Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Angels from Heaven - I Want that Job!

Tonight my mind is dwelling on the angels that took part in the Christmas story. Here, read so we are on the same page:

Luke 2:8
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.10 And the angel said to them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!

Tonight I am pondering what it must have been like to be in the angel detail that was assigned to sing for the shepherds. It was the first big announcement of the Messiah's birth - that's pretty big! I don't think any birth announcement has compared since that time. I am sure the angels thought their announcement a lot more fitting than God's choice of birth places for His Son.

So it says that a multitude of angels appeared to the shepherds. I'm not sure what a multitude is in bible terms, but I know it was a lot. No wonder the poor shepherd's were afraid! But what a choir! I don't think you could put a price tag on that front row seat.

Then it dawned on me, the angels were doing what they always did, what they were made to do. They were worshiping the Lord. Sounds familiar, since that is what we were made to do as well. And when I really think about it, I want to worship just like they did, proclaiming God's glory to all who would hear, no matter the number.

I get to join them some day, as will those who know Jesus. What a day that will be, when we step into an eternity of nothing but worship. Makes me a little giddy just thinking about it. But until that day, I choose to worship every day, with all that I am. Join me, won't you?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Health Challenge Update #2

10 days out from Christmas and I thought it was about time to update again on my Holiday Health Challenge. I must say that doing this challenge is not having the out come I expected, so here goes...

On the spiritual front, I find myself NOT hating Christmas this year. YEA! I actually caught myself thinking about all the wonderful things I can get on the 26th to decorate for next year, after it all goes on 75% off! My Christmas decor leaves MUCH to be desired. It is about as old as my oldest child and not at all reflective of who I am any more. I did manage to freshen up the look of the front door yesterday evening with a 50% off purchase at Hobby Lobby. Unfortunately, not before one of my decorating muses dropped by unexpectedly to drop off some Christmas goodies. I just now thought of how embarrassed I am the she saw that nasty old wreath on my front door! YUCK!
True to the challenge, I have been immersing myself in the various aspects of the Christmas story and I really think that has been the key. Remembering the "why" that causes me to do the "what". So, Yea! for that.

Relational is a little bit more tricky. We have managed to have one real live grown up date in the last 2 weeks, which is really good. But date days have gone all to - you know where. It seems the last 2 Tuesdays have been filled with things that take us in opposite directions. I guess there is always next week to look forward to. Christmas Shopping! (no i am not done. ugh!)
On the bright side, I will get to spend some quality time with my oldest, Lauren, as I play nurse after her knee surgery. Working from home is the best!

Health... well - I think is going OK, although I have not been walking like I would like to do. It has been cold and other things seem to have crept up the priority list. (Sorry Holly!) I am hoping, however, that Friday can return to a more normal schedule now that festival is done and surgery will be past. I am happy that I have not managed to gain any "holiday weight" thus far. I am actually down a couple of pounds. Not the 5 I was hoping for, but the season is not over yet. I feel like I have been drinking more water (probably due to having it around during festival for everyone else) so that is another plus. It's not that I don't like water, I just forget to drink it unless it is in front of me.
I will admit to drinking entirely to much DP (yes, there is such a thing as to much) last week, but that and coffee are about the only things that gave me the energy to stay awake all week.

So, all in all - I think it is going well. If you have taken the challenge - how are you doing? post you blog or update link in the comments section so I can see your progress and cheer you on!

10 days to Christmas. YEA!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Power Trip

So today, in my reading, I read about the Wise Men and King Herod. Both examples of men with power but such different ways that power is used.

They say (not sure who "they" is) that knowledge is power, so using that as a premise - I would venture to say that the wise men were probably men in their own right. They obviously had money to give Jesus the extravagant gifts that they brought. They were also well known or esteemed enough that a king would listen to them when they came into his country speaking of the messiah. They also showed that they were constantly listening and watching for words from the Lord. It seems the start they were following at first took a little sabbatical from the sky and them reappeared just when they needed it. Also they were obedient to the dreams that God sent to them when telling them not to return to Herod.

King Herod, probably one of the most powerful people of his time - at least in his kingdom. People feared him and for good reason. He was known for his cruelty. When he was threatened - he just removed the problem, just like he tried to do with Jesus, killing lots of innocent children in the process. NO regard for the hurt it caused others, just get what he wanted at any cost.

Since my brain is not on "fully functional mode" after the Christmas Festival this past week, I may not be looking at this clearly, but when I asked God what he wanted to teach me out of this passage in Matthew 2, I felt like the question in my life that I have to answer is "Whose example of power am I gong to follow with the power the I have been given in my life?" Am I going to be generous and constantly listening for God's direction, or am I going to preserve my "right" to power at all cost, doing detriment to people along the way?

