The Man Cold

We are both sick. Mom and Dad are out for the count the same week we demolished the kitchen. The kids are in charge and, in a poetic way, the house resembles how we feel: chaotic and unwell.

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You’d think being in the midst of a major renovation would make this the worst time to be sick, but it’s not. Usually, I feel tremendous guilt for staying in bed, for not cooking dinner, for not keeping up with the cleaning or laundry. Usually, I feel a bit jealous of my husband who seems to be able to take a sick day and really rest from his duties.

But this time it’s different. There is no guilt about dinner because I have no kitchen in which to cook dinner. There is no guilt about letting the kids watch a bunch of T.V. because half of the house is off limits. There is no guilt about cleaning when everything looks temporarily like this.

I found a few glorious days of guilt free rest tucked snugly into bed. It’s given me time to ponder the foolish things I’ve done in the past while sick.

I’ve spread germs further into the community by insisting on keeping every appointment while sick. I’ve taken longer to recover because I’ve failed to get the rest my body needs. I’ve fed a martyr-complex wrongly believing myself to be indispensable.

Perhaps the men have had it right all along? Perhaps men know something that us women have yet to understand: the world does not stop spinning because we take a sick day. Perhaps the man-cold (so commonly mocked by us ladies) is really wisdom in action?

Our house hasn’t been in this much chaos since we knocked down all the interior walls one Easter weekend. The kids have enjoyed more electronic entertainment than usual but it’s not going to kill them. Friends have brought meals and Sobey’s ready made dinners have filled in the gaps. The contractor has kept the renovation on schedule and I haven’t cleaned anything in seven days. Yup, seven days.

And you know what? It’s okay. I’m going back to bed.

 

Why now just might be the most wonderful time of the year

News Year Day is my day to pop in the earbuds and crank the worship tunes. I tuck the holiday glitter and noise into their pre-Christmas storage bins for approximately 345 days of slumber.  It’s a calming exhalation of clear surfaces and bare walls. And I don’t stop there. Each room gets a January clean sweep and bags and bags and bags of goods head off to the second hand store.

It’s such a contrast to that pre-Christmas feeling. You know, the feeling of vibrating energy and anticipation reflected in the non-stop action of the house. Everywhere we look something or someone is proclaiming it is almost herethe birth of our Saviour! The notes of this concerto increase in intensity as we celebrate years of prophecy proven true. He is here! He has come for us! I love EVERY. SINGLE. MINUTE.

Then, one day, commercialism tells us it is over. Commercialism tells us to start preparing for the next holiday. But as I look around my unstuffed house, the lilting notes of Christmas linger. This song is less intense than the holiday jingles. This score of unknown length continues to play in the days after. It plays after we celebrate the birth, after we remember the death, and after we praise God for the resurrection. This gospel-living refrain is the soundtrack behind every normal and gloriously plain post-holiday moment.

This gentle tune slowly builds toward the moment when Christ returns for his own. Could today be the day? Now would be a most wonderful time to be gathered into the clouds with the Lord. I can almost hear the angels singing…

Yes, Christmas is over. But one day, perhaps on an ordinary day much like today, we will have the most wonderful day EVER. Christ is coming back for those waiting and living for Him, saturating each ordinary moment with gospel truth.

Until then, let our song of praise rise to heaven. O come, Lord Jesus, come.

 

How a Weary Soul Rejoices

Maybe it is the busyness leading to Christmas: parties, gatherings, rich food and late nights. Maybe it is the additional responsibilities: tree decorating, baking, shopping, wrapping, budgeting, and cleaning. Maybe you are like me and you feel a little bit weary.

The pace this life requires, the pace this season requires, is not one maintainable through fleshly strength. Maybe you feel a bit of that weight yourself. Maybe verses like Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good…”press the air from your lungs. You just can’t do one more thing because you are weary right through to the bones.

Christmas is for the broken and weary

God’s call on us to sacrifice self in service to others is costly. It stands out in sharp contrast to the perfect holiday pictures of perfect smiling families with perfect yearly reviews flooding your mailboxes. But Christmas isn’t about us making the hard seem jolly and bright.

Christmas is for the brokenhearted. It is for those with shredded insides. It is for those missing loved ones. It is for the imperfect who need Perfection Personified to exchange the weary weight into an easy and light burden.

God knows about weary soul-crushing brokenness. For us to find a way through, He had to take on our weight of sin. That means that Christmas is our way through. Christmas makes a way out from under the heap of wrath poured onto all sinners and Christmas proves that God knows about our wearisome need.

God rips open the heavens and the angels proclaim that salvation has come. The flesh wrapped Deity came to bear the heaps of wrath suffocating you and me. He came to piece our brokenness back together with His perfection.

The easy and light gift of Christmas

Matthew 11:28-30English Standard Version (ESV)

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

We can surrender our heavy yoke of slavery and receive Christ’s lighter yoke of worship. We trade our heavy yoke of pursuing faith by works and take His lighter yoke of meekness and surrender. “It is the proud heart that tires of doing good if it finds its labor not appreciated; but the brave, meek spirit finds the yoke to be easy” (C.H. Spurgeon).

Maybe that is why Paul writes at the end of Galatians 5, if we live by the Spirit let us also walk (keep in step) by the Spirit – which is living and walking empowered by the Spirit. Maybe that is why Paul first writes of the power to live in the Spirit before he writes about doing good – especially “to those who are of the household of faith.”

