Tag Archives: Jesus

Christmas Craze and Holiday Haze: Part 4


Silent night, holy night; All is calm, all is bright…

Except the first Christmas wasn’t calm at all. Nothing about child birth is calm. It is loud and violent and like the rest of us, Jesus was thrown into this world and likely immediately screamed his lungs out. Entering this world is shocking for every human being. How much so for the King of kings, Lord of lords, and creator of it!? And Mary did not have an epidural. Jesus did not have nurses tending to him or to Mary. There was no sanitary hospital bed or hospital food delivered when Mary and Joseph got hungry. The birth was real. It happened as it was foretold.

Silent night, holy night; Son of God, love’s pure light; Radiant beams from thy holy face; With the dawn of redeeming grace; Jesus Lord at thy birth.

Jesus, God’s own son, entered this world in a very real, violent manner and was going to leave this earth in a very real, very violent manner. You can’t have Christmas without the cross. You can’t have the cross without Christmas. Immanuel. God with us. God has come to save us. He entered this world like a common man. He would die like a common criminal. But his birth, life, death, and resurrection would bring redemptive grace for all humankind. Christmas truly brought the dawn of redeeming grace!

Glories stream from heaven afar; Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia; Christ the Savior is born! Christ the Savior is Born!

May we all remember why we pause and celebrate this day. It’s Jesus. It has always been about Jesus. The reality of his immeasurable, unimaginable love for us demonstrated most clearly not only in his death on a cross, but in his birth in a stable. The light of the world has come. Now we are called to carry that light with us into a dark world. And because of Jesus, no darkness can ever overcome the hope and peace we have in Him.

Merry Christmas from MND GMZ Ministries!


Christmas Craze and Holiday Haze: Part 3

I’m a gift giver. I love thinking about and then discovering the perfect gift for my friends and family. Nothing about it stresses me out. It’s like a great mystery to solve followed by a treasure hunt. I feel a little like Indiana Jones searching for the Holy Grail whenever I’m hunting down a gift. Nothing beats the look of surprise and appreciation when a loved one opens a gift that’s “just right”.


Now, gift giving may excite me but I know many who just plain dread it. For many it is their absolutely least favorite part of the Christmas season and it is the greatest source of stress. And I get it…the crowded stores, the money, the wrapping paper, the unrealistic requests from small children…I get it. Yes, Christmas has become much too materialistic and too commercialized. And yet, there is a reason we give gifts.


A gift says, “I love you. I think of you. I know you. I pay attention to you.” And those sentiments have the power to warm hearts and heal hurts and strengthen relationships. A great gift is the result of truly knowing the gift receiver and everyone longs to be known. The best gift doesn’t cost the most money, but it does cost something – maybe money, maybe thought, maybe time. The best gifts isn’t wrapped with the prettiest paper or bows, but is wrapped in excitement. The best gift isn’t the flashiest gadget or trendiest toy on the market, but is the most thoughtful and most meaningful to the receiver.


Jesus himself was the greatest gift the world has ever received. As audacious as Christianity’s claim of the resurrection may seem, it is NOTHING in comparison to the incarnation, Immanuel, God with us. Stop and think about what that TRULY means! Love so great as to become like us in order to relate to us. Incredible! And the wise men recognized the miraculous nature of the moment and so they came and they came bearing gifts.


The wise men’s gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were quite possibly the most meaningful gifts they could have selected. These valuable items were standard gifts for a king. Gold is a precious metal, frankincense a perfume, and myrrh an anointing oil. The magi’s visit and the gifts they would bring were foretold by Isaiah and may have an even deeper meaning than just pointing to Jesus’ identity as king. They also pointed to his role as priest and to his impending death on a cross.


As I write, my family is doing our traditional Christmas Eve routine – eating and watching football! Mom is at Walmart because something was forgotten (nothing we couldn’t have gone without but it just wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without an unnecessary trip to Walmart with the masses). Tonight we’ll go to church, enjoy an amazing meal, and then open presents. And even now, as adults, we can’t stop talking about how we can’t wait for one another to open the carefully selected gifts later tonight. And there are certainly plenty of them to open! (I considered taking a picture of our tree but the number of packages is simply embarrassing.) We simply love to give gifts to one another! It isn’t anything other than a tangible expression of how much we love one another.

So my question is simple…like the wise men, what gifts are we bringing Jesus this Christmas? Yes, Jesus wants your heart, but what else might he be asking you to give this year? Yes, it might cost you – you might have to spend time or thought or even money. But like any other gift we give, the cost is always overshadowed by the joy on the receiver’s face. And when we give Jesus what he wants – what he has been asking us for – the joy is priceless, the cost negligible.

So this Christmas I hope you receive all you asked for but find even more joy in the giving. My prayer is you receive the gifts God has for you. And my challenge is that you take the time to ponder what Jesus wants to receive from you. Merry Christmas!

Crashing into Christmas


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.