Posted in Monologues from the Manger

Monologues from the Manger: Mary

I am Mary, and many years back my life changed dramatically. You’ve probably heard my name and seen my picture in the manger scenes, but I want to take a moment to share something that even I still don’t understand.

When I was young, I was engaged to Joseph. One night an angel came to me and called me favored. This confused and frightened me because I’ve always been one to blend into my surroundings. The angel told me I had found favor with God, and that I had been chosen to give birth to his son. My initial reaction was, “woah, show down there angel! I’m engaged, but I haven’t broken any rules with Joseph. God surely knows this, so how am I about to have a baby?” 

The angel had an answer for that: the Holy Spirit would provide that. He also informed me that my cousin Elizabeth would have a baby soon as well. The only was I could think to respond was to submit to the plan God was enacting. 

Later, I visited my cousin Elizabeth and sure enough, she was pregnant. All I could think was “my soul magnifies the Lord, and my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47). God was doing something magnificent, and I just felt humbled to be part of it.
My baby’s birth was even dramatic and God-led. We had to go to Bethlehem for the census. Traveling that distance while pregnant wasn’t easy, but Joseph was so good to me. There also wasn’t room in any inns, but we found a warm barn. That night I gave birth to my son, God’s son, Jesus. 

At first I thought our lives would be quiet after such a humble birth place, but it wasn’t long before we had visitors. Shepherds visited and they sang. Supposedly they’d been visited by an angel as well. Later my son would be called a lamb as well as a shepherd, so I guess it’s fitting that shepherds were his first visitors.

Later we had some wisemen visit. They had followed a star all the way to our house. God was spreading the word far and wide. These wisemen worshipped Jesus as they would a king because they recognized his power even while he was a child. If only others would worship him like these first visitors. 

I still can’t fathom why God chose me, but I’m glad he did. As you ponder my story with me, remember how eloquently God orchestrated his son’s arrival on Earth and for the purpose of allowing us all to know God more closely. Please take time to get to know my son, Jesus. 

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Posted in Devotion

Humility

“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:2

When this verse popped into my head, my first thought was to get all preacher-mode on a person in my life whom I’ve perceived as especially boastful lately. Then God said, “uh no, Cathy. This one is for you.” 

When I feel insecure and insignificant, my initial reaction is to one up the other person in the conversation by stating what I’m doing better. That doesn’t accomplish anything though but make me look foolish and possibly hurt her self esteem. 

God popped this verse into my head as a reminder to be humble. I don’t think this verse is saying to crave the praises of others but simply to refrain from praising myself. Really all the focus should be on God anyway. 

My goal and prayer for the coming weeks will be to remember this verse, strive to praise God with how I live, and criticize others less quickly.

Posted in Bible Study, Devotion

A metaphor too cool to keep in

This is too good of a metaphor not to share even though I should be going to bed.

“and he made from one man every nation of all mankind to live on all the the face of the Earth, having determined allotted periods and boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yes he is actually not far from each one of us.” Acts 17:24-27
I’ve heard the first part of this verse quoted by my Alma mater many times since it’s their motto, but maybe I’ve never read it in context. Some cool truths popped out at me tonight. God made the Earth with the intention of separating us into time periods and nations. The tower of Babel wasn’t God trying to discipline; it was part of the plan. That’s not even the metaphor I’m most excited to share. 

God separated the people so that we could seek him and feel our way to him. Feel for him? Seeking is usually done with the eyes. I seek for a friend in a crowd by looking, not feeling with my hands, but someone who can’t see with their eyes needs to feel. Therefore, God is saying here that we are blind. How are we blind? Both Paul and John refer to us being blinded by sin in 2 Corinthians 4:4 and John 12:39-40. Before knowing Christ, we can’t see. Only through Christ are the blinders removed.

It just gets cooler though. Here we are, before believing, grasping at anything around us hoping it’s what we desire, even if we don’t know what we desire. We’re blind and can’t see past our own sin, but God is still right there! Verse 27 says he’s not far. He’s there waiting for just the right moment to reveal himself and remove the blinders, but in the meantime he’s still close by. He was there letting us feel his presence and protecting us before we even knew who he was. 

That’s some pretty cool stuff. Do you interpret this passage the same way, or do you see something different?

Posted in Book Review

The Hiding Place

“Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.” 

Corrie ten Boom lived a life devoted to God in spite of her rough and often life-threatening situations. In her book, The Hiding Place, she tells the story of opening her home to Jews needing a place to hide. After being caught and arrested, she describes the horrors of jail then prison then prison camp. At times the prison camp closely resembled the concentration camps. Through all of the insecurity, pain, and misery, her faith in God rings loud and clear. Just as she said, she allowed God to work in her life, and he prepared her for every step, even at times protecting her supernaturally.

