Friday, December 25, 2009

And You Shall Call His Name Jesus

Christmas morning. We got up early and gathered around the tree...and the computer as we skyped with my dad. The troops where he is got the day off and so, he was able to call in and watch us open gifts. It was hard...being able to see him but knowing he wasn't really there but I was glad he was able to.

However, before we do gifts, we always read the Christmas story and Daddy always reads it. Thanks to technology, this year wasn't any different and we all sat in our living room as, half a world away, our deployed sailor read the words of the Christ's birth in the sandy deserts of Iraq. As he began to read, I was struck by the situation. We are Christians here the United States; he is over there in a Muslim country but today, Iraq proclaimed the birth of the world's Messiah.

As we finish out the last month of this long deployment, I thank God that He has kept my dad safe thus far and I pray that He will continue to do so. But...I know that, no matter what is to come, through all the years of my life no matter how many or few, He's going to be there with me and whatever it is, it will be better than anything else...even if I don't understand how. Because our God's ways are not our ways and His foolishness is wiser than man's wisdom.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

We went and got our Christmas tree today. Going to Kluck's, picking out the perfect tree, and taking it home and setting it up to Christmas music has been one of the deepest traditions of my family. It was wonderful and really feels like Christmas now...but not quite like it has before.

For those who don't know, my father has been serving our country in Iraq for the past year and will be returning home in late January. We are all happy to be back together so soon but the holidays aren't even close to the same without him. And, of course, on our way home, the song "I'll be Brave for Christmas" by Big Daddy Weave came on the radio and we all tried not to cry.

Sitting here, I realize a little more of what Christmas really means. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the gifts and the lights and the beautiful decorations but bright garlands and ornamented evergreens are not what this holiday is about. It is about something much bigger and MUCH better.

It is about a baby. Just one baby and yet, there was never another like Him. God the Son in flesh; born not to wealthy parents in a beautiful palace but to a peasant girl and his first crib, a manger where animals would eat. That was the entrance of the Son of God.

I miss my dad. Sometimes, I just have to grit my teeth at how deeply I miss him but I am not sorry that the Lord gave us this trial. It increased my love for my earthly father and now, it has showed me a little more of the love of my Heavenly One. That same pain that I am feeling now, God felt a hundred times over when His Son left heaven and came down as a Man and then, even more than that, when the Father had to actually turn away from His Son as Jesus bore the world's sins on His shoulders. That take your breath away, clench your jaw pain that I feel...He didn't just endure that, He purposefully endured it...for me.

He missed His Father, just like I do, and He loves me even more than that pain. I could not ask for a greater gift and I will never be able to thank Him enough!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Comfort in Insignificance

"Be comforted, small one, in your smallness. He lays no merit on you...Be comforted, small immortals. You are not the voice that all things utter, nor is there eternal silence in the places where you cannot come." C.S. Lewis from Perelandra

I finished this book today and towards the end, I found those two passages. At first, I confess, pride reared its ugly head. I get to rejoice that I'm insignificant? But then, I thought on it more. Yes, I do!

At the core of our sin nature, there is our pride and arogance that desires to be like God. It is the temptation that Eve was given in the garden and just like our first parents, we are ever listening to its lie yet again. Selfishness, anger, even worry, they are all tenacles of the same massive pride. We want to be our own God.

But do we really? Do we really understand what being God is? Yes, He gets all the glory and worship but He has endured pain that we cannot even fathom! And, besides that point, how comfortable would you be if your loved one's lives were in your hands? If you alone were responsible to ensure that your father made it home safe from work every day, your mother stayed strong as she served her family, or your children lived through the raging fever of the flu? Wouldn't you kinda, you know, go insane with the pressure?

That is why I think C.S. Lewis' character told the human to rejoice in his smallness. God does not require us to do His job. The world will not crumble because we goofed; our salvation will not be in jeapordy because we didn't see something coming. He does not lay any merit on us...He knows we are sinners and He sees us as we are, expecting neither more nor less. He understands us, for He became like us.

Rejoice! God is mighty enough to be God by Himself! He doesn't not need us!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Never Was Grief Like His

I know this is a long post but trust me, it is worth it. This is a portion of my Sunday School lesson on 'How did Jesus win our salvation?' Read the passage please. It left me speechless...

