Friday, December 31, 2010

A Lot to Learn

I learned a lot this past year. I learned about God, and discovered I have so much more to learn! I also discovered that I need to learn more about myself and about others! I love to learn. That is a good thing when there is so much that needs learning!

Learning is a faith filled and disciplined task. To learn I must walk into uncharted territory. I do not know what might lie ahead in the search for understanding. I find that I often take small timid steps when I sense that the new knowledge will shake me to my bones or knock me off my feet. I need a strong faith to face what may come as a result of new knowledge. It also takes discipline to learn. Not all lessons are learned the first time I am exposed to them. I must take the lesson, do homework and repeat the new knowledge over and over to make it become a part of me.

The things I've learned in 2010 will be a foundation for the coming year. If the foundation is weak, I will walk through the lessons again till I make the structure of my knowledge of God, myself and others strong enough to support the new truths God reveals. I want that firm foundation. I want to live my life learning, believing, and trusting God for all truth, knowledge and wisdom.

Father, Author of Truth, Your wisdom and knowledge come to me when You are in Your rightful place in my life. I confess that though I love to learn new things I sometimes pride myself in the learning rather than setting You as the awesome Creator Revealer! Forgive me Lord. Knowing You is my deepest desire. I thirst to know You. Teach me Lord. Open my eyes and ears to You and I will be filled with Your knowledge and wisdom to be used for the sake of Your kingdom! Thank You for touching my life in deeper ways and with the nearness of You.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


I've been thinking back over the past year today. I thought it interesting that my memories did not begin with events, but with people. I would think of someone and my mind would drift into a memory. I think God likes us to start with people, not events. Jesus wanted us to break bread and take the cup of wine in remembrance of Him.

Most often the word communion is used in the context of the Christian ritual of taking bread and grape juice (or wine) in remembrance of Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross for us. Communion to me is a sharing of thoughts, emotions and memories. In this context we can have communion with friends and family by sharing those times in our lives we remember together.

Making time to have communion with our loved ones is a nice way to end the year. I may just need to give some people a call!

God with us, You ask us to remember Your time here on earth through communion. You asked us to do this at dinner the night before You paid the price for our sins. You united Yourself with us in communion by Your death. We join in that communion through faith in You. Thank You for the communion we share. I love You. I will remember all that You have done for me!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One Step Forward

If we take two steps forward and one step back, we are actually taking one step forward.

Looking back over my last year, I am happy about the challenges I've faced and overcome. I am sad, however, that in some of those victories I've lost a little ground. It wasn't my intention to step backwards, but I did. Maybe it was out of fear, or maybe I just was not sure of what I was doing. It could also be the simple fact that breaking a habit takes time. Old habits creep in to take away a bit of the new and, well, I am sure you know how it happens. We all slide backwards now and then.

I remember learning to drive a stick shift and finding myself on a hill where I would roll back before I could get my foot to the gas peddle. If someone was behind me I would panic and hit the gas hard, causing the car to die. It was a hair raising situation, but somehow I never did hit the car behind me! I soon learned the delicate balance of brake, clutch and gas. I guess it is the same when starting a new habit. We need to learn to balance.

If taking two steps brings us off balance maybe the best thing to do is to take one step back. We have still made progress and kept ourselves in balance. I think I'll try to remember this when I find myself sliding backwards into an old way of doing things. I'll take a look in the rear view mirror and determine that I will take one step forward in balance!

My Lord God, Heavenly Father, You lead me with Your Spirit and keep me looking ahead! Thank You for forgiving my slide backwards. I trust You to keep me in balance. I need You to surround me and deliver me before I go back to where I do not want to be! You are good!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Family Tree

Last night I began transferring birthdays from my old calendar to the new. In doing so, I discovered that I was missing a few names. New babies have arrived and I have forgotten to include their little leaves on the family tree. New spouses have come into the fold too. It isn't just the names that are important to me. I like to keep the birthdays and anniversaries as well.

I guess I will be updating my address book, family file as well as the calendar. I like doing it, but finding the time is a problem. This could be a year long project if I let it be, but it does not need to be completely updated as long as I do have names.

Filling up the family tree reminds me of the genealogy lists in the bible. Many people overlook them and consider them boring. For me, I read through them with care. I don't always find interesting bits of information in those lists, but sometimes I am surprised. Mostly, I just read names. Names of people long dead, but real people none-the-less. Like the credits at the end of a movie, God wants to give credit where it is due. Because God is interested in the people behind the names, I feel I should give them at least a bit of my time.

By taking time to read the lists, I have become aware that God is interested in individuals. He knows us by name. He wants our names written in the Lambs Book of Life. He does not need us to be famous or well known to consider us important. I try to remember those things when I work on the family lists. Each name is important and each person is loved by God.

Father, Creator God, Your name is above every name! Knowing that You know my name and call be by name into Your presence and Your service is a great honor! Thank You for considering me important enough to know my name. Help me to be mindful of others who would like me to remember their name, too! Teach me to value what You value and love the way You love!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Week Before New Years

There are times when the week between Christmas and New Years Day is like climbing a mountain. I strain for the next day to get here, bogged down in lists of things I want to do before the new calendar begins. Cleaning up from Christmas and cleaning away the old years paperwork top my list. Each day I tackle another chore, and each day it seems as if I have progressed only slightly. The New Year arrives with me worn out and never organized enough.

