Rich Beyond All Splendor, But All For Love’s Sake You Assumed Poverty: When Beauty Became Plain . . .

 

This is the absolutely beautiful poem
That our beautiful Kristyn recites 
As a prelude to the beautiful song,
Thou Who Wast Rich Beyond All Splendour
you’ll find below:

Into the Darkest Hour 
By the amazing Madeleine L’Engle 

“It was a time like this,
war & tumult of war,
a horror in the air.
Hungry yawned the abyss –
and yet there came the star,
and the child most wonderfully there.

It was a time like this
of fear & lust for power,
license & greed and blight –
and yet the Prince of bliss
came into the darkest hour

in quiet & silent light.

And in a time like this
how celebrate his birth
when all things fall apart?
Ah! Wonderful it is:
with no room on the earth,
the stable is our heart.”

~   ~   ~

“Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becamest poor;
Thrones for a manger didst surrender,
Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becamest poor.

Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest man;
Stooping so low, but sinners raising
Heavenwards by thine eternal plan.
Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest man.

Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.
Emmanuel, within us dwelling,
Make us what thou wouldst have us be.
Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.”

— FRANK HOUGHTON (1894-1972) © 1934 OMF INTERNATIONAL.

{Now, Frank Houghton was a “chief” Anglican missionary

in China when, in December 86 years ago, dark tragedy occurred.
As another missionary couple in China, John and Betty Stam,
were probably in the middle of celebrating Advent
and the upcoming Christmas, they were brutally murdered
by the communist Red Army. In reaction, Frank did not hide
or leave the country. Instead, he bravely made his way
into the mountains to strengthen and encourage
the missionary churches there. While traveling, the words
of 2 Corinthians 8:9 comforted and inspired him,
and thus he penned this wonderful Christmas hymn.}

~   ~   ~

Thanks again, to Keith and Kristyn Getty
for a brilliant rendering of this song
which is highly appropriate to the Advent season,
or any season of a Christian’s life.

Violin played beautifully by Deborah Klemme
(Music copyright 2015 Paul Campbell (BMI) (Admin. by Arlon Songs Ltd.)
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Not A Single Life Can Compare To His. Not One . . .

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One Solitary Life

He was born in an obscure village,
the child of a young peasant woman.
He grew up in another obscure village,
where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty,
and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book.
He never held an office.
He never had a family or owned a home.
He never went to college.
He never visited a metropolis.
He never traveled more than two hundred miles
from the place where He was born.
He never did any of the things that usually accompany greatness.
He had no credentials but Himself.

In His early thirties, the tide of public opinion turned against Him.
His friends ran away.
One of them denied Him.
Another betrayed Him.
He was turned over to His enemies.
He went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
 While He was dying, His executioners gambled for His clothing,
the only property He had on earth.

When he was dead, He was taken down
and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

More than twenty wide centuries have come and gone,
yet today He remains the central figure of the human race,
and the leader of  mankind’s progress.

I am well within the mark when I say
that all the armies that ever marched,

and all the navies that ever were built,
and all the parliaments that ever sat,
and all the kings that ever reigned,
put together, have not affected the life of mankind
upon this earth as significantly as has that
One Solitary Life.

~ ~ ~

Paraphrased From Dr James Allan Francis in
“The Real Jesus and Other Sermons”

