Salt and Light

Published on April 23, 2015 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

2

Let’s talk about salt for a moment.  First, salt is amazing.  I think I could be content being a deer or a cow if it meant regular time at a salt lick.  Second, salt is amazing!  Do you know how many things salt can do?

Salt preserves.  It heals.  It seasons.  It stings.  It awakens thirst.  It bonds friendships (in certain cultures).  It testifies to covenants (on certain occasions).  Salt was so amazing, in fact, that the Greeks considered it to be divine, calling it theon.  The Romans considered it to be worth giving as a wage to their soldiers.  Some cultures valued salt more than gold, more than silver.

So when Jesus stood on the mountain and spoke to His disciples and the crowd, saying, “You are the salt of the earth,” what ideas must have taken shape in their minds!  I am to season the earth.  I am to awaken thirst amongst the peoples.  I am to preserve that which is worth preserving, to battle against the natural decay of the world.

It’s a strange thing to call someone salt, and not fully explain what you mean, other than to warn the salt to not lose its saltiness, or its taste.  “You are the salt of the earth,” Jesus said, “but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?”  The Greek here is more telling:  if salt is made useless, made foolish, is tainted–how will it be restored?  It’s as if Jesus is saying, You are salt.  That’s what my Father intends you to be.  So don’t stop being salt!

Now, let’s talk about light.  Yes, light is also amazing.  It’s no salt lick, but it still blows the minds of theoretical physicists, philosophers, cosmologists, and photographers alike.  It’s a timeless symbol for God, and for good, and in some ways, for eternity itself.

Light reveals.  It illuminates the darkness.  It attracts.  It goes incredibly fast, and its power and reach and breadth know no bounds, provided the source is sufficient.

So when Jesus says to the disciples, and to the crowd, “You are the light of the world,” he’s saying something remarkable.  Keep in mind, John tells us that “God is light,” and Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.”  And this is what is so shocking:  God is light, and Jesus is the light of the world, and we are the light of the world too.  We are not God, certainly, but we are embodied with the same kind of nature as He has, perhaps because our new nature shares in His, producing forth a light that scatters the darkness and bears witness to the good we do by His Spirit.

Salt, and light.  Jesus says we are both.  Let’s be both.

But as we do so, let’s keep in mind that salt works silently, hidden amongst the meat, or blending in with the herbs, or being absorbed in the mouth.  Salt does its work in and among its environment.  Light, however, shines forth so brightly that people see its effects and give glory to its Source.  Light does its work in and on its environment.  But what salt and light do have in common is that they do their best work among other salts and lights.  A grain of salt may taste like salt, but it won’t season a meal, and it won’t preserve a steak.  A single candle may give light to a room, but it won’t shine forth from a hilltop.

So be salt this week.  Let your silence of your character speak loudly for you.  Let your blending in with the world around you give rise to an opportunity to preserve, or heal, or awaken spiritual thirst.  And be light as well.  Let your deeds shine forth so that the world around you may see the Light who works in and through you and give glory to our Father in heaven.

May we gather together, as the salt of the earth, and the light of the world, to season, and preserve, and awaken, and shine forth to a world in need!

Continue Reading

In My Father’s Study

Published on August 14, 2012 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

6

There’s this thing we do as Christians, when other Christians ask us how our relationship with God is going, and we often answer in terms of how much time we’ve spent reading our Bibles or praying.  If we’ve had a good stretch of devotional time, we say things are going pretty well.  If we’ve been neglecting our devotions, we say things could be better.

I suppose it’s only natural to think in these terms.  We live in a tangible world, and we use our sense of touch, and taste, and smell, and hearing, and sight to know and experience all the things that we consider to be real.  But we also believe in a God we cannot touch, or taste, or smell, or hear, or see, at least not anymore, and not in the same sense as the world we know as real.  And the one thing we can touch is His Word, and the one thing we can hear is our prayers, so we hold on to those tightly.