Then there are other times when the week zips by me like a down hill sled! I race to catch up to all the things I want to get done in time for the clock to strike twelve. I never get organized until about February! Like my Dad used to always say, "The faster I go the behinder I get!"

I don't know which kind of week before New Years I prefer. Both are heading in the same direction. Both eventually get me to a place of semi organization. Maybe the way I get there tells me a little bit of how my year will be.

If I start the year in a race that goes in circles my year could dance rings around me, and I would need to find the discipline to stop the merry-go-round and hop off. If I step into the New Year certain I am on the right track, then I need to keep my focus and not let those pesky dancers on the sidelines, grab me into the dance half way through the year. Both demand discipline. The question is where do I get it?

I have, in the past, been able to rustle up some discipline of my own. I push myself and demand my life to be in order. But I have found that the discipline of simply obeying God is all I need. Whatever happens this week before New Years should be in line with His plan for me. That means that if I find time to organize I should. If I find outside influences taking my time and speeding me toward the countdown clock then I should relax and enjoy the ride, all the while while using what time I do have wisely.

Father of Endless Ages, You hold time in Your hands. Time continues towards eternity, and You are Eternal God! Thank You for the times of my life. Thank You for the changing seasons and the times I can start new. Forgive me for the time I waste in trivial and selfish pursuits. Redeem the time that passes too quickly and make my days fill up with Your plans. Teach me to number my days, Lord.

Friday, December 24, 2010


It has been quite a long time since Christmas came into my life. Jesus was born in my heart the day I received my confirmation at the age of 11. Since then He has never left me, nor forsaken me. No matter how far away I tried to run He was there. Jesus walked with me never giving up on my sinful nature that battled with Him over control of my life. Even today He is with me.

This is my story of Christmas. I was raised in the Catholic Church. My Mom was a strong Catholic and my Dad was a non-church goer, yet he encouraged and supported my Mom as she raised us all in the church. I attended Catholic school until Mom and Dad could no longer afford the tuition. Thus I was immersed in the theology and tradition of the church throughout my day until I was 15.

God, Himself, brought me to believe in Him. The teaching I received from the Catholic Church was mostly concerned with sin, being good, and working hard to make it into heaven. As a child I was very afraid of hell and wanted desperately to go to heaven and to please God. My heroes were the saints I read about and told to be like. To me they seemed to know God in a real way and I became very hungry for that in my life!

As I walked forward to be confirmed in the church, I prayed in my heart telling God that I wanted to be a saint and to go to heaven when I died, but I knew I wasn't good enough. I asked Him to change me. He did. Though the Catholic Church never taught me that Jesus would come live inside me outside of a communion experience, I knew that Jesus came to live in my heart for good! Somehow I knew He wasn't going to leave me! Though I had been taught that Jesus would take me to heaven only if I was good enough I knew that my home was in heaven because I believed! Though I had never been taught to study the bible, I wanted to read it for myself. That was my Christmas Day! That was the day that God came to be with me. He was my Emmanuel!

And so, I come to this Christmas Day 2010. God is still with me. God has entered into His creation and has changed it and continues to change me to be more like Him. He saved me. God is still my Emmanuel!

Emmanuel, God with us, You are my Christmas! Thank You for speaking to me and teaching me Your word. I love Christmas, not just the Christmas of family and friends, nor just the Christmas story of long ago. I love the Christmas You make in my life every day! Touch those around me that do not have Christmas. Let them see Your heavenly star shine over the lowest of places here on earth. Let them hear angels sing Your praises in the darkest hour of the night. Let them be filled with faith, hope and eternal love!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Surprise Certainty

There is not much I can be certain of in this life. Life changes quickly, and sometimes the unforeseen takes me to places I never thought I'd be. Each day holds surprises and the mystery of each day unfolds sometimes slowly and other times with great speed. I feel comfortable with a plan in place. I don't particularly like surprises.

I was very surprised with our fourth child. I did not expect a baby to be added to our family. When I discovered the pregnancy I was not happy. It took a long while to prepare myself and to enjoy the surprise. Our son, Joseph, has been a delight to us. Oh, he has given us moments of worry, but God is with him, and he is a surprise worth having in my life! He has taught me that some surprises are good.

Christmas is a day when surprises are the norm. We want to surprise our loved ones with gifts they love but never thought about asking for them. We ourselves are surprised with the gifts we receive. The Christmas miracle of God with us is a surprise to all men. Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, Magi, and even Jesus' disciples were surprised that He was God coming to be a part of His own creation. God will surprise us again when Jesus returns to earth as a conquering King.

The bible does tell us of a few who were not completely surprised at His coming. Simeon and Anna, waited their entire lives in the temple courts waiting for the Messiah. They sought Him and were blessed to see Him just as they expected. They were not surprised! There will be seekers looking for His second coming that will not be surprised when He appears in the clouds. I want to be one who expects to be surprised.

