Tag Archives: Christmas

Crashing into Christmas

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If you are anything like me, you feel like you are running on nothing but fumes this time of year. I am sputtering and coasting and just hoping to make it to Christmas when I can crash in a heap of exhaustion from the days and weeks now behind me but still very much weighing me down. It’s the cumulative effect of days and weeks (and frankly months) of busyness – of ignoring the rhythm of rest my mind, body, and spirit require. It’s the impact of countless tragedies, magnified and intensified by the fact they occurred before Christmas. And so I limp through December, slowly and steadily (and crankily) moving towards Christmas. And then I crash. And I’m guessing I’m not alone…

But in the midst of it all remains the reason for this special time of year – Jesus. And I’m thankful that although each year I do a poor job of slowing down to connect with and honor him, he never fails to reveal himself to me. It seems that each year he shows up in a special and unique way and often through song. I’d been waiting to discover which song would strike me this season – which song would I suddenly find myself playing on repeat as I sing at the top of my lungs. (Music plus Jesus tend to have that affect on me.) And then it happened…driving to a family Christmas last Sunday morning “Light of the Stable” by Selah came on my radio and suddenly there was a catch in my throat and tears in my eyes.

Hail, hail to the newborn King
Let our voices sing Him our praises
Hail, hail to the guiding Light
That brought us tonight to our Savior

I almost pulled over. In all the busyness. In all my stress. In all of my sadness for those who are scared or suffering because of a recent loss or life change, there’s Jesus. There’s a Savior. There’s God with skin on. Straight from heaven to a lowly stable. “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given.” (Isaiah 9:6) And my voice raises in praise to Him. Hail Hail to the Newborn King!

Come now, let it shine so bright
To the knowing Light of the stable
Kneel close to the Child so dear
Cast aside your fear and be thankful

And I am deeply thankful. God took on flesh and dwelt among us. I could not comprehend his divinity, but He knew I could understand his humanity. So he drew close. “Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation…God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things. (Colossians 1:15, 19-20)” Jesus enters the sad and scary places in our lives and brings peace and comfort. God crashes into creation. And yes, I’m thankful and hit my knees (Figuratively speaking, I am still driving after all).

Halle, hallelujah
Halle, hallelujah
Halle, hallelujah
Halle, hallelujah

So as I headed home for a much needed break from the busyness with time to finally focus on the meaning of Christmas, I knew that first I would run out of the fumes that had been precariously sustaining the frantic pace I’d been keeping, and I’d crash. Despite the mud and muck happening in my own life and the lives of many of those around me so poetically reflected in the drab, rainy weather outside, it was time to pause and praise Jesus Messiah. The ultimate Christmas miracle – our Savior born in a stable. And then I drove into my hometown and witnessed a much smaller miracle, but a miracle nonetheless…a thin white layer of snow covered the ground. Somehow the world seemed right again – brighter and more peaceful. Reverently ready to receive a Savior. And so as I pulled into my parents’ home, I crashed from exhaustion and from gratefulness. I crashed. I crashed into my Savior’s arms – sin forgiven. I crashed into Jesus – relationship restored. I crashed into Christmas. Peace on the earth. Good will towards men. Hope is here. Hallelujah.

Merry Christmas.

The Great Invasion of Christmas

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The New Year is upon us and frankly, I’m not ready for it! I’m still celebrating Christmas. After four weeks of Advent – the preparing, the waiting, the anticipating (the rushing, the scrambling, the busyness), Christmas comes and seems to go in the blink of an eye. And I’m never quite ready to move on.

The good news is that I don’t have to. As cliché as it may sound, Christmas really does last all year. The simplicity of a baby’s birth shook the earth and changed the course of history. Peace on Earth and good will to men. Immanuel. God is with us! God has come to save us! However, not all were comforted by this great news. My pastor stated that the peaceful manger scene actually represents a holy invasion and the heavenly battle intensified that night.

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Every year there seems to be one particular Christmas song that touches my heart causing emotions to swell and tears to flow. Each year a different song rises to the occasion and this year, “Glory in the Highest” by Chris Tomlin was the winner. I believe the reason this song found itself on repeat in my car is because it speaks to the earth shattering nature of Christmas. Despite its beautiful melody, there is great power behind the lyrics.

