Smells, Sounds and Feelings

Sometimes I just write to write.  It calms me and helps me to achieve perspective on day to day things.  It’s funny how life can change in a matter of days, weeks or months.  Just about five (5) months ago my Father moved on from this life to the next and my Mother was not far behind him.  Five months is not a lot of time in relation to fifty two (52) years of being able to hear the voice, feel the touch or smell the smell of a Mother and Father.  Just a few weeks ago I was still grieving the loss of my Dad.  I remember spraying on some fragrance of my Dad’s cologne that my Mom had given me and sensing him.  I remember so much through sensory perception that it’s hard to explain.

My Dad was self-employed and used to take me to work with him when I was younger.  I’ll never forget the smell of Old Spice and Coffee with cream.  I can still see Dad holding a cup of coffee driving to the Car Wash on any given Saturday morning.  They didn’t have travel mugs back then.  Dad would always shave in the morning and pat on some Old Spice. That mixed with the smell of coffee is a treasure to me that has no price.

I’ll never forget the clock radio that was in the bathroom between the two sinks.  Every morning I can remember hearing my Dad’s electric shaver and J.P. McCarthy.   As for Mom, well, my Sister and I just recently had this conversation and it all revolves around Downey Fabric Softener.  Mom always used Downey fabric softener on the laundry.  That’s the smell of mom.  My kids hear her voice all of the time.  They hear her saying in a high pitch “Bob”, because their Grandpa always teased Grandma and her response was the same.   Mom would murder words sometimes and boy o’ boy Dad would make a joke out of it every time.

I can remember one evening while my Mom was on the phone with her Mom (which was every night after dinner).

Dad’s back was hurting so he was laying on the floor in the family room.  Mom never got to get a word in edge wise with Grandma, so she would say “yea”, A LOT.  Our ears only heard, “yea, yea, yea”.   Well, the “yea’s” would sometimes be pronounced with a closed mouth “M” sound that would turn into a “MM’Yea”.   I’ll never forget this.

My mom was sitting in the chair in the family room, Dad was laying on the floor, on his side.  I was laying behind him with my arm bent, elbow on the floor and holding my Dad’s head.  Weird, but true.   And it sounded like Mom was saying “meow” instead of “mm’yea”.   Dad got such a laugh out of this that we both started saying. “meow”, “meow”, like we were Cats.  Mom got so mad at us and we laughed even harder.

Simple memories of a Mom and Dad

As I try to reconcile with the loss of my Mom and Dad all I can do is live.  There is nothing else that I can do.  I can’t hurry the grieving process and I can’t stop the emptiness that I’m feeling.

I miss Dad’s smell and I miss Moms voice.  I miss the smell of Coffee and Old Spice on that Tree of a Man that I spent the last 52 years looking up too.  I miss being called “Mick” by my Dad.  He’s the only one in the entire universe that called me “MICK” and I desperately miss hearing it.

Most of all, I will miss the trips to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Tennessee.  I will miss the anticipation of the drive to see Mom and Dad and the nervous excitement of the kids going to see Grandma and Grandpa.  I will miss pulling up in that driveway and seeing them on the deck waiting for us.  I will miss the feeling of home that I got from that house that Bob Built.  The love and compassion that my parents had for my children and the love and joy that my children had for their grandparents will never be matched.   I’m so glad that Abigail was able to know Grandma and Grandpa “No-No”.  I’m confident that she will always remember.

I can only hope that this Christmas we will all remember the smells, sounds and feelings of loved ones who have left us.  And I pray that those smells, sounds and feelings will bring us Joy Unspeakable.

 

Miss you Mom and Dad

PEACEIMG_1942

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LEADERSHIP

One after another, after another, after another I get e-mails, Twit’s and Facebook feeds about Leadership. Go to any Faith Based book store and there are whole sections dedicated to Leadership. In fact the Leadership section is larger than the Bible Section and the Commentary / Study Tools sections combined. Frankly this bothers me more than an ingrown hair or a tooth ache.
Maybe I am not enlightened, unsophisticated or naive when it comes to this ‘self-help’ kind of extra-biblical theological goop that just seems to sell, sell, sell. Weekend conferences that fill stadiums around the country with price tags that could feed a village, yet still, I read a thesis from a Professor at an upstanding Seminary write; “there is no prophetic integrity in leadership today”.