Great King of the Universe, You will come again in glory to bring Your people home and conquer evil forever. You are matchless in every way! I don't like surprises and yet, with You, I expect to be surprised. I anticipate the joy and awe that will envelope me in the expectant surprise of Your coming! Thank You for making the truth known to me so that I can keep watch. Open my eyes to see the signs of Your coming and help me to be ready with my light shining brightly to welcome You!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Gift for Jesus

Our family has a tradition that we give gifts to Jesus on His birthday. For me, the offering of a gift to Jesus is very serious and sometimes very costly. I don't mean that I give him material goods. However, I do try to buy a little trinket to put in our Jesus Gift box so I remember each gift I have given in the past. The costly gifts are most always something I have struggled with over the past year. Jesus has usually invited me several times to let Him take control, but I have thought I could do it my way. Those gifts are the ones I am sure makes Him smile.

I have discovered that giving gifts to Jesus results in a year long experience learning and growing in the area from which the gift was given. For example, one year I gave Jesus my desire to be beautiful. It was amazing to me that He returned the gift by showing me over and over again throughout the year that He saw my beauty and He was enthralled by it! Now, I am not a fashion model, nor do I claim any magnificent physical beauty. But I wanted to be different than who I am, and so I gave it to Him. That year convinced me that Jesus thinks I am beautiful. If I am beautiful to Him then I really do own beauty inside and out! I can never outgive God!

This years gift is another costly gift, and I am struggling to pay the price. I cannot tell you the secret yet, but it is a life changing kind of gift. It is a gift that I imagine wrestling with the Lord throughout the year. But in the end, like Jacob (see Genesis 32:22-32), I want Him to win, even if it leaves me with a permanent dislocation of my life reminding me that I belong fully to Him! Pray for me that this might be done.

Lord Jesus, My Lord, My Savior, You are worthy of the best gift I could bring to You honoring Your birthday here on earth and submitting to Your lordship over my life. There are many things I could choose from because my life is filled with struggles to follow You. I do not relinquish this gift easily. I want to please You, but I have held on so long that it is very hard to let go! My desire is to let go of the gift and hold onto You until You bless me! Thank You for being patient. Thank You for completing the good work You have started in me!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

We Want You, Lord

When tough times come what do we want? We want someone to help us. We want someone to fix the problems so that we can be free of the stress worry or burdens that keep us from enjoying life like we would want.

In our family we have found this Christmas to be a tighten-our-belts type Christmas. I've heard many others in the same place. It is hard work to have a celebration without the freedom to give freely or to host the parties with a feast. It is, however, these kinds of situations in which we can get down to the foundation of what we really want. It usually is revealed to be a filling of an empty part of our hearts or our spirits.

What do we want for Christmas? We want that joy that lights our world in all circumstances. Like a perpetual flame, that kind of joy can never be snuffed out by the want or plenty of this world! Joy, like that, can only come from a loving and good God who sent His joy to earth as a tiny baby. He was sent to teach, serve and sacrifice to make sure that joy would never end.

We need a Savior to free us from our burdens and fill us with joy. The good news is that He has come! He did free us from sin and He has sent His Spirit to fill us with joy! Do you know Him? Do you have His joy? The first step of faith may be hard to make. It is the release of all our efforts and the accepting of His. Even if you have His gift of freedom and joy, ask again! He will fill you again and set you free for today!

This Christmas I pray that you will enjoy freedom in Christ and be filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory! You can have what you really want if you just ask! Go ahead and ask!

Father, You sent Your joy to us as a tiny baby, but He grew up to save us and fill us with joy. I want that freedom and joy every day. Thank You for being a constant source of my deepest need. I do ask You, Lord, to lift up the hearts of those who are hurting because of want and need this Christmas. Help us who know You to be a light for them so that they might see You as their Savior who frees and fills with joy! May joy reign in our hearts forever!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Finding the Lamb of God

During church yesterday I took notes. I always do, but yesterday was a bit different. Pastor John Hampton had a wonderful sermon. Shepherds: Choosing Spiritual Reality Over Temporary Treasure was the title. His words made me think, and so I not only wrote down what he said, but also my thoughts and rabbit trails! I think the Holy Spirit was in on the conversation too!

John spoke about the shepherds leaving behind their jobs to find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths. They left their comfort zone, and their experience changed their lives.

My thoughts ran down a trail as I imagined the shepherds standing guard that night over the Lamb of God! Their job was to take care of the lambs sometimes used in sacrifices. What greater job could they be given than being watchful over the one and only sacrificial Lamb?

The Holy Spirit reminded me of Jesus' parable of the lost sheep. He asked His followers who would not leave the 99 sheep to find the one that was lost. The night Jesus was born, the shepherds were called to find the Lamb of God who had left His heavenly home. Jesus, the Lamb of God, might not have been lost, but He was found. The shepherds left their flocks to find the one who would save them from being lost! It was the shepherds that were found that night. Their faith lead them to the place where they were found. Their trip to the stable was their act of faith that something miraculous had taken place.

