Monday, December 31, 2012

What's on Your Magna Doodle?

It's the last day of 2012 - wow, this year just seemed to fly by! 
Now, we look to 2013 . . . and what do we see?

For Christmas, I bought my granddaughter, Allie, a Magna Doodle . . . a board that you draw on with a stick, and then slide a bar across and it erases everything. She loves to draw, but unfortunately she tends to draw on things and in places where one should not draw - the wall, the carpet, my couch, etc... So I thought this would be a great toy for her; she can draw her picture and then, just simply erase it with one flick of her little wrist.

This morning as I was sitting here thinking about the end of this year and the beginning of a new one, I was reminded of that little Magna Doodle. Each day as we go about our lives doing our best to serve God, put Him first, walk uprightly, the enemy is making a list of every failure, big or small:

words spoken that should have been left unspoken
deeds done that should have been left undone
missed opportunities
failed expectations

he makes this list to remind us of every time we 
"fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). . . 

but for Grace!

Grace swipes the bar across the board and each one of them is erased, 
to be remembered no more. 

"As far as the east is from the west, 
so far has He removed our transgressions from us."
Psalm 103:12

As we come to the end of 2012 and begin anew in 2013,
I have one question for you:

What is on your Magna Doodle?  

If it is filled with a list of all your shortcomings, 
failures and disappointments,
give all those things over to Jesus. 
Ask Him to swipe the bar across the board 
and erase the old list; 
allow Him to create a new one filled with

New dreams
New hopes
New mercy

We serve a God of second chances
a God of new beginnings.

Let Him begin something new in your life today.

Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

You're Here....

Did you ever wonder what Mary felt? Tradition tells us she was just a young teenage girl, engaged to be married (probably to an older man) and suddenly finds herself pregnant. In a culture that could have found her at best, excommunicated, or at worst stoned, this was quite a predicament in which to find herself.

But she had the assurance from the angel....
                                      He was coming....
                                           the Messiah....
and she had been chosen to carry Him.
(Luke 1:29-33)

Can you imagine the awe?
Can you imagine the wonder?
Can you imagine the amazement?

And what about Joseph? Here was a man who had perhaps looked far and wide to find just the right girl to marry. A young girl who was honorable, pure, respectable; one who would do whatever was needed to make him a highly respected man in the community. And suddenly he finds out she's with child! What does he do now?

"While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God's angel spoke in the dream: 
'Joseph, son of David, don't hesitate to get married. Mary's pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. 
God's Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, 
you, Joseph, will name Him Jesus - because He will save His people from their sins.'"
Matthew 1:20-22 (MSG)

So this chosen couple get married and prepare for the arrival of a baby - the Messiah.

Can you imagine???

We all know the story: Caesar calls for a census that requires all the heads of households to travel to the city of their birth to register, to be counted. This required a long trip on foot, or donkey...and Mary is about to give birth. It couldn't have been an easy trip for her, especially that far along in her pregnancy. But off they went. And as you recall, they could not find anyplace to stay the night; so they ended up in a stable. Actually, it would have been a cave; a dark, damp, dirty, dingy . . . cave. With smelly animals.

After the long trip, Mary goes into labor. Joseph is left on his own to help her deliver this child, this One, this Savior of all the world. We have no idea how long she labored, how difficult or easy this birth may have been, no details are given at all. Except that when all was said and done, she wrapped Him in clothes and put Him in a manger, a feeding trough, because there was no room for them in the inn....

It's an amazing story. A story of love, of grace, of mercy and of hope. And now, over 2000 years later, we can look back on the story and see all of what was promised, what came to be and how it all turned out. But for was just the beginning.

In recent years, a popular Christmas song has been You're Here, written by Francesca Battistelli. It's a beautiful song written from Mary's perspective as she looks into the face of this small baby she has been entrusted to carry, deliver and raise:

Hold on now, I gotta take a deep breath
I don't know what to say when I look in your eyes.
You made the world before I was born
Here I am holding you in my arms tonight
Noel, Noel
Jesus our Emmanuel

You're Here
I'm holding You so near
I'm staring into the face of my Savior
King and Creator
You could've left us on our own
But You're here....

Can you imagine???

If you are a woman who has given birth to a child, think back to that moment when you first held your little baby in your arms. What did you feel?

Do you remember the awe?
Do you remember the wonder?
Do you remember the amazement?

Now imagine that little baby was the Creator of the world, Maker of heaven and earth, God made flesh to become the Savior of the world....

Can  you imagine???

A young teenage girl wraps her arms around God Almighty, stares into His eyes and says...

"You're here....."

"But Mary treasured these things and 
continued to think about them."
Luke 2:19 (NCV)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

We Need a Little Christmas....

