Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Wonder of Christmas

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 ESV)

I was fascinated by what I read tonight in my devotional, so I am going to quote various parts of it here.

"The eastern church, centered in Constantinople, at first celebrated Christ's birth in a feast called Epiphany.  They chose January 6th, reasoning that since the first Adam was born on the sixth day of creation, the last Adam should be celebrated on the sixth day of the year."

I did not know that.  Kind of an interesting line of reasoning.

He then talks about how Rome chose December 25th.  Then he concludes with these remarks...

"Some Christians complain about the impure origin of the Christmas celebration.  A pope chose its date; it's decorated trees and wreaths and supernatural character named Santa Claus all have pagan beginnings."

And here is the important part...

"But none of this matters-our faith is what matters.  It makes us sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).  So, by faith, let's sanctify our hearts with this truth:  when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman. (Galatians 4:4)"

The wonder of Christmas- faith!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Wonder of Christmas

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1, 2, 4, 5 NIV)

I love the lights of Christmas.  I love driving around looking at the lights people have put up outside or even have put in windows to let us peek into their homes.  I have boxes of lights and love to string them up throughout my apartment.  Every year I contemplate buying more lights.

What is it that draws me to the light?  Maybe it has something to do with the Word who was with God in the beginning.

Oh, the joy of verse five!  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it!

The wonder of Christmas: when it is dark and I think I have lost my way, the LIGHT shines!  The darkness has not overcome the light, nor will it.

Praise God for the Light!

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Wonder of Christmas

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 ESV)

Prince of Peace.  How we long for peace, in the world, in our schools, in the political world, in our neighborhoods, in our own homes.  

When Jesus came into the world, he was called the Prince of Peace.  Yet, when we look at the world into which He was born, the world from which He ascended, there was not a lot of peace.  When we look at our world today, there is not much peace.

But what about in His Kingdom?  Is there peace in my heart?  Is there peace among believers who are filled with the Holy Spirit?  

The wonder of Christmas, there can be peace in my heart even in this world full of strife and quarrels because of the Prince of Peace.

Lord Jesus, as I celebrate Christmas, may I allow your peace as the Prince of Peace to rule in my heart.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Wonder of Christmas

for my eyes have seen your salvation (Luke 2:30 ESV)

Simeon and Anna are two people from the Christmas story who do not get as much attention as others.  They had been waiting for the salvation of Israel, for Messiah.  Not just waiting, waiting expectantly and seeking God.  God granted them the desire of their hearts, to see the Christ.

When they saw Jesus, they praised God, giving Him thanks, and then told others what they had seen, Who it was that was right in front of them.

Simeon said, "for my eyes have seen your salvation."  

Our eyes, also, can see His salvation, if they are open, are waiting expectantly, are seeking God.

The wonder of Christmas, we can see the salvation of God!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Wonder of Christmas

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 ESV)

This is the wonder of Christmas: the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

This leaves me speechless: the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

This humbles me: the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

This causes me to rejoice: the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

This is the joy of Christmas: the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

Let the reality of that sentence settle into your soul:  the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

What is your response to this wonder of Christmas?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Wonder of Christmas

After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:9-11 ESV)

When I think of the Magi, I am filled with wonder.  They had a lot of confidence and had studied a long time to leave their homes and take off on a journey to a destination they were not quite sure of.  These people, seems like there may have been quite an entourage, felt that the birth of a new king was important enough to make such a trip.  And, all they had for a map was a star.  Oh, I can't wait to talk to some of the people from this group when I get to heaven!  They must have some great travel stories!

This summer when friends were visiting from Japan, we stopped out in the middle of a corn field on a clear, moonless night.  The night sky was amazing!  I am awestruck that in the midst of all of that, these people could recognize a new star and knew its meaning.  I am Wonderstruck that God made such an amazing universe and that even at night we can see His handiwork.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Wonder of Christmas

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:26-28 ESV)

Mary has gotten a lot of attention through the years.  With a greeting like that from an angel, I can understand why!  She is favored by the Lord who is with her.  There is also the next part, where she births the Savior of the world!  But, she does have a significant role in the wonder of Christmas.

I know a lot of women who are mothers-my own mother, many friends and relatives-who I consider to be amazing women and mothers.  Today, though, as I think of Mary, I am thinking of my friend, Melissa, since it is her birthday.

