Friends! It’s Christmas Week! I pray your heart is at peace, your mind is at rest and not in frenetic motion, and you’ve got a skip in your step.
If you’re saying, “Yeah, right.” I bring you good news along with some mighty fine tunes. Hang with me…
Few things help my mood more than music. You? Our grown children talk about their playlists non-stop. Little country here, little soul/dance-band-college-song there, sprinkled with a little worship music. (See their favorites at the end of this post.)
Hubster and I enjoy a little bit of everything. We had friends over for dinner this week and he put on a “dinner party” tract, thanks to Pandora, that was perfect. Think Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, ahhhh.
Some mornings when I’m about half awake, I have three go-to worship songs which almost immediately transform my mood from “ho-hum” to “let’s go!” Give these a try when you have time:
#1 – We Will Feast in the House of Zion by Sandra McCracken
Here’s the chorus:
“We will feast in the house of Zion. We will sing with our hearts restored. He has done great things, we will say together, We will feast and weep no more.”
#2 – O Church Arise by Keith and Kristyn Getty
“Come, see the cross, where love and mercy meet, as the Son of God is stricken; Then see His foes lie crushed beneath His feet, For the conqueror has risen! And as the stone is rolled away, And Christ emerges from the grave, This victory march continues till the day Ev’ry eye and heart shall see Him.”
#3 – In Christ Alone by Keith and Kristyn Getty
Two favorite stanzas slay me every time:
“In Christ alone my hope is found; He is my light, my strength, my song; This cornerstone, this solid ground, Firm through the fiercest drought and storm….My comforter, my all in all—Here in the love of Christ I stand.”
“There in the ground His body lay, Light of the world by darkness slain; Then bursting forth in glorious day, Up from the grave He rose again! And as He stands in victory, Sins’ curse has lost its grip on me; For I am His and He is mine—Bought with the precious blood of Christ.”
On the rare occasion when Nancy Aguiar and I are in the same room hearing the above song (usually sung by Travis Cottrell at a Beth Moore Conference), puddles of tears splash about our feet. We are undone, 100%.
So where does Alistair Begg figure into this equation? Oh, I’m so glad you asked. Big smile.
Alistair has written a clever-while-petite Christmas book, perfect for one’s stocking: Christmas Playlist – Four Songs that Bring You to the Heart of Christmas. You could read it in an afternoon over a cup of coffee. Or, you can savor it during this Christmas/winter season, and the next, and the next. (How cute is the cover?)
Alistair hails from Scotland. If you’ve ever heard him on his radio program, Truth for Life (www.truthforlife.org), you love his accent and his preaching like the rest of us. Alistair pastors Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio. He’s been there since 1983. (www.parksidechurch.com )
He was recently on The Eric Metaxas Show which is how I learned about Christmas Playlist. (www.metaxastalk.com ) Hearing Eric attempt Alistair’s brogue is worth the effort above and beyond the program itself! Alistair says Eric sounds like a very sick Mrs. Doubtfire.
Two very fun surprises from Christmas Playlist blessed me before I dove in:
First, Webb Simpson wrote the Foreword. You golfers know him. I had to call our resident golf expert, our middle son, Gordy, to find out about Webb. Gordy said, “Oh yeah, Mom. I know him. He’s a great golfer. Won the U.S. Open in 2012.” Awesome.
Webb tells us, “This book is about eternity…Allistair takes us to the first Christmas and to what, or who, that first Christmas was truly all about—Jesus. In Him, I’ve found a sense of fulfillment and peace that no number of major golf championships could ever bring me.”
Webb adds, “On the 17th hole of the final round of the 2012 U.S. Open, when I was…just a few shots from winning the golf tournament I’d dreamed of winning, I had a conversation with my caddie, Paul Tesori. We reminded each other that if we won that day, it would not make any difference to our sense of satisfaction, because we couldn’t take the trophy with us beyond this life anyway. There was a more important contest that would matter for all eternity, and the one who was born at that first Christmas had already won it for us.”
Second surprise will shock your socks off. One of Alistair’s endorsers is Alice Cooper! He says, “Connecting the Bible’s songs to modern songs makes this book come alive.” (Checkout his Christian testimony)
Back to the book…Alistair’s Christmas Playlist walks us through:
Mary’s Song: What is God like?,
Zechariah’s Song: Why do you need God?,
The Angel’s Song: How did God come?, and
Simeon’s Song: How did God do it?
Alistair tell us these four songs of the first Christmas “were heard before, during and after the birth of the baby who lies at the heart of the real Christmas…This is a playlist that helps us to prepare for Christmas properly, and to celebrate Christmas joyfully.”
We readers journey through the Gospel of Luke in Chapters One and Two, plus Twenty-three and Twenty-four as Alistair points out the importance of the crucifixion and resurrection. He notes, “Luke’s Gospel finishes in a very similar place to where it began. We began with angels appearing, and we finish the same way. We began with an angel announcing the presence of life where it is, humanly-speaking, impossible—in the wombs of a woman who was infertile and a woman who was a virgin. We finish with angels announcing the presence of life in a tomb—the resurrection of a crucified criminal to eternal glory.”
In the conclusion, Alistair reminds us, “Christmas provokes a decision. At the first Christmas, Jesus came to you. Now you must decide: Will you come to Him?”
Rick Warren said in a recent Daily Hope email, “We have a hard time missing Christmas as a cultural phenomenon, however we can miss the very point of Christmas. Take the innkeeper for example. Are you too busy with your work to make room for Jesus this Christmas? Is your schedule, your plans, or your budget too tight to let Jesus in this Christmas?”
Let’s keep those questions in our hearts while we praise the Lord for another Christmas season…
I pray you and your family have a most Blessed Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year. As we used to say on the last day of school before Christmas Break, “See you next year!”
P.S. Wednesday, December 14th was a banner day in the Hoagland Household for two reasons:
First, it was the 33rd anniversary of Hubster proposing to me. We celebrate our engagement almost as much as our wedding date.
Secondly, we were blessed to attend “The Big Reveal Party”, hosted by our oldest son, John Jr. and his lovely bride, Diana. See the amazing-after-thirty-years-of-boys results below…
Merry Christmas from our family to yours:
Coming May 4, 2017, Lord willing: Claire Elizabeth Hoagland
We’d covet your prayers for a healthy pregnancy and baby! (Pictured left to right: Woody and LT, Hubster and Yours Truly, Diana, John Jr., Lauren and Gordy)
P.S. Again! (Oh, you’re so glad I’m not blogging again until January…)
I polled our family for their favorite songs/genres/playlists FYI:
John Jr. says it’s a two-way tie between country music and audio books.
Diana says it’s a tie between country and Christian music. She especially loves the group NeedtoBreathe.
Gordy’s current favorite song is the classic New York, New York by Frank Sinatra. (They just returned from a fun trip to the Big Apple this month.)
Lauren loves country and Christian music with her favorite artists being Lauren Daigle and Thomas Rhett.
Woody’s current fav is Love Me Now by John Legend.
LT loves the worship group Bethel along with John Mayer, Johnny Swim, and pop music.
Hubster parks mostly on country channels while I flip back and forth from Christian to jazz to classical to songs from our college days in the ‘80’s.
I cannot be still if Earth, Wind, and Fire are playing.
I maintain Phil Collins is one magically talented musician.
However, after seeing and hearing Nicole C. Mullen sing My Redeemer Lives in Nashville this summer, I’m a forever fan. Mercy.
Please comment and tell me your favorite artist, song, or genre?
‘Til next time!