Oh Holy Night…

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! I just wanted to share this video of David Phelps singing Oh Holy Night, one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs. I stumbled upon it and have now watched it a half-dozen times and have yet to get through it with dry eyes. If ever the Holy Spirit was captured on video, this is it! Enjoy and Merry Christmas to you and yours. The Savior is Born! Amen and Ehmen!

Oh, Holy Night

Oh, holy night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

Fall on your knees, oh, hear the angel voices
Oh, night divine, oh, night, when Christ was born
Oh, night divine, oh, night divine

Led by the light of faith, serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by light of a star, sweetly gleaming
Here come the wise men from Orient land

The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend
Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name!

Oh, Holy Night… Merry Christmas to us all! May your Christmas be filled with HIS Presence!

Unwrap The Presence…

the manger


Oh, what a joyful time.

For it is the birth of our very Lord and Savior that we celebrate. Our Lord and Savior, the Son of God, who left the majestic splendor of heaven and came into the world to become an infant, a man.

At a birth that you would have expected to be surrounded by pomp and circumstance, the circumstance was quite different. Born to a frightened teenager and laid in a feeding trough shared with him by sheep, camels and donkeys, Jesus lived as a man and died as a man to save us from our sins and give us the promise of eternal life in Heaven with JesusReasonForSeasonSD1Him and the Father.

Jesus is the reason for the season and the greatest gift any of us will ever be offered. He truly is the gift that keeps on giving…until the very end of the age and beyond.

Merry Christmas! May you unwrap His Presence today and everyday. Amen and Ehmen.

The Meaning of The Manger

Writer’s note: This is from my personal God Time Journals from a few days ago.  My prayers is that 2017 brings me more of this precious personal time between me and Thee, a time of focused communication with my Creator. I pray also that you will connect with Him regularly as well. You won’t be disappointed.

December 26, 2016

Dear God,

As you know, I have really pondered the birth of Christ this Christmas season. “Why,” I asked, “did you send Jesus to us as a little baby and why was He, the betrothed King of kings, born in such meager surroundings?”

And, as per usual, as I sincerely asked for wisdom, You delivered on Your promise by sending me on this day, to Colossians, Chapter 1, beginning in Verse 15. Though I had no idea what was actually penned in these passages, I knew from experience that the answer I was seeking would most likely be there. Thank you, God, for never, ever failing me.

So that I may never forget, here typed by my own hand is what I read:

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God …

… Supreme over all who rise from the dead.

So he is first in everything.

For God in all his fullness

Was pleased to live in Christ,

And through him God reconciled

Everything to himself …

… Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As

a result, he has brought you into his own presence and you are holy and blameless as you

before him without a single fault.


Dear Child of Mine,

I was born into human existence, complete with human limitations just so that you could be assured that nothing on earth can ever keep you from the eternal hope that is yours. Haven’t you always heard that it is what inside that counts? This could not be any truer, for it is what is inside that allows you to rise above the world. You physical body has limitations, but My Spirit has none.

A foretold King of Kings, a promise exclaimed by first God the Father and later prophets who lived many generations before My actual physical birth, I came into the world as one john-316of you. Though born the visible image of the invisible God, there was no royal pomp and circumstance upon My arrival. There was no palace, not even a guest bed upon which to lie. I was born into material limitations so that even the least could know that the promise of hope is also theirs. My Father’s promise—sealed for eternity at the cross—is for everyone. Merry Christmas.

The Perfect Christmas Tree…


I love Christmas trees. There is just something really special about finding the perfect one and bringing it home to bedazzle with lights and ornaments galore.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The tree that comes home with us is rarely perfect. But, while there is always a hole or bare spot here or there, we always seem to find just the right ornament to fill the gap and make what was once imperfect just perfect for us.

I can’t help but imagine that this is exactly how our Almighty Father see us.

I can just see Him strolling through the woods on a beautiful, crisp winter’s eve when all of a sudden He spots us amongst all the other trees. We begin to glow radiantly in a Christmas-miracle, holiday-movie-kind-of-moment which crescendos when the director cues the music and a choir of angels fill the heavens with a collective, melodic ahhhhhhhhhhh.

As He moves closer, He begins to circle us, smiling as He takes us all in. We aren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but judging by the look on His face and the sound of His contented sighs, it is more than obvious that we are just right for Him.

At home, He cracks open a big box of ornaments, each brimming with special meaning. Some represent happy times—the birth of a child, the birth of His child, a vacation with family or some other priceless blessing bestowed upon us over the years. Some represent things that still bring us to tears—the loss of a loved one, for example; a once living, colorful breathing being, now just a photograph embraced by pewter angel wings.  

All, however, come together to fill in the many holes and gaps and, before we know it, what was once imperfect has become perfect for God Himself as we light up with the glorious hope He’s had for us all along—for each to become a beautiful symbol of the season and a magnificent, radiant reflection of Him.

