“What Does It Mean?” Week Two: Emmanuel

Emmanuel

1. Jesus Christ, especially as the Messiah (Matt. 1:23). 2. Immanuel. (dictionary.com)

“They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).” Matthew 1:23 (MSG)

Jesus appeased the ardent anticipation of our hearts. The questions have been answered. The gaps have been filled. Hope is available for the world to receive. “Emmanuel” explains how God came for us, is here with us, and is coming back for us through Jesus.

emmanuel-tweet-1

Presents vs. Presence

“Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret.” Mark 7:24

Sometimes it’s a blessing to go unnoticed. Jesus knew the peace woven into the observatory silence of slipping through a crowd or standing at the back of a room. But though He was not an audience seeker, they followed and gathered by the droves to be in His presence.

“He could not be hid; for, though a candle may be put under a bushel, the sun cannot.” Matthew Henry’s Commentaryemmanuel-2

The celebratory countdown to Christmas isn’t meant to spotlight our generosity, but His.  When I feel hurried by my self-created hustle I linger a little longer in His presence …which isn’t a problem when you have no less than five Advent countdowns do maintain each day until Christmas. It’s a lot much, you can think it. I know it. But, I love it. The best way to lose your Christmas spirit is to make it all about what were getting and giving. Focus on the right “present” ignites the Spirit of Christmas.

present- something presented.  -Merriam-Webster

presence- the part of space within one’s immediate vicinity. -Merriam Webster

How many Christmas presents to we forget about, exchange, or get rid of each year? Christ’s presence is always applicable to our lives and within our lives …if we’ll only just open it. Emmanuel …God with us.

The Other Lego Girl

“Briiiiiiii!!!!!!!” my youngest wailed. “You got a Lego Girl the last time you opened up a square …that’s NOT FAIR!!!!”

Watching my girls fight over an Advent gift I’d given them to share put the “never-enough”nature of humanity on display. In the thick of presents about to hit many homes; and the dread of those who don’t have gifts to give; it’s vital to pull the true light of Christmas into focus.

emmanuel-tweet-2

“They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).” Matthew 1:23 (MSG)

“The first of many” verses that connect the Old Testament with the new, the above in particular fulfilled a verse written approximately 800 years earlier!  The treasures tucked inside these verses danced together the over eight centuries between them, until God whisper, “it’s time.” Somewhere around 740-680 BC, Isaiah, who’s name means means “the Lord saves” penned,

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 (NIV)

Matthew, who’s name means “gift of the Lord,” recorded his words within 50-70 AD:

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).” Matthew 1:23 (NIV)

How does the Lord save? Through the gift of the Lord. Jesus. 

emmaneul-image-3

We’re not always assured the final witness to inspired words, as a sign normally fulfilled within a few years taking 800 unravels the scope of God’s timing.  Isaiah’s words warned the stubborn king Ahaz (the great-great-grandson of King Saul-New International Encyclopedia of Bible Characters), but “he would not ask a sign for the confirming of his faith because he resolved to persist in his unbelief, and would indulge his doubts and distrusts…” Matthew Henry Commentary.

“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?” Luke 12:57

Does it feel off-putting to revolve an entire season around hunting down doorbusters and toys your kid didn’t even know existed before the catalog hit the mailbox?  Beyond ancestral traditions and surrounding customs, we must own our truth as individually and honestly as Creator of our soul observes.

“Despite the insistence of the Pharisees, despite the Roman system and even despite the pressure of family, a person must accept God on his terms. ” -NIV Study Bible Notes

Is it just a story? Was He just a man? Our minds will remain elusively angst until we put down the proof and unlock our hearts. We’re not so hidden away while we decide what to do. He sees because He is, and He is here now. Presents don’t fulfill human hearts; souls are satisfied by the presence of Jesus.

God’s gift is ready to bless us upon opening. Grace waits because He knows us. Jesus is enough for all of us. Are you seeking Christ this Christmas? Simply let go and believe.

He’s already here. Jesus. Savior. Emmanuel.

Emmanuel image 1.png

Happy Christmas,

Megs

I link up at the following places. Come join in the fun!