I find this quest and striving to ‘become’ a leader an offence to the Gospel of Jesus based upon His simple actions that He gave us as examples. Like I said, maybe I’m too naïve and my Kingdom perspective is much too Utopian. As I think about the basics of scripture I first think of Jesus’ words to the future Apostles. Jesus simply said “follow me and I will make you fishers of men”.(Matt 4:19) If you go deep into the text, the Greek text, you will see somewhat of a different concept. This verse reads exactly; “and it fortheth unto them, Ye should hitherto aback unto which, of me, and, I shall do unto, to ye, salters of, of mankinds. KEY: I SHALL DO UNTO YE, SALTERS OF, OF MANKINDS. (I shall make you salters of all men) Coincides with verse 13 in the next chapter of Matthew a little better when Jesus said, You are the Salt of the Earth. (a fisherman stands in a place of control over the caught fish, a ‘salter’ mixes in with, enhances)
My premise here is the word FOLLOW. Δεῦτε, (you should hither to). Come here, Come Now, Follow.

If we go further into the Gospel of Matthew to chapter 20 we see Jesus saying; “you know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you.” οὐχ οὕτως ἐστὶν ἐν ὑμῖν: Not unto the one this be in unto ye.
Here we see Jesus painting a picture of the Gentile Model of ‘rulers or lords’(leaders) and making the clear statement that this is not how it was to be in the Body of Believers. He further states in John 13 after He washed the feet of the Disciples, (and by washing their feet, he really did wash their feet for those who like to contextualize foot washing as doing something nice or civil for another) that if then, “The One, the one you rightly call Teacher will wash your feet, then you will need to wash one another’s feet.”
One another’s: ἀλλήλων allelon {al-lay’-lone} reciprocally, mutually.
With just these few verses we see a common thread that we are all of One Body and that we must mutually be with one another and ‘the greatest among us must be the least among us’.

My point is that we are so busy trying to be or train leaders that we’ve missed the point once again that we are all called to be followers. It seems so simple to me that again I must say that among my brethren I must seem naïve and lost. If person A is being followed by person B who is following Jesus, then person A becomes a leader by being a follower. When the concept of being a follower is embraced it is embraced as a servant, a humble follower; Δεῦτε (you should hither to) Jesus. This is a perspective of mutual understanding that creates a reciprocal relationship among believers. The leader is a follower.
THIS IS DISCIPLESHIP.
If we look at one of the most prolific relationships of discipleship in the bible we can see Paul talking to Timothy in very bilateral terms that seem to have a ‘common’ tone. Paul states in his first letter to Timothy to ‘set an example in your speech, conduct, love, faith and purity.’ In the second letter to Timothy, Paul tells him to “remember what Paul talked about in the presence of many witnesses and entrust that to others who will be able to teach others also”. Again we see this mutual perspective from Paul to Timothy to others. Discipleship

The whole concept of leadership must be turned on its head and shaken out, not because it is wrong, but because it has taken on a ‘colonial’ or ‘western’ garment. It is cloaked with the biblical idea but truly is a western understanding of power or authority. When in truth we mutually will only and ever answer to One Authority.

Yes, I know the scriptures that can refute this perspective just like any that can refute any perspective.
But in the ‘church’ that’s not growing (statistics of the American Church) why would be trying to make more leaders when we don’t have enough followers? You know too many chef’s in the kitchen, not enough Indians, too many chiefs!

Again I reiterate my point: a true follower will not need to be trained or ‘schooled’ as a leader because as a true follower of Jesus he/she will naturally, organically be a leader if someone follows. If the model of discipleship is at work, then there will be no void in leadership. If a professing believer is following Jesus and living a life of humility and service to Jesus they will be following someone else.

“but set the believers an example, in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil’ hold fast to what is good. Love on another with brotherly affection. OUTDO one another in showing Honor. Do not be slothful in Zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be CONSTANT in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality”.
“but in humility count others more significant than yourselves”

Please do not perceive this blog post to mean that people do not need training or be taught the things of the Lord and the precepts of the faith. This is not the intention at all. As a teacher I understand the idea of training and discipline. It is the perspective or ideal of ‘leader’ that I bring into question.
The modern cultural concept of a Leader is one that conjures up feelings or a mindset of one who is ‘featured’ or ‘in charge’. The Orchestra conductor is ‘featured’. The movie is great but the ‘lead actor’ is featured. It brings into play a mindset that one is better than another. And that my friend is not Christian.

Today our ‘systems’ are dysfunctional and the masses are seeking something better. The places of worship are not offering competent venues for better, just the status quo. Today again we have voices crying out in the wilderness with only memories of serious movements and prophetic leaders.

We seem to be good at keeping people from the very thing that they all need.

SUBMIT

There is a question that none of us ponder enough in this un-Godly world filled with un-truth, advertising and plain evil intention to manipulate each and every one of us to buy a product or vote for the right candidate. We live in a culture so steeped and soaked in depravity, sensuality, entertainment and greed that we can’t even see the forest for the trees.
Our eyes look but they don’t see
Our ears hear but they don’t listen
Our Spirit knows but we don’t pay attention

We live in a world that is wholly acceptant and actually encourages animosity and division in every aspect of life. We see it in the political realm and in many other areas of our cultural community. So much so that we have become numb to it and we feel that it’s acceptable to bring into our faith communities. My wife posted this today. “Do all that you can to live at peace with everyone” Romans 12:18.
This is a broad and encompassing statement made by the Apostle who lived in a time when war and local uprisings were very normal and the Roman rule was brutal. So who was he telling the believers in Rome to live at peace with? Remember, this was the Washington D.C. of the Roman Empire. This was the seat of Caesar Nero who is known as the first persecutor of the Christians and the one who ordered the deaths of the Apostles Peter and Paul. In fact, Paul knew that he was headed to Rome for a trial because he was a Roman Citizen, yet he still wrote to “live at peace with everyone”. This is contrary to what our culture promotes today. Paul was saying “when in Rome, live at peace with the Romans”
We as professing Christians must get a firmer grasp on the idea of judgment of others and the ease at which we feel we can condemn others, weather in or out of the fold.

Where do we draw the line?

We must, if we believe that we are Ambassadors of Jesus, stop our ease of criticism toward others. This mechanism that seems to make us feel better is a bitter pill. Read Matthew chapter 7: “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.

Now that we read this verse we really need to unpack it by reading other verses to gain a greater understanding. The first ‘concept’ that I’d like to take is the ‘common practice’ of criticizing our leaders, in or out of “the Faith”.
Hebrews 13:17 – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Romans 13:1 – Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God
Titus 3:1 – Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work.
1 Timothy 6 – Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teachings may not be reviled.
1 Peter 2:13-15 – Be subject for the Lords sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

What I would like to point out in all of the above verses is that they all lead to One thing. Not bringing shame or dishonor to ourselves as believers and most importantly to the Gospel of Jesus.
I say this to my class all of the time. We must shake of the hand-cuffs that keep us bound to thinking and accepting the “cultural norm” of engaging our judgmental and critical mouth in light of our current status in the Kingdom of God. Our submission to the Gospel is our strength not our weakness. The world looks at submission as weakness, but look at the whole picture of Jesus’ life. His submission to the Father and his submission to the brutal death on the cross was the strongest statement ever made in the history of the world and all mankind. The Gospel is completely contrary to the world’s definition of strength. If there is one thing that we ALWAYS must remember is this. The Gospel is contrary to the current or cultural world view. Submission to the Lord, Leaders and the Gospel is Strength not weakness.

