If You Believe the Christmas Songs

Pentatonix.

I stumbled across their version of “the Little Drummer Boy” this morning, and my oh my I was in for a treat! Have a listen!

A newborn king to see. 

King Jesus. 

No gifts do they bring that would be fitting for such a child. 

And earlier this week I was listening to and thinking about their rendition of “Mary, Did You Know?”

So beautiful! Did you catch the words they are saying about the baby we are celebrating this month?

He would save our sons and daughters. 

He will deliver you. 

He has walked where angels trod.

He is Lord of all creation. 

He is the Great I Am. 

Here’s the thing. I don’t know where Pentatonix, or anyone on the Christmas radio station for that matter, lands theologically. I don’t know if they believe what they are singing about, if they think it is just a classic, endearing tradition, or if they think it’s a ridiculous, inflated fairy tale. But I know what I believe, and what I hope you believe.

Jesus was a real man-100% God, 100% man. He was born of a virgin, lived a PERFECT life because he was God, and then willingly sacrificed his life on the cross in payment for the sins of all who believe in him as Lord so that we could be reconciled to God. He rose on the 3rd day, conquering death and Satan and is seated at the right hand of God the Father-now and forevermore. I believe the Christmas songs we sing about Christ are rooted in truth and written to stir our gratitude to God for the beautiful, creative, selfless gift of Himself in the incarnation. The incarnation was the first human footstep of God to the cross, and our redemption. The manager was the first human resting place for our Savior who has now gone to prepare a place of final rest for us in his Father’s house.  

So as we listen to Christmas carols, and songs of the season that aren’t about hippopotamuses or the Grinch (which I love too, by the way!), know that the fact that we BELIEVE the foundation of the lyrics should change how we listen to them. Let’s allow our heart to swell with joy in thinking about the purposes for Christ coming. Let’s try not to just listen, or just sing these songs this year-anyone can do that. Instead, let’s think about the truth in the lyrics, and worship God because of them. 

Merry Christmas!

From an Angel’s Eye View

I’ll try and make this quick, because I know you all have a lot to do. A lot of shopping. A lot of wrapping. A lot of eating. But I want to tell you my version of the story-the Christmas story. But before I go to that beginning, let me start at another one.

I remember when the Trinity first made mankind. Guys it was amazing. Now God had always been perfectly whole, perfectly joyful, and perfect content-but oh my goodness, when he made man…what delight we saw in his eyes. He loved humans the way he loved himself-perfectly, and we as angels had never seen anything so beautiful before. We watched your relationship unfold. We were angry along with God when you betrayed him in the garden. We thought for sure He would give you what you justly deserved-banishment just like he gave to Lucifer. But instead, He showed you guys mercy. We didn’t really understand it. We didn’t get WHY He loved and forgave you guys time and time again but, He did…and well, you know He still does. Anyway, we watched history happen up close. We heard of His plan for redemption and rejoiced at His feet over His immense love for you all. For hundreds of years we both ministered and observed the human population. We saw kings and kingdoms rise and fall, we watched prophet’s hearts break right along with God’s as mankind rejected the abundant life that He offered them.

I’ll never forget the day that Michael called us all together for an announcement. He told us how he just spoken with Our Righteous Lord and soon He was going to send the Messiah and start the ball rolling on the salvific plan for his people. We cheered; all of heaven erupted in joy! Finally, after all this time, and at the perfect time, God was going to reconcile the people whom He loves so dearly to Himself. No longer will their sin get in the way. The Messiah would be a sacrifice for all their sins!

We read the Scriptures. We know them. We knew that the government would  be on his shoulders! We knew what the Chosen One would be called-Emmanuel, Prince of Peace, Mighty Counselor!  We knew he would be born in Bethlehem, and would spend a season of his life in Egypt, but, of course, we didn’t know HOW God was going bring all of this to fruition, or WHO would fulfill all of the prophesies. We had been watching David’s descendants, always wondering, “Is this who God will choose?” “Maybe this son will finally be the one!” We had been wondering how it will happen. A couple of us shouted out some of our thoughts.  “Can we all ride as an army announcing his arrival?” Some shouted words of praise “Glory to God in the Highest!” I asked if we could ride down in chariots of fire, because that would be awesome!  An angel beside me reminded us of some of the prophesies saying, “I’ll bet he’ll be just like David-that’s why they’ll call him King! Isaiah 53 says he’ll be buried with the rich-that probably means he’ll come from a rich family!” and on and on we went. We were giddy, to say the least.