I was talking with a friend recently who asked me how my relationship with God was going, and I told him this:

It’s been OK.  I mean, I’m still reading my Bible a bit, but it’s mainly to try to keep up on a reading plan.  And I do pray throughout the day, asking God for help in things or praying when people come to mind.  But I don’t think that’s really what you’re asking.

The real truth is that I feel disconnected from God, like something’s just a little off.  It seems to me like God is waiting in my study, and I’m hanging out by the doorway, talking a bit, or passing by and nodding.  But I’m not going in to sit and talk and be with Him.

I know it’s a silly picture, but there is a difference between reading and praying in the doorway and reading and praying in the study.  I guess in the latter that I want to be there, because that’s where my Father is, and I love being with Him.  So pray for me, that I would go on in more often, and if you find yourself leaning on the door post, go on in as well.  There’s room for both of us.

Question:  How’s your relationship with God going?

Continue Reading

Another Update In Thoughts

Published on June 25, 2012 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

2

Welcome back. I have missed your wisdom, the discipline of writing, the thinking it takes to craft something worth saying, the pursuit of sentences that ring (with beauty and truth), and the glory God gets when we treasure Him more each day.  Here is what I have been learning since we last met:

  1. Awake My Soul is like a soul-stirring hike through the Scottish highlands.
  2. “They” say chicken roosts need to have 1 foot of space per chicken; it’s more like 6-8 inches, assuming your chickens like each other.
  3. Those of us who lack humility also lack an understanding of God’s grace.
  4. A joyless life is one spent on serving self.
  5. Clearing a small forest with modern tools takes a long time; what must life have been like for folks back in the day!
  6. Clear, well-crafted, meaningful vision and mission in ministry are essential.
  7. We are created by God for God (Col 1:16, 1 Corin 8:6).
  8. One definition of joy:  not the absence of difficult circumstances but the presence of God in the midst of them (RS).
  9. The danger in a religious society is that we have enough knowledge of Christ to be inoculated against the person of Christ for the rest of our lives (RS).
  10. Ducks are dirty, and they kind of stink.
  11. Joy is the megaphone of evangelism.
  12. Women have the ability to take in considerable amounts of inputs at the same time—it’s astounding.
  13. Jesus is the ultimate example for those who are married:  completely faithful, head of the body (loving and serving His bride by giving His life for her), and submissive to God (respecting the role His Father held by submitting to Him).
  14. Everything in life gets old, except Jesus (as the ageless one).
  15. Listening well earns us the right to hear the next thing a person in need wants to share.
  16. Our modeling of walking with God speaks loudly to our kids—so does what we do when we fail.
  17. Love is not a spiritual gift b/c every spiritual gift must be an expression of love: Exhort, teach, encourage, give, lead, serve–in love!
  18. The Bible isn’t primarily prescription for how to live; it’s primarily revelation from God about God.  Knowing God helps us know how to live.
  19. Weeds are relentless (see my driveway and Gen 3:18).
  20. Godly love is authentic, meaning expressions of love come from the place where love is deeply felt, rather than expressions of love coming as an attempt to show love.
  21. Conflict tends to produce pursuers and avoiders—I’m a pursuer, and it’s typically self-serving.
  22. When time is not used well, it can seduce the best of men (MM).
  23. God is in charge of our careers—and pretty much everything else in our lives.
  24. Giving our spouses space to grow in God is ultimately an act of faith in God.
  25. There is wisdom in finally seeing hardship and blessing as two strands of the same cord of God’s goodness.

Question:  What have you been learning recently?

Continue Reading

Day 21: Mary’s Treasure

Published on December 26, 2011 by CT in Blog, Poetry

1

The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song.  The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent.  Here at Crave Something More, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.”  Starting December 5 and finishing on Christmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.

Day 21:  Mary’s Treasure

A meditation in poem on Luke 2:19

History tells us the tales of men,
Who seek their treasures
On mountain peaks, in ocean depths,
In trade and craft, in caves and vales;
All seeking, some finding, none satisfied.