The bible does not tell us much about the shepherds visit to the stable. It does tell us that the Lord sent angels to tell them about Jesus. They knew He was special because the angels said of Jesus' birth: Glory to God in the Highest and peace to His people on earth.! I imagine they asked Mary and Joseph questions, just like we do when we visit a new Mom or Dad. We ask about the birth and what they know of the child. The shepherds left, maybe with not all the answers, but knowing Gods' presence in their lives.

Lord Jesus, I love the thought that the shepherds might have come to find a lost lamb, but they found their Savior instead! I, too, have been looking for something in my life. Instead I have found a closer walk with You, a greater understanding of who You are. Thank You for finding me. Thank You for showing me Your light so that I might follow You through the darkness of this world to a home with You forever! You are the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Have mercy on us!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Daze

You may have noticed that I did not post a blog yesterday. I did not plan it that way, I simply found myself in one of those Christmas daze days.

It began with my regular Saturday morning routine. I cleaned house and then got dressed to do some last minute errands and gift shopping. I did not anticipate the traffic being so congested. As I sat at green traffic lights (yes, they were green) waiting to move forward, I sang carols and tried to be patient. The lines at the stores were not unbearable, but I did find myself shopping longer than expected. The time back home was met with a bit of a rush to get to a party. Rain throughout the day gave the experience a soggy feel.

In all of that I was truly glad that my crazy day was not the norm for my Christmas journey. In the middle of all that hustle I took time to sing praise to God and to enjoy the special music of the season. I took time out for friends, and my heart was filled with gladness to honor my friend at her birthday party. The daze appeared only after I saw that I missed my blog. I thought I had written it and really had, in my head. Christmas got in my way.

It is a good thing to let Christmas take over my life and let me live a life of love and joy. The bad part of it all is letting my attitude snuff out the Christmas Spirit. It happens far more than I would like to admit. Yesterday was an exception!

Yesterday, Christmas happened. I received no gifts, but received the pleasure of putting others before myself. That is what Jesus did. He put us, His creation, ahead of Himself. That is Christmas. That is the best way to enjoy Christmas!

Loving and giving God, You surprise me with the strange way of making things work. I cannot fully understand how Your plan could work so well when it seems so opposed to my thinking. Humility lifts me up. Giving gives me more. Death awakens life in me! Thank You for knowing what is best. Thank You for sharing Your best through Your word! I want Your teaching to change me and take me in a new direction. Teach me, Lord!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Humble Obstacles

Would you believe that a fussy baby could be the key to getting a nap? I wouldn't either except today it happened to me!

Abigail was fussy and wanted to be held, so I sat down with her in my arms. I was thinking of all the things I needed to get done. I knew she was tired, but if she didn't sleep I wouldn't get my work accomplished. As I sat rocking her in my arms, I looked into her tired eyes and hummed a little song. She softly relaxed, and I thought I could now lay her down. The attempt failed so back to the couch I went. As she became heavier I adjusted pillows all around her, and then I, too, began to relax. I nodded off quite a few times. I caught a much needed nap at her insistence!

There are many times when we think that the obstacles in our way just need to go away. The truth is that sometimes those obstacles are exactly what we need. Sometimes they bring that much needed rest, like mine with Abi today. Other times the obstacles to our work will take us in a new direction or make us think of a creative solution.

Mary and Joseph faced the obstacle of no rooms left for them to bed down. Their obstacle created a new way for us to understand our God. His birth in a stable revealed to us His humility and love. He did not grasp for the best or richest of the earth. He loved us so much that even in His birth He would place himself as the least of all men so that He could raise us up.

I can imagine Mary, tired from her journey nodding off to sleep with a quieted and sleepy baby Jesus in her arms. The work that needed to be done was just beginning, but there was time to take a rest. Have you taken time to rest today?

Dearest Lord Jesus, You are above all but so humble! You chose the place of lowest position even at Your birth. I struggle often to put aside my pride and walk humbly before others. I want them to know how smart or accomplished I seem to be in my own eyes. Forgive me, Lord. Thank You for being my teacher. Teach me humility and then give me strength to pursue it, only because in doing so I would pursue You! I humbly bow to You!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thank You

Yesterday, I met a young man waiting with me at the check out line. He was wearing what I assumed was an army jacket so I asked if he was in the service. He told me he was not, but that he was a law enforcement officer. I then thanked him for putting his life on the line for us. I mentioned the young officer killed this last week during what seemed a routine traffic stop. We both agreed that it was senseless but that the stresses of the holidays tend to make people do incredible acts of violence out of frustration and pain. He mentioned that there is a marked increase in domestic violence, armed robberies and other crimes during this time of year. Instead of being a joyous time of year, many suffer.

I began to wonder if the way we celebrate has a hand in the pain of so many?. Is our preoccupation with gifts and outdoing our neighbor with the riches of our Christmas celebration made our world a much sadder place at Christmas time? The real question is, what can we do about it?

I would suggest we become more likely to give than to receive. We can also simplify our giving. I have heard some people give only three gifts to their children because three gifts were given to the Christ Child. It could easily be lessened to one gift in honor of the one and only Son that God gave the world. Handmade gifts are also a way to minimize the commercialization of Christmas. Whatever we can do to make Christmas shine for those who are in a difficult place is exactly what I think Jesus would want for His birthday, don't you?

