Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
|A Good Man|
|Not a Typical King|
The wings of the angles spread out touching tip to tip creating a barrier around the young couple. They had been given strict instructions about the amount of comfort they could give. Their presence provided cover from the evil forces that searched throughout the area looking to interfere with the Father's plans. The head angel had been the one chosen to deliver the message to the young girl in the beginning. He remembered how young and innocent she looked as he relayed the message of the coming events. For just a second he wondered if he had misinterpreted his instructions and was giving the news to the wrong girl. Surely this could not be the one the Father had selected to bring the Savior into the world. A quickening in the heaven's got his attention and he continued to recite the news to the girl who stood mesmerized by his words. Tonight she looked totally different than she had the day he first saw her. It seemed she had aged 10 years. No longer did she look like a child, tonight she looked like a woman in the travail of giving birth. Being selected by the Father doesn't mean the journey will be easy, that's why such care is taken in those he chooses. Tonight the Father's instructions were very pointed. They were sent to provide protection, strength and encouragement. They were prevented however, from relieving the couple from any pain or trouble experienced in a typical earthly childbirth. It was difficult to stand back and not intervene. The best they could do is prompt Joseph with encouraging words to offer Mary and to give them both strength that had been sent with them from above. Still it looked to be a very agonizing process, this birth. The angels staunchly held their ground and trusted that the Father knew best when it came to the process of saving the world. This wasn't what they imagined when they were given the assignment of protecting the couple as they delivered the King of Kings.... This was much more humble and these people more common than they expected . No, this couple was not the typical royal family most would be looking for, and their son would prove in every possible way that he would not be.... a typical King.
|No Ordinary Night|
The night was as still as they had seen it in a while. Not a breeze could be felt as they lay around the camp. The older of the shepherds had already drifted into their nightly slumber. Since they had seniority they got the first hours of watch, the one in the early evening hours. They left the early morning hours to the young shepherds. The older shepherds had seen all of the strange early morning happenings, heard all of the alarming noises that accompanied the darkness. As far as they were concerned the young ones needed the experience in determining the difference between real danger and imagined danger. It was funny the tricks your mind could play on you when all you had was the moon and the sound of the earth to keep you awake. Besides, watching the young ones get used to the dark hours amused the old ones immensely. The young ones would not wake the old ones unless they knew there was a real threat. They were tired of their over reactions being the topic of every village meal once they returned home. After a while it just wasn't funny anymore, at least not to them. The shepherds like the rest of the world had been lulled into somewhat of a spiritual slumber. Stories of the coming Messiah was part of their heritage, something they grew up hearing about all their lives. The 400 years of silence had brought some Jews to cease the anticipation of the long awaited Messiah. Many had gone about their daily lives as if a Savior would never come. Among the shepherds in the field that night, many of the young ones had never given it much thought.... That was until the sky began to lighten as if covered by a white mist. At first they stared in total shock, there was no way they would wake the old ones because the sky was turning a hazy white. Then as they continued to look the outline of the angels began to materialize before their very eyes. Ever so gradually angel after angel appeared, transfixed between heaven and earth. Although the stillness never ceased, an atmosphere of anticipation began to sweep over the country side awakening the older shepherds. Their eyes popped open like wild prey was standing over them. Immediately their eyes turned upward to see the appearing of what looked like angels... If this was a dream it was no ordinary dream and if this wasn't a dream then this was no ordinary night.
|Heaven Meets Earth|
By the hundreds they gathered over the field, a whole host of angels. They could see the shepherds thoughtlessly going through their duties, the way earthly bound beings thoughtlessly went about everything. Some of the more cynical angels seemed a little disappointed that the proclamation they were prepared to give would be done in such a mundane setting, but those thoughts were fleeting. This was the night that all of heaven had been preparing for thousands of years. This would be the night that changed all of humanity for eternity. The angels could not help but wonder if the earthly bound beings would grasp the meaning of it all. They were so limited by their insight and knowledge of all things spiritual. Yet, that was not their concern. Their mission had been carefully planned, the announcement would be made as soon as the signal was given. That was another thing. Although the mission carefully planned, the announcement meticulously written the actual signal itself had not been described. They were simply told that they would recognize the signal when it was given. The angels had no trouble accepting this as fact and eagerly awaited the moment. The earthly bound beings may not know what was going on this gentle evening, but without a doubt the earth herself knew that all things would soon change. The shepherds had began to notice the ever changing sky and they stood like statues staring in awe at the sight that unfolded before them. The angels, the shepherds and even the sheep stood in anticipation, waiting for the moment when heaven and earth would meet in the form of a crying child.
