Tag Archives: God With Us

God Is Always with Me

At the end of the book of Matthew, Jesus says to the disciples, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b (NIV). When He said this, He was talking not just to those disciples who were present, but to all who believe in Him even today. That includes me. He is always with me. He showed me that in a very concrete way this past week.

On Tuesday I had an appointment that I had been putting off for over a year. It may seem like a small thing to many of you, but to me it was huge. I was afraid to make and keep this appointment. But with God’s encouragement I finally did it.

I went to the dentist to have prep done for a crown. I know, people get crowns every day, but I have since childhood been extremely uncomfortable in the dentist’s chair. It stems from a childhood experience that I won’t go into because it’s not the point of this story. Suffice it to say that I have for as long as I can remember been tense and nervous when I have to go to the dentist, even for a cleaning.

There was no getting around the fact that I needed a crown. I have a hairline fracture in a tooth and I barely chew on that side because if I chew on anything even slightly hard it hurts. A year ago the new dentist I started seeing told me I needed to do this. He was nice about it and understanding about my fear, and he didn’t pressure me to put a crown or overlay on every molar in my mouth as a prior dentist had tried to do. I liked his manner enough that I finally felt like I’d found a dentist I could trust. (His name is Jack Henry in Lake Oswego, if you happen to be looking for a good dentist.)

After praying for God’s peace (see Philippians 4:6-7), I finally scheduled a cleaning one week and the crown prep the following week. Halfway through the cleaning appointment, I realized I was the most relaxed I had ever been in a dentist’s chair. This gave me hope that the crown prep wouldn’t be so bad.

Did I mention that I dislike Novocain intensely? It tends to cause my cheek and jaw to hurt for several days. So in spite of the good cleaning appointment, I was still feeling anxious as I looked ahead to the crown prep because I knew there would be Novocain and drilling involved.

But again, I prayed that God would give me peace and help me to not be afraid during this appointment.

I arrived on time and was escorted to the dentist’s chair. I asked if I could listen to music while they worked because I had brought my iPod and headphones. The dentist not only said I could but said it was a great idea. He likes to listen to music when he has dental work done, too, because he doesn’t like the sound of the grinder and drill. It was very reassuring to know that he understood that this procedure was not at all pleasant and that he was going to do whatever he could to make it better.

As he began to work, I shuffled my iPod on a MercyMe and Jeremy Camp playlist I had created in anticipation of Fish Fest that I am going to in August with some friends. And that’s when God so clearly reminded me that He is always with me. The first song that played was God with Us by MercyMe. I heard these beginning lyrics:

Who are we
That You would be mindful of us
What do You see
That’s worth looking our way

We are free
In ways that we never should be
Sweet release from the grip of these chains

I knew that He was mindful of this small thing in my life. I knew He had released me from the chains of fear that had kept me from making this appointment a year before. As that song ended, I felt the peace of knowing God was with me, but He wasn’t done reminding me. The next song to randomly play on shuffle was Here with Me, also by MercyMe, with lyrics that say:

And I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I’m lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender to your love

You’re everywhere I go
I am not alone
You call me as your own
To know you and be known

Oh, that He would care so much for me; that He knows so well my anxiety and fear and also how to calm that fear. And then He reminded me of why I was feeling such peace in what would have otherwise been a tense and stressful situation. The next song to play was Every Time by Jeremy Camp. The chorus and one of the verses of this song say:

Every time I’m on my knees, pleading for Your strength
I will find You there, find you there
Every time I’m on my knees, reaching for Your strength
I will find You there, find You there

I’m holding on to this hope
I’ve been given, to be always with You
I’m seeing now
That this fullness of faith is, always seeking You

That very morning I had been on my knees pleading God for strength and peace to endure this appointment that my natural self dreaded. I held onto the hope that He would be with me, and He was faithful as always. Rather than be anxious about my appointment, I brought my concern to God, with thanksgiving, and His peace was my reward.

By the time this third song ended, Dr. Henry was done with the drilling and grinding. I was not tense and had not felt a thing. And to top it all off, the Novocain wore off much more quickly than I had expected and there were no lasting effects of pain in my cheek or jaw.

God is always with me, even at the dentist. What an awesome and wonderful God He is!

 

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Rejoice! He Ransomed Captive Israel!

I’ve been listening to the new Jeremy Camp Christmas Album, Christmas: God with Us, in my car this past week. He does one of my all time favorite Christmas songs: O Come O Come Emmanuel. Of course he does an awesome rendition. My son was with me in the car the other day when it was playing and he said, “I love the way he sings ‘Israel.'”

On a side note, my son and I were on our way to a Winter Orchestra Concert at his high school when he said this. I wasn’t thrilled about going because I didn’t expect any Christmas music at all. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed the whole show and they played some good old traditional Christmas songs, like Silent Night and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, as well as two songs from my favorite Charlie Brown Christmas (which I still need to watch this year). The reason was that the orchestra students were told to form small ensembles and to choose whatever they wanted to play. It was such a blessing to see so many of the kids choose some of my favorite Christmas songs.

Anyway, I thought I would share with you Jeremy Camp’s rendition of O Come O Come Emmanuel to get you in the Christmas spirit if you aren’t already. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

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Advent Thankfulness – A Poem

Last year I wrote an acrostic poem titled Advent, and I have been astounded in the past 4 weeks how many times it has been viewed. The search terms stats on my blog show that a lot of people have been searching for Advent acrostic poems. Since it is a topic of great interest, I decided to write another one. It is quite different from the first but carries the same Great News of hope found in a manger.

