Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Eve


As we ring out the old year, I’m relieved that a new one is about to begin. Less waiting, perhaps? Definitely more possibilities ahead. It’s been a little crazy recently, being in concert season since November and throwing in a lot of medical just for fun! This year I’ve loved the family time of our grandson’s birth and baptism, my youngest brother’s wedding and the three of us serving together musically at church Christmas Eve. But I've been scared too, flying to see my folks after Dad’s first heart attack and later handling my youngest child’s ER and Dr. visits. I’m really tired walking into this New Year -exhausted really, but hopeful. I love the comment from comic strip character Maxine: “If you woke up breathing - congratulations! You have another chance.” By waking up tomorrow, I start the New Year well. Next year, I say today, I will deal with the negative energy people in my life because I do care and purposely choose a positive response, regardless. Tomorrow, I will thank my God for a year without negativity- so far so good. This new year will hold answers and hopes that 2010 did not yield but that instead created patience, endurance and trust in God. Yes, an exciting, hopeful, positive New Year lies ahead of me and I thank the Lord Jesus Christ for His amazing blessings this past year, His love being the best of all.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas 2010


Three of us in our family made a commitment to serve at church together this year. Of course that was made a few months ago, before the ER and now the heart monitor on our youngest. But we’re following through and desperately enjoying being involved in Christ’s birth celebration. The crisis we are in, however, keeps me quiet and off to the side since I find the fear closer to the surface than I’d like. We are serving musically together and our sick one actually complimented us tonight – that we sounded good together. Even our pastor came up and told me I was doing a good job, shocking and unexpected because I go to a rather large church.

It’s been a rough road lately and trying to focus on notes on a page while worshipping God has been a challenge. But God is gracious to us, allowing me to learn – once again - how to trust Christ in that in-between place. On the tight-rope, if you will, of life completely unsure whether or not we’ll make it to the other side, all of us. I don’t know how people handle this life without Him. It’s been 25 years together with Christ for me and He’s salvaged my marriage, saved my children, touched my grandchildren and healed me of pain. I gotta stop looking down at the pavement and keep my eyes focused on the journey ahead of me, leaning on Him for balance. I’m thankful He invites me to the manger and into His life - forever!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Advent Days 14, 15, 16


After surviving taking my youngest to a children’s hospital this week, I’ve come down with a terrible cold. It’s forced me to rest and stop in the chaos of this medical season, which is in the middle of the holidays. But we made it to church this week (yeah!) and I’m about to embark on my first-ever Tuba Christmas with just a few days refresher course on the euphonium that I’ve borrowed, having last played one about 30+ years ago. It’s a risky venture, out of my comfort zone. But I’m finding God asking me what I would like to do in this situation and my answer is that I’d simply like to try my best. It’s a brave answer because I’ve been pretty shaken this week over my child’s health. Yet I feel the pull of this challenge, a safer challenge than the one before us. I know God goes with us in both.

Day 14 Why Invite the Shepherds?

We don’t even know their names, these shepherds who were visited by angels and invited to Jesus’ birth! I always thought angels were sent to “extra” special people in the Bible, their names burned into history at a life-changing encounter with a messenger of God. I love that God invites nearby shepherds to Jesus’ birth– who better to come and worship the Lamb of God? They must have been afraid when just one angel appeared and then a whole host of angels, worshipping God, yet still they listened and went. They wanted to come and God knew each one’s name even if we don’t. Luke 2 records this and John 10 explains further.

Day 15 So Why the Angels?

David Jeremiah sums the answer up simply: “Because we are not likely to ignore the advice of such spectacular guests.” (P. 87) Just as angels show up for extra special people like the shepherds, they show up with an extra special message designed by God to get our attention. Hebrews 2 has more info about Jesus and angels.

Day 16 Why the Wise Guys?

Okay now, we don’t really know how many wise men there were – people assume three because there were three gifts brought by them. These magi were from the East and that’s about all we know – their names also are not recorded but they, too, were invited to come through the star. (Matt. 2:2) They do not arrive at the manger, according to scripture, but to a house (Matt. 2:11). They came bearing gifts while the shepherds simply came. Both the shepherds and the wise men were invited and both came. During advent, do we remember to come to the manger? We are invited too.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Advent Day 11,12,13


I just realized I didn’t finish Day 11, here on Day 16 of the advent season. Lots of the important details are getting pushed to the side for the necessary dealings of my intensely crisis driven life. I’m trying (but not usually succeeding) to lean on the Lord to figure out what takes priority as the day progresses. Yesterday involved a trip to Chicago and then one up to Wisconsin. Today’s quiet moment is turning again to God and writing down what He’s asking me to before heading off to the next medical event. Yet that involves listening, stopping long enough in the craziness of life to listen and lean on Him. I’m yours, Lord.

Day 11 Why the Name Jesus?

Jesus in Greek means the same thing as Joshua in the Hebrew language – “God Saves.” Matthew 1 holds the answer to this: “…an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘ Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. “ Read Philippians 2:9-11.

