Tag Archive: Jesus

O Little Town of Bethlehem

12
25
Posted by | No Comments

136515432426097599_uwEoGtkP_c[1]Merry Christmas Eve! Tonight I want to write about my favorite carol, lyricaly speaking. If we are talking straight Christmas songs, it’s All I Want for Christmas by Mariah Carey. But word wise, it’s O Little Town of Bethlehem.

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Phillips Brooks(1835-1893), 1868

O little town of Bethlehem,

How still we see thee lie.

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep

The silent stars go by;

Yet in thy dark streets shineth

The everlasting Light;

The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary,

And, gathered all above

While mortals sleep, the angels keep

Their watch of wondering love.

O morning stars, together

Proclaim the holy birth.

And praises sing to God the King.

And peace to men on earth.

How silently, how silently

The wondrous gift is given!

So God imparts to human hearts

The blessings of His heaven.

No ear may hear His coming;

But in this world of sin,

Where meek souls will receive Him,

still The dear Christ enters in.

O Holy Child of Bethlehem,

Descend to us, we pray;

Cast out our sin and enter in;

Be born in us today!

We hear the Christmas angels

The great glad tidings tell;

O come to us, abide with us,

Our Lord Emmanuel!

This is my favorite carol because of the line, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” I like to think of it every night at some point during Christmas Eve. I love to stop and attempt to wrap my head around the moment all of our hopes, all of our fears, for all of mankind, throughout out all of time were met in the person of Jesus. Anything we could ever want or need deep in our souls are somehow realized in Him. Everything we are afraid of, all our pains, and all of our longings are fulfilled in Him.

  159948224237300486_BOtD1tm3_c[1]

 

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6


No Comments

What Child is This?

12
24
Posted by | No Comments

65794844526782571_isBQGtYV_c[1]

What Child Is This?

William Chatterton Dix, published ca. 1865

What Child is this, who laid to rest,

On Mary’s lap is sleeping?

Whom angels greet with anthems sweet

While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.

Haste, haste to bring Him laud,

The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate

Where ox and ass are feeding?

Good Christian, fear: for sinners here,

The silent Word is pleading.

This, this is Christ the King

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.

Haste, haste to bring Him laud,

The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Nails, spear, shall pierce Him through,

The Cross be borne, for me, for you:

Hail, hail, the Word made flesh,

The Babe, the Son of Mary!

This, this is Christ the King

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.

Haste, haste to bring Him laud,

The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh;

Come peasant, king to own Him.

The King of Kings salvation brings;

Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

This, this is Christ the King

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.

Haste, haste to bring Him laud,

The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Raise, raise, the song on high,

The Virgin sings her lullaby:

Joy joy for Christ is born, The Babe, the Son of Mary!

Jesus could’ve been born at any time, under any circumstances. Really?? A barn in the Middle East? “Why lies He in such mean estate?” Surely He could’ve come up with a plan that didn’t include taking on a feeble body, capable of exhaustion, hunger, pain, and death. It doesn’t make any sense. Martin Luther said, “He sunk Himself into our flesh” and that it is, “beyond all human understanding.”

I’ve always loved the carol, What Child is This? because it asks the question in so many words, “Who would do this?”

91972017361579586_UrQJJiQt_c[1]

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1:14

“The Word” is another name for God, and this short verse tells the story of Christmas. It’s describes the unthinkable moment when God came down to live in the harshness of earth. Karl Barth called it the, “climbing down of God.”

This is Christ our King.” He wasn’t born in a palace and he didn’t live a life of comfort. Jesus could’ve surrounded himself with the most powerful and influential people living in that day but chose to hang out with beggars, and outcasts instead. From the way he was born and all the way through his death, Jesus’ entire life was the continual giving up of power, prestige, and well-being.

Quite frankly, Jesus lived his life in the opposite direction I normally try to live mine. He went downward, while I feel a constant desire to move upward. I want to hold on to comfort, safety, and pleasure when those are the exact things he let go of on Christmas. And why did he do this? As the carol says, “Good Christian, fear: for sinners here, the silent Word is pleading.” Even as a baby, God was earning our forgiveness.

