Monday, December 20, 2010

Come, Long Expected Jesus

Favorite Christmas hymn this year. The words are incredible.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.



Monday, December 13, 2010

Three Snapshots of Christmas

The same Christmas story.
3 different authors.
3 different books of the Bible.

"Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. . . . For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 7:14, 9:6

"...the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. [Mary] wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and they were terrified. 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. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.'" Luke 2:6-11

"A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman . . . was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and several crowns on his head. . . . The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter." Revelation 12:1-5

One story. The same story. Three perspectives. I didn't realize the Revelation snapshot told the story of Jesus (now I do! thanks to Pastor Eric's sermon a week ago). I can now visualize the scene of Jesus' birth with the "veil" pulled back and the spiritual realm visible. It's a parallel manger scene. The unseen side of Christmas - no one usually mentions a seven-headed dragon when describing the lowly stable, fluffy sheep, and sleepy shepherds!

Pastor Eric shared that the Revelation 12 passage helps us realize two things.

1. Why life feels so much like a grinding battle.

Because it is a battle. Read the rest of the story: "When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. . . . Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring - those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus." Revelation 12: 13-17

Could this possibly explain some of our struggles in life? Why is so hard to continue to do good? Why does life feel like a storm? Why does gaining righteousness seem so impossible? Why does living for Christ feel like pressing against a brick wall? Because of Revelation 12, that's why.

2. What weapons we need to become skilled/comfortable handling.

Would you consider going into an earthly battle with no armor? And what about weapons? Even if you had a weapon, would you actually know how to fire a gun properly? I certainly wouldn't go into battle without armor and I most certainly wouldn't consider using a weapon without some training & skill! Why is it, then, that I even consider going up against such a foe as a seven-headed dragon without armor or weapons!? I need to be skilled in spiritual battle, knowing how to handle the weapons God has given to us:

Take up the sword of the Spirit - be deeply immersed in the Word of God and know it.
Pray in the Spirit - live from your knees. (see Ephesians 6:11-18)

Between Jesus' birth and "we win" we are at war with a seven-headed dragon, Satan, the devil himself. He's coming after anyone "who obeys God's commandments and holds to the testimony of Jesus." This puts a new spin on Christmas, doesn't it? From a Revelation 12 perspective, Christmas isn't just about manger scenes or angels singing or stars in the sky. Christmas signals the start of war.

Source: Pastor Eric's sermon at Eagle Church, December 5, 2010. It's a good one! Listen here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mantlescapes

Since our two mantles are in the process of being "Christmasfied" and since I am constantly changing how they look anyway, I thought I would take a few pictures of the fall-2010-look.

First, a picture of my fun containers from Ikea. They are currently just sitting there on the ledge in our kitchen. With no purpose except to make me happy every time I look at them.

This is the mantle in our living room. Dried flowers. Ocean & lighthouse pictures from Maine. Clock that our grandpa made. Wooden container from El Salvador. Picture from our wedding. 2 green spray painted items. Blue Goodwill vase with more dried flowers.




No good overall pictures of the mantle in the dining room. Just a small snapshot. Mom found 2 blue-tinted wine glasses at Kroger on super-sale and I filled them with rocks & shells from my travels (the big flat ones are from New Zealand!) and votive candles.


Hope you enjoyed the first installment of "mantlescapes." I know there will be more to come. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

monday randoms

I don't usually do random Monday posts, so I thought today was a good day to start.
  • Goodwill 50% off shopping on Saturday morning was highly successfull. Let's see if I can remember my loot-list: 16 winter tops/sweaters, a jacket, a pair of shoes, 2 fun storage tins, an unopened puzzle, about 30 Christmas tree balls, a bag, a purse, and 3 fun Target belts (brand new). All for under $100. And I'm sure there's something I'm forgetting . . .
  • It was 8 degrees when I drove to work this morning. As I made my usual "cold noises," I reminded myself that I like cold weather. And I do. Sometimes I just need to remind myself.
  • My mother and I successfully dyed a dress on Friday night. It didn't take that long; there wasn't a big mess (translation: my kitchen doesn't have green splotches); and the dress isn't streaky at all! Pictures to come in January when I plan to wear it.
  • Mom and I also worked on ironing & hemming curtains for 2 hours on Friday night and about 8 hours on Saturday and we still have at least 5 hours of work left. What a tedious project. My bedroom is done but the library will have to wait until January. I've decided that it's not worth it to add stress to my December schedule to push getting them done right now. (Ikea curtains are great but be forewarned of the tedious hemming process, especially if you have 12 curtains to do!)
  • I am currently listening to Handel's Messiah on YouTube - a version performed in Moscow. Bryce and I are planning to see the symphony perform the same in a few weeks. Such a masterpiece proclaiming the glory of God! I remember listening to it with my Dad when we were growing up and following along on the sheet music. Handel's Messiah definitely puts me in a Christmas frame of mind.
  • Note to self: do not leave a banana in your to-and-from-work bag for 6 days. Old bananas smell. And turn black. And stink up everything in your bag. Yuck.