One of my favorite Christmas songs is actually not even a Christmas song. It comes from the movie "Mame". The family has been through financial devastation due to the Wall Street crash of 1929 and need a bit of cheering up. Auntie Mame, played by Lucille Ball, begins to sing We Need a Little Christmas. It's just one of those songs that perk you up when the things of life begin to weigh you down. 

We need a little music,
Need a little laughter,
Need a little singing
Ringing through the rafter,
And we need a little snappy
"Happy ever after,"
Need a little Christmas now.

 I love Christmas music, the lights, the festive trees, the fun television shows like Charlie Brown, and Frosty, and Rudolph. Even the sappy Hallmark movies; I could sit and watch them for hours! But this year, I just couldn't seem to get interested in any of it. Finances are tight for everyone, cars need repairs, etc, etc, etc... The last few weeks have been difficult for me, losing my sister just before Thanksgiving. I kind of lost the excitement and joy of Christmas.

Then came Friday, December 14, 2012. That horrible, unimaginable day when a young man walked into an elementary school and killed twenty children and six adults. The pain those parents and families are feeling is unfathomable! I looked at my Christmas tree which has no presents under it, and thought about those parents who have presents for their little ones under the tree . . . presents that will never be opened. It absolutely broke my heart - I imagine it broke the world's heart.

The next morning, Saturday, our choir and orchestra had a rehearsal for our Christmas service on Sunday. Before we began to rehearse, we had a prayer time for those families and the people who responded to the scene. Geron and Becky Davis were our guests this Christmas and during our prayer time, Geron, as he so often does, wrote a song on the spot. He reminded us that Christmas is not a holiday, it's a birthday: the birthday of Jesus. I cannot remember all of the words right now, but it spoke of Him taking away our hurt and pain; that in all that we face here in our life on earth... 

we need Jesus, 
we need Christmas.

As I thought about that phrase, and that Christmas wasn't just a holiday, I realized it also wasn't just the day Jesus was born! 

It's the day peace was born
It's the day joy was born
It's the day hope was born
It's the day love was born
It's the day life was born

So, no matter what our checkbook says, 
No matter what the doctor may have told us; 
If there are no presents under the tree 
Or if the packages are piled high; 
Whether it's December or April, 
In the words of Geron Davis...

We need Jesus . . . 
We need Christmas!

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, 
because He will save His people from their sin.
Matthew 1:21 (NIV)

Monday, December 3, 2012

O Holy Night . . .

Point of Grace sings a rendition of O Holy Night that is beautiful; it is one of my favorite arrangements. I think  the soft and gentle way their voices blend lends to the depth of meaning in the words.

I was in Texas just a few weeks ago and stayed with my oldest sister, Debbi. She lives out a ways from town - seriously . . . way out from town. My brother-in-law had picked me up from the airport and we arrived at her house after the sun had set. As I got out of the car, I looked up at the dark sky and was awed! I had forgotten how visible and bright the stars are when you are standing in a Texas field. Not only could I see the big dipper and a few planets, but I could see galaxies behind the galaxies! I just stood there for a moment and stared in amazement.

O Holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Saviors birth

I wonder about the stars that shone on that night in Bethlehem so many years ago. I live in the city, so the lights often dim the intensity of the stars. But 2000 years ago there were no city lights to lessen the vividness of the stars. The Bible talks about one particular star, but can you imagine what the rest of the stars were like on that night with no smog or city lights to diminish their brilliance?

I'm reminded of an elaborate event, perhaps the climatic solo in a fine opera, or the center attraction in an arena. Actually, I picture a Charlie Brown Christmas when all the lights in the room have been darkened except the one solo spot - and out comes Linus to tell him what Christmas is really all about. It's the main event, the star attraction, the one thing the audience has been waiting for all night long.

Long lay the world, in sin and error pining
'Til He appeared and the soul felt it's worth

Jesus arrives - center stage. Just a small baby in a humble stable, lying in a manger filled with hay. But the world knew there was something different about this One. The world had been waiting, hoping, seeking . . . and He appeared and the soul knew this was what it had been waiting for. The stars shone bright on this little child. He was the main attraction . . . With no other lights to dim them, the stars glittered radiantly to illuminate this special event.

The thrill of hope
A weary world rejoices

History tells us there had been four hundred years of silence between the Old Testament prophets and the birth of Jesus. Four hundred years of spiritual darkness. But now there is hope; Messiah has come. Even though so many did not understand His arrival, there was a glimmer of hope - perhaps this is the One. The One they had all been waiting for . . .

And a weary world rejoices . . .

"Praise Him, sun and  moon,
praise Him, all you shining stars."
Psalm 148:3