Friday, December 23, 2011

When Love Showed Up... in the Hallway of a Nursing Home

Sometimes we read about the Lord's love in His word...for us and for the world. At times, we experience it in our own lives...heart to heart with Him, personally. Then, there are times that we are witnesses to the outpouring of His love on another person. That is such an experience that I had years ago.My dad suffered a devastating stroke and was paralyzed completely on one side of his body. He was a big man in size and a man who presented himself in life, as a huge presence. In other words, you knew when he was in close proximity.  He didn't make a lot of "small talk" but you knew...when he talked, everybody listened.
He ended up in a Nursing Home, as his physical needs were too great for our family to administer his care. It was an agonizing decision, for our family, as anyone who has had to do this, knows. But it was one in which he wanted. He could see that his physical and daily needs were more than anyone could handle.
Because he was a man of few words, visiting him brought a challenge. He had no hobbies, didn't watch TV too much or read, so conversations were basically one sided. Nevertheless, I would never decide not to visit him. He was just too important to me.
One day, right before visiting him, I was crying out to the Lord on this issue. I said something like “Lord, I want to honor my dad, but truthfully it is sometimes hard to go and see him. I wish he could talk more. I am just discouraged and feel helpless. The visits are so long"
I heard the Lord asking me to make my dad a Christmas card, using my art and my calligraphy. I sensed the Lord wanted a specific scripture on the card. It also was important that I personalized it for my dad. This is the scripture, I used

“For unto you, Henry, is born this day in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord."  Luke 2:11.

My heart leaped. "Yes Lord, I can do that!" I was thrilled to have something that I could do. I was equally happy to use my gifts.
So I made the card and proceeded to drive to the Nursing Home. 
When I arrived there, my dad was in his wheelchair, waiting in the hallway. No matter how the visits were from my perspective, my dad always looked forward to the company of visitors.
I walked over to him...kissed him...and put the card on his tray. He picked up the card to read it. What happened next was totally unexpected by me.
As he read it, my dad started weeping and weeping...his shoulders convulsing. I had never seen this man, who was bigger than life to me and to many, ever cry.
I believe, that moment, my dad knew, beyond a shadow of doubt...that God loved the world; yes...but that he loved him...He loved Henry.
My dad was being touched mightily, by the Holy Spirit.
Then, in an almost urgent manner, I thought, “Lord, should I present my dad with Your salvation message?" I mean, it seemed like the perfect time. The answer I heard was “No...I am breaking up stony ground in your father's heart"
So, this wasn't the time...this wasn't the "event" we look for with our loved ones. was huge.
Love came down and reached into the depths of my father's heart. Love grabbed tenaciously to him. He couldn't resist its force and power. Love knew, as with all of us, just how to woo my dad with His love.
I almost was frozen to the spot. It was such a Holy moment, right in the hall of that Nursing Home. It was Holy Ground. I was blanketed with a weighty Presence of God and stricken with amazement, at the vastness of His love for me...for my dad.
As happens sometimes to many of us, at time went on, I was unsure if I heard the Lord right in not presenting the gospel message that day. The moment seemed so fertile.
That same loving God, who knows me so well, knew I needed reassurance.
Months later, I had a woman, that I didn't know well, come up to me at a Retreat and say this “I see a gray haired man. You love him very much. The Lord wants you to know that he is breaking up stony ground in his heart to make it supple and into a heart of flesh, to receive God's word and love"
You can imagine how comforting that was to me.
Subsequently, I would, guided by the Holy Spirit, either talk to my dad or sometimes write to him about spiritual matters...never a lot and never to overwhelm him.
The Lord ended up telling me that my dad's decision to receive him as Lord and Savior, would be private and I would not witness it.
I was given that Blessed Assurance that we long for our loved ones...for their sake and also for our hope. That we will one day be reunited with them again, as we celebrate life...face to face with our Savior.

by Linda Maynard

Weekly Bible Readings

Monday... December 19 2011...Isaiah 43:1-7
Tuesday...December 20 2011...Psalm 118
Wednesday...December 21 2011...Romans 8:31-39
Thursday...December 22 2011...1John 4:7-21
Friday...December 23 2011...Isaiah 9:6-7



It's really not all that complicated...

