cross species

we are a cross species. made in the image of God yet trying to make an image for ourselves

many current political trends have created some hard issues for christians. as a follower of Jesus, i believe God created us male and female. He orchestrated marriage. He created diversity. He created everything and said it was good. but the man and woman God made were cursed for betraying their creator. the world was broken. we no longer live in teh perfect garden of Eden.

We live in a world that has denied God or flat out blasphemed. so, the things God ordained for us are all fragile in this ungodly world.

CS Lewis wrote of an absolute moral law people live by but now, there is an agenda to cut out morals- even ones that seem inherit to men. murder is easily excusable. theft is forgiven. Gods name is used in vain everywhere. lies are acceptable and white lies actually encouraged, parents are often blamed for the child’s issues rather than being honored. there are no days that are set aside to rest and even holidays are being taken over by consumerism, women leave husbands and men leave wives whenever they crave something different, men and women have sexual relationships with each other, money and status and things create a sense of worth, authorities are disrespected, racisim runs rampant, houses of worship are being threatened to go against their deepest beliefs. and many many different types of gods are worshiped even among so called Christians.

How can we then legislate transgender or homosexuality or worship places or money or divorce laws or oaths? i just think about the days of Judges when the Bible records “in those days there was no KING in the land. everyone did what was right in his own eyes”

we are a cross species. made in the image of God yet trying to make an image for ourselves.

Advertisements

Christmas is over

How did you just say that title in your mind? there are many different tones you can use. Christmas is OVER . some of you may say it like this- emphasizing “over” because you are so glad it is done. CHRISTMAS is over. when you emphasize like this i get the idea Christmas is just one event in a list of things we must endure. Christmas is over. straight, no emphasizing, there is a simple statement of fact.

My granddaddy always had a lilting tone on Christmas and over exaggerated the “over” by drawing it out. Christ-MAS is Ooverrrrr.

it describes the Christmas let down. Its all over. The preparations and presents. Now, trees are coming down. Lights being put away. No more santa pictures. and my kids are disappointed to realize there is no more 24/7 Christmas music on the radio anymore. Christ-MAS is Ooverrrrr. How sad feeling. The answer the kids would give granddaddy was “but i still have my toys!” and that s the point! not the toys, but the gift. We still have the gift.

This is the gift God promised Abraham would save all the nations. The gift of the God of Isaac and Jacob. A gift from the line of Judah, the gift on the throne of King David. The gift the prophets and priests spoke of. The Messiah, the Christ, the ANointed one, the Suffering Servant who came to save the sins of the world. And His name is called Emmanuel.

Christmas is over. but we still have Jesus, God with us.

Advent Christmas Eve’s Eve

fb_img_1482633872085

My daddy does this thing that I have adopted.  “happy day before the day before the day before you’re birthday”. This can begin at any point before the day itself. It brings about a since of anticipation and excitement that the event is special enough to be celebrated so much.  Holidays are special days like that as well. ” Happy day before the day before thanksgiving. “

Before Christmas is extra precious.

The whole Christmas season is about the anticipation. There is a huge countdown calendar at the front of Walmart. Today it read, “Days til Christmas: 01”

As soon as Thanksgiving is over, sometimes even as soon as Halloween is passed, the stores prepare for Christmas. Presents are advertised everywhere. Houses begin to light up with Christmas decorations and often lit trees can be seen through living room windows. Holiday parties take place with office workers or sun school classes or friends and family.  Season specials come on TV. Rudolf and Charlie Brown for instance. Salvation Army bells ring. Opryland hotel is decorated and lit inside out. The toys aisles grow crowded. Radios play more and more Christmas songs. Churches order and display poinsettias. Christmas musicals are performed. The nativity is presented in many ways- a play, in postcards, living nativities, outdoor displays, small ones on the mantle.

This is all before Christmas. The eve of Christmas Eve. 

