Tag Archives: Yeshua

VISION 2020: Ouchie

Ugh – I wasn’t going to write tonight, but the nagging voice in my head won’t be quiet no matter how much I argue about being tired and having spent too much time already typing with a defective hand that is all His fault. Well…not really. It is my fault. When you are given a mandate for your gift, it really is not wise to go outside that mandate. That being said, GOD is good and reminds us when we fall down.

It just may be an ouchie reminder.

My mandate is that I am not to comment on worldly things – such as politics. I am to write about His joy – His peace – His love – His blessings. I am to teach as I have taught for the past – almost – 50 years:
Colorblind.
Truth based. (notice: I did not say fact based)
Light giving.
And sometimes – with a little humor/weeping thrown in for free.

Not easy for this very A type – teacher personality. We are used to controlling a classroom of 30+ kids – being an authority on whatever – offering opinions on everything that is thrown our way from those instigator kidlets trying to get us off topic. However, my mama and brother trained me well in opinionated thoughts.
I have opinions.
Strong opinions.

Sarcasm has always leapt to my mind before I even have a chance to think. It was the first classroom wisdom that I gained. Sarcasm is ineffectual as a tool to pass on facts/wisdom/anything. It alienates and decimates those who hear/see it. I outlawed it in the classroom long ago and I avoid it like the plague now. But it still leaps out in my mind at times when I read some of the memes and political stuff on social media.

“I have revealed Your name to those You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours; You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they know that everything You have given Me comes from You. For I have given them the words You gave Me, and they have received them. They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they believed that You sent Me.” (v.6-8)

In the past few days, I have returned to this chapter often. The image of a garden – hmmm – perfect setting since the garden was the first place man spoke to GOD. Jesus praying. In a garden. GOD made man speaking to GOD the Father. Jesus, Yeshua, praying.

Praying for me.

I think I love this passage the most because He says the mandate that rings in my ears even when I sleep. “I have given them the words you gave me, and they have received them.”

The Word gives us WORDSHis WORDS that the FATHER gave Him to give to us. Words that created the tiniest part of an atom. Words that breathed into our nostrils the Breath of Life. Creative words that we carelessly throw out so that we might exhibit our own version of truth –

Today, I allowed my fingers to ignore those things that I know that I know and typed a response based on worldly wisdom instead of Truth. Bandwagons are not what I am supposed to ride right now. That might change – but for now – Noper!!! So I typed. Turned off the computer. Stomach aching. I went outside. And out of nowhere, a wasp landed on my left hand and stung me three times – from the wrist to the index finger joint.

I am left-handed. Hint immediately received.

One sting I could understand – if I could see a nest or some reason for him to be around. I looked at him and couldn’t figure out what was hurting and moving down my hand. When he was done, he flew to a near-by rosebud leaf and disappeared under it. My hand is now beginning to return to normal – kinda. It is still swollen but the tingling, itchy pain is receding. Best of all, I can almost see a knuckle.

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You.” (v.1)

I needed to be reminded that Yeshua is praying for me – for all of us – especially right now. He is crying with us. He is knocking at the door. He is calling us to our home altars. The WORD continues to give us the words, so we need to open our ears, our eyes, our soul – and then – open our mouths – or in the case of social media – our fingers in response.

“Holy Father, protect them by Your name, the name You gave Me, so that they may be one as We are one. While I was with them, I protected and preserved them by Your name, the name You gave Me.” (John 17:11-12a)

How great is that? He prays for our protection. He prays for our salvation so that we may see the Father, face-to-face. He prays today as He prayed 2000+ years ago. Truth of the WORD does not change but is everlasting to everlasting.

So my wisdom of the day – don’t get stung by a wasp. OUCHIE!! It hurts. Better yet, remember His Truth. It is often said: “Words matter”. Even so, we forget that on social media forums – and sometimes with our friends – and sometimes in our families.

If Jesus, Rabbi Yeshua, thought praying was so important that He chose to do it in the darkest night of His life, I know that praying is still the most important thing we can do in these dark times.