© 1926 by the Judson Press of Philadelphia
~~~~~
As eloquent and powerful as this piece is,
I feel that even this is inadequate to explain
the full importance 
to human life on this planet,
of our Immanuel’s life,
sacrificial death, resurrection, and ascension.
.
–Your Gloryteller

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Mary, Did You Know?

I think she knew, 
don’t you?
A Mother Just Knows . . .
And, after all it is Mary!

In these advent days,
the story is all about the Love between
– Mary,

– her Baby inside, Emmanuel,
– 
Father God,
– the Holy Spirit,
– her husband, Joseph,
– and everyone who would believe and come to know them.

. . . The Love that swirls around them all,
radiating downward from the Highest;
at once, mysteriously enveloping,
and joyously abiding in
 the innermost depths,
of those below.

Those were some very moving scenes from Roma Downey’s epic miniseries THE BIBLE.
I hope they will move you a little closer to the One who once lay in the manger.

(Though it looks odd here, lay is correct. It’s the past tense of to lie.
Jesus was placed in a manger to lie there, but ironically, never told a lie in His life.
I hope that made you smile.)

Blessings this Christmas season from your Gloryteller!

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He. Came. Down.


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He Came Down

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He came down.
Mary said YES,
then He came down.
Born like us.
Born with us.
Born for us.
Born to us.
Born unto us.
Born into us.

He came down from His Glory,
Leaving Holy Home and Father,
to become a creation, in a real sense, just like us . . . 

To be born most humbly into the broken,
reeking mess that we, mankind, had made of the world.

To be born into the shameful, smelly mess that
I had made of my own wretched heart . . . 

The holy, defenseless egg of God,
having scarcely a shell.
A tender shoot,
a tiny lamb,
he came down naked,
to be born covered
with another’s blood,
mother’s blood.
Born to be pierced,
and poured out,
and to ‘cover’ all
others with His
pure, holy blood.
He came down
with only Love as a defense.
Double-sided love.
He came down to the dung heap,
the lowest, the basest of places,
a place of no honor; of ignobility,
because that’s where we were,
I and my neighbors,
hiding under the
layers of earthly dirt.
He could have said
“No, not again”.
He could have said
“To hell with this” . . .
He didn’t have to
rise from His manger
to knock on my
heart’s door.
To come in and clean it all,
just like new,
Every room, from ceiling to floor,
window, to wall,
and spend His life,
His all, for me,
to bear away my sin.
Yet, He would be
the first to admit,
if He weren’t so humble,
that He did have to do it.
Someone had to
do something.
But no-one could,
except Himself.
I didn’t deserve
His coming down, this
Wonderful Counselor,
this Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
This Immanuel.
Savior Lord.
JESUS CHRIST!
But, He came down,
out of love,
bearing light,
carrying forgiveness,
sowing grace like seeds,
ready with a cool drink,
gentle hands to wash our feet,
with tears of compassion,
where sin and mercy meet,
and I’m so glad,
so happy,
so joyously thankful
that He did,
that my meager glory goes up.
I send it up.
I glorify His name,
Who was born into many names,
and into ONE name,
and that name is
The-Name-Above-All-Names.
He came down,
and now He reigns
King of My Heart.

Glory to God in the Highest Heaven!
That

He.
Came.
Down!
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The Happiest Christbirth to you, today!
LS< Your Gloryteller
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Jesus, Joy of the Highest Heaven

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A Children’s Christmas Carol for Everyone

I lift up Keith and Kristyn Getty and I thank them for this beautiful song.
And I thank Him for them!
And I thank Him for you, my dear reader!

This Baby, making His first sounds, learning His first words, 
taking His first steps, becoming self-aware.
Just like us in every way.
Yet, in every way, different.

“Come to turn me, a stranger, into a child of God.”

Remember, JESUS is the subject of Christmas,
and the object of Christmas is US.

LS

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Hope Came Down

Unten Hoffnung Kam

He came down so that we could live – really live – with Him
and our loved-ones in Heaven.
Forever together.
We need that hope more with each passing day . . .

The theme of hope continues with this song:

Thank you, Kari Jobe for singing, and Bob Marshall for the upload.

Merry Christmas from Gloryteller.com

 Frohe Weihnachten von Gloryteller.com

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The Second Week of Advent Begins Today


The second week of Advent is focused on peace.

Waiting becomes slightly more intense as we add the expectancy of
hope and peace in preparation for our Savior’s arrival.
Of course it is a passive intensity of expectation
as we actively wait!

 We light the second candle,
If not on our tables,
Then in our hearts.
And light increases.
It doubles!

We can hardly wait until the full light of His glorious presence shines upon the world, and also upon each of us!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Jesus is the only One that can bring us to peace with Father God.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a great multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to all mankind upon which His favor rests!” Luke 2: 13-14

Here’s a song that is full of hope and peace,
And light too!


Come to us, Child of Glory,
We can hardly wait.
Come to us quickly,
Your hands hold our fate.
LS<

A happy and blessed Advent season to you
from your Gloryteller.

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The Perfect Christmas Gift

My friend, I give you the gift of a song; music with a video.
It speaks for itself.

“The Perfect Christmas Gift”,
written and performed by Sandy Howell.
Uploaded by Bob Marshall.
Many thanks to you both.


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A Christmas Who’s Who

We must remember this,
Amidst the noise and fuss,
JESUS is the subject of Christmas,
And the object of Christmas is US.

*LS*

Merry Christmas from Gloryteller.com!
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Putting Up the Tree

Yesterday, I put up our Christmas tree.
It resisted!
I was trying something a little different, so I blame myself.
It even fell over once!
I finally prevailed, and I thought,
“Maybe this is my last, who knows?”
Right. Or there may be a few more . . .
But, in the post below, I have put up a tree that will last.
It took me a long time to raise it up.
It was a lot of work, but it contains some important truths.
