Let’s Get Loud. It’s Christmas!

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Luke 2:11-14, ESV

How very busy things get! Think of it, shepherds are meeting singing angels who are meeting people.  It must have been a bit crazy!  It’s verse 13 that, a very large group of angels made their entrance that night.  Human history is being made now, and the world has now been changed.

These are not quiet or stoic angels, rather they are a multitude of music, and they’re filled with incredible joy. A joy that can’t be contained.

And as happy as this ‘angel crowd’ gets,  it doesn’t phase them that God in heaven is now wrapped in human flesh and has been born in a manger.  Every angel and almost every person understands– this isn’t the place to have babies! 

(Angels being angels, I think they were not thrilled with this grim hospitality being shown to God.  They probably said some ‘un-angelical’ things under their breath).

But this doesn’t matter, you see this swarm of angels descend on the stinky stable. 

And they are ecstatic, belting out at the top of their lungs songs of worship and praise.  The squalid environment isn’t a problem for them.  The cow manure, sheep feces, and filthy straw can all be smelled, but that means nothing at this moment.

Friends, I must confess–my heart is very much like this dirty stable. 

Everything is so filthy, and the smell makes my eyes water, and the flies are thick and everywhere.  It is all so sad, and pathetic.  There are many others with clean, white hearts, why should He choose my heart to abide? He must clean me, wash me with His hot red blood. (1 John 1:9)

The choir is singing now, and all of them are in deep, wonderous worship.  They belt it out with the enthusiasm of rabid fans at a World Cup soccer game.  But I examine my heart I see so many issues, some things that are actually destroying me. I’m glad He’s all powerful and all loving–all the time and forever and ever.

But the angels, well, they just keep singing.

Perhaps (maybe) we need to take the hint?

“It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.”

Charles Dickens

 

Happy Merry Christmas!

 

A Child has been born who has always been the Everlasting One.

Remarkably good news for rascals like us. More than anything, we desperately need a Savior. He has come for us in this amazing way, totally unpredictable for those looking for a king. Leave it to Him to always jolt us when we least expect it.

All that He is, we needed. He fits the needs of mankind perfectly. Isaiah told us of what He would be like, and is a completely ideal Savior for people like us. He was ‘custom built’ for our needs. Isaiah 9:6, tells us what He will be:

  • a son who is a ‘gift,’
  • a counselor who is wonderful,
  • a strong God,
  • a steady father,
  • and a prince to bring us peace.

This is not a comprehensive list, for He is all this and more. (And He is so much more!)

I’ve found that the Lord Jesus is full of surprises, but He always honors simple faith. The shepherds understood; King Herod and the religious cabal did not. When you follow Him, expect the unexpected, even if He chooses to come in a manger. He seems to enjoy this approach. He chose the humblest way possible.

“There were only a few shepherds at the first Bethlehem. The ox and the donkey understood more of the first Christmas than the high priests in Jerusalem. And it is the same today. “  

~ Thomas Merton

Please let God show you more.

I hope you have a happy, joyful, and thoughtful Merry Christmas!

 

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Jesus is My Apple Tree

apple-tree

“Like the finest apple tree in the orchard
    is my lover among other young men.
I sit in his delightful shade
    and taste his delicious fruit.”

Song of Solomon 2:3, NLT

Jesus is my apple tree. He keeps my dying soul alive.

He is the subject of many different metaphors. We know him as a shepherd, a door, and bread. There are many other ‘pictures’ in Scripture, that speak of his ministry and life. There is one that strikes me today, that of Jesus Christ as a life-giving tree– an apple tree. Song of Solomon 2:3 and Revelation 22:1 are the ‘roots’ of this wondrous thought.

“On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.”

Rev. 22:2

To think of Jesus as ‘the tree of life’ or an apple tree is both an honor to Him and a strength for us. We can swirl metaphors around all day and never exhaust their truths. Jesus (a.k.a. “the apple tree”) is seen imparting life and healing through his fruit. He is the source of everything good and grand in our lives. Eating his fruit is not only significant but encouraged. (Like most things in God’s Kingdom.)

The young maiden in Song of Solomon has given us her take on Jesus— her shepherd, lover, and king. She sees him as the finest in the forest. He provides shade to her, as she eats the fruit of his branches.

Oh, what a worthy picture of Jesus our savior. We can look at this all day. As we come to him we can see the One who is gifting each of us his blessings. We do well to consider him this way.  The first few lines set the tone for us.

The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.”

The song, based on an anonymous poem, first appeared in a New England hymn collection by a New Hampshire preacher in 1784, so it has a history. Many people sing this as a Christmas carol, although there is nothing in the words that refer to Christmas. Go through each stanza. See if it fits you. Perhaps it will cause you to see Jesus in a new way. Here is the poem in its entirety:

Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree

The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.

His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne’er can tell,
His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne’er can tell,
The glory which I now can see
In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
I missed of all; but now I see
‘Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the apple tree.

“Consider Jesus. Know Jesus. Learn what kind of Person it is you say you trust and love and worship. Soak in the shadow of Jesus. Saturate your soul with the ways of Jesus. Watch Him. Listen to Him. Stand in awe of Him. Let Him overwhelm you with the way He is.”   

John Piper

Messy Presents: A Christmas Poem for All Seasons

We want our presents in pretty paper
All wrapped up in a shiny neat bow
We want our faith to be the same
So our doubts and struggles never show

Yet the greatest gifts aren’t neat and tidy
Like the manger birth steeped in blood
A child born like any other babe
With the addition of dirty stable mud

And Christ’s willing sacrifice on the cross
After flogging caused welts and spit adorned
The bleeding brow of the King of kings
Ringed by crowds who mocked and scorned

Each trial and loss we face in life
Can draw us closer to the God we need
If we don’t bury the doubts that rise
But seek the gift each death has freed

Open the messy presents He gives
To find healing for all of life’s woes
Remember when you grieve the most
The Babe born to die for you knows

For more Christmas poetry, check out my latest poem on Anchored Voices blog. It’s called My Favorite Name.

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