The gleam of gold, the shine of silver,
The sparkle of jewels in dazzling light.
These objects of beauty and desire,
Perishable though they may be,
Yet bought by the lives of men.

But it is birth which gives us our greatest treasures:
Tiny hands and warm breath,
Searching eyes and breathless sighs,
The hint of father, and mention of mother,
All, the closest thing we can call our own.

So it must have been for the virgin Mary,
When light and song danced in the depths
Of a soul touched by the Spirit of God.
Eyes gazing, arms holding,
This promised child, sleeping at her breast.

When did she know He belonged not to her,
But to the world?  A gift from God few would believe,
She alone must bear the joy, and the sorrow,
Always the two, wrapped together,
Between the swaddling clothes.

He was a gift to be sure,
This helpless babe, needing warmth and mother’s milk,
Lying, resting, in the humblest of beds,
Yet, eternal Creator of all things,
And Savior of the world.

He was a gift to Mary,
Favored of God and faithful to God,
Whose womb bore the promise of angels and men;
Flesh of her flesh, a firstborn son,
That she could call her own.

He was a gift to Joseph,
Betrothed of Mary, the righteous man
Whose righteousness could never merit
The gift that only grace could give:
To adopt the Son of God as his own.

He was a gift to the shepherds,
Keeping watch over their flocks by night,
Eyes on their sheep, then to the fire,
Then to the visitor in their midst,
And to the glory shining ‘round about them.

And He was a gift to us,
Though we did not ask, nor did we seek.
Still, God has given, and opened our eyes,
And we come, broken and poor,
Now inheritors with Him of all things.

So we turn our eyes towards Mary’s treasure:
Worshipped by shepherds, hailed by magi,
Promised by prophets, sought out by kings.
And we turn our eyes towards our own treasures,
And forsake all to call Him our own.

Happy Birthday, King Jesus!

For the rest of the 21 Days of Crave Something More Christmas, go here.

Continue Reading

Day 20: Come And Worship

Published on December 24, 2011 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

0

The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song.  The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent.  Here at Crave Something More, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.”  Starting December 5 and finishing on Christmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.

Day 20:  Come and Worship

Tonight, we celebrated the birth of Christ with our church community in song and reflection on God’s word.  And I heard the most beautiful song, Come and Worship, for the first time.

Come with me and worship our Jesus, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Treasure, our Brother, our Master, our Friend, our Hope, our Salvation, our God, our newborn King!

Note:  If you are reading on RSS or email, you can click through the title to see the video.

For the rest of the 21 Days of Crave Something More Christmas, go here.

Continue Reading

Days 18-19: The Anticlimacy of Christmas

Published on December 23, 2011 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

0

The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song.  The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent.  Here at Crave Something More, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.”  Starting December 5 and finishing on Christmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.

Days 18-19:  The Anticlimacy of Christmas

Something’s wrong with me.  I’m already feeling like Christmas is anticlimactic, and it’s not even Christmas yet.  (And I’m making up words like anticlimacy).  Most people reserve melancholy for after the fact, but not me.  I like to get a jump on these sorts of things.

I suppose I’m just getting to the point in my life where the years have piled up enough to notice some things that are always true.  And for me, I always find the day after Christmas to be a bit of a letdown.  I don’t even put all that much stock in the trappings of Christmas, but there are at least 5 things I love about Christmas, and the truth is, they never pay off.  Even the good things don’t pay off.

It’s not the things themselves.  We can say they are morally neutral.  Or we can say they are gifts from God to be enjoyed, if enjoyed in the right way.  And both are probably true.  No, the issue is my own heart.

As I consider why this might be so, two things come to mind.  First, I have unfair expectations.  And second, my expectations are misplaced.

I say unfair because the good things of the Christmas season can never truly satisfy whatever it is that I, and probably you as well, are looking for.  We desire a sense of peace, and comfort, and togetherness, and love, and acceptance, and joy—and a season like Christmas seems like it might just do the trick.  But as happy as this season may be for some (and for others, it’s not happy at all), it never delivers what we think it promises.