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8 (NIV)

Love is an innate emotion in all human beings. Evidence that God is in all of us.

Yes, that's right. I'm in complete disagreement with Robert Plutchick's Wheel of Emotions which has dominated academic opinion on the matter of basic emotions since the 1980's. Bob believes trust is the emotion that initially bonds a child with their parents and only the addition of joy with trust can love then be created.

I don't know that Bob's an atheist, but if it sounds like a duck...

What I do know is the words love, joy and trust each hold a fundamental place with me personally that fit into the equation of faith. There are other variables in that equation if you want to be all scientific about it, but Paul's letter to the church in Corinth states that love, faith and hope will endure for eternity, and that love is the greatest of the three (1 Corinthians 13:13).

By the way, that fits perfectly into God is love.

The word love and variations like loved or loves are mentioned 442 times in the KJV and 697 in the NIV of the Bible. The name of God appears over 4,000 times in each. Is that significant? Not really...because each of the 807,361 words making up the Holy Bible are derived from God.

...and God is love.

I earnestly try to live every single day of my life with the impression of 1 John 4:8 stamped on my heart. Sure. There are days that I come up way short of that goal. I need to learn to be more tolerant of people like Bob Plutchick for one because God doesn't qualify whom I should love in His Word. I'm just commanded to love.

He sets the ultimate example of love for me when He came to Earth for my benefit...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lifestyle of Love

My name is Jenna Vick Silliman. I’ve been married to the same man for 31 years and we have eight children, ages 29 to 8, seven sons and a daughter (she is second-born). We live in a big house in a little town in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve been following the Lord Jesus since I first met Him on March 23, 1974. I like to take pictures of people, to write, to travel, to speak, and to eat as healthy as possible so I have more energy to do fun stuff. I am a dancer; I teach dance classes, and dance for fun every chance I can. For church gatherings, I dance and worship with flags. I love leading and helping the youth group for my church, Deep River and every week I spend a few hours in various colorful costumes, singing and dancing for folks in nursing homes.


When I read my Bible in the morning, there’s a lot about love in there. About a year ago, on New Year’s Day, I came across some verses on love that spoke to me and caused me to seek to be a more loving person. On that day, January 1, 2011, the day of beginning anew, I made a resolution to live more of a lifestyle of love.

Here’s the Scripture I read in my Amplified Bible (slightly simplified by me). “Beloved, let’s love one another with love that springs from intimately knowing God...God is love and he who continues in love continues in God.” 1John 4:7, 16

I have learned to be more affectionate from my kids. When they say “I love you, Mom.” they throw their arms around me in a big ol’ hug and I mean a big, straight on, squeeze of a hug. I don’t like those side hugs or shoulder pats any more. To communicate love, a hug is awesome. If we’d all resolve to give more big hugs, we’d all be happier and feel more loved! Growing up I didn’t have a family that hugged very much, but I’ve changed and now I’m into hugs. When I visit folks in nursing homes, their faces light up when I give them a hug.

I’m a busy mama, but loving takes time. I heard a saying I like to keep in mind, “No one on their death bed ever says, ‘I spent too much time loving.’” When people talk to me, I like to make time to really listen to show my love. If I have a packed schedule, I might miss out on a chance to show loving interest in what someone is sharing. I know for myself, when I have an in-depth heart-to-heart talk with a friend, that is when I feel loved. I’ve noticed the people I am good friends with all like to talk. We’re gifted in gab! However, to love is to listen.

We live in a small town and folks know each other. In Bible days, people would see each other and enjoy a bit of conversation at the well when they collected their daily supply of water. Now we meet at Costco, Wal-mart, or McDonalds! I purposely allow extra time when I go out, so when I ask, “How are you?” I can lovingly wait for a full answer so I can hear their heart. Sometimes it takes a few questions to prime the pump, but usually I can get a person talking. Yes, it takes time, but when you give the gift of your time, you communicate love.

