Friday, December 25, 2009
Merry Christmas. God has richly blessed us, and I pray for His love to fill you as you continue to seek His face. Thank you, Jesus, for Your life, death, and resurrection. Come, Lord Jesus, into our lives. May Your Kingdom be established on earth, and in all things Your will be done.
by: Christina Rossetti (1872)
In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.
What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
A BETTER RESURRECTION
by: Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
- HAVE no wit, no words, no tears;
- My heart within me like a stone
- Is numb'd too much for hopes or fears;
- Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
- I lift mine eyes, but dimm'd with grief
- No everlasting hills I see;
- My life is in the falling leaf:
- O Jesus, quicken me.
- My life is like a faded leaf,
- My harvest dwindled to a husk:
- Truly my life is void and brief
- And tedious in the barren dusk;
- My life is like a frozen thing,
- No bud nor greenness can I see:
- Yet rise it shall--the sap of Spring;
- O Jesus, rise in me.
- My life is like a broken bowl,
- A broken bowl that cannot hold
- One drop of water for my soul
- Or cordial in the searching cold;
- Cast in the fire the perish'd thing;
- Melt and remould it, till it be
- A royal cup for Him, my King:
- O Jesus, drink of me.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
There is a funny little bird that comes around outside my bedroom window. I frequently see him, digging in the dirt, stamping around and pecking at the ground, throwing up the soil and doing funny little birdy things. I enjoy watching him, because he seems to know exactly what he is doing, and is completely unconcerned about what is happening around him. The resident scrub jay chases him off on a regular basis (because, after all, the jay owns the yard), but he only stays gone for a little while, and usually comes back within the hour. I see him at all times of day, in all kinds of weather (he particularly likes the rain). Sometimes he brings a friend with him, but most of the time he is all by himself, digging and stamping and being funny.
I am pretty sure that he does not pray, but his actions of being his little birdy self are like prayer to me. When I watch him, I am certain of the things I cannot see; I am certain that I know his Creator. I'm not much of a worrier. That's not to say that I never worry, I just don't worry a lot. But this little bird doesn't worry at all -- he just does his thing. He is beautiful and plump, with everything he needs because the Father sees to his needs.
I want my daily actions to be prayers to other people. I want to be beautiful because the Father clothes me. As a daughter of the King, my needs are beautifully and bountifully met. I must remember.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.
Solitude -- what a treasure. I frequently seek solitude, and as a wife and mother of three I struggle to obtain it. If I get up early, I am questioned, and joined. If I stay up late, I am questioned, and joined. Solitude and isolation makes others uncomfortable.
“Everyone is looking for you.”
It irritates me when I hear that, as if I am not where I am supposed to be. In my world, someone is frequently looking for me I never seem to be in the place where I am being sought. The one place that I know I should be, that I am safe, is before the Father, in solitude. Everything else is a toss-up.
And yet solitude is encumbered. It is not understood -- it is considered weird and unhealthy. In the church assembly, we are frequently reminded that we live in community. And we do live in community, but even in community we need some time alone. Sometimes solitude is what is most needed. Yet when we seek it we are ridiculed, because it is somehow threatening. I think it is most threatening to the enemy, because he knows what we will find there.
I have seen the Father in the sanctuary, but I have walked with Him and heard His voice in solitude. I have gazed upon Him in the worship assembly, but I have touched and talked with, and been held by Him in private. He knows me best in solitude, because that is where I am safest. I know Him best when I seek Him in solitude, because that is where I am safest.
Monday, November 30, 2009
And still, I find myself unprepared. Perhaps it is the desert through which I have wandered that has dulled my sight, making me not trust the visions before me, as if the coming of Advent has been a mirage. And yet here we are, in the first week of Advent, and I wonder how it came upon me.
Advent is not usually observed in my faith tradition, and most of my friends look at me blankly when I speak of it. I have found in my own journey, however, that observing the Christian calendar grounds me, and gives me a wider perspective; it is as if somehow my peripheral vision is clearer when I can live for a faith-purpose, rather than just stumbling blindly through daily existence. So the coming of Advent is for me the beginning of a new year -- a renewal of waiting for that for which I long the most. It is a reminder of who I am, and to Whom I belong. Tonight, as I lit my first Advent candle a day late, I nearly wept -- I had almost lost my sight.
I long for His return. I feel like I have suffered from over-exposure; I am battered, my vision is no longer clear, and I have struggled to trust and hold on to the promises I cannot often see. Yet I suppose this is what waiting and faith are truly about: hanging on. The mirage I saw in the desert was reality and I can begin again, for I know Whose I am:
Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—
yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
He will delight in obeying the Lord.
He will not judge by appearance
nor make a decision based on hearsay.
He will give justice to the poor
and make fair decisions for the exploited.
The earth will shake at the force of his word,
and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.
He will wear righteousness like a belt
and truth like an undergarment.
So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.
For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.
When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.
Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.
The good news: He is coming back. HE IS COMING BACK, and Christmas will remind us. The story of redemption is true. We must remember, and remind ourselves of our inheritance. We are not stuck in hell; rather, we are the Kingdom.
See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.
~1 John 3:1-2
Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
~1 Corinthians 13:12
Come, Lord Jesus!
May the peace of Christ be with you, as we await His glorious return. May He come quickly.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.