Day 12 Why Born of a Virgin?

The Holy Bible is filled with all types of miraculous births but only one of those a virgin birth. So why does one who already exists choose to enter this world through a human mother and an unmarried, virgin mother for that matter? We know the how in Luke 1:34-35 but what about the whys of it? David Jeremiah clears this up: “The Holy Spirit was the love knot that brought our Savior’s two natures together-deity and humanity-united forever in one person. The Holy Spirit produced the Holy One within the secret place of Mary’s womb. Jesus would enter it pure and perfect, from the sinless realm of eternity…God’s eternal plan was for Jesus to come to die-to give his life as a sacrifice for all those sins… Only someone perfect would be able to offer his life as a sacrifice…” (P. 67-68) The miraculous conception and the miraculous resurrection, with a perfect human life lived in-between – another miracle of obedience and love. He entered into Mary’s life and changed it completely. He wants to enter into our hearts and do the same. Please read Isaiah 7:14 and Col. 1:15-20.

Day 13 Why Come as a Baby, Jesus?

In David Jeremiah’s Why the Nativity book, the inspiration for this advent attempt on my part, he asks this question: “How could we follow his footsteps as a man if we hadn’t seen him crawl as a child?” (P. 75) With Christ equally divine (virgin birth) and human (born into this world), we meet him in Bethlehem as the one who bridges the gap between earth and heaven. It is His full commitment to God and us that gets Him through all the temptations this life holds and helps us get through them too. Hebrews 2:14-18 should be read next.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Advent Days 9-11


Despite the stress and chaos of concert season and dr. visits, I feel the need to find the time to help others – whether it’s chatting with the Salvation Army bell ringers while putting money in the coffers, much to the chagrin of my family, or donating food items while I’m at the store. I remember those lean years of being a young family, with only $35 a week for food, gas and necessities. I had to pray before every trip, having scoured the ads for the best deals. God took care of us through those times just as He continues to bless us now. About 13 years ago, I remember a phone call coming in from the Lion’s Club telling us about their program of helping the needy and I responded with a “I don’t have extra money to give you but I could help delivering baskets.” There was a long pause on the other line when the man told me they wanted to bring us a basket and gift certificate. It was the only time we received outside help and it was humbling and amazing all at once. Yes, God has always blessed us!

Day 9 No Room at the Inn?

Bethlehem was a rest stop on the journey to Jerusalem, merely an hour away. The Romans had commanded the Israelites to report to their ancestral hometowns so they could be counted and taxed accordingly. Joseph had to report to Bethlehem, no longer a quiet small town on the way to the temple. Every place was jam-packed during this census. David Jeremiah sums up the why of it: “ Accepting humanity’s rejection even in his birth, Jesus sent a message of stubborn, unbreakable love to the world. We would not afford him so much as a cramped closet; we had no room for him, no time to stop and worship,no interest in a peasant child. But that same Child came to find room for us. He would, one day, reserve accommodations for each of his own children at the Inn that awaits us on eternal shores.” (P. 50) John 14 tells it all.

Day 10 Why a Manger in a Stable?

Every one assumes Jesus was born in a stable because Luke mentions that the shepherds sought Him “lying in a manger” – a feeding box for animals. This could have been a shed or a cave where animals were kept. If you’ve ever been in a barn before, you know it really isn’t a clean, wonderful place – especially for a newborn. I liked David Jeremiah’s answer: “Christ chose a stable in order to identify with the least of us, with the poor and the vulnerable. He demanded none of the world’s comforts nor protections. Jesus came exposed, from the first moment, to all the dangers the world could offer, and so he remained until they led him to the cross.” Please read Leviticus 12:2-8 and Luke 2:22-24 to learn more about Jesus’ family.

Day 11 Why the Name Jesus?

Jesus in Greek means the same thing as Joshua in the Hebrew language – “God Saves.” Matthew 1 holds the answer: “…an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘ Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give hime the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Advent Days 7 & 8


Advent not only counts down the days to Jesus’ birth but it also counts down the days to another exciting year with Him! I know, Captain Obvious here, but such a cool thought. However, I’d like to put in my request for a much less exciting year because I’m in over my head right now. I do realize, my 5 current followers, that God is using this advent to reach into my life and slow me down enough to focus on His amazing plan, learning in the process how to trust Him more with my life and the plans He has for me. Even when they involve the emergency room!

Day 7 Why Zechariah’s Miraculous Baby?

The author David Jeremiah points out that Luke begins with the account of Zechariah and Elizabeth. In those days, not having children marked a married couple as being considered unworthy by the Lord. But God had a plan for them and He sent angel Gabriel to meet with Zechariah during his turn burning incense before the Lord at the Temple (a rare privilege for a priest.) Zechariah had what I consider the more realistic human reaction to such a visit and message – a flash of doubt passed through him. Oh yes, I’d like to think I’d be like Abram and Mary in their response but I know my first thought would be to question my own sanity. The result of Zechariah’s questioning was a discipline – he would not be able to speak until his son was born. And he, too, offered a song of praise when his son arrived and his speech returned. Read Luke 1-2 as well as Gen. 18:1-15 for more about miraculous babies!

