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Archive for December, 2008

Baby Jesus for Sale

While Googleing for a figurine of Santa kneeling before Jesus, Google displayed a link titled, "baby jesus For Sale." I laughed. I don’t know why I found it funny, but it just struck me as raw reality; of what Christmas really seems to be about.

I am reminded of a song with the line, "Do we store away Jesus, too?" I heard the song on the radio the other day and it had been years since I last heard that song. The song title is "All Year Long," and it is song by Larnelle Harris. It is a powerful line. Christmas was less than two weeks ago and it seems like a lifetime ago. It seems like I may have stored away Jesus when the New Year began.

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The pastor’s sermon on Sunday touched on a thought I don’t think I ever thunk. God’s interruption of the lives and plans of Mary and Joseph. They probably had dreams similar to most people. Something like the American Dream or maybe just your normal, average ideal of what life is supposed to be like: Get married, get a good job, have 2.5 kids, live in a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom house with a wrap-around porch, an attached two camel garage and a white-picket fence. Land ‘o Goshen that’s the life!

Can you imagine what Mary was going through? We have a tidy picture of how things went, but if we remember Mary as a real person and not what she has become, we are jolted by the reality of her situation. How did her parents react to her pregnancy? How did she explain that Joseph was not the one who got her pregnant? If we think God’s interruptions into our days causes inconvenience, how do you think Mary and Joseph felt? We have some of the good responses in our Bibles, but there is a lot of time during her pregnancy that is not recorded. Surely there were some down times as well as the good. It is true that these two would have had to have been exceptionally sensitive to the Lord throughout their lives to be used for this purpose but, still, I can’t imagine the snickering, gossip, slander, etc. that must have gone on. Plus, they had to wrestle with letting go of their own dreams.

I’ve tried to apply these thoughts to my life, but I find myself still fighting through the vine-covered jungle that is the American Dream (and also the American Ministry Dream). Expectations from those with no Kingdom vision, as well as my slow recovery from years of drinking the toxic waste that is the American Ministry Dream have poisoned me. The gap between thus sayeth the Lord and the American Dream is wide, nay, insurmountable. I am reminded of a quote from Braveheart: "Every man dies. Not every man truly lives." I am also reminded of a definition of a hero and a coward: A hero is someone who dies only once. A coward is someone who dies several times a day. I think I have died several times a day for awhile now and, as God wakes me, I am starting to smell my stink of decomposition. Good thing God can raise the dead!

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As Christmas draws near, I find myself wishing I had done more. Wish I would have hung Christmas lights outside, written more Christmas cards, invested more time reading the birth narratives in the Bible and written more. Of course, I say that in light of the fact that, over the next nine days, I only have to work one day. So, I am a little more relaxed and am able to invest time in reflection. Now that I have gotten those thoughts out of my head and onto the page, I realize I did what I could do and that’s okay. If I have grown through these last few weeks, then God be praised and I look forward to putting his lessons in practice next December. No sense wasting any time with “I wish”es.

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Heard something again today. Only heard it one other time. One of the local Christian radio stations (the same one that has billboards that say, "Santa listens") was talking of the meaning of the season and talked about how the real meaning of the season was bigger than Santa, etc.

How about different than Santa, etc.? Very different. Jesus is not a thought we throw in there to make ourselves feel better as we chase our tails. Jesus is not a thought to be bookended between normal Christmas stuff as though we suddenly realize we have forgotten who we are and who we worship and, after saying a half-hearted, "Let’s not forget the reason for the season," we go right back to the insanity.

Different. That is who Jesus is. That is what he is.

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Out of nowhere, God moved something I had been struggling with from my head to my heart. The let-down from the conference at work has really gummed-up my mind, heart and spirit. Before the conference, I know we worked hard to get things done, but I was also coming home and reading and writing more. I was so looking forward to reading and studying alot about Christmas and also writing about Christmas. But I have been in a fog. A daze. Today, I sensed God shook me to confirm my concerns about my current state. I don’t know what will change, but at least I am no longer sensing that I am adrift. I feel a rudder beneath me and sense the unfurling of sails. Today, the passage God reminded me of is from Jeremiah 1:17 — "Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them."

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Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose, and if you ever saw it you would even say it glows. All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. They never let poor Rudolph play in any reindeer games. Then one foggy Christmas Eve Santa came to say, "Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?" Then all the reindeer loved him, and they shouted out with glee "Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, you’ll go down in history!"

If I’ve got this right, the other reindeer made fun of Rudolph because he was different. He had a physical feature that was not normal, nor in accordance with what others considered popular and acceptable. They called him names and they laughed at him. They shut him out of their games. Then, apparently, Santa faced a crisis and called upon Rudolph to use that which others scorned to help the big guy get around. It was then, and only then, that the other reindeer showed Rudolph any kindness. Hmmmm….

Why? Were they using him and his newfound status in order to get in tight with Santa? Did some want to be seen by others as being a friend of Rudolph, even dropping his name in their conversations with each other so they might feel superior – "Well, you know, Rudolph was telling me just the other day…"

God accepts me as he made me. Unique personality included.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1st John 4:10)

For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:10)

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1st John 3:1)

Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. (Hebrews 2:11)

Well you can doubt your worth and search for who you are and where you stand, but God made you in His image when He formed you in his hands. And He looks at you with mercy and He sees you through His love. You’re His child and that will always be enough. For there’s more to what you’re worth than you could ever comprehend. You can spend your life pursuing physical perfection – there is so much more, more than ever meets the eye. For God looks through the surface and He defines your worth by, what is on the inside. — "The Measure of a Man" by 4Him

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But Thanksgiving is Over!

I was thinking again today about the question, "Why does God allow…?"

For me, I wonder why God allows anything good to come our way at all. Why, knowing what he knows about us, does he give us any good thing ever? Why does he continue to keep me and the others safe at work? The odds of none of us cutting something off our bodies or rolling over a vehicle just boggles my mind. Why does God give us good things? That is the question that stumps me.

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