Strands of Garland, a Staircase and Immanuel

It was just a year ago that I was filled with anticipation over moving into our ‘new’ home! I remember not being too thrilled about decorating for Christmas though, all I could think about was unpacking a mountain of boxes and settling into and making a ‘home’ for us again.

This year it’s a different story! Christmas will be everywhere in the house!

Yesterday I unraveled all the Christmas garland and counted the staircase railings to be covered in fake greenery, one…two…three…four…five…six. O bother! (In the words of Winnie the Pooh), this was going to be a project, but I was excited to use some creative energy and give our home a storybook atmosphere (okay, so it’s an excuse to play house!).

As I began my artist work I discovered that I was entering into a mystical world of wonder in my mind. Images began to unfold before me, and I began to ponder around one question.

But Before I let you in on my question, I should tell you that I had music playing with the volume on high. I wanted the entire house to be filled with the sound of Christmas. The music I had selected was Michael W. Smith’s Christmas album,”It’s A Wonderful Christmas”.

My question emerged as I listened to the lyrics of one song in particular, “The Promise”. It’s a song written about ‘Immanuel’ (one of the names given to Jesus meaning “God with us”). The instrumentation set the stage for the lyrics. The sound was grand and eerie, and I allowed it to envelope me as I began to climb the stairs to begin my work of decorating.

What if I could literally climb stairs to the throne of God, what if I was able to step upward with intent and fearful expectation of standing before the One who created me? 

The song lyrics rang in my ears: “And we will sing Emmanuel, God is with us, God is for us, God is in us, we will sing….we sing Alleluia, We’re singing Alleluia, Emmanuel, our God is with us.”

God is WITH us!! I remembered that God’s word speaks of this name! It is a name of  significance because of its meaning.

‘ “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).’ Matt. 1:23

The intent of my blog today is not to unpack the details of the birth of Jesus Christ, but rather to share simply how incredible this name ‘Immanuel’ is for us and to us.

I do not have to climb anything or walk to anywhere to find God. The impact of Immanuel is found in the promise that through Jesus, God would ALWAYS be WITH us….  

We are NEVER alone!

The staircase, the music, the vision of approaching Holy ground were symbolic of a heart, my heart, needing to search and discover the mysterious unexplainable heavenly realm; God met me in the middle of my childlike story to remind me that some things have already been given, and some things already are, like Immanuel: God with us.

How I celebrate this intimate gift as I enter into yet another Christmas season!

My Body

As the dance of words begin today I am listening to Jesus Cultures, “Show Me Your Glory”. The words of this song envelop me, lifting my eyes to God and wrecking my heart with awe.

Why is it so hard to express what my body encounters from this place of yielding?

The apostle Paul asked a question in 1Cor.6:19, “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So GLORIFY God in your body..”

“Glorify God in my body”…

I hear and see beauty through these words. My body of flesh, though marked by brokenness, is a temple of dwelling for God.

I love Matthew Henry’s study on this verse, “This is the proper notion of a temple-a place where God dwells, and sacred to His use, by His own claim and His creature’s surrender…the inference is plain that hence we are not our own…our bodies were made FOR God (italics mine), they were purchased for Him…the temple of the Holy Ghost must be kept holy.”

How could it be that my Creator would desire to use my body to indwell? For His glory? My life, this piece of broken pottery, a home for the God of the universe?  As I write these words I hear Kim Walker’s lyrics (from song mentioned above), “Show me your glory Jesus… I long to look on the face of the One that I love, long to stay in your presence is where I belong….I belong to You, I belong to You , I belong to You, my love.”

Isaiah writes in chapter 43:1; “But now, thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, (O Karolyn)  He who formed you, O Israel (O Karolyn): fear not for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are  MINE.”

Is it possible we have missed the intimacy of this dance with the Divine? God who speaks through His word, scribing that my body is His temple, His dwelling. God who speaks to tell me through ancient biblical history that He is a God that calls me His own? …”You are mine”..