Day 8 Why, on Earth, Bethlehem?

The books’ opening chapter quote sums this up: “As Ralph W. Sockman once phrased it, ‘The hinge of history is on the door of a Bethlehem stable.’”(p. 43) Besides the prophecies, Bethlehem had a long history that included the burial site of Jacob’s wife Rachel, widow Ruth remarrying there, and the place the prophet Samuel meets young shepherd David. Author David Jeremiah points out these people as all being, surprisingly enough, in Jesus’ family tree. Read Micah 5:2 and 1 Samuel 16:1-13 for more insight.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent Days 5 & 6


God really grabbed me with this question that came from a church message – how will this Christmas be life changing? Scrooge was the theme but the New Testament book of Revelation was the focus. The church of Ephesus did lots of good things but they had forgotten their first love for Christ and we were asked if we remembered being on fire for God and where we were at with that. As I continue looking at the Nativity and God’s amazing plan in each and every facet of it, I find myself wondering how God will continue to change me as I enter my 26th year of togetherness with Him!

Day 5 But Why Joseph?

As I ponder this, I realize how much of a background person Joseph was. David Jeremiah calls him the forgotten person in Christ’s story. But his story is the one in which I most identify because I, too, am a background person – the person not often talked about or seen but someone who is fully, though quietly, vested. God handpicked not only Mary but Joseph as well because Joseph was the one God wanted to raise His Son, teaching him the ways of scripture and God. We never do find out why Joseph goes missing by the time of the cross, some speculating he died along the way. But we see his obedience to God in continuing his relationship with Mary, leaving for Egypt at God’s request and in stepping to the side so God’s glory could shine forth through their Son, Jesus Christ. Reading Matthew 1:18-2:23 and listing Joseph’s responses to God has been very impacting.

Day 6 Why did Jesus Arrive Then?

Besides coming for Mary and Joseph, God orchestrated the time period to coincide with Roman roads, the universal Greek language, and the shipping industry (David Jeremiah lists even more.) He also intersects Simon, Saul and a few other lives that would have been missed otherwise. It leaves me marveling at all the orchestrated events in my own life. God’s plan was complete and Galatians 4 fills in the details even more.

Day 7 Why Zechariah’s Miracle Son?

Coming soon (I promise!)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Advent Continued

After spending another couple days in concert land (including improvising somewhat questionably on my horn), God has reminded me about the real reason for the season. Oh yes, music is a worship language for our one and only Savior, who came to earth to rescue us. But He is the one who invites us to sing and play and worship. He is our greatest gift!

Day 3 Why Mary?

Here she was, a young girl about to be married a carpenter named Joseph, when the angel appears to her. Luke 1:26-38 captures the moment and answers this question.

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. (NIV)

Day 4 Why the Song of Mary?

Mary’s response reminds me of Abram’s first encounter with God, trust and belief in the miracle of God’s presence and His promise. Luke next picks up with Mary hurrying to her relative Elizabeth who also experiences God’s miraculous love and divine interruption. God speaks through her (v45)”…As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.”

Mary’s response, her song, is one of worship for the Lord and is filled with many scriptural references. Read Luke 1:46-56 and then look at Hannah’s story in 1 Samuel 2:1-10 (Samuel’s mother). Amazing praise from two who look to the Lord so fully!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why the Nativity? An Advent


So for the month of December, I’ve been led (arm twisted in these busy times, actually) to do a daily advent devotional based on David Jeremiah’s book Why the Nativity? He asks 25 questions that lead to the full answer. Since I’m running behind a bit, here’s the first 2 questions and a quick synopsis with scripture. If you can, buy the book and read it to your loved ones because it’s amazing to see God’s workings. I received this book free (my first free book!) as one of the giveaways at and have been savoring it ever since. Wanna join me? Please leave comments along the way!

Day One – Why the prophecies?

There are more than 300 Old Testament prophecies predicting a coming champion. “Every page, from Genesis to Malachi, seems to tremble with the wondrous anticipation of his coming. The books were written by many different writers, at various times over many centuries.” (p. 2) All but a few prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus Christ and those few remaining are for the days ahead. Look up these pairs of scripture to see God at work to send us one last king: Isaiah 9:7 and Luke 1:32-33, Isaiah 53:12 and Matthew 27:38, Zechariah 6:13 and Hebrews 7:24-25 (p.5)

Day Two – Why did God become man?

Even though God created man, a gulf developed between them: “God’s children chose disobedience and fled in shame from his presence. Another name for the disobedience was sin, and it became an insurmountable barrier between the Creator and his creatures.” (p. 8) That gulf and the resulting sense of loss can be seen throughout history. The prophets and teachers were sent to bridge that gap until He would solve it once and for all – by leaving heaven to walk among us and to do so fully human! Read the New Testatment book of John out loud to catch the full impact.