Dear Jesus, You voluntarily came to earth as one of the poorest of the poor. You did not seek riches, but sadly we have made the day we remember Your birthday into a day where the price tag reigns supreme. Forgive us, Lord! Thank You for giving us the opportunity to share our wealth with others just as Your Father shared You, His richest gift. Open our eyes to see You in every needy person. Give us the strength of generous hearts for those who need You now more than ever. Bless our law enforcement officers and keep them safe throughout the year! Come Lord Jesus!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

His Presence Demands Change

The presence of God in our lives demands repentance. We cannot stay the same as we are now when we stand before the God of creation and our Righteous Judge.

Today I had a doctor appointment. It was just a regular exam, nothing unusual happening. Like almost all doctor visits there was a weigh in, and blood pressure check. It is very much like standing before a judge. My body was being judged on its health today. In some ways I am faced with truth that demands repentance of some old and difficult habits to break. My weight is not where I want it to be. I have tried to lose but have not succeeded. I need help.

The great physician is ready to help us with all of our problems. Sometimes He sends a helper and other times He does the work in us Himself. It is the awareness of His presence in my life that makes me want to change. It is His presence that gives me the power to do what it takes to change.

Great and righteous Judge, you are also my healer. I need help to change what I cannot change. Thank You for being present in my life and for giving me power to make the changes necessary. I submit my body soul and spirit into Your hands. Heal me Lord!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


He is present with us......
walking the shopping malls,
trimming our tree,
baking cookies,
wrapping gifts,
going to parties,
and all other Christmas time activities.

In fact He is here with us every day and every hour.

He is here with us....
when we celebrate the milestones of our lives,
when we sit alone wondering if anyone cares,
when we are sick or dying,
when we have lost a coin or a loved one,
when we have found our way
when we need anything or when we think we need nothing,
He is here. He is present. He is Jesus God.

Where are you today? What do you need? He is the gift given that is ever present.

Thank You Lord for being the all present God. Thank You for being the gift that really does keep on giving! Thank You for always being with me!

Monday, December 13, 2010

No Mistletoe

Yesterday I shared about my vision of God kissing the world and Jesus was born. After contemplating the kiss I have a few thoughts to share again on this subject.

Mistletoe was known as the peace plant in Scandinavia. When enemies met in the forest under a tree with mistletoe, they would lay down their weapons for a day of peace. Today we kiss under the mistletoe. Kissing is also a sign of peace. Though mistletoe is interesting and its history and folk lore are a captivating read, God does not need this parasitic plant to entice Him to peace or kisses.

Gods' kiss on the world, even without mistletoe, was meant to bring peace between Himself and His creation. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. God is willing to kiss us with Jesus the Peacemaker! Jesus was willing to be betrayed by a kiss so that we might have His peace. Are we willing to lay down our arms and receive the peace and love He offers?

Prince of Peace, God of love, You need only Your true self to pour out Your peace and love upon us. I enjoy the mistletoe tradition and pray for peace with those I am estranged when I see it hanging from the trees or hang it at Christmas time. I know that I do not need the mistletoe to make peace. I need only You. You have made peace with me and I should do the same. Thank You for the symbols of peace in our warring world. Thank You for the kiss of Jesus. Teach us to live peacefully with our neighbor. Fill us with peace this Christmas and throughout the year.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Tonight I enjoyed the Singing Trees production of first Baptist Church Orlando. It was delightful! I came away with a special feeling. During the performance I would watch the lights twinkle and glimmer all around the faces of those in the choir. The voices sparkled too! It was a night filled with light! I felt lightened!

It was during the singing of the favorite carol, Silent Night, that a most unusual thought came to me. I closed my eyes and listened to those many voices blend in harmony and I imagined Jesus' birth as a kiss from God to the earth. Yes, a kiss. The vision was of God, holding the earth in His powerful, creative and gentle hands, and lifting it to His lips in a kiss of a Father loving his new baby. Jesus became the kiss of love, Gods' expression of love to the world.

The thought brought tears to my eyes.

Father, thank You for loving me! Thank You for loving the entire world! You are a good Father. You deserve my love.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Meaningful Gifts

The giving of gifts has become one of the most significant part of our Christmas celebrations. Most Christians would say we give gifts to remember the gifts given to Jesus from the Magi. I do wonder if our giving really does imitate those men who traveled far to worship a child king. Is there wisdom to be found in the giving of gold, frankincense and myrrh?

It may not be easily discerned, but the gifts the Wise Men brought to Jesus were carefully chosen. In my research I discovered that their gifts were meant to honor the role Christ would play, not only as a future King, but also as Savior.