Then Michael silenced us all.

He took a deep breath, and smiled at us. He reminded us how creative and loving and good our God is. We all knowingly agreed. We would never argue that fact; why was he reminding us of that?

“Our God’s plan, since the dawn of time is now being revealed. And that plan is…that the Messiah…is going to be…”

We were all on the edge of our celestial seats; just say it Michael!

“God the Son.”

Dead silence.

What?

God the Son?

Had we misheard Michael?

That can’t be! We all began shouting. “But Psalms says the Messiah will be forsaken by God! God cannot forsake himself!” “And Isaiah says that he’ll be crucified with criminals-that CANNOT HAPPEN TO OUR GOD. We can’t allow that!”  “ They will hate him! They will kill him! This can’t be! Why?”

Michael nodded in understanding. After all, not 24 hours earlier we were all worshiping that very God that now supposedly is going to be sent to earth. Ug. Earth. It’s a horrible place! I mean, I know it is incredible and God loves its inhabitants, and I do too…it’s just…here in Heaven-He is in all his glory. He is worshiped perfectly, He is adored rightfully, and He is honored ever single moment of eternity. How could He give this up to go to those people? Knowing what would happen? Choose someone else. Why him?!

Michael told us, “You shouldn’t be so surprised. Think about it. Think about how deep the Father’s love for mankind is. He is willing to give himself over to them. Think about what it will mean to them, for the Messiah to be God. To be perfect. To be willing to lay down his life so that they may live. There is no more beautiful, perfect plan of salvation. My friends, this way, God’s way, is the most brilliant pinnacle part of his story to redeem his beloved humans to himself. Rejoice in its beauty.”

We thought about it in silence for a few minutes, and quickly and clearly began to see the depth of beauty in God’s plan. We just couldn’t believe it. It’s almost too incredible for us to comprehend. But then again, that is our God.  He is unfathomably loving, and incomprehensibly perfect in his planning.

We asked if we could give him a proper entrance into earth when the time came for him to go. We knew that mankind, no offense, would not recognize the magnitude of this humility and beauty of this decision-but we would and we can.  Can we tell every king and ruler and philosopher to prepare their hearts for the Messiah is finally coming? Can we fill the sky telling every living creature that God has displayed His power and majesty and glory this night and command them to praise and worship Him? Michael told us that God was a few steps ahead of us (as always!) and that the Holy Spirit was already working on and in the hearts of a handful of kings in the east, but other than that, the only people we were to announce glory to as the multitude, were…wait for it…shepherds.

I almost, almost, laughed out loud-because, that is so wonderfully typical of God.  He has a legion of angels that specialize in worshipping him flawlessly and could spread the news of his plan in perfect glory, but he would rather the world of man be told of his entrance by…shepherds. Shepherds! Michael told us a few other quick snippets of God’s plan in using PEOPLE, ordinary HUMANS to worship and proclaim Him-old and young, rich and poor. His incredible love for people never ceases to amaze me.

So that night we left heaven and appeared in the sky to the shepherds and proclaimed God’s good news and glory. The Savior had been born. The long awaited Messiah had come. But he was far more than any of us could have ever thought or imagined. He was God himself. I had never experienced such full joy and love for my God. I didn’t know it was possible to think MORE highly of Him, or be MORE floored at his creative love, humility, and perfection. I think sometimes because you guys didn’t get to live the story like I did, you humans, forget the magnitude of WHO the Messiah is. When you look at that baby in the manger, please don’t forget that that baby, is the second part of the Godhead. Don’t forget that he who was once clothed in righteousness and splendor chose to shackle himself to the most limiting of earthly flesh-that of an infant. The God who formed the first tongue and created it to speak, now babbles and coos to demonstrate his great love for mankind. Please, I beg you, out of respect and adoration for your Savior and my creator, please do not minimize what he did for you. That night in the feeding trough was a long way from his throne in heaven and his first step to the cross. Never forget that. Worship him during Christmas because the beauty of the incarnation was a stepping stone to pay for your salvation. And He did it in the most beautiful, most humble, most glorious, glory-less, way.  Because for some reason or another, He loves mankind more deeply than any mind, including angelic ones, can comprehend. It is certainly an understatement to say he deserves your gratitude and your worship, but give Him all you’ve got this season. Merry Christmas.

