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…from glory to glory

Archive for the tag “thinking out loud”

Psalm 39 – Reflections

written on my heart

Reading the Psalms – McLean Presbyterian Church

Psalm 39

As of Passover/Resurrection this year, I have been living alive in Christ for 39 years this side of glory. Because of the sudden, acute onset of generalized anxiety disorder, for 16 of those years, I have been in the care of a psychiatrist and therapeutic counseling. I only admit that by way of introducing one of the medical components embedded in the care disciplines of these professionals. That component is a questionnaire which every patient must complete on a periodic basis to assess the advance or relief of their condition. One of the questions focuses on the patient’s level of thoughts of death and/or dying, chiefly whether they are thinking they would be better off dead. The questionnaire also probes whether the patient is considering ways to take the matter of dying into his/her own hands.

Long before I was ever assessed for anxiety disorder, there were times in my life as an atheist humanist that I considered how I might end my life; as a humanist, I was not actually wanting to leave a mess behind for someone else to clean up. As a humanist in the moment of realization that I was a total failure at being master of my own destiny and the highest form of life in the universe, all I really wanted to do was to cease to exist—essentially, to have never existed at all. Suicide did not fill the bill for accomplishing that, since it erases nothing and only adds more to the failure.

As I reflect on David’s lament, I realize that God was making me lament my folly to within an inch of my life, as he says in verse 9:  “…Because it was You who did it.”  It is God who opened my eyes to the truth that 5…Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor…Surely every man walks about like a shadow; surely they busy themselves in vain; he heaps up riches, and does not know who will gather them…”

I was loudly and profoundly awakened to the raw truth that human life, in all its attempts at autonomy and achievement, is the most vulnerable on this planet,  as David says in verse 11: “When with rebukes You correct man for iniquity, You make his beauty melt away like a moth…” because God’s holy gaze is directed at humanity.Psalm 11.4 reminds me: “The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; His eyes see, His eyelids test the children of man.”

Since my re-birth in Christ Jesus 39 years ago, I have never given thought to ending my life at my own hands. Nevertheless, I confess that I have thoughts of death daily. As a Christian it is hard not to have thoughts of death, since in Christ, we are aware of the corruption of this flesh we inhabit. More days than not, I am keenly aware that I walk under God’s holy gaze, and the “kavod”—the weight of His glory is the closest thing I can think of to being either extinguished, or changed as carbon is pressed into a diamond. It is one of the most extraordinary total physical and spiritual experiences a person could ever know this side of glory; and I can only take so much that I must cry out as David did in verse 13:  “Remove Your gaze from me, that I may regain strength, before I go away and am no more.”

At 72, I am closer to knowing—even if vaguely—the measure of my days.  To be sure I know more keenly how frail I am, and I pray:  “And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You. Deliver me from all my transgressions; do not make me the reproach of the foolish… according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.” (Psalm 39.7-8; Philippians 1.20-22).

Soli Deo Gloria.

I was young once…

Yorktown Rose2…and younger everyday

As I write this I am listening to music from my Spotify radio platform, taking me back to decades past when my love and I danced to the delight of Latin rhythms. Facebook has re-emerged in my life as a way to re-connect with friends and family enduring the long weeks of quarantine. With our church being forced to connect online via the benefits of ZOOM technology, I miss the sensory experience of “surround” love, the palpable presence of the Holy Spirit among us, and the exposure to the spectrum of inter-generational affection and interaction.

Ed and Pat at Springfield HiltonAmong the many interests I have pursued during this period of extended confinement with my love, I have found a few new FB “friends” on the planet who are young and beautiful and talented. Some of them have introduced me to their own exploration into what is enduring, and beautiful and excellent. I could be very jealous, allowing my mind to drift into bitterness at my own displacement from the rising generation in which these young virtuosos have distinguished themselves. Instead of dwelling on the loss, I am stirred to think about the decades ago when I and my love were what the world would call “young.”  In his advancing decline in his body, my aging brother-in-law’s heart craved the joy of socializing with us.  He called us “young blood.”