Another way to love people is to give little gifts. Everyone likes presents! I like to keep alert to what kind of cookies people like, what their favorite colors are, if they use a certain kind of pen to write with, what they like to read, or if they enjoy fresh flowers, or a certain kind of fruit. It is fun to be a crowd pleaser at church gatherings and bring a vase of flowers, a batch of homemade snickerdoodles with extra cinnamon (warm out of the oven!) on a fancy tray, or a pretty bowl of red and green grapes. The gift of a thank you note is amazing. Those who serve in the body of Christ often go months and years without a single thank you. Clerks at stores usually only hear complaints—the same with school teachers. To simply say thank you is a very loving gift that is free for the giving. To find a thank you letter in your mail box is practically extinct these days!

Clothing always makes a nice gift too. I enjoy dancing in long, twirly skirts. I shop at thrift stores and often find beautiful, colorful skirts to add to my collection. I teach children to dance, so I keep a look-out for pretty skirts to give as gifts. I also like to take girls shopping. A skirt has to pass “the twirl test” before I will buy it. Last Sunday at church I had three girls twirling for me to show me their gorgeous Christmas dresses! At thrift stores I have found lots of inexpensive gifts like, warm scarves, mugs, stuffed animals, jewelry, and handbags.

Recently I gave a neighbor a ride across town. She said she was having a hard day, so I gave her a big hug. I looked right in her eyes and asked, “What’s going on?” She poured out her heart as we drove along. As I listened to her struggles, she started to cry a little bit. I pulled over and parked when we reached her destination. She talked some more. I asked her, “May I pray for you?” She said, sure. We had a sweet time of fellowship and I felt God’s presence in my car. Before she left, I unwound my bright pink scarf from my neck and looped it over her head as a gift. She thanked me, gave me another hug, and went on her way. The hugs, the listening, the gift of a warm, colorful scarf on a cold winter’s day—all of these communicated love. My New Year’s resolution has become a reality.

Merry Christmas 2011 and a Happy New Year of a ‘Lifestyle of Love’ to you!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Love Personified

Ahh, yes, love... that greatest of all human emotions.  The indescribable thing that makes us crazy.  The thing that binds us together for life.  The thing that hurts us the most.  Love is so many things and to each of us, it means something different. In any given day we may say we love ice cream, our children, our spouse, and our new shirt.

As I thought about love and Christmas, I too thought of "love came down at Christmas."  Many years ago, I sang in a church choir.  Something I still love but don't do.  I almost joined the choir at my new church but fears of not being able to hold out notes because of asthma convinced me otherwise.  They gave their cantata last Sunday.  I missed it due to battling a migraine.

One this Christmas, many years ago, we sang the cantata, Love Came Down At Christmas.  It was beautiful.  Rich tones, great sound, wonderful story of Jesus birth - it was great.  A secret dream of mine has always been to sing the Messiah with a choir.  But that year, Love Came Down was enough.  Truly, God's love was demonstrated in unfathomable ways when Love came down in the form of an infant, born of Mary - the Son of God.

Another song, by Dottie Rambo really says it all:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Advent - Love

We’re in the homestretch to celebrating the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ which will be demonstrated by mounds of wrapping paper and eating too much. We’ve celebrated the season of Advent together, writing on themes of hope, joy, peace and this week, love. This week, we have another treat –guest writers; enjoy.


My Boy turns 5 on Christmas Eve; five in spiritual birthdays, that is. Five years ago, as we were driving home from Grandma and Grandpa’s house, my Boy made his own decision to allow Jesus to be his Saviour and Lord. Every year, as we give him a present to mark the occasion, I tell him if he never does anything more, he is loved and accepted by his Heavenly Father. If he learns nothing else in his life, I want him to know the love to which he has received.

I’ve been a Christian for 31 years and I still am learning about the Father’s love. Of course, I know the “Christian” answers and can quote appropriate Bible verses, such as Romans 8:38-39 or John 3:16 but I’ve only begun to grasp the love God has for me.

There is nothing I can do to increase his love – my works, self-sacrifices, gifts, abilities, and time spent with him will add nothing to his love. In the same way, the sins I’ve committed or have been committed to me will never decrease his love. The Father loves me no more or no less than Christopher Hitchens, the noted atheist who wrote a book called, God is Not Great.

