The word is — Enjoyment

So I have been “blogging” away (in my mind)  and thought I would share some of my musings. This is a stretch so hang with me.  It is about kittens, Jesus, and Christmas all in one.

We have two new kittens who are now about four months old. They are Dante and Leo.  I just enjoy them so much. They wrestle. They curl up together. They grab at us from under the bed. But mostly they look for us for snuggles. IMG_5040

Did you catch that? They look for us…As soon as either one of them, see either one of us, they jump up on us and immediately begin purring and try to get as close up to us as they can.

One day , I  was  enjoying Leo stretch out on my lap. His  little orange face was full of bliss. He  was warm, relaxed  and  his  eyes were closed tight as he emitted this lazy purr of contentment.

“This is what it’s like with us,” I heard the Lord say.

“Really?” I asked in disbelief.

“I enjoy it when you enjoy being with Me, like Leo enjoys being with you. Do you see how he just has to get closer and closer to you? I love it when you do that.”

Oh my soul. What do you do with that?

You know I can’t hardly snuggle the cats now without having a ” quiet time” with Jesus. He loves it when we curl up in His arms safe, content, even purring—that inexpressible groan of our spirit connecting with His Spirit.

IMG_0524So this Christ season, take a moment to enjoy the One who came just because He enjoys You.

 

In Conflict, Check the Love Switch

How do we repair relationships without first repairing our own hearts? The Lord and I have talked a lot about how to walk through conflict —you know, the relational blow-ups  that make you want to throw up? or run away? or cry? or break something?

God is depositing so many revelations about how to do life with others, even when it is messy. He is revealing a beauty in the process that is priceless and is almost worth the pain even. He is teaching me and you how to live as He lives. In Perfect Love.

Revelation One is to assess  why  this conflict is so big on our radar? Why the over the top emotional reaction ( select from prior list or add your own)?  Why go there? God loves you and me. God loves the other person. We are both good.  So let’s take a deep breath and just let the Holy Spirit tweak and heal without all the drama caused by insecurities. There is a peace that passes understanding. Drama steals that peace. So wait on the Lord to bring clarity, truth, and hope.

Speaking of insecurities, that is Revelation Two. We react because we are afraid the love has run out. Danny Silk calls it the Love Switch,  and when we get hurt the first thing we do is turn the Love Switch  off.    We get stung by actions or words and then we question the intentions of the offending person. Does this person really love me? Is this person safe? Without clearly knowing the love connection, the commitment to relationship, it is difficult to trust. So we scramble, attack, hide or blame.

We want to “resolve the problem” but where is the love? We have to let the Lord first heal our hearts through forgiveness and grace so we can get the love back on for that person. Intention is a two way street. How are we communicating our continued love in this hard circumstance? Are we still speaking love and affection even though there is conflict? Through Jesus, is the Love Switch on?

As believers, we know this is a reality that Jesus is pleased to empower because His love is everlasting.  He is teaching us how to love as He loves.  Keep your love switch on. This requires faith. Strong faith that God is truly working all things for your good, but also  for the other person’s good.  (I’m glad He is God. This makes my head hurt.)

“What are you, man, if you do not learn love?”  This question posed by Shawn MacDonald in the song Simply Nothing sums up Revelation Two.

And finally, Revelation Three came by way of  a pertinent blog by Seth Godin. When God is talking, teaching, healing, He brings truth from all directions. Read it and let the Lord have His way in your conflict.  Conflict  is part of our transformation.  We can press in to learn how to enjoy it because we trust the end result.  “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Two questions behind every disagreement, by Seth Godin

Are we on the same team? and

What’s the right path forward?

Most of time, all we talk about is the path, without having the far more important but much more difficult conversation about agendas, goals and tone.

Is this a matter of respect? Power? Do you come out ahead if I fail? Has someone undercut you? Do we both want the same thing to happen here?

The reason politics in my country is diverging so much from useful governance has nothing to do with useful conversations and insight into what the right path is. It’s because defeat and power and humiliation and money have replaced “doing what works for all of us” as the driving force in politics.

If you feel disrespected, the person you disagree with is not going to be a useful partner in figuring out what the right path going forward might be. If one party (employee/customer/investor) only wins when the other party loses, what’s the point of talking about anything but that?

