Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

“He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives.” -Isaiah 61:1

Jesus chose these words from Isaiah to read publicly in the synagogue. After the Lord read Isaiah 61:1-2 He said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21). Jesus has come and is coming again. Living in the in-between is difficult as we are not likely to be swept up into Heaven like Enoch or Elijah. No, most of us will taste death first if the Lord tarries. Yet it will be light and momentary compared to the eternal weight of glory we see in the distance.

We must also patiently endure our individual means of sanctification for a time on earth. It is not without purpose. God has seen fit to give us physical birth at an appointed time in history, to live where you live, to be in the family you have (or don’t have), to be surrounded by people, circumstances and events which may seem wearisome at the time, yet can serve as our good, in how we respond. Dear Christian, you are being made, crafted after His likeness, because your position in Christ already affirms this.

The grace of God allows sandpaper to refine our own hearts, smooth the rough places, transforming a heart of sin into one of eternal beauty. God makes this so. One day soon and very soon, the tension of the “already and not yet” will be laid to rest in sweet glorification. Until then Jesus calls you and I to walk worthy, obey His commands, stay faithful.

While we wait in hopeful, confident expectation, we can sing ‘Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus’, a hymn written by Charles Wesley. I hope you and your family enjoy a restful and joyful Christmas celebration this year. Jesus is King. Satan may win a battle, but God has won the war.

Grace upon grace,


Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

“Come, Thou long expected Jesus, Born to set Thy people free;

From our fears and sins release us; Let us find our rest in Thee.

Israel’s strength and consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art;

Dear Desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver, Born a Child, and yet a King.

Born to reign in us forever, Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.

By Thine own eternal Spirit, Rule in all our hearts alone;

By Thine all sufficient merit, Raise us to Thy glorious throne.”

-written by Charles Wesley

A Christmas Gift every day

There seems no end to the rush- from Thanksgiving, to Christmas, on into New Year’s. I’ve become a bit of a Grinch this season with the avalanche of activities, filled with HIGH expectations. Christmas is the one time of year where nostalgia perfection rules. We want to “remember what it was like when we were kids” and create those kind of memories for our children too.

It’s exhausting.

Maybe because we just moved the first week in December, Christmas has felt more like a to-do list on top of the normal day to day things, and oh, did I mention we just moved?!  Let me just hibernate like the bears do and emerge come spring?

Cynical, yes.

Even though the busy pace has threatened to undo me, God is lately at work tilling my heart.

I don’t want to miss the wonder of Christ’s birth.

Heaven met earth in a stable suited for farm animals, witnessed by only Mary and Joseph, then shepherds, and later on the wise men. Christ came without excessive decorum, but as a baby, the most helpless and vulnerable a human can be.

I pray to not get lost in the frenzied swirl of distractions or my own pessimism.

Because honestly, Jesus never asked us to wrap 1,499,586 presents this season, or send Christmas cards with a picture of your family to every. single. person you’ve ever met, or attempt that cake from Joanna Gaines’ cookbook because it looks “Christmas-ey”.

All we’re asked to do is receive Him- the Greatest Gift.

It’s hard for us to be on the receiving end of things sometimes. In a self-reliant, self-made, autonomous modern Western world, we have to do something before we get, right?

God’s economy doesn’t operate that way. We don’t have to perform or earn anything. It’s not a rewards system like in kindergarten.

It’s all grace.

Does it mean we can’t be light-hearted and enjoy fun things during the season? Of course we can. We should celebrate, especially as Christians! But it does mean that we are free from having to tie one more ribbon or buy one more gift for the sake of a “perfect” Christmas.

You do not have to perform to be loved by Jesus. 

Yes, there may be pies to bake, rooms to clean, and even a few presents to wrap. But how we view Christmas is what matters in the hustle of the holidays. We can posture our hearts to worship knowing that we already belong in God’s family, no matter if the ham burns or you forgot to send a Christmas card to Aunt Martha, or that hard to buy for person hates what you got them.

Whether you’re familiar with the loud and busy of Christmas bustle or tucked away lonely, wishing you had someone to buy a present for, remember that Christ came for you too.

Jesus is the Greatest Gift we can have (and all we truly need or want) not just this Christmas, but every Christmas, and every day. One day we’ll see the Son of God who risked everything to save us from ourselves. He’s the Only One who can satisfy our cracked hearts, not things or experiences. When see Him face to face, that will be the best Christmas of all.


Grace upon grace,


Need to Belong

The other day The Andy Griffith Show came on T.V. as I was eating lunch. I grew up watching this family show on recorded VHS tapes in the early 90’s. My dad is a huge fan and by default, my sister and I were also. It’s something I look back on with fond memories, watching television together as a family, not worried about anything offensive or awkward popping up.

This particular one was the only Christmas episode in the entire eight-year series, and is one of my favorites. But something occurred to me this time while watching. The character Ben Weaver is a local storeowner in Mayberry, and also a grouch. He keeps purposely breaking the law to land himself in jail. Sheriff Andy Taylor lets him go because “it’s Christmas” and his Season One pharmacist girlfriend Ellie, begs him to do so.

