Rabbi’s Reflections – Monday, December 27, 2021
Let me tell you about today’s guest writer of the RR, my long time friend from South Florida, Glenn Stoutt. I was introduced to Glenn by my other long time friend from Knoxville, Beau Lindy. Many people in South Florida know Glenn simply as “Coach,” including my first cousins who are from that area. This is because of his long time involvement in youth and prep sports.
He founded an organization to help young athletes prepare themselves for the next level (whatever level that might happen to be). It’s called “Keeping Dreams Alive” https://www.kdafoundation.org/
All the recruiting services pursue D1 (division 1) athletes with star rankings and ratings of all kinds. Glenn has developed a method of helping D2 and D3 athletes market themselves to receive athletic scholarship support, matching up those otherwise hard to find schools with those otherwise hard to find people. And he does it all to the glory of God.
Glenn was a freshman running back for the University of Tennessee in the late 1970s before his knee gave out. Many people get out of balance and put their enthusiasm for sports ahead of family and other life priorities, but not Glenn. He is a devoted husband, father and grandfather. Although life has not been easy, he has remained faithful. I deeply admire this man of God, so I asked him to write something. He wrote it for Christmas Eve, but that was taken, so I put it in the next open spot… and here it is.
Be Love by Glenn Stoutt
As many of you do (and I am one of you), you start your day with a devotion by reading the RR. And, like most of you, I enjoy seeing that the email has arrived and look forward to opening it to see what is on the Rabbi’s heart. But, (there is always a “but”) there was one morning last week that was different, there were 2 emails in my ‘inbox’ from the Rabbi…
One that would require me to dig into a place (and time) that I had put away into my ‘safe place’, especially around the ‘holidays’ a long time ago. With excitement, I began to read the email, and it started by asking if I could write an RR for December 24th…
That’s where I stopped cold, and the excitement (slowly) became sadness…. Then, I went on to read the ‘memory verse’ and everything that I had ‘locked’ away in my ‘safe place’ was now out in the open and staring right back at me….
You see, we all have choices to make…. God makes sure of that. Each of us has a past. We can dwell on our “if Ida” moments or decide not to do so. We all have those times when we know we should have done something we didn’t do or not done something we did. We can choose to live in the past, and let the pain engulf our present or we can focus on the present in light of our bright future, a future that includes an ‘eternal’ promise He gave each of us through His son, Yeshua HaMashiach.
It’s a little strange to write about Christmas in a Messianic Rabbi’s Reflections, but here goes my story. Christmas Eves pass year after year, with all of the decorations and just plain fun around parties and other gatherings. It’s a great season to be with family and friends. Many of my favorite memories involve Christmas midnight services as a wonderful time of celebration.
But for many of us, there are life changing events that happen during the Christmas season. These are circumstances that happen in our lives that profoundly affect the way we now view the ‘holidays’.
For many, and now me too, this season brings sorrow and sadness…. I’ll never forget that phone call on Christmas Eve years ago. We were just finishing with the ‘hustle and bustle’ getting the kids ready to attend a Christmas Eve service. We were leaving the house to go pick my mother up for church service when the woman on the other end of the phone said directly, ‘your mother has passed’. I hugging my sons and wife as we all shed our tears in the parking lot at the hospital after seeing her for the last time on Christmas Eve.
At the time, I was the serving as an Elder at our church. My responsibilities that involved serving communion at that Christmas Eve service. But the passing of my mom hit me harder than anything I had ever experienced. As I sat on my deck outside in my backyard there were many people around me, family and friends, Deacons and Elders. I saw them, but couldn’t hear them as I gazed up to the heavens.
For some reason, as I was looking up to the sky they slowly left, one by one. Maybe my grief was making them uncomfortable. I’m a man of faith. I believe that we have a God Who is in complete control and hears (and answers) all of our prayers.
Psalm 66:17-20 ‘I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!’
When I was alone, feeling empty and distraught, Abba consoled me with these words… Revelation 21:3 I also heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is among men, and He shall tabernacle among them. They shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them and be their God. 4 He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more. Nor shall there be mourning or crying or pain any longer, for the former things have passed away.”
Thank you Abba. I am not telling you this intimate story so you’ll feel sorry for me. I share this with you because this day, this Christmas Eve I choose to celebrate the life He has so generously given to me and I want you to know that He loves you too and wants you to find joy, happiness and Love. The last thing I want to say is that He is our ‘safe place,’ our strong tower.
When God tells us that ‘the former things have passed away’ He means it. Don’t live in the past, those things do not determine your future. When He tells us that ‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,’ He mean that too. So don’t let the past dictate your present circumstances. When Abba tells us ‘death shall be no more’ He means it.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.’
Cherish each moment you have with those you love. Never forget who gave you life (and Love). And always rejoice with those loved ones around you. The future is bright, live life full of love for one another.
And don’t miss this either. God has given each one of us an eternal place in His kingdom and He wants us to use the special (short) time He has given us here on this planet earth, that He created, to ‘be love.’
He gave us life so we can show love. So, we all have a choice to make. We can choose to live in the past, we can choose to live in the present or we can choose eternity with Him and live ‘for’ the future. He chose us not because we are good, but because we are His.
We celebrate You Yeshua not just on the day of your birth. We celebrate You everyday! Be Love!
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Mon 27-Dec-2021 23rd of Tevet, 5782
Ex 6:14-28 2 Sa 11 Ps 78 Lk 7:24-50 (Gal 6)
Memory Verse: Genesis 1:27 God created humankind in His image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.
1 12/27 Monday: Genesis 1-2
2 12/28 Tuesday: Genesis 3-4
3 12/29 Wednesday: Genesis 6-7
4 12/30 Thursday: Genesis 8-9
5 12/31 Friday: Job 1-2