Archive | December 2013

Bullying’s beginning?

“The Painful Story Begins”

~from Joni and Friends

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity.”  Hebrews 2:14

[A few days ago] Jesus was born. His last true comfort was that final moment before slipping from His mother’s womb and out onto the rough straw and the cold night. Moments later, His mother wrapped Him tightly in swaddling clothes. Then, a borrowed feeding trough met Him. The story of His pain had begun.

Months later, did He taste tension in His mother’s milk as she hastily fled in the night from those searching to murder Him? What did Jesus feel when He grew up to learn what His presence had cost the baby boys of Bethlehem? He would have known the slaughter had been secretly laid at His family’s doorstep. How old was Jesus before realizing what neighbors thought about His mother and her morals? Was He ever taunted for being illegitimate? Did the young boy with His family in Egypt ever feel like a refugee? Was He treated like He didn’t belong?

Bible open air museum in Nijmegen. Beith Juda ...

Bible open air museum in Nijmegen. Beith Juda Jewish village: Carpenter´s shop like the one, Joseph, Jesus´ father, was probably working in. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Years later, growing up in Nazareth and plying his father’s adz in the carpenter’s shop, He no doubt saw Roman soldiers pass outside the shop window. Their plumed helmets reminded Him daily that foreigners owned His country. We never read in the Bible that this young man drew appreciative glances from girls in His neighborhood. “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). This is the way Jesus lived His young life. He shared in our humanity and became acquainted with pain from the manger to His ministry at 30 years of age.

We celebrate a Savior who, from the moment of His birth, empathized with our humanity. Our God is not a deity who leans over His ivory tower, uncaring or unfeeling about His subjects far below. Whatever hurt is hounding you today, God is here, near, real, and empathetic.

Our God is a God of love. Knowing this truth is the best gift to carry forward, 2014.

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This entry was posted on December 29, 2013. 2 Comments

“No Ordinary Baby”

She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus. He will be great, be called Son of the Highest. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; He will rule Jacob‘s house forever ~ no end, ever, to his kingdom.”  Luke 1:30-31  The Message

Here is a story from a writer I treasure. Even if you have read it before, enjoy it now during the Christmas season. And then, let’s keep Him alive in our hearts all year long.

Baby Jesus 02

Baby Jesus 02 (Photo credit: Waiting For The Word)

I saw him in the drugstore. He was a big, awkward-looking guy with work-worn hands and he was at the card rack fumbling through the section marked, “Birthday, Wife”. I watched him as he picked out one or two cards and read them and put them back and I could tell by the look on his face he wasn’t finding what he had in mind at all. He read another card and put it back. Picked another one and finally he chose one of those corny-looking cards with flowers on the front, probably said, “Roses are red, violets are blue” or something like that. And I could tell that he still wasn’t happy with what he had found, but finally he sighed, and took it to the checkout counter and paid the lady. She put it in a brown paper sack and he walked out the door.

I suppose he took it home and scrawled something on the bottom of it, simply like, “Love, Pete”, and gave it to her. But it didn’t say what he wanted it to say because it just isn’t easy to say the things that really matter, is it? It isn’t always easy to say, “I really love you”. Sometimes it’s hard to say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong”. Sometimes it’s hard to say, “I acted like a fool yesterday, please forgive me.” Sometimes it just isn’t easy to say, “you’re the glue that holds my whole world together and I think sometimes if it weren’t for you, I’d just fall apart.”

Things that you really want to say aren’t all that easy, are they? But you know, I think she knew. I think by the way he put an awkward arm around her shoulder or kind a punched her on the elbow, she probably knew. And I think he knew that she’d know. Because there is something about living with somebody for a long time and having them there where you can sense the vibes, you know, look them in the eye. Those things that are so hard to say don’t have to be said. Love says it.

You know, I think God tried all down through history to tell us what He wanted us to know. And He sent His prophets and His teachers and they tried and we got part of it. We got the part about God’s justice and His law. We got the part about when we do bad things that we somehow have to pay, but the part that God really wanted us to know, the part that says, “Oh, how I love you”, we weren’t getting that, were we? God seemed so far away.

But before time began, God had a plan and He said, “I know what I’ll do.  I’ll send My love right down there where they are, where they can see it and touch it and know it. And I’ll send it as a little, tiny, vulnerable baby so they will have to touch it and they will have to hold it close.” God’s love in a baby blanket in our arms. And my Bible says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory; the glory of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth.”

The story of Christmas has been told a lot of different ways. There was this big history about how the offspring of King David and Saul and Solomon would come. How like God to send an ordinary baby. How like God to choose to limit Himself to our bodies and our language and our time and space. How like God when we were so broken and guilty to choose to walk with us and touch us and make us whole.