God is love. It is not an act of his will, it is his character. You cannot separate the two. As a display of his love, God humbled himself - as a human being - so human beings could be exalted because there is no other way for us to be in relationship with him. Christmas is important because we celebrate how God came to earth. I am loved and the proof is of God’s promise is Christmas because Jesus entered our world as one of us.

Weekly Advent Bible Reading Plan:
Monday, December 19, 2011:  Isaiah 43:1-7
Tuesday, December 20, 2011:  Psalm 118
Wednesday, December 21, 2011:  Romans 8:31-39
Thursday, December 22, 2011:   1 John 4:7-21
Friday, December 23, 2011:  Isaiah 9:6-7

Friday, December 16, 2011

Peace on Earth sounds pretty good Linus...

One of the fondest memories I have from my childhood is the exuberance and joy I felt each year when CBS aired A Charlie Brown Christmas. The show first came on in 1965 and has aired annually since that first broadcast (except now on ABC).

I had the privilege of sitting down with my own family and watching it last night...and I still got goosebumps at this famous monologue:

ABC did a very good job promoting the show this year too. Just when I'm ready to throw in the towel when it comes to any form of media...I get a ray of hope that not all Christian values have been abandoned by the mainstream. At least ABC continues to let Linus tell us what Christmas is really all about...

I pray you find peace this season. The peace that can only be found through Jesus.

Weekly Advent Bible Reading Plan:
Monday, December 12, 2011: John 16:25-33
Tuesday, December 13, 2011: Romans 16:17-20
Wednesday, December 14, 2011: Galatians 5:16-23
Thursday, December 15, 2011: Deuteronomy 28:1-14
Friday, December 16, 2011: Luke 2:8-21

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It Is Well With My Soul

I was thinking, what is Peace? Is it an absence of conflict?  Or maybe a settled feeling? Perhaps, a  knowing that it is going to be all right? I think thee are appropriate answers.

I  thought of the well loved hymn by Horatio Spafford.. "It Is Well With My Soul" Then I knew my what question is more aptly answered by who is Peace?

Horatio was a successful lawyer in Chicago. He was married and he and his wife Anna had 5 children. A son and 4 daughters.

Tragedy met this man in proportions, we can only imagine.
First was the death of his only son, who was a mere 4 years old.

The next was the Great Chicago Fire that ruined him financially.
As a result of the last tragedy, he planned to sail overseas to assist DL Moody with his Evangelistic Efforts.

Unexpectedly, business matters had to be attended to and so sent Anna and their 4 daughter ahead...he would join them later.

Unbelievably, the ship his family was on, was struck by another and sank. His wife survived but their 4 daughters drowned. He was notified of this by receiving a telegram from his wife saying ,"Saved alone"
He left to join her.As  the ship that he was on, was at the approximate place that their ship went down, the Captain notified Horatio of that fact.
Horatio went into his cabin. This is where he penned this great and heartfelt hymn.

The first verse is probably the most familiar, as well as the refrain. But,as I looked more closely at the remaing verses, I saw that Horatio spoke of where he found his sustaining peace, on the cross of Jesus Christ.  It was in the joy of his salvation. He remembered the sacrifice that our dear Savior wrought for him. He was humbled and amazed at the emptying of self, which the Lord presented on behalf of all mankind. Horatio himself was part of redemption.The cross and the suffering and pain are where true Peace is found.
 I can see that Peace is not as much a feeling or a state of mind, even though it can be that, but true Peace will never come apart from Jesus Christ. He is the Prince of Peace. Peace is a person. The Cross will always be the plumbline of our faith.
Two Beatles songs come to mind. One is "Imagine" and “Give Peace a Chance" They are nice songs and inspire many people but Peace...true Peace ( Jesus) is absent from these lyrics..

Unless the world knows this, men will never taste the ultimate Peace...the true Peace.

Simply, the Cross is the plumbline of our faith.

A familiar quote says it well.
“Know Jesus...Know Peace"..."No Jesus...No Peace"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Peace… Peace on Earth Good Will to Men.  We see it on Christmas cards.  We may sing about it over Christmas.  We joke that some young woman in a beauty pageant will say that they want peace on earth.  It seems so elusive.

