Don’t Leave Him There

I tried to read the Christmas story yesterday. Not the one about the BB gun. The one about Jesus being born in a manger. From Luke chapter two.  I say “tried” because it took three attempts for me to get through it.

It’s such a beautiful story to me, and I wanted to hear it old-school, King James, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger” because that’s how I learned it so many years ago. And maybe it’s because I know the ending, but I just got overcome with emotion at the thought that God Himself would leave the safety and beauty of heaven to come in such a low and meager way. For me.

After several tissues and raised-eyebrow looks from my husband, I finished reading. Y’all, I felt like I’d been to church!! My heart was full, and I felt cleansed and new. And a little raw.

Still this morning, I am overcome with the joy of the Lord after a blessed Christmas Day with some of my family. I’ve read the story again this morning, sans tears and snot, and I am struck by the thought that the sweet baby in a manger is where a lot of people keep Jesus. They love the Virgin Mary kneeling over the manger of hay, full of Emmanuel, God With Us, Christmas-card perfect halo glowing around His head… But they never let the Prince of Peace grow up!

As I write, I’m hearing music in my head. New words. New music. I need to get this written down, but for now I hear a chorus that goes something like:

Don’t leave Him there, tender and small!

Don’t keep Him stuck in a manger, tiny and helpless and new.

Let Him grow up into your heart

and bring all the Love that His Father sent Him to bring for you.

Jesus did not die on a cross so that we could drink egg nog, watch movies, and spend ourselves into bankruptcy. True, our Lord loved a party and even turned water into wine at a wedding reception! But that tiny Baby in a manger came that we might have LIFE, and have it more abundantly.

The beautiful thing about our Savior is that, just like the wise men, we can bring him our gifts… The best that we have, whatever it may be… And it’s enough. And if all we have is water, He will turn it into the best wine imaginable.

He is born!!!

It’s Personal

The song in my head this morning has been there all night. It kept me from going to sleep. It was there every time I woke up, which was often, and it’s one of my favorites. These words humble me. The music forces me to sing harmony, and I can never get through this song dry-eyed. So rather than copying the lyrics in song form, I’ve written them as though I were speaking them, because that’s how I always hear this song.

How deep the Father’s love for us! How vast, beyond all measure, that He should give His only Son to make a wretch His treasure. How great the pain of searing loss! The Father turns His face away as wounds which mar the Chosen One bring many sons to glory.

Behold the man upon the cross, my sin upon His shoulder. Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers. It was my sin that held Him there until it was accomplished. His dying breath has brought me life. I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything… No gifts, no power, no wisdom… But I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection! Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer, but this I know with all my heart…His wounds have paid my ransom.

It’s personal, this thing Christ did for me. His death on the cross was not some grand gesture for all of mankind as a whole. It was God’s love for ME that nailed Jesus to that cross. It was MY life He was saving! Everything I am and everything I hope to be is because of HIS immeasurable love lavished on me. His wounds paid my ransom. I am free. Unchained. Unfettered. And forever grateful.

Featured image: the dogwoods have been spectacular this Spring in Kentucky. This picture focuses on the tree with the blooms as a bonus. If we focus on the tree on which Jesus died, the cross, we get the bonus of His love and mercy, His forgiveness and grace.

Click here to listen to the Selah version of this gorgeous song.

Click here to listen to the Phillips, Craig & Dean version.

“It doesn’t matter!” -Grace

I hear a voice, and He calls me “redeemed” when others say I’ll never be enough.

This line from the MercyMe song, Greater, woke me up this morning. Just this line. Isn’t it a wonderful thing that God calls us “redeemed” no matter what anyone else says of us? Even ourselves. As this line played on a loop in my mind while I went about my wake-up routine, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and said those same words…. Even ourselves.

I am my own worst enemy. I am self-everything… -Critical, -absorbed, -serving, -deprecating, -fillintheblank. Insert the word “self” in front of each of those words and many others. I have always been too quick to tear myself down. But that’s not what God says of me.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. -Romans 8:1

Like the song says, “there will be days I lose the battle. But Grace says that it doesn’t matter because the cross already won the war!” I love the full definition of the word redeemed at Merriam-Webster.com. Please read it and know that Christ has done this for you. And me!!!

Full Definition of REDEEM

transitive verb
1
a  :  to buy back :  repurchase

b:  to get or win back

2
:  to free from what distresses or harms: as 

a:  to free from captivity by payment of ransom


b:  to extricate from or help to overcome something detrimental


c:  to release from blame or debt :clear


d:  to free from the consequences of sin

3
:  to change for the better :  reform
4
5
a  :  to free from a lien by payment of an amount secured thereby

(1):  to remove the obligation of by payment <the United States Treasury redeems savings bonds on demand>

(2)  :  to exchange for something of value <redeem trading stamps>

c:  to make good :fulfill

6
a  :  to atone for :  expiate <redeem an error>

(1):  to offset the bad effect of

(2)  :  to make worthwhile :  retrieve

Please have a listen to this wonderful song, be prepared to dance. Greater.
Please click here to read Greater from a different perspective written in August last year.

Lamb of God

I woke up with an old Twila Paris song in my head this morning… Early!! Lamb of God has always been one of my favorite songs of the Lenten season, and I still remember the first time I heard it. Back in 1988 or 1989, my dear friend was going to sing it for church, and I was to accompany her gorgeous and sultry alto voice. I have played it, or sung it, or accompanied it every year since then.

Your only Son, no sin to hide
But You have sent Him from Your side
To walk upon this guilty sod
And to be called the Lamb of God

Your gift of love they crucified
They laughed and scorned Him as He died
The humble King they named a fraud
And sacrificed the Lamb of God

Chorus
Oh Lamb of God, sweet Lamb of God
I love the holy Lamb of God
Oh wash me in His precious blood
My Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God

I was so lost I should have died
But You have brought me to Your side
To be led by Your staff and rod
And to be called a Lamb of God

Oh wash me in His precious blood
My Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God

I’ve been reading and re-reading the fourth and fifth chapters of the Book of Revelation for a couple of weeks now to try to regain that sense of awe and wonder at the sheer power and majesty of God. The description of the Lamb standing at God’s right hand gets me every time. Only the slain Lamb of God is worthy to redeem us. Revelation 5:9-10…

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”

I get very pensive during the Lenten season. It’s hard for me to imagine a gift of this magnitude. I spend the 40 days of Lent pondering these and other scriptures trying to fathom a Love so great. Practicing and playing songs that seem dark and sad as we walk the road to the cross. Oh, but Easter morning is coming!!!

Click here to listen to Lamb of God.

How Can It Be?

You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You overcome
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be

These powerful lyrics are from a new song by Lauren Daigle called How Can It Be. Her equally powerful voice is stuck in my head this morning. Click here to listen to her amazing voice sing this song that puts me on my knees in worship.

How CAN it be that I am free to live my life, but Jesus Christ was beaten beyond recognition and subjected to dying a slow painful death on a cross of shame???

How can it be that this same Jesus would love me… broken and damaged and imperfect plain old me… so much that He would carry that same cross up the hill, knowing how it was going to end???

How can it be that I just go about my every-day walking-around life as though it were mine to live?

How can it be that I do not spend every waking moment of every day of my life thanking Him for this precious gift???

How can it be that I’m sitting here in my studio, safe and warm, trying to put into words how my heart feels right now?

Everlasting love. Perfect love.

Speechless.

The featured image is a photo of a mural on a wall in Morocco. I could stare at it for hours. The last supper. The night before He walked to his death. And He knew what He was facing! How can it be??