Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Light of Christmas

When the world is filled with darkness, it is sometimes difficult to see the Light. But it is only by the Light, that we can truly see.  That was the reason Immanuel, God With Us, came to be born in a stable to a virgin over 2000 years ago.

“Behold people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.”—Isaiah 9:2

It is fitting then that the Light of the world would be heralded this way when the angels appeared to the shepherds in the Judean hills near the town of Bethlehem:

“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. For I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord.’” Luke 2: 9-11

So when life seems its darkest, remember the words from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem which he wrote during the American Civil War:

And in despair I bowed my head
 “There is no peace on earth,” I said,
 “For hate is strong and mocks the song
 Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
 “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
 The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
 With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Out of balance

My Chinese friends emphasize balance in all things in life. Mom used to emphasize it in medical terms; in fact, one of her favorite words was homeostasis—the attempt by the body to maintain internal stability. Experts tell us how important balance is to our well-being. But despite these admonitions about balance, we’re also told the only thing constant in life is change.

In reality, the only true constant thing in life is God and I maintain He is not all about balance. At least I don’t think His love is.  The contemporary Christian group Downhere captures the essence of God’s unparalleled love in their song “How Many Kings?”

“How many kings stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
Only One did that for me…all for you, all for me.”

God’s love can’t be balanced because it is extravagant, unconditional, and incomprehensible. There is no god like ours for only our God would dream of going to such lengths just because He loves us.  So this Christmas let me encourage you to get out of balance. Not in spending. Not in eating or drinking. But in loving.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Blaze of Glory

John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Six weeks ago, I went to Birmingham to see my Dad who was in the hospital ICU in serious condition.  It was not a fun reason to go out of town, but during the four and a half hour trip, I could feel God’s presence in a special way. As only He can, God turned my gloomy road trip into a wonderful time of prayer, praise and worship and it all started with leaves.

When I left for Birmingham the leaves had not begun to turn in Mobile. Each fall, I relish seeing the leaves change colors, but living on the Gulf Coast, the autumn is not quite as spectacular as it is a little north from here. So as I traveled nearly 300 miles to see Dad, I enjoyed the strands of trees bejeweled in gold, red, crimson and plum. As I rounded curves in the road and saw more and more eye candy from God, the sight was enough to make me gasp. I may seem quaint but I love the splendor God put into nature and I think He likes it when we show our appreciation for His gifts, no matter how ordinary they may seem. Yet for me, there’s nothing ordinary about seeing the sun shining through gold and orange leaves making them look as if the tree has caught fire without being consumed by the flames. It reminds me of the burning bush Moses observed on Mt. Horeb.  

And that reminds me of God describing Himself to Moses as “I am.” He is the God who is with us; He is the God who sees; and He is the God of love. And on a lovely fall day, He quieted my spirit with His love and His presence. And then He did a miracle and Daddy went home less than a week later in much better health. Like John, I can say I have seen God’s glory, the glory of the one and only Son.