ADVENT THANKFULNESS

Angels to the shepherds sing
Divine arrival of the King
Victory is now in sight
Emmanuel comes this night
Need of all mankind is met
Thankful hearts, He paid our debt

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The Problem with Santa Claus

For many people, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Santa Claus. As soon as Thanksgiving is over, they start looking forward to Jolly Old St. Nick bringing presents to all the good little boys and girls. Every shopping mall has a Santa Claus waiting for long lines of children to sit on his lap and tell him what they want for Christmas. I’ve even known people whose only Christmas decorations in their homes are Santa themed.

Now I will admit that I have a few Santa Claus decorations and we do hang stockings to be opened on Christmas morning. We even label some family gifts as “from Santa.” The spirit of giving that surrounds Santa Claus—which started with the very first real St. Nicholas who gave presents to needy children—is wonderful.

But there is a problem with Santa Claus. The whole idea of a Jolly Old Elf bringing presents only to good boys and girls contradicts the Gospel message of Christmas. We are reminded in Christmas songs that Santa “knows if you’ve been bad or good,” and if you are bad all you get is a lump of coal.

This is the story of most major religions—that if we are good enough we will earn whatever it is we want most.

Jesus tells a different story. Immanuel, God with us, came because He loves us all whether we are good or bad. He offers salvation and eternal life to all. It’s a free gift and all we have to do is accept it to be on His list.

Santa’s list of who’s naughty and who’s nice might seem to work for making kids be good. But long ago God showed that the threat of punishment or withholding of blessings doesn’t work to make people do what is right. “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.” Romans 8:3 (NIV).

That is why for me Christmas isn’t Christmas without the Christ child and most of my Christmas decorations are nativity scenes. And my favorite Christmas songs aren’t about Santa Claus but are old standards like O Come O Come Emmanuel, O Holy Night, and Mary Did You Know?

Which is why today I want to share Jeremy Camp’s rendition of that last of these on his recently released Christmas CD.

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God with Us – A Poem

I often ponder the wonder of “God with us,” but especially so at Christmas time. I am in awe of the fact that the God of the Universe, the Creator of all things, He who is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent, would desire to be with me. It is an amazing thing that Christ has seen fit to dwell in me, and the hearts of all believers, because of His great love for us. Of all the wonders of the world and the blessings in my life to be thankful for, it is this truth of God with us that I am most thankful for.

From a logical perspective, it all seems quite preposterous. If you were God, would you do such a thing? I’m not sure I would. I think I might leave sinful man to his own devices. But thankfully, I am not God; and God is faithful, merciful, and loving in a way I can scarcely comprehend. It is only when I seek Him with all my heart that I can even begin to fathom what He has done, and find hope in what He will do when He returns.

Do you know the Holy One, who longs to be with you? Are you in awe of His majesty? Do you ponder His great love? He is not some distant deity who desires to judge and punish you. He is “God with us.” He is God with you. He alone is the greatest gift you will ever receive.

God with Us

Glory of the Holy One, robed in majesty
Omnipresent King of kings, deserving pageantry
Deity incarnate be, because of love for you and me

Willingly He came to earth, left His throne behind
Immanuel, Son of God, seeking to redeem mankind
To leave mankind dead in sin was not what He designed
His love and mercy, on the cross, there with grace combined

Understanding His great love is for us what Christ desires
Sinners to trust in Him alone is all our God requires

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:22-23 (NIV).

12/10/13 Update: Decided to link this up for the final dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night of 2013. No time to write a new one, but this is one of my favorite Christmas poems that I’ve written so I wanted to share it and the wonder of Christmas with the folks at the pub.

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Immanuel

December is here. It makes me wonder where the rest of 2010 went! But now that Thanksgiving is over I can officially start thinking about Christmas. For most people, that means thinking about what presents they want and shopping for presents for friends and family. I’ll admit it means that to me, too, as well as getting my Christmas cards sent.

But the older I get the less Christmas is about the giving and getting of things; the older I get the more Christmas is about the one gift that was given long ago and is the best gift of all. For me, Christmas is about Immanuel, God with us. And so I thought about writing a post about this most wonderful name of Jesus, but in the back of my mind I had this feeling like I had done that before. So I checked my archives and sure enough, there was “My Favorite Name” posted on Dec. 21, 2009. So instead of rewriting my thoughts on Immanuel this Christmas season, I decided to just copy and paste what I had previously written here because my hope this Christmas season is the same as last.

First published Dec. 21, 2009:

As Christmas is fast approaching, I’ve been thinking about the many names given to Jesus in the Bible. He is called the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Alpha & Omega, and many more. But my favorite name of Jesus is Immanuel. The prophet Isaiah wrote: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14. This verse is quoted in Matthew 1:23 regarding Jesus, and in Matthew the writer defines the name Immanuel to mean “God with us.”

When I look at one of my many nativity scenes, that is what I see: God with us. For thousands of years God tried to get the message across to His people that He loved them and would always be there for them. He spoke through miracles, such as the parting of the Red Sea, and through prophets, such as Isaiah and Daniel. But in spite of all His attempts to get through to them, His people didn’t always get it.

So God decided to become one of us, to be with us, to experience life just as we do. I like the name Immanuel because it reminds me that God loves us enough to be willing to experience all the pain, trials, and heartache that we do, to fully understand how we experience relationships and love. God did this in hopes that we could and would better relate to Him. Because ultimately what He wants is for us to be with Him.

This Christmas, I hope you will feel the blessing of being with God and of God being with you. I hope you will experience the fullness of Immanuel.

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