Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Why We Celebrate, even though...

I am going to repost what I shared last Christmas, for the world still seems to be falling apart.  Most likely it always will.  This year, I think that different people would give completely different lists of what that looks like... which parts of things are falling apart and which are falling together.

But then there have been the hurricanes this year, and the fires in California, and personal tragedy for so many millions.

How can we reconcile celebration when such things are happening?

To me, the answer is simply because these disasters illustrate how desperately the world needs a hero.

Doesn't it? What person among us sees these things happening and doesn't yearn for somebody to come rescue everybody and set everything right?

The thing is, the world has a Hero... but many do not know it yet.

How can Jesus be the hero? many will ask. Look at what's happening. What hero would let such things happen?

The answer, for me, is to realize that we're still in the dark part of the story.

When most do not recognize the Hero for who He is.

When the final victory is yet to come.

When most cannot fathom how victory could ever come.

When many do not even know a Hero exists... or believe one could exist. How could there be a hero when this is happening?

This is how stories play out, isn't it?  Nothing's ever easy. The hero isn't a hero because everything's great. He's a hero because of the very darkness that engulfs the world of the story.


History is indeed a story, and Jesus is the hero of the story. History is His-story. 

He's the Ultimate Superhero, actually.  

Does that seem a stretch? It's not.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
We think it's awesome when a superhero can control the forces of nature. We are impressed when the hero uses superpowers or magical forces to hold things in place... maybe to keep a building from falling so someone can be saved... or maybe to freeze an entire situation so something good can be done. We love to read stories where magic can be used to create something out of nothing. 

Why do so many of us love these kinds of stories? 

Because our world needs a hero. 

Because we have inside of us a love for what makes our Savior so amazing.

We are attracted to power, because our Savior holds the ultimate power of the universe and we were made to love Him. But I think a lot of people don't realize the raw power summarized in that passage.

Read that verse again.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

For by Him all things were created,
both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—

All things have been created through Him and for Him.

He is before all things, and

in Him all things hold together.
The entire universe was created by Him.

This display of power isn't just a past event.  His power is what's holding it all together. Keeping galaxies and electrons in orbit.


Superman's power? Nothing compared to His.

Pick an X-men or an Avenger... or put them all together. Absolutely nothing.

His power is so staggering that every superhero story ever created is but a human's poor attempt (if they only knew it) to come up with something that reflects a tiny bit of Him.

Take Magnito as an example.  The moviemakers created this scene where he used his power to hold a thousand missiles in place in the air, then turn them where he wanted them to go. If you haven't seen the movie, just trust me. It was really impressive. (Or watch the scene on YouTube if you want.)



Now watch this, and realize how much Jesus' power is holding in place. 



His power is more than just staggering. It's mind-boggling. Beyond our ability to fully comprehend.

We can understand Magnito's power because it is limited. Even though it isn't real.

Jesus' power is real, but we have a hard time understanding it because it is limitless.

And just like the heroes of our stories, He temporarily laid that power aside and surrendered everything He was... to save the world.

The important thing to remember as we watch this messed up world, is this:

His story isn't over yet. 
The finale is still to come. 

This is where the hope lies. This is why we can still celebrate the fact that He came, even as cities and nations and alliances and economies fall apart. His coming - His birth, death, and resurrection - were the middle of this story we're living in. And it's always darkest towards the end of the story, isn't it?

All this darkness? All this destruction and pain and suffering? All this emptiness and hopelessness?

This is why the world needs a Savior... 
One whose story isn't over yet. 


Five years ago, when I was finally able to comprehend who He actually is, I fell so in love...

With Jesus...

Like I never had been before. He totally awes me.

I asked God to give me a Christmas song that expressed this, and I'd like to share it again. A simple recording is here if you want to hear how it goes, but it's the power in the words - straight out of Scripture - that I want you to hear.

He is the hero of your story, too. If you let Him be your hero.