[artwork by Greg Olsen/personal image]

PANDEMIC 2020 VISION: The Tomb

They hid behind the shuttered windows. Lamps unlit. One shaking person here. Two there. Another a little further away. They feared to travel too far. After all – they might be seen. The earthquake had only intensified their fear. Like all enslaved societies, communication was passed despite the restrictions. Who was where – assorted tales of news – some true – some false. It was said even the Sanhedrin was in hiding within their own homes until the damage to the temple could be assessed further. Only three truly rested in peace.

Mother Mary, the other Mary and John.

Their feet stumbled all the way to the cross focused only on the One they loved. Their eyes saw the brokenness of sin covered by the glory of love’s mercy . Their ears opened to the vile evil the world offered, but broken by the blessed words “It is finished”. They fell when the earth shook the stones loose from under their feet. They covered their heads as best they could when the heavens cried its wracking sobs and pelted their heads with it. And when His body was lowered into their arms, they were covered with the blood that He had shed – for them – for all of them – for that is what he had said.

Could it only be just a day ago they had sat together laughing,talking, and praising Abba?

Mother Mary wrapped Him in His final swaddling clothes.

Joseph of Arimathea and his hirelings hurried them along. Passover Sabbath drawing closer as the sun sank deeper into the west
The Tomb.
The stone.
A short journey to his home where they would all rest as required.

They would be safe with him. He had put his protection around the three of them. As shaken as Caiaphas had been after the temple was damaged, Joseph was certain he would not move against any of the others, but he could not promise any more than that. Nicodemus would let him know if that changed.

The blessed Sabbath passed slowly, A trickle of information was passed despite the restrictions that were in place for this day. Joseph watched – he listened – he prayed for his three visitors. He had especially been watching Yeshua’s mother. His wife and children couldn’t seem to leave her presence. They sat at her feet as did John and the other Mary. It was as if Yeshua was still among them. Tears still colored her eyes and nose, but her voice strong as she told stories of her son as a child and laid her hands upon them all. Later, they sang their prayers and thankfulness to Abba.

Joseph rubbed the back of his head and adjusted his head covering. Funny, he had never thought of G-D as Abba until he had listened to Yeshua. Now, as he watched this mother grieve her son, he could not think of G-D any other way. Although – sadly – he could not speak that faith out loud. He turned his face away as tears threatened to expose him to his world. He had done the best he could, he thought angrily. He got up and shuttered the windows against the night – at the darkness that threatened to invade.

Shortly after, Nicodemus appeared at the door. A small hand wagon full of the spices that must be applied in accordance with the laws. Mother Mary, John, and the other Mary traveled with their protectors to the tomb. The Roman soldiers stood impatiently aside as the Jews went about their rituals, but their displeasure was as obvious as the darkness stealing away the light.

Tomorrow would come. They would finish what needed to be done then. When Joseph mentioned that they would seal it permanently, Mother Mary smiled sadly at him. Again, his spirit was disturbed. It was as if she carried a secret. He glanced at Nicodemus who was also staring intently at Yeshua’s mother. What was it about her that made him seek to do everything he could to protect her – to be near her??

Joseph shrugged and hurried the small group to return home before the deep dark of the evening descended. He didn’t trust the undercurrents that seemed to still shake the air around him, just as the earth had shaken under his feet yesterday. He had seen the torn curtain – the fallen stones – the shattered trappings of ritual tossed as if they had been discarded by an angry hand.

Yeshua was dead.
His disciples scattered.
The ministry of the gifted rabbi broken before it had a chance to grow larger.

Joseph and Nicodemus looked at each other one more time before they went their separate ways. Joseph knew they were thinking much the same thing. The world had changed. This time of sheltering under the blood of the lamb had changed the world. They just hadn’t realized that it was the blood of a different Passover Lamb that was changing the world far more than they could ever imagine. passion of christ [google image]

HOLY DAYS 2019

It started last Monday. I take that back – it probably started Sunday the 6th. I spent the day in an unintentional fast and prayer. It was just one of those days when I was busy doing meaningless stuff when I needed to be in prayer. Somehow in the mix of the mess, I just didn’t find the time or the need to eat. So when Monday arrived, my ears were totally opened to listen to one of my favorite preacher/teachers. He often seems to hit that Holy Spirit sweet spot in my soul. So much so, that I generally cry. I generally take notes – lots of them. I generally do a bunch of pondering over the verses that he covers in his talks.  I generally just seek the presence of the LORD.