I heard a great sermon this morning (by my dad:) that touched on the inn keeper in the Christmas story who didn’t have time to deal with Mary and Joseph when they showed up on his doorstep. Can you imagine being that guy? God has literally given up heaven to come to earth and you can’t give up a bed for his pregnant mother. Sadly, I do this kind of thing all the time. Even at Christmas, right when I should be thinking about all Jesus gave up to be here, I find myself too busy with my own agenda to spend quality time with Him. If you’re like me, then it’s time to make it happen- pray, attend a Christmas Eve service, or read the story. However you do it, I pray God meets you in a powerful way this Christmas.


No Comments

O Holy Night

12
19
Posted by | 14 Comments

205124957997487688_xKKBH6Mf_c[1]

Today begins a short series of blogs on Christmas carols. Short, since as you can see, I’m only just beginning now. I LOVE carols (I am the obnoxious co-worker that doesn’t mind playing them eight hours a day beginning in late November) but my reason for these posts is that I’ve found, often hidden beneath the jolly arrangements and melodies, are some of the most powerful statements about Christ and His love for mankind. My hope is that what we often miss while singing, will be noticed in reading.

Oh Holy Night

O holy night,

the stars are brightly shining;

It is the night of

our dear Savior’s birth!

Long lay the world

in sin and error pining,

Till He appeared

and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope,

the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks

a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees,

O hear the angel voices!

O night divine,

O night when Christ was born!

O night divine, O night,

O night divine!

Led by the light of Faith

serenely beaming,

With glowing hearts

by His cradle we stand.

So led by light of a star

sweetly gleaming,

Here came the wise men

from Orient land.

The King of Kings lay thus

in lowly manger,

In all our trials

born to be our Friend!

He knows our need,

To our weakness no stranger;

Behold your King!

Before the lowly bend!

Behold your King! your King!

before Him bend.

Truly He taught us

to love one another;

His law is love and

His gospel is peace.

Chains shall He break

for the slave is our brother

And in His name

all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in

grateful chorus raise we,

Let all within us

praise His holy name!

Christ is the Lord,

Oh praise His name forever,

His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim

His pow’r and glory

evermore proclaim.

Isn’t it incredible? In addition to beautiful lyrics, the song has an inspiring story of its own. “Oh Holy Night” or “Cantique de Noel” was a french poem written by a man named Placide Cappeau in 1847. Using the gospel of Luke as his guide, Cappeau sought to capture what it would’ve been like to be at the birth of Christ. He wasn’t a man of faith, so to speak, but when he was only eight, he and a friend were playing with a gun when it went off, shooting him in the hand. The doctors were unable to save Placide’s hand and he lived his childhood and adult life as an amputee. I can’t help but read the lines, “He knows our need, to our weakness no stranger” and wonder what it meant to him, personally.

The song was later translated into English in 1855 by John Sullivan Dwight, a pastor from Massachusetts. He was an abolitionist and loved the lines, “Truly He taught us to love one another; his law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother and in His name all oppression shall cease.” The song spread like wildfire in the North during the Civil War.

91127592431626594_ENz6JM6v_c[1]On Christmas Eve 1906, using a new type of generator, a young Canadian professor named Reginald Fessenden spoke into a microphone and a man’s voice was broadcast over the airwaves for the first time in history. The very first words ever heard were from the gospel of Luke, “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus…” Men and women as far South as Norfolk, Virginia were in shock, having never heard anything like it before. When he finished reading the Christmas story, Reginald picked up his violin and played, “O Holy Night” making it the first song to ever be played on the radio. The program was transmitted using naval ships on New Year’s Eve and heard as far away as the Caribbean.

As exciting and fun as the holidays can be, I’ve noticed the season has a way of heightening our awareness over the things we have, or things we lack. Depending on our circumstances, it can be a joyus time of gratitude, or a time of sadness for what is missing. Some smile as they look around a table full of loved ones, while others can’t help but notice the empty chairs left by those who are absent. None of us can read the news without seeing how this Christmas will be painful for so many all over the world. I imagine it’s hard to see the lights and hear the music without feeling a bit resentful over the call to “be of good cheer.”

I love “O Holy Night” because it reminds me that Christmas isn’t first and foremost a festive party; it’s the moment God came to earth because we needed Him. Christmas is a holiday for the needy. It’s for the desperate, the lonely, the lost. As the song says, the earth was dark, pining, and weary until Jesus came. For the first time, in what are some of the most compelling and meaningful words ever written, “the soul felt it’s worth.”

