an expectant mother, you and I are called into this season of Advent by God’s promise of new life, great light and a future full of hope!

Yes, things are bleak in the dark world around us. Yes, people are missing the point once again. Yes, expectations are low as we enter into another Christmas season.

But BE BRAVE!

BE STRONG!

DON’T GIVE UP!

EXPECT GOD TO GET HERE SOON!

What eager, young mommy-to-be tries to cover up her coming joy? Let it show – let HIM show!

Expect MUCH!