“What Does It Mean” Week One: Noel.

Noel

 1. A Christmas carol. 2. (capitalized) Christmas. (Merriam-Webster)

Another name for Christmas. French Noël (“Christmas season”), may come from the Old French nael. This, in turn, is derived from the Latin natalis, meaning “birth.” Wikipedia

Noel is a word meant to remind us of our place …our heritage …our hope. Replace antagonism with the familiar embrace of faith.
noel-tweet-1

1. Look at the time.

” Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:11

My neighbor gave me a Christmas Cactus last year, which she told me only blooms at Christmas-time.  I wanted to see if I could keep it alive until it was time for it to bloom again. So, I forgot to water it most of the winter, re-potted it in the spring, and continued to forget to water it the rest of the year.

noel-image-1Beyond my ability to care for it, it survived. The first week of the Advent (Christmas) season, it began to flower. It’s in a pot …on my desk …in Ohio …and it’s a cactus. But God said, “it’s time.”

Time: an appointed, fixed, or customary moment or hour for something to happen, begin, or end. (Merriam-Webster, 3B)

Behind every human being is a baby in a womb that God’s hand began to the tune, “it’s time.” We can trust the Author of Life, and the proof is Jesus. That day in the town of David, God said, “it’s time,” and born was the Savior of the world, a vulnerable baby boy who needed to be held and nurtured and loved. Born to hold, nurture, and love us for all time. Noel …a birthday.

2. Sing Noel.

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.  He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.  But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” John 1:10-13

My first visit to a new optometrist revealed a change in my vision.  He prescribed a pair of glasses to combat the glare of the computer screen and the sunshine. Each morning, I faithfully clean and prepare them for the day with special cloth and spray. Its  worth it to me. I appreciate the view. Guess what? They’re shatterproof, too. My new vision is as
protected as it could possibly be.

noel-image-2

When Zechariah lost his ability to see God clearly, he lost his speech along with it. He doubted the vision he saw. He questioned the message. At his son’s birth, his speech was restored. Jesus restored our hope with His. Might something we were previously unaware of be blocking Him from our vision?

The b-side of birth lies beyond God’s creation of our physicality. He built the possibility of hope into our DNA. A gift of grace allowed by the sacrifice of that baby boy born in the town of David. The opportunity to break free and follow Him home. The power of purpose as our feet tread the dirt of this Earth. When Christ is our personal Savior, the silence is lifted from our souls and our vision realigned …like getting new glasses. In a fresh hug of friendship defined, we are born …again.

Believe. See…

“Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel …born is the King of Israel.”

“Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel …born is the King of Israel.”

-The First Noel Christmas Carol

Sing in celebration that Jesus was born to save us. It’s not just any birthday celebration. Christmas is the love of the Father and peace of the Son that transcends the encapsulation of time.

birth:  the emergence of a new individual from the body of its parent (Merriam-Webster.)

God said, “it’s time,” and like the wind blows when He says and the seas calm at His hand, Heaven came to earth embodied in His Son. And we not only get to partake in this love story …we are the center of it. Can you see it?

Noel. Emerge. It’s time.

Happy Christmas!

Megs

#yulesee

NOEL TWEET 2.png

I link up at the following places. Come join in the fun!

The Last Day

IMG_4069

The product of my rushed suburban childhood is arm-in-arm in that sandy crop of kids, traditionally appreciating the last day of school in their little lake town …where the busiest road has a 35 mph speed limit, and we can count the number of stop lights on one hand. “Rush” is absent from their vocabulary.

PERFECTTraditions can bloom dreams if we allow them to align our intentions with His design. The small lake town I live in has taught me to treasure tradition. In your town, on the farm, amidst a metropolis, or in your move; here are some benefits I’ve uncovered in establishing a little tradition.

#heartseeds

1.Stability

foundation- the basis or groundwork for anything…the natural or prepared ground on which some structure exists. (dictionary.com)

Learning to leave God in our dreams takes faith tough enough to trust that His view of them will undoubtably differ from our expectations a lot of the time. If we learn to look up before we dream out; the surrounding blessings, people, and places in life begin to reveal parts of His purpose. Tradition rooted in Christ yields a stable foundation to dream upon.