It is the only Christbirth Tree in existence, as far as I know.
I hope you enjoy it and make its message your own.

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O Christbirth Tree, O Christbirth Tree, How Lovely Are Your Branches!

 

Α&Ω
My
Christbirth
**tree is ever-green**
***With everlasting life***

Its branches & its members
***Clothed in colorful lights***
*Lights reflected by ornaments*
*****Of all shapes and sizes*****
***Which shine just as brightly***
*******It’s filled with surprises!******
***Wrapped ’round with garland****
**********As a bundling rope**********
*********The whole tied together*******
*******With warm faith and hope********
**********The star at its crown is**********
***********Wreathed in white light**********
*********Can be seen near and far**********
******’Cause it’s clear, pure, and bright*******
************That’s the part of the tree***********
**************That ultimately pleases*************
********************You see*************************
*******For the Star at the point and the apex*******
************************Is Jesus*************************
*****And the branches, the lights, and ornaments*****
**************************Are we*****************************
****************For He is the Bridegroom********************
************We are His church, bride, and wife -*************
**********We are the trunk that stands in The Water,**********
****************************The Water of Life.***********************
Water
of
Life

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Happy Christbirth!

von

©Gloryteller.com

 

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Breath Of Heaven – Mary’s Song

Sixteen years ago, almost to the minute,
Breath of Heaven visited me.
Permeated me to the depths of 
Body, Soul, and Spirit.
I was forever changed,
Becoming the best version of myself.
Forever, infinitely, and most of all, eternally.

Breath of Heaven is always there,

softly taking me in,
gently sending me out . . .


I still can scarcely breathe . . .

Oh! My Breath of  Heaven! Oh!

~  ~  ~  ~

Not even one of us can fully understand,
nor scarcely appreciate young Mary’s plight . . .
And consider Joseph’s . . .

These poignant video clips are from The Nativity Story,  upload thanks to Aaron Hassen.

Please read down to the end:


Breath of Heaven
By Amy Grant

I have traveled many moonless nights,
Cold and weary with a babe inside,
*And I wonder what I’ve done,
*Holy father you have come,
*And chosen me now to carry Your son.
~~~
*I am waiting in a silent prayer,
*I am frightened by the load I bear,
*In a world as cold as stone,
*Must I walk this path alone?
~~~
*Be with me now . . .

*Be with me now . . .
~~~
*Breath of heaven,
*Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
~~~
Breath of heaven,
*Lighten my darkness,
*Pour over me your holiness,
*For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.
~~~
Do you wonder as you watch my face,
*If a wiser one should have had my place?
*But I offer all I am,
For the mercy of your plan,
*Help me be strong
Help me be . . .
Help me . . .
~~~
Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
~~~
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
~~~
Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
~~~
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
~~~
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
~ ~ ~

.  .  . Have you ever found yourself saying these same words –
the ones I starred?

I have.

Yes, I have been chosen to “carry The Son”, in a sense.
In that very important sense, all true believers have been chosen to
“carry Him”.
And, sometimes, I feel completely unworthy.
Do I offer all I am?
Do I LOVE?

And I pray that the Father stay near me and hold me together.
The thought of bearing this precious burden; this gift;
this responsibility; this sacred life, is daunting – 
sometimes frightening.

What if I fail?

A wiser, less broken, less flawed soul should take my place . . .
Yet, I am exactly the kind of person He seeks,
chooses, and challenges, to “carry Him inside”.
One only must be willing.
And the Archangel, himself, said, “Don’t be afraid”.

Yes, the world is cold as stone,
and the path, often difficult,
but I don’t have to walk it alone –
never alone.
The Lord is with me.

*Breath of heaven
Hold me together-
My desperate plea –
Like David, He hears, and holds me up.

He lightens my darkness,
and if that were not enough,
He pours His holiness over me,
and His grace,
and His mercy.

I am not wise, but He chose me,
somehow.
He chose me and He helps me.
And through Him, I am sufficient.
And I am honored.

Breath of Heaven is always there,
softly taking me in,
gently sending me out . . .

Amy Grant, how did you know?

~ ~ ~

Merry Christmas from Gloryteller.com
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Hopeful Message for the First Week of Advent


The first week of Advent is said to be concentrated upon the hope of the Savior’s arrival as supported by the Scriptures’ prophetic promises. There are several pertinent verses, but I chose this one :

“The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land.” (Jeremiah 33:14-15).

O, Jesus, 
We await your sweet arrival!

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Words and Music for Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
by Charles Wesley:

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

1. 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.

Mark E. Hunt devised a second, or middle, verse.
I like it and included it here:

Come to earth to taste our sadness,
He whose glories knew no end;
By His life He brings us gladness,
Our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend.
Leaving riches without number,
Born within a cattle stall;
This the everlasting wonder, 
Christ was born the Lord of all.


2. 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.

(*emphases, mine)

The hope that the child of God has is an eternal hope.
Peter tells us that the Child of God has
“an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade – kept in heaven for you” (
1 Peter: 1-4 )

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Advent Arrives Today!

“Advent” is here!
It is today! November 29, 2020!
Happy Advent!

Let the first light of His anticipated arrival be lit today!

All Creation is pregnant with anticipation!

This is the time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
The word “Advent” comes from the Latin “adventus” which means the coming, or arrival, of a person or thing.

In this special and absolutely unique case,
Who and what is coming is rich in mystery;
profound in its implications!
Excitement builds in Heaven and earth!

I find it interesting that the words “Advent” and “adventure” are so closely related, which is fitting since we are waiting and preparing for the arrival of a series of awe-inducing, exciting events :

