Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Shepherds why this jubilee?

Is there anything to say on Christmas Eve that has not been said?
There is some quiet wonderful magic that falls heavy over the world that can't be grasped or created...and I attribute it entirely to the heavens celebrating the miraculous incarnation of our Lord.
A Baby.
I know what babies are like, I've had two. What is more approachable...More friendly...More easy to relate to than a baby?
I can't think of anything.
I know when we're at the grocery store no one hesitates to come up to our sweet little Ellie bean and talk, smile, love. And without hesitation she manages to dish out the same unprecedented joy to all who approach. There is something so disarming about a baby that would melt the heart of even the coldest man if allowed. And villians would drop the load of pride long enough to look in the face of a smiling baby and giggle and coo.
And this is how the God of all creation chose to come to earth.
One could elaborate for hours on all the possible forms a great and mighty God could have taken...but he chose none of the likely options.
He chose the approachable one.
And one can only assume he chose such an option because he wants to be approached.
Now, I understand that it is not the baby Jesus we worship but this is how the salvation of all man began.
UGH! My heart shouts with joy at the thought of a God who would become man to tear off the shackles of sin that separated us from him, that held us back.
And now the greatest lines from the Christmas carols come in to perfect focus, "Shepherds, why this jubilee?", can you even imagine? They were there witnessing the God who formed them in the, what I would imagine is the same kind of heavy, quiet, moment that we all can experience if we still ourselves long enough.
"God...and sinner reconciled", in one moment....and the journey to Easter began. The great liberator did something no heavenly mind could have expected or conceived.
And the world, long lay in sin and error, pining for a great king to set them free from the continual burden of trying to be good enough, strong enough, holy enough and failing every time.
Don't you see? Years of laws that could not be kept perfectly by anyone, a standard set so high that no one could possibly accomplish it, and now we can see...why a weary and burdened world would rejoice at the idea of a king that could free them from their slavery.
Ransom captive Israel....paying the price for a world that is held in shackles of death and the stench of sin and setting them free by taking away death's sting--completely conquering death.
So do R E J O I C E!
Join the triumph of the skies.
Feast and give gifts, celebrate, laugh and worship. Let earth receive her king. Let every heart prepare him room, because heaven and nature DO sing over this tiny baby king.
Do all the things that people do at Christmas but do them with the substantial basis of celebrating the most amazing birth our world has celebrated. Enjoy the sweet flavors, the songs, the smells, the looks on your children's faces and let those foreshadows turn your hearts to the heavenly celebration and banquet that awaits you...
and is made possible by...this great rebel Jesus. Because as good as this earth's celebrations may be God reminds us that no eye has seen no ear has heard no mind has conceived waht God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9
Merriest Christmas...tidings of great comfort and joy in knowing where your salvation rests and began.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I am second

Stories of victory in the human experience.
I had to share it.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

You won't like me when I'm angry...

It's appropriate that my husband made me watch the Hulk this week, as it was a fitting parallel to my trip to Target with two children yesterday.
You see I've been struggling with this thing lately, maybe you can's called anger? (or around these parts--the rage virus, a la 28 days later)...
I digress (which by the way is the title I'm thinking of changing my blog to).
I've found myself, at several different moments this week, feeling so frustrated and angry that I want to kick, punch, scream (act more like the 2 year old than the mama). There was a culmination where I realized it had come too far this Sunday morning when my sweet, loving, wonderful (though not seeming quite so much of any of those in the moment) husband, proceeded to "pick a fight" with me before church.
How can I say this without someone being afraid of me...
I lost it.
I was so angry, all I could do was make nonsensical retorts that put me at a maturity level comparable to an 18 month old (with a slightly expanded and more "adult" vocabulary).
Afterward (when it's glaringly easy to see the light of truth) God gave me many chunks (mmmm, chunks) of wisdom.
Let me share with you what I learned:
A very wise woman shared with me this verse:
No temptation has overtaken you but that which is common to man and God is faithful, he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able but with each temptation will provide a way out.
She pointed out two things about this verse that were helpful, the first being that what I face is common to man. It's easy to get sucked into our own black hole of womanhood, thinking that we are the only ones who struggle with this, or that we're alone in it--and that, my friends, is a complete steaming pile of.....
Don't try to deal with it alone, or pretend like you have it all don't...neither does anyone else.
Also, she pointed out that we ought to pray to God to have him reveal what our opportune times for temptation are.
For example (and again, these are from the wise sage of a woman, not myself) in Luke 4:13 it says that Jesus was tempted in the desert by the devil and then it says:
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
So it's clear that the devil prowls around waiting for a chance when we are weak to go for the jugular. We need to pray to be aware of what those times are, so we can be on guard.
I also find it ironic that when Jesus was tempted in the desert in the first place it mentions that he was hungry, because (amen?) I know around 11:00am each day I start getting just a little (okay...a lot) edgier than normal due to the lack of food in the stomach.
So I've been trying to be more aware that I am more susceptible to things like the rage virus when I'm hungry, rushing out the door for church etc.

Finally, and I would say most importantly I've learned one more thing...I'm glad his grace is sufficient to save me.
You know that group of verses where Paul says that to keep him from becoming conceited there was given to him "a thorn in his flesh" and he prayed that God would take it away from him three times?
I'm there.
I pray so hard that God will take this anger away from me. That he will just make it so I don't struggle anymore (you know..."zap" from heaven and it's gone?). Well I can hear God saying to me the same thing he says to Paul:
"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2Cor 12:9)
Hallelujah and Glory to God!!!
I love that he wants to bring me through it, and he will give me victory over it...eventually...and in the meantime, his grace is sufficient.
What does that even mean.
His grace (the free gift from God of my salvation, the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, the salvation that comes from his blood on the cross) is sufficient (enough, all I need to be saved, fully perfect in power to cover me).
That just goes to show you the amazing God I serve. He's strong and powerful to save, so much so that I can be weak little me, staying humble, confessing my sins and allowing God to change me in his time, but resting in his perfect grace all the while.
DID YOU HEAR THAT? Please let it smack you upside the head a little,
He has done it...remember "it is finished?"
Now when I go to God I go to a throne of grace with confidence:
"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16
So all that to say, I'm learning a lot lately, and I'll continue to let God change me, and show me my times of weakness and susceptibility but I will also remember that the gem that is God's amazing power to save is set best against the dark backdrop of my weaknesses.