Apart from You there is no God, Light of the world, the bright and morning star. Your name will shine for all to see. You are the one, You are my glory.

And no one else could ever compare to You, Lord. All the earth together declares Glory in the Highest!

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The miracle of Christmas is not just peace on earth, but that the battle has intensified. The King of King’s has invaded to reclaim the creation He loves so much. As the battle rages on, in the darkest of times, we live in the hope and the truth that the war has been won.

All the earth will sing Your praise, The moon and stars, the sun and rain, Every nation will proclaim, You are God and You will reign. Glory, glory, Hallelujah, Glory, glory to you, Lord!

What began in a manger and was finished on a cross, will come to fruition when Jesus returns not as a lowly baby, but as the victorious King of King’s. Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord! Oh what a glorious day that will be!

Ready or not, the new year is upon us. It’s a time to look back and give thanks for the year’s blessings (or to be grateful for simply making it through) and it’s a time to look forward to the possibilities of the year to come. So as we pack up the ornaments and put away the Nativity sets and bring out the party hats and watch the ball drop, let’s not put away Christmas. Yes the war is won, but the battle rages on. Instead of setting personal resolutions, how about  committing to a holy resolve… resolve to join the battle by being the light of Jesus Christ throughout this new year.

As I look back at the first year of MND GMZ Ministries, I am profoundly grateful. What warms my heart most is you – my readers, cheerleaders, and prayer warriors. And as I look forward to the beginning of year two, I have VERY exciting news to announce! I have been invited to be the next speaker for the Staley Distinguished Scholar Lecture Series at Central College. The what? This is a program by the Thomas F. Staley Foundation seeking to bring speakers to campuses that can clearly communicate with students on topics of an evangelical nature. So SAVE THE DATES!

“Wounded: Finding healing in the midst of emotional pain” Sunday, February 8, at 9:00 pm at The Chapel at Central College

“Becoming Beloved” Monday, February 9, TBD at Cox-Snow Music Center at Central College

Hope to see you there!

With Eager Expectation…

Remember the agonizing wait for Christmas morning as a small child? It was nearly unbearable! The presents sitting under the tree taunting you with their shiny wrapping and glittering bows. My sister and I would shake each gift in hopes of deciphering the contents inside. It never worked. Mom was too good at disguising each gift with packages of bolts and screws to throw us off the trail! Sometimes my sister and I were cute enough (or annoying enough) to convince my parents to let us open a present early. I’ll never forget unwrapping Pound Puppies on the 23rd. It was AWESOME! And yet, there was a let down as well as the rest of the presents still mocked us from under the tree.

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Advent is all about waiting. The fourth Sunday of Advent is upon us and frankly, I haven’t spent enough time waiting! Instead, my life becomes a crazy, busy, stressful mess each December and I’m just hoping and praying Christmas doesn’t come too quickly. I know I am not alone. December flies by and I crash into Christmas. I’ve lost the art of waiting. The Israelites were professionals when it came to waiting. They waited for the coming Messiah for hundreds of years. Not months, not years, not decades, but CENTURIES!

David cried out, “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope (Psalms 130:5).” While in captivity in Babylon, Isaiah proclaimed, “I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my trust in him (Isaiah 8:17).” Only a remnant believed, the rest had lost hope. In fact, for four hundred years, the remnant became so small that Scripture is silent. The hope for a coming Messiah was nearly lost, the waiting had become too much to bear. But even during this apparent hopelessness, the heavenly hosts held the hope for the world. Look at Romans 8:19-22, “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

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I imagine angels, cherubim and seraphim eagerly watching over the world like small children keep watch over the Christmas tree.

We too must regain the ability to wait with eager expectation. The kind of waiting that is narrowly unbearable. The kind of waiting that leads to only the greatest of joys and celebrations. Waiting is difficult, but the end result is incredible. One year I convinced my sister to tell me what was inside each of my gifts. It ruined Christmas. There was no surprise. No expectation. No eager anticipation. Christmas is just days away, so may we live out the desperate anticipation of the coming Messiah. May we learn to long for Emmanuel, God with us, like a small child longs to open their gifts on Christmas Day.

“Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:23-25)