All that surrounds Jesus’ Nativity celebration,
A son is to be given,
800 year-old prophecy to be fulfilled,

The imminent arrival of Emmanuel, “God With Us”,
The Kingdom of God being established on Earth,
Reconciliation with the Father,
Renewal of all things,

Rescue of the perishing,
Redemption of souls,
Atonement,
Forgiveness,
Abundant life,
Signs and wonders,
Miraculous acts,
Great Joy will be made available to all people,
Messiah! Savior! Christ! He’s coming, 
alreadynot yet, and soon!
The image of The Father will walk on earth,
The advent of Love!
And more, and more, and more!
And then, in the fullness of time, Jesus’ long-awaited final return!

We are waiting, and prayerfully preparing, not just for events, but for the arrival of the Personage without whom there would be no experience of exciting spiritual adventure, no exploration of things unknown, no real and true experience of love and life whatsoever.

But for the birth of the little Lord Jesus, I could not live.
As He is born, so am I.
So are we all!

I wait and look forward to honoring His birth; to observing the amazing circumstances that surround it.
It has “happened” again and again in countless hearts and minds.
It is happening now in mine,
and will again, endlessly, with passage of time.

The expectant waiting and preparation of my heart applies not only to Christbirth,
but to Resurrection Sunday and Thanksgiving as well.
Advent is an important concept.
It is exciting and peaceful too.
I want to make it part of me;
I want to live it.

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A Pre-Christmas Act of Worship In A Retail Store – HALLELUJAH!

In late November or early December I like to start the Advent season by posting the video of this enormous, soaring, amazing, heart-warming event. I try not to use the word “love” lightly or frivolously, but I absolutely love this composition from Handel, this immense pipe organ, this crowd, this choir of believers, and the Subject of this song!

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Jesus Lives!
Let Him Be Worshipped
And Adored At All Times,
In All Places,
By All Willing Hearts!
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Worship is not a matter of the place,
no matter how commercial, or secular, or even “holy”.
It’s not a matter of the crowd,
no matter its composition, from the faithful, to the skeptical.
It’s not a matter of the means of praise,
no matter how lofty and soaring, or off key and humble,
nor how vocally and instrumentally technical.
It’s not a matter of numbers,
no matter if a large, exuberant gathering,
or a single self-conscious voice,
singing or speaking,
with a loud clapping beat,
or no beat at all.
~
Worship, it seems to me, is a matter of
the condition of each worshiper’s heart.
Only God has full estimation of that;
however, in this retail store there seems to be a crowd of
like-minded, like-hearted, worshipers
setting commercialism aside for an eternal moment

with one great-big, majestic, musical instrument,
All led and kept together by one amazing conductor;
How analogous to our God and His people!
~
There might be examples of all the above conditions of worship in this video.
He is worshiped and adored here – yes, even here – inside the huge Macy’s store in Philadelphia – a worldly, consumeristic, retail marketplace, where materialism and money normally are king.
But not on this day!


This huge, highly organized, flash mob sings along with the world’s largest working pipe organ, the massive Wanamaker Grand Court Organ.
This organ is a National Landmark in and of itself!

Wanamaker Grand Court Pipe Organ (this shows only a small fraction of its pipes)


The “sounding joy”, the full, immense, profound amount of joy served-up is overwhelming!

In the fullness of time,

every knee will bow to Him,
and,
“He shall reign for ever and ever.”

This year I wanted to add the lyrics:

Hallelujah 
Written by George Friedrich Handel

Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah

For the lord God omnipotent reigneth
Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
For the lord God omnipotent reigneth
Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
For the lord God omnipotent reigneth
Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah

Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
(For the lord God omnipotent reigneth)
Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah

For the lord God omnipotent reigneth
(Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah)
Hallelujah

The kingdom of this world;
is become
the kingdom of our Lord,
and of His Christ
and of His Christ

And He shall reign for ever and ever
And he shall reign forever and ever
And he shall reign forever and ever
And he shall reign forever and ever

King of kings forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah
and lord of lords forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah
King of kings forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah
and lord of lords forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah
King of kings forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah
and lord of lords
King of kings and lord of lords

And he shall reign
And he shall reign
And he shall reign
He shall reign
And he shall reign forever and ever

King of kings forever and ever
and lord of lords hallelujah hallelujah
And he shall reign forever and ever

King of kings and lord of lords
King of kings and lord of lords
And he shall reign forever and ever

Forever and ever and ever and ever
(King of kings and lord of lords)

Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
Hallelujah

WOW . . .
I sit once again in awestruck silence,
in abject humility,
before Him . . .

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I Need Christmas Now!

I’m going to begin my Christmas celebration today! Today! Even before Thanksgiving. Even before Advent. Exactly forty days before “the day of Christbirth”. Why? Because I need it!
Every year, on December 26th, I make silent vows that I will keep myself in the heart of Christmas all year. Every day. But the distractions and cares of the world eventually dull my spirit and wear me down, even though I’m getting much better with keeping my silent vows, and my faith is stronger than ever, in many ways.
Yet in many ways, this year seems worse – darker, more fearful, more evil. The Covid 19 pandemic is raging on, even worse lately. The people who think murdering unborn humans is a good thing to do, seem to be winning.