Andy, his family, Ellie, and a local family in jail for moonshining celebrate Christmas together at the jailhouse. The scene then pans to Ben, miserable and alone, standing on a trashcan outside the jail looking in at the joyful party. At that moment, the audience can’t help but feel sorry for him as he secretly joins with the others, sorrowfully singing “Away in a Manger”. We get a glimpse that his tough exterior isn’t all that it appears to be. Ben is in fact, lonely. He’s especially reminded of this at Christmastime.

Ben takes a tumble on the not so sturdy trashcan in the alley behind the jailhouse. When Andy goes to check on the commotion he finds Ben sprawled out, hitting rock bottom. Exasperated and dumbfounded, Andy at first begins to lecture Ben until it occurs to him that he would do this on purpose. Could the town grouch really want to join in celebrating Christmas with others? Andy is filled with compassion and the episode ends with Ben “arrested” but not before he generously hands out presents to the other guests at the party. Like the audience, Andy finally understands what Ben wanted all along- to belong.


The universal message of needing to belong is what struck me. We all have a desire to be understood and accepted. God did not create us to live on our own tiny islands, but as a community, a family even. Every created person has a soul, and if nothing else we all have this in common. God enjoys fellowship within the Trinity, so why wouldn’t He fashion us to crave connection too?

Similar backgrounds, experiences, and interests are ways we connect to each other, but the one way that goes deeper than all the rest is a shared love and faith in Jesus. The Spirit knits are hearts together. I love getting to talk with another believer about the One we love most. It’s refreshing and encouraging knowing that I’m not alone. You don’t have to be alone either. Those who know the Lord as Savior belong in the same family. No matter what we look like on the outside or to the rest of the world- black or white, single mom or married, varying economic statuses- none of it matters when we are folded into the family of God.


We are not on the outside looking in; we are guests at the Christmas party! And when we see someone like the character Ben, on the outside longing to join, we can share the joy and hope we have with him or her. Jesus came as a baby so that you and I would never have to be alone. Jesus accepted us even after looking at our resume. Believers have the assurance of belonging – we get to celebrate Christmas all year round. We belong to a family that will never cast us out and will never end.

Grace upon grace,


Christmas in December

I enjoy watching the Christmas Hallmark movies each year. Despite the mediocre acting I just can’t help myself. The sets are perfectly orchestrated with the fake snow shoveled against the only bakery in a quaint little town of 400 where every one knows every one and that ONE person is having a crossroads crisis- Does she stay in her small hometown where her first love resides or go back to the big city chasing after her dreams?

There are the dressed up carolers, a cute school Christmas play, festive sweaters, a Santa who seems to know everything before you do (a little creepy) and every house on the block is decorated by HGTV. Seriously. And I buy into all of it. Sold! They have a way of sweeping up my emotions into these unrealistic platforms by making everything feel so Christmas-ey.

After the 90 minutes of Hallmark-ing I come back into my own little world, aka, real life and I remember that those warm fuzzies are so fleeting. Christmas is not just a feeling, it’s knowing. When our emotions betray us, hiding our eyes from the Beauty before our hungry souls we must actively remember the Jesus Story. Tell ourselves the Gospel as we gaze onto the glimmering lights from the tree, because on another Tree Jesus gave His life for the lifeless. Marvel His Love come down as you ponder the significance of your Jesse tree ornaments. What do these mean? What does the apple and the serpent represent? What does Noah’s ark say of God’s character? What does any of this have to do with Christmas?

Flood of grace over a flood of sin?

Saving a chosen, obedient family over the swirling waters that could engulf them at any moment by God’s command, God carried Noah and his family as He carries us over the murky ocean of sin and despair.

If you’re like me December has already brought a few days marked with heartache, stress, frustration, impatience, and a lack of love. Those things are not put on hold just because the calendar says it’s the Christmas season. People die, hard workers get laid off from their jobs, little ones get sick, and you get sick, tough decisions still need to be made. So what happens when we don’t feel like Christmas?

Go to the One who started it all, from the very good beginning. He knows your heart all too well, more than you know it yourself. He sees you tired from a day’s work of hurry, hurry, hurry. He notices the lonely among the crowded shuffle. Notice Him back this Christmas. Look and see what God has done by going back to the Scriptures.

Not everything will look like a scene straight out of a Hallmark movie and that’s okay because that isn’t what Christmas is all about anyway. Real life still happens and functions in a sin cursed, heavy burdened world. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we are saved” (Romans 8:22-24 NIV).

This is why we need to seek Christ in a season of parties, plays, music, gift- wrapping, cookie decorating and tree trimming. Not that any of these things are wrong, but also leave room for the quiet. This world is loud and screams for lights, camera, action! But Jesus, in meekness and humility came in the dead of night, to a hurting world in need of a Savior. Don’t miss it this Christmas.

When you don’t feel like you have the Christmas spirit, enter into His Presence. Take time to read His Love Story and be reminded that on the first Christmas, God gave us all The Greatest Gift, Jesus the Son of God.


Grace upon grace,