and I spoke nothing

Suppose I should have put up a Christmas Break disclaimer. Either that, or a General Sloth disclaimer. When you are spending more than 50% of your waking hours in your pajamas without the motivation to even dress yourself properly, do you think you can find the motivation to post a coherent thought of some sort?

Answer: No.

Combine the apathy and sloth with the general lack of thought and you have the recipe for emptiness. You might think that the end of a year places one's thoughts automatically into reflective mode, and you might be right half the time. More than that. Let's say 87% of the time because I like the number. But that other 13% is in empty tank mode. You've spent all your mental energy on that first 360 days. That remaining 5 days is one long zombie state of blankness.

Not a bad thing. Just no thing.

2007 here before the clock strikes twelve. We'll see if that tank runs back to full.


will save His people from their sins

"Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?'" {Matt2:1-2}


or will he spend the night at your manger

"The Love of God" {Luke2:1-7}
* Stable in Bethlehem tells of love of God
- Humble surroundings of Christ's birth no accident
- Phil2:5-8 clear that Lord "humbled" self and purposely chose manger
* Why stable in Bethlehem?
- Born in Bethlehem to fulfill Messianic prophecy
- Herod killed all who threatened his power -- more visible city like Jerusalem far too dangerous
- Lord made statement that Christ came for all people, from every station of life

Heard the perhaps cheesy statement that the only Christmas tree Christ saw was the Cross, and that God hung His gift to the world on it. Warrants mentioning.


joyfully with a loud voice

Wonderful story behind the carol "O Holy Night" can be found here. Recent poll at Beliefnet has the carol as the current favorite one among respondents, with slightly more than a healthy 1 in 3 declaring their partiality for it. All with the chops add this one to their Christmas releases for the towering and chill-inducing top notes; those chills no doubt the reason behind the 1 in 3. For my part, I am partial to it because the melody commands the fullness of your lungs in much the same way Heaven's worship choruses will draw that out of us. It is a good seasonal reminder that even those of us without the chops are still called to use all within us to make a joyful noise.


shall I not drink it

Rev16:19 makes a mention of "the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath". It is interesting to me to think that anger can be measured discretely and even portioned out in a tangible object like a chalice. I can certainly imagine anger being measured comparatively. For instance, it is two different quantities of anger between getting annoyed because of the slow people in line in front of you at the checkout counter, and the anger that drives a soul to carry out a Columbine or a 9/11. But I find it hard to imagine that that anger when solidified could fit into a container of some sort.

The way I can work it out in my mind is to imagine the depth of anger not in size but in potency. A goblet of grain alcohol is far different in potency than a goblet of water. Thus, a wine cup of my anger over the long delay between new episodes of Lost and Heroes can not begin to compare to the potency of that cup of the Lord's anger over sin. There's a connection here that one can make about bitterness (of actual taste) and a cup of anger, but I'll leave that to you.


you must become like the youngest

Listened to little ones sing carols this am. Wonderful to hear young ones wail Emmanuel and yon virgin and laying down sweet head. A thought of sadness entered my head: the contrast to this was the sterilized public school version performed sans meaning -- the wailing of Santas and snowmen and reindeer.

Lord calls fathers to raise their children in the instruction of the Lord. Lord calls shepherds to do the same thing across families. The question then is whether or not one of the primary missions of the church shouldn't be not just Sunday school, but school altogether. I have some principles around public/private, but perhaps those principles need to be passed through a believer's lens. All I know is that there really isn't a good reason why all instruction for believing (or hopefully soon-to-believing) little ones isn't delivered next to the A and the B and the C.


also came, following him

Tonight showed that fervent prayer and a follow-willing heart can accomplish much. Especially when one is willing to put clamps on the self despite the potential for wisdom-sharing. Reminder that sometimes obedience means a willingness to not impart the truth that has been shared to you. Lord never seeks for us to share what we know. Some times He does want us to share what He knows that He has shown. And other times, like tonight, that finger on the lips is the universal sign for "Listen. Just follow me."


there has been born for you

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: if you are a believer serious about your faith, you should be reading Evangelical Outpost every day as a matter of course. Replace ESPN.com or CNN.com (if you're still reading that tripe) and replace it with a site that is thoughtful about issues important to your faithwalk. Today's musing on the Christmas/XMas war is particularly worth reading, the last few lines especially:
When the ACLU sues to remove the Christmas tree let's give them the nativity scene as well. When the secularists fight to stop the Christmas pageant let's let them have the caroling too. Let's let them have X-mas. Because maybe then we can finally show them Christ.
XMas is about maxed-out credit cards and stressful trips to the mall; it's about ornament-shopping and family visit-planning; it's about holiday card picture-taking and holiday music; it's about claymation specials and wreaths. All of that decoration and family time and present buying/giving? All of that has been XMas all along, whether or not the mass of believers chooses to accept that. Christmas has always been about the manger and the heavenly hosts and the what child is this and the sadness of a Father laying His Son in straw to set the course of history on its ear. And none of that gets lost in a "Happy Holidays" or a missing scene in front of City Hall.


