Michael W. Smith Wins the Christmas Music Trophy

Merry Christmas Eve Eve, beloveds! Today is the first time I’ve ever heard this song and  I knew I had to share it with you. It has made me cry and it keeps making me cry. I feel like this song should simultaneously be belted in a musical, sung in a church, and cried out in a quiet room in a quiet house next to a well-worn Bible to an audience of One.

I pray you can take a moment today to stop, calm your heart, and enjoy “the wondrous child” who “knows your joy and feels your suffering.” Thank you Michael W. Smith and Michael McDonald!

Surprise Snow

Ransom and I should have checked the weather before driving to Buffalo this Friday. But our judgment was “clouded” (I’m my Father’s punny daughter) because we had to run pre-Christmas errands, and we were dazed by the opportunity for a work break. Plus, it had been 60 degrees less than 5 days prior. We never expected a snowstorm.

Halfway there, the snow began. It was a beautiful addition to the gorgeous backdrop of north western NY. Large, lonely fields welcoming the white, silent fluffiness. The snow wasn’t menacing; magical and mesmerizing. It began to rekindle my hopes for a White Christmas.

We did our shopping thang, and by the end, my feet were aching from the boots I wore. #comfortoverfashionnexttime #ineverlearn. Finally we collapsed in the car, content with our bargains and buys, and began the 1.25 hour drive home. I groaned glancing at the dashboard clock to find it was way later than planned. And then, I neglected my navigating duties at the exact moment our exit passed by, setting us back an extra 15 minutes.

That’s when the snow started up again. Harder, heavier, and darker. This was a different kind of breed than earlier in the day, in the sunlight. I began reading a book aloud to distract us from the storm and to entertain Ransom. But soon, it became dangerous and we needed to turn the lights off for better night vision.

I was too nervous to keep reading anyway, although I sort of missed the safety I found in the world of our book. When I wasn’t reading anymore, I had to focus on the GPS, tracking the number of miles ’till home. There were still way too many for my liking.

It kept getting worse. The GPS took us back a different way than we came, through isolated back-roads. We’re still not sure why. We got stuck on an uphill, tires spinning. I tapped the accelerator as Ransom got out and pushed us up and over the hill.

We swerved around a turn and almost swung into a deep ditch. We were silent and about 30 seconds later Ransom said seriously, “I thought we weren’t going to make that turn.” We got stuck on another hill. No houses in site. We’re in the boonies, remember. 🙂 Ransom pushed us up the hill again. We moved as slowly as possible. A few cars whizzed past us (did they have snow tires?). We soon hit the 1.25 hour mark and we still had a long way to go.

It was treacherous. I prayed aloud a lot. I kept thanking God for getting us past the next hill, the next turn. I was suddenly amazed to find we were getting closer to home. But we had one more hurtle ahead of us. A long, steep downhill preceded our street. I would have preferred an uphill where Ransom could push us up. But we started down and we started to lose control of the car. It was steeper than we remembered. We were going to go down fast and we would probably start spinning, ending up who knows where down at the bottom. Thanks be to God, a driveway appeared and Ransom made a split-second decision to steer us into the direction of the driveway. Our car gained traction and we parked in a stranger’s long driveway.

At that point we were close enough to home to walk, so we left an apologetic note in their door, promising to pick up our car as soon as the storm let up. We gathered our things and walked home, arriving almost 3 hours later.

Phew. My adrenaline is pumping just remembering that anxious-ridden drive. But I want to express my thankfulness, beloveds. I am thankful for God’s protection. He kept us from danger countless times on that drive. I am thankful for my husband, Ransom. He stayed calm for the two of us, made wise decisions, and gave all he had (even brute force) to get us home. I am thankful for the life God has given us to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. It’s experiences like these that help remind us just how small we are and how big He is. Just how out of control we are and how in control He is. We very well could have crashed at the bottom of the hill, if that was His will. But that doesn’t change the fact that even then, He is the same loving and caring God.* Ultimately, I am thankful God is the only refuge for our souls, our safe place, our eternal peace. Christ has and will ultimately silence the waves (and the snow), making it magical and mesmerizing again! Thank you God, for your Fatherly care on this life journey and for one day guiding us to home sweet home again.

snow falling

*Nancy Guthrie says this well-Jesus protects us from the Evil One and Judgment:

“The fact is, God cares more about our spiritual health than our physical health. Our bodies are going to die. Our souls are going to live forever. And God’s ability to protect our souls from eternal judgment and eternal death is more significant than his ability to protect our bodies from disease or death. Trapped in these bodies and in this time, it is hard for us to grasp. So in our prayer requests for safe travel and physical health, and in our more desperate prayers amid great difficulties, we try to apply to our bodies his promises of protection for our souls, and we’re left disappointed, accusing him of falling down on the job. But we will continue to be disappointed in him until our value system lines up with his, until we value the eternal life of our souls more than the limited life of our mortal bodies, until we understand that God’s primary agenda is kingdom building. It may cost us our very lives, and he is okay with that…

...God knows that you and I need protection from judgment, which is going to fall, flowing out of divine justice. So he sent us a Protector in the form of a vulnerable baby, a Savior who is no less than his own Son. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17). As we hide ourselves in the person and work of Jesus, we find shelter from the sure and certain judgment of the last day…

So can I expect God to protect me, and anyone devastated by a tragedy as big as Katrina? Absolutely! I’ve come to see that his “protection plan” is more vast and far-reaching than my shallow expectations once defined. I see now that God’s promises for protection go much deeper than protecting my body or my agenda or my plan for my life. I can rest easy. I’m protected.” –“Can I Really Expect God to Protect Me?” by Nancy Guthrie

 

A Poem for Advent

Mary’s Song

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star
fallen to my arms. (Rest …
you who have had so far
to come.) Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
whose vigor hurled
a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.

His breath (so slight it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world.
Charmed by doves’ voices, the whisper of straw,
he dreams,
hearing no music from his other spheres.
Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed
who overflowed all skies,
all years.
Older than eternity, now he
is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught that I might be free,
blind in my womb to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth
for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.

Luci Shaw

Rejoice in Suffering?!?

I wanted to share my notes with you from Dr. Vern Poythress’ riveting chapel talk on 1 Peter 4:12-19. If you’d like to listen to it, you can here:

Reasons Peter Gives to Support that Impossible Demand to Rejoice in Suffering

Suffering is necessary (v.18). Anyone who is a son, is disciplined by their Father. Discipline isn’t great, but even earthly Fathers need to do it. As Christians, we don’t have the question “why” about suffering, and that lessens our worry.

It’s not suffering in isolation, it’s corporate suffering (v. 17). There is a measure of comfort and solidarity and consolation that comes in having other people around and in acknowledging the suffering of others.

Suffering is accompanied with the blessing of the Spirit (v. 14). God gives you the strength to face the suffering AT THE TIME when you need it and not before. There is an implicit promise that this suffering is not the end, and even in the midst of suffering, we get a taste and fragrance of the paradise of God that is coming.

Suffering is eschatological (v.7). You are encouraged by seeing the end in sight. THAT’S the character of how you are called to live as a Christian. To know that the end is coming.

The glorious character of suffering’s outcome (v.13). The suffering of this life comes to an end. There’s an OVERJOY of the time of Christ’s coming. The rejoicing in suffering now is the first installment, and we have the anticipation of the final installment: a greatness of joy unmingled with pain and death.

How To Get Our Hearts To Appreciate Those Reasons

1. Trust God and His power and goodness (v.19). Those very basic things in which the lily of the field have ought to taught us, rather than a magic formula of “3 steps to holiness.” It’s that very basic call to trust the One whom we have no reason not to trust.

2. Participation in Christ’s sufferings (v.13). We’ll be learning to understand this better our whole lives. The pain of suffering, the struggle to believe in God in the horror of it all, gives us a little taste of the outer limits of that immense suffering that Christ was willing to endure for us.

“If God was wise and powerful enough to bring about, through the hands of wicked men, the salvation of the world through the crucifixion, the ugliest crime of human history…if God is wise like that, trust him with your own life. Trust him with your own suffering. And commit your soul to him by doing good.” – Dr. Vern Poythress 

The Calvinist by John Piper

See him on his knees,
Hear his constant pleas:
Heart of ev’ry aim:
“Hallowed be Your name.”

See him in the Word,
Helpless, cool, unstirred,
Heaping on the pyre
Heed until the fire.

See him with his books:
Tree beside the brooks,
Drinking at the root
Till the branch bear fruit.

See him with his pen:
Written line, and then,
Better thought preferred,
Deep from in the Word.

See him in the square,
Kept from subtle snare:
Unrelenting sleuth
On the scent of truth.

See him on the street,
Seeking to entreat,
Meek and treasuring:
“Do you know my King?”

See him in dispute,
Firm and resolute,
Driven by the fame
Of his Father’s name.

See him at his trade.
Done. The plan is made.
Men will have his skills,
If the Father wills.

See him at his meal,
Praying now to feel
Thanks and, be it graced,
God in ev’ry taste.

See him with his child:
Has he ever smiled
Such a smile before,
Playing on the floor?

See him with his wife,
Parable for life:
In this sacred scene
She is heaven’s queen.

See him stray. He groans.
“One is true,” he owns.
“What is left to me?
Fallibility.”

See him in lament
“Should I now repent?”
“Yes. And then proclaim:
All is for my fame.”

See him worshipping.
Watch the sinner sing,
Spared the burning flood
Only by the blood.

See him on the shore:
“Whence this ocean store?”
“From your God above,
Thimbleful of love.”

See him now asleep.
Watch the helpless reap,
But no credit take,
Just as when awake.

See him nearing death.
Listen to his breath,
Through the ebbing pain:
Final whisper: “Gain!”

Up From The Grave He Arose

It’s Easter Morn!

He is Risen Indeed!

Read about why I’m so joyous here:

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb,taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened. Luke 24:1-12

Message Coming In Loud and Clear

When 3 unrelated, different sources within one morning direct you to the same Psalm, you stop and take note. That is the case today with me and Psalm 1. God, I’m getting the message loud and clear! Maybe this is the nourishment that you need today, as well. Beloveds, I pray that God’s Word would be our delight. For it is what we need and what will make us grow like a well-rooted tree. Drink deeply of his Word today!

Psalm 1

1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.