The Christmas Tree and Three Rusty Nails

Throughout the years that I was privileged to pastor a church, we always started the Christmas season with a special evening service. The Sunday afternoon following Thanksgiving we would take the children of the church to a tree farm and let them choose a Christmas tree for the church sanctuary. When we returned to the church, we would spend the rest of the afternoon putting the tree in the sanctuary and hanging lights on it. Usually we would finish just as the rest of the congregation arrived for the evening service.

We would begin worship that night by singing Christmas hymns and reading the story of Jesus’ birth. Each member had been asked to bring an ornament from home that held a special meaning to them. As an act of worship, we would then take time for everyone to hang their ornaments on the tree. Then I would read a special story about the journey of the Christ Child from the stable to the cross.

As we brought our time of worship to an end, myself as the pastor would hang my special ornament on the tree. My ornament was three spike nails fashioned in the shape of a cross. But I would not hang this cross on the outer branches of the tree. I would hide the cross out of sight on an inner branch. The hidden cross was a reminder that Christ Child whose birth we were celebrating with a Christmas tree had another tree in His future. One day the Son of Man would purchase for us the gift of eternal life by sacrificing His life on that tree shaped like a cross.

So this Christmas season, as we navigate the hubris of flying reindeer, jolly old elves and a little drummer boy, let’s not forget the true meaning of Christmas. Let the beautiful lights remind us that Jesus is the Light of the world and the evergreen trees shall symbolize our hope of eternal life. Underneath the trees will be beautifully wrapped gifts, but the greatest gift of all was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.

“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The Angels in Heaven will shout these words: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Douglas & Deborah Huff

From Down Where The Pavement Ends

This Old House

This Old House

On April 16,1978 Deborah and I were married. On that day, by God’s Grace the two of us became one . In 1979 we purchased a house and it has been our home every since . In this house we have laughed and cried, we have fought and made up, we have celebrated and mourned. This is were we live. In this house we raised our family and every inch of it is coated with memories. It is our home, but it is not us, it is not our marriage.

This house greatly reflects our personalities. We are familiar with all the creaks and pops and every crack in the walls. There is contentment to be found in its every flaw and we want no more comfortable place than is our house. But if it is taken from us tonite and if tomorrow we are homeless we will still have each other because what God has joined together nothing can put asunder. You see this house is our home, but it is not us, it is not our marriage.

All over this land there are buildings that people call churches. Some are beautiful brick and mortar structures while others look more like metal warehouses. In these buildings church members have laughed and cried, they have fought and made up and they have celebrated and they have mourned. In these buildings the family of God has grown and they are filled with memories. But if all these buildings were destroyed today and we had no place to gather, we would still gather and we would still worship God. These buildings are not the church, they are not our salvation.

The church is the bride of Christ, Jesus is the bridegroom . He loves the church and He gave His life for her. But when Jesus said,” I will build my Church” He was not talking about brick and mortar. No, He was talking about us. Those of us who are His followers, we are His bride, we are His church. We have been chosen by God to be precious, living stones in the spiritual house that Jesus is building.

One day all these buildings that people call churches will rot and burn, they were never meant to be permanent. However The church that is the bride of Christ is built on a firm foundation and will never fail. Christ loves the church and gave Himself for us, He has sanctified and cleanse us and one day we will be presented to Him as a glorious church, holy and without blemish.

Douglas & Deborah Huff

From Down Where The Pavement Ends

The Destruction of Hopelessness

The little girl was dead. Her father had ran to get Jesus in hopes that she would be healed. But they were too late. As they enter the house they found it filled with wailing and anguish. The possibility of a miracle had vanished with her last breath. Hopelessness now saturated the house.

But now Jesus is here, and when He says, “ little girl arise” she does. The wailing and anguish quickly turned to joy and shouting. She is alive because Jesus is Lord. Give the little girl something to eat, she’s hungry. In the presence of Jesus, anything is possible and hopelessness is destroyed.

This is not just a story from long ago. This is a promise for right now. The promise is this; miracles are not dependent on circumstances. Instead miracles are always possible, if Jesus is in the house. Tears are dried, sorrows are vanquished and impossibilities become possible when the Lord of the universe becomes Lord of the heart. In the presence of Jesus, hopelessness is destroyed.