Deal with the agenda items and the dignity problems first before you try to work out the right strategic choices. (emphasis added)

The Manger Moment: The Common Denominator

The manger scene is a wonder to ponder with the poorest of the poor in the shepherds and the richest of the rich in the magi. What a spectrum of humanity it is. Not unlike our own spectrum of Salvation Army bells ringing for donations and registers ringing up designer gadgets and clothing. Yet we will all come to “the moment.” And it will be the same moment for us all, rich or poor.

The gifts will all been opened, and the glee for the “next” will subside.  From the meager gifts of the Angel Tree recipients to the gaudy gifts of the materialists,  the packages will lie unwrapped in a heap, exposed for what they are: more stuff.

And then the moment comes. The manger moment.  In that split second  we ask, we all ask, whether young or old, wealthy or wanting, we ask, “is this all there is?”

This is the very answer they were given at the manger.  Here, wrapped in his mother’s arms, “is all there is.” Jesus is the all in all. He is the first and the last. The rich who became poor only to become rich. He is ancient of Days who became a newborn, the servant who became King. The crucified who rose again. He is the embodiment of the question “is this all there is?” To which He boldly answers, Yes I am. I am the way the truth and the life.

A new song on the radio declares a glorious truth much like the angels did on that first morning:  “our Salvation has a name.”

He is Jesus, Savior,
Son of God, the King of Kings.”
Our salvation has a name.

Jesus, Savior,
Precious Lord of Everything.
Our whole world’s about to change,
And it will never be the same.

He  is one thing that binds us all together… “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Luke 2:10  Beyond the gifts, and the goodies, and the yummies, and the laughter, tears, torment, and longings, Jesus is the great joy that fills in our spirits like no gift card can. Jesus is joy. And He is ours for the taking, if we will only believe.

Don’t miss the answer of the manger moment. Our world will never be the same. Your world will never be the same.

A Great Light

I was adding ornaments to my tree this morning. I had to laugh. They look like miniature disco balls. But they also looked liked mosaics. Broken shards delicately placed together to form a whole new piece of art.  And when the little white Christmas lights hit them, “Voila!”

Sparkles. Colors. Reflections bouncing everywhere. Grabbing color from the tree and other nearby ornaments, it became so much more in the light.

You were made to reflect the light. Not be the center or source of light, but close enough to reflect and bounce and dare I say it, dance in the light.

No wonder then that Jesus is called the great light that has come into the world. No wonder the darkness can not overcome Him. No wonder we look and feel so much better when we are close to Him. He came so we could reflect Him. Brilliantly, beautifullly, eternally.

And just as an exclamation point to this thought, I came back to the tree a little later in the morning and the sun was shining on the tree…talk about glowing!

So shine baby, shine.

“Blessed is the people who know the joyful sound;
they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance.”  Psalm 89:15

 

One Last Gift Under the Tree

For the last two days I have been having a conversation about what to ask the Lord for, for Christmas. Better than Santa, I have learned that I can climb into my Father’s lap and He will be delighted to bless me with good things I ask for.

And then came the Spirit’s question, what was I giving God for Christmas? I am bustling around for others, but what was from me, for Them? Talk about hard to buy for!!

So in the wee hours this morning, I had an odd encounter with the Lord.  I was grumbling in my spirit for no real reason. And confessing, even as I was grumbling, that I wanted the Lord to soften my heart. I renounced the attack. I confessed my sin. But still my heart would not respond.

“Father, this is such a great time of year. This season has so much peace for me. So why is my heart feeling so flat this morning?”

I didn’t get a why, but I did get a remedy.

I went first to Psalm 51 as a way of asking the Lord to make me white as snow. But then He directed me to Psalm 50. I just sat there and marveled  in how God talks about God. He is ALL THAT and more. But my spiritual ears perked up when “The Mighty One, God, the Lord” began telling how He didn’t need my bulls, and blood, and sacrifices.  My feeling bad, or guilty, or regretful wasn’t the remedy.

“Sacrifice thank offerings to God.” (v. 14)

I had to dig around a little find out what “thank offerings” were, but they are called peace offerings, or freewill offerings. They are spontaneous. They are acts of solemn remembrances or jubliant rejoicing. Thank offerings are outpourings of a grateful heart. No bull, no blood, no gold. No credit cards or packages.

Just an abundant overflow from a heart that sees all that God has done. This is my Christmas gift to Them.  And it is also my remedy for a heart gone awry.

Bless You, Lord, for all  Your mercies and goodnesses shown to us!