that I may smile again

I listened to this morning's Christmas program intently. I listened and watched this morning's Christmas program intently. The watching was the far more valuable lesson than the listening (no reflection on the sound being listened to). What did eyes see that topped ears' hearing?

The contrast between dutiful obedience and (en)joying the obedience.

Seeing siblings worship with and without drooping mouths and that lesson brought to life. Prodigal son contrasts that no less clearly. Older brother serves sans love of serving and the quickrising bitterness clear. Sermon for another time on the overlooked virtue of joy. That virtue does, in fact, outline the clear diff twixt love and love.


swept and put in order

40 hours without power reveals a man to be what he is in all his ugly glory. In my case, uglier than most. The only good change in my opinion is the one where the coins you get back exactly equal the bills you proffered. All other change? A grand conspiracy out to examine the (shallow) depths of my patience reserves. I handle change with the same skill I imagine I would handle two large tarantulas in my hand. Wondrous one makes everything a measure of one's faithwalk. My walk is clear: it is far better sans hairy critters.


which comes down out of Heaven

Daniel is known for his ability to divine the truth from dreams. As one whose night visions speak with clarity on many occasions, and as one whose interpretations of others' come immediately as if from other sources, I take that subconscious speech seriously. Rare to find myself struggling between explanations, torn between equally likely explications. Either I haven't been graced with the discernment to choose between the two yet, or discernment won't be forthcoming, and the test is in the choice.

Either way, the upcoming decision is simply not something I want to face.


and went out, they followed

Been working through the Hall of Faith with other believers this year. Back-to-back lessons on obedience despite the tough calling: Noah and the insanity of building in preparation for weather that had never been seen, with animals in a scheme that still today seems unreasonable; Abe and the cross-country move to dryness and the unknown.

Can I then complain about a potential call to something I find personally disagreeable? Perhaps the Heb11 lessons all preparation for my own trek across dryness from safe haven. Still praying for firmness of resolve and strength of faith. Reminding myself that obedience looks only at the next step and trusts that the one after that is still on solid ground.


do you listen to Him

I have mentioned before that wading through some of the OT throughout the summer is rough on the Spirit. This year, tried focusing on Psalms and the NT, hoping that the focus would benefit from the respite from the prophs. Not so. Past month or so been rough passage through epistles. Proof positive that it is actually not the book but the Spirit that matters. And finding yourself far from Him means you are deciphering His still level voice across a greater distance. Doesn't matter whether He is speaking Old English or something contemporary. You're not going to be hearing anything from that far back.


not themselves they spite

Discussed a situation yesterday with wondrous one: one friend trying to deal with another friend, and both not connecting (though one is clearly trying better than the other). Situation is fraught w/ frustration. Only counsel that came to me was the word understanding. And this word follows the following premise:

Do not mistake ignorance and immaturity with willfulness.

Intent matters. I can curse your name sans profanity with a thought. I can wish you ill with a hug. I can be unfaithful with a glance. Lord sees through all of that nonsense because He can see the heart and He will judge intentions. And despite our lack of perspective, despite our mortal status, judging intent is practically a sport for us. Quick response is that should we deem any action a personal affront, that action must have come from malice aforethought. Often, the true answer lies in simple lack of knowledge, and lack of a close walk, two of the main causes of all sin, really.

You might infer that I am trying to set a low bar for future insensitivity. That would be a side benefit. Merely proclaiming to all the level of base stupidity and immaturity of us all, something far too evident to the naked eye.


inquire who is worthy in it

Studied 1Cor2 yesterday am. Paul uses a unique word in v14-15: appraise. The word is combined with the spiritual and makes the preceding discussion on wisdom and foolishness more understandable.

"Appraise" means to assess the value of something. Paul indicates that when we become more like Him, we not only better understand what He is thinking, but that we also come to value what He values. I think that is where believers fall short. Many better understand His line of thought. And we understand what He values. But we don't actually value what He values.

I thought this was going somewhere. But I was wrong. These can't be all up for a Pulitzer.


