August 19, 2017

The Unexpectedness of the First Christmas

The virgin birth of Christ in Bethlehem had been prophesied hundreds of years before it actually happened. But it happened in a way that was completely unexpected. Mary was just an ordinary girl. Joseph, just a simple carpenter. The manger in Bethlehem was surrounded by itchy hay and the sounds and smells of working animals. Not to mention the shepherds, who were the outcasts of society, were the last people who would be invited to worship a king. Think back to that time... It had been four long centuries since anyone had heard God's voice. Four hundred long years of pure unbroken silence. No divine messengers. No prophets. No visions or dreams. Just four hundred long years of [...Read More]

Is Your Heart Ready for Christmas?

Christmas is less than two weeks away and I haven’t even started my Christmas cards, I’m only half-done my shopping, and I still have baking to do. I’m not ready for Christmas… at least in that sense. But I am preparing. Are you? I don't mean the party-planning, picture-taking, shopping and wrapping, baking and traveling sort of preparations. I mean you. Your heart. Your mind. Your soul. Are you taking time to focus on the eternal this season?  Have you stopped to meditate on the Savior who gave up everything, to gain the love of a world full of rebellious people? Have you offered heart-felt gratitude to the One who came so we might live more fully and freely? In the midst [...Read More]

A Christmas Meditation: Let Us Adore Him!

Let us adore Christ the Lord, together at Christmastime... For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; And that child is our Messiah, And that son is our promised Redeemer! The government shall be upon his shoulder, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And he shall be their peace. And his name shall be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. O come, let us adore Him at Christmastime... And every day of the year... For He is Lord! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!   Excerpts taken from [...Read More]

Let’s Chat: Christmas Traditions!

One of my favorite things about Christmas is all the traditions we get observe every year. You know, those things you do every single year that make it finally "feel like" Christmas. Or those certain ways you like to celebrate Jesus, or particular ways you enjoy being together as a family during the Christmas season. Whether you've grown up practicing certain routines, making the season special in a particular way every year, or you've recently established some new habits for celebrating -- traditions are a great way to stay focused on Christ, truly enjoying the season, and making lots of great memories. What are some of my favorites? Growing up, we would recite the Christmas [...Read More]

A Christmas Blessing

  May God bless you richly as you celebrate Christ's birth. May God bless you intimately as you worship at His cradle. May God bless you sweetly as you sing His praises. May God bless you broadly as you share His truth. May God bless you abundantly as you rest in His riches. May God bless you deeply as you come to know His love.   MERRY CHRISTMAS from DogFur and Dandelions!   . [...Read More]

Christmas Is Coming…

I can't wait till Christmas! This year, I get to enjoy the traditions I grew up with, since we'll be with my side of the family. And all the goodies too, like Mom's coconut macaroons and hand-made melt-in-your-mouth mint candies. Yes, my mouth is watering as I'm typing this...     On Christmas Eve, we have a special dinner and a gift exchange with a few close relatives. Mom makes her signature cranberry meatballs (basically, regular meatballs with a cranberry gravy) for the main entree, and a classic cranberry pudding for dessert (like the old English plum pudding, which is almost like a cake, and has a dollop of sugary-sweet hard sauce on top). Of course, they're both [...Read More]

Lessons from the Magnificat

Can you imagine the emotion that roiled through Mary's heart, as she anticipated giving birth to the great Messiah? On the one hand, she must have been awed by the thought that Almighty God would choose her, a simple maiden, to bear His Son. That He would choose her to bring old prophecies to pass. That He would choose her to help change the course of the world's future. On the other hand, she must have been overwhelmed by her situation. Here she was, betrothed to the man she loved (similar to the modern engagement, although much more binding), and all of sudden pregnant. Of course, back in that day, pregnancy outside of marriage was punishable by death! Can you imagine the courage [...Read More]

Hymns for Advent: Incarnation

Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang, proclaiming thy royal degree; but of lowly birth didst thou come to earth, and in great humility. Israel’s Strength and Consolation, Hope of all the earth thou art! Dear Desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart! Thou camest, O Lord, with the living Word, that should set thy people free! But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room For Thy holy nativity. Born thy people to deliver, Born a child and yet a King. When the heav’ns shall ring, and her choirs shall sing, at thy coming to victory, let thy voice call me home, saying “Yet there is room, there is room at My side for thee.” Born to reign in us forever, Now thy [...Read More]

Celebrating Christ at Christmas: Card Intercession

Have you ever practiced Christmas Card Intercession? It's really quite a simple idea: pray for people as you write cards for them. Even if all you do is sign your name and address the envelope.     Because everyone needs prayer. Maybe you don't really know what's going with that old friend or distant aunt -- but God does. Maybe you haven't heard from them since last year's Christmas cards. But God sees them every day. He knows their joys and their sorrows. He hears their heart-cries. So pray for them. Pray for their general spiritual welfare: Pray that they would seek Him first, acknowledge Him in everything they do, and trust Him to direct their steps. [...Read More]

Celebrating Christ at Christmas: Spiritual Wish Lists

*Note: Today I have the honor of guest posting over at The Deliberate Reader. I'm sharing a few of my favorite books for cultivating intimacy with God, as part of Sheila's "Favorite Books" series.  Make sure you check it out -- then come back here; it dovetails perfectly with today's post! So far in this series: Observing Advent 2. Spiritual Wish Lists (originally shared 12/13/11) What’s on your Christmas list this year? No, not your own wish list, the other one. You know -- the {long} list of things that your kids want, the {really short} list of ideas from your spouse, the {creative} list of things you’d like to get for your friends or siblings or parents… I’m guessing [...Read More]