Sunday, 29 December 2013

Sunday: King of Glory


The earth is the LORD's and all its fullness,
the work and those who dwell therein.
For He has founded it upon the seas,
and established it upon the waters.
Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive blessing from the LORD,
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him,
who seek Your face.
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD strong in battle.
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
He is the King of glory.
Psalm 24
Scripture and Snapshot

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Something to Believe In

We’ve been watching a lot of Christmas movies around here lately.  Seems there’s always one on television, and my daughter is a sap for these things, and when she gets the blankets and popcorn and Christmas lights all going and curls up to watch a nostalgic movie about Christmas, well I have to admit it’s kind of hard to resist.

We were watching one which had a serious, hard, militant high school principal in it who was pretty cold to the whole Christmas thing.  But when she was taken for a sleigh ride down a beautifully tree-lit street in lightly falling snow, she poured her heart out about Christmas, and with an unquenched longing she explained her Christmas ache, “Everyone is looking for something to believe in.”  Yes, it’s all so corny, I get that.  But isn’t that the essence of every Christmas movie ever made?
Isn’t that the essence behind Christmas for the majority of North American’s?  That everyone is looking for something to believe in?  And so we build, and spend, and decorate, and anticipate, and travel to great lengths to return to family, glorify the day, and make it into something with our own hands and efforts to please the ones we love, to give them that nostalgic something to cling to - that something to believe in.  
And we come up empty.  Every time. 
And next year, we build it a little bigger, spend a little more,  anticipate a little sooner, glorify the day a little larger, and make it into something even more spectacular than last year with our own hands and efforts to please the ones we love.  And we get exhausted, and stressed out and in debt.
And still we come up empty.  Every time. 
There is a verse in the Bible that reminds me of this cycle of Christmas, North American style.  “Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind.  Ecc. 2:17 
The wind can’t be grasped.  Neither can the ‘spirit of Christmas’, yet we weary and distress ourselves as we try so hard to take hold of it.  Why do we do it?  Because everyone is looking for something to believe in. 
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  It is the time of year when Christians reflect on the Lord’s humble birth, obedient life, sacrificial death, glorious resurrection, and anticipate His eventual and sure return.  Christmas is Jesus Christ, Son of God.
Why did God work His plan to redeem His creation in this way?  Well, no one but God can answer that, but He does give us the outcome He’s looking for, the purpose of His plan:  that we would believe in Him.
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book, but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31
It’s simple really.  Simply believe that Jesus is the Christ.  And by believing, you will have life in His name. 
Yet it’s difficult.  Because believing is just such an easy thing.   Believing requires surrender and a change of our mind and ways.  And we like to do things our way, have our hand in it somehow, put effort toward it, have some claim to it, ownership in it; we like to be responsible for it somehow.  Simply believing just doesn’t fit with our need to be in control. 
And so we keep looking.  Yet we never find.   We work, we build, we go to any length to fill that longing that is in our very soul.  We do it all year long, but the crowning of our efforts and labor comes with each Christmas season as filling reaches its peak, yet doesn’t satisfy and we enter a new year empty. And weary.
I used to do Christmas this way.  It was only about three years ago that things changed for me.  Even after I was saved, Christmas was still very materialistic and mostly empty.  I never really understood why, but now I know it is because I was building Christmas, making it the way I thought it should be with my own hands.  When I finally let go, Christmas became something much more.
There is rest from this weariness.  It’s found in Jesus, and only Him.  He says to those tired of the burden of the requirements of religion (that of doing to fill the void in your soul, rule following, having your hand in redemption and eternal life): “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give your rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matt. 11:28-30
Are you lost and weary and looking for something to believe in this Christmas?  Jesus is giving you this invitation, even now, “Come to Me”.  So that you may believe in Him, and by believing you may have life.
Are you a Christian?  Brother or sister, the world is looking for something to believe in.   Let us point them to the only One who can satisfy: Jesus Christ, who 2,000 years ago,
"being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  Phil 2:6-11





Sunday, 22 December 2013

Sunday: A Light has Dawned


"Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress.
In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations,
by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.......
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.

He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.

The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this."
Isaiah 9:1-2, 6-7
Merry Christmas!

Scripture and Snapshot

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Upside-Down Christmas Reminder

I was rushing around getting ready for work this morning when the phone rang.  I didn't recognize the phone number but the man on the phone asked for me.

