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Would we dare?

The Omega

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” [Hebrews 12:1-2]

The Alpha

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Never, before today, have I thought of Christmas in terms of “shame”. Of Mary’s shame of conceiving out of wedlock, Joseph’s shame to wed a pregnant bride, their family shame to bear their son in a cast off stable, to bed Him in a feed trough…

And what of Jesus Himself? Who can even begin to conceive of the contrast between His glorious throne, and swaddling clothes, nappies, and nipples?

And yet… and yet… He EMBRACED that! ALL of them did! Who can imagine such a thing? Mary dared deadly shame to say “yes” to the Angel Gabriel. Joseph dared to trust Mary when she told him of Jesus’ conception.

And Jesus? Jesus willingly embraced His humanity, placing Himself in the care of this incredible couple. He embraced the shame. He accepted His own weakness, helplessness, dependency.

Doing so… as a puny little infant… His very presence terrified a king, prompting the slaughter of countless boys. His presence inspired other kings, who paid Him homage and presented Him gifts. His danger, and the warning of an angel, uprooted His family to an alien country to preserve His life. Did they travel in secret? Like people ashamed? Traveling by little known routes, not to be seen, moving by night, resting and hiding by day?

How strange does this all seem for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?

Did they despise the shame? Yet did they all embrace it, for the love of God and those He came to save? Did they love us? Somehow know that somewhere, sometime, you and I would be sitting here praising God for all this?

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All this… all this shame… they took on and embraced, that WE might come to be freed of OUR shame! That our own shames, guilts, sins, be remembered no more. That we stand clean and clear, robed in the righteousness of Christ before the Holy Throne of the Father!

What about us? That’s the question that came to me this morning. That’s the question the Lord confronted me with this morning.

Does “shame”, a concern about what other people will think of me, ever prevent me from doing the right thing, a righteous thing, an action of grace?

It has, Gentle Reader. I must be honest. There are times I have refrained from doing “the right thing”, because it would embarrass me. You too?   * head nods here *   Well, our human frailty gets us all sometimes.

But just let me encourage you, Gentle Reader. Let me ask you to encourage me as well, from time to time. Acts of grace, of compassion, of gentleness… should never be constrained by “how it looks” to others, or whether we will “lose status” by embracing the shame. Do the right, the gentle, the loving… and let onlookers sort themselves out before the Throne.

Jesus’ earthly life began embracing shame. His earthly life ended the same way. But throughout… He is, was, and ever shall be… King of Kings, Lord of Lords…

“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” [Philippians 2:8-11]

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2015 in Advent Devotions, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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Monday – Humor Required

For those of us who serve in churches, whether staff or congregant, this month (December) is just horrendously busy. In the midst of such a flurry of activity, working to make these holidays rich and meaningful… we sometimes just get…. “tarred”… as they say ’round here.

For me, humor is often the best tonic. I found myself listening to some Bob Newhart, and from there was led to Grady Nutt. If you have never seen/heard Rev. Grady Nutt speak, allow me the privilege of introducing you.

This may begin a new “tradition” for me. Mondays, we just deserve and need a smile. Please enjoy this!

 

 

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When Steel Doors Clang!

Prison Bars Twas the Night Before Christmas, and all through the Big House… earsplitting sirens blared, the clank of great steel doors slamming shut assailed us from every direction, and a stentorian voice bellowed down every corridor, “Everyone stand still, stop where you are, and wait. This facility is now under Lockdown.”

For 70 or so good-hearted church volunteers, carolers, and choristers, there crept the growing realization that they were now, however briefly, actually incarcerated in a State Penitentiary. Corrections Officers on high alert, conducted civilians from our several buildings and ushered all into the Cafeteria where I (as the only Staff Chaplain in the Facility that night) was asked to help all remain calm and host our visitors, explaining what was going on.

Simply put, there had been an escape(!), we were now in Lockdown, and these wonderful church folk who had intended nothing more complicated at 10 p.m. than bringing comfort, Chapel services and worship, and music to cheer inmates in the late hours of Christmas Eve, were now the unexpected guests of the State, unauthorized and physically unable to exit the facility or get to their cars.