All He Was
© 2011 Kathleen Peters (since US copyright law doesn't recognize God's right to it)

Once outside of time began a story    (John 1:1)
It’s been told a thousand times and ways, or more
A virgin birthed and angels sang    (Is. 7:14Luke 1:342:13-14)
The wise men saw and shepherds came  (Matt. 2Luke 2:15-16)
But the hero who lay within her arms 
Had already made a sacrifice of love:     

He was the Maker of the universe    (Col. 1:16John 1:3)
The Master of the stars     (Ps. 136:7-9)
The voice of endless power     (Gen. 1:3)
And everlasting love     (Jer. 31:3)
Before foundations of the world were laid      (Rev. 13:8)
Beyond the veil of time     (Ps. 90:2)
He knew the world would need a Savior’s touch      (Is. 9:2)
So He surrendered all He was.      (Phil 2:7-8)

He said that He revealed the face of God    (John 14:9)
That’s why the crowds responded to His power and love    (Matt. 4:25)
The sick were healed and blind could see   (Matt. 4:23Matt. 15:31)
The lame made whole, possessed set free (Matt. 21:14Mark 1:32)
Yet they took Him and nailed Him to a cross   (Matt. 27:22-31)
But He prevailed over death and conquered all!    (2 Tim. 1:10)

'Cause He's the Maker of the universe    (Col. 1:16John 1:3)
The Master of the stars     (Ps. 136:7-9)
The voice of endless power     (Gen. 1:3)
And everlasting love     (Jer. 31:3)
Since the foundations of the world were laid 
Beyond the bounds of time
He rules as everlasting Lord of all      (Phil. 2:9-10)
Yet He surrendered all He was…  (Luke 4:17-21)

         To bring good news to the afflicted     (Is. 61:1)
         And peace for the broken    (Is. 61:1)
         There’s freedom for captives     (Is. 61:1)
         The favor of God    (Is. 61:2)
         There’s joy now for mourning      (Is. 61:3)
         And strength for the weary      (Is. 61:340:31)
         He’s made us the righteousness of God   (2 Cor. 5:21)

He's still the Maker of the universe    (Col. 1:16John 1:3)
The Master of the stars     (Ps. 136:7-9)
The voice of endless power     (Gen. 1:3)
And everlasting love     (Jer. 31:3)
When the foundations of the world were laid     (Rev. 13:8)
The Father looked through time     (Is. 9:2-7)
He saw that you would need a Savior’s love...     (Rom. 7:24-25Gal. 2:20)
         So Jesus came to be the Perfect One      (2 Cor. 5:21)
         What He did for you will always be enough…  (Rom. 8:1-4)
         Because He gave you all He was.     (1 Cor. 1:30)

Sunday, October 01, 2017

When will I sing for joy?

I've been pretty quiet these last few months for various reasons. One repeating theme, however, is that every time I play and sing "Shout to the Lord," the Lord speaks to me.... challenging me... questioning me.

He asked me what "the promise I have in You" really is.  The Bible is full of promises... but what one promise really is above absolutely everything else that earth or life could offer?  I finally came to the conclusion that it what John mentions in John 1:16:
16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
This is the same thing that Paul is praying about for the Ephesian church:

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

This promise - that it is possible for Christ Jesus to dwell in us, which enables us to be filled with the fullness of God - is the fullness - the foundation and the channel and the way and the sum total and at the same time the one thing that absolutely nothing else compares to.

.~*^*~.,.~*^*~.,.~*^*~.,.~*^*~.,.~*^*~.

Last week, God challenged me when I sang this line:
I sing for joy at the work of Your hands...

Usually when I sing that line, I think of the stars and galaxies, of clouds and mountains and flowers and snowflakes, of things that God has done in my life and the lives of others.

But this time, He said, "Will you sing for joy over what you are still waiting for Me to do? That difficult situation that you cannot imagine a good resolution to... do you trust Me enough? Do you trust that I am wise enough and capable enough and loving enough to sing for joy now over what I am going to do... even though You don't know what I'm going to do?"


Thursday, September 28, 2017

The power to be free...

This is so very worth sharing. / Kor describes how she and her twin sister, Miriam, were deported from Romania to Auschwitz in May 1944 along with the rest of their family. As they waited at the entrance to the concentration camp, a Nazi walked along shouting “Twins, twins.” He asked Kor’s mother whether her two 10-year-old daughters were twins. “Is that good?” asked her mother. “Yes, it is good,” replied the Nazi. So her mother admitted that they were twins. And that was the last Kor saw of her mother, who was taken away to be exterminated minutes after her father and older siblings had been murdered, all within half an hour of getting off the cattle car they arrived in. “I was used in two types of experiments,” Kor says in the video... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  

Brave And Tragic: A Story Of Being One Of The Mengele Twins In...
the power to live and forgive.
Posted by BuzzFeed on Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

When God is enough...

