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Would Santa Punch You In The Face? 

Would Santa Punch You In The Face? by Dr. Naima Bush, Founder of The Refreshing Life

Who knows how a Turkish bishop named Nicholas, who was orphaned at a young age and had a penchant for gift giving and died centuries ago, became an eternally living, jolly fat man, who lives in a snow covered wasteland, riding around with magic reindeer while managing to defy the space time continuum that the Good Lord put in place. 

Don’t get me wrong, I think the idea of Santa is a wonderful thing, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t hope to one day leave milk and cookies out for the dude with my own children.  When my brother and I were little we left Santa some Chips Ahoy and an orange plastic Tupperware tumbler of Vodka… don’t ask… 

But this year as I flipped from channel to channel it seemed that every holiday themed movie or TV show that was on was about Santa Claus, or an Elf, or a dysfunctional family. Unless it was a Hallmark or Lifetime movie, then it was about some professional business woman to busy for love and how seasonal magic somehow ushered her into the arms of Mr. Right. 

Not one show about the birth of our Savior, the true meaning of Christmas, the greatest gift ever given, at least not until Charlie Brown comes on, and then we’ll hear Linus preach the gospel message until the day that somebody protests that Christmas tradition as being offensive. We already lost the song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and Rudolph is facing the axe because of bullying… but I digress. 

As I was pondering my TV selections, I thought about a conversation I had with a Catholic friend of mine in regards to the true history of Santa Claus. Now Nicholas was a devout man, who loved the Lord with his whole heart.  There are many stories of how he gave away everything he had to meet the needs of others, all in the name of Christ. 

But he shared with me a story I had never head before.  This one was about how St. Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in the year 325 with three hundred other church leaders under the direction of the Emperor Constantine. During this major ecumenical event, the Nicene Creed was produced, but before that Santa got a little unruly… 

Arius, a church leader from Egypt had the floor and was going on and on about how Jesus was not equal to God the Father, thus rendering the Trinity as null and void. The longer Arius talked, the more perturbed Nicholas became, until he could take the heresy no more and dashed across the room and smacked in some accounts, or punched in others, Arius in the face.  Which to be honest, makes me laugh uncontrollably, since the only image I have of Saint Nicholas comes from the imaginings of the secular world. 

Well, of course Nicholas, the patron saint of children, repentant thieves, merchants (might explain all the shopping) and pawnbrokers (yes, pawnbrokers)  was punished and stripped of his bishop’s garments and thrown in jail… and then there’s a miracle and restoration… you’ll have to look it up to get the details on this one or we’ll be here forever… But Nicholas does get out of jail and is restored to his office. 

The point is Nicholas was willing to risk it all to defend the truth. Christmas is about Christ, and I believe Saint Nicholas would agree. If he got so upset he was clocking folks in the eye over the importance of the Trinity, what would his response be to how the world has taken this most sacred time and turned it into a Black Friday brawl over a $198.00 TV set? 

Yes, Christmas is a sacred time. It should be more about giving the gift of His eternal love, of forgiveness and restoration then about elves and grinches and stockings. I’m not saying not to put out your cookies, or decorate your tree or hang your Christmas lights. Jon and I watched Elf this past weekend and I laughed so hard I almost choked. But while we are doing these things, let's not forget The One who gave us breath in our lungs so that we could laugh, The One who loved us so much that He left His throne to be born in this barren place to give us hope and a future.

What I am saying is that although many believe that the story of Saint Nicholas smacking Arius is a myth, it still begs the question. A man so on fire for the Lord that he risked everything to tell the world he would not stand for the demotion of his Savior, that he would not stand idly by while someone made the Lord Jesus Christ less then what He Is, that someone would so reckless disregard the gift the Father gave us to restore us, pushed Santa Claus to the brink. 

If Jolly Old Saint Nick was here today, would he be so jolly? Or would he be running around malls, TV stations, Christmas events and even churches smacking folks in the face?

I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please leave us a note below or on our Facebook page! 

#santaclauspunchesarius #saintnicholasandarius #slappingsanta

Does It Have To Be So Hard? 

Does It Have To Be So Hard? by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, Founder of The Refreshing Life

How difficult can it be to speak by faith to the divine Creator of Heaven and Earth who you may not physically see but who has shown time and time again that He exists. When we think about prayer, we are often caught up in the ritual of it. We sometimes get stuck thinking about how to say the right words or making sure that we pray at the right time or we trip over our language trying to make the cries of our hearts sound lofty and eloquent.   

But what if prayer didn’t have to be so hard? I have longed to have a life of powerful prayer, one where my life evidenced that my supplications were not bouncing off the wall but were penetrating the throne room of heaven and impacting lives for eternity. And honestly, sometimes it’s not that deep, sometimes I just want to know He is near, that He hears, that He cares. 