From Glory to Glory

When Jesus entered our earthly home as a baby, He made Holy the whole human journey. From the moment the virgin’s egg was overshadowed by the Holy Spirt and the Word became flesh to the moment His last forgiving breath led Him into the valley of the shadow of death, Jesus showed us how to do the God life, in our life.

It is important for our souls and spirits to grasp this profound reality. Especially when we understand that Jesus’ birth and death were not points of origin but were connecting a greater circle.

He came from glory, was born, lived, died, was resurrected and then returned to glory. From glory to glory. This is our destiny.  This is what Jesus came to reveal. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! ” 1 John 3:1

Why does this matter to us this Christmas? Because beyond the gifts and goodies, families and friends, we are being fitted for our True homes. It is not a home where angels sit on clouds, but where we rule and reign with Christ.

Our souls need to marinate in this reality because this is where hope is born. To know that all this earthly struggle has been sanctified by Christ Himself, to know that He came in the middle of a sin-filled world and still lived with God and made it back to glory inspires us to hold on, to believe, to press in to the heart of of God.

Our spirits need to marinate in the reality because this is where the supernatural is born. When we come to know that we are made in the image of the Glory of Christ and all His abundant love and power is available to us, we live differently.

I recently visited my friend whose mother was dying. And despite the tragedy of her fraile and sickly body, I had a moment of jealously. Soon, very soon she would be in glory. That was her true destiny, regardless of what we were witnessing in the flesh. Today, Sarah is spending Christmas with the One we all long to see face to face.

If you are a true believer in Christ, Rest in hope of Glory today. It’s coming. And if you are not, weigh heavily the cost of your independence.

“…we are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. ” 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

Breath of Heaven

This is a beautiful blending of three offerings:  the song, “Breath of Heaven,” the movie, The Nativity, and the savior of the World, Jesus — all represented in one piece of art.  
 
I hope you enjoy it. Better yet, I hope you cry.  
 
The story of God is too incredible to not be blown away by it… May He breathe on you today.  
 

Childlike Wonder

Have you ever thought about Jesus as a child? Have you ever thought about what it means to grow up as a child of God?

I find that in my heart, and sometimes in conversation with others that we almost dismiss Jesus’ days as a child. Perhaps we think they were easier because He was the Son of God. But just as Andrew Peterson points out in “Labor of Love”, “It was not a silent night, there was blood on the ground…”  This is a great mystery of how God could be contained in the smallness of our earthen vessel. I am pondering today about the beauty of childlike wonder.

Did Jesus stop and stare at the wonders of nature that He had spoken into existence? Did He get excited, scared, bored, disappointed even? When He Himself is the answer to all of these?

I am beginning to realize the oxymoron is purposeful: Child of God. Jesus came to show us how to do life as Children of God. “…to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—” John 1:12 Crazy notion isn’t it?  We are children of God.

Through one babe “born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God, (John 1:13) we have been brought into the arms of the everlasting Father.  Ponder this in your heart. When Jesus told Nicodemus that he must become like a little child, He knew what He was talking about.

Jesus knew full well what it meant to be “like a little child.”  To giggle, to be giddy, to trust, to believe. To wonder. To receive the glory of God.

Want a Christmas prayer today? Put your name, and your loved ones’ names in this sentence. “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”

Does Christmas Interrupt Your Routine?

I am sure you read that headline and responded, “Uhm, yes! It is a constant presence hanging over my head!”

But I mean something a little different. Part of the the fun of Christmas is that it interrupts the status quo. Its coming is to be watched and anticipated. Think of the angels watching as all the world was about to be turned on its head. It requires action and preparation. Think of the wise men who had to travel far to be part of this life-changing event. Christmas shifts our priorities. Think of Joseph trying to find a place for his laboring wife. Christmas changes things. It changes us.

It has been fun to watch Charis piece this reality together. She has gleefully watched the house be transformed with lights and glitterings. She has giggled over packages under the tree. And the star on the proverbial tree was her question yesterday.  Every Saturday at our house is cleaning day, and Saturday is Christmas. So with great concern and seriousness she asked, “Do we have to clean the house on Saturday since it is Christmas?”
“No, this Saturday is different, ” we laughed.

Christmas does interrupt our lives, just like Jesus interrupts our existence. We can’t do Christmas and stay the same. We can’t do Jesus and stay the same either.

So allow yourself the freedom to get swept up into the glory of the season. Sure, there is madness and mayhem. But there is also the wind of God that drives the whole world to one quiet little stable, to pause in awe and wonder.

Jesus, interrupt our lives today and always.