Excerpts from 'The Sacrifice' by George Herbert

"With clubs and staves they seek me, as a thief,
Who am the Way and Truth, the true relief;
Most true to those, who are my greatest grief:
Was ever grief like mine?
See, they lay hold on me, not with the hands
Of faith, but furie: yet at their commands
I suffer binding, who have loosed their bands:
Was ever grief like mine?
Arise, arise, they come. Look how they run!
Alas! what haste they make to be undone!
How with their lanterns do they seek the sun!
Was ever grief like mine?
Therefore my soul melts, and my heart's dear treasure
Drops blood (the only beads) my word to measure:
Was ever grief like mine?
These drops being tempered with a sinner's tears
A balsome are for both the hemispheres:
Curing all wounds, but mine; all, but my fears:
Was ever grief like mine?
So sits the earth's great curse in Adam's fall
Upon my head; so I remove it all
From th' earth unto my brows, and bear the thrall:
Was ever grief like mine?
The soldiers also spit upon that face,
Which angels did desire to have the grace,
And prophets, once to see, but found no place:
Was ever grief like mine?
'O ye all who pass by, behold and see';
Man stole the fruit, but I must climb the tree;
The tree of life to all, but only me:
Was ever grief like mine?
Such sorrow as, if sinful man could feel,
Or feel his part, he would not cease to kneel,
Till all were melted, though he were all steel:
Was ever grief like mine?
'Now heal thy self, Physician; now come down.'
Alas! I did so, when I left my crown
And father's smile for you, to feel his frown:
Was ever grief like mine?
In healing not my self, there doth consist
All that salvation, which ye now resist;
Your safety in my sickness doth subsist:
Was ever grief like mine?
But now I die; now all is finished.
My woe, men's weal: and now I bow my head.
Only let others say, when I am dead,
Never was grief like mine."

He suffered more than we can even imagine, to gain the love we so rarely give Him. How truly great is our God!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Live like We're Dying

"We only got 86,400 seconds in a day
to turn it all around or to throw it all away
We gotta tell 'em that we love 'em while we got the chance to say
Gotta live like we're dying!"

This is part of the chorus to a popular song right now by Kris Allen. It isn't a 'Christian' song but it applies anyway. God is not confined to speaking truth only through the music of those who claim His name. We can find truth even in the words of the firmest athiest.

So...what are we going to do with our lives? Who are we going to live for? What, at the end, will give us joy? Imagine if more people starting living like this, living as if the day they had were the last they would ever see. What would change?

As Christians, every night we should go to sleep ready to meet our Maker and knowing that we didn't waste a second of the day we are now finishing. We only have one life,all we are guaranteed is the moment we are now in. What are we going to do with it?

Christ came to earth to die for us, He wrapped Himself in flesh to take the punishment for our sin, He bore the shame and agony of the cross to redeem His sinful creations. As He went through each day, He knew that He was one day closer to His own death but also, to the glory of His resurrection. Will we follow our Lord's example or will we live for ourselves? Will we enjoy good now or we will wait, realizing that there is greater good to be gained at the feet of our Savior?

You only have 86,400 seconds in this day. Will you be proud or ashamed of them once they are gone?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Harlot Bride

Exekiel 16.

This is sin without veils, without sugared words, and without side stepping. It is put down in clear, powerful, attention demanding language. We are not allowed to ignore this.

The orphan has been wed by the King, the bride has been adorned by her Husband, and the wife has betrayed her Savior...

Imagine if a man and woman were about to be married; he had popped the question, she had accepted, and now, they are at their wedding day. The groom is at the altar, the wedding march begins, and the bride comes down the isle. But what if...instead of white gown and veil and eyes on her fiance alone, this girl comes clothed in the garments of a prostitue and flirting with every man in the room?

We were abandoned and covered in our own blood and filth and He came, cleaned us off, and claimed us as His own. He covered us with beautiful robes and gave us all that we have and just like Israel did, we so often spurn it. We run after the fickle idols of this world and sacrifice His own gifts to the vanities of our hearts.

Do we understand how puny, how miniscule we are compared to the God who has saved us? Do we realize how brutal of a betrayal it is when we run from the greatest Love ever just to have some sinful pleasure that will burn on the Day of Judgment? We are His Bride; we should be striving every day to be beautiful for Him.

And yet, our offended Groom does not leave us. He doesn't throw the ring down in the church and walk away. He stays there, calls us back to Him, with pain even, and continues to teach us, to persue us, and to love us when we are unlovable. What an amazing God we have!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sandpaper People

I just got a new background with the help of my awesome, high-tech younger sister. She suffered through my painstakingly slow persusal of the different options and my control-freak need to do everything myself. Bless her heart!

As the oldest of five, I have had plenty of instances when that younger sister and the other three have acted in the same aggravating way to me. They are loud when I am trying to study, they ignore or interrupt me when I am trying to talk, and they discover unlimited ways to simply tick me off. Mom calls them 'sandpaper people'. Those are the people who rub your rough edges smooth; they teach your patience, selflessness, obedience, and humility. That would be my siblings.

And yet, there are times when I hear my six year old brother burst into hysterical laughter or eat lunch with my two beautiful sisters or marvel at the complexity of my other brother's artwork, and I just have to praise God for what would I do without them? What would I do without that obnoxious noise that fills this house or those young voices telling me things I feel too busy to listen to? I am first a Christian, then a daughter, and third...a sister. My siblings change me in ways they don't realize. They define who I am and the way I treat my husband and my kids, should God bless me with both, will be that way because of the decisions I made about them. They are my best friends, my worst enemies, my motherhood practice, and one of the greatest gifts God has given me and I am eternally grateful!