“You are being built on a solid foundation: the message of the prophets and the pieces of God’s chosen emissaries with Jesus, the Anointed Himself, the precious cornerstone.” Ephesians 2:20

IMG_4440_251

Paul reminded the church at Ephesus to embrace the foundation that Jesus laid at the foot of the cross.  We would be wise to do the same. When our dream is drifting with the Creator’s current, living it each day spreads the virtuous kindness and joy of Jesus.

2. Resilience 

“Take a close look at everything, test it, then cling to what is good.” 1 Thes. 5:21

I had all intentions of moving by the water to be out on the water, but God threw out the anchor… and beached my boat.  And as I peeled back the layers of blessing from the shoreline, I’m so glad he didn’t let me rush past it all. Changing the direction of our lives is never easy, but layered in the learning are blessings that follow an obedient heart. “Clinging” to those blessings, to who He is, shapes a resilient heart.

resilience the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape.- Google

The pre-school years flew by, and the “Last Day” tradition that started with four moms is still growing … each year new friendships form and new laughs are logged. We pray for each other, help each other, laugh, cry and load up on a bus to celebrate milestones together… stand arm-in-arm together.

#dontskipachapter

IMG_4712_83

3. Confidence

“So, brothers and sisters, all you need to do now is stand firm and hold tight to the line of teachings we have passed on to you, whether in person or in a letter.” 2 Thes 2:15

Paul wrote this letter to clarify some traditions that had been muddled in translation. Can you imagine passing things down accurately without the Internet?

I’ve been privy to witness, that the tradition of excellence my town, has more to do than just the happy disposition that often follows suit with living on the shoreline of one of the world’s Great Lakes. The tale of each home-town Tiger begins with tradition.

From the first day they high-five the elementary-school principal down hallways decked with yellow smiles, they are brought up to believe they can find their best and bring it out in others. The entire town cheers them on until they show up dressed in white to lookout from that shoreline together one last time …arm-in-arm. I’ve watched my daughters watch those beautiful graduates, confident they can conquer anything because they’ve been raised to believe that they will.

Confident, bright, and beautiful blooms are the result of roots. Spectacular moments of growth don’t last forever, but roots remain to break through the soil once again.

PERFECT copyChristians are confident in the joy Jesus. From the very first time we high-five Him as we’re dunked under the water, or whisper a prayer…His truth allows us to bloom beautifully along life’s bumpy road. Like the graduates confident they can conquer the world, He stands with us, arm-in-arm, in a victory that’s already been won.

4.Triumph

“I must say how pleased I am to hear that you remember me in everything and continue to hold on to the traditions I have passed on to you.” 1 Corinthians 11:2

Paul wrote this letter to the believers at Corinth as they were torn by spiritual immaturity in attempting to uphold tradition.

Triumph is synonymous for “coming back.”

IMG_4281_4

The “Last Day” tradition isn’t always a smoothly executed plan, but we all keep coming back. Tradition gives us a space to embrace our place on this earth.

Sometimes the frustration in having to be still is God whispering that you’re already here. Perhaps the purpose of my dream to live by the lake was simply to slow down and embrace tradition all along. That’s all God asks of us …keep coming back. Keep the tradition of meeting with Him everyday …of looking for Him in everything we experience. Those are strong roots, a stable foundation, a resilient reliance, and a triumphant destination.

Happy Summer!!!

Go Tigers!

Megs

IMG_4459

The Space

“Mom-can-I-be-a-milk-buyer-today?” My Kindergartener rapid-fire demanded.

“No,” I hurried, “I still haven’t put more lunch money in your account, sweetie…”

“WE DON’T HAVE TO PAY, MOM!!!” She once again informed me, with her face all scrunched up and frustrated as she reenacted her walk up to the lunch line to tell the cashier she’s a milk buyer.
imageIf only I realized, morning after hectic morning, that she was really just informing me of her intention rather than asking permission. After a semester of self-proclaimed “milk buyer” days, the bill came home in her “parent communication” folder.