Today as I surrender my body again,  I call to mind that God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29). He will consume with fire every trace of ungodliness, calling it forward to rid my life of its weight and bondage.

I step towards Him without fear, I desire the fire from His furnace of purity, I crave it; whatever it costs me I will jump into it. For to me, to refuse God, would be to refuse freedom. 

My body is His, I am His.

Today this offers eternal comfort and I find myself speaking out the apostle Paul’s words, “For to me to LIVE is CHRIST, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21)

My body dances because of who lives within me, the One my soul loves.

Rock of Ages

The tree beckoned my glance. It stood there grand with height and stature…

and without accompaniment of forest.

Its voice could be heard in the stillness, beckoning my heart to embrace its imagery.

Imagery needed to breathe life into my artist soul.

A theme emerges as constant as a new morning.

The tree has taken a stance of strength like a lone soldier standing in a barren field of death and smoke and blood.

The tree has given reminders of God’s faithfulness and strength and steadfast arms of welcome.

God’s voice is heard; “stand tall, be strong, I am your Creator.”

I call to mind God’s written truth: ” My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).

The word “strength” in Hebrew means “rock”, if I substitute the Hebrew word in the above verse it reads, “but God is the rock of my heart and my portion forever.”

The imagery of a large single tree is like that of a rock to me.

Steady, unmoving, constant….

“The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock….” (Psalm 92:12-15).

The winds may blow, the storm be great, but a soul anchored to the Rock of Ages shall not be moved. It will be a soul of steadiness, strength and of standing tall.

Life becomes life as we discover God as the “Rock” of our soul.

It is truth that demands repetition in our changing hearts of flesh.

Still editing

To my readers..

There may be one blog managed this week, but I am busy editing under a deadline…thank you so much for checking in…

be back soon..I hope!

A Nation Taking the Low Road

Never have we needed to have faith in God like we do in this present day.

The North American population is increasingly becoming a nation with no moral compass or guideposts; youth are rising up out of broken homes with a new definition of marriage; media has become a god; acquiring fame has greater personal value than character development; attitudes are smeared with disrespect towards those in authority; addictions are the norm, and gender is defined by “neutral” while modern science creates options to become a different sex.

The very recent election held popularity with a younger demographic of people; would that have had anything to do with what the elected leader represents to them? Will he choose popularity with the young and fickle over strong leadership based on the nations principles?

If I spin the probable scenario out, my mind goes bonkers and my heart rate goes up; But if I move my way into scripture, into truth that I trust completely and wholeheartedly, truth that will never rise and fall with a nation’s ‘back roading’, I discover peace waiting for me.

I read John 14:12-14……..

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. IF you ask me anything in MY NAME, I will do it.”

and I read Romans 4:18-21 (speaking of Abraham becoming the “father of many nations”)

“In hope he believed against hope that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “so shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, FULLY CONVINCED that God was able to do what He promised.”

Where is our faith?

What is it based on?

Upon whom is it resting?

God has not changed, He is still on the Throne, and His promises are just that……His promises. We can and we must fully trust that He is able to do the greater things through us! Jesus said it would be so.

If I chose to focus upon culture and government, unbelief could make me waver. I choose instead to place my faith in God who remains sovereign, who has promised He will never change.

But what has changed and what scares me even more than what I have just written, is our unbelief as a church “culture”.

Perhaps that is why Church and State travel different roads in 2012. I see a larger demographic of churches not being churches, they are staggering and struggling from unbelief.

How would we influence world leaders if our faith could move mountains? How would our lives influence culture if we lived out our faith instead of simply acknowledging its existence? And what if we prayed “without ceasing” for our government leaders, for our nation, for the influences of culture to change? What if every “Jesus follower” decided to follow Jesus? What if we stopped grumbling, debating, whining, complaining and gossiping about all the issues and became diligent about being part of the solution?

….

One last thought…

Dear old Billy Graham, a man of impeccable reputation, a leader of integrity, of strong principles, a man who knew and lived the Word of God, a man who travelled the world preaching Jesus and who lived the gospel before nations,  a leader that presidents sought audience with….