Whether you are celebrating the end of a wonderful year, and I hope you are, or a particularly difficult one, I pray the message of this carol fills you with hope and peace.


14 Comments

Red Flag- Gamers

11
19
Posted by | 15 Comments

Gamers

This is one of my favorite Red Flags. I’ve been looking forward to getting to the letter “G” for some time. But what started as a funny poke at socially awkward gamers took a sad turn as I began looking into the world of gaming addicts. So just a word of caution, this one is more serious than funny.

 

 

Here are some stats:

  • Americans spend $25.3 billion each year in video games.
  • 61% of games in America are played by adults.
  • The average American man spends 6.5 hours a week gaming and the average online adult gamer spends 8 hours a week. Teenage boys are spending between 16 and 18 hours a week.
  • By the time a boy is 21, he’s played 10,000 hours of video games.
  • Between $200 -$250 million will be spent in the U.S. on virtual goods alone this year. So while people are actually going without food and clothing, this is being bought:

Here’s the deal, it’s not just about the time and money. Have I spent an average of 6.5 hours watching crappy TV and wasted money on vices? You bet. It’s not just that women don’t get it, because we don’t. There is a lot about the world if gaming that is simply a mystery to us. Unfortunately, a quick browse at video game covers (if that’s what they are called) showed me the industry has changed quite a bit since my days dabbling in duck hunt.

If you have 9 minutes to spare, check out this video on the effects of gaming called, “The Demise of Guys?”

Great Expectations

I’m not saying all guys who play video games are addicted or that every game has bad material. I just think there are some things to be aware of. I wonder, how much time is spent in a fantasy world (ladies, that goes for excessive romantic movies, too) before it starts changing your perception of reality? Some of these games go a step further by offering players the chance to customize who they are. One game I found advertised that players, “can custom design the shape, form, bodies, race, hair style, breast size of the images they wish to “engage” and then watch in crystal clear HD clarity as the video game “persons” have sex in every form, format, multiple, gender-oriented possibility they can think of.” This can’t be helping men learn how to start and keep healthy relationships with real women.

If you want to watch a fascinating talk on what online addiction is doing to men, click here. Gary Wilson, who is responding to Zimbardo, submits that our brains literally can’t handle the hyperstimulation excessive internet use provides. Brain scans show that eventually the structure of the frontal cortex changes and addicts experience a, “numbed pleasure response, hyper-reactivity to porn, and willpower erosion.”

Each of those symptoms could be a blog post in and of itself. Brain studies show that given enough time, the real thing won’t be good enough. Turns out the dating red flag isn’t that women don’t like it; it’s that men who go too far with it stop liking real women.

Arousal Addiction

A hidden danger in excessive gaming and porn is that it creates an addiction to change. Kevin Kelly, a technology guru and executive editor at WIRED magazine, says ,”Technology’s first agenda is to expand the possibility for difference. Technology’s goal is to bring us diversity, options, choices, possibilities, and freedoms.”

This world of opportunity can be great, but when someone becomes addicted to change itself there is a big problem. If you watched the video above, you heard Zimbardo say online gaming and porn create a special kind of addiction, arousal addiction. “In a drug addiction, you want more. In an arousal addiction, you want different.”

Just think about that in the context of a relationship for a moment.

If what he really wants is choice, freedom, possibilities, options and diversity; he wants the very opposite of a relationship. A relationship is committing to one person and closing the door to options. I think looking into his level of fantasy interaction, be it porn, gaming, movies, or any other escape, is one way to tell what you are getting into.

I’ll admit, figuring out what “too much” means has been difficult for me. I imagine it’s hard for a guy to identify when he has a problem, too. All I know is after spending far too long in a relationship with someone addicted to some of this stuff, finding someone who isn’t is important to me. Never again will I date someone who isn’t grounded in reality. I don’t understand the power it has over men or why so many become addicted. I can only speak from what it’s like to be on the female side of things and say it wasn’t worth it. I’ll take a caveman or staying single over an internet addict any day.

Technology is what we call an ‘infinite game.’ … A finite game is played to win, and an infinite game is played to keep playing.” -Kevin Kelly


15 Comments

Cindy vs. Future

10
16
Posted by | 12 Comments
map

I’m in the middle of looking for a new job. I hate it the way all people hate it. Beyond the busy work, I want to know what I’m doing next. I kinda want God to throw me a bone and just tell me already and get frustrated with myself for not knowing. Thankfully, these quotes found their way to me recently and I found them helpful.