When I was a kid they used to say it was worse now than the previous generations.  I am old enough to remember the tumultuous 60’s.  I remember as a kid sitting in front of a black and white TV hearing someone say – we interrupt this broadcast.  First it was JFK, then it was RFK – MLK, or a riot here or there.  It was a terrible time.  I think it marked my generation in ways we cannot really explain.

Now we have the wars in Afghanistan and the ending of our involvement in Iraq.  It won’t get better in Iraq.  It won’t get better in Afghanistan and even if it did, something else would replace.  The Occupy group has not resorted to violence, but they might?  Frustration often leads to violence. 

Regardless of where you stand on any of these issues, or what your experience has been, your politics, or even your religion, I think we all can agree that peace is just as far as it was on a Judean hillside.  Rome oppressed and occupied Judea.  People feared for the future.  Solomon was right, nothing new.  It’s always a variation of the same.  People oppress other people because of status, religion, gain, or just meanness. 

How do we reconcile the reality of our world past and present with angels saying Peace on Earth.  Like the disciples who thought Jesus would usher a new reality, we also look for a new reality.  We look for the Parousia – the return of our Lord as the solution, as the time when peace will come.

That’s true.  Advent is about looking for our Lord’s return.  It will be better then.  But there is another truth just as real as the coming of the Lord.  It is that the Kingdom has already come.  Peace has already come.  Those of us who name the name of Jesus are supposed to be peace-makers.

On another Judea hillside, Jesus said – Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God (Matthew 5:9).  I’m going to step on some toes.  Lift your feet.  Believers are called to peace, not to patriotic vitriol or talk of revenge.  We are called to turn the other cheeks, love our enemies and do good to others.  

I watched a movie for class.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.  It is called Radio and stars Cuba Gooding, Jr. as an intellectually disabled young man called Radio.  It’s based on a true story.  Toward the end of the movie, the coach, the man who befriends Radio – he says, Radio treats us all the time like we wish we treated each other even part of the time.  It seems simpleminded to love others.  It seems otherworldly to love your enemies and do good to them.  It seems immature and intellectually childish to turn the other cheek.  But what if we did? 

What if we are supposed to be the agents of peace?  What if we are the ones who are called to lay down our hatred and love others?  Do you think as children of God, followers of the God who loves us so much He sent His son to be born in a manger and suffer the cruelest of death on a cross for US… do you think that we could be the ones who are supposed to bring peace?

Weekly Advent Bible Reading Plan:
Monday, December 12, 2011:  John 16:25-33
Tuesday, December 13, 2011:  Romans 16:17-20
Wednesday, December 14, 2011:  Galatians 5:16-23
Thursday, December 15, 2011:  Deuteronomy 28:1-14
Friday, December 16, 2011: Luke 2:8-21

Monday, December 12, 2011

Advent - Peace

Peace flows like a river and I love floating in it. After the satisfaction and frenzy of joy, peace envelopes like a glove on a crisp winter evening. It springs from the inside, like an aquifer. This peace is unlike what the outside world can offer; it surpasses our understanding which means it is beyond our ability to reason with it.

In John 16:25-33, Jesus explains to his disciples he is going to leave them; not only that Jesus tells us his friends they will abandon him and have tribulations. Then Jesus tells them not to worry but maintain peace. Yeah, right.

Until recent years, I didn’t know I could live in the peace river. I used to make day trips to the river, you know, spend the day on the river bed with the family, maybe a picnic and definitely a floatation device, but set up permanent camp? That’s not the real world, eventually responsibilities will call you away. Or at least I thought.

As I’ve made my hope secure, (or rather, once I learned my hope was secure because apart from Christ, I can’t do anything), I’ve laughed and rejoiced my way to the peace and rest of heaven. Nowadays, my peace isn’t like steel but it isn’t as easily shaken because I’ve been learning to focus on how big my God is, rather than how big the tribulation is and that brings me peace.

What does peace that surpasses understanding mean to you?

