Friday, December 23, 2011

Keep All These Things

I have a small plaque that sits on my windowsill which reads, "Let us be silent...that we may hear the whisper of God." This morning is still as snow falls gently outside. Here in the livingroom I can hear the dogs breathing as they sleep. No other sounds are reaching my ears except the quiet click of the keys as I type.

The stillness of morning. It is my favorite time of day. Last week we had some mornings that the temperatures were in the single digits. On those days the frost hangs in the air and envelopes your face as soon as you open the front door.  Billows of breath would fog the vision on our way up the driveway during the morning constitutional. Having a small puppy is a joy in one way, an inconvenience in another.  The briskness is refreshing and the extreme cold certainly makes it pleasant to enter the kitchen again!

My mother and I recently made a trip to a nearby town, across the great river that divides us from our neighboring State.  As we drove along the river road we kept watching the water. It was as still as a lake; the reflections from the hills across were perfectly mirrored and not a ripple could be seen. Mom exclaimed, "how can that river be flowing at all?" We both were thinking the same thing, all the while knowing that the river certainly was flowing south, making its way to the ocean just over 100 miles below.  Though there appeared to be perfect stillness, the motion was obviously taking place below the surface.

As I read from the book of Luke, the account of the birth of our Lord Jesus, I come to chapter 2 where "the shepherds came with haste and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger". It says that "when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart."(verse 19). Several times I have read instances where Mary did so. As I read on I came to the account where the child, Jesus stayed in Jerusalem and his parents supposed him to be among the company which was returning to Nazareth.  After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the doctors, hearing and asking questions. These with him were 'put out of whits' (astonished) at his understanding and answers, by the way. He told his parents, "how is it that ye sought me: wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" It actually said that they did not understand what he was saying to them. He was subject unto them, however, and went with them back to Nazareth. 2:51 says, "but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart."

Mary's stillness is a wonderful example to us of the verse in Psalm 46:10 which says, "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen; I will be exalted in the earth." There are times in life that are perplexing and our mind begins to race and try to "run ahead of the Lord". These are the times that we need to be still and know that our Lord is in control. He is moving beneath our surface.  "Stand in awe, and sin not; commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah." (Ps.4:4)

How awesome to think that this very God lives within my heart! There is nothing that I need to fear. He wants me to be faithful to his Word, be still and just let Him do the work that goes on "below the surface".

When Syd and I were first saved we were privileged to sit under the ministry of Pastor Norman Gibbs. Pastor was a "plodder". Walls could be falling in around him but no matter what happened in his life, he faithfully plodded along, teaching us by word and deed what it means to let God do the work. Our Lord knew that we needed these very teachings early on, as little babies in Christ. These are the fundamental things that we grew up knowing and, though God has plenty to still teach us, He gave us a strong foundation of his Word (of course) but also a tangible example to remember and follow.

I leave you with a picture of stillness on Darling Hill. Thank you for visiting today. I hope that as you go into the weekend that is called Christmas, it can be a special time of reflection on what the true meaning of the celebration should be. We are quite certain that Jesus was likely born more toward our Summer season, but this is the time of year that the United States has traditionally come to celebrate this same glorious announcement that the shepherds "noised abroad" and that the multitude of the heavenly host praised God in saying, "Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace, good will toward men."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

All things Done According to God-conciousness

The end of year is such a rush! The post office keeps me very busy during the package and card season. I'm getting plenty of hours and feel like I'm running my feet off sometimes. Early mornings and fast-paced days just fly by and I find that I have not posted on the blog for quite some time! I am sorry about that. Though I've been trying to keep up on the few blogs I follow, even those have mounted up on me!

As we head into the Christmas weekend we do it with mixed feelings. I truly do LOVE this time of year, having had very fond memories of Christmas as a child and through these blessed married years also. I speak of this season carefully, however, as we have so many DEAR friends who do not celebrate Christmas (and for valid reasons, we do admit).  I recently watched a PBS special on the traditions of Christmas throughout the world. There is a piece of me that really rebels that we have been told (unfortunately by a "heiarchy") when and how we are to celebrate the season that is supposed to represent the birth of our dear Savior, Jesus Christ.  Being quite sure that Jesus was not born in the month of December, and acknowledging that nowhere in the Bible does it tell us to celebrate Christ's birth at all, I still have no problem picking this month to (though quietly and without sounding a trumpet) publicly show forth his advent to the earth.

We went through a period when we truly did not KNOW how we felt about the "tradition of Christmas".  I have come to realize that, if truth be told, I believe that most people would admit that it is a "warm and fuzzy" time of year to them. Perhaps it is not that way to you, but it is to me and I've heard many people express it that way. I refuse to say, "happy holidays", but ALWAYS choose to express, "Merry Christmas" because I do believe that if ANYTHING should be celebrated, it at least should be the coming of our Savior to earth. After all, God did choose to eternally record the angels proclamation of the glorious message to shepherds in nearby fields and Kings came to the house (some time later) and presented royal gifts to the Christ-child. This wonderful event did not happen without glorious recognition.

It is a difficult thing to write about because there are so many readers of this post who do not agree to celebrate Christmas at all and I understand where they are coming from. Many are from heavily-steeped religious backgrounds and are truly offended by even the mention of their once, high-church, telling them that they must "worship" this season. Having not come from a "religious" background myself (as I was just a heathen before coming to Jesus Christ), I did not know the stronghold that a religion could have on a person. We celebrated Christmas simply and it was a family-oriented, love filled time where we really did acknowledge Jesus Christ being born to the earth. I have to say that for me, I am not offended by that.  Lest anyone think otherwise, we have read up on the pagan beginnings of most of the traditions. We actually don't put up a tree anymore, for that reason. We also know what the American tradition has become, WAY too commercialized, etc. I guess that we have decided to celebrate it simply for what it is truly supposed to express to the world. At the same time, I am thankful for a church that does not "throw it in others faces" - thereby forcing individuals to celebrate something that offends them.  There is little to no mention of Christmas at our place of worship, and we are glad of that. What a blessing that we do not have to offend our brother by our "meat", as in Romans 14:17-23. This passage is a blessed teaching on following God according to conscience!

Please know that we respect christians who DO celebrate and those who DON'T celebrate during this time of year. Whatever we do, may it be done according to..."happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth." (Rom 14:22)