Taking Baby Jesus Out of the Manger

standard December 2, 2015 5 responses

Christmastime is here! One by one the boxes come out of the attic and treasures from years past are rediscovered.  A handmade ornament here.  A special candy dish there.  A picture of your child screaming while sitting on Santa-from-the-Mall’s lap.  Oh, the memories.

One thing that our family likes to collect is nativities.  We have several from around the world: Peru, Israel, and I even brought back one from El Salvador this year.  We have full sets from Willow Tree and Fontanini.  We have big ones and small ones.  Like I said, it’s our thing.

As I carefully unwrapped one manger scene to display, I was thinking of the sweet baby Jesus asleep on the hay and what an amazing gift it is that heaven came down to create this scene.  Everything is so serene, so tender and mild.

But I wonder, how content are we to let Jesus stay in the manger?  

The beauty of the nativity is that Jesus was born to provide salvation for ALL PEOPLE.

Luke 1:77-79 states that Jesus came for this reason:

to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.

Jesus did so much more than just being born on that Holy Night.  He grew up and He provided the world with what they so desperately needed…salvation and the forgiveness of their sins.  He came to provide LIGHT and PEACE.

In light of all this revelation, I decided to give myself a little Christmas Challenge.  I started with reading the Christmas story in Luke, but instead of leaving Baby Jesus in the manger, I will continue reading one chapter per day.  By Christmas Morning, Jesus will have died for my sins, been resurrected from the grave, and ascended into heaven. How sweet is that?!  I would love for you to join me in this challenge too!

This Christmas let’s take Baby Jesus out of the manger and make Him Lord of our life.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.

Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And take us to heaven, to live with Thee there.

The Quest for Perfect Peace

standard October 28, 2015 1 response

What is your number one desire?  Is it healing, security, a husband, a baby, or maybe forgiveness for another? Do you wish that you had a peace concerning that desire?  Do you believe that a quietness in your spirit would make all the difference in the world?

Or are you in the middle of a raging storm and you are frantically looking for Jesus to quiet the wind and the waves by simply uttering the words, “Peace! Be still!”?  Maybe you are suffering from the loss of a loved one, a broken marriage, a wayward child, or perhaps bankruptcy. You have seen how others seem to have a peace in the middle of their storm and you want to know how to have it too.

I recently had the privilege of serving at a women’s retreat where I encountered many beautiful women who are actively seeking the Lord.  As I got to know these ladies, the overarching theme of the weekend seemed to be a quest for peace…a desire for peace in the broken areas of our lives and a realization of how peace was granted in others.

This reminded me of one of my most favorite Scriptures of all time found in Isaiah 26:3. It says,

“You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.”

The phrase “perfect peace” is actually shalom shalom in Hebrew, the same word repeated twice resulting in a beautiful picture of peace repeating itself.  Strong’s Concordance defines it as a “completeness” or “soundness.”

Wouldn’t you love to have a sense of completeness or soundness of mind for whatever desire or situation you are facing today?  Yes, of course every woman would like to have this kind of peace in her spirit, but how?

Isaiah says this perfect, complete peace is given to those who have their minds stayed on God, meaning that our mind is “supported, unflinching, or firm.”  A mind filled with the “soundness”of peace.  Still, how can this be achieved?  The answer is found in the next line: TRUST.

Funny how it all comes back to trust.  Trusting Him with our fears and failures, to pick us up when we fall down.  Trusting Him with our hopes and futures, to fulfill the work that He has started in us. Trusting Him with our marriage, our kids, our finances, our healing, or any other pressing need we have.  Trust.

You see, our trusting, believing heart allows our minds to stay firm on God and the result is a perfect, complete, repeating over and over again peace.  It all goes hand in hand.  So why not reach up your hand today to be held in His?  He is waiting with open arms for you to trust in Him.

O Lord, how I want this sense of completeness and soundness in my own life.  I want to be a woman who radiates peace in the midst of a storm. Please give me Your perfect peace because my mind is steadfast and I trust in You.  Amen.

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Now it’s your turn!  What is your favorite verse on peace?

(Today’s post was powered with Logos.)

America the Broken

standard April 28, 2015 1 response

I live in a bubble. Not a perfect bubble, but it is pretty insulated. But no bubble exists today for the city of Baltimore, as it has been burst wide open. Monday’s riots were described as “crazy,” “chaotic,” and “surreal.” Protesters were outraged over the death of Freddie Gray and what they perceive to be undue racial profiling. Their grief is real and it is raw.

Protesters took to the streets chanting, “No Justice, No Peace!” Fires were set to businesses, rocks were hurled at police, and looting was rampant. The governor was forced to call a state of emergency for the city. Schools were cancelled, a curfew was set in place, and the National Guard was brought in to enforce safety. (Source: The Baltimore Sun) Obviously, the violence was out of control.

America the Beautiful is now seen as America the Broken.

So what is a bubble-dwelling Christian to do in response to such a broken situation? Pray. I can pray for peace and healing to come to a broken city. I can pray for my words to be used to extend grace and love rather than oppression and hate. I have no idea what it is like to live as a young, black male in gang-ridden neighborhood, but I can pray for him. Just as I have no idea what it is like to be a local law enforcer in a dangerous city, but I can pray for that officer.

There are prejudices that I don’t even know exist just because of the family that I was born into and the color of my skin. But others have to deal with them regularly. Prejudice happens to all races and all genders. I think the cry is how can we be more aware of these “hidden” prejudices? Instead of hurling the axe, what can we do to improve our own ignorance and receive grace for ourselves and give grace to others?

Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

There will undoubtably be social injustices in the future. And there will be additional riots to ensue. Just as there will be personal prejudices to work out amongst ourselves. But we do have hope in the fact that Jesus has overcome the world. And until He returns, we can pray.

Take heart, Baltimore. We are praying for you.