Sunday, December 29, 2013


He established it as a statute for Joseph, when he went out against Egypt, when we heard a language we did not understand.
Psalm 81:5

I had to stop and re-read that passage several times, mentally review the chronology and genealogy of the Old Testament story.  

When did Joseph ever go out against Egypt?
He went in, (more appropriately he was TAKEN in) but when did he go out against Egypt?1

The question then becomes;  Why would God take Joseph into Egypt, via the vehicle of famine, for the purpose of rescue, only to have it become a 40 year call to bondage? 2
And what does that have to do with us today?

As one reads the Exodus events, it is clear that the divine plan of God was in play;
You intended to harm me, 
but God intended it for good to accomplish what now is being done, 
the saving of many lives.
Gen 50:20

We have all been taken down to Egypt. And if you haven't yet visited Egypt, I guarantee you will at some point in your life.

There will be a pit you are buried in. One that in your own strength you won't be able to crawl out of.

In this world you will have trouble.

Parent will fail you-
Brother will betray you-
Friend will disappoint you.
God will seem silent.

The enemy will accuse you--
and jail your heart if you let him.

Dreams will die and hope will fade.

The multi-colored robe of your reality will be bloodied with the muck of this world.

But take care!  I have overcome the world. 3

Wherever you are in life, God has brought you in.

Wherever you are in life, God will take you out.

The next time you're tempted to question your circumstances or the seeming unfairness of life or lot, consider the truth that nothing in God's design is accidental or random.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

1.  Exodus 6:6, Psalm 77:15, Deuteronomy 9:29. The united kingdom of Israel experienced a division of tribes in roughly 975-586 B.C.
The Northern Kingdom, Israel, was also referred to as "Joseph" or "Ephraim.  Most likely, then, going out against Egypt was a reference to the whole of Israel and the Exodus, not a personal insurgence of Joseph against Egypt.

2.  Genesis 15:13

3 John 16:33

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Unwrapping

There are no happy children's voices under the tree this morning.

No heralds of "Santa Came."

Giggling 'good mornings' and 'Merry Christmas' are yesterday for me.

Only this:

Empty chairs and, untrod stairs- 
Silent night and, muted morn- 
Presents stacked, but   
not tattered or torn.

I suspect it may be a little like this for God in His celestial chambers right now--
All heaven waiting with baited breath for the children of God to wake in wild eyed wonder and race to
to the tree for the festive unwrapping of regeneration.

From cradle to Calvary, creche' to cross, there is grace and peace, healing and redemption, mercy and belonging, under the tree. All wrapped in the holy linens of labor's love.

I wonder, what does God see when he looks down from above--

An  unwrapping of the grace-gift that never occurs?
The miracle of Christmas jilted and shunned by blasé interest?

Oh what celestial sighs of sadness must accompany the rejection.

Day's drag on, years go by and The Grace-Gift waits. 

Heaven's breath hitches.

Time aches and eternity longs. 

Eternity isn't too long to wait for a child.  
Open your gift!

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--
and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God...
Ephesians 2:8

Saturday, December 21, 2013


I struggled to join the symphony of voices, the choir of Christmas carolers in the sanctuary, but singing words of worship felt a little like pressing hard against the wind.

"Hypocrite! How can you even move your lips, let alone mouth lyrics of praise when you are steeped in sin as you are?"

Justly charged! The accusation successfully stifled me.

Oh, a punctuated strain escaped here and there but mostly it was a forced effort, a weak and guilty lilt of pseudo-sacrifice that left my tongue slumped in sorrow for the sin-bullied joy that ached for freedom.

Still I sang on, my will to worship weak, but prevailing.

And then it happened.

Praise offered to Him becomes the promise returned--
The Covenant of Christmas;
To us a child is born, and by His mercy we are saved, 
not by things which we have done, 
but by the renewing of the holy spirit.
Luke 2:11*Titus 3-5

To sing, worship, pray, and proclaim the Good News isn't dependent on how well we perform in 'doing life'.

It is the commitment to believe and persevere in spite of the fact the only thing we have to offer is a broken and contrite heart and sin-diseased bent.

Amazing love, how can it be,
that thou my God
would die for me!

Surely He surrounds us with songs of deliverance.1

For song is the love language our soul knows best.

In the end, it's always God that does the giving. That does the singing. That does the bringing and the beckoning and the blessing. 

Oh pious and pitiful people that we are;
If your sins are many, what does that do to him? If you are righteous, what do you give to him, or what does he receive from your hand? 2

We offer up refrains by rote, void of true vision and He returns it as the canticle of Christmas--Advents love story reaching down for us!

A spiritual tug of was was taking place in the pew that night.
God, impelling my sin-bullied spirit to sing, and the enemy trying to silence me with a false focus on self and sin instead of where it aptly belonged--on the grace of God.

It is for freedom you have been set free!  
Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened
again by a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1


Did you know that Noel is a french term that can mean Carole, or song? 3

Did you know praise silences the enemy? 4


1. Psalm 32:7
2.  Job 35:6-7
3. Noel-Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Wikipedia
4. Psalm 8:2