Monday night, His presence went beyond the message – it carried on into my dreams.

I don’t remember much of the dream except I was singing in a choir. The music was all in different colored folders that had swirls of colors all over them. and I could hardly wait to open them and begin sight singing. The choral director was someone I had sung with before and was – oh so excited – to sing with again. Best yet, we were to told to make new dresses for the upcoming concert. I wanted the blue material, but only a Christmas red and pink were left when it was my turn to chose. Funny thing, I wasn’t really disappointed and couldn’t wait to get started sewing the pattern for the new dress.

Of course, it was then I woke up. So Tuesday, I said my morning prayers as usual. The beginning of Yom Kippur would start at sundown. The day of determination for the new year. The day of Our Father weighs the heart.

My heart has been heavy for the past few months. Worries. Concerns. Friends/relatives fighting diseases. Prodigals wandering far from home. How I needed to make a decision on getting tires for the car or a new back door or a screen door – or…. Yeah – I throw even those tiny things into my prayers. Sure – enough by sundown and the beginning of Yom Kippur, He had answered that tiny prayer about tires in a most unexpected way. He also had opened my eyes and dried my tears in a way I had not expected.

Every day of that week continued to be blessed including Friday which brought another surprise in the mail and a couple found in a Bible  totally up to three unexpected gifts. I love how My Father knew that I needed a show of His Light-giving miracles this holy week. I love how He inspires people who are anonymous to me – but not to Him – to accomplish His work on earth for the people who love and honor Him. I love how the Jewish High Holy Days are holy for ALL His people. Yeshua celebrated the High Holy Days while He was on earth — after all — He went even though He knew His enemies were looking to destroy Him. I think they are still important to Him. They were the first covenants He made with His first people. Then after His time here was done, He made the gate available for the rest of us and someday – that same gate will open to the second garden He has designed just for us.

“After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want[a] to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. 2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.”~Jn 7:1-5

So tonight, as Sukkot/Feast of Tabernacles begins, I am thankful for the harvest of  salad greens, tomatoes and flowers that I have had all summer. Thankful for a summer of life-altering change. Thankful for walks in the rain with the lab girls. Thankful for kitty curled in my lap. Thankful for a Father that hears the smallest whisper thrown into a quickly uttered, frustrated prayer. Thankful for friends who hear God speak to their hearts and put a gift in the mail. Thankful to Elohim Chasdi who dries my tears and carries me when I can’t take another step forward. And while I won’t live in a sukkah this year, I will certainly do a lot of prayers sitting on my patio swing in thankful praise and adoration.

The harvest of thankfulness has begun to a Father who meets all our needs – in all our journeys as we wander through the desert between two gardens.

Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. 8 You go to the festival. I am not[b] going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.

10 However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11 Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?”

12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.”

Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.”~Jn 7:6-13

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WARM, BUTTERY BREAD

When the Holy Spirit is nudging, and I am plugging my ears, Our Father and His Son, Yeshua, will often step in and slap me upside the head with blessing after blessing just to get my attention.

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”~Ex 14:14

Last night a neighbor drove his mower over and not only did the road frontage, but also did the whole back yard. All day I had been internally wondering how I was going to fit everything in that I needed to get done this week. I wasn’t anxious about it, just pondering what kind of schedule I needed to implement so I could get to school and get some more books on the shelves and do all the things that seem to make up my day.

Later, I cried because that is just the way He works in my life these days. He knows that I hate traveling in canyons with their high steep walls. In canyons, the sky seems so far away, and daylight is overcast with shadow after shadow. This summer has been one long, huge canyon for me, and He knows it. But as always, He has provided a river of blessings that flows at the very bottom of that dark canyon to up-lift my dingy self.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”~Is 41:10

As I struggled over devotions, I read and re-read the WORD given. It just seemed to not fit my day, and I wondered what I was missing this time. So I gave up and put myself in His hands as I closed my eyes for this somewhat long and uneasy day. “It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way” was one of the last things I thought before I drifted off to sleep with kitty curled into my side and dogs snoring at my feet.

That is when I had a dream with its roots in a memory and the devotional that I had struggled with earlier.