Those who mock Jesus and His followers, seem to be in the majority. They seem to be worshiping with fervent passion all the multitudes of gods that the world provides. Sin and lawlessness abounds. Truth and common sense are increasingly uncommon. It saddens me, and as time passes after the New Year’s celebration, I begin to live more in the world I was born into, the one I can see, than the unseen world I was reborn into. Life in the old world seems to become progressively colder, harsher, darker, more dangerous, lonelier, more broken, more futile, more oppressive and more depressive.

Except . . .

Except that there behind the scene is my faith in The One who defeated all that “old world” trouble. He is never far from me, I only get temporarily distracted. There was a time when I was one of those laughing mockers above, and worshipers of worldly gods. I must remember that. It is an incontrovertible miracle that brought me out of that broken place and into a love of the Central Figure of Christmas.
So, I need myself some Christmas! I need the physical reminders of His spiritual truth. I don’t view physical reminders as a bad thing, for He had a physical presence here, like me. That is one of the facets of His physical incarnation, that He was able to experience the “seen” world with all His human senses, just like we do. He could touch and be touched. He could see and hear, and be seen and heard. He observed all the good and bad, all the pain and suffering, and all the rejoicing and laughter this world had to offer while maintaining constant contact with the “unseen” Father in the Heavenly “world”.
I consider it a good thing that I need the joyous music, the vivid colors, the eye catching illumination, the hope of giving and receiving gifts, the fellowship with family and friends, the excitement of more intense worship, the warmth of the season, the heightened anticipation of the celebration of His coming to be with us in this world! The Christmas/Christbirth season brings with it a different world – one which is a little kinder and more caring, one in which forgiving others is a little easier, one which is metaphorically warmer, where relationships get closer, where there is a bit more gaiety, and cheer, and festivity, even among those who don’t grasp the true meaning of the occasion. It is a world in which Love is easier to experience. The world simply seems a slightly “better” place before Christmas, and I feel like a slightly “better” person. 

For just a few short, breathless weeks, I’m a child again! All the excitement and unbridled joy, all the unexplained hope of a child is mine again. I feel a little more blessed, happier, and more complete. I feel loved, as by my parents, as by my Father, just a little bit more than the rest of the year. Just a little. I need that little bit.
I need my Christmas now!
I’m starting today!

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A Leap-Day Leap of Faith 2-29-16 and 2-29-20

I came across this post from Leap Days gone by.
I felt a tug on my virtual sleeve, and heard a whisper – “Someone should see this – post it again.”
So here it is, although it’s almost 8 months late.
God is chasing you!

~    ~    ~    ~
“Nothing before, nothing behind;
The steps of faith
Fall on the seeming void, and find
The Rock beneath.”

–John Greenleaf Whittier

~    ~    ~    ~

Les, a man – an agnostic man – was conversing on the telephone with a friend. The friend was trying to explain faith to the unbelieving Les, but was having little success. The fifteen-year-old daughter of the friend overheard the conversation and impulsively interjected a comment from across the room.

“What’s that Laura said?” asked Les, “I couldn’t quite make it out.”

“Oh, she is quite the student of poetry – and she has quite a deep understanding of her own faith. She just said, ‘Why don’t you just tell him what John Greenleaf Whittier said about faith? – Nothing before, nothing behind; The steps of faith fall on the seeming void, and find The Rock beneath.’ “

“I’ll write that down. Sounds a little deep for me. Thank her for the thought, though.”

“Wait, Les, she also wants me to relay another message. She perceives that God is chasing you. Oh, that kid! You had better listen, she is a very insightful girl!”

After the call ended, Les got curious and ‘Googled’ the poem. “Yup, here it is, she got it word for word!”
Nothing before, and Nothing behind.”
“The seeming void . . .”
“Kind of sounds like me.”
“The Rock – finds The Rock.”
Sounds like she wants me to believe The Rock is God . . .”
More curious, he saw a ‘related link’ and clicked it.

Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the assurance that
what we 
hope for will come about,
and the certainty that what we cannot see exists.”

“Hmmm,” he thought. He went back to the poem. Looked at it harder.
Went deeper – and it was deep!
He went back to the verse even though he had avoided anything to do with the Bible for a long, long time.
He sensed warm breath on the back of his neck.
“Chasing? Yes, I think she used the word chasing . . .”

He found this below the verse:
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

“11:1-3 Faith always has been the mark of God’s servants, from the beginning of the world. Where the principle is planted by the regenerating Spirit of God, it will cause the truth to be received, concerning justification by the sufferings and merits of Christ. And the same things that are the object of our hope, are the object of our faith. It is a firm persuasion and expectation, that God will perform all he has promised to us in Christ. This persuasion gives the soul to enjoy those things now; it gives them a subsistence or reality in the soul, by the first-fruits and foretastes of them. Faith proves to the mind, the reality of things that cannot be seen by the bodily eye. It is a full approval of all God has revealed, as holy, just, and good. This view of faith is explained by many examples of persons in former times, who obtained a good report, or an honourable character in the word of God. Faith was the principle of their holy obedience, remarkable services, and patient sufferings. The Bible gives the most true and exact account of the origin of all things, and we are to believe it, and not to wrest with the Scripture account of the creation, because it does not suit with the differing fancies of men. All that we see of the works of creation, were brought into being by the command of God.”

Esteeming himself a scholar, a learned man, a lover of art and poetry, he looked and studied and delved into the words and concepts which had previously escaped him – no, which he had ignored and run from for years.
“How do I catch hold of this stuff? It all seems so impossible. Yet what all this implies is that I need to step outside my blind self  more, and into the part of me that can see.”

“Les, let Me . . .” 

“I think I need to slow down and let God catch me a little.
But how did Laura know I liked poetry?
