Monday, December 26, 2011

Go tell it (in the mall)

A few days ago, on Christmas Eve, I posted a video of people singing Christmas carols in a mall. We liked that video a lot. Besides enjoying the surprise on peoples’ faces as a lady began singing "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee" in the middle of a public mall, we enjoyed seeing the message of the carols. When we heard "a weary world rejoices/ Fall on your knees" and saw the weary world personified by all the haggard looking shoppers in the mall, the message of hope and joy through Jesus seemed new and beautiful. The contrast between the words of the song and the neediness of the people made Jesus shine brighter against the darkness. We need people who aren’t afraid to go up to the top of a mall (some of us don’t have mountains nearby...) and start proclaiming that Jesus Christ is born! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Adopted by God

It’s almost Christmas–the time when we celebrate a Baby’s birth. But more than that, we celebrate the life that we have because He lived. He lived on this earth, died a painful death, and rose again–all for us. The punishment we deserved for our sins was born by Him on the cross. Because He lived a sinless life and took our punishment, we live. Undeserving, ungrateful, sinful man becomes a child of God. We’re adopted from the world into the family of God.

It’s amazing thought, isn’t it? We hear it so often, though, that it starts to sound cliche. This year, my family has gotten a better understanding of this truth.

Some very dear friends of ours are going to adopt a little girl. The birth mother knows she can’t raise her. She’s living a very sinful life right now, and a baby wouldn’t fit in the picture very well. So instead, she is putting the baby up for adoption. My friends (who are a strong Christian, homeschooling family) are going to pay the price for this little girl and give her a different life. She will be taken out of home plagued by sin and placed in a home centered around Christ.

The baby on her own is helpless. Her new parents are willing to pay the price to bring her into their family. Because Christ loved them and brought them into His family, they want to share His grace and love with another.

Galatians 4:4-6--But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!"


Please be praying for this family. The mother is not due for several weeks still, and although she chose this family, a lot could change. Please also pray that the mother will get to know Christ’s love.

Monday, December 12, 2011

They all were looking for a King

They all were looking for a king
To slay their foes and lift them high;
Thou cam’st a little Baby thing
That made a woman cry.

O Son of Man, to right my lot
Naught but Thy presence can avail;
Yet on the road Thy wheels are not,
Nor on the sea Thy sail.

My fancied ways why should’st Thou heed?
Thou com’st down Thine own secret stair;
Com’st down to answer all my need,
Yes, every bygone prayer.

(by George MacDonald--can be sung to the tune Childhood)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Vapor of Life

 This morning I went to a funeral. Her name was Joy Brace and she was a 43 year old mom with four kids, the oldest of whom is a dear friend of mine. She was my Mom's roommate in college, and they are the same age. Mrs. Brace suffered from a brain tumor, and it all happened so fast- she was diagnosed just 4 months ago. She was such a wonderful example of peace in time of severe pain and heartache, and she definitely glorified God through her life and her death. There were about 700 people at her funeral, and the message of Salvation was very clearly preached-- by her husband, which was her last wish. Pray that the Holy Spirit will work on the hearts of those who heard the salvation message today, perhaps for the first time.

 PLEASE pray for that family, and all who knew and loved Mrs. Brace. When all of us left the funeral, we went back to normal life. But when they went home, reality struck. They went home to the new normal- life without their mom. Life goes on, even when they don't want it to;  they want life to stop, or at least pause long enough to let them grieve! Pray that we would be able to comfort them with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

A couple times this fall, Mrs. Brace had the opportunity to sing for different gatherings and such, and every time she would sing "Blessings". This morning they played a recording of her singing it, and yes, I cried. The song so aptly describes what we are all feeling, and is such a good reminder. Here are the lyrics:

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

Throughout her struggle with chemo, radiation, and all the emotional roller coaster that come along with this cancer, her motto was, "God IS good." Those were her last words on this earth. I praise the Lord that He IS GOOD! He has a plan for this hurting family. The problem is, they can't see it. Please pray for this family whose lives have been drastically, radically changed this week.

All of this made me think of James 4:14. "Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away." We don't know what will happen tomorrow, next week, or next year. Are we prepared for glory? Do we have crowns to lay at the feet of our Lord? When we get to heaven, will He say, "well done, thou good and faithful servant"? Just some thoughts to meditate on. And thank you all for praying for this dear family. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What is Better?

"Better to love God and die unknown than to love the world and be a hero; better to be content with poverty than to die a slave to wealth; better to have taken some risks and lost than to have done nothing and succeeded at it." -Erwin Lutzer, Pastor of Moody Church

Monday, December 5, 2011

The difference

I have a big piano audition this Saturday. Since I didn’t practice very much last month, I’m having to do a lot extra now. This weekend, I had a brilliant thought. If I could spend my entire Saturday studying Bible Bee, why not try practicing piano all day?

I learned something: Studying the Bible and practicing piano have very little in common. I enjoy both a lot, but there is no question which is better! When we’re studying the Bible, we are studying the Word of God. That Word created the world. It destroyed the ancient world. It preserves the present world (2 Peter 3:5-7). But most importantly, that Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and Truth (John 1:14). Think about that...isn’t it amazing? Studying the Word is never a burden; it is a privilege. Trying to find the same joy and fulfillment in a Chopin ballade is pointless. It doesn’t matter how much you enjoy something–it never gave you life, and it won’t give you a purpose for life. Only Christ can do that.

During this time of year, there are lots of things that keep us, music recitals, sports games, shopping, Christmas’s a time when culture is shoving lies on customers who are only too willing to buy. People are longing for the truth, but they can’t buy it at the mall like they can a new sweater. We see words like "Joy," "Peace," and "Hope" everywhere. Joy–from what? Peace–toward whom? Hope–in what? Those words are meaningless and empty without Christ. Nothing culture offers is going to satisfy us. But the Word made flesh can. He offers us Joy from the Father, Peace with God, Hope in Himself.

As life gets busy with Christmas celebrations, remember that, without Christ, all the fullness of the Christmas season is really a cry of want from a hungry world. Only He can come as the Bread of Life and fill them.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ezekiel 33:31; 34:36; 34:8,20,22b

“They come as though they are sincere and sit before you listening. But they have no intention of doing what I tell them to; they talk very sweetly about loving the Lord, but with their hearts they are loving money. . .

“My sheep wandered through the mountains and hills and over the face of the earth, and there was no one to search for them or care about them. . .

” ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘. . . you were no real shepherds at all, for you didn’t search for them [my flock]. You fed yourselves and let them starve . . . Therefore,’ the Lord God says: ‘I will surely judge between these fat shepherds and their scrawny sheep . . . and I will notice which is plump and which is thin, and why!’ ”