"Did you place an online order for folded Christmas cards ma'am?", he asked me.

"Yes I did", I replied, wondering what had happened.

"I'm processing them now and they will be ready later today, but I just wanted to check with you about the design".  He continued to describe the card format, and then said, "but the picture of the Christmas tree you submitted, well....", he hesitated, "'s upside down."

I laughed, thinking of all the techno-challenged people who have probably submitted many a picture sideways, or upside-down; how many people he has made this call to.  I'm thinking, based on the tone of his voice, he has never seen an upside-down Christmas tree.

"Oh, no worries, it's suppose to be that way!"  He sound relieved, yet confused.  After all, why would someone turn their Christmas tree upside-down?  Especially on a card they were planning to give to people?

Three Christmas' ago, I drew my very own Christmas tree in MS Paint, placed it on my FB profile, wrote this post, and for me, Upside-Down Christmas had begun.  This year I decided I would make a card with this tree on it and give the card to each person on my list who is receiving an 'upside-down' gift.

This all started three years ago when I read a statistic, two actually, which turned my stomach and broke my heart: 1) the number of orphans in the world, 2) and the amount of money American spend in a mere 50 days leading up to a one day celebration which has lost its true meaning. Here's what I wrote in my first blog post ever:

"In the 50 days leading up to Christmas, Americans will spend $ 450-500 BILLION on Christmas. That’s $450,000,000,000 on toys, clothes, food, wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, decorations, more decorations, trees and so much more.  None of it life sustaining.  Most of it empty.  Can you just imagine the impact just 10% of that would have, if done in the name of Jesus, for 145 million orphans who have no hope?
As Christians we are members of God’s kingdom.  We were orphans.  We are now adopted. 
God’s kingdom is an upside-down kingdom in comparison to the world’s system.  In God’s kingdom the humble, the meek, the merciful, the peacemaker, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness – these will be blessed beyond measure.  The ones who love their enemies, offer mercy to the poor and oppressed and fatherless, the least of these – these will be great in this kingdom called heaven. 
This language is foreign to the ears of the world.
The world says “me, mine, best, better, more, now”. 
In God’s kingdom, “me” is crucified, “best” and “better” come later, and “more” only comes when what we’ve been given is graced to those who have not.

We, as a small group of the Lord’s army, cannot change how all of Canada, or America, spends its  money at Christmas.  But we can prayerfully and deliberately change how we, ourselves, you and me, prepare for, spend and celebrate Christmas. 

In the upside-down kingdom, Christmas is about the celebration and remembrance of the babe in a manger.  Son of God born humble and lowly, with one purpose: to save us from our sin. 
So go ahead. 
That will look different for each one of us, and will include toys, clothes, food, wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, decorations, and trees, but maybe it could mean just not so much of it all.  
.......An upside-down gift that is life-sustaining; full not empty; eternal not temporal."
Maybe you 'd like to know what this looks like, this giving intentionally, purposefully.  Below are a few ideas and links to get you started, maybe some ideas will come as you link up and research and look for ways to give purposefully.  If you have some ideas of your own, feel free to share with us in the comments.  I'm still trying to figure this out myself, and I'd love to learn more.
  • Gospel for Asia Gift catalogue:  (US residents go here) purchase gifts ranging from cows and rabbits to Bibles and women's literacy programs, all done to enable and sustain those living in poverty in India and done in the name of Jesus.
  • Compassion Canada: (US residents go here); buy various gifts to enable and sustain those living in poverty around the world.
  • Do you know someone who is adopting a child internationally?  Why not donate to their effort and help bring a orphan home. 
  • Help send an imprisoned child home, or support some of the other aspects of the Sixty Feet ministry as they serve in Uganda.  You can also purchase a cookbook, filled with yummy cupcake recipes for the baker on your list.
  • Buy products which have a dual benefit - one to the receiver and one to the vendor/manufacturer.  There are so many opportunities to do this if you google "Fair Trade shopping".  Some suggestions include Eternal Threads, and Ten Thousand Villages to name just a few.
Be Upside-down this Christmas
Spend 10% less this Christmas and give it away
Make an eternal difference this Christmas
Watch what the Lord does with it
I'm standing on my head this Christmas.  Will you join me?

Sunday, 8 December 2013


Rejoice always,
Pray without ceasing,
In everything give thanks;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thes. 5:16-18