How did she know to quote me that one poem out of millions of them?
How did she know that it would touch me – begin to change me?
How did she know to say ‘God is chasing you
so that I might become aware and wonder of such pursuit?”

“It’s her faith. Laura knows my love. She is mine.
She wants you to know me as well,
as do I.
I AM here, I AM!”

Les called his friend. “Hi! I was wondering if Laura is at home. She is? Are you guys busy? Yes, I was wondering if I could come over and talk to you both about the message she had for me. I have a few questions.
Lunch? Sounds great, be there in an hour.”
Laura was joyous, and not surprised in the least.

Les took a step of faith; well, a leap of faith, really,
He slowed down for the catch,

He jumped into the void and landed on solid footing,
and within two months, I,
I mean he,
belonged to HIM as well,
and has never had a single regret.

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A Matter of Life and Death

I keep beginning to write a piece about death, but Life won’t leave me alone . . .

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Into the Deeper Meaning And Deeper Still. A Touch of Christmas In July.

This will be a flight of fancy, a dive into the obscure. I don’t know exactly why I’m attempting to write this one, but I’ve been working on it for well over a year.
I have doubts that it will even interest you. Furthermore, I don’t even know how I’m going to address this subject, for I will try to take you into places I have not the words to explain. Maybe I will be given the words. Perhaps this is only for my own good, and possibly not even my own. 

“It is a fool’s errand”, I laugh inwardly at myself, “and I don’t perceive myself a fool, evidence to the contrary, yet, here we are.”
However, I’ve found that my doubts are often wrong, and you might find a touch of something familiar in it; something of value. You, yourself might be able to redeem this post by your intelligence and wise contemplation, kind reader! Give it a shot. If you have to quit, or skip to the ending, I thank you for trying.

 ~   ~   ~

Okay . . . I was watching one of my all-time-favorite movies, a Christmas-oriented animated film, for the umpteenth time last December and I noticed something strange part way through: Every time I watch it, new facets of ever deeper figurative meaning stand out for me. I realized that I instinctively seek what I call The Deeper Meaning! TDM (It deserves an acronym, right?) is a term which, as I will try to show, has itself a much deeper meaning than appears on the surface. “It’s a talent, I’m good at this,” I thought, “but, no, it is more of a gift I’ve been given.”
But how can I share this “gift” for the benefit of others? What good is it if I can’t? Of what benefit is this The Deeper Meaning? Is it only for my good alone? It seems as though that might be the case right this moment. But I hope I can bring this forth for the good of others, too. (No, I don’t think I’m the only one with this talent, this gift. I’m certain many have it! I also realize it could be different in degree and substance for everyone.)

The Catalyst

You’re going to laugh, but the movie I was watching was The Polar Express (TPE – another well deserved acronym!), a film that is loaded with symbolism. Have you seen it? It purports to teach “the real meaning of Christmas”, but barely skims the real truth of that subject. The Real Truth is there, hidden, intentionally or not, deep in metaphor and simile. 

William Broyles Jr., one of the film’s screenwriters along with Robert Zemeckis, hints that the Real Truth is there in the film by intention. He notes: “We all go through that passage… to that world of adulthood where that magic and wonder is gone — or maybe deeply buried. As we enter the Christmas season, this is a good time to rekindle a sense of wonder and awe of our Creator and Savior. The Polar Express is a great holiday film with a story even the youngest child can understand — and a profound message about faith and belief that no adult can miss.”  (I added the emphases)

However, a viewer needs some previous knowledge of that Truth, of that wondrous Christmas story, then one needs to dig into the film to expose it. A few years ago, I drafted a post about the symbolism in The Polar Express, but didn’t post it because I found that there had already been volumes written about it. I just didn’t want to join the Department of Redundancy Department. 

So, you’re wondering “why do I like that movie so much?”
“For several reasons, and for reasons beyond reason,” I reply. Back in early December, 2004, I reached my pivotal day: The Day-I-First-Believed! Suddenly, my life, my world, my belief-system took on a much deeper, more profound meaning! Maybe you have experienced that life-changer. If not, you can at least imagine the elation and rejoicing that takes place in that moment of saving transformation ( All the angels in Heaven immediately rejoiced for me. That’s scriptural truth! ).

Back to the point, it was no more than a week later that I volunteered to chaperone my young son’s class field trip to see the new Christmas movie coming out. It was one of the first screenings of The Polar Express! His mom and I had read the book version to him,  so I had a basic idea of what the movie would entail, and not only that, but my son and I were steam-locomotive buffs and the big 2-8-4 Berkshire type steam engine (Know-It-All-Kid in the film calls it a Baldwin type for some reason) became one of the main characters for us. Anyway, the movie was far, far, beyond the book! As a brand-new believer, my head was still spinning anyway. I was astonished! For example, a short way into the movie, the Conductor tells “Doubting Boy”: “Sounds to me like this is your crucial year. If I were you, I would think about climbing on board (the train of faith)!” Similar thoughts of a spiritual nature had been racing and swirling through my mind only few weeks before! And, as I watched, spellbound, I realized that the real meaning of the movie was actually not about belief and faith in Santa Claus, a.k.a. The Big Man, but belief in Jesus Christ, the real Big Man, and faith in Father God. That, combined with the fact that, in my childhood, I actually heard Santa’s sleigh bells on the roof late in the night one glorious Christmas eve, (don’t scoff, I really did, I’m absolutely certain!) it’s no wonder watching TPE two or more times a season has become a delightful tradition for me. Like the main character in the movie, I still hear the Bell of Belief ringing clearly, in all its figurative senses.

But, despite the whole prologue above, The Polar Express isn’t the central subject of this writing, it’s only the catalyst.

TDE Illuminated

