Every year I like to buy a new Christmas book to read during the weeks before Christmas. This Christmas I chose a book called " Hidden Christmas" by Timothy Keller. We were visiting our oldest daughter, Karin, and her family in California and during our visit with her we took a day trip to Solvang, California. Solvang is an interesting and quaint town with lots of shops and good restaurants. There was this very small book store in Solvang and I went in to browse through the books. My browsing time was limited as our youngest 4 year old granddaughter, Payton, was with us. I managed to have a few minutes to look in the religion section, hoping to find a Christmas book to read for the Christmas season, but interestingly enough, the religion section did not have any Christian books. I kept looking around and I found two small shelves under a counter with Christmas books. On the top shelf were two copies of the book by Timothy Keller, "Hidden Christmas". The remainder of the title stated that the book was about "The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ". The book intrigued me. I have been a Christian almost all of my life and I have celebrated Christmas as a time to remember Christs' birth, so I couldn't imagine what the surprising truth could possible be behind the Birth of Christ. My curiosity led me to purchase the book and I am so glad that I did.
I have to share with you that I have been a Christian all my life and I also have to share with you that during my lifetime as a Christian I have never felt that I loved the Lord with all my heart, my soul, my strength and my mind, and that I loved my neighbor as myself as Jesus has directed us in Luke 10:27. Yes, I loved the Lord, but honestlly could I say that I loved him with all my heart, soul, strength and mind? And what about my neighbors? I wasn't even sure that I loved my neighbors. Sure, I cared about them, but love them, as I loved myself? I don't think so. I knew that I did not love God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind and I did not love my neighbor as myself. I knew I was selfish and wanted to put myself first. My needs, my wants, my ways before all else. Sure I loved God and yes, I cared about my neighbors but not totally and completely as I should.
I struggled to figure out what was the matter with me. Other Christians seemed to have it all together and here I was struggling with why I didn't love God with all my heart and why I didn't love my neighbor as myself. The desire to love God with all my heart was there and the desire to love my neighbor as myself was also there but I knew that you can't muster up love, or create it, or fake it. Love is either there or it isn't. So what was my problem?
From reading "Hidden Christmas" my problem that I was struggling with became so simple and clear. I needed a Savior to help me love as I should. I needed a Savior and that Savior is Jesus who was sent to us by God. I recognized that my sins weren't just things that I did but also things that I didn't do such as loving God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind and loving my neighbor as myself. The reality that I would never be able to love God and my neighbor within my own power was so freeing. I needed a Savior, Jesus, to help me love as I should and as I wanted to.
Some of you reading this may not think this is such a big deal. Some of you may have been blessed to get this from the very beginning and some of you reading this may not care at all, but for me this was a big deal. My lifetime journey of faith in Jesus has not come without questions, wondering, struggling, and searching but in this journey, God has always been by my side guiding and directing. The Bible verse from Isaiah 30:21 is so very real to me. It says "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the way, walk in it". God has been with me and guiding me as I have wondered, struggled and searched. He was with me during this past Thanksgiving time as I searched through a little book store in Solvang, California for a Christmas book to read during the Christmas season.
I am so very thankful for the author, Timothy Keller and for his book "Hidden Christmas". It is a book that tells it like it is.... that we all need a Savior, Jesus Christ. I am so very thankful to God who always guides and directs my life to draw me closer to Himself. He wants to do the same for you too.
So what does all this have to do about serving the homeless at Soaring Wings Ministries? As most of you know we are in the process of buidling an addition to house a homeless family or young adults here at Soaring Wings MInistries. My prayer for many months has been that as we prepare a home for a homeless family or young adults that God would also prepare our hearts to love these people as Jesus loves them. Little did I know that in reading "Hidden Christmas" that God was answering my prayer. Within my own power I will never be able to love them as Jesus loves them but by confessing this sin and trusting God to fill me with His love for the homeless then I inded will be able to love them as Jesus would.
