Merry Christmas

I have not sent out any cards yet.

This is the first one – the first MERRY CHRISTMAS written this year.

Recall the famously known prophecy, even Charlie Brown’s Linus recited it: ” For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

For “to us”…. repeated twice. Us, meaning all – everyone – no one left out!

To all of us, a child, a son, is given. 

THIS is the MERRY CHRISTMAS: baby Jesus born in the manger – deity, God, made human – for to us.

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Not for the idyllic creche decorations to don the mantels…

Not for the theme of Sunday school plays so the girls can be angels and the boys can play shepherds with cotton beards…

But, for to us, with a purpose: “and the government will be upon his shoulders.”  

What?

Picture this: our government, the United States government, and every other world nation government stacked up on the shoulders of this Jesus like Atlas carrying the world….the image that He holds it all, He carries it all…. BUT – unlike Atlas, Jesus…. He rules over it all.  The prophecy from Isaiah points to a time when the full purpose of Jesus is revealed and His government rules over all governments.

Fast forward to another famously known verse, the one that people raise up in the football stands: John 3:16 — “he gave his one and only son” – the verb, gave, is the action and points to the cross where Jesus died. Just like the story, If you give a Mouse a Cookie, one thing leads to the next.  Jesus died, so that he could be buried, so that he could rise from the dead, so that he could appear to many – alive, so that he could ascend to the heavens and sit at the right hand of the father, God, so that he could await for his return to the earth and save his people,

so that finally – HIS pure government will rulethere will be no other governments left.

But for now… He rules from heaven and nothing on earth happens unless power is given it by God – the government is on His shoulders, and He rules even now, over it all.

Jesus is Wonderful — because He does great things with love…

Jesus is Counselor — because he guides and directs even those who do not know Him because He is sovereign and in charge of it all…

Jesus is Mighty God — because there is no one who holds more power…

Jesus is Everlasting Father — because He and the Father are one, always existing, timeless, having no end…

Jesus is Prince of Peace — because he came to earth as a baby, died as a man, and defeated death as a King, all for the purpose of offering us PEACE in a place where there will be no more tears, just peace, forever.

Jesus in the manger, came for everyone!

Jesus on the cross, died for everyone!

Jesus in heaven, loves everyone!

Merry Christmas to you all – everyone who breathes air on this earth!

Borrowing the words of Charles Dickens: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSyx6DaUwxA

HOPE trumps ISIS

Two Days.

Two Names.

Hope trumps ISIS.

It is true that the horrors of this life induce all kinds of emotion: anger, fear, sadness, and defeat.  I believe many were sick to their stomach’s as they read the article on social media yesterday about children in Iraq being sold for “whatever” purposes the buyer desires; I know I felt sick.  ISIS is reveling in victory, so they say.

Yet I know that Victory with the capital “V” belongs to Someone else.

Two days have passed and two more Names of God were given to us at my church to study:

The Alpha & Omega and the Blessed and Only Ruler.

Alpha & Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet – a metaphorical symbol used in regard to God.  This means He is the first and the last – the One from the beginning and the One who will be at the end – He is complete and He completes everything.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” – Revelation 1:8

Friends – this life is not it; there is more. The full revelation has not come yet. There is HOPE.

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The Blessed and only Ruler is in control; He is sovereign and His plan will be revealed in His time.

“…which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,” 1 Timothy 6:15

This is another verse caught in midair, leaving us with the question of what this “which” is referring to…well back up in the Word and you will see in verse 14 that this refers to “the appearing of our LORD Jesus Christ.” V. 14b.  God, the Blessed and only Ruler will bring about the return of Jesus in His own time.

Friends – this life is not it; there is more. The full revelation has not come yet.  There is HOPE.

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And this is the HOPE that trumps ISIS!

There is no justification for evil ever – in any degree or form.  Yet the truth is, this life we currently live in is guaranteed to be full of evil; we cannot physically escape that.  WHY, is always the question. Why does God allow these horrors to begin with! Where is He?

Be forewarned: dwelling on the WHY question can paralyze a person in anger, fear, sadness, and defeat.

 Here, ISIS wins, temporarily.

However, we can spiritually escape the horrors by believing the Words of scripture and having a right understanding of who God is.

He is alive: “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is,”…

He is El Shaddai:  the one who blesses and helps; the Almighty.

He is complete and His plan is unfolding: “…which God will bring about in his own time…”

He is the ONE over all – sovereign: “God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,”

In knowing this about God, we can have HOPE.

Here ISIS loses.

HOPE trumps ISIS;

HOPE trumps all the evil in this life.

The very essence and substance of the Almighty, the Alpha & Omega, and the blessed and only Ruler is HOPE.

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Friends, dwell on Jesus and join me in prayer and in praise to Jesus, our LORD and Savior!

Victory, with the capital “V” belongs to Jesus!

 “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57

Not Even One Christmas Card

It’s funny

and I little bit creepy, when, out of now where, I can hear Diana Ross singing in my head:

“Do You Know

Where you’re going to?

Do you like the things?

That life is showing you

Where are you going to?

Do you know?”

(Diana Ross – 1975)

Normally, I do not ever think about Diana Ross, yet as I sat down to write this New Year letter and pondered what I might say, this song played strong in my mind – a throw-back to radio pop music when I was just thirteen.  Thirty-eight years later, this portion of her melody resonates in my mind; Scary what the mind retains!