The other area of contention is our ease of judging our own. I have been the “judge and jury”, so I speak this from experience. There are those whom I did not agree with, others in the Body of Christ who thought differently than I, worshipped differently, prayed differently and believed a little differently. I spent valuable time in judgment and distancing myself from some of the best people that I have ever known because of my selfish non-honoring mindset and ended up isolated from God’s people and the diversity of the Body of Christ.

You know, my Grandmother had something when she told me “if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all”. We’ve heard it a million times. We’ve got to practice this. We must ‘work out our own salvation’ as Paul wrote to the church at Philippi.
I like this verse very much because it ties our Salvation to our submission in the word obedience.
Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always OBEYED, not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence. Continue to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

My prayer for every one reading this is that we may all have the strength from submission to do everything that we can to live at peace with everyone. That we may learn to withhold idle judgment and criticism of our leaders and co-laborers in the Gospel and that we may learn to obey the foundational truth taught to us by Jesus and his Apostles in the Word of God.
I pray that we may SEE when we LOOK
I pray that we may LISTEN when we HEAR
I pray that we may PAY ATTENTION when our Spirit KNOWS

PEACE and GO LOW

JUST

ABOUT THE WORD JUST: (Webster’s definition):  By a narrow margin; barely: only or merely.

We’ve heard and used these comments before.  “I’m just a so and so, or he’s just, this or that”.  I think that there are times that we reduce information and or people down to the ‘just word’ too much. It almost comes across as a false humility or a sense or belief as an under achiever.   The reason that I chose to write about the word ‘just’ is that I’ve listened to so many of my brothers and sisters in the faith mis-use this word in prayer.  Please don’t get me wrong, I’m in no place of judgment here.  I’m talking from experience and as a person who has used this word to many times in my own prayers.

I speak now from a couple of teachings that I have sat under regarding living as a follower of Jesus.  The first was a teaching of ‘belief’.  The question raised was this: when we pray, do we really believe ?  When we pray do we say “God if you would (just)”…. ???  that’s what I mean when I say I’ve heard too much ‘just’ in prayer.  Too much minimizing or ‘let’s make a deal’ izing with God.  Nowhere in the Bible do I read that we are to minimize or ask God to ‘just do this or that’.   When we read Paul’s prayers we see much the opposite. We read specific ideas and specific notions that Paul has for those he is praying for.  Furthermore when Paul prayed he prayed mostly that God would increase and that ‘we’ would decrease.  He also knew that there must have been a great lack of faith and power among the believers of his time also.  As we read in:

 Ephesians 3:  Paul prayed that God would  “strengthen them with power through His Spirit.”

 Colossians 1: “being strengthened with all power”

 1 Thessalonians 3  “strengthen your hearts”.

I guess what I’m trying to say, is that we’ve got to drop the( JUST) from our prayers if we are going to (the other teaching that I sat under)  CHANGE.  The question on this teaching was “are we changed?”

I look at Hebrews 4:16 and I don’t see ‘JUST’ in the writer’s mindset.   Hebrews 4:16 NASB: therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  KJV: Let us therefore come BOLDLY unto the throne of grace.    When we use the word JUST in our prayer language, it is not exuding confidence or boldness.  (well, let’s keep it personal here) when I use the word JUST in my prayer language, it’s not because I ‘just want help on this one thing’… it’s more like, [lack of faith, lack of faith… just, please, beg, plead, maybe you could do this? ]

This verse in the MESSAGE reads: Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help

I think that the first line in the Message tells a deep story. “now that we know what we have” .   There are too many of us who don’t know what we have, don’t understand who we are in Christ.  It’s time to understand who we are in Jesus the Messiah and to come to this Great High Priest with boldness and firm understanding that we are not starving puppies begging for scraps from the table of God.  We are purchased and have full access to the Almighty through Him who purchased us. 

A Challenge:   Stop using the word JUST in your prayer life.