My prayer for each of you this Christmas is that you will recognize your need for a Savior and that you will "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all you mind and love your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27).
Merry Christmas to each one of you from all of us at Soaring Wings Ministries!
499 Trinity Lane
I don't know about you but I am already looking forward to spring and summer with warm temperatures and long days filled with bright sunshine. I am not a cold weather person. I love a lot of light and a lot of heat so the winter months, with cold temperatures and short days, are not my favorite time of year. We had a very warm October and November and I enjoyed every precious minute of those warm, sunny days, but now the reality of winter is settling in. My plants that continued to have green leaves and even some flowers during October and November are now completely brown. Temperatures are no longer above freezing so I hauled out the heated water bowls for our chickens and dogs and dug through our closet to find winter gloves and hats for us. I find that I now hurry to finish my outdoor chores so that I can quickly return to the warmth of our home.
So very frequently, after coming in from outside to our warm house, I think about the homeless people who are living on the street or in their cars. I especially think of one woman who was living in a mini van with her little dog in Fort Collins. Where is this woman living now? How does she manage to stay warm? How does she manage to keep the water that she uses for herself and her little dog from freezing? My water is nice and warm in our house so it doesn't freeze and even our chickens and dogs have electric water heaters to keep their water from freezing! But what about this woman? Her mini van was her home and we all know how cold a vehichle can get when the temperature drops. The back of her mini van was where she and her little dog slept, ate and lived. I have thought of her so many times since winter has settled in. How does she or any homeless person survive during the cold, dark winter months? I feel ashamed for the complaining and whining that I do about winter when I have a nice, warm, cozy house. It must be so very dismal and despairing to be a homeless person during the winter. I can't even imagine it. I can't imagine what it must feel like to not have a warm kitchen or warm living room. I can sit at my kitchen counter and enjoy a nice cup of hot tea anytime I want to or I can curl up on my couch with a good book and a blanket and feel warm and content. I can't imagine always feeling cold! I can't imagine not having any place where you can feel warm and content. The hardship of day to day life for a homeless person is beyond anything most of us can imagine and when you add cold, windy, winter weather into the picture then the life of a homeless person can't be anything but difficult and discouraging.
Soaring Wings Ministries does what it can to help the homeless get through the winter months. We have given out coats, hats, gloves and sleeping bags to the homeless but these efforts to help seem so pitiful and puny in light of what they really need. They need a home. They need what most of us reading this blog have. As I am sitting here writing this, I can hear our furnace kicking on to keep our house warm. I can also look out the window and see the addition that is being built for a homeless family. It needs a furnace. There are other things that need to be purchased and put into place before the addition is finished, but for right now a furnace is what comes to mind as I think about how cold it is outside.
Most of us are so very blessed with a warm house during the winter months but there are so very many people who are in need of the basic necessity of shelter. As God directs you please remember the homeless during these cold winter months. If you are able to send a donation to help purchase a furance for the addition it would be so greatly appreciated. You can mail a check to the address listed below or you can send a donation via PayPal at this webiste. As you go through each day remember the homeless who are trying to stay warm during the cold winter months. Keep some gloves, hats or warm socks in your car and share them with people that you see in need. If you really want to step out of your comfort zone, offer to take a homeless person to get a cup of coffee, hot chocolate or a hot meal. Even a short time out of the cold with food and a warm drink will reduce the effects of the cold on their bodies and spirits.
We here at Soaring Wings Ministries continue on during the winter months to serve the homeless. All that we do is done because God directed us to reach out to the homeless. We serve them with love in the name of Jesus and pray that God will bless, protect and care for the homeless during the cold winter months.
Soaring Wings Ministries
499 Trinity Lane
Wellington, Colorado 80549
Anita Rennells is the author of this blog. She and her husband have moved to Colorado when Ed retired and are in the process of opening a ranch to help homeless young adults.
Soaring Wings Ministries