Some interesting points I learned about the gifts are:
Myrrh comes from a root word meaning bitter. It is a cleansing and purifying agent. It was used in embalming and as incense. The picture I saw of the plant resembled the thorns depicted often in the crown Jesus wore at His crucifixion.
Frankincense causes slow breathing making it an aid to meditation. Pliny has said that frankincense was an antidote to hemlock, a powerful poison. In Exodus 30:34 it is called levonah which in Hebrew can be Lebanese or white.
Gold is well known to most of us, but we might not know some of its properties that describe our Lord. Gold never tarnishes or rusts. No other metal is as ductile or malleable as gold. It has the ability to be used in a wide range of everyday applications. It is used in electronic processes to remove the heat from easily harmed instruments. Gold seems to be everywhere but it is difficult to mine in most substances and so it is valuable.

I hope you can easily see that in these gifts, the Magi offered their belief in who Jesus was. He was the One destined to die for the sins of the world. He was the pure sacrifice that would cure our sin disease and overcome death. And finally Jesus was eternal, the all-knowing, all-powerful God.

There is wisdom for us in these gifts. First that we must also give our belief and trust in Jesus. The Magi lead us to the truth of Jesus. The gifts Jesus truly wants from us is to believe in Him. Secondly, as we give to others we should make our gifts memorable by giving presents which makes the receiver say, "You believe in me! You know me!"

My good friend, Carol Leff, once shared with me her list of why we should give gifts. These reflect the giving of the Magi. I hope they live in my heart as well.
Give gifts
to build someone up
to recognize their place in your life
to honor them
to fill them with joy and pleasure
to cause them to do unto others.

Giving and Generous God. You have given the most meaningful of gifts by sending Your Son. The Wise Men saw and believed. I, too, believe! Help me when I struggle to believe! Thank You for the opportunity to give as You have given. Teach me to love like You do!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Favor with God

Finding yourself favored by God can be a challenge. Look at the young girl, Mary. She was one of Gods' favorites and she was asked to be the mother of Gods' Son, Jesus. She would face shame, danger and heartache if she accepted the task. She said, "Yes."

Mary was favored because she believed in Gods' promises. She said, "Yes" because she had a servants' heart. Like Abraham, she trusted God even though the road looked impossibly difficult. She let God make the plan for her life. She obeyed each step of the way even though she was honest enough to question. She allowed God to answer her doubts.

We can learn much from Mary. We learn to believe, seek Gods' favor, accept Gods' challenge and trust and obey!

I am being challenged as of late. I never thought this job could be that I have been chosen by God because I have been favored. In this challenge my first thought is that I cannot do it! Mary couldn't do her job, either. Not without Gods' power in her life. It is the same with me. To face my challenge I must rely on Gods' power working through me. Could I mess up? Sure. I can take it and do the job in my own strength and my own way. I don't want to, though. I want to make an impact for God in this world. If He chooses me to do it in this way, I will obey. I will offer my doubts and questions to Him. He has all the answers!

Father God, You are the challenger! You want to do the impossible through Your people, Your favored ones. I admit I am sometimes uncomfortable being called favored of You. I want to be favored, but I also know my failures. You know my sins too, and still You show me favor. Thank You for using me! Thank You for empowering me to do what You have asked. Give me wisdom and strength, Lord!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Christmas Song

"Glory to God in the Highest!" The angels sang. I believe they continued to sing glory to God though He had stepped down from His throne and came to earth. I am almost certain the song continued throughout His stay on earth even though the song was silenced to men.

Glory to God was sung with each miracle Jesus made. God's glory was never more evident than at the cross and empty tomb! Angels singing "Alleluia! Glory to God in the highest!" continue with each sinner saved. Without the angels song our God could not be celebrated as He must be.

Every year I buy at least one new Christmas cd. I have many different artists and many songs to celebrate Christmas. I admit some are secular, but even those have lifted my heart and made me rejoice at the God who would stoop to become a man destined to die for my sins. I want my home to be filled with songs that join with the angels!

Another thought about singing angels is that they left the holy place to sing His praises in the world. We, who are saved, have even more reason to join in the songs of Christmas as we walk in the world. I remember last July when I was browsing in K-Mart, a young woman came past me singing a song I know well because we sing it often in church. Instead of stopping her and telling her it was nice to hear her sing. I joined in and we finished the song praising God for the unity of the Body of Christ.

We need not be the best of singers. We need not worry that we are on key. We only need to let our hearts sing and our voices be the speaker to broadcast the wonderful Good News that Jesus Christ is Lord!

Blessed be Your Holy Name Lord Jesus! Thank You for Your Holy Angels who sing and make continual music at Your throne and throughout our world! Your works must be celebrated, and I am happy to sing Your praise whenever the Spirit leads me! Glory to You God! You are the Highest ! You are King and Lord! Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit forever and ever AMEN!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Broken Wall

There is a great divide between God and man. The divide was caused by sin. Christmas was God's wrecking ball on the wall that kept us far from Him. He broke down the barriers. He united us as one in Jesus.

I have often wondered if Jesus ever had a cold or the flu. Did He suffer any of the growing pains we feel or was His suffering delayed until His time had come to bear the cross? Because God came to be fully human in Jesus, I must believe that only those diseases and injuries that would have deterred Him from His mission were spared Him. I also believe that even with a headache, cold or the flu, He pushed onward toward His calling. Maybe the times we read about, where He went off by Himself, were the times He didn't feel well and needed to ask His Father to heal his body so He could go on.

