You’re invited

Advent.  The coming.  Looking forward to.

At this season of Christmas we look for the One who was promised.

But on the other side of the coin is an invitation for you and me to come.

He is seeking us.  It’s why He came.

To rescue us, to redeem us, to pay our debt, to claim us as His very own people.

Oh yes, He comes.  He came.  He will come again.

He issues the invitation now for each of us to come to Him.  Just as you are.

Willingly bow to His lordship over your life.

One day at His coming again, the edict will be mandatory

and every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Him

Lord of lord and King of kings and none will stand upright in His presence.

It’s our choice, our choosing Him who first chose us.

Won’t you hear His voice and respond to His invitation?

christmas party

You are cordially invited to a Christmas party,

A birthday celebration in honor of Jesus Christ.

Date:  Traditionally December 25, but every day can be Christmas because He’s always near.

Time:  Today is the day of salvation.  Please don’t wait too long or you will miss out on all the fun.

Place:  Your heart.  He’ll meet you there.  Listen for His knock.

Attire:  Come as you are.  Grubbies are OK.  He will be giving you a robe of righteousness in exchange.

Refreshments Provided:  Living water and the Bread of Life like nothing you’ve ever tasted! 

Tickets:  Admission is free.  He has already paid the price.  You would not have been able to afford it anyway.  But you must accept His invitation.

Gift Suggestions:  He already has everything.  But what He really wants is you.

What to expect:  Joy, Peace, Truth, Life, Love, and lots of other gifts He is providing for those who accept and come.

R.S.V.P is Very Important!

Please respond soon.  This is the event of a lifetime.  You don’t want to miss it

If you would like to receive the gift of salvation this Christmas, to know Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior, go here now.  

And please let me know of your decision.  I would like to pray for you.

Emmanuel

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Emmanuel.  God with us.

Why would He want to be with us?  It’s not because we are such good company.  It couldn’t be our gracious hospitality or our deep humility or our complete unselfishness.  None of that.

The depths of our sin drove us from the Edenic garden and separated us from a holy God who made the world in all it’s beauty just for us.  And we took His gift and desecrated it.

All the while, He had a plan to redeem us back to Himself because He knew the price was too high and we are too poor.  Our attempt at being good enough is just dirty, pitiful, unacceptable.  So He offered Himself an acceptable offering.  Totally pure.  Completely holy.  Innocent as a newborn babe.

He came to us, to be one of us, to be like us.  Subjecting Himself to the frail skin and bone and blood and guts of this sin-ugly life so He could give us the gift of eternal life.  God walking around in flesh.  Among us.  Living like us.  Rubbing shoulders with us.

It is the gift of Christmas.

We can look at that gift and say it’s not for me, not the right size, not what I really wanted.  We can reject the gift and the Giver if we choose.  He gave us that gift also, the gift of choosing Him.  Or not.

But the truth is still the truth, the way, and the light.  He is Emmanuel.  God with us.

He is God with us in our celebrations and joyous events.  He is with us in our longings, our disappointments, our hopes and dreams.

God with us in all our wanderings and our looking for Eden.

God with us in our infections and pain and suffering.

God with us in the hospital surgery unit and the waiting rooms.

God with us in our wondering if life will last one more day.

God with us when we face death squarely and try to do life without the one dearly loved.

God with us in separations and divorce and families broken apart.

God with us in our tears and longings for something different.

God with us in our healing and rebirth and joyful surrender and willing sacrifice.

He brings peace to rule over our chaos.  Counsel to our confusion.  Mighty strength to our weakness.  Everlasting life to replace death.  He invites us to call Him Father. He is Wonderful!  He is Emmanuel.

God with us. Fear not for He brings with Him good tidings of great joy!  He is with us . . .

Peace on earth

I heard the bellsGrab your coat and mittens and come along with me to Robin Howe’s place, I Get Up Too Early, where she reminds us of people who live Christmas all year long. You’ve seen people like this.  You know people like this.  Maybe you are one of them and need to know someone noticed. That Christmas spirit you’re wearing way past December?  It’s showing. And surely the Father smiles.

Peace On Earth, Good Will Toward Men

Joy to the world

Happiness is like a butterfly, floating on breezes from flower to flower for the nectar, hoping for a sweet taste at each new blossom.

Joy is something different.  It is settled and sure.  It doesn’t depend on the sweetness of life.  It is determined by Truth.

Joy

As I read the story of Jesus birth in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, I see joy and rejoicing on the pages and the response of praise and worship.

An accurate reading of the Scripture doesn’t paint a rosey picture of people living in ease, free of hardships. Just the opposite.

But in the muddle and the mundane, in the predicament and the perplexity, in the struggle and the stress there is joy.

An aged woman, Elizabeth, carries a baby who leaps for joy in her womb. (Luke 1:44)

Pregnant and unwed Mary sings the song of a soul rejoicing. (Luke 1:47)

Neighbors who once whispered about a disgraced, childless couple, now share the joy of a baby named John. (Luke 1:58)

Angels descending, prepared to do battle, bring tidings of great joy to sheep keepers, and they shout praises to God in the highest. (Luke 2:13, 14

Lowly shepherds glorify God when they find Him and share the good news. (Luke 2:20)

An old man Simeon, just waiting to die, and a long-time widow named Anna rejoice to actually see with feeble eyes the Promise of God. (Luke 2:28, 28)

Wise men on long, hard journey, see the star in the sky and rejoice with exceeding great joy. (Matthew 2:10)

Joy is written all over this story.

It is not the easy happiness that comes from the next indulgence, the next purchase, the next taste of pleasure.  This is joy beyond circumstances, joy that hopes for a future, joy that rests in a God who keeps His promises no matter how long we wait for them.  This joy is a continual feast, receiving eternally good things from the hand of the life-Giver.

Have you fought for joy?  I have.  When it felt like I was drowning in a sea of trouble and trial, I wanted pain relief.  I wanted ease.  I wanted the taste of pleasure.  I wanted what I wanted.

During the great difficulty, I started looking for gifts, numbering them one by one, writing them in a notebook.  The simple and everyday began to look like bliss, luxury, pure grace.

The chair at my table.  The lights in my window.  The piano in my parlor.  The food in my fridge.  The sheets on my bed.  Sweet William at my side.  Friends who pray and love.  Neighbors who offer.  All gifts.  All undeserved.  All from a loving Father.

I recently heard a speaker say, “Anything above hell is a blessing.”  I acknowledge those words are true. Because I deserve nothing.  Born in sin, a sinner at heart, forever flawed, I am not worthy of the attention of a holy God.  And yet, He loves me with an everlasting love.  He purposed the plan for my redemption.  He canceled my debt.  He came for me.

And that dear friends is Joy!

Christmas grace

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New day, Sabbath Rest.  Longing for Light to dispel the darkness.

What once was is gone.  What is longed for may not come this year.

Expectations can kill.

Counting grace brings relief, opens the heart, lifts the burden, turns the eyes to see beauty instead of pain.

Grace surrounds when we have eyes to see.

Gifts fall like mercy drops and waters the dry, cracked places.

Love opens the closed heart, wounded and fearful.

Joy flows in like a gentle brook.

And light streams through the broken, cracked places of a messy life.

Grace knows no season.  When it comes, it is always Christmas.

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Celtic Thunder.  Amazing Grace

Love came down

Love came downLOVE came down in the cool of the evening to the garden and called out “Adam, where are you?”  But Adam hid from the Presence.

LOVE came down on Mt. Sinai in thunders and lightning to give the law to a people delivered and said, “I AM your God.  Be mine, won’t you?”  Though they said “yes” they would fail miserably.

LOVE came down as cloud and fire to lead and protect, and He rested in the Holy of holies to dwell among His people. But He was not enough for them and they lusted for other things to satisfy.

LOVE came down in the voices of the prophets, calling to the beloved to return to her Lover.  The beloved was unfaithful again and again.

LOVE came down as a Christmas Gift, not wrapped in bright shiny paper and a big red bow, but in swaddling clothes.  Few recognized Him.

Then LOVE was lifted up on a scraggly hillside.  LOVE shouted with the greatest demonstration of One who loves perfectly, “I LOVE you this much!”  Then He stretched out His hands and died.

LOVE came down so I can be His forever.  Raised up to life.  New life.  Abundant life.  Everlasting life.

And I cry Holy, Holy, Holy . . .