woman wearing pair of white and black pumps

Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

Now, in this season of my life in a vessel which no longer meets the world’s criteria for youth, where can I find the consolation for a heart that still conceives of youth and beauty, that is thrilled by beauty and vibrancy of what my deceased brother-in-law often called “young blood?” In this season of my journey from glory to glory, my memory abandons me momentarily at times as I chase after a word which has dashed through my gray matter like a jackrabbit, only to disappear through a hole in

my boogie shoes

my boogie shoes

my head. And the realities of the fall have devastated my fashion sensibilities. The second law of thermodynamics, from which no one can escape, has left me no choice but to decide whether I wish to walk on my own two feet in shoes which accommodate arthritic feet and high arches, or to wheel about in a chair, my feet adorned with the fashion to which my vanity and tastes still gravitate. So now I dance to Latin rhythms in my San Antonio Shoes and be glad for it…

Oh. My. God! (No blasphemy intended) All I can do is bow in wonder before God who is at the work of making all things new…

If I only knew then what I know now!  Then, in my much “lovelier youth” I lived in a dream detached from the reality of God’s power in a world broken and defiled by the rebellion of my ancient ancestors who exchanged their reality in the beauty of God’s presence and life for a dream of being the masters of their youth and beauty. Their dream of youth and beauty apart from God unleashed on the entire cosmos the nightmare of the second law of thermodynamics…

July 17 2018While I listen to the lilting rhythms and melodies of Latin music, I remember that in Christ, the second law of thermodynamics will have no hold on me. Ah, you say to me, “But your glory is fading.” I say to you what the Word of God says to those who trust Him alone for “dear life:”

according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; 14 knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4.13-18

While I walk in an aging vessel enlivened by the Spirit of God through faith in Christ Jesus, I no longer walk in a dying dream. In Christ Jesus, I am younger now more than I have ever been in my more lovelier years, because I am,  “with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, [being] changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3.18).

I listen and I notice and I thank God for the beauty and excellence I find He is still cultivating in the “young blood” who still share with others, whether or not they know in their beautiful youth that their giftings are from God. I know; and I write for the glory of God to encourage readers to give glory to God for their youth, beauty and gifting…

Because…

We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

2 Corinthians 4.7

Georgetown Rose D

Changing our glory for corruption…

man lying on brown dried grass

Photo by Gabb Tapic on Pexels.com

I thought this article worthy to pass on to readers. Rosaria writes it best:

Are We Living Out Romans 1?

A Perfect Church…

…and other expectations…

I could put many thoughts on this subject in writing to share with everyone who reads my posts; but I doubt any of them would serve anything but to elicit a nod of agreement on shared insights. What compels me to post anything at all on the subject is my studies this morning in Revelation 21 from the Community Bible Study materials.  If you read the chapter in this book of the Bible, you will see a description of the New Jerusalem.

In our group’s CBS Bible study questions we are asked to compare some of the previous manifestations of the glory of God from the passages of Scripture: Exodus 40.34-38; 2 Chronicles 7.1-3 and Matthew 17.1-8.

Here is what I observed: These are all appearances of God’s glory—even for their stunning effect upon fallen, corruptible men—while yet cloaked in a mitigating cover. The very face of God is not revealed, while fallen, corruptible men recognize that it is the Presence of the Glory of God before them and they are undone by its nearness to them. And the moment of glory fades…

In the new city, the holy city of Jerusalem, only the incorruptible redeemed shall dwell and they shall behold His Face in unmasked glory and not die;  but they shall surely worship God face to face, still falling humbly before Him, while enjoying perfect fellowship with Him and one another in His forever Presence.

Another thought question was included in our group’s CBS lesson on Revelation 21; we are asked how looking forward to such a city changes our perspective on today… 

Are you looking for a perfect church this side of Heaven? You might find a very good one, and on some days you might feel like you have stepped across the threshold into the New Jerusalem for the glory of God which falls on your heart at the substance of the unvarnished teaching of the Word of God there… and the beauty of reverent and excellent praise… and the kindness of people who acknowledge your existence in a culture which is wrapped up in itself and its I-phone activity…

But the glory this side of Heaven still fades, just as it did on Mt. Sinai, in the Temple dedication during Solomon’s reign, and on that mountain peak where Jesus was transfigured before the eyes of his disciples…

