Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Keep Him Away in a Manger

What follows is a reprint of this blog's very first Christmas post from December 25, 2012.

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Keep him away in a manger, no crib for a bed
I'd rather not think of the thorns 'round his head
It pains me to picture his back beaten raw
Just give me the baby, asleep on the straw

The cattle! The wise men from far, distant lands!
The little Lord Jesus who makes no demands
I love the old carols and things in that vein
Just stay in the cradle and don't make me change

Be Little Lord Christchild, I ask thee to stay
The babe in a manger forever, I pray
To die when you're perfect would be such a loss
It's far too disturbing: the blood and the cross

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Truth is...this really is the desire of a lot of folks; enamored with the romanticism and fairytale quality of The Christmas Story, but uncomfortable with the grisly necessity of Good Friday.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Christmas Song For All Year 'Round

Taking this song out of order in our review of Randy Stonehill's Welcome to Paradise for seasonal reasons...

"Christmas Song For All Year 'Round" is the penultimate song of the album, and in several ways, it packs the hardest punch. Not musically, because it sounds like a Christmas lullaby, but the poignant, simple, bittersweet lyric does far more than tug at the heart...grasp it with both hands and wring it dry is more like it.

I wonder if this Christmas they'll begin to understand
The Jesus that they celebrate is much more than a man
'Cause the way the world is, I don't see how people can deny
The only way to save us was for Jesus Christ to die

And I know that if St. Nicholas was here, he would agree
That Jesus gave the greatest gift of all to you and me
They led him to the slaughter on a hill called Calvary
And mankind was forgiven when they nailed him to the tree

But most of all the children, they're the ones I hope will learn
That Jesus is our savior and he's going to return
And Christmas isn't just a day and all days aren't the same
Perhaps they'll think about the word and see it spells his name

And I know that if St. Nicholas was here, he would agree
That Jesus gave the greatest gift of all to you and me
They led him to the slaughter on a hill called Calvary
And mankind was forgiven, mankind was forgiven
We were all forgiven when they nailed him to the tree

So Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas.

I wonder if this Christmas they'll begin to understand
©1976 King of Hearts Publishing

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Truth is...when I sang this song for my former-girlfriend's mother (yes, we were still friends, even when the dating stopped), she balked at the phrase "led him to the slaughter." She said it sounded too violent. Probably what led me to write "Keep Him Away in a Manger," which you can read here next week.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Stay and Get Your Love

One doesn't necessarily expect to be moved to tears because of a television commercial. Especially a television commercial featuring the poppy little 1974 tune by Redbone, "Come and Get Your Love."

And yet...

The perfect casting, the fun song, the subtle acting, the storyline of "This is fun/this is lame/this is love"...oh my yes.

Truth is...It may take a lifetime to fully appreciate some family members, but the payoff for hanging in there is well worth the investment. And hang on to that thought the next time you start thinking about switching churches for anything other than deep theological differences.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Cost of Forgiveness

Colossians 3:13 is used quite a bit to encourage believers to forgive people who have wronged them, and rightly so. I mean, just read it:

"Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."

Nice and simple in the New International Version, right? You should forgive others because, after all, God forgave you.

That's the way it's always been taught to me, but just yesterday I started really thinking about that last phrase: "...as the Lord forgave you."

Paul didn't say "because the Lord forgave you." He said "as." As in, "Forgive in the same way the Lord forgave you."

My standard flesh-out-the-meaning translation, the Amplified Bible, says it like this: "just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive."

And then it struck me.

Think of what God did in order to forgive you! Yahweh doesn't just flippantly override His perfect justice and say, "Don't worry about all the wrong you've done. I've decided it doesn't matter."


In order to satisfy justice and yet offer us forgiveness, the God of all creation made the greatest sacrifice of all. "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." (John 15:13 NIV)

It cost Jesus His very life to be able to forgive us. Why would we expect to be able to forgive others without it costing us something? For example, when I've forgiven someone, I've promised to never bring the matter up again...and that's a hard promise to keep. How many times have I wanted to say, "But what about the time I forgave you for...?!!?"

Truth is...forgiveness has never been easy, but for any kind of relationship to work, or just to be able to walk through life without the burden of keeping a grudge intact, it's absolutely necessary.