Lord, help me to always listen to you and remember that any position you have given is yours and I should hold it very loosely in my hands!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas - A Season of Giving!

Whose idea was that anyway? To give at Christmas... Well, someone would not have to look very far to find that answer, unfortunately I think most people stop looking and settle at the surface level answers of "because we always have" or "that's just what we do at Christmas." For most in America, Christmas giving has become synonymous with over-spending to over-indulge our selfishness (myself and family included), thought not really being willing to "call the spade the spade."

This year, I seem to have had a bit of a attitude change in this area. With my new found resolution to be in the TRUE Christmas story on a regular basis, I was reminded once again that the original Christmas giving was anything but what we have made it today. Let's work backwards in the story -

The wise men, gave their time and money to obey God and follow that star to the Christ child. They gave their status with King Herod when they chose not to return to him and tell him where Jesus was. One could also surmise that there were some people who thought they were a bit nuts to make a long trip following nothing but a star to find a King. For a "wise man" that was probably giving a little of their pride to follow through with this excursion.

The shepherds, some of my favorite characters because of their zeal in finding the baby, gave their time as well as possibly taking a chance on giving up their income by leaving their sheep to go see this new born baby-king. What would their employer have thought if they found out they left their post? And once again, I think we see the thread of giving up pride emerge, as they ran excitedly and told everyone they met about the baby Jesus. If I were someone on the street hearing their story of Angelic beings serenading and a baby in a manger bed being the messiah - I just might question their sanity.

Jospeh and Mary, where to start with how much they both gave for this first Christmas to happen!?! Thinking about the task that they gladly undertook, not only to fall in line with God's very different plans for their courtship and marriage, but to take on being the parents of God incarnate - now that just about blows my mind! Basicially they gave everything they had to God when they said "yes."

But all of this human giving pales in comparison to what Jesus gave when He left heaven and glory to enter this world of desolate humanity to give all of Himself for us. Talk about something that is mind blowing! When I dwell on how much He gave for little ole selfish, imperfect, can't get it right most of the time, me - I am overwhelmed. I realize afresh how much I not only owe Him, but how much I desire to give everything I have freely to Him. My time, my money, my pride, my life!

As I ask Him to show me today which areas in my life I am not giving to Him fully, I challenge you to do the same. Just as it was not an easy task for the Christmas story characters to give of themselves, it will not be easy to give what He reveals when I ask this question and take time to really hear the answer, but I am willing! Are you? Just think how different the world be if we all gave every part of ourselves FULLY to Him. I pray that you give well and fully this Christmas season. I bet you'll be glad you did!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Update #1 on the Holiday Challenge

Blog post #2 for the day - a true record. Just a quick update on my goals for the Holiday Health Challenge. See previous posts for more on this...

Physical: I only managed to walk 1x this week, but seemed to have dropped about 2 pounds. Yipee!! 3 more to go by New Years.
Spiritual: Have been in the word every day this week and blogged almost every day about what God has been speaking to me. Really cool!
Relational: Christmas decorations around the house are almost completely up (including the outside - which I only do for my kids!) AND... wait for it... I am going on a date with my husband tonight. YEA! I honestly don't think we have spoken 20 word in the last 2 days because we have been like 2 ships passing in the night (quite literally). I truly am lookin forward to some quality time tonight.

So, I think this has been a pretty productive first week. Next week may not look quite as good due to Christmas Festival - but I will strive to stay the course!

How you doin, if you are taking the challenge? Comment and let me know.

Just a Normal Teenage Girl

This Sunday at church we are going to hear the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus. As I sat at rehearsal last night, hearing the drama that will be presented - it struck me a fresh what an amazing story this is.

Just a normal girl, probably about 14 years old give or take a couple years, going about her normal everyday business and then her life changes - BAM! Hey Mary, guess what? You have been chosen to give birth to God! OMW!! I can not really even wrap my head around that. I am trying so hard to get my head around what she must have been feeling. Disbelief, confusion, fear, honor, worship... probably to many emotions to count all at once. Then after the angel leaves, she is left to process them all one by one. How did she tell her family? Her fiance? What would they think? Had she lost her mind? What a conversation those must have been!

At some point, I am sure it settled in that this was real and was happening to her. Resolution took over and the 9 months past. She gave birth in what I guess today would be the equivalent of a barn. Man! I wonder if she ever asked God why He couldn't have given her a better place to give birth to His son? A humble birth place for a humble girl and a God who struggles every day to find a place to stay in our lives.

Then, if all that is not enough, I come at it from the perspective of a mother. How the heck do you "mother" God? I mean really? He created her and she gave birth to him? Nursed him? Dried his tears? Saw him smile his first smile? Take his first step? Skin his knee? Grow up? Knowing all the time that He was no ordinary child. He was the Savior of the world!