Why am I telling this story? Because that night utterly changed the ministries of some of those people.

An Inmate had escaped and was thought to be somewhere on the grounds. He had access to the Parking Lot, and could now be secreted in any of the MANY cars and vans crowding the asphalt on this busy night.

In order to leave, one carload at a time had to be escorted out of the Cafeteria, through a number of Control Points with an armed team, be escorted to their vehicle, wait while the vehicle was carefully searched, and follow a Prison Vehicle out the drive and off the property. Only thus, were we assured that they were not accosted by the escapee, possibly forced to give transportation away from the Prison.

  • This was a bit frightening
  • This was NOT what they’d signed on for
  • This was tedious and frustrating, with all the stop and go
  • One vehicle at a time, this was going to take a LONG TIME.

And so it did. It took hours, and I was the last to leave. But in those hours two amazing things happened.

First, there were longer conversations and interactions between these visitors and Prison personnel, and even the Inmates (who had been assigned to the Cafeteria for the evening), than these loving Church members had ever had before, or expected to have. Many had the chance to actually make FRIENDS with these “Prison People”.

Second, for perhaps the very first time in their lives, they were truly INCARCERATED. Granted, they’d done nothing wrong, but they COULD NOT LEAVE. It was no longer their choice, not in their control. There are few such feelings short of aircraft travel, for we who live lawful lifestyles. Of course, the few hours of inconvenience do not compare to years of imprisonment, but for many, the experience of hearing those doors slam, seeing (now) armed officers preventing them from leaving or getting to their cars, did a work in their hearts.

After such a traumatic adventure, frankly, I never expected any of them to return, but in that I was quite wrong. For many, the experience had the exact opposite effect. They’d found themselves, for the first time, imagining what it would be like for this to be an “every single day” state.

Some of these visitors became our most faithful chaplaincy volunteers, as the social isolation of incarceration had become concrete and real to them. They teamed up in projects of Prison Ministry, and came to conduct Bible Studies, Tutoring, Literacy or other classes, and provide worship and music.

The Church (Body and Bride of Christ), and YOUR Church (no matter where or how big), can make a difference in the lives of incarcerated people, in the lives of former inmates returning to re-enter the community, and/or in the lives of families (and children) of those in jail or prison.

Over time, I hope to document different ways any Body of Christ can lift Him up in the community, and share grace, love, light all around them. It’s amazing how many creative ways Jesus has found to touch others through churches of any size and composition.

What have you seen, experienced, or heard about folks doing through their church that have touched lives in an unexpected way?


 

32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” [Matthew 25]

 

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Making an Entrance

WisdomThe people were waiting for Zacharias, and were wondering at his delay in the temple. But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept making signs to them, and remained mute. When the days of his priestly service were ended, he went back home.

After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.”

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.” [Luke 1:21-29]

We see Zacharias, first finishing his duty, his time as a priest in his division.(I cannot imagine what this would have been like for him, unable to speak, yet unable to have relations with his wife (in order to remain ritually clean for Temple service), and having both this tremendous promise from the angel and his constant reminder of its truth through his inability to speak.) Only upon completion of his service does he return home, and John is conceived. Did Elizabeth believe him when he wrote out or pantomimed this incredible revelation?

Elizabeth then shuts herself away for the first five months of her pregnancy. I am struck by her blessing of God, in its focus on her disgrace. How deep must her bitterness have been across those barren years? Her focus is not on the glorious power of God in miracle, or on the joy of a son and heir coming into the world, but on her relief from shame and disgrace. I don’t judge or condemn this… I am simply struck with compassion at how great her suffering must have been up until then. Why, I wonder, did she not allow herself to be seen by the other women during her first two trimesters? Did she fear, I wonder, that this might be snatched away from them and she miscarry? I cannot imagine that she could bear the bitterness, shame, or disappointment of that. Did she fear even greater ridicule if she lost the baby?

It is from there, from that point of Elizabeth’s seclusion, that we see God send forth Gabriel to Mary. Scripture highlights the time, measuring it from the starting point of John’s conception. How interesting! John, as forerunner and herald of Jesus, is the first tick of the clock timing Jesus’ advent.

Then we see an amazing thing. Gabriel is dispatched by God to go find Mary in her own city, and he walks in on her! Now, most angels in the Bible are “encountered” when the person walks up on them… or God sends angels off to “go before” people, leading them somewhere. Only a few times do the angels walk up to encounter people, and even less often is that their primary mission. (E.g. The angels walk up and encounter Lot on their way into Sodom.)

Likely we have seen, read, and pondered the Luke narrative of this encounter many many times, Gentle Reader. So this year, my attention has not so much been drawn to the momentous and incredible wonders of this meeting. For some reason, and I invite you to join me here, the Lord’s spotlights have been focusing on much littler things…

In this case, I’m amazed at the “everyday-ness”… the seeming “ordinary-ness”… of the opening of this Cosmically Incredible Encounter. Gabriel goes to Mary’s city, commissioned to find her and announce this wonder, and he simply “walks in on her” and greets her with the Angelic Salutation… the “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.”

And her response? Makes me smile… No sign of fear or even questioning words, just simplicity and a bit of confusion… “But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.”

How would we likely respond in similar circumstances? I am struck by the “taking in stride” of it all.

 

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Elpis is in the House

arc For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. [Romans 8:18-25]

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The Greek word for “hope”?  ἐλπίς (elpis)

A friend and colleague called me a while back to discuss “hope”. He had encountered a very young man, a 20-something, who, in great anguish disclosed that he felt utterly without hope… that he had lost all hope in life. My friend dealt with this young man and his father, and then phoned me in his own anguish to deal with the question… “How? How can one so young, be living in such a vacuum of hope?”

I’ve worked long and hard with people who have come to lack hope, both through suicide work and a variety of destructive lifestyles… and pointed out how very common this view has become. It is amazing.

  • The singular characteristic recognized in suicide “lists” of signs and symptoms, as pretty much universal, is that the person has lost all hope. “Hopelessness” is usually top of the list.
  • The principal predictor of survival in a disaster or critical situation, is the hope held out by the survivor. Both tales of survivors, and journals of those who survived for a period after the disaster, show that longevity is strongly connected to the degree of hope held by the person.

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“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” [Romans 15:13]

A couple years ago, a friend prompted me to a serious study of the implications of this verse. That led to a number of realizations. Among them:

  • God Himself, cannot “hope”, because to be omniscient means that all is “seen”. Love can persist, yes. God loves. Yes. But God cannot know either “faith” or “hope”, as He “sees all”. (cf 1 Cor 13:13]
  • Hope may be thought of as “forward-looking faith”. Faith looks primarily to the present, hope looks primarily towards the future.
  • Hope requires trust. If one can no longer trust, one can no longer hope.

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Only one more puzzle piece here, and then I can lay this before you complete…

Over the past few days, I’ve been drawn to consider the season of “Advent”. I’ve been challenged by a question asked of me by the Lord, as this passage buzzed through my mind and spirit…

So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. [Galatians 4:3-5]

The Question: “What made this… this moment of Christ’s Incarnation… the ‘fullness of time’?”

In other word, “Why now?”

Israel was in an horrible state… defeated, occupied, garrisoned by Rome. Northern and Southern kingdoms in shambles. Hardly recovered from the Babylonian captivity. No longer a military force of note against Assyria and other nations of the region. Samaria constituting nearly a “nation within a nation” in their midst. Intrigues everywhere. A half-mad Herod mixing human blood in sacrifices, corruption of the Temple bleeding the devout dry, tax collectors and publicans making the most of Roman law to line their pockets.

And THIS… was the “fullness of time” into which Divine Wisdom and Love had chosen, from before the beginning, to let the Son of God take on the additional name, Son of Man.

I could not fathom it…

But slowly, a niggling thought seemed to inch its way to the surface of my mind. Perhaps this was, itself, the key to the answer. Perhaps it was the very pathetic hopelessness of Israel at the time…

I mean, what seemed ALWAYS to call God forth in the greatness of His power and majesty throughout the Old Testament? The sincere cries for rescue of His children in bondage.

From the flood, through Egyptian Exodus, conquest of the Promised Land, the wars of David and establisment of the Kings, and eventual relief from the Babylonian Captivity…  from the Burning Bush, through Shekinah, and Pillar of Fire/Cloud by Day… God seems to manifest and come forth the most clearly, when His children are in the greatest need of rescue.

So, why should it be different for the Incarnation?

And yet, when Jesus comes, we see an utterly new dimension of rescue occurring. He stated His “agenda” clearly in one of His first moments of public revelation and ministry:

And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”

And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” [Luke 4:17-21]

The “poor”, “captives”, “blind”, “oppressed”…. these were the focus of Jesus’ mission. This was the purpose of His anointing and the agenda of the Spirit of the Lord. Well, if THIS is the mission, then indeed one could say the fullness of time had come. Israel certainly had these in abundance.

But rather than restoration of Israels military, political, economic greatness among the nations… as so many people of the time anticipated, Jesus arrived as Messiah to work in an entirely other dimension. His concern was to reveal the Father in spirit and in truth.

So, how does this “fullness of time” thing relate to THAT? To the relationship between man and God in prayer and spirit?

Israel had “perfected” religion. Scribes, pharisees, priests, teachers of the law… had so studied what requirements it took, as to custom, tradition, behavior, food, and clothing… that it may be said that the Temple represented the absolute pinnacle of religious attainment. Every move, every sound, every crumb and thread, were legislated and covered by scholarly authority as to how it would be pleasing or displeasing to God.

The Law now permeated every institution of Israel’s life… business, family, education, relationships, worship, care of the old and care of the young… EVERYTHING had been infused with “what the Law requires” for man to be right with God. Every moment of the day, was clearly scripted, as to what would bring about the blessing and good favor of God.

Whatever else could be said of that moment in economic and political history…

“Religion… the Worship of the Law… had attained absolute Perfection by the efforts of man.”

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THIS… I realized…. could be thought of as the hallmark of the “fullness of time”.

It was now time for God become flesh to come and dwell among us… because man’s pride had now attained the ultimate hubris. Religion had now given us management of the means to become righteous before God. Religion… was perfect now.

And, of course, man had quite utterly missed the point. The Law, Religion, can never perfect. Law, in fact, highlights imperfection. The Law is the indicator of hopelessness.

Jesus Alone, Christ, the grace-filled Son of Man/Son of God… came not to bring peace but a sword. He fulfilled utterly the Law. He satisfied the demands of righteousness, and totally defeated Religion. Religion murdered Jesus, but in rising… He defeated it completely. “Religion”, the caring about whether one must worship God in the Temple or on the mountain… cannot stand in the face of the God of spirit and truth.

In the presence of Jesus, such foolishness withers as chaff in the face of a blazing furnace.

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Bottom Line: The fullness of time came when religion believed that the Law could provide righteousness and satisfy God. Jesus came because such a view is not the liberty and freedom that the Father intends for His children, but simply another form of bondage and enslavement to 600+ rules and regulations that would determine one’s immortal fate.

When man’s bondage reached its pinnacle… enslaved not only to other men, but to regulations of men laid down in the Name of God… NOW, Jesus could come, reveal in His person the fullness of God Himself, and redeem all of Creation.

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What is Advent? I’m thinking that Advent is the moment, the season, wherein we realize we are bound up and enthralled to enslavement of any sort… even to religion. When we cry out to God, in our own despair of powerlessness, it seems that it is simply God’s way… to appear, to manifest, and to reveal Himself in great power and majesty…

His is an ongoing mission of rescue of His beloved children… the poor, the blind, the captive.

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Thank You that You have come, Lord Jesus!

What is the key to hope? The permanent, life-changing key? To trust to the love and mission of Jesus. To know, beyond all evidence, doubt, and facts that seem to deny it… that God’s very anointing and mission, is to rescue any and all who are trapped and enslaved! Do you, or anyone you know, feel stuck and hopeless? Trust to the mission of Jesus… for He is worthy of our trust!

Grace to thee — The Little Monk

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds

 

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The Gift Box

The BoxIt was Christmas Morning at the Magic Monastery, and all the monks were filled with joy and excitement. A wondrous Christmas Tree stood in the Great Hall, and St. Nicholas had come and gone the earlier night, leaving beautifully wrapped gifts for all the brethren.

I could scarcely contain my excitement as my name was called and a brother brought me a gorgeous gift box with a great scarlet bow on the top and a card reading, “Merry Christmas, Little Monk, from Your Father.”

“What could it be?” I wondered, as I shook the box as discretely as possible. It made no sound. In fact, it had no sensation at all. It seemed… empty… which disturbed me a bit. I began to worry.

Was the box truly empty? Had I displeased the Father this year? Had I misbehaved? Sinned? Treated others as less than sacred? Had I disobeyed Him, or crossed His will? These fears shot through my heart like lances of ice.

I thought through the year, all my challenges, temptations, falls… my shortness of temper, impatience, mistrust, lack of faith… my carelessness, my selfishness, my failures in grace. For just a moment, it seemed overwhelming. Of COURSE, this box was empty! What ever made me think that I deserved a Christmas present from the Father of Lights? I was, and had been all year, an utterly undeserving child. Why should I even bother to open the box?

I sat, dejected.

Then, my name was called to open my gift, as all the brethren sat around me with smiling encouragement and the joy of grace on their faces. I wanted to weep. I wanted to tell them my box would be empty, for I’d earned no gift from the Father this year.

But an older monk, a few seats away, just nodded and smiled at me, as though he could see deep into my heart.

“Ah, Little Monk… you are filled with fear. Do not be afraid. All of our boxes are light. Be brave, Little Monk. Trust the Father, and open your box. See what lies within. You cannot see with eyes of fear, look inside with eyes of trust,” his gentle voice intoned, as he encouraged me.

So I took a deep breath, removed the bow and wrappings, and found a carved wooden chest with the most beautiful scrollwork engraved all around, inlaid with silver and gold. The box itself took my breath away. And when I opened it…

There was not “nothing”. Within the Box… was “Everything”. Inside the Box was all I ever needed or would ever need, all my friends and the family of God, all joy, beauty, truth, pleasure, and beyond everything else… love. There were no words to describe… either the Gift, or my heart at receiving it.

As I gazed, rapt in awe, at the contents of my Box, a scroll seemed to float upwards among the infinite contents, and catch my eye. I grasped the scroll and drew it out, as the Box sat warmly on my lap.

“Read it,” the old monk prompted, as the brethren looked on.

The Scroll said: “My dear son, Little Monk. Merry Christmas, and enjoy this Box and its contents in this new life, this new beginning, this new year that I give to you. Never forget, My presents do not come because you deserve them, or because you have earned them. I do not ‘compensate’ My children as employees. I, your Father, give My children GIFTS, simply because I Love you, and for no other reason. I Love you, I seek only your good, always… and I keep My promises. You can always trust to that.

“Remember this, written by My great musician… ‘Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.’

“This Box is My ultimate Gift and contains all other gifts. The name… is Grace. You delight in Me, Little Monk. That is mutual. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”

And the scroll was signed, “Your Loving Father.”

All around me, the brethren smiled, nodded, and simply said, “Amen”.

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2013 in Quiet Time, Uncategorized

 

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The Day Before Christmas!

I awoke with this rolling through my head this morning… I needed to get it down and share it with you. Merry Christmas to you all! Blessings and Grace to thee, Gentle Readers!

Twas the Day Before Christmas!

T’was the day before Christmas, and all through God’s Kingdom
His children were pondering how to be right.
So much preparation! The shopping! The travel!
The wrapping of presents on Christmas Eve night!

“This time should be Sacred! A Holy endeavor!”
Declare countless critics, most solemn in tone.
“This shopping is frivolous! Music commercial!
There’s nothing that honors Our God on His Throne!

“The Yule Log, Saint Nicolas, Stockings by Fireplace… all Pagan!” these holy ones sneer.
With voices of outrage, these judges condemn all
The joy and the laughter, to them empty din,
“These people should be on their knees in repentance,
Just muttering thanks that God came for their sin!”

At the opposite end, there are those who’ve forgotten that
There is a God in the heavens at all.
For these, Blessed Christmas is simply a holiday
Break from their workload to party with all.

And here in between there are millions of followers,
Worshipping God as their Father and Friend,
But hearing rebuke from the pious and critical,
Now fearful that Christmas traditions offend.

Now I am a simple Monk, not very bright, I fear…
Studied in all the right subjects, I guess.
All the right “ologies”, customs and languages,
But even this Little Monk, ponder as hard I might,
Couldn’t determine what God sought to bless!

So off to my closet I trudged on this Christmas Eve,
Finally sick of the whining and strife.
I thought, “Surely God will be willing to share with me,
What the Nativity means in my life.”

So down I sat, pouring two coffees and waiting,
When much to my shock, the Great Father appeared…
I started to kneel, He at my little table,
He shook His head smiling, said, “Sit down right here.”

“Don’t be so flustered, My loving but Little Monk,
Jesus has made it quite clear,
that each time you sit drinking coffee across from Him,
you drink with Me.
Son, there’s nothing to fear.

“You want to know, ‘Who is Right’ in this debate of yours?
How do I want to see this time of year?
Those who have lights, tinsel, presents, and parties,
Or those who seek sacred remembrance austere?

“O My dear Little Monk, when will you ever learn?
Though I applaud that you bring this to Me…
It’s not in the forms or the outward appearance,
But what’s in the heart of the child that I see.

“To answer your question of who’s right and who’s wrong,
I tell you quite clearly, you don’t see aright.
The question’s not whether there’s presents and tinsel,
But rather are gifts being given with LOVE?
When gathered in love, peace and joy at His coming,
My Son’s there, in midst of them, all through that night.

“For others who walk with Me daily and deeply,
Who live by My breath and each heartbeat they hear,
The sense of the sacred seems poignant and stately,
They sometimes mistake that all see Me so clear.

“Don’t JUDGE, precious Little Monk, one or the other,
It’s not just a question of ‘wrong’ or of ‘right’,
Like meat bought from temples, a person of conscience
Must simply do what My Spirit instructs THEM,
And no one but Me can condemn them that night.

“The one thing I want you, like any who love Me,
To do as you celebrate My Son’s great Birth,
However you choose to make merry and gather,
Is simply invite Him to join you on Earth.

“Let Jesus take part in your party or service,
Imagine Him sitting there, singing along.
For always He loves to take part with Our children in gathering,
The Gospels show as often He partied as preached,
He spent as much time in the houses of sinners AND Pharisees,
As ever He went to the Temple to teach.

“So there, Little Monk, I have answered your question.
‘Who’s right?’ or ‘ Who’s wrong?’ has no meaning to Me.
‘Why do you gather? Is love, peace, and joy there?
Have you invited My Son there to join you?’
These matter, not whether you tinsel a tree!

“Keep asking your questions, My sweet son, thou Little Monk.
One day you may yet grow up and be wise.
For life’s not a test, that you worry to pass or flunk,
But seeking to please Me is grace in My eyes.

“So much do My children fret, worry, and ponder,
That this course or that is the line of My will.
Their fear can unhinge them, just freeze them immobile,
They seek to be pleasing, they stop and stand still…

“I wish I could tell them, they’ve already done it!
I’m pleased when they look to Me first!
The left or the right path is far less important to Me,
Than asking Me which best or worst!

“In asking, they please Me. I’m simply a Father
who loves them and seeks all their best.
I manage My Kingdom, it does not depend on their
Efforts or strength in the test.

“I seek to be with them, as always I have from before the beginning of time.
Tonight let us celebrate, ‘God Come Among Us’,
(‘Tis one of Our greatest of triumphs, you know)
Quit fretting and judging,” He tousled my hair as He rose,
Then gently He said, “I must go.”

And He walked away, slowly.
I knew that I had to get paper and pen in my hand.
To share such a moment, such comfort and warmth,
On so cold a day all through this land.

I shall celebrate Christmas, the Birth of Our Savior,
With family, and tinsel, and lights,
And sacred remembrance of price that was paid,
For my love, joy, and peace in this Night.

I love you, my Family, all brothers and sisters! Let’s celebrate Birthday of  Jesus the Son!
For one night, no differences as we stand arm in arm, Children the Father’s made One.

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2013 in Quiet Time, Uncategorized

 

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