Friday, December 23, 2011

Two Christmas "Compilations" . . .

I have taken the liberty to “translate” a couple of Bible verses (no I am not a Greek scholar, and I don’t claim that these are “accurate” in that sense). I hope that they bless you as they have me as I have reflected on Christmas this season. Please don’t get offended that I have taken this liberty—nothing blasphemous is meant by it, and I am not trying to say it is a true “translation” or to add to or take away from His Word which is perfect and true. These are more accurately compilations of multiple verses put together into a way that helps me, by putting different thoughts in one place, grasp just what it is I believe.

May this Christmas be filled with joy, awe, and worship for all of you as you reflect on the wonder and the awe of God loving us as much as He does, and being so near to us. Thanks for reading my blog, sharing your thoughts, and being a part of my life. I value you. To paraphrase Paul Ellis in his “Escape to Reality” blog, through God’s eyes Jesus came to earth because God loves us, so through God’s eyes, “You are the reason for the season.”

God bless you all, and Merry Christmas!

"Translation" of Luke 2, verse 5: “to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child” becomes:

to be registered with Mary, [a young, poor virgin from a no account city], his betrothed [(because he was told in a dream that her story that an angel had come to her and that it was God who had put the child in her was true)], who [had inside her frail and very human womb the One who breathes out stars, the Creator of all the universe, the One who all things find in Him their beginning and their end, the One in whom all things are held together and around Whose throne the multitude of angels and hosts of heaven hover and bow and cry “holy, holy, holy]”.

"Translation" of John 1:14a, drawing heavily on Revelation 19:11–16: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . .” becomes:

And the [One called “The Word of God” and “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” who will return on a white horse with eyes like a flame of fire and wearing a robe dipped in blood with all the armies of Heaven behind Him also arrayed on white horses when He returns to strike down the nations and rule them with a rod of iron as He treads out the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty] became [a baby, laid in an animal feed trough, surrounded by coarse straw and wrapped in rough cloths, totally helpless and dependent on a poor couple, hounded and chased from His own country] and [lived among us, getting tired, hungry, weeping, being single and homeless, rejected, spit on, mocked, beaten, and ultimately killed] . . .

Friday, December 2, 2011

It Matters to That One . . .

Hello friends. It's been awhile. I haven't disappeared—I've just been spending some time reflecting. I hope that this finds you well and your hearts being drawn toward awe and worship as the reality of Christmas and God becomming man fills your thoughts.

I wanted to share something with you that recently touched me, and I hope changed me. It happened one night around a firepit with some guys from our fellowship. As a background to it, there's a story that is told and retold in different variations of a man walking on a beach and seeing tons of starfish washed up, starting to die in the sun as the tide recedes. He comes across someone (most versions say a boy) throwing one after another back in. One version has it ending with the man saying to the boy, "You can't save them all, so why bother trying? Why does it matter, anyway?" and then says: The boy thought about this for a while, a starfish in his hand; he answered, "Well, it matters to this one." And then he flung the starfish into the welcoming sea.”

Opening the "Praise Jar" on Thanksgiving morning.

Recently I was reminded of this by a man whose life was in shambles when I first met him, and who is now an amazing testimony of God's power to change lives and take what society has cast aside and turn it into something amazing! I had been sharing with the guys how sometimes I can look at our fellowship and feel such warmth and such a sense of family and that God is doing a good thing there, and other times I can look outside of it and wonder if we are doing any good, if we are making any difference. Sometimes it feels like trying to fill the ocean with a drop of water when I see the scope of the lost and just how distant so many are from God. This man quietly mentioned the starfish story . . . and with his quiet words, "It mattered to that one," suddenly no more words were needed. I knew what he meant, and it pierced my heart.

I think it is so easy for us to focus on what God is not seeming to do, or hasn't done, or the prayers that remain unanswered instead of focusing on what He is doing and has done. Yet, the Bible says we are to meditate on things wonderful (my paraphrase) and while this doesn't mean we live a fairytale life ignorant of the pain and sin and emptiness around us (how can we minister to what we aren't aware of?), I believe it does mean that the focus of our thoughts and meditations are to be on Him and His wonderful nature and love and character and works. Psalm 100, verse 4 says we enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise and I like to think of that as a picture of the temple. As we approach the Holy of Holies, the presence of God, through the outer gates and courts we draw near with thanksgiving and praise. I know that for me, when I can fix my heart and mind on those things, it seems to break through dry periods and bring me into sweeter fellowship with Him.
The "Praise Jar" and the wooden top
I made for it some years ago.

"It matters to that one . . ." How easy it is to almost lesson the miraculous work God is doing and has done by focusing on what isn't done. I hope I never forget that night. You have my permission to remind me of it if I do.

In His Love,

Note: In keeping with tradition (for those of you who have followed the blog for awhile) I am sharing a couple of pictures from our family's Thanksgiving morning opening our Praise Jar. The "Praise Jar" is something we started some years back in an effort to make God the center of our Thanksgiving. Throughout the year we write down praises of His hand in our life, and then open and read them on Thanksgiving morning while the Turkey is in the oven. It is amazing how many you thought you'd never forget at the time they happen, but you have indeed forgotten by Thanksgiving. It is an amazing way to refill your "faith tank", not to mention to record the testimony of God's hand in your and your family's life.


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