I am in awe!

So, I ask myself once again what has God asked me to do for Him. Certainly not anything of quite this magnitude in my eyes, but what about in God's eyes? Has He asked me to do something that will have lasting effects on this world that I may not ever see, but that if I don't obey will have detrimental effects on something or someone somewhere?
- Giving my money that enables His ministry to move forward?
- Going on a mission trip to tell someone about him that may have never heard?
- Being a light that shines right here where I am at to someone that is in darkness?
- Singing my heart out for all to hear my passion for him and praying it is contagious?

Lord show me today what you have called me to and give me the strength to obey. Fully! I am your servant. Give me your eyes to see the world. Use me up for you glory!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Powerful Dreams

Today, in the quest for keeping Christ in Christmas, I read in Matthew about the birth of Jesus. Here is where Joseph and the Wise Men enter the story in detail. Read - Enjoy...

Matthew 1:18
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).
24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Matthew 2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem,2 saying, Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him;4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.5 They told him, In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.
14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, Out of Egypt I called my son.

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.
17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
20 saying, Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee.23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled: He shall be called a Nazarene.

As I was reading this, I was struck by the fact that although it appears from previous reading that the Angel of the Lord appeared to Mary and the Shepherds while they were awake, He chose to reveal Himself to Joseph and the Wise Men in a dream. Why the difference? I don't know!! But it makes me wonder if it wasn't to show us that God speaks to us all in very different ways, none more valid than another.

What made these men pay attention to these dreams and not just chalk them up to a bad pizza before bed? It is not clear in scripture, but I wonder what would have happened if they had not paid attention to these messages from heaven.

I can't say that I have had God speak to me in a dream (can't say that I haven't either) that I can remember, but I do know that I have heard the voice of the Lord in many different ways in my life. How many times have I second guessed what I thought I was hearing from Him? Passed it off as "to weird", "it must be my flesh talkin", or "bad pizza"...

So, once again, how about you? Have you heard Him speak to you? Did you hold on to those words and obey or did you write it off? I pray the Lord NEVER stops to speaking to me, to us, and I that my relationship with Him is strong enough that I will recognize Him when he does. I should be able to tell the difference between a message form God and bad pizza for Pete's sake!

Keep listening. I know I am!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Angels and Shepherds - an Odd Pairing

OK, so today's reading brought me to Luke 2. Probably one of the best known Christmas story passages. One of the things that struck me while reading it again with fresh eyes was the part about the angels and the shepherds. Here, take a minute to read it:

"8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.10 And the angel said to them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them."

So, you're sitting around the camp fire with the other shepherds, havin' dinner and relaxing after a long day of tending to the sheep and all of a sudden this (what I presume to be) huge and menacing angel appears in the sky above you. And to add to the spectacle, "the Glory of the Lord" was there to. Now, I'm not to sure what that means exactly, but if it is the "glory of the Lord" I am thinking about, it is probably the same one that made Moses glow when he saw it - or at least something similar. It's no wonder that the next line was written: " and they were filled with fear."

I think we have become desensitized to the pictures of angels we see in children's books or on our Christmas cards to think they are these beautiful women in flowy gowns with amazing wings and never a bad hair day. On the contrary, they are men and while they still probably never have a bad hair day, every time I remember reading about them it talks about the people being afraid. I imagine they are very are amazing but daunting creature that would set the manliest of men back a few feet. Got the picture in your head?

The scene continues and after the shepherd's have calmed down a bit and can focus enough to listen, the angel brings his message about the birth of Jesus. If all that was not enough to let them know this was no ordinary child, God ups the ante by sending a angel choir to serenade them for a little bit. Talk about an experience. WOW!

So, I am am reading this and I asked myself "why did God choose that particular group to give the news to first?" I think the answer is in the next part of the passage. It says that when the angels left, they discussed it for a few minutes and decided to take a little road trip to see the baby. Now this was not like waiting a couple days after the birth to let the mother recover and bond with her child and then visiting. It says they "made haste", booked it over to the stable to see this awesome baby. Then, they told everyone they came in contact with after that about their experience. Bottom line, I think God chose them because he knew he could count on them to spread the word about His son.

It makes me wonder how many awesome experiences I miss because God knows that I will keep it to myself and not spread the word to everyone I come in contact with or because He knows I will be to busy to notice.

I am quite positive that I would fall into the category of so many before me and be scared out of my wits if a choir of angels decided to give me a private concert. But I'll happily deal with the dear, if it means I shine so much from being in the presence of His glory that I can't keep my mouth shut about it!

Lord, open my eyes to extraordinary experiences from you. Help me to be found faithful enough that you don't pass me by because you know I will keep it to myself. Make me shine so everyone I come in contact with knows I have seen You!