When I was 7, we moved to a new house. A house where my father could walk to work and where we could all listen to the trains rumble by our house every few hours. The best thing – it was a neighborhood filled with kids my age. Mostly boys, which I didn’t appreciate until much later, but there were a few girls. One was a girl named Annie. Her family brought us freshly baked bread that first day when we were hot and tired and excited. I don’t think I had ever had warm bread like that – ever. Other neighbors and relatives joined us with other treats. Impromptu parties were not unusual to my parents. But it was always Annie and that out-of-the-oven, buttery bread that I remembered.

Last night, I dreamed of that warm bread again. Sweeter, better than I ever remembered. The Bread and Annie were both there. She asked me, “Is it really that hard to understand?” I laughed because suddenly the devotional made perfect sense, and I woke up still smiling. In fact, I can still taste that bread tonight and see Annie’s laughing face.

The Bread of Life. The Living Water. Sometimes, we just need to close our eyes. Be still. Rest in His hand. Let Him carry the battle in the canyon journey that we really don’t like. And – eat some warm buttery bread.

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.’ “~ Jn 6:48-51 

     [personal images]

 

LENTEN INSIGHT 2019 #3

It has been a month since I have written. The words have been there. The thoughts. The dreams. The joyous bursts of creativity. But the fingers were stayed. For whatever reason – I found myself waiting. So – I waited. I waited some more. Waited for the special silence that always precedes the release of words. And still I waited.

Holy week. 
Palm Sunday
Maundy Thursday.
Good Friday.

A month ago, in one of my many thrift store meanderings, I found a Robert Shaw recording in conjunction with Ohio State University choirs. It was not one from when I was there, but the choral works on it spoke to me once again. The next day, I found myself sitting on the floor of my small utility closet as I pulled out all my classical CD’s. My school room filled with them as I worked. I began singing – not well – but nevertheless – with all my heart in the car on the way home. Finally, letting them filter through my prayers as I lay my head down.

“Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”~Lk 9:58

Two weeks later, I found myself walking through the door of a stately, city Methodist church. The steeple bell rang as I walked the sidewalk towards the church – just as they used to when I walked with my parents. Tears gathered in the corners of my eyes. I was not surprised. I needed the rituals. I needed the music. I needed to hear the oral readings of Psalms and “Our Father”. I needed to remember the community of my history. The birthplace of my faith – my youth – my maturity.

A touchstone of truth.

“Pilate said to him, “You are a King then?” Yeshua said to him,“You have said that I am a King. For this I was born and for this I have come into the world: to testify of the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is the truth?” ~Jn 18:37-38

It is Holy Week.
It is Good Friday.

On Maundy Thursday, I was going to go back to the Methodist church, but instead, I watched the Mass of the Basilica in DC and sang with choir during Holy Communion. Tonight, as I watched some of the Stations of the Cross in Rome, my thoughts focused and the fingers found their freedom. Then I turned on the “The Passion of the Christ”. It is always the last thing I want to do – ever. It is a hard movie to watch. I cry – often. And yet, it is the one thing thing I must do. I must remember the gift. I must honor the sacrifice that an earthly mother made in conjunction with the plan that a loving, heavenly Father made for all His children so long ago.

“There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends.”~Jn 15:13

Today was a stormy day in NC. “The swirly winds came and the rain fell on us” as a poem from my high school days stated. I checked my plants. Pulled the flag in under the porch roof. Rubbed the dogs’ heads over and over as they stayed close by my side. Even the cat who has been standoffish all week has spent most of the night on my lap. The winds have quieted and while all three animals and hubby are sleeping in our small TV room, I am at peace.

The stone has covered the tomb, but Grace is about to blow away the cords that hold it closed.

Resurrection Day is coming.

“You are my friends if you will do all that I command you. No longer do I call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master does, but I have called you my friends, because all that I have heard from my Father, I have taught you.”~Jn 15:14-15

It has been an interesting month of being a learner again. Listening to the Teacher of Truth is never easy of me. I am – at this point in life – used to being the teacher in the room. I tend to want to control everything around me. Although – some of my oldest friends say that I have always had that “teacher attitude” – whatever that is. I’m still not sure where it is leading or what is on that path that seems to have very few mile markers. What I do know?