Weekly Advent Bible Reading Plan:
Monday, December 12, 2011:  John 16:25-33
Tuesday, December 13, 2011:  Romans 16:17-20
Wednesday, December 14, 2011:  Galatians 5:16-23
Thursday, December 15, 2011:  Deuteronomy 28:1-14
Friday, December 16, 2011: Luke 2:8-21

Friday, December 9, 2011

Welcome, welcome Christmas Day...

Wonderful Christmas memories are numerous for me. Maybe it's being right in the middle of the spirit of the season that prevents me from remembering a negative experience. Sure, I've been in a few places I would rather not have been during the holiday, but as far as a bad memory...I can't find one on my hard drive I call a brain.

I remember Christmas Day fell on Sunday back in 2005. That had been a particularly hard year for me and my family, but there was a feeling of turning a new leaf as the year end approached.
Like most families, mine has a very regimented schedule to adhere to starting with Christmas Eve each year to ensure we spread the holiday cheer evenly among our blended families. I recall one Christmas flying home from Hawaii for a few weeks. Upon returning to the island, I learned of angry family upset that I didn't come see them while I was home. I fly 8 hours home, but they can't drive 15 minutes to visit me at my parents house? Right...Merry Christmas to you too.
Anyway, our plans where slightly modified in 2005 to include a morning worship service at church. My heart was telling me that attending church was the right thing to do despite the hectic visitation schedule we were facing, but my head was focused on everything but worship early that Christmas morning. Until I actually got to church...
There was surprisingly a large crowd attending the service. I sat with my family because I didn't have to play the drums during praise music. We sang traditional Christmas carols that told of the coming of the Savior. Without being facetious, the best way to describe my heart that morning is akin to what the Grinch went through in the famous Dr. Seuss story. It was as if my heart filled and expanded out of my chest that morning with joy. The experience was absolutely unforgettable and a tremendous blessing. I wasn't there to receiving a blessing...I was there to worship and praise God for being God...but He blessed me that Christmas morning and once again reminded me it should always be about Him.
I remember walking out that day and telling my wife that I wish we had a church service every Christmas morning regardless of the day of the week. I still feel that way and so does she. Christians talk about the reason for the season and keeping Christ in Christmas...but how many church doors are closed and locked on the morning of Christmas? Too many.
Oh well, 2011 is another Sunday Christmas, and I look forward to being in God's house to focus on the greatest Joy ever given to mankind. I hope you will join me at your church for worship in one accord for that gift of Joy that was born to a virgin and forever changed our dark, fragile world.

Weekly Advent Bible Reading Plan:

Monday, December 5, 2011: John 16:16-24
Tuesday, December 6, 2011: Ezra 3:11-13
Wednesday, December 7, 2011: Psalm 126
Thursday, December 8, 2011: Hebrews 12:1-3
Friday, December 9, 2011: Philippians 4:1-9

Thursday, December 8, 2011


I might mess up your Theology when you read this but I am “one of those” who received and experienced the laughter, that came along with the Toronto Blessing. It happened not once, but many times. As I write this, I wish I could have the same thing happen. But like other gifts given to me, I don’t regulate when they come, how they come and what is inside the package..

When I say that I received it…it is the truth. I felt like it was a gift, given to me by the Lord. I realize that there were those, who were in my company, who didn’t experience what I was feeling, sometimes judged me. I know there are many still that think this phenomenon was not of God. I don’t want to be rude or haughty but I say “oh well”. I tend to think many of us have had encounters with the Lord, that others would have a hard time believing.

So, you may be among the ones who look at me askance or you may be one who tells me that you wish you could laugh like that and ask questions of what it all felt like.

Like I said, I could not make it happen, by an act of my will. But I do know it was wonderful…it was healing…it was refreshing.

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine” Proverbs 17:22 KJV

I dare say that we have all experienced belly laughter seeing a very funny movie or laughing at the irony of a joke. Isn’t it the greatest thing when we can just forget about our worries and our pain for a time? Well that is how this laughter felt to me. One thing I can say is that just about everything seemed funny.

