December 23, 2006


O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

The beautiful haunting melody of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel has always captivated me. This year however, I have not only listened to the melody of this beloved carol; I have begun to listen more closely to the text of this song. In particular, the single word of ‘Emmanuel’ has captured my interest and drawn my intrigue. Opening God’s Word to Matthew, I’ve rediscovered the meaning of the name ‘Emmanuel.' Let me share it with you:

Matthew 1:23
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Emmanuel—God with us.

Here, in the meaning of Emmanuel, we find the truth that’s the very basis of our Christmas celebration. Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, is God with us. Jesus, the baby born 2000 years ago, wasn’t born merely as a great prophet or a radical teacher. Jesus came as God in flesh. Jesus came as God, to reconcile us to Himself.

Looking back a few verses in Matthew we find verse 21:

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save his people from their sins.

He shall save his people from their sins.

O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free
thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
from depths of hell thy people save,
and give them victory over the grave.

Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with us. Emmanuel has come! The Son of God has appeared. He came to deliver us from bondage—and because of Him, we have victory. Let us rejoice!

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Merry Christmas! May your days be blessed as you rejoice in the coming of Emmanuel!

*The author of the words and composer to the music of O Come, O Come Emmanuel is unknown. This carol was a Latin text from the 12th Century.

December 15, 2006

A Personal Psalm

To every child of God who feels that Life is sometimes too great a challenge: May you find God's peace to be all that you need.

Even when I feel too drained and mentally exhausted to tackle one more thing, my Father is still there beside me, holding my hand and showing His mercy. I can't feel Him, I can't see Him, but I know He is there, helping me get through another day.

I feel so bewildered, not wanting or caring about anything in the world right now. I don't want anything to happen today; I don't even want to do anything today, except find comfort for my downtrodden soul. Where can I find that comfort, that peace that my heart so desperately needs?

Turning to the Word of God, I find my Heavenly Father. He knows my frame...He remembers I am but dust. He knows my sorrows and fears, my discomforts and my unfulfilled dreams; He knows how I can best please Him, and how to reveal His ways to me. He knows every hair on my head, every beat of my heart; He can and will lead me to the Farther Shore. How can I find anything but comfort in His presence?

Oh Lord, help me to place my hope and trust in You; be my confidence and my steadfast aid, my shield, and the one in whom I delight. Show me Your unquencheable love; grant me Your peace which does surpass all understanding. Bestow it to all of Your children who need Your comfort this day. Show us Your loving kindness, and renew our hearts in love to You. Be our precious Shepherd, and lead us by Your grace to Your kingdom. Amen

December 07, 2006

Christ is My Extraordinary!

Lord, do not let my eyes fall to the earth! Keep my gaze lifted up, past the men who taunt and intimidate me, past the fleeting moments of this earth, straight ahead to You in all Your glory and majesty. -Jennifer's Musings
Jennifer's post, over at Jennifer's Musings, blessed me in an incredible way this week. I encourage you to read the post in its entirety.

I find within myself a desire and quest to lay claim to my own bit of brilliance or talent. I am intimidated and wearied when I find such a lack of any such greatness in myself. However, Jennifer's post helped me step back and lift my eyes away from self. In view of Christ and His majesty, my own extraordinary, or lack of, becomes as dust. The miracle of Christ cleansing my heart, dwelling inside of me, and being my God, is more extraordinary than anything I could every perform or be. Christ is my extraordinary!

Thank you, Jennifer, the encouraging post. Thank you, God, for Christ.

December 06, 2006

The Battle Against Apathy

Isn’t it funny how one of the biggest battles we find within our hearts is the war against apathy? I mean, why do we let apathy remain so persistent in the battle? Why do we fight so hard to prevent apathy from dying? Rather ironic, isn’t it?

Apathy is definitely not apathetic in its nature. In truth, my own heart finds it quite the opposite. The roots of apathy dig down deep and will not let go. Spreading like a loathsome disease, this persistent weed winds its tough strands of poison around every facet of my heart and life. I am almost persuaded to give up the fight. Or just switch sides—I could just fight for apathy to win instead. Surely life would be easier then. A short battle would ensue, apathy would triumph, and the struggle would be over. Life would be in a lull. How tempting it would be to shout to Apathy, “You win!” so that I could sit back and dismiss the battle.

But, no. That would not be right. These thoughts are ridiculous. A Christian’s calling is to pursue righteousness with passion and perseverance. Letting apathy reign in our hearts is a sin. In this battle of my heart, it will not do to let apathy have the upper hand.

But where is the encouragement to continue the fight? I am weak, and my strength to fight for passion is failing. Where shall I look for help? May I never forget the exhortation found in Hebrews 12.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. (vs. 1-3)

Though the battle against apathy rages in a complex manner that I don’t understand, I will not give up. Christ fought the battle even more intensely than I am fighting, and yet He overcame. By His strength only, will I do the same. The sin of apathy, so easily besetting me, must be laid aside, no matter the cost. Apathy is not option!