I say misplaced for a similar reason.  If Christmas can’t deliver what I’m looking for, then something must be able to do so.  Lewis picked up on this:  “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for another world.”  And while he’s right, I would add to this that we were not only made for another world, but for the Person who is the chief reason for this other world.

At the end of the day, the way to avoid the inevitable letdown is to see all the good things of Christmas as the vapors that they are—and to see the One great think of Christmas as the rock that He is.  Life is a vapor, and all things exist for Jesus, so enjoy the good things of Christmas, knowing they are passing away, and cling to the Rock who will never be moved.

For the rest of the 21 Days of Crave Something More Christmas, go here.

Continue Reading

Day 17: God With, Over, In, For

Published on December 22, 2011 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

0

The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song.  The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent.  Here at Crave Something More, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.”  Starting December 5 and finishing on Christmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.

Day 17:  God With, Over, In, For

Isaiah told us that the coming Messiah would be called Immanuel, which means “God with us.”  And this is beautiful:  God, the maker of heaven and earth, the king of Israel, was coming to be with mankind.  We can never be too amazed at this stunning truth—that God walked our earth, ate our food, slept under our stars.  He was with us.

But God with us got me thinking about other aspects of our relationship with God.  Here are three others to celebrate this Christmas:

  1. God is over us.  God is sovereign, by right and by power, because He is the creator of all things.  He can become man that first Christmas because He is first and foremost over man.  And this is great news for all of us who call ourselves His own, because He gives us all that He has through His Son.
  2. God is in us. Christmas was a remarkable movement of God towards man, and Jesus showed us amazing things about the nature of God.  But He said His going was worth the coming of His Spirit, because God’s movement towards man was going to get even closer.  God was not simply going to be with us; He was going to be in us.
  3. God is for us.  Perhaps the greatest Christmas present we will receive this year is a deepening understanding that God is for us.  He is working all things in our lives together for our good.  And if He is for us, who can stand against us?

Allow the beauty of His being over us, and in us, and for us to give you a deeper kind of cheer this holiday season, and thank Him this Christmas that He is our Immanuel!

For the rest of the 21 Days of Crave Something More Christmas, go here.

Continue Reading

Day 16: 2 Questions This Christmas

Published on December 21, 2011 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

0

The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song.  The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent.  Here at Crave Something More, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.”  Starting December 5 and finishing on Christmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.

Day 16:  2 Questions This Christmas

Let’s commend Zechariah and Mary.  Both were chosen by God for special tasks, both submitted themselves to God’s hand in their lives, both experienced the joy of raising Spirit-filled children, and both are held up as models of righteousness.

But let’s also learn something from their two questions.  The gospel of Luke gives us the accounts of their being visited by the angel, Gabriel, who gave them both remarkable news.  Here were their responses:

Zechariah:  “How shall I know this?”

Mary:  “How will this be?”

How shall I know this? is a question that asks for more.  More information, more confirmation, more security.  When God guides, how shall I know this? is a question just short of faith.  When God leads, how shall I know this? asks for something more than God’s word.  This is a question of control, a question of doubt, and a question I ask far too often.

How will this be? is a question that seeks explanation.  Whether the explanation comes or not, how will this be? is a question out of faith, a question that belies belief but wants to know more.  When God directs, how will this be? follows along, creating conversation, seeking understanding.  This is a question of curiosity, based on faith, and it’s a question I ask far too little.

Despite the busy nature of the season, Christmas is a time of rest, and times of rest are often times for reflection.  So whatever God is doing in your heart and in your life in this moment, pursue the path of faith, trusting Him at His word by finding Him in His word, and let your heart be won over by the faithfulness of our God who is always working for our good.  And if you must ask questions of God, ask them out of faith, not out of doubt, because He rewards those who seek His wisdom.

For the rest of the 21 Days of Crave Something More Christmas, go here.

Continue Reading

Day 15: Hark!

