Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Jesus: "Let me ask you something..."

It was almost eleven years ago, while reading daily from the devotional work, One Year with Jesus, that I wrote in my journal: "One of the most profound questions Jesus ever asked."

The event is recorded in John 5:1-9. A bunch of people are gathered around a particular pool in Jerusalem because a legend stated that, from time to time, an angel would stir the water in the pool and whoever got in first when that happened would be healed of whatever sickness or infirmity they suffered from.

One particular invalid had been unable to walk for 38 years. The inference is that he had been laying there by the pool, trying to be the first one in whenever the waters moved, for most of that time.

Thirty-eight years.

No wonder Jesus went up to the man and asked, "Do you want to get well?"

Now, the story has a happy ending, but it's this question in the middle of the tale that caused me to stop dead in my tracks.

DO you want to get well?

Do YOU want to get well?
Do you WANT to get well?
Do you want to get WELL?


Do you?

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Truth is...there are some things about me that I SAY I wish were different, but I wonder if Jesus looks at me, grins to himself, and asks the very same question.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Big Bang In Reverse


That's the term scientists use for the theorized super-dense essence of what went bang at the Big Bang. According to general relativity, the initial state of the universe, at the beginning of the Big Bang, was a singularity: a point in spacetime in which gravitational forces cause matter to have an infinite density and zero volume.

It strikes me that the first Christmas was a bit of a reverse Big Bang.

Out of all the galaxies spread out across the incomprehensively-massive universe, God seems to have focused his attention on one called the Milky Way.

From among the tens of billions of solar systems in the Milky Way, he picked one swirling around a fairly unremarkable yellow sun, as described by Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, "far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the [Milky Way]."

The Lord of the Universe then paid particular attention to the third planet out from that small star.

On that planet, with seven great continents to choose from, Yahweh picked out the mostly-desert land-bridge between Africa and Asia, and made it the homeland of an insignificant fellowship of twelve tribes, full of slaves and sheepherders.

Choosing one of those tribes, and one particular family line within that tribe, the God of all creation looked across the entire scope of human history - past, present, and future - and went to a young teenage girl in an insignificant village in a time of political oppression.

At that singular time, at that singular place, as part of the hopes and dreams of that singular people, the supreme being of the universe, who spoke the world and everything beyond it into existence, caused himself to become...a single...human...cell.

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Truth is...the Lord has come; joy to the world!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Not a Suicide Note

Currently being in a transition between jobs (In need of a technical or creative writer (or voice-over artist, or guest speaker, or communications specialist)? Please take a look at my LinkedIn profile.), the oft-repeated Christmas thought...that it's not about spending a bunch of money on gifts, but about celebrating Jesus' birth...is coming to my mind a bit stronger this year.

I'm also thinking about how the Bible doesn't really make all that big of a deal about Christmas...that the resurrection of Jesus is far more important than his birth.

Another recurring thought is that the winter holidays see more suicides than the rest of the year.

Now pay attention. That's not a veiled cry for help, just a recognition that Satan would love to combine my joblessness and inability to be a generous gift-giver into dangerous, dark thoughts of uselessness...and that he can go suck eggs because greater is he who is in me than he who is in the world. (I John 4:4)

Truth is...I know that if Saint Nicholas was here, he would agree that Jesus gave the greatest gift of all to you and me. They led him to the slaughter on a hill called Calvary. And mankind was forgiven when they nailed him to the tree. (Randy Stonehill)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

May God Keep You Happy: "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" Prosified

Another experiment in getting around the poetic language and digging into what an old hymn is really saying.

May God make and keep you happy, my friends. Don't let anything worry you or cause you to fret. Remember that something miraculous happened on that first Christmas: Jesus, our Savior, came to earth as a baby...and not just to give us a sweet story to tell, but so he could save us all from wandering away from him and straying right into Satan's scheme to destroy us. Now THAT is news that should fill us with a peaceful calm and a deep joy!

The announcement of this good news from God came through an angel to a particular group of shepherds, who were told that the very Son of God had been born in Bethlehem: "So don't be afraid," said the angel, "In fact, there's no need for you to ever be frightened by anything ever again, because today a virgin has given birth to the Savior, who will free everyone who trusts in him from the grip of sin."

Okay, everybody, this should really give you a reason to sing praises and greet each other with heartfelt hugs: this amazing event that we call "The Christmas Story" served to demonstrate God's unmerited favor toward us...to the point of wiping out our sin and winning us back into God's loving arms.

Oh, good news indeed! What comfort! What joy!

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Truth is...while Christmas songs are beautiful, they are also really, really good news.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hagar the Holy?

When perusing the comics section of the newspaper, you probably don't expect to find a spiritually-significant revelation of truth...especially from the Dik Browne-created, Chris Browne-continued strip, Hagar the Horrible.

Prepare to have your expectations demolished.

Last Thursday...Thanksgiving Day, you will recall...our friendly, neighborhood viking, Hagar, found himself in dire straights: damaged ship, violent storm, tossed up on a barren rock.

And just like many of us, who find ourselves in similarly desperate situations...damaged marriage, violent health, tossed out by an employer...Hagar questions the way God is treating him.

Then the second panel kicks in with God's response, which aligns perfectly with how He could respond to each of us as well.

Truth is...while there's a lot of talk about God's grace and how we get so many blessings that we don't deserve, it wouldn't hurt to remember that God's mercy keeps us from receiving a lot of nastiness that we certainly DO deserve.