Christmas Blessings to All

ALL IN GOD’S PLAN

“There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus…and all went…every one into his own city…” (Luke 2:1-3)
All in God’s plan. It seems that God wanted the whole world turned upside down for the birth of His Son! All over the known world folks had to make a journey to the place of their birth.

Just like today. The Christ-child wants to be born in our hearts, but before that can happen our life must be turned upside down. That which we hold in high esteem must come crashing to the ground. The way that we would most despise — the way of humility — must become the only one we want to take. That which is hidden deep within us must be brought to the Light. In a sense we come back to the place of our birth and realize we need to take a different path — His way.

“And Joseph also went up…with Mary, his espoused wife…”
All in God’s plan. Joseph and Mary had a destiny and God watched over them as they journeyed among the crowds of people. To fulfill His promise to His servant David, His Son must be born in Bethlehem. Did they sense what an important part they would have in history? Who could have known that what happened to those two ordinary, humble people in an insignificant village would change many people’s lives the world over?

Just like today. God has made His promise to man that “whosoever will may come” and He intends to fulfill this in our lives. He watches as we journey among the crowds of people and slowly He brings us to a crossroads, a place of choosing. Then, if we then choose to walk with Him, the Christ-child is born in our hearts. This gives us a destiny–and how can we know what an important part we may play in changing the course of other people’s lives?

“…Because there was no room for them in the inn.”
All in God’s plan. Not just so people could fault the poor innkeeper all these years for being so hard-hearted. Rather, it seems that God did not want His Son to be born in the inn — as a GUEST — perhaps in the company of the important and well-to-do. In His birth Jesus had not even a room or a bed and in the years of His ministry He had no place to lay His head. He was totally an outsider in this world.

Just like today. Each year at Christmas the normal events of life are disrupted for a season as folks go to and fro, buying gifts, decorating houses and stores, travelling home to their families, gathering for feasting, partying, and generally making merry. But the work God seeks to do in our hearts is something apart from all this. He comes quietly, at any time of the year, whenever a seeking soul opens his heart to Jesus.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to Him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Rev 3:20)

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A Song in the Air

When I woke up this morning a tune came to mind:
“There’s a song in the air…”

It’s not surprising I thought of this, considering the season we’re in. I posted a dozen Christmas cards yesterday and was looking at puzzles with pictures of old fashioned village carollers. I see Christmas day is only two weeks from now!

I thought more about the words and appreciated the gentle beauty of the melody…

“And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing
for the manger in Bethlehem cradles a King.”

I’m thankful for these old carols that remind us of the true meaning of Christmas: the birth of the King. When I’m wandering through stores these days, I appreciate hearing religious carols for another reason, too. They tend to be slower and fill the air with a feeling of peace and joy, relaxing my mind.

When I hear some of the popular non-carols, the zippy winter songs merchants love to play, I feel more rushed. Is “Giddy-up, giddyup, giddyuup, let’s go!” meant to nudge shoppers into more of a “Hurry up and buy something” frame of mind? This may give short term results, but I have to wonder if this feeling of being push-push-pushed contributes a lot to the stress of the season?

Music as Motivation

I don’t know who told us this, but I once heard about two friends visiting, one of them being the manager of a restaurant. They were in the office together, looking over the eating area from the office window, and could observe the customers below.

The friend commented on how the diners appeared relaxed, taking their time over their meals, visiting awhile after. The manager replied, “Watch me clear this place out.” He took a CD from his desk and replaced the slower music that was playing with more lively songs. Soon diners were leaving; before long the restaurant was almost empty. They got the subliminal hint.

Motivational research has shown that music has a definite affect on moods. When the song in the air around them is gentle, people relax accordingly.

An Old Song

I’ve just googled “There’s A Song in the Air” and was surprised to learn it’s actually a very old one; it was written by Josiah G Holland and published in 1872.

There’s a song in the air! There’s a star in the sky!
There’s a mother’s deep prayer and a baby’s low cry!
And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!

There’s a tumult of joy o’er the wonderful birth,
For the virgin’s sweet Boy is the Lord of the earth.
Aye! the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!

In the light of that star lie the ages impearled;
And that song from afar has swept over the world.
Every hearth is aflame, and the beautiful sing
In the homes of the nations that Jesus is King!

We rejoice in the light, and we echo the song
That comes down through the night from the heavenly throng.
Aye! we shout to the lovely evangel they bring,
And we greet in His cradle our Savior and King!

Today’s prompt word at Daily Addictions: SING

Upside Down Thoughts

UPSIDE-DOWN THOUGHTS
by Margaret Penner Toews
from her book, FLY HIGH MY KITE

I sit and ponder on some things
that once my Saviour said:
The greatest isn’t one who leads
but one who is gladly led.
The greatest thinks about himself
as being truly small.
The poor in spirit really are
the richest ones of all.

The weak are strong. The first are last.
who dies to self shall live.
Who keeps is poor, but rich are those
who give and give and give.

His mathematics aren’t like
the numbers that we use–
But, Oh! how rich His promise if
His reckoning I choose!
The way He tallies might seem queer
and even make us frown,
But it is never He, but we
who are thinking “upside-down”.