Discipleship is not limited to what you can comprehend – it must transcend all comprehension. Plunge into the deep waters beyond your own comprehension, and I will help you to comprehend even as I do. Bewilderment is the true comprehension. Not to know where you are going is the true knowledge. My comprehension transcends yours. Thus Abraham went forth from his father and not knowing whither he went. He trusted himself to my knowledge, and cared not for his own, and thus he took the right road and came to his journey’s end. Behold, that is the way of the cross. You cannot find it yourself, so you must let me lead you as though you were a blind man. Wherefore it is not you, no man, no living creature, but I myself, who instruct you by my word and Spirit in the way you should go. Not the work which you choose, not the suffering you devise, but the road which is clean contrary to all that you choose or contrive or desire – that is the road you must take. To that I call you and in that you must be my disciple. “- Martin Luther quoted by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Cost of Discipleship
 
“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day. What one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination.” -C.S. Lewis
 
“If we would follow Jesus we must take certain definite steps. The first step, which follows the call, cuts the disciple off from his previous existence. … The first step places the disciple in the situation where faith is possible. If he refuses to follow and stays behind, he does not learn how to believe.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
 

These quotes reminded me that the “not knowing what is next” thing is actually part of what I signed up for when I became a Christian. No need to get so frustrated with myself and God because I technically can’t have faith if I know everything. They are mutually exclusive. Like gooda Nickleback song or a fun baby shower.

My life is not ultimately my own. My only job is to follow God even when He doesn’t tell me the who, what, when, where, or why. It’s not my favorite part…but a part nonetheless. There are times where you and I will be in the dark and these are the seasons when we actually learn to believe and practice having faith.

Hope this encourages some of you, too. You can’t all have your stuff figured out, right? Or else why would you be reading this blog.

10 points to the person who can tell me the correct name of the map

100000 points to the person who gives me a job lead


12 Comments

It’s Fall…. or so They Say

9
24
Posted by | 20 Comments

The first day of fall is known as the autumnal equinox.  Equinox (Latin for equal night) is when the day and night are equal lengths and the sun is directly over the equator.  I read this happened in the US at exactly 6:49 a.m. ET on Saturday.  At first it felt comforting to hear something as large as the season of fall is contained nicely in a box and can be predicted down to the minute.  I suppose I prefer that to randomness.   But that kind of precision doesn’t mesh well with reality.  For starters, it was over 100 degrees on Saturday.  No one told the sun in Orange County it was time to back off.  It’s still too hot for a soy pumpkin spice latte and I’m stuck in a sundress instead of my favorite leather jacket.

This fall thing bothered me all weekend. (Proof that I may need more of a life)   There is no exact moment when seasons of life change.  I can’t turn to life and say, “Excuse me, it’s 2:13 pm on Monday and XYZ is supposed to take place.”  Life is far more chaotic.  Life is complicated.   I’ve been thinking a lot about the word complicated the past few months in relation to faith and life.  Christianity can feel like a box, like precision and calculation trying to enter (or worse, be shoved down) complicated lives.  Some problems feel too big and messy for the truths and wisdom of the Bible.  They can come off as cliché, simplistic, out of touch.  When your gay friend tells you being out and in a relationship has grown his relationship with God.  When the new guy who doesn’t go to church treats you way better than your Bible reading, small group going, regularly tithing ex. (and the two before him)   When your friend wants to know if it’s ok to divorce her husband for his porn addiction.  It’s then that you want to say to the simple answers- you don’t have all the facts! You don’t understand!  It’s not freaking fall. Step outside, it’s hot as hell!

Simple truth in a complicated moment can make you angry.  Reducing a big situation to a small one feels wrong- even when you are right.  I’ve come to think that this is a key part of why Jesus came.   After giving the written law, prophets, and setting up religion, God said, “I’ll send a baby.”  In the end, He didn’t just send us a book of wise teaching, a set of religious practices, and a moral code to follow…. He sent a person.  As important as that stuff is, it wasn’t enough.   Only a person can always offer something new to our lives.   Only a person was able to expose the heart behind the wisdom.  Only something living and breathing is complicated and fluid enough to enter into our ever-changing lives.  Christianity can seem too simple and finite at times.  Jesus never does.  He’s always surprising us- compassion for the ones who messed up, a harsh word for the ones who did everything right, a life of downward mobility in a world that pressures everyone to get ahead.  He continually did the unexpected.  He approached situations from left field.  And even now, He’s up to date on all the facts, sides, and contributing factors of our problems.  In a good way, He’s not one size fits all in His dealings with us.  He meets us where we are at.