Watching TPE was only where I first had an embryonic realization that the gift of The Deeper Meaning was present. Other examples of that realization, awareness, and discovery, come to mind:  movie plots that are interesting on the surface, but compellingly profound underneath, or, where love wins out against “impossible” odds; music that carries one beyond where you are, (for me, there is nothing quite as transcendent as a large choir backed by an immense pipe organ); natural mountain scenery so lovely as to make the heart beat quicker, yet being the mere covering of a splendor lying unseen to the eye, yet visible to the spirit; poetry, stories, and books that are enthralling, transporting one away from this world; a symphony orchestra playing a timeless classic; art which evokes invisible, yet powerful, emotion; a relationship which transcends all expectations;  building, crafting, or creating something beyond what you thought you were capable. That is Deep Meaning, and Deeper Still . . . can you think of some special things that take you to the Deeper?

I have written, or tried to write, of such things before, (The Reflection, for example) and here is the thing, here is the point that is so very difficult to make using mere words: The Deeper Meaning is more than merely looking deeper into figurative speech, metaphor, or simile. It is deeper than the elation of hearing soaring sopranos and booming pipes. I must tell you The Deeper Meaning is not the end result, it is only the beginning! It should lead even deeper into the hard-to-fathom Deepest! And that is where it leads me, even though I don’t think I have ever quite gotten all the way there yet. (I will, though, yes, I will!)

In everything I write, or make, or build, there is a deeper meaning. I try to put it there intentionally. That is my way as a creator. Few people see that there is something else/something more there, but I’m always gratefully amazed when a reader does. And so it is, I believe, with Creator God.

Further Illumination of TDM,
Which Is Meant To, Itself, Be Illumination,
Through Words, Ideas, and Examples:

I want desperately to get my meaning across, to illuminate The Deeper Meaning, but mere words can’t seem to express that, or else it is merely my poor command of them, but here are some words and ideas He gave me that might help :

The  Deeper Meaning is: 

Profound!
Joyfully received

Innermost, intimate revelation.
Personal and private (to share sometime later, maybe)
Non Superficial
Intensely heartfelt
Perception of the Soul
Emotionally astounding

Profound immersion in that which is:
Concealed
Secret
Hidden
Veiled

Often mysterious,
Esoteric
Obscure
Complex
Weighty
Enigmatic
Incomprehensible
Inexplicable
Perplexing sometimes
Abstruse (difficult to understand)

 

In addition, I think The Deeper Meaning is:

Transcendental – spiritual, of the nonphysical realm
Abstract – existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence.
Unprovable – unable to be demonstrated by physical evidence or argument as true or existing, yet known to be true in your spirit!

An undefinable quality, or a state of being.
This quality, this “state of existence” was always there, but now I have a name for it – The Deeper Meaning – finding the true nature of this sense of wonder.

Here’s the thing, and by that I mean here’s another point:Something has been created, something made, and it contains The Deeper Meaning. That Meaning could have been incorporated intentionally, or it may be present intrinsically, hidden inside the complexity of something’s own existence.

Things that have been created to contain TDM intentionally:
All the examples I listed above where I find TDM.
The Polar Express
movie, of course!
Lord of the Rings books and movies.
Anything written by C. S. Lewis.

My own life!
Life in general!
The Creation of Adam, a painting by Michelangelo.

The Universe!
 On a higher level, The Bible!
(To name but a few)
What contains its own intrinsic TDM
inside the complexity of its/his own existence?
A huge choir singing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus accompanied by the Wanamaker Pipe Organ at Macy’s in Philly.
Yellowstone National Park

Grand Canyon National Park-

Rocky Mountain National Park

Marriage

Baptism

Time

Communion

To name only a few real good ones.


And, on an infinitely higher level,
The Deeper Meaning exists intrinsically in:
The Holy Trinity,
God The Father,

Jesus,
The Holy Spirit,
Christbirth,
The Crucifixion
Heaven,
and, again, The Holy Bible.

 

The Importance of Mystery and Wonder;
Of The Unseen and The Spiritual;
Of Faith and Belief;
Of “Magic”.
There really is a message here if I were only smart enough to explain it!

You see,

We are always trying to discover the True Nature of things. We use tools to look farther into the universe, and further into the unseen. Searching, always delving, and looking beyond, behind, underneath, inside; wondering who is backstage, what is “in the wings”, wondering how things happen – cause and effect. We try to use reason and logic, yet we, many of us, have a strong sense of the unseen, yet close, spiritual “world”. That is what tapping into The Deeper Meaning is good for. It leads to greater appreciation of things in both “worlds”, and it leads to something else – The Deepest Meaning – the True Nature and Character of our Creator God!

Who is God?
Why did He create the world?
Why did He create you and me?
How did He do that?
Why does He love us so much?
How can I be aware of Him and detect Him in all circumstances?
How can I be near Him Always?
Pursuing TDM could and should help with the answers.
Life is filled with wonder (Oh, Lord, let me never lose the ability to find it!).
I think wonder is akin to “magic”. There is a certain “magic” in childhood, and by “magic” I mean wonder and excitement and joy; mystery and curiosity, romance, delight, pleasure, and fun, and, as in childhood, the life “beyond”, the unseen life, is even more “magical” if you but look for the Deeper Meaning, stop, look, listen, and gain Faith to believe.
I, myself, though an older believer and an elder one, staunchly participate in and defend a “magic” life of wonder and excitement, and joy, mystery, romance, and delight! It is part of The Life To the Fullest Abundance He came to give us! Thankfully, there are some other defenders of this way of looking at life, and many of them are authors of children’s books. They mentor and guide the young ones, and indeed all of us, in the arts of wonder, curiosity, and the adventure of not knowing but wanting to know. They, whether aware of it or not, plumb The Deeper Meaning.

Mystery is also akin to “magic”, and, as scientists have pointed out again and again, the universe is a mysterious place that goes far beyond our capacity to understand it. The universe is filled with “magic”. How much more “magical”, then, is the unseen spiritual world? Belief itself is mysterious, in my book. The One in Whom I believe is the “embodiment” of “magic” and mystery, wonder, romance, and love, Himself!

