All posts in Investing in Christmas

So What If I’m Still in My PJ’S

It’s noon and I’m still in my nightshirt, slippers, and frumpy robe.

It’s not like I haven’t done anything. Up at 7, I read my Psalms for the day. Reading Psalm 63:6-7 made me think I needed to share with you, friend:

“When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, for you have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.”

The way I see it, David encourages us by example to do four things.

First, he remembers. It’s almost Christmas, and I need to remember. Not just Christmas’ past because I cannot hardly remember a gift I’ve received. I remember people I’ve been with and places I’ve been, but it’s all getting kind of middle-aged-hazy, if you know what I mean.

At Christmas, I’ll remember Christ. Sure, I think about Him as the baby in the manger. But when I think of Jesus, what passes through my memory is how He healed the sick, and touched the untouchables, and spoke the truth. I remember His perfect life and His horrific death. All because of love.

I remember His resurrection and His words which include His promises and His judgments. These are  eternal things–not passing gifts or Hallmark circumstances. (Don’t get me wrong, a Hallmark movie is playing in the background.)

David also encourages us to meditate. He’s doing it on His bed. The difference between remembering and meditating? I guess that’s personal, but the way I see it, meditating is deeper. The dictionary describes it as contemplating or pondering. Taking it to heart. Not that Jesus lived and died for humanity, but that Jesus lived and died for me.

For you.

Next, David sings. I did too. A chorus in the same Psalm, verses 3-4. The song goes like this:

Your lovingkindness, is better than life.

Your lovingkindness, is better than life.

My lips will praise You, Thus will I bless You,

I will lift up my hands unto Your name.

The last verb David uses is cling.

I’m clinging to Him. Lately, I’ve been aware of my utter dependence on God. Not that I’m not always dependent on Him, I’ve just realized it more. Instead of fighting dependency, I’m jumping right in. No such thing as “co-dependency” with the Almighty.

So around noon, still in my PJ’s, I prayed. I admitted my complete dependency on Him. I remembered and meditated and sang and I’m clinging.

I got nowhere else to go.

Plus, I’m still in my jammies.

Preparing for the Day

How do you prepare for the day?

Mine begins with a stout cup of Starbucks.

And then another.

After my brains shifts out of neutral, I usually pull out my Bible with anticipation.

From my understanding, that’s what Advent is all about—looking backward in order to look forward.

And I guess I did the same thing a few days ago when I read Exodus 33:12-18.

It’s a prayer of Moses. He petitions God Almighty for three things. The first is to know God:

“If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor.” (NLT)

I might feed on the junk food of the world, but when push comes to shove, there’s nothing that satisfies like knowing God.

The LORD granted his request.

Lesson #1 for Pauline in the upcoming year—take time to be holy. Ask God for more of Him.

The next request by Moses is for God to travel with them into the Promised Land. In fact, Moses basically tells the LORD he doesn’t want to go anywhere without Him:

“If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place.”

God says okay. (That’s my translation.)

Lesson #2 for Pauline in 2015—If God ain’t going, don’t go.

Sometimes I drink my coffee and rush off. Leave God at home. That never turns out good.

The last request of Moses to the LORD is “Then show me your glorious presence.”

God only partially answers his petition and hides Moses in the rock and allows him to see His back.

Lesson #3 for this year—ask God to show me His glory. Every once in a while I see a sliver through His Word, or hear His heartbeat through His music, or taste His goodness through His people, and at Christmas,I see Him through His glorious Son.


So my daily preparations will begin on my knees.

After my coffee.

When the Roll is Called Up Yonder

The sound of the mellow horn rose from the hickory wood floor to the high ceiling. I began with My Jesus I Love Thee and ended with When the Roll is Called Up Yonder. As the sound rose, so did my spirit.

Heaven. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. It began with my father’s death seven years ago. And studying I Cor. 15 for nine months lured my mind back.

Now there’s mom. Weaker and weaker, I believe 2015 may be the year she enters glory. I’m okay with that. For crying out loud, she’s 94! And to think a doctor told her she wouldn’t live past her 20′s. I’m glad she did.

So this morning, I entered her room before the caregiver came and I read to her from the Psalms. And then we sang His Name is Wonderful. Then I went to prayer and used the Salvation Army Songbook. Here is a song I read this morning written by Isaac Watts:

“There is a land of pure delight, where saints immortal reign; infinite day excludes the night, and pleasures banish pain. There everlasting spring abides, and never-withering flowers; death, like a narrow sea divides this heavenly land from ours.

“Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood stand dressed in living green; so to the Jews old Canaan stood, while Jordan filled between. But timorous mortals start and shrink to cross this narrow sea, and linger, shivering on the brink, and fear to launch away.

“O could we make our doubts remove, those gloomy thoughts that rise, and see the Canaan that we love with unbeclouded eyes! Could we but climb where Moses stood and view the landscape o’er. Not Jordan’s stream, nor death’s cold flood, could fright us from the shore.”

And then I played my horn. Not well–but with feeling. Five or six songs, all about Jesus and hope and heaven.

And I rested. Not in my work, but in the finished work of Christ on the cross that began in Bethlehem and ended in the resurrection.

But there is more to come–kind of like a sequel that’s actually better. It involves Christ’s second coming and then heaven. Eternity with my Lord. That is something to celebrate. The Gift that keeps on giving long after Christmas is passed.

I’m ready to cross that narrow sea. Are you?


Really Living

“We’re really living, Pauline.” Tom bent over the trendy restaurant table, smiled and took my hand.

I pondered his words. Moving to North Carolina with my 93-year-old mother and our standard poodle, Sam, starting a farm, building a house, purchasing and raising 75 baby chicks. Working from dawn to dusk and then some more.

Doing stuff I never dreamed of. Like shopping at the Tractor Supply store regularly and loving it, planting seeds and watching them grow, petting a chicken (having a chicken fly into my hair which I wasn’t too fond of), chopping a path through our forest, petting a donkey, gathering eggs, cleaning up after chickens, moving heavy timber. The list is endless.

Tom’s right, we’re really living.

It might kill us.

But we love it.

The Bible has a different definition of “really living.” I’m basing my life on God’s Word, not my own opinions.

God’s Word says in Ephesians 2:1-7:

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

So I started “really living” the moment I trusted Christ’s death and resurrection to pay for my sins, and then I turned from them. I was spiritually dead. Now, thanks to Jesus, I’m spiritually alive. I used to live according to the passions of this world and Satan was my king. Now—not because of anything I’ve done—Jesus is my King.

My hope and prayer for you this season is that you will “really live.” That you will be born into the family of God.

A blessed Christmas to you.

Some of our “first fruits.”

Don’t Stop at the Manger, Just Pause

Tears streamed down my face as the soloist sang Handel’s, “Hallelujah Chorus.” I sat mesmerized in the pew of my church over fifteen years ago, awestruck by the majesty of Handel’s musical portrait of Christ.

This year, my pastor in Mt. Airy, NC is doing a three-part series on the background of Handel’s Messiah in Sunday school. I’m glad.

Learning about the Oratorio forces my mind to consider the fulfillment in the prophecies of Christ. Listening to the splendid music helps me to experience the wonder of the Christmas miracle.

God became man and was born of a woman as a baby.

Often, at Christmastime, we don’t just pause at the manger, we stop. And then we move on to more important things like shopping and baking and family. We don’t take time to consider the significance.

Jesus came to die.

But before that, he lived a perfect life. And died a perfect death.

And sometimes we stop there. Handel didn’t.

The end of the second movement (I think that’s what you call it.) is the “Hallelujah Chorus.” The words are a quote from the prophet Isaiah when Jesus is prophetically called the Wonderful Counselor. The Mighty God and the Everlasting Father. The Prince of Peace.

How can that be? One glance at the Internet or turn of the remote dispels any hope of peace.

Let me give you a couple of reasons. First, Christ’s kingdom isn’t of this world. At least—not yet.

In John 18, when Pilate asked Jesus if He is King of the Jews, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

So where is this mysterious kingdom? And where is this elusive peace?

Let me take you to one of the most famous passages of the New Testament, the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew’s gospel, chapters 5-7.

Jesus astounds the people and enrages the Pharisees when He describes a new kingdom of the heart. A kingdom of grace. A kingdom that begins in the heart and works itself out in actions. This kingdom is Christ in you. (For more information about that, refer to the book of John, chapters 14-16. Or just email me.)

The other kingdom described in Messiah, is a future kingdom. A kingdom ruled by the One True King. King Jesus.

In a day when we hear about government corruption, don’t you just long for a just ruler? One that has the best interests of His subjects in mind?

One day, there will be.

Here is my question to you; Are you part of Christ’s kingdom now? Do you want to be? It’s easy to do. But costly. You give up the right to run your own life.

But good.

Then, you will join that Hallelujah Chorus. And you’ll sound good.

Take time to pause at the manger, but don’t stop. Move on. Drink in His majesty. Meditate on His kingdom now and to come. Be amazed and awed by this baby in a manger. The King of Kings.

Listen and be amazed with me: