Contemplating the Crib

When we think about Jesus, when we start to contemplate the crib, we explode into joy over what we have seen. We inaugurate a convincing of His second coming. You might say that we suddenly adjust to a Jesus who just drops in on us.

“And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.”

Col. 3:4, NLT

Jesus anticipates that His visits to earth, will start to bear fruit. There will be many who will be validated to step up into this place of salvation. But many of us will be part of many others who are involved in this sharing. Jesus has come, and all of us enter into something quite exceptional.

But this is all a future event, it hasn’t happened yet, but we do think about when He will return. But this is not an occasional, fleeting awareness. But we are confident we do understand that His return alters everything. All of a sudden, we are launched into real and eternal promises. These critical assignments coming from this world, will never take the place of being in God‘s purposes.

Paul is wrapped up with a deep and profound understanding of things that are on the threshold.  He is the apostle of the aware. He seems to sizzle with understanding that progresses out of his initiative and creative effort.

But Paul develops, after he sees, a careful sense of certain things that are moving. But he knows what He has seen, and he insists that others join him in this.

This is why we must procure this awareness. To operate in the realm of Paul will be worth our weight in “celestial gold.”  Things are rich and fecund, and they wait in a exceptional awareness. As Paul follows, so we follow. In the Heavenly places, we are being counted as being faithful and quite true.

A Stranger to Your Holiness

Below are the lyrics to a CCM song that I listened to over and over, circa 1982-83. The album is Steve Camp‘s, “Shake Me to Wake Me“, and there are several songs of reasonable significance on it.  Unfortunately, I no longer have a copy, if you should find one, I’d be happy to take it off your hands.  You’d make this “Jesus Freak” a happy man. Even if you can’t do YouTube, I encourage you to read these lyrics as if it were a poem.

Lyrics to “Stranger To Your  Holiness” , by Steve Camp

Looks like the boy’s in trouble again
Living much too close to the edge of sin
Now he finds himself where he should not have been
Oh God, why is Your peace so hard to find
And the answer to the questions that haunt my mind
Oh Lord, Your ways are not like mine

 

And it pounds like thunder within in my breast
All the anger of my humanness
And though I call You “Lord” I must confess
I’m a stranger to Your holiness, a stranger to Your holiness

 

Can we really be what we were meant to be
Jesus’ people, living by the Spirit and living free
My heart longs to serve, but wanders so aimlessly
Oh Lord You deserve every part of me

 

Hear my cry of desperation as I see the wickedness of my ways
You alone are my salvation, and Lord I’ve learned this one thing to be true
Is that the closer I get to You, I see I’m a stranger (to Your holiness)
Don’t wanna be no stranger, and it burns like a fire…

As I follow Jesus as His simple disciple, I’m very aware of the issues that tangle me. It is like a net that drops and I get quite caught in it. But we really are asked to shake these things off.

“Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won’t let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us. 2We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete.”

Hebrews 12:1-2, CEV

The intensity of this particular album cannot be conveyed.  Mr. Camp reaches into places that the average Christian musician misses and communicates relevance to all those who seek His face.  This particular song has a lyrical integrity and sensitivity that makes it stellar.  As I ponder the words I find myself with someone who understands me and my issues.  I hope this blesses.

A Broken Christmas

My friend, JD, passed away earlier this month.

And I feel like I am reading the same script over and over again.  I’ve lost count of how many loved ones I’ve lost.  I try to believe the promises of our Father.  I do.  I try.  Though grief has clouded my vision before — each time, actually — things are different for me this time.

It’s not because people don’t know what to say.  It’s not because I’ve endured disappointment from The Church, either.  And it’s not because I cannot make sense of yet another loss that, to me, makes no sense at all.

Divine wisdom defies human logic.  That much I’m sure.  And I suppose I have gotten used to that part.

But, I do feel like a boxer getting pummelled in a corner — and the crowd is cheering.

In my constant quest to find comfort, I have encountered endless tales written by those who claim to have been broken.  And, if I am honest, I have seen some such people — in fact, many — dress up their testimonies with a grandiose glaze.  They cite, in scant detail, only the most necessary ingredients of their story, discussing their difficulties like a waiter runs through the specials of the day; it’s a matter of procedure, of training.  And instead of a passionate conviction of faith, I am fed a false ideology, an idolatry that foolishly demands the will of God bend to our own comfort in a fallen world.

But such grandiose testimonies alienate those of who are broken.  We are isolated, and there are times I feel as though I have a deadly, contagious disease; it’s as if people cannot bear the thought of enduring what cannot be endured.  I have not overcome the odds at all. 

Our suffering is constant, and our struggles cannot be resolved with a delightful dressing.  We do not hide from our pain, nor our anguish.  When we are willing to accept our suffering — and I certainly am a most unwilling student — we do so because we know Christ Himself has suffered; He took no shortcuts to His Crown, and neither can we.

Washed and Waiting

In the past, some of you were like that, but you were washed clean. You were made holy, and you were made right with God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.  1 Corinthians 6:11, NCV

But we are hoping for something we do not have yet, and we are waiting for it patiently. Romans 8:25, NCV

Washing and waiting. These two words together form an idea of formation. To be washed implies need. Our world is a filthy place, we must get clean. Often. When my son has spent his morning playing, he needs to be washed. (I sometimes wonder if he intentionally just finds a mud puddle and rolls in it.) To be spiritually cleansed is something God insists on.

Waiting. It’s funny, but waiting is an active thing. Hope is a component of waiting, without a hope we simply loiter. We wander and drift into a life of futility. And if you don’t hope, you can’t wait.

Very often, those of us who are damaged and flawed will slide into a despair and a despondency. Depression can often be satanic, the enemy is trying to remove any hope we may have.  The dark prince lusts for your soul. A christian with his hope removed is immediately shackled and led into the night.

To be washed, and to wait. These two ideas should be yoked together like oxen. They provide strength, and assist us to be fruitful. If we’re not washed, and we are not really waiting, we wander aimlessly. Humans do have a responsibility to be washed and waiting. We mustn’t lose these.