I must also confess that this is probably the first year of my life that I could not muster up the usual Christmas spirit.  Almost none of the usual build-up-to-the-season by way of children-pleasing traditions were played out – partially due to the fact that most my children are not young anymore and not around to embark on the usual preparations – and partially due to the fact that my home had been in such a turmoil of disruption for the previous 5 months that climaxed with a great flurry of workers as last minute details fell into place just thirteen days before the time of celebration: Christmas.

Nonetheless, the tree was put up, decorations set out, gifts shopped for, and food preparation done. We ate, we gave and received gifts, we delighted in the visual pretties.  I admit though, not even one Christmas card was sent by me.

Feeling a bit like George Bailey, I sat alone and watched, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” this past Saturday night. Part of my pondering included a slump.

Five days later, everything is put away except the manger scene figures that sit on my kitchen window sill.  Life is a whirlwind here at my house.

All I wanted for Christmas was Peace. My kids asked me, and so that is what I posted on my refrigerator on a sticky note: “I want Peace for Christmas – Mom.”

My son, Samuel, in all his charm and wit gave me a pillow with the letters  P-E-A-C-E  stitched across it.  So, in a sense, I got what asked for.

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Coincidentally or divinely arranged, our pastor preached on peace this Christmas Eve; fitting, as it was what I had been pondering all the season since Thanksgiving.  Peace.  Not the kind of peace in the quiet moment.  Not the kind of peace that comes with calm scenery or well loved music.  I am talking about the peace that fills the soul with total satisfaction and a knowing that all is well.

I believe in my heart there is no peace found on this earth….and there never will be.

You see,  no “things” or people bring me peace.

Truly, I say to you my dear friends and family, peace only comes when we abide in Him and with Him.

Loving Jesus brings me peace.  And it seems only when I keep my focus on Him, do I have peace in my heart.

And still, Diana Ross’ lyrics repeat in my mind.

Do I know where I am going to?

Do I like the things that life is showing me?

Where am I going to?

These are all great questions to ponder as a New Year approaches.

Put another way, I might re-word the inquisitions:

What are my goals?

What is life showing me?

Where am I headed?

There will be no New Year resolutions for me tomorrow evening; no temporary intentions to fix myself.   But I will be pondering and striving with resolves all the year through; decisions and answers to hold close.

Resolve #1:

My goals are to serve my King – the One who was born in the stable and laid in the manger.

Resolve #2:

Life is showing me that there is no peace or comfort found in it.  Only struggles and challenges and hard things that need seeing and hard things that need doing.   Life also shows me that with a right set of eyes, there is beauty and joy in the seeing and doing.

Resolve #3:

I am headed toward a Kingdom – where the whole of my salvation sits at the right hand of His father.

Herein lays my Christmas spirit.

It is an ongoing everyday way of being. I just may keep those manger scene figures out on my new window sill all year long…

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It is my prayer that each one of you may be able to answer those impertinent yet important questions that Ms. Ross sang so many years ago: what are your goals, what is life showing you, where are you headed?  I hope you can answer in a way that brings you true peace this New Year of 2015.

I hope you each had a merry Christmas with your loved ones, as I did.   ‘Tis the season for remembering what is important – family and special people are near the top of my list.  At the very top, is the One most important.

Do you know Him?

 

It is HE

His muscles rippled with brute strength and sturdy beauty.

Not an ounce of fat to be had; Shoulders broad, his arms outstretched in arc form to both bear and carry the entire sphere!

It is he – Atlas.

The Greek,Titan god of endurance, astronomy, and bearer of the heavens, carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.  According to Greek Myth, Atlas kept it all going.  The Greeks had it kind of right, but mostly wrong.

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This is the finite and puny image I conjure up in my mind when I try to fathom what is meant by “and the government shall be upon his shoulders.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Truth be told,

it is HE,

GOD,

Maker of the heavens and the sphere (earth) who keeps it all going.

Jesus keeps the universe in motion. It is HE who has authority; all authority is His.  King of kings and LORD of lords.  So hard to imagine with our foggy sight.

The baby born….the son given…to us, also was given ownership of all authority – was, and IS today…and will be forevermore.

“…and the government will be on his shoulders.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Imagine this on your birth announcement! No wonder Mary pondered…

This is a fearful place, this earth.  Many fear where this world is headed as news reports drone on about the “governments” all over the world that are failing, struggling, and warring.

And yet, God is in control.  

Jesus has been raised up far above all – everything!

“…far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.  And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything….” (Ephesians 1:21& 22a)

“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)

It is not Atlas. Or any other fanciful myth or imaginings.

In the dark, dank stable, lying in a feed trough, a baby born,…a son given” (Isaiah 9:6) — it was HE, Jesus who was bestowed with the government upon His shoulders.  Power and authority is His, even now.  We need not fret or be filled with worry-ful concern for this earthly sphere.

It is HE!

This baby King holds it all together!

Imagine — all this wrapped up in the Gift!

Look not and see a helpless babe this Christmas, but look and see the King of kings holding all authority in heaven and on earth and claim Him as your own.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83huFAMOte0  (turn up the sound & view this)

Come and worship Christ the newborn King!

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more tomorrow….