I’ve suffered from depression, much of my life. When the laughter came, it was like a bubbling of aliveness, from deep within.,It rose up and filled my heart and my mind and my body and my soul with gladness. Gladness to be alive…gladness to just be who I am…and most of all gladness to belong to Jesus…to be loved by Him…to be accepted by my Abba (my Father God). Everything about me and around me seemed effortless. Striving was absent and in its place was a sense of everything was going to be allright.

So, it hasn’t been a sustained experience because “life happens”. Nevertheless, it was real and left an indelible mark on my soul. Surprisingly through it, I learned too, that the Lord has the best sense of humor. I didn’t always know that and sometimes I still forget that but the Word tells us that He laughs at the plans of our enemies.

“Passion laughs at the terrors of hell”…Song of Songs 8:6 The Message

So dear readers, I sincerely wish you joy. It may not come in the package that it came for me. But I ask the Lord that it would be as undeniable, as it was for me. I pray it will fill you and heal you and refresh you too. The simple fact remains, that Jesus came is enough to fill us with great joy.  It is sometimes unexplainable to others…but for us, we know it is reality. We just know.

Jesus…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross Hebrews 12:2 b KJV

Think of it…we are that JOY!
Weekly Advent Bible Reading Plan:
Monday, December 5, 2011: John 16:16-24
Tuesday, December 6, 2011: Ezra 3:11-13
Wednesday, December 7, 2011: Psalm 126
Thursday, December 8, 2011: Hebrews 12:1-3
Friday, December 9, 2011: Philippians 4:1-9

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Joy Has Come

One of my favorite things about Christmas is the music.  I love Christmas music. As you shop, the brightness of Christmas music can calm your frazzled nerves, give you that last push to finish, or just make you smile.  I love to bake for Christmas with Christmas music in the background.

I have many favorite Christmas songs.  One of my favorite Christmas present as a child was a record player – yes, a record play – I am that old.  With it I received a variety of 45’s to spin.  I listened to Frosty the Snowman, probably to the frustration of my parents, over and over and over and over again.   It’s hard to rank Christmas songs, but I do have a ranking.  On one side of one of those 45’s was the song Good King Wenceslas.  I wore that out too.  While you rarely hear it, and almost no one knows it, it is still my number one favorite in English.  You can sing along here.

My number one favorite all time forever Christmas Carol is a Norwegian one.  I hear it and I melt.  I think of snow and Brooklyn.  I think of Jul Tree Fests.  On a cold evening in January, holding my dad's hand, I would dress in festive clothing and crunch through the snow to a church.   I remember most the Salvation Army – in a great room with a huge decorated Christmas tree we’d take our little songbooks with the Norwegian flag and sing as we circled the tree holding hands. 

A few years ago, someone gave me a copy of a Norwegian Christmas recording.  It was Sissel’s Glade Jul.  On the recording was Jeg Er Så Glad Hver Julekveld.  My brain had forgotten this most beautiful of Christmas hymns.  My heart had not.   I cried when I heard it again.  Now I make sure I play it often during the Christmas season. You can listen to Sissel sing it here.  The lyrics in English are here (scroll down).

When asked, what’s your favorite Christmas Carol, as does happen this time of the year, I never answer with either of the above favorites.  While they are my top choices, most people find them obscure and just glaze over at my answer.  I have another favorite.  It’s number three on my list and most appropriate for this week.  It’s JOY TOTHE WORLD!  Even mentioning it’s title makes my heart want to burst into song – I love the triumphant announcement of this Carol.

It was written by Sir Isaac Watts and is based on Psalm 98.  Interestingly, and actually quite appropriate for the Advent season (that time of waiting and reflection on the return of our Lord) this song is about the triumphal return of Christ to this earth.  It’s a celebration song of the coming return of our King.

Joy – Joy to the World – the Lord IS come…

With joy we can declare the mystery of our faith –

Christ has died
Christ has risen,
Christ will come again. 

What a reason for Joy!  What reason to lift our voices and announce, Joy has come.

Weekly Advent Bible Reading Plan:
Monday, December 5, 2011:  John 16:16-24
Tuesday, December 6, 2011:  Ezra 3:11-13
Wednesday, December 7, 2011:  Psalm 126
Thursday, December 8, 2011:  Hebrews 12:1-3
Friday, December 9, 2011: Philippians 4:1-9