It is my desire that Jesus did not suffer before His passion. He certainly suffered enough at that time! Whatever the situation was, it was meant to be a place of connection for us to our Father God who loved us so much to be one of us!

Father, Your love is so strong it broke down all barriers to our relationship with You. Your strength is never over powering to us, but the power to lift us and carry our burdens. Thank You for being eager to live in the midst of our sinful world so that You could set us free from its bondage. you are amazing to me! I need You in my life!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

God Man

When I think about babies, words like little, innocent, soft, gentle, vulnerable, and a host of others like those come to mind. I certainly do not think of words like power, majesty, or God!

It is almost impossible for my limited mind to put the words baby and God together unless, of course, I use the name Jesus. It is only in Jesus that the fullness of God and the fullness of man can be expressed.

The song, "Mary, Did You Know?" is one of my favorite Christmas songs. It makes me take a good long look at the baby in Marys' arms and try to understand the truth that the baby is God in the flesh. In that tiny package lived THE awesome, majestic, holy God. Every hungry cry, soiled diaper, and sweet slumber cuddled in His Mommy's', or Daddy's', arms was an act of love from a hugely humble God. He loved us so much! He wanted to be like us in every way!

Our God, who spoke the worlds into being, would cry until He learned how to speak. This amazing God, who formed man from the ground, would learn the lessons of obedience and truth from His earth-born parents. God, who holds all power and authority, would be the most vulnerable of those He came to save. My feeble brain cannot fully understand. I must believe. I must receive by faith. God and Man in one life, for one purpose, made the first Christmas a holy and humble day.

Holy God, I am without words to describe You! I am not worthy to be near You, but You come near to me! You enter my every day and become all I need. Thank You! Thank You.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Majestically Humble

The Bible does not tell us that Jesus was born in a stable. It only tells us that He was wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger. Mangers could be in a stable or outside. They are simply a feeding trough. I believe it is possible that Jesus was born under the stars, just as much as born in a humble shelter meant for the animals. I suppose that we want Mary to at least have the luxury of a stable to give birth and so we add to the story told in the word.

We know there was no room in the inn and so we assume the innkeeper would offer his stable for shelter. But the Word does not tell us about any such kindness. We assume it was cold because we celebrate His birth in our winter time, but we do not know the true date of His birth. Our story of the birth of Christ is filled with many imaginations. There is nothing wrong with a good story told to share truth, but it is interesting to take only the words of the bible and imagine the story just as it is told.

What would it have been like for our Lord to have been born under the starry sky? His humble birth would have taken place in the majesty of His own creation! Does that idea give you pause as it does me? For me, that thought makes me see Him, not only as humble but also as God of all creation. He needs no human shelter because He owns creation.

Silent Night. O Holy Night. The starry sky waiting to be ablaze with angel song is a fitting place for The Creator, Our Lord, Gods' humble revelation to the world.

Jesus, humble Creator and Lord, You surprise me in so many ways! You are a humble master, a magnificent sacrifice, a quiet voice announcing Gods' amazing love to the world. I can only bow before You. You are Lord. You are King. You are Savior!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Advent Week #2

Once, when the time was right, God sent His only Son, Jesus, to live with us here on earth. Christmas is the remembering of that special first night. God entered into His creation. It was a magical and awesome moment!

Angels, shepherds and Magi rejoiced and worshiped at the feet of a boy child. God had created a passage between heaven and earth. The gate of His entrance into our world was a womb and the gate of His entrance was a tomb. It is through the gate of Jesus Himself that we enter His eternal and heavenly world.

I imagine that our entrance into His world will be met with jubilant rejoicing of angels! Jesus and The Father will set out a feast for our eternal union with our Bridegroom!

I remember my dear husband standing at the altar as I walked the aisle to meet him for our vows to be heard by witnesses. He had tears in his eyes and later we celebrated with laughter and joy! Can you imagine with me Jesus standing ready to welcome us to the wedding feast, with the Father beaming with great joy? It will be the greatest of joys! God will be with us in a new way and forever!

My Dearest Lord Jesus, You are the Lover of my soul. You are my Bridegroom. I am preparing myself for the day You call the church to be Your bride. I can only imagine it to be beautiful, awesome, deeply satisfying, and joyful beyond words. My heart yearns for You to come soon when I think about that day. There are other days when I am having too much fun and so many blessings here that I hope You will wait. Thank You for allowing Your Father to decide. He will certainly know the right time for all of us! Until then, Lord, I need You to prepare my heart and my soul. I need Your Spirit to be strong in me so that I might show others the love You have shown me! Today I want You to come soon!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cleaning House

Preparing for Christ to come makes me want my house in order. Not just my physical home but my soul home.

Today is house cleaning day for me. In my youth, Mom insisted that we clean the house every Saturday in preparation for Sunday, our day of rest. We also would go to confession on Saturday. You can see the connection, I am sure. I helped mom clean up the house, and then I took time to clean my soul from my sins at the confessional. The ritual has stayed with me.