“You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you so that you also will go bring forth fruit and your fruit will remain, so that all you will ask my Father in my name, he will give to you.These things I command you that you will love one another.”~Jn 15:16-17

 

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LIGHTS OUT #2

“The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary…”

It has been one of those winters. Cold – dark – dreary – and – sigh upon sigh – rain, rain and more rain. As I pulled a candle out of the window tonight, I looked out into the darkness. There are only two candles left and on Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday/Pancake Day, I will pack that last Light of Advent away until late Fall of 2019.

How time flies.

“My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast…”

Yesterday was a beautiful Spring-like day. I dug in the soil. Got my hands dirty. Moved a couple big rocks and pulled a muscle (which – btw – still hurts – hence the whining). Laughed with my Grands as they tried to follow the birds fighting over their place at the feeders. Picked at the flower beds a little here – a little there. And tonight? Not a star in sight. Even the neighbor’s security lights were dimmed in the heaviness of heaven’s tears. And…I sighed again as I turned off the candle’s light.

Just then – as I was beginning to write – that memorable line popped into my head…”Into each life some rain must fall…”

“Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.”~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Rainy Day

I remember memorizing this poem in grade school. We memorized many poems back in the day. Have no idea why or what teachers required them; I just know we did it. Often the lines of those poems will pop up in my head. I never seem to remember the whole, but I remember in part. Luckily, we have search engines, and I don’t have to dig through a pile of books trying to find an obscure line in a poem that I might or might not have on my dusty shelves.

We also read Bible stories, memorized Bible verses, sang hymns/carols and prayed. These tend to be a little more in-focus, but it seems I can never – ever remember the book or the chapter or the number of those verses. (Is that whining again?)  I remember in part but never the whole.

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.”~Ps 103:8

Not sure where this going.I started out with one idea in my head, and now, here I am walking in faith with my words. I’ll blame it on this amazing teacher/preacher, Jason Brown, former NFL player turned farmer, who spoke at our church today. I may have extinguished another candle in my home, but Mr. Brown’s sermon is still lighting up my soul with thoughts about faith and how we need to walk through this life with faith. I love it when the Holy Spirit moves me to think and re-think understandings of His WORD.

Better than candles in the window. Better than a man-made light on a rainy night. I have the Living Light of His WORD for this new Lenten season. I needed this reminder today. Come to think of it – I need it everyday. I needed it everyday while I was growing up. I needed it everyday when I was in open rebellion of His WORD. I need it everyday now. When the pain of an aging body gets me down; when I let that ever youthful rebellion surface; when the whining turns into a sarcastic pout, or when I just plain don’t walk in the confidence of faithfulness to His WORD.

“And Yeshua spoke again with them and he said: “I AM THE LIVING GOD, The Light of the world. Whoever follows me shall not walk in darkness but shall find the Light of ife.”~Jn 8:12 (Aramaic translation)

Abba is “Behind the clouds…the sun still shining.” Waiting for us to look up. Waiting for us to get tired of the rain – of the darkness – and look behind the clouds where the Son is still shining. Shining bright enough for us to see the next step. Shining bright enough to dry our tears. Shining bright enough to shed Grace over our heavy hearts and grant us peace.

It is the season to reflect. A season of to wonder – to ponder. A season to choose Light over darkness once again. A season to “…go and sin no more.”

“Then Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,” she answered. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Now go and sin no more.”~Jn 8:10-11 Forgiven [Greg Olsen artwork]

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS: The Miracle

Santa is all put away for another year. But the light and nativities of the season are still out until Epiphany. The nice thing about not having a big tree is that I can still sit in the warmth of the lights that are spread around our small rooms. The outside lights stay on as well until the Wise Men catch up with Baby YESHUA. So the Christmas spirit remains a little longer.

I also finished up watching some of my favorite Christmas movies. “So This Is Christmas”, “Signed, Sealed and Delivered: Christmas Episodes” and “Touched By An Angel: Christmas Episodes” (which, btw, still make me tear up). All of them touching upon that essence of that first Miracle.

“You are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your GOD, declares the Lord God.”~Ez 34:31

We all see miracles every day. We just don’t always recognize them. I can keep in touch – sometimes daily – with family and friends who are far away. I can watch favorite movies as I work around the house. I can be fed the “manna” of life even if I don’t make it to a physical building called “church”. I can read the WORD in book form, watch it in visual arrays, listen to it via dramatic readings on CD.  Life is way good.