“There are no ifs in God’s world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety.”

Her story left me speechless in ways. She continually trusted that God would provide despite all around her signs of failure. She did his work until she died. I’m not currently in a place where I am in pain or in need of anything, but I still want to be in God’s will. It’s only there that I can work and rest in peace.

“But even kalte kost (bread ration alone) would be a small price to pay… for the precious books I clutched between my hands.”

Finally, Ms. ten Boom’s devotion to God is the most admirable thing about her. In this instance, she’s risking losing food in order to keep her copy of the Bible. Later she risks losing her life to smuggle a Bible into the prison camp. It makes me ponder how I would react if I was told I couldn’t own a Bible anymore. 

I’d highly recommend everyone to read this story.

story.

Posted in Bible Study, Blogging for Books, Book Review

God Loves

I don’t have much, if any, experience in the romantic love department, so I’ve often just skimmed over Song of Songs as I’ve read the Bible. Dee Brestin’s He Calls You  Beautiful helped bring out the metaphor of the book. It’s not just a physical romance between a man and a woman; it’s the image of us as the dark-skinned scorned woman being wooed and falling in love with our King, God. Here are some truths I derived from reading this book.

  • God desires to have a relationship with each of us in spite of our sin.
  • Our eyes are to be like dove’s eyes: focused forward, avoiding distraction.
  • Just like in a marriage, God asks us to love him in sickness and in health. God never gets sick, but it may feel at times as if he’s not present or a little crazy. We still love him.
  • Just like the groom leaves the bride after she refuses to leave her mother and marry him, sometimes God leaves us to the consequences of our sins. Just like the groom though, God comes back to call us to him again.
  • In the bigger context, the bride in Solomon’s story represents the day when Jesus’ followers will be reunited. In her name you can literally find peace and in many instances she represents the new Jerusalem. You’ll have to read the book to get a better understanding of this metaphor.
  • At times my faith may become lukewarm, but just like the lover in the poem, God will stand at the door of my heart and knock until I open back up to him. Similarly he also leaves us with his word just as the groom left myrrh in the door to remind us of his love and push us to run back to him.

Though my earthly heart longs for marriage so much that it hurts at times, I am thankful that this book reminded me of my position as a bride of Christ. He has wooed me, chosen me, and continues to express his love for me. Someday we’ll be joined together for eternity in heaven, and it will be more sweet than any earthly marriage. For now I’ll keep preparing myself to meet my King, and maybe an earthly husband will be in God’s will as well.

Many waters cannot quench love, nor floods drown it. (Song 8:7)

I received this book from Blogging for Books.

Posted in Education, Life

Kicking the Crazy

School has started, and the crazy has kicked in. Last week felt easy, but this week, between prep-work, actual teaching, sponsor duties, club duties, bookkeeping, and grad school classes, I feel like school is officially back in session. Oh wait, it’s only Monday.

Now more than ever I want to remember to do two things: breathe and trust God. If I can continue to do those two things, maybe I can keep my sanity among all of the items on my to-do list. Speaking of to-do lists, those two items are actually at the top.

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In an effort to actually breathe and trust God, I have tried to implement a few new/re-visited routines that will hopefully keep me focused and sane.

  1. Evening walks. Back in college, my roommate and I took walks together almost every night because it helped both of us de-stress from the day. While taking walks together isn’t feasible anymore and I can’t go right before bed like we used to (crazy skunks and other critters), I am trying to get some sort of walk in during the cooler evenings. As a bonus, I have gotten to see God’s masterpieces a few times this week.

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2. Morning Bible time. This summer my Bible reading slacked to an embarrassing place. With the start of school came a chance for a new routine. I usually read in the morning, but I have shifted a few of my other usual morning tasks around in order to make Bible reading a priority instead of a “if I have time” task.

3. Time with friends. I am trying to be intentional about contacting and seeing friends in a non-school kind of way. That’s a difficult one because I can very easily get caught up in work every evening. Also it’s difficult because of the much needed item number four.

4. Me time. Sometimes I need to say no to others in order to spend some time for just me. This may mean missing out on fun events or not going to every sports event at school, but as an introvert I am realizing more each year that I need time alone to relax and do whatever strikes my fancy.

Hopefully I’ll be able to stick to these plans as well as adjust to other new ideas in order to keep my sanity and joy this school year.

Posted in Bible Study

mountains

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I lift my eyes to the hills.

From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;

He who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel

Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;

The Lord is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day,

Nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;

He will keep your life.

The Lord will keep

Your going out and your coming in

From this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121