We need to Maximize not Minimize !

PEACE

 

 

 

Mother, Wife, Missionary, Daughter, Sister

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Hey folks, I haven’t blogged in a long time because every topic that I found interesting did not have any encouragement or redemptive qualities and I didn’t want to sound like a whiner or crabby patty.

 

But today I found something or should I say someone who gave me great encouragement, enough to write about.  You know not too many people get their due while traveling through this busy ‘bling’ filled life of hustle and bustle.  But I’d like to take the time to honor where honor is due.

 

I’m going to honor the Mother of my children all four (soon to be five) of them.

 

You know, most people don’t get it.    Many parents that we know live submerged in the river of De’Nile and really don’t have a clue what is really going on with their children.  Well, not this Mother with these children.  She’s always been and always will be the shoulder that these girls cry on, the confidante who gets all of the details of relationships and break ups even when she’s not in the mood to talk.  She taxi’s this one here and these ones there, no matter how she feels.   She’s up in the middle of the night when the 23 or 19 year old are out late and she’s up in the middle of the night when the 1 year old or the 4 year old are having a bad night.  She deals with crabby baby’s when teeth are coming in and she deals with crabby adults when their just in a bad mood.   She, cleans and washes the clothes for all six of us and barely gets a moment to herself.  Her one great pleasure is to take a shower right after the 4 year old goes to bed and even then, sometimes she cant get into the bathroom because the 23 or 19 are primping to go out.

 

When one is sick, she knows that it’s going to be a battle to keep the rest of the house healthy and she wears herself down just to make sure that the sick ones are taken care of.

(and usually gets sick herself, still having to take care of the rest of us)

 

She’s up late, and up early.

 

She’s always lacking sleep, but always has time for anyone of us.

 

I’m telling you that there are too many Mothers that don’t get the Honor that they deserve.

 
Kids move out to challenge life on their own, but Mothers don’t stop worrying.   They keep on worrying and wondering if this one or that one is ok.

 

 

 

Mothers pray, they pray all of the time.  They pray for their kids to come home safely.  They pray that their husbands come home safely when they are out and about.

 

 

 

Husbands like me have nights out of the house, for me it’s usually three nights a week for something and Mother is there, keeping watch, putting to bed, bathing the baby’s and babying the grown ones.  Sacrifice is a Mother and to the Mother of my children I appreciate you.

 

You are amazing.

 

Three grown bio kids, one adopted with disabilities and one on the way to being adopted…..

 

 

 

Mother, Wife, Sister, Daughter: I honor you for what you do and who you are !

 

 

cider mill dad mom and abby family vicki girls Vicki sister vicki 222342_10150168343581415_532856414_7033650_5916607_n baby

LISTEN

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I named this blog ‘The Common Prophet’ because I believe the scriptures to be true and I believe that God will use any means to communicate with people, humans, ones that He loves so much that he sent his Son to die for.   In the book of Joel and again in the book of the Acts of the Apostles it states: “I will pour out My Spirit on all people”.  Some versions say “all flesh”, others say “all mankind”.  The key word here for me is ALL.  In the book of Joel, the Hebrew word is ‘kol’, which properly describes [the whole], [all], [every] We find the Greek in the book of the Acts of the Apostles to be ‘pas’, which properly describes [each], [all], [every],[any],[all], [the whole], [everyone], [all things], [everything].

 

    So we can wrap our heads around that, right?  God said that He was going to pour out His spirit on all mankind, everyone and everywhere.   Now we have to follow this a little further by understanding the outpouring of God’s Spirit.  This was an act that is beyond time, dimension and finite understanding.  He poured it out on ALL mankind which means it’s here, all the time, everywhere, like air its always here.  With every breath we take, it’s here breathing in and out of us at all times.  Again, I want to underscore the words used in the scripture that He would pour this out on ALL, not some and not a chosen few. Hence the name of this blog ‘common’, every living thing is breathing God’s Spirit all of the time everywhere, we have this ‘in common’.  We cannot escape it because it is here, now.Just to be completely clear here on the Power of God to use any means necessary to speak to people let’s look at more scriptural examples.   Numbers 22:28 “and the Lord gave the Donkey the ability to speak”.  Luke 19:40 Jesus said “if they keep quiet, even the stones will cry out”. 