When Jon and I were engaged we took a short trip to Texas so that he could introduce me to his family.  It just so happened to be the 4th of July and we spent the evening sitting on the stone embankment that overlooked the Gulf of Mexico and watching the fireworks. Some lit up the night sky from boats on the water, from the professional production that was taking place and some from were being set off by the many families gathered around us. 

I saw that little girl and the potential threat she possessed before the incident even took place. Unsupervised, unaware and much too young to be handling things that had the potential to blow her face off, she recklessly lit color changing, gravity defying fireworks in blissful oblivion as she got closer and closer to where we sat. 

An then there it was. Spinning and puttering, changing colors it flew into Jon’s face, the threat of a third degree burn was all I could imagine.  Jon says all he could think was how he was going to have scars on his face for our wedding pictures… all I could do was to call on the name above all names. 

"Jesus!" I yelled. And that spinning, maddening firework fell to the ground instantly extinguished. It was like I called to Him to sits on the throne and He answered instantly. 

And that’s one of the keys to powerful prayer. It is simply believing that God hears you, regardless if He chooses to answer right away or if it seems the answer is delayed.  

In Jeremiah 29:12 the Scripture tells us: "Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."

There are a multitude of scriptures where the Lord tells us that He hears us when we call or pray to Him.  Jeremiah, was a prophet for over 40 years, he saw how revival came when the people followed the Lord – and he saw destruction come when they failed to obey the Lord.  But again and again, Jeremiah did not wavier from knowing that God hears and God answers prayer. 

One of the most powerful ways you can get the Lord’s attention is to simply call Him. A call means to give something a specified name – a name denotes or rather it tells us, what something is – not what it does. 

Like a chair. By virtue of experience we know what a chair does, it allows us to sit without fear of falling.  We know what a chair is used for and we’ve given it a name. Chair. 

The same is true with the names of God. We know that His name describes the powerfulness of His character.  So, if you need healing you call – Jehovah Rapha. 

If you need God Almighty, the all sufficient one – you call El Shaddai. 

If you need Him to be with you, call for, Immanuel, God is with us. 

When you need help in the battle or the struggle – Call Jehovah Nissi – the banner under which we are victorious! And sometimes you must simply call – Yahweh – I AM That I AM and He will rush to your aid. 

Remember the name we call tells us not only what God does, but who God is… He is more then what He does.  He is the healer but He is also healing! He is a provider but He is also provision. He is present always with us. 

And the name I love the most… sometimes you got to simply call Abba which means Daddy or Pappa…  and who loves and more protects and cares for their children more then a faithful Pappa?

One of the first keys to understanding powerful prayer is that you must believe that He hears you when you call out with passionate trust knowing and believing that God hears you. And what you call Him, He simply is and will provide.

 

Have you grabbed your copy of Naima's new book, Keys To Powerful Prayer and the six month Refreshing Life Prayer Journal? You can purchase your copy today by clicking here: Power Prayer Book and Journal

A Prayer Can Reach Heaven  

A Prayer Can Reach Heaven by Wanda Burnside (c) 1998

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. (Jeremiah 29:12)

Click the picture below to watch the inspiring video of Wanda's poem, A Prayer Can Reach Heaven.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wanda Burnside is an author, poet, publisher and speaker who loves to use her gifts to encourage others in their faith. To learn more about Wanda and Write the Vision Ministries contact here: Email Wanda

We'd love to hear what the Lord has laid on your heart.  Please share this blog post and leave us a comment if it has blessed you!

Happy Thanksgiving! 

An Exercise In Gratitude! by Dr. Naima Johnston Bush, Founder of the Refreshing Life

Well... 2018 is almost in the history books and here we are on the cusp of another Thanksgiving season!  Of course many people use this month to practice gratitude, volunteer, give and be a blessing.  But shouldn't we practice gratitude each and every day of our lives? Of course we should... but that doesn't mean that a holiday like Thanksgiving doesn't have it's place. 

I like to think of Thanksgiving as a memorial, a touch stone, a celebratory monument that we build each year like our forefathers did in Biblical times to commemorate the mighty acts of the Lord. Abraham, Joshua and Moses were always building monuments in honor of the great things the Lord had done.   

That's how I choose to look at this season of heightened awareness of why we should be thankful and why we should be of service.  I am in the last week of my first session of Joy School - if you missed it, I hope you'll participate in our next session next spring, it's been an amazing experience!  But one of the activities the participants engaged in was a seven day gratitude scavenger hunt challenge.   I thought it would be cool to share one of the days with you.  It's listed below and the directions are simple,  since it's a scavenger hunt, you have to follow the directions listed below!   

Day Three - Gratitude Scavenger Hunt 
We Are Thankful That We Can Be A Blessing To Others!