Tell me, who will take his place?

The power of God displayed through a life of faith.

As was written of Abraham, “no unbelief made him waver”…he was “fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised.”

Could this be said of my life?

Could this be said of yours?

Here’s to the doing of “greater things.” We the church MUST change if ‘State’ is to be influenced and culture saved.

Now to Him WHO IS ABLE to do FAR MORE ABUNDANTLY than ALL we ASK or think, according to the POWER at work WITHIN US, to HIM be glory in the CHURCH and in CHRIST JESUS throughout ALL generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph. 3:20)

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Prov.14:34)

Amen and Amen…

Fifty Shades of Shadows..

Shadows.

Webster’s Dictionary defines this word for me today: “a reflected image; the dark figure cast on a surface by a body that is between the surface and the light: PHANTOM”

I am perplexed by the recent cultural phenomena stirred by the book “Fifty Shades of Grey” (and it’s series).

More copies have been sold than Harry Potter…

A book designed to appeal to women…

A book of enticement…

Of seduction…

Of secret living…

Fantasy discovered and encountered from a place of hiding, shadow and darkness….

So I’ve been told.

Some 40 million copies sold?

Do these numbers reflect 40 million women?

I confess I have not read these books; I have read the back cover and the words I found there were enough to convince me that the book’s contents held no appeal or representation of my own deepest desires.

I count only as one woman.

What is it about this book that is causing such a lustful stir?

I’ve heard that some women are hiding in closets as they read its’ pages.

WHY?

WHAT does this book give to them, WHAT does it reveal about the heart and desire of a woman?

Does this book represent the kind of woman a man wants to hold for a lifetime?

I am honestly asking these questions, I do not propose to have answers, nor am I standing behind a podium with a thumping fist landing on a large black bible.

The sexual woman represents a small portion of day-to-day life; life as we live it consists of far more than 24/7 sexual encounters…eventually a phantom emerges….eventually the emotions will reveal the heart…..

and then what?

Who then does a woman become?

Herself?

Is this what women desire to be known by? Do women desire this kind of reputation?

Really?

Our gender is becoming defined by a shadow.

A PHANTOM.

A sexual phantom.

She is powerful

and alluring

and almost always wins…

but I believe when she retreats into her own closet, into the deepest part of her heart, she is confronted by longings that cannot be satisfied, nor fulfilled by her sexual power.

I can’t help but wonder if really, truly she is a lonely little girl longing to be cherished.

A child princess whose beauty passed unnoticed.

Or maybe she has been taught to hate men; to hate them for what they represent, their strength, maybe even their leadership, maybe men have become prey, an object to overpower and bring to their knees in their place of greatest weakness?

Maybe this is some kind of distorted game?

Or maybe too many women have been wounded? 

In closing off today I am thinking of the story of the woman at the well in John chapter 4.

A woman who had five husbands and was currently living with man number six when Jesus came to her.

I love that Jesus did not come with blazing saddles and guns, but rather from a place of gentleness and kind questions….He was the perfect counsellor, He knew how to ask the right question for her to uncover her own heart to Him.

He did not condemn, nor accuse, He came to rescue her, to reveal Himself as the only one who WOULD and could satisfy her longing searching heart.

Read the story.

Jesus is no phantom, He is not a shadow, He is the only true Lover of our desperate, needy souls.

HIS words speak to me today in my perplexing pot of wondering: “Everyone who drinks of this water (speaking of water from an earthly well) WILL BE THIRSTY AGAIN, but WHOEVER drinks of the water that I WILL GIVE HIM (her) will NEVER be thirsty again. The water I give him(her) will become in him (her) a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

What if the “Fifty Shades of Grey” could be redeemed to define the colours of the stone around the well of Living Water, what if  fifty shades of grey became fifty shades of vibrant colour representing the LIFE of a woman truly loved and fully alive in who she was created to be?

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a WOMAN who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Prov. 31:30)