 

So, it’s not a far reach to believe that God will use any means or method necessary to get His point across or deliver a much needed message.  Agree ?       So with this perspective or mindset we can find ourselves listening more and talking less.  If God used a Donkey He can use anyone to bring words of wisdom or words of knowledge; prophecy. Now, don’t get me wrong because I do fervently hold to the idea that the Scripture is God breathed and God compiled and it is the Prophetic Word of God.  I’m sure that some readers can testify to the fact that God uses Scripture to speak to us in various ways by His Spirit.  In some cases it baffles us because God speaks to us of things that are not even written on the pages that we are reading.  But I still hold to the idea that if the Spirit of God is here, now, then He may use anyone at any time to speak to us individually or collectively. 

 

So many people are stuck in the trap of Jew and Gentile, saved and un-saved that we won’t listen for Gods voice in common places.  

 

I have a dear friend who is a man of the cloth so to speak and he loves a rock and roll artist of the 70’s and 80’s who wrote many songs of his journey for spirituality.   I have listened to some of these songs and realize that there is God Breathed lyrics in some of them.  This artist was not and is not a ‘believer’ as most would characterize a believer, but he delivers words of wisdom and knowledge that go beyond most ‘words’ that I have heard from believers.   The other night I was watching a documentary on a rock guitar player who made this statement: It takes hard work and sweat to change your perspective.  This blew me away because it spoke to my spirit, not my mind or intellect, but my spirit.Through all of these words and justifications my desire is for people to listen more intently for God’s voice in every breathing moment.  His Spirit has been poured out and is all around us at all times and Oh, how He loves us and wants to communicate with us.  His desire is in the first chapters of the book of Genesis,  and it is my favorite verse in the bible.  Genesis 3:8 [my translation] And God came down in the cool of the day and called Adam by his name.   We are all descendants of  the one whom God called by name, we are all the ones whom God sent His Son to save.  He will do anything anywhere to speak to the ones He loves.  Even if we keep quiet, “these rocks will cry out” or a Donkey will speak. Listen and learn from the most [common] places for God’s voice.He so desires to commune with us and talk with us. 

 

 

This brings me to another point of dissention among followers of Jesus.  Just recently there was a great debate about the Charis or Grace Gifts of God that has polarized the Christian community.  Again, I have to reiterate,  God will use anything and anyone to speak to the ones He loves. There are some among us that believe that God speaks ‘new revelation’ through certain ‘prophets’ and some that disregard this as heresy.   I don’t want to get into that argument here, I want to SHOUT FROM THE ROOF TOPS that in this world of noise, stress, striving and madness we NEED to start listening for God’s voice.  And we need to listen in the way that our Savior came to us, in a common and humble way. From common people in common places with common words.

 

 

What makes my heart so heavy is the idea that we’ve stopped believing in the mystery of God.  We have taken a scientific approach to doctrine and theology which leaves NO ROOM for God to be mysterious.  We characterize and categorized chapter and verse and leave no room for mystery just like the Pharisees did in the time of Jesus.  Western Christianity has become a science, a list to check off the [do’s and don’ts] in order to ‘feel’ like we’re righteous.   To keep balanced here I have to say that we must be diligent in our study of scriptural truth and use the written word to judge any verbal word spoken to us, especially if someone tells us that God gave them a message for us.   All things must be in balance and in line with scripture.  But, this should not deter us from seeking out the voice of God in our lives with every breath.   His Spirit is here, now, right now, with us and guiding us.  His Spirit passionately desires to commune with us and help us.   Jesus said that the Father ‘will give you another, a Helper,  that He may be with you forever’.  This is the Paracletos, the one called alongside to help, Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor.   