Today:

Find Something To Give Away 
Donate To Your Favorite Cause 
Volunteer Your Time To A Cause You Believe In 
Tell Someone Something To Encourage Them 
Do Something For Someone Anonymously  
Share with someone your memorization scripture 

Memorization Scripture 

PSALM 50:23: A SACRIFICE OF GRATITUDE 
“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly 
I will show the salvation of God!” 
  
So much fun! If you choose to try even one of these challenges, please let me know how it goes for you! Better yet take a picture, post it to social media and tag me in the post! 

Jon and I are wishing you a very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

I'd love to hear your thoughts, shoot me a note or leave a comment here on the blog!

If you want to be one of the first to learn more about JOY School 2019 get on the list here: Joy School 2019

#benefitsofbeingthankful #gratefulness #christianlifestyle #healthandwellnessblogs

Jesus and Disney 

Jesus and Disney by Leann Lemons Winton

Now that I have your attention.  This is such a controversial statement. Trust me, I know!  Can the two even go together? Well, stick with me for a bit and let me show you what I think. 

DISCLAIMER: I do not agree with everything Disney.  

I said it. I don’t agree with everything Disney.  In fact, there are a lot of things that I down right say will not be on my tv or in our sight.  That’s just the plain truth of it.  As a mother of two beautiful girls, I waited for almost 20 years for them to come in to my life.  Having said that I am very careful to what they put into their eyes and ears.  

Being a pastor’s wife, mom and business owner, I mull over every decision I make.  Things have to filter through lots of lenses.  First is through the lens of my savior Jesus Christ.  I have to first please Him and everything I do must represent Him.  I am also accountable to my husband, my family and the church we planted close to 10 years ago.  It weighs heavy on me that I am an example of Christ to my little world in central Indiana. 

I come from a home that was based on God and the foundations of the Bible. We were very poor growing up and almost every year we would make the trip to my grandparent’s house in Deltona, Florida.  We would spend most of the time there hanging out and maybe going to the beach a couple of times but the highlight would be going to Walt Disney World.  

It was such a treat to be able to go.  I’m not really sure how my parents made it happen for my brother, sister and myself, but it made lasting memories that I cherish.  I dreamed of the day I could take my family to the most magical place on earth.  

This time was filled with such amazing memories for me and the most important memory was the importance of family.  You see, 20 years ago at the age of 20, my brother Jeff passed away.  I hold on to those very sweet and simple times my family got to spend together.  I decided that when I had a family, I wanted them to have such sweet memories too. 

In 20 years of ministry one of the saddest things we see is the lack of family.  In the two church plants that I have helped my husband plant this is a common denominator.  After the 20 years waiting for our daughters to come into our life through adoption, I was determined to make family a priority. 

My burden for family has brought these two things together, Jesus and Disney. 

Families seem to, now more than ever, have no time.  Our time is filled with work, school, sports, hobbies, and on and on.  Things that were foundations of a simpler life, like when I was growing up, are not a priority anymore.  There is no time for God or family. I mean, those things will always be there right?  

The simple truth is that we need to make these things a priority.  I started to help families find time for rest and togetherness so they can serve the Kingdom of God even better.  I found that when my family took a vacation, especially to Walt Disney World, we came back better equipped to minister to our community. 

The Disney bubble is a real thing.  Things happen when we get to Disney and escape the burdens of our busy lives. We have rested.  We have been inspired to create. We have bonded. We have made memories. 

This love of God, families, and Disney has become a ministry for me.  How can Disney become a ministry?  I help families and especially pastor’s families plan a Disney vacation on a tight budget.  I know how some struggle with finances and being burnt out and they need time to refresh.  They need to regroup. What better place to do that than by taking that dream trip to Disney.  

My sister and I started our Youtube channel over 5 years ago to show people how to accomplish this dream. We teach people how to go on any budget and make the most of your trip by using tips, tricks and hacks.  Also, we use it as a platform to tell people about Jesus.  This community needs it.  Disney is not a Christian company. I know that.  We see ourselves as a light to this community and have ministered publicly and privately to many over these years.  We have now expanded and have an Etsy shop where we sell Disney inspired candles and shirts.  And just recently I have become a Disney Travel Specialist and officially help families plan their trips to any of the Disney Destinations.  

I will say it again.  I do not agree with all that the Disney company does or says.  

I believe in family.  It’s important to Jesus.  It’s important to me. 

Leann Winton is a Pastor's Wife, mother, business owner, ministry leader and church planter who is passionate about Jesus, families, adoption and Disney. She has a growing YouTube Station with her sister and business partner, Amanda Lemons Ables where they share about Jesus, Disney reviews, tips, tricks and park visits to make a vacation to the Magical Kingdom affordable for all.  To learn more about Leann, the work she does or if you need help booking your Disney Vacation contact her at the links below!

www.thelemonssisters.com 

www.vacationwithleann.com

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