Cue the music.

Amen and Ehmen.

It Is Not What Mary Knew, but WHO She Knew

As night fell, it took the sun’s warmth with it. Mary shivered and winced nativity artfrom the pain. The contractions had begun. The time was nigh and Joseph knew that he had to find a place for his betrothed to give birth to their son, God’s son, the savior of the world. Wrapping his cloak around her shoulders, he reassured her that he would find a place for them to spend the night. She knew it was unlikely as every single place they stopped was filled to capacity; with scores of people–people like them, who had traveled to Bethlehem, to be counted in the census. Caesar had decreed it and nobody was willing to disobey Caesar.

Still, even with the odds stacked against them finding a warm and cozy bed on this particular night, she trusted Joseph and even more so God, even if it meant going through the pains of childbirth in a cold, dark and musty stable. And that is exactly what happened. This young teenage girl, cold and afraid, clung to the strong hand of Joseph, drawing just enough strength and courage to push, not just once, but again and again and again until finally, with beads of sweat intermingling with tears of great joy, the little baby Jesus entered the world, setting in motion a chain of events that would change the destiny of humanity for eternity.

Today as I studied the Christmas story and tried to picture if this might have been how this night looked way back then, one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs came on the radio. As if on heavenly cue, the notes and lyrics of Mary Did You Know filled the room as well as my heart and I began to ponder what Mary might actually have known. On that first night as she held the baby Jesus, did she realize that these tiny little hands that were curled tightly around her fingers were the same hands that had actually formed humankind? Did she know that the small voice of her new little baby boy was the same mighty voice that had once spoken the world into existence? Did she realize, in the first hours of his earthly existence, as her lips brushed his tender newborn skin, that she was actually kissing the face of God?

What I realized is that I don’t have a clue as to what Mary knew on that night. Just the thought of kissing the face of God overwhelms me emotionally. No, I don’t know what Mary knew that night; but I do know WHO she knew. She knew God. And that was all that really mattered. Then and now, it’s all that really matters.

That shall be my take-away on this eve of Christmas Eve. The realization that all we are asked to do is believe in Him. To Know Him. To have faith in Him and His will and purpose for our lives. To remember Mary and every other biblical champion whose experiences have paved the way and apply those lessons and timeless truths to our own lives and paths. To recognize that we need not know everything in order to fulfil our purpose here on earth, but in knowing God that we know everything we will ever need to know.

Today, I take pause to thank Mary for her extraordinary belief and obedience. A scared teenager who could have never imagined the news the angel Gabriel delivered—that she, herself, would deliver a child, and that child would be the Messiah; THE King of kings; her Savior and the Savior of everyone who lived and would ever live. I thank Mary for not running away in fear and for being a willing servant who trusted God and obeyed His call. And for never losing faith even when things got tough. And, as we all know, things did get tough.

Lord, I pray today for the strength and obedience of Mary so that I may reply to you just as she did in Luke 1:38: “I am the Lord’s servant…may it be as you have said.” Fill my heart, Lord, with your presence and with courage, so that I may fulfil your purposes just as you have written. Happy birthday to You and Merry Christmas to us all! Amen and Ehmen!

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”… (Luke 2: 10-12)


Holidays Forever Changed

It was this time last year that my brother had started showing slight signs of illness. It wasn’t anything drastic, but by Christmas that all had changed.

Standing in the kitchen on Christmas morning, the words falling from my sister-in-law’s lips left me dazed and confused. Out of left field came the news that my brother was gravely ill.

But not even the warning just minutes before could prepare me for actually seeing him. He didn’t look like my brother at all. Always the picture of health and happiness, his face was sunken and his neck collapsed. He shuffled like a man twenty years his senior. I simply couldn’t understand how he could have changed so much since Thanksgiving. I found it hard to make eye contact with him, afraid that I’d spontaneously combust into an emotional inferno, or worse yet, that my shock would hurt his feelings.

We didn’t talk of his condition or appearance other than him letting everyone know that we all needed to make sure our wills were done. He left and—with his loving finance’, Karen, and devoted brother Stan by his side—he went through all the medical testing and processes to get himself on the liver transplant list. He followed the rules, at least for the most part, and we all dreamed of the day he would get his new lease on life.

That day never came, at least not in an earthly sense, and just as quickly as he had fallen ill, he was gone. This will be our first Thanksgiving and Christmas without him and, though I know that he would want us to still gather, laugh and love, it will simply never be the same. Thanksgiving and Christmas are forever changed. We miss you, Gary.


gary lake posted by friend after memorial

Gary’s Song

Though we know you are just beyond heaven’s door

In a place we, too, will one day live forever more

There is still an emptiness beginning to swell

In the place where love once lived and dwelled

So, today, we ask you Father to close the gap

To take us and hold us tight in your lap

To give us the strength to make this story

One that gives us peace and you all Glory.

–B. Gibson–Amen and Ehmen