Even with all of that, I’m pretty positive that I miss a million more miracles that are right in front of my eyes. Just like there were lots of people who didn’t recognize the miracle the prophets’ words when they were spoken – – – or the miracle of the star in front of them – – – or the miracle of angels singing – – – or a baby born and laid in a manger.

Our Father knows how stubborn sheep can be. How dismissive sheep can be when people espouse ideas that are contrary to what we want to think about. How blind sheep can be even when the Light is right in front of us. How deaf sheep can be even when the words are singing loudly above us. How any kind of Saviour could be ‘worth a hill of beans’ if He was born in a stable.

“This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”~Lk 2:34-35

I love the miracle of Simeon and Anna. Two witnesses at His birth. Two prophets who brought more promises of Our Father to the parents and to those who would listen. The miracle of the HOLY SPIRIT was upon them both. They had grown old – fasting, praying, waiting – – – waiting for the fulfillment of a promise – the miracle of seeing the Saviour before they died. 
Moved by the SPIRIT.
Eyes and ears opened by the heart.
Faith blessed by the Miracle.

“She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising GOD. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for GOD to rescue Jerusalem.”~Lk 2:38

Can we do any less? Pray. Fast. Wait. Tell everyone we meet about this sign from GOD – this Miracle – This Saviour – born to shepherd His sheep – to bring joy to the world to people of good will – a sign of a promise fulfilled.

“On the fifth day of Christmas, My True Love gave to me…”: A Miracle. 

501fbedf8e0d2acef55931eb25797f6a--greg-olsen-baby-jesus                   [Greg Olsen artwork]

CHRISTMAS JOY (4 Days and Counting)

When it is the last day before Christmas break in a small Christian school, there is joy everywhere. Parents pop in. Presents magically appear on desks. Hugs wrapped around on the outside squiggle their way in and wrap themselves around the heart as well. Carols bounce off the walls while the story of a baby in the manger is told in a variety of ways, keeping the kids laughing and dancing and prancing and joyfully praising (and snowballs flying).

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”~Lk 2:10

What a day to put in the treasure chest of memories and rejoice over and over whenever I pull it out and hold it again. Emotions fade away, but that core of truth always remains. In the same way great joy came that night so long ago, and I am sure the shepherds pulled that memory out from time to time to marvel over the core of what they saw and heard. Turing it in front of them. Questioning their sanity. Wondering at the blessing.

👼Do not be afraid.
👼Good news.
👼Great joy.
👼People of good will.
👼Baby in a manger.

Yup. Heard the angels. Heard the words. Saw the baby. Saw the parents. Scratched the head – maybe the beard. Blinked the eyes a few times. Went home to sleep. Couldn’t sleep. Counted sheep. Told the family. Family made some snide comments, but hugs got passed all the way around. Went back to bed after prayers had been said. After all, what does one do after a glorious impossible miracle?

Lucky for us. Luke wrote that glorious impossible miracle down. I often wonder if Luke asked Mother Mary about baby Yeshua? Or did he know one of the shepherds? One of the kings? Seems to me, lots of miracles took place just so we could continue to read about it 2000+ years later.

Glorious impossible miracles that just keep multiplying.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”~1 Pt 1:8-9

When the students come to our small library, we have story time, pick out new books, and usually make a bookmark. Not sure how bookmarks became a thing, but now the kids ask what will be on the bookmarks before they even come to library. So this week, I made bookmarks for them. They giggled. They laughed. They wanted more than one.

After all – 
🎅Santa is coming to town.
Jesus is coming to town.
🎄Seeing them together brings joy to girls and boys – of all ages.
👼Good news.
👼Great joy
👼To all people of good will.

As the angels sing of Glorious Joy we get to see the Glorious Impossible “as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be…”

Four days and counting – – – wheeeeeeeeee….. 

   [Greg Olsen artwork]

CHRISTMAS IMMANUEL (6 Days and Counting)

“Later, the LORD sent this message to King Ahaz: 11“Ask the LORD your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want—as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead.”

Wouldn’t you love to receive that message from Poppa GOD? Just ask – anything – – high as heaven – – – or as deep as the place of dead? Hmmm… A prophecy buried within a prophecy. Even before Isaia got to the main point of his visit, he was hinting at its fulfillment. Gotta love every word of a Bible verse. Father’s words are never wasted.