Has hopelessness become a resident in your heart? The loss of a loved one may make you think that life can’t go on. Financial ruin can remove a roof from over your head. A disease diagnoses may put your future in doubt, or a prison sentence can convince you that your life is over. These things can rob you of your will to live and your hope for a miracle. But don’t let your heart drown in despair. The Bread of Life is here now. Jesus says; rise up and eat. So rejoice in the Lord and find joy in the God of your salvation. In His presence, miracles are possible because He is The Destroyer of Hopelessness.

(Read Mark 5:21-43)

Douglas & Deborah Huff

From Down Where The Pavement Ends

email- pavementendsministry@gmail.com

He is My Father and He Loves Me

My daddy is going to kill me! Sixteen years old and he has only had his driver’s license for a month. Driving his daddy’s truck he looks down to change the radio station and does not see the car in front of him slowing down to make a turn. Thankfully no one is hurt, but two vehicles are damaged.

Many teenagers have heard a list of “do nots” from their parents. Don’t hang out with people who do drugs, don’t drink alcohol, don’t look at your phone while driving, and many other do nots. Good parents always give their teenagers freedom with boundaries. However, most young people will mess up sometimes. And like the distracted driver who wrecked his parent’s truck they might think, “ my daddy is going to kill me.”

Of course there will be consequences for the mistakes that have been made. But when the parents arrive on the scene the first thing they do is grab the child and hug him tightly. Mamas and daddies love their children unconditionally and nothing will change that. The most important thing right now is that their baby is safe.

I am a child of God. He is my Father in Heaven. In Christ I am free, but there are boundaries that I should not cross. And yet I often do. This is sin. There are consequences for sin. So I stand heartbroken before God, knowing that I deserve the wages of sin. But a broken and contrite heart my Father will not despise. Because of His unconditional love for me, I am safe in the arms of God.

Borrowing a thought from Job 13:15-16 I say, God might kill me, but I have no other hope. This is what will save me. I am not Godless nor am I Fatherless. I am made righteous by the Blood of Jesus and saved by the Grace of God. He is my Father and He loves me.

Douglas & Deborah Huff

From Down Where The Pavement Ends

Email- pavementendsministry@gmail.com

Seasons

Every season of the year has its own peculiar glory. Winter has its bitterly cold days with bone chilling rains. This makes a good fire seem like a taste of Heaven. In the winter time, the barren tree branches from a distance, look so dismal and ominous. But look closely and you see the swelling buds that hold a promise of spring.

Then spring time comes. The buds on the trees begin to explode scattering a magical dust that carpets the world with sneezes. The ground begins to tantalize us with tender shoots of grass and birds come in pairs looking for a safe place to raise a family. The days are warmer and you see people outside digging in the dirt dreaming about homegrown tomatoes.

Spring time is followed by summer. The gardens that we had such high hopes for, begin to seem like more trouble than they are worth. Of course down here in the south, we know it’s not the heat but the humidity that makes a shade and cool breeze a blessing from heaven.

Then comes Fall. This must be God’s favorite time of the year. Look around. See the weeds that you have fought all year, now they are doing a yellow victory dance. The leaves have fulfilled their obligation to the trees and now they proclaim God’s glory with a blast of colors. The cool nights make you reach for a blanket and the mild days are forerunners of heavens comfort. And look at the sun. At this time of year God puts on a brilliant display with His sunrises and sunsets and it seems that even at midday the sunlight has a special shade of Glory.

God in His kindness has appointed every season with unique blessings. For this reason I will rejoice and be glad, because every season is a season that the Lord has made. So I give thanks, not just in the fall but in every season, Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall I know His mercy falls fresh on me.

Douglas & Deborah Huff

From Down Where the Pavement Ends

Fade Away

On a clear morning as the sun rises, the sky seems to be full of jet planes. At an altitude of five miles you don’t really see the planes, you only see the contrails they leave behind. And yet contrails are nothing but water vapors formed by the exhaust of the jet engines. Some contrails are long while others are short. Some spread out and last a while, but others disappear almost immediately. All contrails are different. But they all have one thing in common. They all fade away.

As I watch these planes in the sky, I know that they all have importance and purpose for being. Each one carries hundreds of people to their predetermined destination. Even so their greatest impression on the morning sky is nothing but condensed water vapor evaporating in the air. This reminds me that in spite of our importance and purpose, the Bible teaches that our lives are only a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

Someone once asked President Ronald Reagan how he wanted to be remembered after he was gone. His answer was, “ I don’t care, I won’t be there”. This great man understood that in the grand scheme of eternity even the actions of presidents will dissipate in the winds of time. You and I should also remember that our life on earth is like a shadow and like a cloud our works will fade away .