As well as being a great poet and writer of devotional books, Margaret was a dear friend of mine. So I’ll post this verse in honor of her, as my contribution to National Poetry Month today.

A Rusty Nail

In honour of Good Friday, this poem by Robert W Service will be my contribution today to National Poetry Month:

A Rusty Nail

I ran a nail into my hand,
The wound was hard to heal;
So bitter was the pain to stand
I thought how it would feel,
To have spikes thrust through hands and feet,
Impaled by hammer beat.

Then hoisted on a cross of oak
Against the sullen sky,
With all about the jeering folk
Who joyed to see me die;
Die hardly in insensate heat,
With bleeding hands and feet.

Yet was it not that day of Fate,
Of cruelty insane,
Climaxing centuries of hate
That woke our souls to pain?
And are we not the living seed
Of those who did the deed!

Of course, with thankful heart I know
We are not fiends as then;
And in a thousand years or so
We may be gentle men.
But it has cost a poisoned hand,
And pain beyond a cry,
To make me strangely understand
A Cross against the sky.

Robert William Service

Be There for Me

Fellow Blogger Joel Tipple has posted an inspiring poem about coming along beside and lending strength and support to someone who’s down. He’s kindlly allowed me to reblog it so you can enjoy it, too.

Hop over to Write here, Joel to read more inspiring Christian poetry. There’s a link in my sidebar.

Write here, Joel.

Be there for me
when everything’s wrong.
Be there for me
when I’m not feeling strong.
When everyone runs away
like I’m a building burning,
run to me and say you’ll stay.

I sometimes dream there will be a day,
when I can stand for someone too
but then this tidal wave of sad knocks me over.
I might be able to hold on a little longer
if I knew you’d row out
and pull me in with your oar.

Be there for me
when I’m not attractive or fun,
when I don’t have anything
that anyone would want,
when I look like I’ve been washed up
by the sands of time,
when what separates me and death
is a very thin line.

I’ve heard your Jesus
went through a lot too.
If you know him, could he help me too?
I’m not looking for charity,
I just need a…

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HOPE: Our Life’s Anchor

Fandango’s one-word  prompt yesterday was ANCHOR.

When I saw that word I sat down and let my mind — and fingers  — contemplate the subject. I came up with this writing before we left for church, thinking I’d have time to post it sometime during the day — but then our day turned out quite full. Anyway, here are my thoughts.

And now I can work in Fandango’s latest one-word prompt: FRAGILE,
An anchor cannot be a fragile thing. It hooks among the seabed rocks close to the shore and holds on for dear life. The anchor, and the line that holds it to the ship, are responsible for the lives of all those on board. Anchors and ropes are tested to be sure they’ll stand the strain.

When I saw the word ANCHOR, I immediately thought of that line in the old hymn, Whispering Hope.
“Hope, as an anchor so steadfast….”

Isn’t that the truth! Often the quality of our life is wrapped around HOPE:
the sick live with the hope of better days ahead,
the depressed carry on in the hope of brighter times to come
the poor live in hope of finding financial stability
the destitute live in hopes of a home, or at least a safe location
those who believe in a merciful Creator hope for an eternal reward
the grieving embrace the hope that their loved ones are in a better world now, or at least no longer suffer
and almost everyone lives in hope of finding and maintaining love, friendships, family ties.

Like an anchor keeps a ship from drifting off course in a storm, so hope keeps us heading in the direction of our life-goal, keeps us from being blown off course by gales of circumstance.

Hope anchors most of our actions; without it our days turn into a pointless, emotion-driven meander. Should our hope be a fragile thing, should it break as soon as adversity comes, courage usually fails and our ship might be tossed on a wild sea before we land in a quite spot again.

In extreme cases depressed people curl up in a fetal position and die. Mentally, people crawl into a shell when they’ve lost hope. Physically they cease to take care of their bodies and often fall into substance abuse.

An ANCHOR we need in this turbulent world
— and HOPE is a vital part of that anchor.

When Jesus walked this earth, He offered this promise: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls…” (Matt 12:29) He knew that finding this “rest for your souls” — peace of mind, freedom from guilt and fear — is one of humanity’s greatest needs. One of the best anchors in life.

He didn’t come to offer a guilt-riddled set of rules. (For some reason we humans naturally tend to gravitate towards religious systems that offer heaps of Dos and Don’ts.) Neither did He come to promote the freedom to do whatever we want, without conscience, using and stomping on other people to fulfill our own desires.

On second thought, He did give us some rules:
Turn the other cheek. Go the second mile. Forgive. Don’t hold grudges. Freely give. Respect your elders. Show kindness to the widows, orphans, and strangers among you. Don’t be a hypocrite. Don’t make rules for other people that you can’t even keep yourselves.

Most people seem to know that these are good rules. that they’ll give folks a happy, stress-free life such as we all hope for.

One more thing about HOPE: It’s one of those beautiful “multiplying” qualities: a person can freely offer their hope to others without diminishing their own supply.

Has someone shared HOPE with you lately? Have you shared yours?