Tonight is the real deal though. Christmas Eve is here.  Children are trying to sleep,anxious about the things that lie ahead. Full of excitement about what Santa will bring them. Yet I want to remember the nativity and the gospel that this night brings. I look at the mantle and see where my son has carefully placed all the wise men, shepherds, and animals huddled around looking at the baby Jesus. I think of a statue of Santa my mom has kneeling before the manger.  I want to remember when we give gifts in the morning that these gifts are all from the Father, and that Jesus as our Lord is the greatest gift of all. Amazing, on His birthday, He gave us this gift. When I look in the manger I see a man destined for the cross and when I see the cross that is supposed to stand for death, I see life. Zoe life. 

“Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”

 

 

Advent part 7 Joy

Light the prophets candle and the Bethlehem candle. Light the pink joy candle.

It seems as if the joy of Christmas time builds in anticipation until it finally climaxes on Dec 25. By that night, santa has already come, presents are all unwrapped, and dinner has been consumed. There is a let down experience as the season suddenly ends and stores, businesses, life returns to normal.

in reality though, the scene of the manger isn’t the end of the season of joy. it is the beginning! Jesus grew from a baby into a man and left a footprint of God. He was born that men no more may die. He is the complete and only way to God the father, to new life, zoe life, eternal life.

so instead of a let down, know that past the presents and the stockings and the tree, the better present begins after the manger. real life begins!

“hark the herald angels sing, glory to the new born King”

 

Jesse tree

ten commandments– stone tablets- as the Israelites wandered in the desert aimlessly God was still in charge with justice and compassion. nothing shows God’s justice like the Law He gave. He took their leader up on a mountain to give the Israelites the 10 commandments. Rules are given to ensure good for all. God desperately wants us to experience the good things He has for us and He knows the things that can blacken our hearts and rob us of those joyous things. * ask your kids about what rules they have at school, at home, with the law. what do the rules God gave us show us His love?

the ladies:

  • Tamar– She posed as a prostitute to get Judah to sleep with her in order to give her a child in the name of her dead husband (Judah’s son). Tamar and Judah were ancestors of Jesus.

  • Rahab was a prostitute who lived in Jerico. She knew of God’s people, the Israelites. She knew of their God, the one who parted the waters and helped the slaves flee Egypt. when she found out that God was set on having her town destroyed, she believed it was true. She hid spies who had come in to the city and asked them to save her and her family. By hanging a red cord/ scarf out the window the spies found her and kept their promise. Rahab and her family were saved by her belief. And God chose this beautiful, flawed woman to be an ancestor of our Lord Jesus. ( an ornament depicting a red cord or a wall of Jericoh could serve as the symbol for Rahab.

  • Ruth was a pagan who was grafted into the lineage of Jesus by her faith in her husband’s God. She was the great grandmother of King David. (symbol of stalks of grain)

  • King David (use a shepherds staff) was the youngest and weakest in the house of Jesse. There was a promise from God that salvation would come through Jesse then David.

    Isaiah 11:1 Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.

    Isaiah 4:2 In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel.

    David was considered a man after Gods own heart but in his human nature took a woman named Bathsheba for himself and had her husband killed in battle. She was an adulterous woman who after David’s repentance gave birth to the next King in the lineage of Jesus. (a crown can symbolize the birth of a new king)

  • The final woman of questionable repute was Mary. She was a young teeange girl, a virgin, who had to live with the shame of a pregnancy before marriage, appearing to the world to be out of sin. But, God used this innocent young girl to carry the Savior of the world.

Advent part 4

lets light the candle of prophecy and discuss double prophecies. These types of prophecies are prevalent throughout scripture. The prophets were given words from God that applied not only to specific situations about the current time or near future but also referred explicitly to Jesus. When the prophet Isaiah told Ahaz about a young woman giving birth as a sign of His promises there was an immediate historical event, but we also know God was speaking of His ultimate sign of His promises, the Messiah.

Another example, perhaps maybe a little more easier for kids to understand is King David wanting to build the temple.  He looked at his grand house and realized the presence of the Lord dwelled in a tent. He wanted to build God a house, a permanent structure for Him to dwell in. But through Nathan the prophet God told him that David’s son would be the one to build the temple. Check out 2 Sam 7 esp vs 12-16 to find all the ways you can where Nathan explains that Solomon, David’s son would build the physical temple; but also how a son, or descendant of David, would build a temple where He will rule always

To me it is fascinating to see how many times these prophecies came true both in the short term and in the eternal purpose!

for the Jesse tree

Jacob ladder.

