Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!  I was hoping to share a new song with you today, but unfortunately I am having technical difficulties in working with Youtube on my computer.  It's possible that in a very frustrating way, God is telling me to take a week off!  Please accept my apologies and I hope that you are all having a wonderful Christmas.  May God fill your life with blessings now and in the coming year. 


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Star of Wonder

During this time leading up to Christmas, I thought it might be nice to share a new Christmas song by JJ's a remake of the song "We Three Kings of Orient Are," though with many new lyrics, it stands out as a new song as well.  We'll listen to it as a live performance this'll get to know JJ and her husband a bit.

There were kings of the orient
Bringing gifts to the child
Through the fields and deserts they came
Messiah was worth every mile

Star of wonder, star of light
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy perfect light

Gold and frankincense, myrrh the perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom
Sorrow, sighing, bleeding and dying
Sealed in the stone cold tomb

Star of wonder, star of light
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy perfect light

Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and sacrifice
Allelujah, Allelu
Sounds through the earth and the skies

Since this song is about the 3 Wise men, I thought it might be nice to revisit their story.  Their adventure is described in the book of Matthew.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
   are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
   for out of you will come a ruler
   who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Matthew 2: 1-12

As I began to research these wise men, I soon discovered that many of the details that we envision of them aren't actually mentioned in the Bible.  The Bible doesn't say how many of them there are, how they traveled, and it doesn't say that they found Mary and Jesus in the stable...they were found in a house, perhaps after some time had passed.  The story has evolved over the centuries as people have given the men names, assumed that they rode on camels and that there were 3 of them because of the 3 gifts, speculated that they may have been Kings, etc. 

Regardless, it's a wonderful story of faithful believers that followed God's signs to meet the child who would eventually change the world.  Their giving of precious gifts to the child helps to remind us why we give gifts at this time of year.  Their faith in God's guidance and protection is powerful and a great example for us all.  May you look for God's signs in your life journey to point you to Jesus, "the Messiah who is worth every mile." 

Merry Christmas, and may God bless you.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Light Up the Sky

This week's song, "Light Up the Sky," by The Afters, has been one of my favorites for a while now.  This song is fun and a reminder to us that God lights up the sky each morning to show us He loves us.  Yes, some days are brighter than others...but isn't it true though, how on the brightest, most sunny days, we are more aware of the beauty and wonder of God's creation and His love for us?

I go through times when I'm curious about the end of days, especially when I hear about another earthquake.  During one of those inquisitive times, I was wondering what Jesus said about when he will return.  In Luke, Chapter 17, Jesus describes his return.

For the son of Man in his day will be like the lightening, and flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other.  Luke 17:24

Now, I can't say that this song is about the second coming of Christ, but it is another reminder of how Jesus is the Light of the world.  When we're "feeling all alone" and "can't see beyond our doubts," Jesus is with us and can show us the path to peace. 

May Jesus "light up your sky" today, either literally or figuratively...either way it's all good. Have a great week!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Big Enough

This week's song will likely be pretty new to all of you.  It's a song that was released on an album called Past the Edges by Chris Rice in 1998.  Unfortunately, because of the song's age I can't find a Youtube video for it by Chris Rice, though I've found a video of someone else singing it.

I have to tell you about how I came across this song.  First, let me say that over the last few weeks, as I've been taking this Christianity Explored class, I've been struggling with a few beliefs that have been voiced during the discussions.  I'm rediscovering that there are still some things in the Bible that I don't know how to interpret.  While I know that I'm not the only person wrestling with these kinds of things, it's still difficult to be around people that think they know the answers, and that only one interpretation is possible.  So while in the midst of this mental struggle earlier this week, my Ipod (or God?) decided to randomly choose a song for me called "Big Enough."  I obtained the song on an old WOW Hits compilation, and don't recall even knowing that I had it.  This song is about how it's OK to have questions, and to not have all the answers.  It's OK to ask God our questions.  Some might think it shows God disrespect to question the meaning of words in the Bible, but I disagree. I do believe that God is "big enough" to handle all of our questions, though we might not receive all the answers when we want them.

So, I apologize that I don't have the original song for you to listen to, I'm sure you can find it on Itunes or Amazon if you search for it.  I did find a performance of the song by a woman named Aubri Colescott, and she did a lovely job.  So have a listen...

None of us knows and this makes it a mystery
If life is a comedy, then why all the tragedy?
Three and a half pounds of brain try to figure out
What this world is all about
And is there an eternity, Is there an eternity?

God if You're there I wish You'd show me
And God if You care then I need You to know me
I hope You don't mind me asking the questions
But I figure You're big enough
I figure You're big enough

Lying on pillows we're haunted and half-awake
Does anyone hear us pray "If I die before I wake?"
Then the morning comes and the mirror's another place
Where we wrestle face-to-face
With the image of deity, the image of deity

God if You're there I wish You'd show me
And God if You care then I need You to know me
I hope You don't mind me asking the questions
But I figure You're big enough
I figure You're big enough

When I imagine the size of the Universe
And I wonder what's out past the edges
Then I discover inside me a space as big
And believe that I'm meant to be filled up
With more than just questions

God if You're there I wish You'd show me
And God if You care then I need You to know me
I hope You don't mind me asking the questions
But I figure You're big enough
I figure You're big enough 

Cause I am not big enough.

So what makes me think that it's OK to question God?  I'm reminded of a story in Genesis 18, when Abraham is being warned by God that he plans to destroy the city of Sodom. Abraham is really bold...he basically negotiates with God to not destroy the city if there are righteous people living there.  When Abraham challenges God, over and over, God doesn't show any offense, but seems to encourage the discussion.

The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord.  Then Abraham approached him and said: "Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?" What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing - to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and wicked alike.  Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?"  

The Lord said, "If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake."

The Abraham spoke up again: "Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?"

"If I find forty-five there," He said, "I will not destroy it."
Genesis 18:22-28

And Abraham continues to challenge the Lord, repeatedly talking him down to 40, then 30, then 20, then 10, with God apparently never showing aggravation or frustration with Abraham.  Wow! Abraham sure did show a lot of courage right in the face of God!

So if you're one of those people out there that love God but still don't have it all figured out, I hope this song is encouraging to you, so you know that it's OK to have questions, and you're not alone.  These questions will help you to research more and maybe you'll come up with an answer, or maybe you'll be forced to accept the mystery. I pray that you are not discouraged by anyone for having such questions, and never feel that you are less of a Christian for having them. 

God Bless You!