Saturday, December 31, 2011

On the Brink of 2012

It's New Year's Eve; so although the clock strikes midnight every night, today it will usher in a new year.

We're on the brink of the new and unknown.

Does it feel like this? 

 or more like this? As you're just not sure what's ahead...
But what if, as the clock struck midnight, you were cognizant of these truths -

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, 
your faithfulness to the skies.  
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, 
your justice like the great deep.


O Lord, you preserve both man and beast.
How priceless is your unfailing love!
Both high and low among men find refuge 
in the shadow of your wings.(NIV)


You feed them from the abundance of your own house, 
letting them drink from your rivers of delight.


For you are the fountain of life, 
the light by which we see. (NLT)


Continue your love to those who know you (NIV)
Pour out your unfailing love to those who love you (NLT)
 Ps. 35:5-10


The Lord's lovingkindness indeed never ceases
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
"The Lord is  my portion", says my soul. 
"Therefore I have hope in Him."
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
 to the person who seeks Him.
 Lam. 3:22-25

Thursday, December 29, 2011

How we move past Christmas

As I wandered in stores this week, and observed life in general, one disturbing message was loud and clear - Christmas is over.

It's time to shove all the merchandise (that has been so highly lauded since Halloween) pell mell onto the clearance shelves and mark it 80% off.
Out with the old.
We're done with that stuff; we're moving on and now Valentine's merchandise is going there...

Christmas is over; the message is clear.
It is now time to gear up for 2012.
Family, celebrations, "I'll be home for Christmas" dreams are seemingly all complete, shoved into boxes and stuffed back into the attic or taken out in the trash in the mounds of ripped off wrapping paper.
Out with the sentimental and nostalgic:  time to make new resolutions, look forward, clear the clutter (as is the lead story of every single magazine out there) and determine to be a better ________(you fill in the blank)

Yes, the tree must come down.
Yes, our homes must be reclaimed from bows and lights and set up again for the business of life.
But when you pack away your nativity set, be sure you don't pack away your Savior.
For while Christmas stuff may be 80% off, His worth has not diminished.

We need not wait till Easter to again consider His impact on our world.
He is the God of every day; not only God in times of bi-yearly celebration.
Every day He walks with us providing new mercy and fresh strength. (Lamentations 3:23, Isaiah 40:31)

The reason that baby came to a manger was to be the Lord of our lives.
And as we go into a new year, we need One who is our Lord.

Who else knows both our future and our hearts?
Who else knows what motivates us and how to make us desire to live for Him?
Who else has a plan and makes all things work together so that we may be more like Him with each passing day?

The falling on our knees of our response to the angel's news, must continue it's work in our life as we submit our days, our desires, our expectations, our needs, our all, to the One who loved us enough to wrap Himself in flesh: so that we could live forever with Him - and not only someday in heaven but today. Today we can live with Him, and in Him, and through His strength and obedience to His Word in our lives.

You have celebrated the coming of the baby but let the new year still find you on bended knee to the King.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

In the midst of it all...

It doesn't feel like Christmas; perhaps because it's on the weekend this year or because there's no snow on the ground but I'm just not feeling "christmasy".
The decorations are up, the music is playing, the gifts are wrapped, the menu's planned and Christmas cookies are everywhere, yet... although it doesn't feel like normal; it does feel routine.

I imagine it felt the same way for the shepherds; this was their springtime routine of being in the fields at night as it was calving season. They weren't out at night year round but they were every spring, so while it wasn't normal,  still it was the same as before.

On the other hand what Mary and Joseph were experiencing was far from their normal - a pregnancy, the gossip, visions of angels, and now a forced journey to an unfamiliar place - they were completely out of their comfort zone.
Some Christmas' feel like that, after a loss, a diagnosis, or announcement; this will not be the typically expected "merry little Christmas" to which one's become accustomed.

But, to Mary and Joseph in their unknown as well as to the shepherds in their routine, Jesus came; and with His coming brought peace to the anxious and hope to the complacent.

His birth brought these things because the Incarnation is the gift of Christmas; God has come to be with us (Matthew 1:22,23)!   He is with us both in our uncertainties and the expected.

Wherever this season finds you between known and unknown; may the realization of Emmanuel break upon your heart at some point as gloriously as when the angels appeared to the shepherds!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Making Space

I live in a small house and everything has it's place.
Well, actually that's not true; many things have their places and then there is all the other stuff that just migrates from one place to another...

So now it is Christmas and time to put up the decorations.  As I look around my living room I do not see an open space just waiting for the Christmas tree; instead I see a room already full to overflowing: where could I possibly fit in a tree?

So there is this time of evaluation; what can be moved out in order to make a place for Christmas? How can I rearrange what is present in this room so that the tree (and all the accompanying decor) will have a home? And after a plan is formulated then it is time to do the heavy lifting; to move the chair from one place to another, to clean out the things that have accumulated along the sides and corners, to see the entire space in a new light that is looking to make room for a celebration.

I live a small life and it is chock full of stuff. Ideals that have places and concepts that have not yet found a place to settle; tasks and responsibilities that pile up in corners and things that must be gotten to.

So now it's Christmas and time to pause and wonder and make room in my heart for the Savior but my mind is full to overflowing with tasks, and gift buying, and a million other distractions- where can I possibly fit in a peace filled heart of worship?

Now there is the need for evaluation.
Followed by some heavy lifting.
An intentional rearranging and discarding to make space for adoration; to make a place for this One who is the reason for the season. I may be playing the music, singing the carols, and telling the story but is there a space that is ready and waiting for Him to fill? I'd love to see this and that under the tree but am I longing as greatly for Him? I've made time to go here and there but will I carve out space for Him?

Will I do what is necessary so that my response at His coming is not a regrettable "no room" but a joyous "come to my heart Lord Jesus for there is room in my heart for thee"?

What will your response be?


Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Christmas invitation for you

Last January I came across the website  http://myoneword.org/.
The concept is fairly simple, instead of making a long list of resolutions for the coming year choose ONE WORD. As they said "This process provides clarity by taking all of your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single thing."

So I tried it. I chose a word and, although my attention to it waxed and waned through the months, it truly has provided a clear focus.

My invitation to us is not as ambitious, but just as important.

Let's choose a word to meditate on this month, up to and including all the Christmas festivities and then afterwards as we head into a new year.

What will you focus on this season?
Not what will you do this season as that list is endless; but where will your heart focus?

Will it be on
Peace?

Joy?

Love?

Savior?

Messiah?

or...???

My word (as illustrated) is Emmanuel, because despite all and through all I want to focus on the fact that  is He is God with us.
Jesus - Creator God- took the form of fallen man. He came as a baby so that He could grow, to die, for my sin, so that I could be ever  with Him - both in this life and the life to come.

Emmanuel when lists are long and time is short.
Emmanuel when materialism threatens to steal my eyes and  frantic activity my peace.
Emmanuel whether I am joyful in a crowd or feeling all alone.
Emmanuel as He will never leave or forsake me (Heb. 13:5)

Will you join me?
Will you choose a word for yourself this month and let it take root and flourish in your heart finding it wherever you go this season?

If you'd be so kind,will you add it to the comments section so that we can take this journey together?
May God bless us as we journey to the manger keeping our eyes on Him!