There are good churches on this planet where the substance of the unvarnished, un-compromised Word of God is taught and lived out from the heart, even if haltingly and “in process;” where forgiveness and accountability to the Word of God has not become an obsolete virtue… And yet, there are Sundays when you might feel dashed expectations because the pastor, for all his gift as a communicator and his humility as a student of the Word in his own life, his sermon did not address your struggle and search for understanding that day… or for all its excellence, the worship team’s rhythm did not match the particular rhythm of your heartbeat that day, because, by God’s sovereign providence, it spoke to others with different needs… I concede that if Scriptural deprivation from the pulpit leadership is a regular, long-term, repetitive experience, perhaps you should be looking for another church. If you are not in a solidly Scriptural teaching church, I exhort you to find one and attend it and take notes on the sermons and study the Scriptures presented…

Even so, if you find yourself pining at times because you hunger for God’s glory to fall upon you and change the stuff in your heart which does not please God–if this stunning “glory work” does not happen in every worship service in your church–the glory fades because we are not in the New Jerusalem.

A “perfect church” which is truly a good church will keep you looking forward to “the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11.10).

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

Revelation 21.3

In the Image of God…

..Thought questions from our community study of  “WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE…”

WLA_vanda_1520_Adam_and_Eve

WLA_vanda_1520_Adam_and_Eve Loy Hering [CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

How does the idea of God’s image reinforce the priority of our knowledge of God as the chief component of a worldview? In this respect, how does the biblical worldview differ from those based on moral relativism or macroevolution?

Ideas have consequences. The consequences of the idea that man is created in the image of God are that there is, indeed, a God who is sovereign and providential in and over all things in the world. Furthermore, such a God-centered, Biblical worldview sees that man is not a grown up germ, but rather that man bears the personal image of God in his being–a dignifying quality of life, with design and purpose. If we retain our knowledge of God in our worldview, then we also are confident in the knowledge that there is absolute truth.

Conversely, the consequences of the idea which refuses to have the God of creation in its thinking, negates the image of God in mankind. Furthermore, a worldview predicated on this idea leads to the shifting of morality at man’s own whim and inclination, and while exalting humanism, it simultaneously devalues the sanctity of human life.

Without the certain knowledge of the God in whom we live and move and have our being, there is a denial that persons are made in the image of God. A humanistic worldview ultimately suffers the loss of the identity of “personhood,” struggles with finding purpose in anything; and its logical end is futility.​


Teaching Children to Develop a Biblical World View

  • Our days began to be numbered; our bodies began to become frail and to decay…
  • We lost our innocence before a holy God…
  • Our knowledge of our purpose in life became darkened…
  • Our memory that we are created in the image of God became darkened…
  • We became adversaries to God’s plan and His good purposes…
  • We gave up our dominion over Satan who is one of the creation over whom we were meant to rule (Romans 1.18-25),,,

  • Did not take away His image from us; we can still learn and work to make life better…
  • Did not take away His Spirit to guide, convict, counsel and correct…
  • Promised One–His Son Jesus–who would come to conquer the power of Satan…

A world view question for everyone:

Psalm 51; Matthew 1.21; 1 Timothy 1.15

God, Providence, Peace and Calamity…

…Thought questions from our community of study on “WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE”

Why did the word “providence” seemingly disappear from the vocabulary of the twentieth century? Are there any other theological words we might be in danger of losing?

WTC Damage

USAF photo by Capt. Jim Fabio: courtesy https://www.af.mil/News/Photos/igphoto/2000030814/

The upsurge in secularist pressure to remove all things religious–particularly Christian–from the public square, from public schools, government-supported social service agencies, etc., has conditioned the American mindset to forget and even to suppress consciousness of God and His providential care in all the things of daily life. The consequences of that “big idea” are that the 20th-21st Century American is in grave danger of forgetting–even suppressing–the knowledge of God’s holiness and sovereignty over all things—even His dispensation of authority to those in place of government…

Herein I see the consequences of that philosophical departure from all knowledge of God. I understand the intent of our founding fathers to separate the Church from the state because of the calamitous effects of the abuses of the undisciplined Church in Europe. However, separation of Church from the state is one thing; separation of God from the state is disastrous, because it is from God the state receives its authority, and it is to God the state is accountable. To separate God from the state is to set the state up to become as abusive as the Church in past times in Europe when it stepped aside from its accountability to God. Separating God from the state is to repeat history and to bring upon those who look to the state for right judgment and governance the greatest calamity of all time…

