The Color Red

One of my favorite things about the Christmas season is being able to listen to Christmas music. I start listening to it the second that Thanksgiving is over, even before any Christmas decorations have gone up. I might also cheat a little bit and listen to some in October, mainly because I am not a huge fan of Halloween. This year among the Christmas classics like, “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night”, I heard a new song called “Red” by a Christian group called Shine Bright Baby (they’re all girls). The song is about the colors seen at Christmas time like silver and gold, or the different lights on a Christmas tree like yellow or green. The chorus is about the color that means the most, the color red.

The song describes the color has being the color of love, the promise of the blood (Jesus’ blood) and declaring the message that, “..heaven’s son is here to save.” The song speaks about focusing on Jesus’ birth as being the true meaning and the most important part of Christmas. “Red” should be the most important color, the one our eyes should be fixed on. The birth of Jesus is a source of great joy for those who believe. The Biblical story of the birth of Jesus is outlined in the book of Luke in chapter 2, one important element is the angels that come from heaven to deliver the good news to shepherds who were near by, Luke 2:10 says, “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people.” So Jesus equals joy.

The message of this song meant a great deal to the type of Christmas our family had this year, it was not necessarily a bad Christmas, just not a great one. We were visited by a lovely flu-like cold that caused our daughter to miss last couple of days of school before Christmas break. The sickness hit me pretty hard as well, messing up my plans to bake more than one type of cookie and do a craft a day with the kids to count down to Christmas. Our son got hit not once but twice, the second time hit on Christmas Eve and he coughed pretty much all night. This left him with little to no excitement on Christmas morning and asleep (yet still coughing) by Christmas afternoon. We had cancel our plans to have dinner with “Daddy’s work friends” as our daughter says and had Spinach Dip for Christmas dinner. Add to that a dash of homesickness and it was not the perfect Christmas most people imagine they will have on December 1st.

Thankfully, as the song displays, Christmas can not be ruined by sickness or missed dinners. Jesus was still born, we (my husband, daughter and son) were together, we may not have been healthy but, we were together. We got to play in the snow two days after Christmas, we watched all movies on our Christmas movie list and, read “The Night before Christmas” on Christmas Eve. We have a home, we had a tree and it had presents underneath. Plus another awesome thing about this time of year, the promise of a New Year. We rang in 2015, surrounded by friends and fireworks. When one looks at everything that went right and the absolute joy of Jesus, it was pretty awesome Christmas after all.

This also made me think more about the color red and what that might mean to Anakin. It was the color of his lightsaber when he was Darth Vader, and while that may not seem like a good thing, it meant very simply that he was alive. Anakin Skywalker could have died any number of ways, Palpatine could have killed him when he first arrived at the Jedi Temple as a little boy. He could died in any of the battles during the Clone Wars or Palpatine could have thrown him out of the same window that Mace Windu had just thrown through. Of course he very easily could have died during his battle with Obi-Wan on Mustafar, but he didn’t. Red was Anakin’s second chance, he was still alive to make a change, to finally live out his amazing calling. Anakin’s life was for certain not perfect, but there were many elements that worked together to create something pretty amazing in the end.

Red stands for promise, in the colors of Christmas it is Jesus coming into the world and becoming the least of these, to grant us a second chance (and third chance and forth chance).

Red is our saving grace.

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Trusting God and Guarding Your Heart

Has anyone ever asked you what your favorite bible verse is? For the longest time my favorite bible verse was Proverbs 3:5-6, because it was the first verse I ever highlighted in a Bible.

When I was growing up in the Lutheran Church I never saw anyone write ANYTHING in a Bible. Maybe it was because everyone was using pew Bibles? When I was in the 8th grade we started going to a Baptist church, where everyone seemed to bring their own Bibles and most of them were not in perfect condition. I saw underlining, circling and highlighting in them; Bibles full of different bookmarks and little tabs on the sides. Of course this was a big shock to me, I was under the impression that writing in Bibles was wrong. One day I decided to try highlighting a verse because it didn’t seem to hurt these people or their Bibles, so it can’t be too bad. So I got my light blue Precious Moments bible, a highlighter and shut my bedroom door. That way just in case it was bad, no one would see. So with a heavy heart gripped with fear, I grabbed my Bible, closed my eyes opened to a random page and pointed. I opened my eyes to see which verse it was that was about to be highlighted and it was Proverbs 3:5-6, a verse all about trusting God. I smiled, with the fear gone and a now lightened heart, I highlighted that verse with confidence. Trust God, trust Him with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding but His. Finding that straight path became the lesson for my teens and early twenties, and I do trust Him.

Twelve years later at the age of 25, God introduced a new lesson and new verse to be highlighted. This lesson was revealed to me not at church or while reading the Bible. It wasn’t while watching a movie based on the life of Christ but through the fateful watching a science fiction movie that has become very dear to me.

One day I decided to watch Star Wars Episode III-Revenge of the Sith with my husband and it changed my life for the better in so many ways. God took the story of Anakin Skywalker and used it to teach me about Himself and life. Proverbs 4:23 states, “Guard your heart above all else for it is the wellspring of life.” This verse is about being careful of what you allow to be absorbed into your heart. The condition of your heart determines your mood, attitude, outlook, perception, everything. It can effect who you trust, the decisions you make and the things that you say. For me Anakin Skywalker is the perfect example of why it is so important to guard your heart, to be mindful, control anger and to not bow down to fear. It starts with guarding your heart, its important, its special, its the door way to you.

Think about Anakin, he allowed the words of Palpatine, the influence of evil to enter in. It changed him, effected his perception, twisted his reality and as Obi Wan said, he turned into the very thing he had been fighting against. He went from being the guy who wanted to save everyone, to the guy who tried to force choke his wife. He became the very thing that Palpatine wanted and needed him to be. A defeated, broken, embittered shell of his true self who obeyed the orders of someone who considered Anakin Skywalker to be his greatest enemy.

This is what the enemy would love to do to all of us, pick us off one by one. The emperor was only interested in how he could use Anakin’s power for his own interests. He exploited Anakin’s weaknesses, destroyed who he really was, and took him to a place he never could have gone on his own. The enemy works in very much the same way, he doesn’t care about your needs or what his ideas could do to you or the people around you. Palpatine knew exactly who Anakin was called to be and knew the threat that he would be to the dark side. In the same way, the enemy knows when you are doing a mighty work through God. He will do anything he can to discourage you or stop you in your tracks; but it can be the calling of every Christian to be a force to be reckoned with. You can be that breath of fresh air, make the enemy nervous every time you talk to someone. You can make a difference. God’s plan for you is amazing and uniquely yours, designed specifically for you by the creator of the universe. Don’t let the enemy stand in your way. He is real and it is his mission every single day to steal, kill and destroy.

So guard your heart above else for it truly is the wellspring of life.