Published on December 19, 2011 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

0

The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song.  The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent.  Here at Crave Something More, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.”  Starting December 5 and finishing onChristmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.

Day 15:  Hark!

I love hymns. And I love Christmas hymns.  And it just seems odd that so many people hear these hymns without ever really truly listening to them.  There is amazing truth, and rich theology, in many of our tradition’s greatest hymns.

One classic that we sang this past Sunday is Hark, The Herald Angels Sing.  Charles Wesley, the prolific writers of hymns, originally wrote these words in 1739, but it wasn’t until 1855 that the lyrics were set to the music we know today.  What I want to celebrate today is the beauty of the first stanza:

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

So what can we learn from Wesley this Christmas?

  1. The baby Jesus is to be heralded, an honor reserved for royals, though in this case, the humblest of Kings.
  2. The baby Jesus is due glory, glory “as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
  3. The baby Jesus is a vessel of peace—peace that makes rebellious men right with their God.
  4. The baby Jesus has a mission:  reconciling God with sinners.
  5. The baby Jesus is to be the joy of all nations; not just one, not just some, but all nations will speak joyfully of their eternal King.
  6. The baby Jesus brings together all realms, so that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

If God gives you the opportunity, tell someone Hark! this week.  And tell them about this amazing baby Jesus, who came in humility, to deliver men from the bondage of their sin, so that people from every nation would joyfully live to bring Him glory.

For the rest of the 21 Days of Crave Something More Christmas, go here.

Continue Reading

Day 14: God’s Work At Christmas

Published on December 18, 2011 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

1

The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song.  The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent.  Here at Crave Something More, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.”  Starting December 5 and finishing on Christmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.

Day 14:  God’s Work At Christmas

Our small group met this past week and talked about the Christmas story from the perspective of each of the characters in the story.  What was it like for the shepherds to receive the angel, and witness the multitude, and go see the Savior child?  How must it have felt for Mary, or Elizabeth, to become pregnant the way they became pregnant, and to deal with all of the consequences of that in their own lives?

It was a really interesting discussion, and we tried our best to ground our thoughts in what the Bible does say about each person. But out of all the characters we did discuss, the one we left out was God Himself.

It’s difficult to think about what it might have been like for God at the coming of His Son, because His being outside of time (as our eternal God) and a God inside of time (as Jesus taking on flesh) make these kinds of statements difficult (and complicated).  But perhaps we can make some observations about God’s supreme role in Christmas and reflect on the delight He must have had in telling this best of stories.

So here are four, among hundreds, of the things God was working out at the first Christmas.

  1. God planned Christmas long ago.  Revelation 13:8 tells us of a book of life, a book which contains names that were written before the world even began, names that reflected God’s people.  God knew He would send His Son into this world to redeem those whose names were in this book of life, and He planned beforehand how to do it, so there must have been some sense of anticipation, insofar as we can say a timeless God “anticipates” things.
  2. God foretold Christmas.  Not only did God plan the incarnation, but He told His people about it.  Genesis 3:15 tells us of the coming seed who would bruise the head of the devil.  Isaiah 7:14 promises the virgin’s son, a son who would be “God with us.”  There must be a certain kind of delight in planning this amazing story—another in telling it so others can anticipate it as well.
  3. God worked out the story of Christmas in triunity. The Father was about the business of sending—sending the Son into the world, sending His Spirit to come upon Mary, overshadowing her with power, and sending angels to help people prepare for, recognize, and embrace the coming of the Divine Son in a way no one would have expected.  The love shared between the Father, Son, and Spirit was not greater or less at any time in history, but each must have felt a certain sense of excitement at the revealing of this great mystery in the cleverest of ways.
  4. God brought Himself glory through the Christmas story.  Our God, who delights in using the weak to shame the strong in this world, and the foolish to shame the wise, sent His angels to first proclaim this Good News to shepherds.  And after the news is shared, a multitude of angels appear who sang “Glory to God in the highest!”  And the shepherds went on to praising and glorifying God themselves.  God’s delight in His glory, and His sharing with us in this delight, is the gift we celebrate this Christmas—the gift of a Son who would show us exactly what God is like, a Son whom we can worship, and relate to, and accept, and love.

