Brain rinse

Instrumental music can be very helpful on an ordinary day in an ordinary season. However, with Christmas upon us, days are more hectic than usual and this season of joy and happiness can easily become a season of pressure and chaos as we flit around trying to make it to all of the joyous celebrations, complicated by gift buying with money that doesn’t stretch any further now than it did last month. During the Christmas season, we may need a instrumental interlude even more than any other time of the year.

If the Christmas season is stressing you out, Please take a couple of minutes, click on the link and listen, and breath, and reflect on the invisible God, who took on flesh, was born in a barn and slept in a feeding trough. He did it all because he loves us so much, he couldn’t bear to let our sins separate us from him.

Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright….

Prophecy fulfilled

Psalm 69 vs 32 & 33

I’ve been sick for a couple of days and I’ve used my early morning hours for sleep rather than study or devotions. On Monday before I got sick I read Psalm 69. It was on my reading list because of the messianic prophecies.

There are four verses that Jesus fulfilled.

Vs4 “Those who hate me without cause outnumber the hairs on my head. Many enemies try to destroy me with lies, demanding that I give back what I didn’t steal.”

Psalm 69:4 -NLT

Fulfilled as he hung from a cross dying. Accused of crimes he did not commit.

Vs8 “Even my own brothers pretend they don’t know me; they treat me like a stranger.”

Psalm 69:8 – NLT

Fulfilled at the cross, he was abandoned by his followers and his family. Only his mother and a few other women and his disciple John were there.

“Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.”

John 19:25-27 – NLT

Vs9 “Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”

Psalm 69:9 – NLT

Fulfilled as he cleansed the temple of the money changers, also when he was 12 and was left behind in Jerusalem by his family. They found him in the temple discussing scripture with the priests and elders.

Vs 21 “But instead, they give me poison for food; they offer me sour wine for my thirst.

Psalm 69:21 – NLT

Fulfilled at the cross John 19:28.

“Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:28-30 – NLT

These verses show thatJesus is the one promised, the one hoped for, the messiah, our messiah, my messiah.

But wait, there’s more.

I was personally encouraged to read these verses below.

“The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged. For the Lord hears the cries of the needy; he does not despise his imprisoned people.”

Psalm 69:32-33 – NLT

I am not in prison but because of debt I am not free either. As the proverb says the borrower is a slave to the lender. Things changed at work recently and I no longer have overtime. It’s a substantial drop in pay. We are having to work on our faith, not blind faith that says it will all work out but focused faith in the God who spoke and world and planets were formed, who created light, who heals the sick and raises the dead, who has his people, not walk around but walk through a sea on dry ground, who has provided for Mary and I day in and day out. I have had faith, faith in myself, faith in the status quo, and in some measure of faith in God but my faith in God has weakened. Like working on a weak muscle, The only way to strengthen a weakness is to exercise it. Here we go, God make me stronger. “He hears the cry of the needy. “

One phrase of the verse stuck out to me, “will see their God at work”. I believe what the writer meant is that we will see God working, but could it also mean that I will see God at my work place, in other people, see him doing stuff “at work”?

That seems to interweave with A memory verse I’ve been working on. Philippians 4:5 “let your gentleness be evident to all, the Lord is near”. I’ve also been looking at that in more than one way. The Lord is near, I need to be gentle with people because my Lord and God is observing me. He is near me for my good, and to keep me aimed in the right direction. There’s that way and another way, the Lord is near, he is coming back, I need to be gentle with people because Jesus will be back soon and I have a job to tell people about him, in a gentle loving way. Mercy triumphs over judgement. I’m contemplating both of these aspects of this verse while I spend my days at work.

In all circumstances and over all our lives, thank you God for your heart of care and concern for me, for us. Provide for us God, financially and also lead us into the fields of yours that are “ripe unto harvest”.

Baby Boomer Christmas

My wife Mary and I were both born in the tail end of the baby boomer generation. We grew up in the 60’s. We were part of this mass of kids, everywhere we went there were bunches of kids. It was fun to have kids everywhere, we frequently outnumbered the adults 2 to 1. One of the most fun times was when our families would get together because every family seemed to have more kids to add to the mix.