Saturday is my day to prepare my house so that I can rest on Sunday. I have changed my Saturday confession time to a daily and sometimes hourly ritual of asking forgiveness for my sins. I do not need a priest to confess my failures because Jesus is my priest. He washes my sin stains away.

In these days preparing for Christmas I dig a little deeper into my cleansing routine. As Christmas decorations go up, the hidden corners reveal their dust and dirt. I believe it is Gods' way, that as I seek to put on the Spirit of Christmas, He reveals the dust and dirt on my soul. Both clean up jobs need to be attended to so that I can enjoy my celebration.

"Prepare ye the way of the Lord" was the cry of the prophet. How do we prepare for Jesus Christs' coming this Christmas or when He comes again in glory? We must prepare our hearts with His forgiveness, and maybe even make sure our house is clean in case He sends angels ahead of His coming and we are to entertain them.

Glorious Lord, You wash us white as snow! We cannot prepare our lives for Your coming without You! I have many places that need to be cleaned up in my life. Thanks for forgiving me and washing them clean. If You send an angel to visit my home tonight, it will be clean and I will be ready. Tomorrow I will worship You with a clean heart and a mind seeking after You. I expect our time together will be sweet!

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Busy Day

Today is a busy day for me. I am caring for two babies and a semi-disabled husband, making last minute preparations for our Life Group Christmas gathering, and sneaking time here and there to make today meaningful for my journey of the season.

My Mom used to use the expression "Like a chicken with your head cut off" when we would be jumping from this task to the next and back again. Well today I feel like that chicken! I have been lead by my list and not sat down to use my head (that seems to be lost). It is these times especially when I find it absolutely necessary to put God first.

What do You want from me today, Lord? I am at Your service. Instruct me as to Your wishes and I will do my very best to please YOU. From this time on I will use this day to see my chores as opportunities to minister, and grow in being more like You. Thank You, Lord, for today and the babies, my husband and my to-do list, even if it never gets finished! Turn my eyes to You, Father, because You are my help!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Last night I watched a program I had recorded from the History Channel. It was titled The Real Story of Christmas or something close to that. Unfortunately the real story of Christmas was discussed for only about one minute, with the rest of the history of Christmas being filled with Santa stories, origins of our Christmas tree, and other traditions. I learned some things I did not know, but though not surprised, I was again disappointed that God with us was of so little importance to the makers of this show.

One of the interesting, yet disturbing, elements of the show involved the influence of a few men in changing the focus of our celebration from Christs birth to a family holiday that is merchandised more than enjoyed.

I am not anti-Santa. I allow him to be in our family celebrations with limits. He is not the central figure, nor is his actions allowed to over shadow the act of love God showed when delivering His Son to our world for our defense against sin. Santa is a believer in Christ in my home, and his good deeds are his worship to God for his own salvation.

I am also not against times of celebrations with family. Anytime is a good time for me to enjoy my family and celebrate Gods' goodness.

My decorated Christmas tree gives me much pleasure. I love the lights and the ornaments that hold wonderful memories of blessings from God.

The difference between my Christmas and the worlds Christmas is Jesus. Christmas comes to me whenever God reveals Himself in a new way. Just as He showed us His love, mercy and grace through Jesus, beginning on that First Noel, He comes to me. I am a simple vessel just like the manger. I am a place for him to be revealed to the world. It is through my good works that Jesus can be high and lifted up.

God of Glory, You once came as a helpless infant and lived a life never grasping for the glory that is rightfully Yours. It is even now, when men, and even I, have pushed Your amazing truth into the back ground, that You humbly make Yourself known as God with us. Forgive me for forgetting You when the world crowds into my thoughts. Thank You for being patient as You wait for me to visit Your humble abode. Shine Your light so that I might see the place Your glory dwells. I humbly bow to You!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

He is the Promise

Every parent knows the excitement and wonder of the possibility that is wrapped up in the little baby they hold in their arms. They dream of great things their child will do to influence the world. Their coos and goos are imagined to be the next singing sensation. Their dexterity is interpreted as athletic ability worthy of a gold medal. Parents hold in their arms and their hearts, high hopes and dreams for the tiny gift given to them from God. It takes years to unwrap the gift.

God the Father had high hopes and dreams for His Son, too. He knew from the beginning what Jesus would do. He knew how He would change the world. I wonder if when the angels sang "Glory to God" over the stable if God, the Father, wept knowing what His Son would suffer. If I knew what my children would have to suffer along life's' way, I would weep. I have been spared the knowledge of future pains, but God gave His Son knowing He was given to save the world from sins destruction by suffering horribly under cruel men. God spared us the pain and gave us hope, dreams, and possibilities.

I hold my grandchildren and dream good and wonderful days for them. The best of those days is the day they receive the Promised Son of God. Jesus is our promise. Jesus is Gods' "Yes!" to our dreams and hopes!

Rest, little ones, He promises to care for you because He is love and Love has sent His promised Son. He is your gift every day, not just at Christmas.

Loving Father, You have given the greatest gift of hope and possibility to us who will receive. I want that for my children and grandchildren and for myself! We do not deserve this gift. Because You love I will take it! Thank You for Your promise. Thank You for Jesus!