“But the king refused. “No,” he said, “I will not test the LORD like that.”

And there it is. Yupper! Typical human response. Just put a spin on it, so it doesn’t sound like what it is. R-E-B-E-L-L-I-O-N. It is what we do. GOD reaches out. We push back – just a little – mind you. May not be an open rebellion – or even as brash as King Azah, after all, GOD had told him to ask for a sign. Not Azah, he didn’t need “test” GOD. Yet – here he was – – pushing back – – – rejecting what the LORD had told him to do, never-the-less.

“Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well?”

Can you hear the exasperation in Isaiah’s voice? Can you here him biting back all those words that he wanted to say but couldn’t because he was about the LORD’s work right now? I must really becoming adapted to the South, for I can surely hear these words with just a twinge of a drawl clinging to each word.

“All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). By the time this child is old enough to choose what is right and reject what is wrong, he will be eating yogurt and honey. For before the child is that old, the lands of the two kings you fear so much will both be deserted.”~Is 7:10-16

LOOK!

UNDERSTAND!

The glorious impossible happened just as Isaiah prophesied so long ago. A sign was given. A Virgin. A boy-child.

IMMANUEL.

GOD WITH US.

As high as heaven. Deep as the place of the dead.

YESHUA – GOD who is with us – who saves us – who loves us so much that He sent His son to tear the veil between the high heaven and the deep place of the dead. The Son who stands with us in the highest points of our lives to the lowest points of our lives.

Now that is Christmas! That is the reason I get so excited that it is almost here. The Glorious Impossible of Mary – a mother’s love bringing forth the Father’s sign. Mary - mothers love [Akiane artwork/google image]

A STIFF-NECKED, STUBBORN SOUL

For a couple of years when I was in college, I sang in a choir for the High Holy Days at a nearby Jewish synagogue. It was there that I made the connection that Jesus – Yeshua – was a Jewish rabbi. It’s not that I hadn’t been told that – after all it is in the gospels. He was called, “Rabbi”, and I’m sure that at some point, one of my pastors or teachers must have mentioned it. But it took a Rosh Hashanah and the 10 days to Yom Kippur to make it sink in through my stiff-neck, stubborn self. 
Day after day as I walked into the synagogue and listened to the rituals that had been passed down through the ages, my  eyes opened a little wider and I began to wonder about things that had never entered my thick skull before.
“Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things;
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made his salvation known
and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered his love
and his faithfulness to Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.” Ps 98:1-4
 
It was the first time I heard a shofar. The first time I heard the Jewish language. The first time I saw Jewish words in print. The first time I tried to look through the eyes of the Jewish worldview at the Savior that I had fallen in love with long ago..
 
Jewish oral tradition believes that Tishri 1 – this head of the year – was the day people were created. It continues that this was also the day that Abraham’s Sarah became pregnant, and a few years later – the day when Issac was bound to be offered as a sacrifice. It was only after God provided a sacrifice to replace Issac that He created the first two shofroth from the horns of that sheep. It would serve as a loud testimony down through the ages of His love and faithfulness to all His people.  
 
The LORD remembered His love for His people. The LORD made His salvation known to all the ends of the earth with the sound of the horns. Just as the Father breathed life into His child, man breaths life into the sofar as The Feast of the Trumpets rings throughout the land. 
 
“with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
shout for joy before the Lord, the King.” Ps 98:6
 
Many continue to use the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as a period of fasting and reflection. A time to look back, and a time to look forward A time to throw out failures and a time to draw a new vision. A time to mourn over foolishness, and a time to sing over successes. A time to look within, and a time to look up to the One who breathed life into clay and continues to love unconditionally.
 
A couple years back, for each of the 10 days of High Holy Days, a question was posed on an electronic billboard in Times Square in NYC. Questions meant to encourage contemplation for the new year to anyone who read them . I don’t know what those questions were, but I do wonder as I start to formulate my own journey for these next 10 days. After all, Jesus honored, as was His habit, His Father’s commands in Leviticus 23 as He walked this earth. It just might do some good for this stubborn, stiff-necked soul as well.
 
“Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountains sing together for joy;
Let them sing before the Lord,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity.” Ps 98:7-9 

 

[google images]