There is great good news for those of us who love Jesus with all our hearts. This great good news is that while men will forget we ever lived, our Omnipotent Father in heaven knows our name forever. Our goal on this earth should be to lay up treasure in heaven. Treasure in heaven is not silver and gold. No, treasure in heaven is the souls of men that are there because of our witness. It is a wise person who leads souls to Christ. The Bible says “Those who are wise will shine like the bright expanse of the heavens. Those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever and ever.” This is a promise that will never fade away.

Douglas & Deborah Huff

From Down Where The Pavement Ends

I Believe

I believe that laughter of children is sweet music and the love of a child can put a song in your heart. I believe that the sweat from hard work feels good and the reward of working hard is a good feeling. I believe that reading the Bible while the sun comes up is the best way to start the day. A cup of coffee while talking to God will make the day good to the last drop. The Bible tells us in Romans 15:13 “ The God of hope will fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus said whoever believes in Him will never die and I know this to be true. I also am convinced that whoever does not believe in Jesus has never lived. Belief is a powerful thing. It can imprint on your life unending hope and it can erase from your life debilitating fear. Belief in the Savior has caused crippled men to walk, blind men to see and dead men to live. I believe that God is good and greatly to be praised. I will praise God in all things, good and bad.

God has promised that with a little faith, we can prayerfully move mountains. If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, your prayers can bring healing to the sick, salvation to the lost and hope to the hopeless. This is true for all of us who believe in the power of Jesus our Savior. Sometimes in our human frailties, we struggle to believe this. But if we cry out to Jesus, He will help us in our unbelief.

I believe that my sins are great but God’s forgiveness is greater. I believe that when I fall my Jesus will be there to pick me up. In my weakness, I often stumble but I have this certain assurance that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I know that I am righteous, but only because of the shed blood of Jesus. So for this reason I have firmly planted my feet on the Rock of my salvation. This salvation is found only in Jesus Christ the Son of God. HE is the One in whom I believe.

Douglas & Deborah Huff

From Down Where The Pavement Ends

Good Morning

For years I have tried to start all my mornings early. It’s hard for me to lie in bed knowing that the world is turning. Life is to short and I don’t want to miss a thing. Usually I sit on my back porch reading my Bible and visiting with the Maker of all things.

Since my porch is facing to the southeast, I am able to watch the motion picture that is the rising sun and wakening day. This morning I am watching a doe and her two babies as they feed on the remnants of my garden. From the woods I hear chattering squirrels and all around me is the unmatched music of God’s orchestra.

I have things to do today, things I want to do. However, I am retired from my secular job and I no longer pastor a church, so I can sit here a little longer and enjoy another cup of coffee. From the Bible we learn that if we will just be still, we can know that He is God. So this morning I sit a little longer listening to the still small voice of my Father in heaven.

Now it may seem to you that I am bragging and I am. It may seem that my life is all sunshine and roses and it is. But understand this, the sunshine will burn you and make you sweat, while roses have thorns that often draw blood. My life has been one of sunburned skin and sweat soaked shirts. The roses of this life have often pricked my skin and my heart, causing both to bleed. However like the writer of Psalms 44, I will boast of my God all day long, and will praise His name forever.

I write these words as a praise to my Grand and Gracious God. I am blessed and I know it. He has been better to me than I deserve. However, I know that tomorrow everything could be taken from me, leaving me with just the air I breathe. If this happens God will still be good. As long as I am able, I will rise early to greet the day. Because everyday is a day that the Lord has made and they all start with a Good Morning.

Douglas & Deborah Huff

Email- pavementendsministry@gmail.com

Good Morning

Since my porch is facing to the southeast, I am able to watch the motion picture that is the rising sun and wakening day. This morning I am watching a doe and her two babies as they feed on the remnants of my garden. From the woods I hear chattering squirrels and all around me is the unmatched music of God’s orchestra.

This devotion is an audio podcast. Please click the link below to listen.

https://podpoint.com/pavement-ends-ministry/good-morning?fbclid=IwAR1eXiOy-1ad_Qn_S9I5ET2dsNGWVhYt8NGt48eu5dY5esSUHLtAbqP7o0c#