Tag Archives: celebrating christmas

Repeat the Sounding Joy!

I LOVE Christmas!  I am not a very exuberant person by nature, not easily just all happy and light-hearted, but give me a vision and some understanding and I come alive.  My Holy-Holiday-Calling is to remember and release a spirit of rejoicing in myself and in others as we make Jesus Christ and worshipping Him central to our sincere and over-the-top Christmas celebrating!  And for all of the days of the year to follow…


“Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared.  This day is sacred to our Lord.  Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”  Nehemiah 8.10

The joy of the LORD is your strength.  Are you hearing the sound?


This is the truth of this Christmas season for me.  This is the message of hope God has directed me to over and again.  This is the revelation of the gospel I am just beginning to understand.  This is what the Apostle Paul tried to get through to the Philippians when he said “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again, Rejoice!” (Ph 4.4).  This is what I heard for the millionth and the very first time this Christmas season.  It is the words you hear Linus recite in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and a sweet child’s voice inserted into Amy Grant’s 2008 Christmas hit, “I Need a Silent Night.” It is the truth above the roar of busyness and my epiphanic-fervor:

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of GREAT JOY which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the City of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.'”  Luke 2.8-11 NKJV

The revelation of Jesus Christ and His arrival as our Savior was good news of great joy!  Our strength indeed!

The Jesus and joy connection?

“I have told you this so that My joy may in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15.11).

“Ask and you wll receive and your joy will be complete” (John 16.24).

“But I say these things…so that they may have the full measure of My joy within them” (John 17.13).

God set forth  (even commanded) celebrations for the purpose of joy for the people.  One example:

“And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy.  The women and the children also rejoiced.  The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away” (Neh. 12.43)

Joy is a verb.  You gotta take action.

“I will rejoice in the Lord.  I will JOY in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3.18).

Jack Hayford’s notes in The Spirit-Filled Life NKJV Study Bible gives this on the word “joy” in Habakkuk:

JOY: Strong’s 1523: To joy, rejoice, be glad…contains the suggestion of “dancing for joy” or “leaping for joy” since this verb originally meant to “spin around with intense motion.”  This lays to rest the notion that the Biblical concept of joy is  only a “quiet inner sense of well-being.”…altho everything is wrong in Habakkuk’s world-he is leaping for joy over his relationship with God …

These can be joyless times.  The “holiday season” may have just been one more drain on you after a year of disappointment or lack.  The condition of our nation may be bringing fear.  Religious duty, a significant loss in our lives, strain in our marriages, unhappiness at work or any number of things may cause us to put on the smile-mask a Christian “should” wear and yet feel as flat and used up as the neighbor’s giant inflatable Santa looks on the lawn this morning.

But the good tidings of great joy are for me and for you.  So how do we appropriate it?  How do we walk in the kind of joy that gives us the strength we need to endure?  Repeat the sounding joy.

The sounding joy?  Good news!  Great joy!  I have a Savior!  He came to save me!  I think I’ll jump up and twirl and spin around like a madwoman while I echo the angels as loudly as I can: Glory to God in the highest!  Glory to the God of my salvation!  And peace to us here on earth, goodwill towards us from You, Father!

It is possible, I truly believe, that this act of joy as a verb – to joy – may actually begin to bring true giddy life-giving happiness to my soul.  The sounding joy: God is God!  He is faithful! He rules!  He reigns!  I receive my King!  I join with all heaven and nature in rejoicing that the curse has been broken on my behalf!   He has saved me from certain death and a joyless existence!  Glory to God in the highest!

Repeat the sounding joy.  Repeat the sounding joy.  Repeat, repeat the sounding joy! 

Not just at Christmas, but – as needed!

Joy!  Seriously – be glad and dance a little!…Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF:  Don’t let the enemy steal my joy!  Not one day.  Worship and crazy praise a must!

pictured: an etsy.com image, Stephanie on Christmas morning (in the midst of physical joy!) finding out she had received the antique oak dining table and chairs she really wanted, and the chalkboard in the kitchen with my “epiphanic” stuff on it (and I am preety sure I invented that word this Christmas!)

The Broken Curse

I LOVE Christmas!  I am not a very exuberant person by nature, not naturally just happy and light-hearted, but give me a vision and some understanding and I come alive.  My Holy-Holiday-Calling is to remember and release a spirit of rejoicing in myself and in others as we make Jesus Christ and worshipping Him central to our raucous Christmas celebrating!


In our 1860s Victorian house in Nebraska, we had 9 fully-decorated trees.  I have never run out of ideas for decorating a tree, each in a unique and personal way.  Now, though, we’re down to two.  One is the collections of our lives (the tree of my sentimental heart) – the ornaments the kids made at school growing up, “baby’s first” ornaments and now treasures from the grandchildren.

But the main tree,too tall and big enough to fill too many totes with it’s ornamentations, is the tree of my faith.  The centerpiece in the branches reads: For unto you is born this day (with the print of a baby’s foot to represent Jesus’ birth), A Savior, who is Christ the Lord(a bloody hand-print reminds us that He was born to die for us)!

From the 12 foot peak flows down wide, red swaths of blood-red satin to represent His sacrifice for me.  The tree, evergreen representing everlasting life, is decorated with crosses and the angelic hosts.  It is decorated with symbols and words of all Christ came to accomplish.  It is, for me, an altar of worship.  I raise it yearly to remember and celebrate the completed work of Jesus Christ in my life.  My tree is a symbol of a broken curse.