In Colossians 2, Paul tells the church that religious practices, rules, cultural festivals, strict diets and a long list of other things are never meant to be the point of our faith.  He went so far as to call them useless for living correctly.  In verse 17 he says, “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”  Like in Plato’s Cave, the shadows are only meant to be pictures of the real thing.  The real stuff, the whole point, the substance is Christ.

I find myself very grateful for this.  I’m so glad I follow a person instead of a religion.  Especially in a crazy world of eat at Chic-Fil-A/don’t eat at Chic-Fil-A, vote this way/don’t vote this way, bumper stickers, and soundbites that try to ignorantly tell us it is simple.  I hate that stuff.  And so I feel good about offering friends a person; a God/Man who is with us in our moments of need and confusion.   I recently had dinner with a friend in a bad relationship and I didn’t know what she should do.  While searching for the right advice, the thought came that she should just pursue Jesus.  I really believe that if she does, He’ll figure it out with her.  He’ll lead her in the right way. I can trust her to Him.  I believe He has something to say to all our lives if we’ll listen and take time to hear him.  His words won’t feel outdated, simplistic, or naïve- even if they’re ancient truths Christians have believed for thousands of years.   Because Jesus is not simple.  In fact, He’s the most complicated being that has ever walked the earth.

…So, take that fall. (Get it? Really bad Xtian joke on the double meaning of fall. Forgive me, I needed a conclusion and that’s all I had)


20 Comments

Going to the Chapel?

5
16
Posted by | 31 Comments
same sex marriage

same sex marriageSame-sex marriage. ugh…talk about a bomb.  I struggled all week over whether to bring it up.  Since this is, in theory, a blog about relationships, it seems to fit under the umbrella.  My main problem with blogging about it is that above all,  I wish Christians would stay out of it….  And here I am. Getting involved. Publicly.  Here are my main thoughts as of today:

1. I’m not the best person to ask.  I am straight.  My closest friends and family are straight.  I’m also pretty politically ignorant at this time in my life. I worked on a political radio show just long enough to become disenchanted. I’d be lying through my teeth if I said I watched more CNN than STYLE Network.    The one thing I bring to the table is my ability to (hopefully) think and care about people as best I can through a Christian perspective.

2. A friend had a status update of “If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get gay married“.  Bold. Can’t say I don’t like it.  I don’t like the idea of legislating my religious Christian values on people who aren’t Christian.  I wouldn’t want it done to me.  Do I think homosexuality is a sin? I do. Do I sin? All time.  It’s messy. Government isn’t the answer.

3.  I hate the idea of putting anything in between someone who doesn’t know Jesus and Jesus. Like a street corner poster, unwelcoming spirit,  or that weird shakey face thing women get when they are talking while angry/afraid.  Who can see Jesus through all of that?  If we believe He offers the best plan for life, let’s lovingly lead people to Him and let Him take care of the convicting and changing.

same-sex mariage4.  Same-sex marriage isn’t the biggest problem facing marriage and family. We are.  We’ve done a terrible job with fidelity, fathering, and set unrealistic expectations for marriage all on our own.  Can you imagine if Christians took all their passion, time, money and energy and channelled it into growing healthy singles, marriages, and parents that were centered on Christ?  If we held out a way of life that people wanted in on then sin could be traded for life, bondage for freedom, fear for peace.  RELEVANT Magazine posted a smart people debate about it.  My main issue with the writer who is against same-sex unions is that he is worried about what it will do for the definition/meaning of marriage.  To me, it’s entirely up to me to take care of the definition of my marriage and keep it Biblical.  It’s up to me to make it meaningful, not culture.

Hopefully this came across as an invitation for discussion.  What do you think?  What have I missed?  How or will you vote?   Please leave your thoughts. Especially if they are different from mine. But also if they are like mine. Than I’ll feel better about myself. Just kidding. Kind of.


31 Comments