Melissa has reminded me many times, through her actions and her words, the I am favored by our Lord who walks with me.  Melissa believes with all her heart that we are God's beloved.  She wants all women, and men, to understand that God whispers "I love you" in our ears each day.  

Sometimes I feel like a failure, like I messed up, like I do not deserve God's love.  Melissa is there to remind me that I, too, am my Lord's beloved, his favored one.  She reminds me that I am loved.

I am grateful for a friend who reminds me.

I am wonderstruck that our Lord loves us, loves me.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Wonder of Christmas

Yesterday my dad and I visited a couple of friends from church who now live in assisted living.  As we left, I was given an Advent devotional.  Recently, I had found a different devotional I was planning to use.  However, since this was given to me the day before Advent, I decided to read it.  It is called, "The Wonder of Christmas."  

Some friends and I have been reading and discussing a book called "Wonderstruck."  This new devotional seems to go with the theme of wonder we have been exploring!  So, I wanted to share some thoughts of wonder this Advent season.

Today's verses are from Luke 2:6-7
 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:6, 7 ESV)

There are so many points of wonder in these verses!  Today, I am filled with wonder that the God of the universe, our creator and Lord, chose to come to this earth as a baby.  He came in human flesh.  I am so filled with awe right now that no more words come to mind!

Father, thank you for sending Jesus.  Jesus thank you for being the most amazing gift.  Holy Spirit, thank you for revealing these things to us and guiding us as we seek the wonder of Christmas.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Out East

I have three supporting churches in Michigan who worked together to make my trip out east wonderful.  I had fun at VBS, outings with friends, attending the ordination service of a friend, and even spending time with a childhood friend and her family.

To those who live in the middle of America,  Michigan is out east.  I loved my drive out there through corn country.  I loved getting to share about Japan with hundreds of children, as well as hundreds of adults.  One of the three churches has been supporting me the longest and they have become like a second home church to me.  My trip "out east" was truly a blessing!

Taking Pastor Lyle for a ride!

Fun with Flat Coco!

Ice cream run after VBS

Another group of kids having fun with Flat Coco!

Jonna's ordination service

Lunch with friends!

Friends for over four decades!

Our mean pirate looks

Dinner with friends, an evening filled with laughter!

Learning about the Ford family

Friday, November 1, 2013

Benefits of Home Assignment

While I am in the U.S. I miss being in Japan and part of ministry there.  However, I do get to join some events I miss while I am in Japan, like Father's Day.  (I also missed it in the chronology of blogging!)
I loved being with my family for Father's Day-and all of the other holidays this year.  The day before the holiday Dad, Tom and Andrew cut down a tree in the backyard.  Then, on Father's Day, we had a fun time making S'mores.  Flat Coco even liked them!

The hard workers!

Mom and Marietta enjoying the swing.

Abi and Flat Coco enjoying the flowers in the yard.

Front yard

Andrew demonstrates how to eat a s'more

All ready!

Kim gives Flat Coco a taste

Helping Flat Coco roast another marshmallow

Roger is all ready!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Along the Way

I spent over half of June going to and staying in Michigan.  I had a fun drive out to Michigan, stopping along the way to visit friends.
Iowa has some cool rest areas!
This one was dedicated to Iowa authors.

Illinois has some nice rest areas, too.
This is the view from...

...here!  Very cool lookout tower.

I went a little out of my way to go to Springfield, IL, where I saw Pres. Lincoln's home.

This is where Abe Lincoln was sitting when the message came  that he had been chosen to run for president.

The front hall where he would have hung his hat.

The 'family' room where Abe played with his boys and his wife sewed.

The bedroom, with a cute little heating stove.

The house as it was probably situated when Abe lived there.

After seeing Lincoln's home, I rushed on to Champaign
where I went to a Sidewalk Prophets concert with Dan and Molly.

A models the Peruvian tablecloth.

Z had a different look.

Coco helped Donna with some electrical work.

This indoor park is inside a church.

Z and his friend with Coco.

Selfie of the girls

Me and my friend-sister

The big kids being blinded by the sun!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Dad's Check-up

After flying all over the country, I arrived back in South Dakota just in time to hop in the car with my parents to go to Minnesota.  Dad's 12 week study had come to an end and the doctors needed to do some tests to see how his body had responded to the treatments.  All of the tests went well.  His doctor called him the star student because his body was responding so well to the treatment.  Praise God!
We had some fun with the statues in front of the clinic.

The Mayo brothers

Mom sat on the cat bench to share the good news!