Mary wrote a song about a childhood memory, waiting for her cousins to show up and a magical Christmas event happened, a Christmas snow. With Mary every magical event will eventually produce a song.

Please click on the link and listen to “Merry Mary”, a song about Mary’s magical Christmas past. If you like the song, please share it with your family and friends.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and to listen to Mary’s song,  and Merry, Mary, Christmas to you.

Jesus, our high priest

Hebrews 4C & 5

A priest is someone who goes to God on my behalf. The high priest was the guy who went before God to make the annual sin offering. Jesus is my high priest.

He has “been there” but he hasn’t “done that”.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[f] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

We can be “honest to God” with Jesus. We can tell him what we are going through, say exactly what our temptation or trial is. He is familiar with our situation. He knows how it feels.

“7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”

Jesus is our priest. Jesus is also our sacrifice. Jesus is our intercessor, our lawyer before God.

My goal is to grow up. To be maturing. To be able learn and share my learning.

“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

(Originally posted 12/08/15)

Do you like me? Yes or no?

Those middle school notes, you send them to a crush and hope they respond in the affirmative.

Sometimes I do this with God. I get to feeling separation from him and I start wondering if he still loves me.

This morning’s reading took me to Isaiah 54.

I found the answer to my question in verses 9&10.

““Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you. For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.”

Isaiah 54:9-10 – NLT

God loves me and is committed to me. God also loves you. Have you stepped out in faith and confessed your love for him? Have you entered into a relationship with him by believing in Jesus and his death and resurrection?

I love the way the new living translation translates Gods name. It is used in verse 5 but I will add verse 4 for context.

““Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood. For your Creator will be your husband; the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth.”

Isaiah 54:4-5 – NLT

The Lord of heavens armies, that’s God name and who is and what he does.

The shame of my youth, I did some shameful stupid things as a youth, I was just going over those memories this morning. I still feel the shame but in the Lord of Heaven s armies eyes, they are forgiven and forgotten.

God loves me. God loves you. God does not remember our shameful past. He is committed to me, to us. I wonder if my neighbor knows about that yet?

Finding rest today

Hebrews 4

Rest.

During the busy holiday season it’s what I crave. A chunk of time to rest. I Just looked over Mary’s holiday schedule. There isn’t much room for rest for her and as her “roadie” for me either.

“Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.[a] 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,

“So I declared on oath in my anger,

‘They shall never enter my rest.’”[b]

And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.”[c] 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”

6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, 7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:

“Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts.”[d]

8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works,[e] just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”

Faith in Jesus, trusting in his work that he accomplished when he died for our sins, hearing that message and believing it. That is how we enter spiritual rest.

Again the day we can decide to believe is today. Today is the day we do all the important stuff. It’s the only day we can do anything. We may plan on doing it tomorrow but we can’t. We have to wait until tomorrow becomes today. Yesterday is filled with memories, they may be regrets or joys but today is the only day we have to act.

Jesus died to forgive our mistakes. It’s his gift to us this Christmas season. A gift of forgiveness and rest from our striving. Will we receive his gift this today?

(Originally posted 12/07/15)

Glory

Our producer Brandon Bee had a word that he used to express delight or approval. When he saw, or heard something he liked he would exclaim, “Glory!”.

I never learned the story behind why he chose that word. The more I have gotten to know Brandon Bee, I have seen that everything he does, while it may from an outsider as random, is actually thoughtfully chosen so I know it was for a good reason, maybe it was Mary’s song. That could be, but more likely it was the way that the good things that happen in life continuously reveal God’s glory to us. God loves us and is on a mission to bless us and grow us and love on us. Even stuff that seems bad at first, God can use to bless us.

Mary wrote this song a long time ago, it was her dad Harold’s favorite song that she had written and he would often request it when Mary was at a piano. In all the years I knew Harold, his constant love and support were amazing. That is why it seemed so out of character that when he heard that Mary’s first album did not include his favorite song the he got a little angry. But because he insisted that we do a second album so he could have a recording of his favorite daughter (only daughter) sing his favorite song. We didn’t make it in time for Harold to listen to it, he passed away before the project was complete.

If you have the time, please click on the link and listen to Mary’s dad Harold’s favorite song, it is called “Glory”. If you like it please help us distribute this song to the rest of the world by sharing it with your friends and family.