When society abandons the truth that a holy and provident God is the Ultimate Personal Reality, it dives headlong into the poison pool of sophistry. Sophistry—or sophism—is that body of thinking which emerged in the fifth century B.C. Sophism advanced rhetoric (persuasion) rather than rational thought, the denial of any truth, the superiority of acquisition by any means, “might is right,” and true mastery belongs to those who prefer injustice…

It is said that to forget history is to repeat it…

This gives me chills and brings me grief to realize how close our 21st Century “civilization” is coming to the deadly world of sophism…


A biblical understanding of God’s providence necessitates the belief that it would extend over all things…The events of 9/11 exposed the inadequacy of…American humanism to embody the biblical view of God’s providence over all things…At the heart of the American reaction to the events of 9/11 was the slogan, ‘God Bless America…’ but still did not fully embrace the biblical concept of God’s providence. Despite the cry for God’s blessing on the nation, the idea that God could have been involved in the tragedy itself was still rejected…”

–Dr. R. C. Sproul, When Worlds Collide-Part 2: Peace & Calamity


ideas - consequences

“Creative Thinking” by BKnight – DeviantArt https://www.deviantart.com/bknight/art/Creative-Thinking-190682199 by permission Creative Commons License
“Ideas have consequences,” georgetownrose.wordpress.com/6159, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode

Knowing that God is sovereign over all things does not mean that we know the mind of God behind His providential workings…I do not know why God ordained 9/11, but I know that He did ordain it because if He did not ordain it, it would not have happened. Since it happened, I know for certain that God ordained it in some sense. That is one of the most difficult concepts even for devout Christians to deal with. Yet the concept is found on almost every page of sacred Scripture. It is at the very heart of the Christian faith.”

–Dr. R. C. Sproul, “When Worlds Collide: Where is God when Terror Strikes?”

 


While we remember the stunning blow to the soul of America on September 11, 2001, let us also remember the Word of the LORD:

I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity: I am the LORD, who does all these things.”

–Isaiah 45.7

 

Natural Theology…

In the last session of course in The History and Overview of Philosophy, there were discussion questions presented to the students. I spent a good deal of time thinking how to answer the question featured here, since I was not immediately certain I could articulate on the basis of the logical necessary being of God. Logical necessary being of God and natural revelation… Here is the question…

Creation: How much can we learn about God from creation?

This is an exciting question.  The painful thing I see in creation is that it seems troubled and put to grief–something my soul recognizes should not be so, unless a terrible event plunged it into trouble and grief. Perhaps I see in this the wrath of the God of all creation, His expressed grief and yet His carefully restrained justice, revealed from heaven against all that mankind thinks and does to deny Him and to exalt man above God–because in the natural, we think we are so very smart; we think we are God. When I look at me–one of the creation–I see that big old “I” problem at the center of SIN… and I am real good at seeing it in others, too…

Then when I look at nature, I think no wonder God sometimes expresses His anger toward us through the elements of creation… Actually, that’s not too far off from what the native Americans or the Incas or the Aztecs realized; the difference is that they responded by worshiping the creation as receptacles of spirit gods, denying the God who is King over all creation…

Nevertheless, I love meditating on the attributes of God which can be known of His Being and character from creation. When I see a thunder cloud advancing in the summer skies, I realize my dependence upon the sovereignty of God to control the natural forces building up inside it; so I see His power to execute wrath and His power to exercise mercy; and these attributes of God are communicated through the mediate medium of His own creation–how He governs the vapors of the firmament for the good or the remaking of the earth beneath…​ summer-clouds

When I see the young fawn grazing in the tall summer ferns along the paths of the Blue Ridge, I observe the providence of God for this creature and I remember His providence in my own life… White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) fawn, also known as the Virginia deer or simply as the whitetail, in spring ferns at Mount Porte Crayon in West Virginia.