She gasped for air, she prayed for strength and she thought the pain would never end. For hours her body had been torn apart by wave after wave of pain. Sweat poured from her brow, her lips were parched from her rapid breathing and she didn't know how much longer she would be able to endure. The arms that had cradled her so gently earlier were now like a noose around her neck. She didn't want to be touched, she didn't want to be left alone, she just wanted it to end and end quickly. Joseph paced back and forth, wringing his hands in worry. Each time he saw her relax for a second or two he would kneel beside her, offer her a drink, wipe her brow then quickly step aside before the next wave of pain started. How much longer he wondered. Suddenly she sat up and took a deep breath. When she exhaled a moan escaped her lips that was so deep and so barbaric that it caught him by surprise. Her face became white as ash and her head dropped till her chin touched her chest. At that moment he heard the release of water and blood pour from her womb. In an instant the earth was caught in a large vacuum like all of the oxygen had been sucked from the air and then immediately a rushing wind swept through the manger, then silence. Nothing but silence. She reached down and picked up the pasty infant that lay between her legs. With her touch he let out a wail. His arms waved wildly in the night air, his fingers and toes were spread apart like he had just been dropped in ice cold water. He shook all over as he cried and quickly, so quickly his skin turned red. The softest of sighs came from her chest as she brought him to her cheek. The babe turned his head to meet her cheek as if to give her a kiss. For the first time in history, heaven met humanity and without a doubt it was love at first sight.
|Extraordinary Examples of Praise|
The birth of our Savior. He was sent without being called, he was given without being deserved, he lived without sin, and he loved without hesitation. May this gift of gifts be found in the manger of your heart this Christmas. May it breathe the breath of life into your soul and be the beginning of a beautiful love story between you and your Savior.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Each year when we go Christmas caroling with friends, we sing, among other songs (I Wanna Hippopotamus for Christmas... My all-time favorite and a real crowd pleaser), the standard Silent Night. Tonight during my quiet time the song came to mind. It renders images of a serene couple, rolling with the punches at what is to be a very stressful time. Imagine traveling afar with a wife who was admittedly, according to scriptures is... "great with child." That phrase alone should dispel all images of a sweet young couple with no worries about being far from home, great with child AND basically... homeless. If you have ever traveled with a pregnant woman who is "great with child", I'm sure you'll agree that not being able to find a clean restroom can send raging pregnancy hormones into... Well a rage. I think we have Mary type cast as a meek and mild virgin who was so holy we rarely view her as human. Although Mary was absolutely chosen for her spiritual qualities, she was still very much human. When the couple couldn't find a room in the inn, I'm sure her mothering instincts which were probably already in high gear, turned into a manic urge to nest. Realistically, she was probably terrified at the predicament they found themselves in. She was away from her family during the most monumental time of her life, with a husband, she was still getting to know. I imagine the two, huddled in the hay. I imagine Joseph being white as a ghost in spite of his olive skin. I imagine beads of sweat on the holy mother's brow as cries of anguish slipped from her cracked lips in pain. I imagine him gently soothing her and whispering words of encouragement as he fervently prayed for divine intervention. What he couldn't see was the spiritual war erupting in high places. The roaring lion we read about in 1 Peter 4:8, was very much on the prowl during the birth of our Savior, and he wasn't alone.
I believe the heavenly host of angels did much more than proclaim tidings of great joy. I believe they surrounded Bethlehem as a heavenly shield. I imagine angels standing wing tip to wing tip around the couple as Mary "travailed in birth" . In my mind, mighty warring angels patrolled heaven and hell making sure hell's minions were viciously kept at bay while God's promise was fullfilled. I believe that holy night was anything but silent as swords clashed in a bloody spiritual conflict that left Satan gnashing his gnarly teeth at his impotence against the waring angels of God, and his inability at preventing prophecy from being fulfilled... Again! Was there peace? Oh absolutely, because God specializes in the kind of peace that passes our human understanding, but that in no way implies things were meek and mild, calm and collected, and it certainly doesn't mean things were silent. There was a lot going on in the little town of Bethlehem... If you look beyond the veil.
Monday, December 22, 2014
John 13:34-35 says.....
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
It doesn't say....
"When one another are loveable."
"When it's convenient."
"When they love you back."
"When you understand them."
"When they are easy to get along with."
"When it suits you."
"When you feel like it."
Nope, it just says do it, so that's what I'm going to do. It may not be easy, but it is absolutely what is required.
Friday, December 19, 2014
|This is legit|
|Same person taking care of these|
|This is typical me, maybe above average|
anniversary didn't he?" Again she reiterated that it was a competition and she could not disclose such information, but she knew she had been busted and finally sent me a picture of the real Poinsettia that hadn't been prepped for competition with doping. I think next year we'll have to have stricter guidelines. The other co-worker had been roped into Poinsettia sitting since the owner was out until the 1st of the year.... "considering her two choices of co-workers.... she made the logical choice" I told her. So, the competition has been a little cagey this year which only goes to show you how desperate we are to bring some joy into a workplace where most of the joy has packed up and left or been completely sucked out. I do my part to liven things up even if it's from afar. I may not be with them physically, but I'm with them spiritually and am wishing them, more than anything, peace of mind in the coming new year. I love you guys and thanks for letting me play along with you in the reindeer games.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Sunday, December 14, 2014
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
I got the final picture with the following notation....
"He didn't want the loss to be so traumatic for me this year, so... he set the bar low."
Well, that changes everything. The two of us usually run neck -n- neck for who can kill theirs the fastest. Last year we actually discussed buying a stash of replacement Poinsettias to switch out so we wouldn't be the first on to appear on "The Wall of Shame".
|I think it's already looking droopy :-(|
|Dinah actually put her poinsettia in poinsettia daycare last year when she left for vaca|
Monday, December 8, 2014
|Lil Cecil Johnson present and accounted for and working harder than a Choo Choo Train|