Silent Night? Not So Much…

Last night (Christmas Eve), before we all turned in, I shared with the family “the other side of the nativity.”

Award-winning author, Philip Yancey, in his book, “The Jesus I Never Knew” shares,

“Christmas cards of the religious genre typically depict a serene manger scene with Mary and Joseph surrounded by shepherds, animals, etc. All is calm.  But when I read the gospels i detect a much different tone.”

Yancey goes on to write, “Politically – and spiritually – Jesus was born into a scene more resembling the movie ‘Saving Private Ryan.”

In the first few verses of Revelation 12, via a series of vignettes of scenes past and future, we are given a peek behind the proverbial curtain as to what was going on that silent night.  

The dragon, Satan, has, for centuries, done all in his power to prevent the Messiah from coming by attempting to cut off the messianic bloodline.  

He fails every time. 

Then, on that silent night, John records in Revelation 12, the dragon eagerly awaited the moment of Jesus’s birth so he could immediately kill him, thus destroying the hope of mankind. 

Again, he failed.  

Some 30 years later, on the night before he would do the very thing for which he was born – die for us – he said, “The prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me.”

The next day, the man who was once the tiny baby we see in pictures and paintings, beaten and bloody, from a Roman cross, said, “It is finished.”

No wonder the angel announced to the shepherds, “Behold! I bring you good news of great joy! For unto you this day is born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Happy Christmas, St. Nick ❤️

Joy vs. Happiness

Happiness is rooted in circumstances.  Joy, on the other hand, is rooted in biblical truth – regardless of our circumstances.

This is precisely why, incarcerated for his faith, Paul, while still languishing in prison, could write, Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!

Make no mistake: the type of joy Paul writes of here is not a paper-thin, over-the-top, emotional celebration.

Biblical joy runs deep.  Deeper than our most acute pain.

Germany.  Christmas, 1942…

During the Christmas season of 1942, the German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, wrote the statement below while under severe persecution for his Christian faith. Two and a half years after this quote was penned, Bonhoeffer was executed by Hitler’s Secret Service.  He was 39:

“The joy of God goes through the poverty of the manger and the agony of the cross; that is why it is invincible, irrefutable. It does not deny the anguish, when it is there, but finds God in the midst of it, in fact precisely there; it does not deny grave sin but finds forgiveness precisely in this way; it looks death straight in the eye but finds life precisely within it.” Dietrich Bonheoffer (Christmas, 1942)

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

 

I Got Married – Again

Here’s the context: I was raised in a home completely void of demonstrative love and romance. Even hugs were few and far between.

Hence, unlike all the elaborate, carefully & lovingly planned out marriage proposals we see on FB nowadays, I never really proposed to Michelle.

We were driving around in Lubbock, TX, in 1984 shopping for engagement rings and, while stopped at an intersection, Michelle said, “You know, you’ve never actually asked me to marry you.” In pure embarrassingly (now), ignorant, 19 year old, moronic fashion, I popped off, “You wanna get married?” She said yes.

She deserved better.

Well, 33 years of marriage, and three kids later, I decided it’s never too late to do the right thing.

I’ve been planning this “marriage proposal” since July.

The scene: 2pm; 11/20 (her birthday) at the “Poetry Garden” (a private section at the Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Gardens); i had the entire family in on it; I spun the outing as a “family photo.”

I had asked Joe Price, my best Man 33 years ago, to serve as my Best Man once again. His family drove all the way up from Houston to be a part of this moment.

We all arrived at 2pm. Joe and his family entered the private garden a few minutes later. Obviously, this shocked Michelle as she had no idea what they were doing there.

It was at that moment I turned to Michelle and said, “We are not here for a family photo…” (At that point my mouth went dry and I thought I was going to throw up )

As i conveyed my loved to her, my family began to take their places as Michelle’s dad (he performed our wedding 33 years ago) stood before us and prepared to “marry us” once again.

My best man, Joe, stood at my side, holding a picture of Jordan.  Our daughters, Kelsie and Macy,  stood at Michelle’s side.

Then I looked at Michelle and said, “Before we get married I need to ask you something.”

It was then that I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. (I thought I was gonna have to get Joe to help me back up )

At the end of the ceremony, Jordan “sang” (via one of his albums) his song that begins “when I see your smile I see the sun.”  The pic below was taken during that song. We are both grieving, but rejoicing that our marriage has survived that loss.

Then, Harry (Michelle’s Dad) pronounced us husband and wife (again) and and I kissed my bride. Michelle thought it was over. But it wasn’t.

We had to have our “first dance.”

One of my youth asked me back in the late 90’s, “Hey Nick, what’s yours and Michelle’s song?” I said, “What are you talking about?” That teenage boy said, “Come on man – every couple has their special song.” His passion cut me to the heart. So Lionel Richie’s song, “Still in Love” quickly became “our song.”

Back to our “first dance”: Macy hit “play” on her Bluetooth and Michelle and I danced to our song. (Well, we mostly just swayed back and forth.)

After that, I told Macy to hit play again where I had included the 1976 classic, “Still the One” by Orleans. And we partied and – yes – took lots of family photos.

To all you husbands out there, I am a complete mess. I have blown it worse, and more often than you can imagine. There have been times when i genuinely believed our marriage was over. (Just ask our daughters.)

But, I’ve found it’s never too late to do the right thing.

Jordan, we’re making it. I proposed to your mom and she said yes. You were there. I learned how to become romantic and swallow enough of my insecurity to express my love, in large part, by watching you. One day, we will sit together again at the “marriage supper of the Lamb.” What a celebration that will be. ❤️

It was… the perfect day.

I love you all, Nick