Monday, December 15, 2008

God, our Redeemer

The Return of the Prodigal Son- Rembrandt

Lately I've been deeply impacted through music, not that this is anything new with me but it has been so overwhelming. I guess you could call it an awakening of sorts...but maybe that is too dramatic of a title. Anyway, I think my heart was stirred by the Christmas concert I attended a week or two ago and I continue to be challenged and moved through beautifully written songs.

All of the thoughts and emotions I've been working through came to head today at church. I'll admit I walked into church this morning in a bit of a mood. It's frustrating now to admit such glaring sin but honestly I was in no place to sing songs of worship to God. I didn't talk to many people before the service began and did a good job of isolating myself to the point that anyone would have noticed that I was in no mood to chit-chat. I'm terrible, yes I know.

My heart was hard and I was unwilling to allow the Lord any room to correct my attitude. It was when the sermon began that the Lord truly started to address the issues in my heart. It was one of those instances when you immediately feel regret as well as a good dose of humility as you realize how ungodly your actions were. Father forgive me.

After the service ended God was gracious enough to allow me to talk with some girls from my community group. Both of these conversations were such a blessing to me. I was encouraged just to hear such honesty as we talked and shared about our lives with each other. When Jon and I left church I thought to myself, "I didn't deserve any of this." God is so good and compassionate, abounding in love. This morning I was rebellious, ambivalent, and moody but by the end of church I had been humbled by my Savior, tired of my sin and encouraged by my sisters in Christ. It was a wonderful morning.

So how does this fit into all that I've been working through over the past week or two? Well I've been meditating on the fact that our God is a redeeming God who can turn any situation, or any wayward and broken life into something beautiful. This is what Christ was doing in my heart just this morning at church and it continues to happen every day I relinquish control of the dark parts of my life over to my Savior.

Redeem: to buy back, to free from captivity by payment of ransom, to release from blame or debt

I am so humbled by the fact that I am a redeemed creation; the old has gone and the new has come. There are no words to express the joy and amazement I feel when I consider what Christ has truly done for me.

Lately I've heard a lot of heartbreaking stories of people living lives controlled by sin and unwilling to accept the redemption Christ has to offer. I feel so torn hearing these stories because I know that if it were not for the grace of God I would be in that same place, completely controlled by sin and overrun with depravity. It is only through the blood of Christ that I am where I am today.

Being overwhelmed with this truth has led me to cry out to the Lord for him to make this revelation known to those living without Him. There is hope, forgiveness and ultimate redemption in the Cross of Christ. It doesn't matter where you come from or what you have done. Praise God!

This is one of the songs that I've been meditating on lately. I hope it encourages you as much as it has me.

Hosanna (Andrew Peterson)

"Our Redeemer - The Lord Almighty is His name - is the Holy One of Israel."
- Isaiah 47:4

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Evie Coates

Evie Coates
Here is a random and short post. Sorry...I've got to get the kiddos up in a half and hour. I found a new artist (new at least to me) that I absolutely love! Evie Coates is behind the artwork for the Behold the Lamb album and ever since I saw that artwork I wondered who had made such interesting and unique creations. Unfortunately I haven't found much of her work online so I guess that means I need to drive down to Nashville and see it in person.
(Here are a few of her creations)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday Ridiculousness

Alien Conspiracy (The Cheese Song)- Andrew Peterson

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Behold the Lamb of God

Thursday night Jon and I went with a group of friends to see the Andrew Peterson Christmas Concert and it was just beautiful! The concert was unlike any I've ever been to. I'm not sure if it was just the atmosphere or what but it felt very intimate. I don't know if I'm alone in saying this but there have been many times during a church service or in a meeting with my community group that I've just become completely overwhelmed with the reality that this is a small glimpse of what heaven will be like. I've become so overwhelmed with the beauty of the Body of Christ, the beauty in our brokenness and the amazing work of Christ's redemption. That was the emotion I felt as I sat through this entire concert.

The concert was split into two parts. The first half was for the singer/songwriters to share a song or two of their own music. Some of the musicians involved were: Ben Shive, Jill Philips, Andrew Osenga, Bebo Norman, Andrew Gullahorn and of course Andrew Peterson. I think the thing I loved most about the concert was how real the artists were. As each of them shared a bit many touched on the theme of community. It was evident that these were not just people coming together for a tour but they were a family coming together to share a story that.

The second half of the concert was all of the artists coming together and playing the entire "Behold the Lamb of God" Christmas album. It was so moving and yes...I cried. If any of you ever have the opportunity to see this tour I wouldn't hesitate to tell you that you need to go. It is such a wonderful reminder of the birth of our Savior and how the plan of redemption is not just found in the New Testament but can be seen from Genesis to Revelation.

Here are a few of the songs. The videos don't do these songs justice but it will give you an idea of the beauty of this album. If you don't have the album...go get it. Seriously!!

O Come O Come Emmanuel

Labor of Love (Jill Philips)

If you are interested in hearing more about the story behind the album "Behold the Lamb of God" check out The Bednar's blog. It's good stuff! Thanks George. :-)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas Music

I have added some Christmas music to my blog...I can't help myself. It plays automatically (sorry if that's annoying) Anyway the playlist is at the bottom of my blog of you want to scroll through them. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Top 10 Christmas Movies

White Christmas
It's A Wonderful Life
A Muppet Christmas Carol
(In all actuality I love all movies based on the Charles Dickens book. There are other older versions that are really good)
A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Christmas Story
Miracle on 34th Street
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Home Alone
The Polar Express

So this is my list. There are also a few honorable mentions that come to mind: The Santa Clause and Christmas Vacation. Unfortunately most of the movies on this list have nothing to do with the real meaning of Christmas (with the slight exception of a Charlie Brown Christmas). I've heard that The Nativity Story is good but I've never seen it. If anyone knows of some good Gospel related Christmas movies let me know but for in this secular pop-culture America that I do, my list stands (sad as that may be). I'm curious to hear what some of your favorite Christmas movies are...Any takers?!?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Back to the grind

It is 2am and snowing outside. Man, we are definitely not in Florida anymore. I think I started to miss Florida when I woke up this morning to a gray sky and rain. Ugh.

Jon and I had a wonderful trip to Naples spending time with my parents and youngest sister, Tiffany. With little to nothing on the agenda we spent most of the day just relaxing, which is just what we needed. We made a few trips out to the beach to watch the sunset, enjoyed a dip in the hot tub and of course ate some delicious Thanksgiving food! I miss my family, especially since I didn't even get the chance to see two of my sisters and my brother-in-law. Sometimes I wish time would just stop and I could soak up everything. My sisters are getting older and all of us are in different places (North Carolina, Florida, Kentucky and Arizona). It's bittersweet.

Now after a 6 day break I'm back to the grind. Coming to work tonight was hard. My heart aches and I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe it's because I miss my family, or maybe it's the reality of working nights again. It's probably a mixture of those things plus a dozen other emotions. Whatever it may be...I wish it would go away.

Work is busy tonight which helps to take my mind of all these thoughts rolling around in my head. Taking time to write this will probably put me behind but I feel like I just need to take some time to reflect. I'm already feeling stressed re-adjusting to life in Louisville. So I'm inviting you to take a minute to relax with me. As we enter the season of advent it is so important to remember what this time is all about. I'll probably continue posting portions of the birth story of Christ as the days go by so stay tuned. Here is the first passage.

Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.