I'm listening to this podcast:
https://www.acast.com/conversationswithjohnlisabevere/special-valentines-day-episode-marriage-makeover

...and I want to share something that I believe is really important.

Lisa and John share in this one about the turning point that happened in their early marriage when their relationship was a mess.

Lisa said that, for her, as she prayed about the things John was doing that hurt her in this very difficult period of time, God said, "Lisa, tell Me that I'm enough for you." Lisa said, "Does that mean that John will never change, if I say that?" God said:
I just need to hear you say that I am enough for you.
And so she began stating this every time she was struggling to deal with whatever John was doing.


You know... God led me through the same thing 18 years ago.

Let's face it. Because a marriage links two faulty humans in a day-in-and-day-out intimate relationship, your husband or wife has the capability of hurting you more than anyone. And they most likely will. Because nobody is even close to perfect. Things that will not hurt you when a stranger does them to you will hurt you terribly when your spouse does it. Things that are somewhat easy to shrug off when someone who is just a friend does it will crush you when your spouse does it. This is a fact of life.


So for us, year four was the difficult one when we struggled so much with hurt. I was hurt by things that I couldn't understand why he did them, things that I knew he didn't realize hurt me, and more. Anyone who has been married for awhile knows the kinds of things I'm talking about.

So there came a day when God was asking me the same thing:
Am I really enough for you, even if your husband never changes?

Looking back, I can confidently say that almost everything that I have in my relationship with God came from THIS. This choice to believe that God really was enough for me, even if my husband never changed. Even if the one person who was part of myself never learned not to _____.

I believe that this choice was the foundation of almost every life-changing revelation I have ever had. And to be quite honest, I think this decision I made might also have saved our marriage.

This decision to trust... to learn to rely upon what God says about me and about Himself in the face of difficult circumstances allowed Him to be God in my life, rather than me falling into the trap of expecting my husband to provide things that only God can fulfill. It allowed God to teach me forgiveness. God taught me to draw a strength from Him that I don't think I ever would have learned any other way. It also opened the eyes of my heart to see my husband for who he really was... a man who loved me with every fiber of his flawed and faulty being, just as I loved him with every bit of my flawed and faulty being.

I believe that this truth... this conviction... is foundational in the life of every married Christian.

What about you?

Is He enough for you?


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lost in worship...

It's late, and I need to go to bed, but I don't want to. A friend shared this worship video on Facebook... and I'm totally enraptured. Enthralled. "Lost in the art of bringing You praise" to quote a completely different song.

Maybe you've heard this song before. My daughter says it's been on the radio, but I don't listen to the radio much so I haven't heard it.

Last Christmas, I blogged about how Jesus is the hero the world longs and is crying for.  This song.... just a little bit... gives my heart the chance to express a tiny little bit of how amazing and incredible and beautiful and marvelous and wonderful my Savior is.

I love the whole song.... and I LOVE the bridge... and then "What a powerful name it is" is proclaimed by thousands, and they broadcast the huge letters "JESUS" across the screen.... so, soo.... powerful yet still falls so short of declaring the magnificence of the One who is the Ultimate power and glory of all of the creation and the entire universe.

Join me in worship? Sooner or later I'll calm down enough to sleep...




What a Beautiful Name
Words and Music by Ben Fielding & Brooke Ligertwood

Verse 1
You were the Word at the beginning
One with God the Lord Most High
Your hidden glory in creation
Now revealed in You our Christ

Chorus 1
What a beautiful Name it is
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a beautiful Name it is
Nothing compares to this
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

Verse 2
You didn’t want heaven without us
So Jesus You brought heaven down
My sin was great Your love was greater
What could separate us now

Chorus 2
What a wonderful Name it is
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a wonderful Name it is
Nothing compares to this
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

Bridge
Death could not hold You
The veil tore before You
You silence the boast of sin and grave
The heavens are roaring
The praise of Your glory
For You are raised to life again
You have no rival
You have no equal
Now and forever God You reign
Yours is the kingdom
Yours is the glory
Yours is the Name above all names

Chorus 3
What a powerful Name it is
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a powerful Name it is
Nothing can stand against
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion