Thursday, December 27, 2012

Boxing Day...

     I've been thinking a lot about Boxing Day.  What an odd name for a day.  I wondered how it came to be called that.  Turns out, no one really knows for sure how "Boxing Day" got its' name.  Some think it dates back to the 10th century and "Good King Wenceslas", who was Duke of Bohemia.  He was moved to compassion by a peasant gathering wood and boxed up food and supplies to give to the peasant.  Another possible origin might be the Church of England which collected funds in boxes which were broken open on December 26th and used to help the poor.  Still another possibility is that historically, the aristocracy would give gifts to their servants the day after Christmas as a sort of annual bonus.  (Read more:,8599,1868711,00.html#ixzz2GGfO3JU7)

Which is correct?  I don't know.  Neither does Time Magazine whose article is referenced above but one thing I do know is that there's very little resemblance to any of these in our consumer driven culture.  We tend to use it as a day to shop and indulge our wants.  Sometimes we use it as a day to box up the lights and ornaments that we've used to decorate our homes and tree, but I fear it has become a day when we box up Jesus and return Him to the shelf until next year.

You see, there is still an element of society that remembers that Christmas is supposed to celebrate Jesus' birth but we forget (or don't slow down enough to think) that He came to earth to be our Lord and Savior, the Prince of Peace, the King of kings!  Don't we need a Savior every day?  Just five minutes of the news and we are forcibly reminded how desperately we need peace!  This is the gift of God to us.  Sin and evil surround us.  Let's face it, there's enough of that in us.  Christ came to save us from our sins.  If we looked to live as Jesus did, wouldn't we have more peace?  But it's not going to happen if we box Him up - out of sight and out of mind - ready to live 2013 as we want.  It's not even going to happen if we pay God's gift lipservice over the next 12 months or take Him and leave Him at our whim.  No, it's only going to happen if we allow Christ to be King over our lives!

It's been challenging me these last 24 hours.  As I set goals for 2013 and think about what's important, as I take out my daytimer and consider how I will spend my time, or my budget and how I will spend my money, will I make Him King? 

I pray that I will.  I've tasted and seen that God is good.  His mercy and grace are fathomless and His love defies description!  Yes, I pray that I will.  It's going to take practice - surrendering my stubborn will to His which is infinitely better.  I'm going to fall short, sin, stumble - but I will not box Him up!  Never!  The gift is too priceless!  What about you?  What will you do?

Monday, December 24, 2012


I have been thinking a lot about gifts this week but not the kind that you put under the tree.  No... I've had a different perspective... you see, eight days ago I underwent surgery.  I'm back at home and healing nicely but it wasn't how I planned on spending Christmas.  If I had chosen, this wouldn't have been the time.  There's so much that needs to be done.  Finish the shopping, then the wrapping.  Do some baking and some cleaning.  Take in some events.  Finish planning others.  Instead, my hectic, fast-paced Christmas season came to a screeching halt and my world became still.  At first glance, I wouldn't have called this a gift - at least, not a nice one.

It's amazing how our point of view changes when we become still.  In the quietness, we appreciate things that we have barely noticed from high gear.  Things that normally provoke stress can be consumed by prevailing peace and even enjoyed.  Case in point - decorating the Christmas tree with my children.  As I was resigned to sit and watch rather than control, it was amazing how beautiful the whole scenario could be.

I guess that's when I began to really recognize this surgery and period of recuperation - over Christmas - as a good gift and not an intrusion.  In the stillness I found peace from the frenzy, joy in the little things and savored Christ in Christmas.  I almost missed it.  The packaging wasn't what I expected. 

God gives good gifts - all the time.  We are either just moving to fast to see them or we dismiss them because they don't come wrapped in the packaging we expected.  That's what God did with Jesus.  The people were longing and waiting for the arrival of the Messiah - the King.  But, they weren't expecting Him to be born of a peasant girl - in a stable instead of a palace.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey some thirty years later, they expected Him to set-up His earthly kingdom, not lay down His earthly life.  God's ways are much higher than our ways.  When we expect Him to act like just a better form of us, we are going to miss Him entirely. 

I wonder where you're at this Christmas... Do you find yourself longing and waiting for something?  Someone?  Are you craving peace?  Stillness?  Hope?  Joy?  Perhaps you didn't recognize the packaging.  These things cannot be found in the bright, sparkling things of the world.  Oh, the wrapping might be enticing but inside the package is empty.  These things that we are really craving can only be satisfied in Jesus! 

Has an unexpected package arrived in your life?  Maybe it's the very thing that will cause you to stop and look and see...

Romans 6:22-23

The Message (MSG)

But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.

God, thank You for the gift of really living today and the promise of endless tomorrows.  Thank You for sending Your Son - the King of kings - born of a virgin peasant girl to pay the pension for my sin.  Thank You for interrupting the busyness of my life and helping me to see all over again.  Thank You for loving me so much that You sent me the gift of stillness - wrapped up in stitches and gauze - so that once again I could see Your great love for me!

Friday, December 7, 2012

He's Got You Surrounded!

I've searched all over this morning for a picture that matches the one in my mind's eye.  Over the last few days, the LORD has been painting a picture for me through His Word and oh, how I wish, I could show it to you!  I pray that as I show you the scriptures that the LORD has shown me, His Spirit would delight and encourage your heart as He has done with mine...

Psalm 125:1-2 says, "Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.  As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds His people, from this time forth and forevermore."  This caught my attention.  Though I've never been to Jerusalem, I could picture being surrounded by mountains but what did it look like to be surrounded by the LORD?

An old commentary on the Psalms by E.C.Olsen sent me to Job, chapter 1.  I may often forget that the LORD has placed a hedge around about me, but satan never forgets!  "Does Job fear God for no good reason? Have You not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side?"  I like that!  From the rest of the story in the book of Job, I know that if something gets through that hedge of protection the LORD has placed around me, it's not because the enemy broke through - it's because God allowed it - and will ultimately use it for my good and His glory!

That's good to remember, yet the LORD knows me so well... He knows that I am a visual learner and when He gives me a picture of specific truth, I am way more apt to remember it.  This morning, I was reading Psalm 139.  It opens by affirming just how well He knows me.  He knows when I sit and when I rise.  He discerns my thoughts from afar.  He's acquainted with all of my ways.  He hems me in, behind and before me... Ding, ding, ding!  The truths from Psalm 125 and Job 1 come rushing back to my mind.

Once again, I pull out the commentary by E.C. Olsen.  This time, he contemplates John 10:28-29 side by side with these words from Psalm 139.  John 10:28 tells me that those who have trusted Jesus for eternal life can be found in His hand.  I literally pictured myself resting bodily in the palm of that nail-scarred hand.  That seems like a pretty safe place to me but just in case I was doubting, Jesus goes on to say that His Father is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.  I was still mulling that over when I turned back to Psalm 139.  Listen to these words from verse 5, "You hem me in, behind and before, and lay Your hand upon me."  (emphasis mine)

Picture this!  If you have placed your life in Christ's hands, you are held, cradled in the palm of His hand.  As if that weren't enough, the Father takes His own hand and lays it over you.  You are completely surrounded by the Hands of the Almighty!  Nothing can snatch you out!  The hands that formed the universe, put the stars in place, lovingly hold you and you can rest there.  What else could I possibly want?  But our God is a God of abundance.  There was one more brush stroke left for Him to paint me today.  It comes from Psalm 32:7.  While I am there, cradled in that hiding place for me, He preserves me from trouble; and if I am listening - truly listening - I'll hear His mighty voice as He surrounds me with shouts of deliverance.  "Selah" - pause and calmly think on that!