May we anticipate the joy of this Christmas in some small measure of the way God “anticipated” the joy of the first Christmas, and may we continue to find our greatest joy in Him!

For the rest of the 21 Days of Crave Something More Christmas, go here.

Continue Reading

Days 11-13: “Too Busy” This Christmas

Published on December 17, 2011 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

0

The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song.  The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent.  Here at Crave Something More, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.”  Starting December 5 and finishing on Christmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.

Days 11-13:  “Too Busy” This Christmas

Above, you’ll notice that I said I would be writing once a day about all things Christmas. Well, I didn’t write anything the past two days.  I could tell you I was busy, but that’s kind of the point.

Each December, we fight against the busyness of the Christmas season, knowing the purpose of it all is to celebrate the birth of Christ but still finding ourselves caught up in decorating, finishing work for the year, baking, buying presents, hosting parties, going to parties, hosting family, and all sorts of other things.  We’re victims of our own desires, but there’s a deeper desire with all feel for the One who ultimately satisfies.

Being “too busy” to write when I said I would write is one thing; being “too busy” to be with Jesus is another.  No minute is better spent on anything other than reflecting on, talking to, praising, or being with, in faith, the Spirit of Christ who dwells in us.  In a profound way, we can shop with Jesus, bake with Jesus, write with Jesus, pray to the Father with Jesus, read the word with Jesus, or do any of a hundred other things with Him.  His Spirit is already with us; our joy is in realizing this, believing it by faith, walking in His power, and orienting our hearts and minds towards Him as we go about our days.

If Christmas is approaching too quickly for you, realize that His burden is light, in His arms is rest, and in His presence is fullness of joy.  Go to Him in the busyness, and you will find a place of quiet in the most hectic of seasons.

For the rest of the 21 Days of Crave Something More Christmas, go here.

Continue Reading

Day 10: A Christmas Acronym

Published on December 15, 2011 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

0

The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song.  The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent.  Here at Crave Something More, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.”  Starting December 5 and finishing on Christmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.

Day 10:  A Christmas Acronym

If acronyms can work for the Psalmist, why can’t we try one? Here’s a shot at a Christmas acronym.

Christ
Has
Risen
In
Splendor
To
Make
All*
Sons**

Wait, that’s really more of an Easter acronym.  How about:

Eternal
Alpha
Sent
To
Emancipate
Rebels

That’s a little more like Christmas.  We don’t often think of Easter at Christmas, but the incarnation, and the crucifixion, and the resurrection, and the ascension are four strands of the cord given to us by God for our redemption from sin, emancipation from slavery, resurrection in glory, and eternal life with the One for whom all things exist.

Be thankful this Christmas that Jesus came into this world in the most remarkable fashion, and when you think of the Christmas child, think of the Man who would one day stretch out his hands so we might be His, and He ours.

For the rest of the 21 Days of Crave Something More Christmas, go here.

*All, meaning all who believe.
**And daughters.

Continue Reading

Day 9: Thank God For Theophilus

Published on December 13, 2011 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

0

The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song.  The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent.  Here at Crave Something More, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.”  Starting December 5 and finishing on Christmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.

Day 9:  Thank God for Theophilus

Thank God for Theophilus.  Without Theophilus, and without his friendship with Luke, we might not have known this Christmas, among many other things:

  • God’s answer to the long-suffering prayer of Zechariah and Elizabeth
  • The fascinating similarities, and the differing results, between Zechariah’s and Mary’s questions to Gabriel
  • John the Baptist being moved by the Spirit in the womb
  • Mary’s gentle, faith-filled, God-glorifying prayer
  • The classic lines from every Christmas play, childrens’ voices echoing the beauty of Scripture (“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus…”)
  • The creative hand of God in bringing Jesus’ parents to the city of David
  • The inspiring account of the angel’s proclamation of the birth of Jesus to shepherds
  • The sweet prophecies of Simeon and Anna, whose hearts longed to see the day of the coming of their salvation
  • The jaw-dropping, heart-aching picture of the Son of God lying in a manger

Of course, the gospel of Luke is the revelation of God, by God, through Luke, so that we might “have certainty concerning the things [we] have been taught.”  And God could have told us these things another way.  But He saw fit to give us this great gospel, these marvelous stories, and for that, I am grateful.