I needed a serious break.

One gray Northern Ohio day after the next, my face froze as my dog’s ears flipped over in the frigid North wind off the lake. Trudging through my determination to exercise, I kept thinking about the packed suitcase waiting to be zipped up and loaded into the mini-van. My normal knack to focus on “I love the four seasons” positive thinking had faded away with the forecast for snow well into April. Robbed of a season… again. Huff.

I needed some serious sunshine …the warm kind.

In the middle of an argument about why we actually do pay for milk, it’s hard to relax. When my thoughts are literally frozen by the North wind, it’s difficult to rest in the beauty of God’s creation.

I simply get tired of trying.

 The Space gives me time to realign and rejuvenate.

1. Realignment.

If I don’t stop to be silent, I forget. The smiles behind the struggles begin to fade, and the wind rips my well-intended goal’s fortitude right out the sail.

image

When it’s 29 degrees and hail is falling in April, it’s hard for me to accept that I’m “right where I need to be.” When, one by one, family and friends move South, it’s hard to understand why I’m being left behind. When colleagues collect where the sun shines, it’s hard to understand why I shouldn’t move.

“Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.” Hebrews 6:7

 Somehow, sitting silent on a sunny beach allowed that verse to smack the truth right back into my soul. Separated from the strife of my schedule, I could see where my heart was misaligned with God’s Word.

“Drinks the rain often falling on it…” I’m being nourished right where I am.

“…a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed..” I’m already surrounded by people to reach.

“…receives the blessing of God.” Pick me! I want that! 

With each lap of ocean surf, His creation echoed His Word. Spiritual and deep …but so is He. imageThe rambunctious rant of my daughters laughing at their Papa was sweet peace compared to the incessant whining of the “get ready for school” grind. Created in His image, we must take space to get quiet …to learn who God is… and go deep.

image
2. Regeneration

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” Hebrews 6:10

The NIV Study Bible notes that “Changed lives and works of love suggest that many of these persons were indeed regenerated.” (The author was speaking to a crowd undecided about who among them was truly “saved…” much like we unjustly take stock of each other now, isn’t it? #sidenote)

Regeneration reminds me of crab claws on the beach. A claw gets lopped off, and they grow a new one. What is God trying to reveal through a creature with this feature?

Google‘s definition of regeneration is “(of a living organism) Regrow. Bring into renewed existence; generate again.” 

imageEvery dead thought process doesn’t completely kill us. And all of our efforts to love are not erased by mistakes. I am living in Christ, so He will continue to lop off the dead and allow new growth.

Sometimes, I have to stop so God can move.

 When I’m scrambling for a solution and going after my goals, the last thing I think I need to do is relax. So, I don’t. I push, and strive, and work, and completely exhaust myself. I keep buying milk even though the lunch account is empty. If I neglect “the space” for too long, I find myself praying to inform God of what I’ve discerned rather that asking for His permission.

image

My good and faithful God sent a note home in my communication folder this Spring, packed my suitcase, sat me down on a Gulf Coast beach, and thawed out my doubt. His Son, Jesus, lopped off a few disconcerting thoughts and misaligned intentions. His Spirit spoke encouragement into my heart through the surf.

I’m ready to move now… right from here.

Happy Spaces…

Megs

The Preview of “The Space…”

image

God gave us grace to enjoy this place.

The space He creates to replace our race

…just for a little while.

Life’s rip current can relentlessly grip and pull…

It’s essential to bask in the space of blessings.

Where time stops …and minutes stretch.

Joy’s beach.

Waves of emotion may ebb and flow, and even erode …

but when the tide subsides,

it’s unchanged.

Christ is constant.

He’s my constant.

I may weep but only for a moment …

Anger will break like the surf but then foam back into the sea.

For me, Jesus is joy

…and I cling to His hold on my hand.

Between this post and the last, I have been hanging out in the space…

I can’t wait to tell you about it…

Stay tuned…

Happy Tidings…

Megs

“Be joyful always.” 1Thes.5:16