Friday, December 30, 2011

Let's see Jesus

In reading Old Testament prophecy regarding God's promised Messiah, I understand more and more why the nation's leaders did not believe Christ was the promised Messiah. 

They had specific expectations in regard to the Messiah's arrival on the scene.  That he would be king and conqueror were at the top of the list.  This guy Jesus was not acting like a king or conqueror. He clearly had not come to deliver them from the hand of their Roman oppressors.  They could not see him as he was, his life and miracles, because their eyes were blinded by their  expectations.

In contrast, we have the story of David the boy. He was anointed to be king over Israel by the great man of God Samuel.  God didn't kill Saul to make room for his new appointee.  Saul carried on as king, and tried in fact, to destroy David, seeing him as a personal threat.  David never, although anointed, treated Saul with disrespect, or tried to force a kingship coup.  Instead he gave Saul honor.  Moreover, he wrote psalms of praise and glory to God even in the hardest times.

But the real issue now is about me personally.  With what expectations do I view God?  Do my expectations of what he will do  in my own life personally  affect my view of what in fact he is doing?

Also, how much am I influenced in how I see Christ's work in my life, and in the world, by the pressures of the world's philosophy?  Do I okay things God has called sin, 'cuz the world has done so? Do I have an entitlement outlook.  A soppy sentimental faith?

These are questions that are searching my heart. My deepest desire is to see Christ as he is, and live my life according to His will and purpose.  To grow up in him.

                 When I was a child, I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
For now we see in a mirror dimly,
 but then face to face.
Now I know in part;
then I shall know fully,
even as have been fully known.
                                                                                            ( I Corinthians 13:11-12 ESV)

What a day!!!! 


Saturday, December 10, 2011


Nov 25th, Mom's 95th birthday

I was changing
the sheets on Mom's bed this morning.  The grumpy thought that came into my mind was "Does she even notice?" 

But immediately following that I
remembered the verse I'm learning this week. 

      And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord,
     and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall 
     receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve
     the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23, 24 KJV
             (I love other versions to read but still prefer the poetry of  the King James version for memorization.)

I felt reminded that on one level the clean sheets were for my mom, but on the true level it was as though I was making the Lord's bed.   I know, a bit weird but.....

Then I began to remember.  I learned to like clean sheets because that was what my mom did when we were kids.  I can remember her commenting she loved  getting into clean sheets.  And I remembered all the sheets I would take off the clothes line.  I loved winter dried sheets.  They would come off stiff as cardboard and when I laid them down in the house in seconds they would go super soft and oh, even as a child I LOVED that smell of clean sheets off the line.  I do not remember changing the sheets on my bed as a youngster so then I thought - how many times did mom change the sheets on my bed and I never noticed. 

Then I remembered that when I was about 11 or 12 thinking mom spent the whole day just reading and enjoying herself.  I never acknowledged and doubt ever thanked mom for clean clothes, for food cooked and the dresses she made me.  I thought Dick and I did all the work 'cuz on Saturdays I had to wash the floors - on my hands and knees.  Mops were not a part of Mom's viewpoint on house keeping.  I remember doing dishes and hanging out washed clothes and ironing my own dresses.  I seem to have thought I did all the real work.  What I felt as all this flashed through my mind was a deep pain in my heart that I had hurt my mom with my, I realize now, what must have been sullen behavior and lack of love for her. 

This began to break up one terrible night when I was reading and mom told me I needed to get the dishes done.  I cannot believe my words to her.  My mom was not someone  I EVER sassed.  I raged at her, "You only had me to do all the work."  I'm sure I said more but that was the essence of what I said.  Mom just turned away and left me sitting on the couch reading.  It was terrible.  I was waiting for her to 'take me out.'  I realize now she could have justifiably told me my bad attitude was the real problem and other related things. 

Next I heard her doing the dishes.  Truth to tell, I didn't read another word.  I was stricken and started sobbing.  Then after the dishes were finished mom came back and brought me a cup of tea (unheard of) and loved me.  This is the mom I was privileged to have.  Yes, she expected us kids to do work as a part of growing up and she  wasn't a 'singing in the kitchen'  type of person.  But she was straight and true and honorable in the most real sense of the word.

She taught me so much that I am glad I know.  She imparted the ethics of good workmanship. And,one thing more, that only now am I remembering.  She didn't go around with a bad attitude about how hard life was on her or how she was not getting a fair deal. I don't remember my mom complaining about the hard things.  

I found I had forgotten what a good mom she was in the stress of daily issues.

Mom, thank you for the woman you were, and even now, in a hard place yourself and without the aid of consciousness to direct what you do, you are still a woman of integrity.  How blessed I am.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christ's gift to the world

God veiled in flesh
Flesh veiled in familiarity and tradition.
Tradition, in turn, veiled in cheap and shiny decoration.
The glitz, in turn, veils what is nothing but crass commercial and personal greed.
What on earth are we missing?
Unknown source

Is the tradition more important than the birth of Christ?
Can we not see that the current celebration of  CHRISTmas denegrates the true gift from God.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

For the last 13 years, since we came back to the states, I have battled in my heart about how Christmas is currently celebrated, especially in the western culture.  I've tried to just focus on my own view of Christ's birth but more and more I feel my heart
hurting as I watch the frenzy.