How to Waste Your Christmas Break

With the long Christmas break upon us I am reminded of some of the difficulties I encountered as a college student when I would go home for a month or so.  It’s hard to all of a sudden have all this freedom of time, but also such a lack of freedom being back under your parent’s regime. It’s a challenge at times, for sure. If you want your break to be meaningful and productive and wise-DO NOT FOLLOW THIS ADVICE.  Here are the TOP 5 WAYS to WASTE YOUR BREAK:

  1. Don’t Get into a Routine –At school its pretty easy to schedule in time with the Lord-you do it the same time each day. But now that you are at home; just do your devotions whenever you remember. You might not do it every day, or every week…or the entire time you are home-but hey! It’s break! Who needs a schedule?
  2. Pay More Attention to your Friends than Your Family– It is so much more important to spend all your time hearing the latest gossip from high school than helping your mom around the house, and just being with your siblings. After all, your family probably doesn’t need your love and encouragement as much as your friends do!
  3. Spend A LOT of Time on Social Media– It’s important for you to know what all your friends are doing. Spend HOURS and HOURS making sure their break is going well, and being jealous of them if it’s going too well.
  4. Just Be Plain ol’ Lazy– Remember this break is for YOU to relax and have fun! Netflix is calling! Youtube too! If you spend a bunch of your time serving and investing in your family, church, or community-how will YOU recharge? You don’t want to return from your break still tired!
  5. Leave what you Learned on Campus– Imagine you are working Part-Time at Panera’s and somebody asks you how college is going-make sure to give them a generic response like, “It’s a lot of fun” or “I’m making lots of friends.” They don’t really need to hear the impact the gospel is making in your life. Bringing Jesus into the conversation would probably be uncomfortable. So just be sure that whatever God taught you over the past semester you keep to yourself. It’s not like there are souls at stake!

This is probably the snarkiest, most sarcastic thing I have ever written! I normally don’t use/like sarcasm!  But I hope I get my point across. College students whom I love dearly (and really this can apply to anyone at any stage of life) – be wise, be intentional, and DON’T WASTE your break! Schedule a consistent time to be with the Lord, invest in your family, do things that are worthwhile, and spread the good news.

Does this resonate with you? Are these things you struggle with, or are tempted by when you go home for such a long period of time? How do you combat it?

Eating for the Glory of God During the Holiday Season

ImageReady or not, the Holiday Season has arrived! Dispersed among  the many festivities, traditions, and activities there will be MOUNDS of pumpkinny flavored treats, Christmas cookies, and heaven-in-red-Starbucks-cup drinks!

If you are anything like me, you loooooove the sugary stuff.  I enjoy both preparing and partaking in delectable desserts and scrumptious sweets . But if you are like me, you do not love the feeling your stomach gets after eating too many buckeyes, or your tongue after too many candy canes, or your pants after too many cinnamon buns.  My sugar intake in the coming weeks normally sky rockets compared to other times of the year. And I am pretty sure that the negative physical ramification of over indulging is something the LORD did purposefully to immediately remind us that we were not made to eat that way.

In light of this, I am making a conscious effort to eat for the glory of God during the Holiday Season.  

I am going to be more intentional about saying no to sweets more often than I say yes-to be a good steward of this body God has given me to serve Him with on this earth.

If this is something you struggle with each year, feel free to join with me for the next 50 days in keeping a little journal recording what I do and do not eat and drink.

  • I’m not cutting out all sweets.
  • I’m not “dieting” or working out more.
  • I’m not looking to lose weight (though if that happens, Lord knows I’ll be as happy as a clam!)

I am simply being more aware of what I eat and more deliberate/sensitive in trying to see if Christ would join me in eating another serving of kettle corn, or if I should be exercising self-control.

I’ll keep you updated on my thoughts/failures/successes…let me know about yours too!