I cannot live out this life on my own strength, but God has provided his strength through the power of his Spirit. This is how we can “not grow weary of doing good.”

Christ has come and this weary soul rejoices. The weighty pressure for the perfect Christmas, the perfect tree, house, photograph and gift is exchanged for the easy and light burden. This burden tells me none of the glitz and glamour of the holiday matters as much as the perfect lamb in the manger.

Stop and Breathe

Stop wrapping, baking, cooking, and cleaning and do some good for those in the household of faith. Pray for your brothers and sisters in the faith. Pray for your pastors and leaders and their families. Pray for your heart to be satisfied in Jesus. Pray for your children to know contentment and know the forgiveness of sins. Pray for the world to pause the parade of holiday events and kneel at the manger and follow that baby’s footsteps to the crosswhere a weary world can finally lay its burden down.

I pray your weary soul will repent, turn to Christ, and take up His yoke, rejoicing with Him. This Christmas, may your burdens be easy and light.

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The Miracle Isn’t on 34th Street

It’s a holiday classic. The story begins at the Macy’s Christmas Parade and Susan, a six-year-old skeptic, watches from above. She doesn’t have faith in things she can’t see.

We are much like Susan.

Kris Kringle, a friendly and impressive department store Santa Claus, eventually wins Susan’s heart. Sadly, her enchantment fades when Kringle fails to deliver her heart’s desire.

How quickly does our devotion fade when God fails to deliver what we desire?

In the movie’s climactic final scene, Kris leads the family to Susan’s gift and she eventually believes.

Our happily-ever-after isn’t as neat and tidy as that Hollywood classic because our miracle doesn’t involve God granting every wish like a cosmic Santa. Our happily-ever-after comes at great expense, a cost our Lord willingly paid, accomplishing the greatest miracle.

The Real Miracle

When God first came to His people, no parades were held in His honour. He quietly slipped into human skin one star filled night. God peeled back the heavens and the angels declared His glorious birth. A holy, all powerful, uncontainable God allowed Himself to be temporarily contained within human skin. He gave His life for ours and ascended into Heaven so the one greater then him could reside inside human hearts. This miracle didn’t happen for one girl on 34th Street. It happens inside all who believe.

Transformed Heart

Miracle on 34th Street is quaint, funny, and it warms my heart. But the real Christmas miracle doesn’t simply warm my heart, it transforms it. It turns it from a heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

May your Christmas and mine never be reduced to a jolly old man who grants every desire. May it always be centred on a Sovereign God who knows ours desires and gives far more than we can ask or imagine. Perhaps not what we wish, but always what we need.

This year, I’ll grab my warm afghan and a steaming mug of hot chocolate. I’ll settle down in front of the fire and watch Miracle on 34th Street. But not until after I’ve pondered, praised, gave thanks and rejoiced over the real miracle—Christ with Us.

 

How to Keep Christmas Real

It’s that time of year. When the busyness of the season threatens the heart of Christmas, when we are so caught up in the what that we neglect the who and our adversary twiddles his fingers in glee.

As Facebook trumpets the countdown of shopping days, as Pinterest overflows with exquisitely decorated homes, as Instagram brags of polished, perfect families, we are easily sucked into trying to portray a flawless Social Media Christmas.

Our children’s smiles are photoshopped over the wails. We post pictures of artfully decorated cookies and delete the pictures of dozens burnt or deemed unworthy of sharing. We slave over the tree, unable to let our children assist because they don’t understand each branch need 3 ornaments, working from the largest out to the smallest ornament. We are consumed with portraying the perfect Christmas image and we make an idol of the holiday.

Idolatry is coveting anything other than God.

If any of this rings true in your heart, it’s time to reclaim Christmas. It’s time to repent, fix our mind on Christ, and set our hearts on Him.
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Hear, Oh LORD, my plea: listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer – letting it rise from lips free of deceit.

 Examine me from the inside out and make my heart right with You. 
May my steps hold to Your path and may my feet not slip as I strive to honour You this Christmas.
I call on You, Oh God, for You will answer me, give ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show the wonder of Your great love. You save by your right hand those who take refuge in You.

Watch over me, hide me in the shadow of your wings, protect me from the wicked who bombard me with wrong images of Christmas, protect me from the mortal enemy who tries to remove from me the joy of Jesus, protect me from my own sinful heart that has made this holiday an idol.

Unrepentant hearts are calloused. Unrepentant mouths speak with arrogance. The enemy tracks me down and surrounds me with unrealistic expectations. He throws me to the ground in busyness. Rise up, Oh Lord, as I repent. Confront my foes, rescue me from the external wickedness and the wickedness within.

You will still my hunger. You give me plenty. I will seek Your face this Holiday. When my family awakes on Christmas morning, may we be satisfied with You. You are the gift. You are my Lord. Help me reclaim this Christmas for You.

*from the archives

Rest in the wait

My soul waits in the quiet stillness for God—for my rock, my salvation, and my fortress. My hope is in Him. On God alone rests my salvation and glory. I trust in him, my provider at all times.

I shall not be shaken.

I unburden my heart before him, the mighty rock of mercy and grace. I trust not in the world, set no vain hopes on the things of man. The power belongs to the Lord.

I shall not be shaken.

*inspired from Psalm 62