Jacob’s brother Esau had a special standing with their dad, being the oldest son. But one day when he was incredibly hungry he gave up his birthright, or that special standing and inheritance, for food. *show your kids some basically grocery items and ask them how much they think it costs. then ask them to imagine they had not eaten all week. how much would it be worth then? For us, Jesus allows us to be children of God. We should value that above everything else. Jesus quotes that its not good to live on bread alone but on every word from God. Physical things should be second to the things of God. 

how the ladder comes in is this, Jacob was a sneaky conniving guy. but as he was running from his brother who was understandably angry, Jacob fell asleep and dreamed of a stair case / ladder coming from heaven. angels ascended and decended. It was a ladder from heaven to earth. a stairway to heaven. John 1:51: “And he (Jesus) said to him, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.'” (ESV). Jesus is our stairway to heaven! 

anyone still paying attention? tell me how its going.

 

Jesse Tree

there is a tradition gaining popularity in modern Christianity during the time of advent. the Jesse Tree is a way of decorating a Christmas tree with ornaments or decorations that purposely lead your family through the messianic line.

(origin of the name) “The Jesse Tree is named from Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot will spring forth from the stump of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots.”

(a bit of history) the first known jesse tree depiction was actually a stained glass window in Chartres Cathedral in the year 1140 or 1150 in Northern France. Since then there have been many representations of these in liturgical churches around the world.

(application) Modern Christians have begun to adopt Advent and Jesse Trees as part of our Christmas experience.  while some churches are full of literguy and symbolism other churchers refrain from too much of that in concern of creating idols. i think a healthy balance of symbolism can really help us focus our minds on truth.

(you wanna do it?) It’s easy! Google Jesse tree and you will see many ideas. there are elaborate decorations, simple crafty ornaments ,  or easy templates to just print and color. glance at the picture below for an idea.

It doesn’t have to be a huge tree. it can be a small table one or even just a paper tree on the wall.

There are advent calendars out there filled with chocolates for each day. but with this tree as your advent calendar each day reveals a new lesson in the chronological timeline of Christ’s ancestors .

(Let’s do it together) starting so late I will try to do 2 a day.

* creation: in the beginning God created everything out of nothing .  an ornament or decoration of the world can be hung to represent creation. place it at the bottom of the tree. 

*the fall: adam and eve were the first people God created. he let them live in the garden of eden, where he walked among them. but then they disobeyed Him and ate from the tree He forbade them from. that was the first sin. every person after adam was born outside of the garden. dont worry though. God already had a plan of salvation in mind. hang an ornament of an apple or fruit representing the sin of man.

check out jesse tree rca for some devotionals and ideas for your family.

Merry Christmas!

Related image

Jesse Tree rca.org

Advent: Words from the Prophets

celebrating advent has become a very important part of my Christmas schedule. i began researching the tradition while looking for some Christmas lessons when my husband and i were ministering to our church youth group. i fell in love with the idea of preparing my heart for the celebration of Christ coming as a man, God dwelling among us.

i totally meant to begin sharing these ideas at the beginning of the technical advent time, but… i didn’t. so , here it is now. at least the first installment.

among the advent wreath there sits 5 candles. 3 purple, 1 pink, 1 white candle in the middle. for the first week of advent the first candle, a purple one, is lit each day during a devotional time. this candle is the prophets candle.

Scripture contains words from many prophets throughout time. these prophets spoke truth even when it hurt. in fact, most of the time it did hurt. God sent these men out to tell His people of their sin and impending judgement. but always there is also a glimmer of redemption and restoration.

there is a common thread from the beginning of creation to today. there is a Judge. a perfect, holy, just, Judge. His wrath is strong and purifying. Yet through the promised Savior, His love and compassion reaches out and offers redemption.