 

 

LISTEN

 

Jeremiah 33:3 LISTEN Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

 

Isaiah 30:21 LISTEN  And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying “this is the way, walk in it” when you turn to the right or to the left.

 

John 16:13 LISTEN  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

 

1 Kings 19:11-13 LISTEN  And behold the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.  And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.  And behold, there came a voice to him and said “what are you doing here, Elijah?

 

 

Isaiah 55:3 LISTEN  Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live.

 

 

 PEACE 

 

Christmas Meandering

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A Christmas meandering. 

 

 

What is it ?  Really, what is it ? 

 

 

This thing we call Christmas has been and seems to still be a battle between good and evil.  On the spiritual or religious side of things we try to keep perspective and to understand that this is the celebration of the Birth of Jesus the Messiah.  On the physical or ‘world’ side it’s a time of commerce and consumption.  It’s the time of ‘black Friday’, shopping malls, overpriced items and massive greed.   Ok, I don’t want to make anyone mad here so I’ll stop with the comparisons and just keep to the point.

 

 

If you have any understanding of spiritual or religious concepts you will know that ‘man’ was in a place that he could no longer be in relationship with God.  He had perverted and bastardized God’s intentions so badly that there was no ‘path’ to Him.  In His great mercy and grace he brought forth a ‘Son’ to be his ‘agent’ on earth.  He birthed Him by only His power and called his name ‘Immanuel’ or God with us.   He was birthed with a purpose and all of us should know what the end purpose was.  He was crucified and punished for all of our sins. 

 

 

 But what about this Christmas celebration?

 

 

The other day I heard a comment that blew me away.  Now, it may not mean much to you, but that’s how God works.  Some things affect me more than other hearers or readers. 

 

 

 This was the comment:  The arrival of Jesus is the evidence of the Kingdom of God. 

 

 

 Like I said, that may not mean much to you, but it really opened something up for me. 

 

There was a point in Jesus’ ministry when He was being tested by the nay-sayers and the religious elite.  They were talking to him about the Kingdom of God and Jesus responded with this:  “The Kingdom of God is in your Midst”.  He was saying that the Kingdom is ‘right here’ – ‘right now’.  That’s the thing that really intrigued me. 

 

 

Let’s get this in a little bit of a clearer perspective.  Jesus’ arrival is “His birth” which, based on the statement that I read, is the EVIDENCE of the arrival of the Kingdom of God.  Later on in His life Jesus said, that the Kingdom of God is here, right now. Now there is a theological discussion that we could have about Jesus’ statement because some translations use the word ‘midst’ and some use the words ‘within you’.  That is a topic for another time.  What I’m trying to convey here is that ‘Christmas’ or the ‘celebration of the birth of Jesus’ is the evidence or confirmation, testimony, witness, declaration ,manifestation, substantiation or mark of the arrival of the Kingdom of God.   I like these synonyms for evidence because they are so strong. 

 

 

 So to get to my point:  Christmas, What is it ? 

 

 

  • Christmas is the evidence of the arrival of the Kingdom of God 

 

 

  • Christmas is the confirmation of the arrival of the Kingdom of God 

 

 

  • Christmas is the testimony of the arrival of the Kingdom of God 

 

 

  • Christmas is the witness of the arrival of the Kingdom of God 

 

 

  • Christmas is the declaration of the arrival of the Kingdom of God 

 

 

  • Christmas is the manifestation of the arrival of the Kingdom of God 

 

 

  • Christmas is the substantiation of the arrival of the Kingdom of God 

 

 

  • Christmas is the mark of the arrival of the Kingdom of God. 

 

 

This is what we should be celebrating; this is what we need to understand.  The greatest gift we could ever even try to comprehend, the Kingdom of God in our midst, in our presence, in us. 

 

 

This Christmas may we celebrate the arrival of our loving Fathers Kingdom in the birth of His Son, Jesus. 

 

 

Luke 17:20-21

 

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 

20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

 

 

 

PEACE