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Silent Nights

I’ve been stuck on God’s silence lately. Why does He not seem to respond sometimes? Why does He not seem to hear? Why do some prayers go so long unanswered? Why the waiting?

I know the answers about perfect timing and perfect plans, but sometimes the right answers aren’t what we really want.

Bethlehem

And as I’ve read the first few chapters of Matthew and Luke during the last couple of Advent seasons, the end of Matthew 2 sounds different to my heart.

Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi. Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “A voice was heard in Ramah, Weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; And she refused to be comforted, Because they were no more.” (Matthew 2:16-18)

I read those verses for a decade with a kind of distant sympathy. But with a one- and now a two-year-old son trying to climb in my lap while I read — or pushing a truck around the floor while I watch that scene — something swells inside of me and I wonder how many women they killed that night too. Because they’d have to kill me first.  Continue Reading…

“Scandal In Bethlehem,” Free Spoken Word Video Download

(That blur behind Jeff is our friend Brittania carrying a flailing toddler away from the tripod.)

(That blur behind Jeff is our friend Brittania carrying a flailing toddler away from the tripod.)

Christmas 2011 our church developed a production for Christmas Eve called, “Scandal in Bethlehem.” It attempted to demonstrate how completely crazy the incarnation really is. Bethlehem, of all places, is no place for a King to call home, and a barn is not a proper labor and delivery room for anyone. An unmarried teenage girl was not a respectable mother figure, etc.

I was invited  to write and perform a spoken word piece, and it went over decently well. The following year our worship team started recording a collection of Christmas songs, and we laid down a couple takes of the spoken word piece too, before the project was sadly derailed.

I’ve thought – randomly and sporadically – about trying to capture it in video somehow. I thought about finding another artist to actually perform it. (‘Cause you know how it is hearing your own voice on a recording … or seeing your own face on video.)

About a week before Thanksgiving I woke up thinking about it. I wanted to have it on video so I could make it available to local churches to download for free, if it would help enhance their Christmas series’ or Christmas Eve services. I had some ideas for how it would look, and I knew who to call. All of it was already decided.

‘Cause until very recently I was on staff at a mid-sized church for several years. My husband and I are youth pastors, but when a youth pastor is also a staff member he/she tends to also become the graphic designer, social media director, etc. I know what it’s like to have a team with big vision and a small budget. I know what it’s like to find a great video at a great price (or for free), and then see another church’s logo – or a designer’s sales pitch and URL – splashed across the ending.

I realize it’s a little late in the game for some churches, for 2014, but I also know there are those smaller congregations who don’t have plans set in stone yet. (I spoke with one of them last week.) And I’m not pretending to come with offerings of silver and gold, but it’s what I have and I really want to give it. If one small church uses and loves it, I will be satisfied. Leave a comment and let me know how it went.

Anyway here it is. You can download it for free right off of Vimeo. (It’s also on YouTube, if YouTube is more your thing.)

Because Jeff is just super awesome and really into this whole video thing, he made outtake reels from each day of shooting too – which is just super fun. Here’s day two (of three):  Continue Reading…

Forgiving, Canceling, and Removing Debt

one year in ColossiansI love the depth of scripture that comes out sometimes when you learn new things without really learning new things. When a verse suddenly seems new, even though you already knew what it meant.

And I love concordances and lexicons for doing that.

Colossians 2:14 is my new favorite verse (for this week).

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)

Christ as made me alive by doing two things: (1) forgiving my trespasses (v. 13), and … verse 14. Ohemgee.

Having wiped out …

Strong’s 1813, exaleipsas — “blotted out, wash over, wipe off, obliterate

From HELPS Word Studies — Originally “to plaster, rub smooth, or whitewash.” Later it referred to “wiping out” in the sense of “to cancel” (rubbing out a writing or seal impression left on a wax tablet). Thus 1813 was used for canceling obligations or entitlements.”

See? I knew what Paul meant by “wiped out,” but that makes it mean so much more. But what did He obliterateContinue Reading…

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