There was another tree.  It was stripped bare of it’s branches, save one, which was affixed across the trunk up high.  And that tree is part of our celebration, even now during Christmas, and symbolizes everything that happened there bringing us eternal life.

At the foot of our Christmas tree, we lovingly exchange gifts.  Our tree is laden with sparkling ornaments, twinkling lights, and bedecked with glittering beauty.  And why? 

Because it was on a tree that God hung His greatest gift to us all and He calls us to that tree to receive the greatest of all gifts – His son, Jesus.  Galatians 3.13 reminds us that on that tree,  Jesus redeemed us from the curse.  It holds nothing on us.  We are free and redeemed from the law of sin and death and we commemorate Christmas with joy with our ornamented tree – celebrating His love toward us which flows out as we gift one another.

I’ll kneel at the tree within the next couple of days, my altar of remembrance and pray:

Father, I am kneeling at this tree thanking You that at that tree You broke the curse for me.  I am open, during this Christmas season, Lord, to receive Your deliverance for anything that haunts or taunts me.  Set me free from the things that have entangled my life.  I remember, today.  In the light from this tree, I receive Your gift from that tree…

His coming wasn’t random.  It was planned.  Remember to remember…Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF:  Make funny faces in the round glass ornaments.  Crack God up.

pictured: a close-up view of the message of our tree; some up-shots



joy to the world

“Fear not, I bring you tidings of great joy…For unto you is born this day…a Savior…” -Linus quoting Luke 2 in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

I love Christmas.  I love it all (in spite of many years of retail management).  I love the sights, the sounds, the symbols, the traditions, the aromas, the corny movies, the giving, and yes, even the receiving of gifts. Yet, yearly, I find myself having to defend my love of all things Christmas with, especially, Christians, my family-in-the-faith, who are worried that it is “too commercial,” or “isn’t really when Jesus was born anyway,” or the real biggie: “it is a time of pagan worship.”

Bah-humbug, people!  Get on board the joy-train.  Even in the Old Testament (see Nehemiah 8.9-12) God’s people were instructed, actually encouraged, to remember God in celebration – to eat and drink and rejoice, and not to grieve, for

“the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Then, 2000 years ago, the angels, with the actual glory of the Lord shining around them, declared the GOOD NEWS, the MESSAGE everyone had been waiting for, the EVENT for which they had been longing and prophesying from way back, “good tidings of great joy…to all people…for…born this day…a Savior!

Yaaaay – it happened!  He came.  And the angelic response to this in the heavenlies that night was worship to God (“Glory to God in the highest”) and declaration of blessings to mankind, who now had a Savior (“peace, goodwill toward men!“).

Why celebrate?  Would offend God if we just got happy and decorated our houses because Jesus, God’s Son came?

In the book of Ezra, there was a celebration so raucous when the foundation of the temple was finished – the rejoicing was so loud the noise was heard far away.  The Bible is full of dramatic worship and celebrating.  But the things we do when we celebrate and decorate have much symbolic meaning at their very root. We can imprint our children and grandchildren and impact others with the truth in our celebrating. I welcome the symbols for the freedom they give me to declare Christ at this time of year more than at any other.

Christmas literally means: Christ Mass.  Mass is: our worship/prayers, and ceremonies commemorating the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  Everytime we say “Merry Christmas,” we are declaring Christ!

He is everywhere – in all the symbols:

  • Every twinkling light, every candle lit that pierces the darkness that would otherwise be there is representing “Jesus, the Light of the world.”
  • In the colors – the gold is like the gold the Wise Men brought as worship; green represents everlasting, abundant life; “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow,” the white snow covering the ground reminds me of the grace of God covering my sin and imperfection; the red reminds me of the blood that baby Messiah, once grown, spilled in a gruesome sacrifice for my sin – and because of all the forgiveness I have needed, red will forever and always be part of my personal celebration decoration, regardless of what fashions prevail.
  • If you had to choose between “getting” or “giving” this Christmas, what would you choose?  Most of us have discovered the joy of giving because we remember God’s great gift to us (John 3.16).  Because He gave to me, my heart overflows and I want to give…and give…and give!  I just WANT to. I am no pagan! :)

Do you believe I could go on?  I could because I have chosen to “joy” in Christmas and celebrate extravagantly.

I recently read the Book of Habakkuk, which one scholar describes as being “one man’s pilgrimage from doubt to worship.”  The book ends with an incredible song of faith and worship in which Habakkuk makes this decision in spite of the devastating circumstances in which he finds himself:

“Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

The study notes say this Hebrew word for joy speaks of “dancing or leaping for joy,” that it indicates “spinning around with intense motion.”  And note, please – it is a verb.

Yes, it would seem the world becomes increasingly Godless.  No, most people have no idea what Christmas is suppose to be or the total truth of what they are celebrating, but I do know.  And I will joy because He’s here!  He came!  I have a Savior!

Blessings & goodwill to you and yours.  Great news: your Savior came! May you have the most joyous, peaceful, life-giving, merriest Christmas ever.  JOY to the world!  Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF: be glad, rejoice, celebrate, spin around and dance, be exceedingly glad and pass on the good news that a Savior came – for all people!