Catholic theologian Leonardo Buff has put it: “We never ‘catch up with’ reality itself. The real nature of mystery always evades our attempts to conceptualize it, and escapes the nets of our language and symbolism. Its depths are never plumbed. Mystery is always linked to passion, enthusiasm and all great emotions, in short, to life’s deepest and greatest impulses.” TDM dives into this mystery to embrace it, to learn it, and to know it.

Finally, As We All Breathe A Sigh Of Relief:

I have had doubts about this; there have been roadblocks and loads of distractions. Yet, I have felt urgency bolstered by the encouragement of one dear soul – only one! And of course that of the HS who has never left me alone about this task. He wants it, for some reason, and that’s good enough for me! I have faith, and believe it will be fruitful and this basket I hold out will not return empty.

As for you, if you have “made it” this far, dear reader, of having to redeem this post, I release you! You can take part in that if you like, but The Real Big Man has already done it, as He promised me long ago.

I wanted to shine a headlight on a film that gives me joy – my Polar Express, catalyst for a reaction of such depth. And, like the sleigh bell in the film, representing the “first gift of Christmas” and symbol of the  true spirit of Christmas, the gift of The Deeper Meaning is much more than just an idea. When looked at through the eyes of a joyful heart, a heart of love, it becomes an instrument, like a bell, confirming the beauty of belief. Like boarding the imaginary train that travels to the North Pole, belief and faith can’t be forced, but the environment for encouraging “getting aboard” can be enhanced and lovingly set in place. I “got aboard”, and I still hear the cheerful ringing of the little bell of faith, belief and wonder, and I always will! It is, indeed, quite magical!

Here, I have described some things of deep importance to me. I told of how I came to recognize it, what I think it is and does, something of how it works, where it can be found, how it is useful, where it can ultimately lead one, and the unending, precious benefits of pursuing it. The Deeper Meaning! I want to bask in it, let it pour over me, roll in it, dive into it, let its current take me and wash me into the Deepest of All Meaning!
I would like to, somehow, stimulate the desire in you to look for it too – if you don’t already have it (chances are you do). When you decide to take that journey into The Deeper Meaning, keep right on going and it will eventually lead you into the Deepest of All Meanings – To The True Nature of, the divine substance of, the essence of the Maker and Source of all Meaning, The Very Center of Creation, and to the very Heart of God, Himself.

And Merry Christmas in July!
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Thoughts On Prayer – Precious Prayer

I recently wrote about dust and mortality, and a spirit which persists, and endures, and is treasured by God. That short piece can be found here.
There is another thing of ours which persists eternally, endures the ravages of time and death, and is treasured by God.

That thing is prayer!

Our prayers are so important to Him, so precious, each one that is sincere and spotless in intention, ( I don’t know what to say about prayers that ask harm to others) that He has assigned a special angel to their care alone. (See Revelation 8: 1-5) (See also Psalm 141:2, which is very similar)
In the center of Heaven, in His throne room, where all plans for Heaven and earth are made, in the center of all power and glory, that angel is charged with constantly offering up to God the prayers of God’s people.
The prayers lie on a golden altar before His unimaginably astounding throne, obviously a sacred place reserved for precious treasure! Those prayers are raised up before God, cupped in the angel’s hands, mingled together with the sweet aroma of incense.
I picture countless precious, metallic-like leaves which are unpacked from the golden altar and handled one-by-one by the angelic High Keeper of Prayers, ( this notion is my own and it is extra-Biblical, so if it is of no help to you, please disregard it )

and I’ve no doubt that each one of those communications is seen and heard by The Lord God individually, and is instantly committed to His perfect memory where it will be integrated into His Plan. I imagine that the whole process happens so quickly that there is no lag time at all between the utterance or sending up of the prayer and His hearing and seeing of it.

In His hands, prayers take on solidity; a life of their own.They endure and live on, although those who sent them up may be long-departed. I believe each prayer is eternal, therefore having no half-life but being full of life! They might be thought of as the nuclear fuel of His plan, although, unlike nuclear fuel, they never degrade and they persist forever!
It’s difficult for us to grasp the concept of “forever”. It’s very difficult to grasp that God created time and can live inside time and outside of time all at “one time”! I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure He can view all of time at the same time! He can place Himself at a point in the past and start things in motion that will be an answer to a prayer I pray today. He can, I think, integrate all the prayers that were ever prayed, and will be prayed, and somehow make them result in ultimate, glorious Good.
Prayer is, in a sense, “talking to God”, speaking with your creator to thank Him, to praise Him, to ask for help, to simply ask why?, or will You?, or what shall I do?. I have to think that every word we say to Him is important to Him. I have to think He remembers every word. He must! Even the angry words, the harsh, the foolish, the hurtful, and the factual; the righteous words, and the sinful. It’s all part of the relationship, I think.
In a relationship we remember most things that have been said.
My cousin coined a word – revelationship! That’s a great word which kind of ties this whole piece together.

I just wanted to express the eternal persistence of our prayers.
I wanted to show that they are precious to God; treasured by Him, a sweet fragrance, as illustrated by the picture in Revelation of a special ritual involving an important angel, our Lord God, King of Heaven and Earth, and the prayers of His people. It is a very important scene which is evidence and confirmation that praying is of prime importance! No wonder we are told to pray constantly . . . about everything!

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