The roots of celebrating Christmas on December 25 was adopted  by the Roman emperor, Constantine.  He took a pagan holiday, celebrated for, the previous 4000 years and declared it to be the birth of Christ.  This was so everyone could go on celebrating their pagan worship and making his subjects more willing to convert to Christianity, which he demanded by law. 

Below is some information I found stating the true origins. 
             But it turns out that Jesus was not born on December 25th. However, a whole bunch of pagan gods were born on that day. In fact, pagans celebrated a festival involving a heroic supernatural figure that visits an evergreen tree and leaves gifts on December 25th long before Jesus was ever born. From its early Babylonian roots, the celebration of the birth or "rebirth" of the sun god on December 25th came to be celebrated under various names all over the ancient world. You see, the winter solstice occurs a few days before December 25th each year. The winter solstice is the day of the year when daylight is the shortest. In ancient times, December 25th was the day each year when the day started to become noticeably longer.     
            Thus it was fitting for the early pagans to designate December 25th as the date of the birth or the "rebirth" of the sun.
            The truth is that thousands of years before there was a "Santa Claus", there was another supernatural figure who would supposedly visit a tree and leave gifts every December 25th.   His name was Nimrod.  The celebration of December 25th goes all the way back to ancient Babylon.
According to ancient Babylonian tradition, Semiramis (who eventually became known as the goddess Astarte/Asherah/Ashtoreth/Isis/Ishtar/Easter in other pagan religions) claimed that after the untimely death of her son/husband Nimrod (yes she was married to her own son), a full grown evergreen tree sprang up overnight from a dead tree stump. Semiramis claimed that Nimrod would visit that evergreen tree and leave gifts each year on the anniversary of his birth, which just happened to be
on December 25th.  This is the true origin of the Christmas tree.  
from Unexplained Mysteries of the world.  There are many resources for this information.  This is just one.

Bible Scholars believe on the basis of their studies that Christ was likely born in September.  It is not known because God didn't tell us, and in the time of the disciples it didn't seem to be important.
I previously have thought if Christ's birth was celebrated at Christmas, then the pagan worship was diminished.  But, in recent years here in the United States the secular world is becoming more adamant about keeping the birth of Christ out of the day, even banning the word Christmas.  Christians are yelling that Christmas is being dishonored, but:
          Is it possible that the celebration on December 25th is 
          returning to it's true format?
          And is it possible that the celebration of December 25th
          in our present time really does not honor  the Lord?

These are the questions in my heart.

I feel grief at how families go into debt for gifts they cannot afford; the mad buying scramble on the day after Thanksgiving. This year  a man fell in the aisle with a heart attack and people just stepping over him and on him in their frenzy to get a deal. 

I wonder, how many children mostly are thinking of what they want and hope to get.  Do they have a heart to give without thought of what they will receive in this season of gifts? And, then there are the disgruntled receivers of gifts who flood the stores the very next day to return unwanted gifts and get themselves what they want.

In how many homes is the birth of Christ truly remembered, honored and celebrated? Yes, his birth is celebrated in many believing homes.  I've spent 63 Christmas's so far.  In my family we always read the Christmas story from the Bible, Luke 2, and as a family prayed with thanks giving for God's gift to us on Christmas morning.  We went to services at church and sang the old carols - which I love deeply.  But many kids, myself included, really only were eager for the hand out of candy bags after the service.

In our family in those years Dick and I, only ones at home at that time, each got one present.  We were glad for that.  More for us, was the fact mom and dad set aside other things and spent the day playing games with us.  But you know what.  My dad's sister and family started to show up regularly.  She had a very hard life but did I see that maybe she was lonely? Or that we could minister to her and her family as a gift to the Lord?  NO!  I just resented her spoiling MY Christmas.

This is not tell anyone how to celebrate.  Nor it it a condemnation of those who love the holiday.  I sing the songs of Christ's birth with joy and in our service we do remember the gift of Jesus, given us from our Father. 

I am no warrior in this, trying to start a revolution. But, I wish with all my heart that the whole body of Christ would rise up and say - No, Christ was not born on December 25th and so it truly is just a time to give gifts and enjoy the season's celebrations.  If a day is wanted to celebrate the birth of Christ set a day of remembrance.  And not a day to fill the coffers of the world for self gratification.  Seek God's way of celebrating his gift to us. 

Ann  Voskamp in the entry below shares how they as a family celebrate the birth of Christ.  Choosing gifts for those in need, and giving not receiving.   It is to my mind far closer to what honors the birth of God's son, who was born to become our Salvation.

I personally would love a quiet Godly remembrance and celebration, honoring the greatest gift the world has ever received.  Jesus Christ.