When I see the swells of sea water form only yards away from me as I bob buoyantly in the watery firmament oc waves2beneath skies, I feel and know the power of God to govern the motion of the water as it becomes a wave which can either delight me with its rhythmic movement, carry me in its curl to shore, or overtake me and plunge me tumbling and rolling like so much flotsam, till it releases me both laughing and sputtering and disheveled from the humiliation of its tossing…

I could go on and on and on… I could not in my lifetime realize from nature the Way God has provided as the means of redemption for my rebellion against Him to satisfy His grief and justice… But then, this extraordinary God who IS, revealed His necessary being from creation to my once humanistic heart, and then led me to His Word–37 years ago as time is counted. I have not been the same ever since…

What are you all learning about God from your observations and experiences in creation?

Early Edition…

senior-woman-reading-bible-and-holding-glasses.jpg

Lately, my husband and I have taken to watching a series on television entitled “Early Edition.” The series began airing in 1996 and lasted through 2000.  We enjoyed it 20 years ago, and now that it is airing again on Heroes&Icons TV, we are enjoying it again…

The stories are about Gary Hobson, a Chicago man who was fired from his job as a stockbroker, and then divorced by his wife for being uninteresting.” After starting a new job as the owner of McGinty’s Pub, he begins awaking every morning to the cries of an orange tabby cat at his door. The cat is delivering an unusual newspaper—it’s always tomorrow’s newspaper: hence, “Early Edition.” And it launches Gary into a daily adventure of warning others of deadly danger that awaits them in some location or activity in the city. Invariably his job of declaring the warning becomes a life-and-death mission to save them…

What makes the shows provocative is not so much the ultimate labors Gary undertakes to rescue the people, as his efforts to persuade the smug and the unbelieving that danger awaits them in a specific place at a specific time. His warnings of imminent danger go unheeded and are often rejected as folly by the people whose lives he desires to save…

Here’s another story from another very “early edition.” You could say that it is truly “tomorrow’s newspaper” today…

Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying,

‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’

For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men…The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat: both the earth and works that are in it will be burned up…”

–2 Peter 3.1-7,10 NKJV

creation beauty

Why did God see fit to awaken me to “tomorrow’s news” today? Certainly to save me from the wrath to come; but not merely for me to absorb all the pleasantries of worldly life while I can, and not so that I can sit at my computer and write pleasant little “feel good” stories to share with those who love lullabies so they can go on sleeping…

Gary Hobson was always questioning why he was getting tomorrow’s newspaper; he was always searching for the source of the “Early Edition” delivered on his doorstep each morning by the orange tabby. The weight of accountability for Gary Hobson was nearly threatening to his own life until he met with the warning of his own death and nearly died saving the lives of two others. After that experience, he began embracing the gift and accountability which arrived at daybreak with the cat’s “meow…”

I know the Giver of the Early Edition on my desk as I write this; and I know His warning to me of the gift and the accountability I have in it…

If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.”

–Ezekiel 3.18 ESV

Many scoffers will continue to scoff; but perhaps God will use this warning to awaken some from their slumbers to discover that the very God who will bring the wrath to come is also the very God who will save from that same wrath all those who trust in His Son Jesus, the Messiah:

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…”

–1 Corinthians 15.3-4 NKJV

Another Day to Glorify the Lord Jesus…

Just thinking out loud…

Paul Witnesses to Roman LeadersI have been studying the Book of Acts with my friends at Community Bible Study, and this week’s lesson material is covering Acts 25-26. While examining the record of Paul’s defense before Agrippa in Acts 26 I read Paul’s opening statement:

“I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews…” (vs 2).

One of the study questions asked: “Why do you think Paul considered himself ‘fortunate’ to be addressing Agrippa in his defense against the accusations of the Jews?”

This is not the first time in my studies of Paul’s life and witness that I have seen his total surrender to the love of the Lord Jesus Christ in all things. Paul’s life and ministry was both a physical and spiritual battleground every day of his breathing existence this side of Heaven. And still, he wakes up each morning with the expectation that he has another day to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ–because he loves Him more than all…

…(wait while I weep over my ambivalent, insipid commitment to Jesus)…

spiritual battleAnyway, not so very long ago, in another moment of awakening, I told the Lord that I want that same expectancy in my own life when I wake up every morning–another day to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ–in my own breathing existence this side of Heaven. And not very long after that, Satan went “nuclear” on me, mustering every weapon in his hateful arsenal to quench that desire… To be sure, it has been a battle of “operation desert storm” proportions in my life, because Satan is not having any of it…