As we thank God this Christmas for Jesus, and family, and friends, and blessings, and comfort, and peace, let’s also thank Him for giving us His word, the word that shows us what our great God is like, and points us to the Reason we celebrate this season.

For the rest of the 21 Days of Crave Something More Christmas, go here.

Continue Reading

Day 8: The Christmas Lion

Published on December 13, 2011 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

2

The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song.  The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent.  Here at Crave Something More, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.”  Starting December 5 and finishing on Christmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.

Day 8:  The Christmas Lion

Our lives are filled with ten thousand moments that define the people we are and the kinds of lives we are leading.  But there are also a precious few moments that can transcend all the others.  These highlights, for better or for worse, tell the story of our lives, in ebbs and flows of blessing and loss, of acts of righteousness and works of sin.  And these highlights are often how we are known, and how we are remembered.

The Bible is full of men and women whom we remember, some for their great acts of faith in believing God, and others for their great acts of wickedness in going their own way.  As we read these stories, it’s easy to elevate these men and women to something greater than human—because they knew God and experienced God in ways we haven’t, or so we think.  And sometimes it’s easy to denigrate them as well, because the Bible pulls no punches in recording their biggest failures and sins.

But many of these saints give me hope.  Judah is one of them.  This is the hope of Judah:

  • Born the fourth son of Leah (the less favored wife) (Genesis 29:35)
  • Followed his father back to their home, the promised land given to their grandfather, Abraham, by God (31:17-18)
  • Conspired to kill his brother, Joseph (37:18)
  • Saved Joseph’s life (by suggesting to his brothers that they sell Joseph rather than kill him) (37:26-27)
  • Lied to his father about Joseph’s death (37:32)
  • Raised two sons who were killed by God for their wickedness (38:7, 10)
  • Failed to keep his promise to his daughter-in-law, Tamar (38:14)
  • Slept with and impregnated Tamar, who was disguised as a cult prostitute (38:18, 21)
  • Threatened to kill his daughter-in-law, Tamar, over her immorality (38:24)
  • Confessed his sin in public, proclaiming Tamar as more righteous than he (38:26)
  • Led his brothers into repentance before Joseph, who was governing Egypt (44:14-17)
  • Offered himself as a captive to Joseph in the place of his brother (44:33)
  • Led his family into the land of Goshen, the place of provision for them by God (46:28)
  • Chosen by God to be the royal line of Jesus, the coming Messiah, who would receive obedience from all the peoples of the world (49:10)

Following along Judah’s story is like storming along a mountain trail.  There are breathtaking peaks and somber valleys.  But as flawed as Judah was, he had his moments of great obedience to God.  And more importantly, God used Judah for His purposes.  And that’s our great hope.

We know we do not merit salvation.  We may be tempted to grovel before God, castigating ourselves as sinners who deserve no mercy.  But sons and daughters, who have been brought into the family of God because of the love of their Father, do not grovel.  They stand, with awe and humility, because of the great work God has done for them and in them.

This is the hope of Christmas.  That Jesus, the Lion of Judah, the Christmas Lion, is the revelation and glory of God given to us so that we might be called sons and daughters of the Most High God.  If you are struggling with sin, or are in deep fellowship with Jesus right now, stand with me this Christmas in awe and humility before our God, who planned these things long ago, and is working good for us and in us, so that all the peoples of the world would find the blessings of obedience to this great King.

For the rest of the 21 Days of Crave Something More Christmas, go here.

Continue Reading