~Gloria Gaither

Hymnlines: “Come On Ring Those Bells”

I “blew the dust off” an old Christmas CD by Evie and hit the play button.  As the first few notes filled the space around me, goosebumps chased one another up and down my body and tears threatened to spill down my cheeks. I knew I was taking a risk with my emotions since the upcoming holidays will forever be bittersweet. Perhaps like me, you will be missing precious feet under your kitchen table too this Christmas. But still I couldn’t resist listening once again. Maybe Evie could help put a little joy into my limp holiday mood.

christmas 09'

Christmas Bells                                        (Photo credit: gingerkatie2006)

Everybody likes to take a holiday
Everybody likes to take a rest
Spending time together with the family
Sharing lots of love and happiness.

I close my eyes and instantly I am behind the wheel of our old Ford station wagon with two wiggly youngsters strapped down in the back seat; their heads bobbing to the tune as they join Evie and belt out chorus ~

Come on, ring those bells,
Light the Christmas tree,
Jesus is the king
Born for you and me.
Come on, ring those bells,
Every-body say,
Jesus, we remember
This your birthday.

This was our ritual song and favorite CD whenever we headed anywhere during the days before Christmas. My boys loved this song. Me too. I still do. But it  takes me back. Takes me back to the days when I had two youngins’ at the supper table yelling in chorus, “Mom, he touched me!” I’ll be the first to admit it . . . that sentence short-circuited my buttons then, but now it bring a smile to my face. I can’t go back, but if I could freeze-frame that picture, I would. If I could erase the pain of suicide death, I would. Like I said, we will be missing someone precious at our table again this year.

Celebrations come because of something good.
Celebrations we love to recall
Mary had a baby boy in Bethlehem
The greatest celebration of all.

But this piece is intended to be a happy one and even put in a plug for you to listen to Evie sing this song on YouTube. Others may do it well, but in my humble opinion, none do it better than this dimpled darling. May you enjoy listening to this timeless favorite and may you find the reason for the season even if you too are missing feet under your table this year.

Remember to praise His works, which generations have celebrated in song.  Job 36:24

~Andrew Culverwell, an English contemporary Christian music artist and songwriter, recorded in the 1970’s and 1980’s. He is probably best remembered for writing the Christmas song “Come On Ring Those Bells”, performed in 1977 by Evie Tornquist-Karlsson.

This entry was posted on December 14, 2013. 6 Comments

Designed to flourish

Christmas Dinner Table Setting 02

Christmas Dinner Table (Photo credit: baslow)

“I was thumbing through a Williams-Sonoma catalog. It calls itself “a catalog for cooks,” but really, it’s a catalog of the life we wish we had. Everything is beautiful, delicious, elegant. The kitchens portrayed are immaculate—there are no messes. Cooking there would be a joy. The tables are sumptuous with their beautiful china place settings, wine glasses brimming with nectar, gourmet foods deliciously prepared, invitingly presented. Fresh flowers abound. The homes are lovely and spacious; the view out the windows is always a mountain lake, a beach, or perhaps an English garden. Everything is as it ought to be. Glancing through its pages, you get a sense of rest. Life is good. You see, the images whisper, it can be done. Life is within your grasp. And so the quest continues. But of course. Our address used to be Paradise, remember?

And oh, how we yearn for another shot at it. Flip with me for a moment through the photo album of your heart, and collect a few of your most treasured memories. Recall a time in your life when you felt really special, a time when you knew you were loved. The day you got engaged perhaps. Or a childhood Christmas. Maybe a time with your grandparents.

Hold your memory while you gather another, a time of real adventure, such as when you first learned to ride a bike, or galloped on a horse, or perhaps did something exciting on a vacation. Now, we were meant to live in a world like that—every day. Just as our lungs are made to breathe oxygen, our souls are designed to flourish in an atmosphere rich in love and meaning, security and significance, intimacy and adventure. But we don’t live in that world anymore. Far from it. Though we try to resolve the dilemma by disowning our desire, it doesn’t work. It is the soul’s equivalent of holding our breath. Eventually, we find ourselves gasping for air.”

~Ramsomed Heart Ministries

Heavenly Father, we do “yearn for another shot at it” and we know it will come soon, for You have promised:  “On that day, with a command that thunders into the world, with a voice of a chief heavenly messenger, and with a blast of God’s trumpet, the Lord Himself will descend from heaven; and all those who died in the Anointed One, our Liberating King, will rise from the dead first. Then we who are alive and left behind will be snatched up together with them into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. This is how we, the resurrected and the living, will be with Him forever!” Thessalonians 4:16-17, The Voice

Our time will soon come and it will be far better than any Christmas, any memory whatsoever. And this time all of our loved ones will be present, gathered around the banquet table of heaven. There will be a smile on each face and all of us will be looking at the One who made it all possible. Now THAT will be a celebration like no other. Can’t wait!

This entry was posted on December 10, 2013. 2 Comments