But I wonder if Paul ever had periods of waking up dreading what he might face in his day–whether it be the physical taxing on his body to travel while in pain, or whether it be the undercurrent of dread at facing another mob bent on drawing blood… so much so, that his flame of gladness of glorifying Jesus gutters and flickers in the battles of each day; and that instead of jubilation, his heart is like a ship anchored and held fast to its mooring in Christ while yet battered from within and from without…

god-strength2That’s something of how I feel in my dusty existence this side of Heaven…But I know that Messiah Jesus fights for me, because I am alive today “fortunate” to have another day to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ in my own breathing existence this side of Heaven…

Thanking God that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world, as it is written by another faithful one who loved the Lord Jesus:

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

-1 John 4.4

Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?…To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, He would proclaim light both to our people [the Jews] and to the Gentiles.”

–Acts 26.8,22-23

Glory to Thee, Lord Jesus!

I’m always ready…

…for Christmas…

Everyone around me is bustling to “get ready for Christmas.” Being ready for Christmas in this culture is a matter of stocking up on the right decorations, the richest festive foods, and the perfect gifts for our friends and relatives. “Being ready for Christmas” is retail oriented…

“Are you ready for Christmas?” is a question I often hear at the check-out line in the grocery store. If that cashier only knew the passion for Messiah Jesus roaring behind the floodgates of my soul, she would think twice before asking me that question. Nevertheless, having the invitation to share my readiness for Christmas, I go gently but boldly… I am always ready for Christmas…

My question is, “How can anyone not be ready for Christmas?” We allow the culture to eclipse our consciousness of the sacrifice of the King of glory who set aside His joys in the Heavenlies to dwell in an earthen vessel for our sake… “Christmas” worship focuses exclusively upon that event in history—when the Son of God, who is eternal, everlasting, and outside of time and space, subjected His life to the confines of our mortality—our temporary-ness… And we must never forget this magnificent event; but the manger scene of Bethlehem’s Tower of the Flock was only the beginning of the Incarnation of the King of kings …

I love this season as much as every other warm-blooded disciple of Messiah Jesus. I am particularly “undone” this year, overwhelmed with the awesome weight of His glory—and I am finding it difficult to confine the passion of worship into the typical Christmas routine of the putting up of the tree and setting up the Nativity scene. It’s not that I feel jaded or cynical at all… Far from it… To be sure, we could not have the whole Incarnation of Christ without the great moment in Bethlehem; but I am changed in the way I view this season and the ways it is viewed by my contemporaries this side of Heaven… Aside from the fact that I will soon be 70 years old—I am told that aging changes one’s perspective—I believe that something else has finally had its way in my heart—something that only the King of glory could do…

For the greater part of the year prior to this season, my heart, soul, mind and strength have been immersed in the Word of God in a systematic study of the years of Jesus’ Incarnation which followed His infant birth in Bethlehem…

The written record of His Incarnate life and ministry for our sake…

To declare the glory of the Incarnate Christ to our children in our church family…

Beloved, I cannot articulate everything I have seen and understood with new understanding of the weight of glory revealed in the whole written record of His Incarnation…

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

–John 1.14

…for our sake…

I am undone by His revealed glory in all His incarnate life and ministry…

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written… but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God…

–John 21.25; 20.31

It’s easy to adore the little baby in the manger of Bethlehem, because an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes poses no apparent threat, no immediate challenge to our secret thoughts and our autonomous posture toward a Holy God—unless we step back and view the panoramic evidence which awakens us from our Christmas lullabies to the true identity of this sweet little Baby Boy…

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your Salvation that You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a Light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Your people Israel.” And His father and His mother marveled at what was said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

–Luke 2.25-35

In the phrase of a popular Christmas carol: “Do you see what I see?”

ChristTheKing4

Do you see what Simeon saw? He saw it before the Holy, Incarnate Bundle in his arms walked out every stroke of the Father’s revealing work in the dust of Galilee, Judea and Samaria… Simeon saw it long before the record of the Incarnate glory of Jesus was written down for us in the Word of God… And if you glimpse even a fraction of it, would you still adore Him Who challenges all your secret thoughts and your autonomous posture before a Holy God?

“In Him was Life; and the Life was the light of men.”

–John 1.4

Would you always be ready for Christmas?

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