His mother, and the disciple whom He loved

"The Faith of Mary" {Luke1:26-38}
* Intro: Something about Mary -- chosen by God based on faith and internal characteristics
* Mary teenaged believer
- Faith mature for one her age (likely 13-15 yrs old, customary age of engagement then)
- Many of heroes of faith young (ex: Samuel, David, Daniel)
- Mary's faith was personal relationship w/ God; not faith in religion but relationship
* Mary honored believer
- "Favored one", "found favor w/ God" (v28, 30)
- Lord reassures her w/ sign w/o her asking for sign
* Mary courageous believer
- Had to face family, fiance, friends, & community w/ news of pregnancy
- Faced likely divorce; didn't know Lord would also speak to Joseph
- Mary's response to Gabe not astonishment but incomprehension
- Mary responds to God in faith
* Application
- Faith not dependent on age (but on Word & Spirit)
- Faith positions us to be used by God mightily
- Faith means you obey God regardless of cost


of time it has never been

Almost a year ago, I wrote this. And like other intentions that don't survive the 365, this has been struggling of late. At least a month since I even considered advancing a slowly-eroding base. And not for lack of desire, nor intention. Simply a lack of minutes in the day. No doubt that everyone makes the minutes for the priorities. And that's the issue. Even when the priorities stack up the right way, you're competing between faithful obediences. The Godly worker? The Godly father? The Godly husband? The Godly brother in the faith? The Godly Shepherd? If it were a matter of choosing between light and dark, that'd be a relatively easy choice. But the choice between light and light and light and rest, I can't keep giving up rest. And can't give up the light, can I? Don't know what the solution is except to find ways these things can somehow overlap.


and it became calm

Everyone has a different definition of peace. Google for quotes about peace and everyone from Mother Teresa to Presidents to authors to musicians offer up their personal take. You can try a Concordance search, and the Word gives you some 350 citations. So obviously a term of importance.

My definition need only make sense to me. It is a state where there is no soul reaction to a thought no matter the howling of the shadows. It is a state of composure and thin-lipped smiles knowing that the arguments and fears being thrown at you seem to bounce off this protective layer. That protective layer, that shield from the reaction is peace.

Others will tell you to "give it up to God" and you will obtain that shield. That giving up is not a concept that makes sense to my world -- not because I am unwilling to "give up"; only that that "giving up" concept seems too vague. In my protected world, I needn't give anything up in imaginary surrender in shoulder-shrugging ways. It is instead a realization that His hand is there, His hand is moving, and no amount of anything can slip past that hand holding you securely in that cleft.


stands firm in his heart

Curious thing, strength. Asked for it tonight, strength to not sin. That desire and strength of will lasted for not too small a period of time. Then distracted, and once distracted, it was all over and no amount of time delay would bring me back to focus. Now in my mind, only one of two possible reasons can be true. It could have been that prayers for strength are on time delays like an MI note. Perhaps not being vigilant caused the downfall. Or, the magnitude of the strength asked was not enough to cover a faulty will. It could have been that prayers for strength are leveled like measuring cups. I take small comfort that intention and the knowledge of where the solution lay were clear in my mind.


who are considered worthy

Like a reverse jinx, you might think this post a reverse post. Or you might think it false. But neither, cynic. Neither.

Praised all day today, left and right. Many would envy the position. Many might read into it as me having deserved or merited something. Many might think it false humility to act as if accepting praise were a chore. Many might think the praise is what I am seeking. Many would take pride and bask.

Those many are wrong.

And those many have no understanding of Paul's words at the beginning of Phil3: "More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith".

Praise makes it harder for me to remember the nothingness I am; praise makes it harder for the many to see the nothingness that I am. Fortunately, the Lord knows the nothingness that I am; knows that I know the nothingness that I am; and knows that the many are being distracted by the nothingness all their own.


so I ask for what reason

Taught on 1Cor1 this past Sabbath and spent some time reacting to Paul's claim that Jews seek signs, while Greeks seek wisdom -- specifically the sign-seeking characteristic. In and of itself, that is not a characteristic reserved solely for Jews. Paul mentions that as a way to cite the Israelites' long history of testing God.

In any case, it is certainly a characteristic of modern seekers as well. God, if you exist, show me a sign. God, I'll believe in you if you cure my cancer. God, if you really want me to go to church every Sunday, make this chair move. And this isn't reserved solely for unbelievers either. God, if you want me to take on that new ministry, make it clear to me somehow. Is that discernment-seeking or sign-seeking? It depends on the believer and their closeness of walk, doesn't it?

Sometimes I wonder if, at the end of the day, sign-seeking and discernment-seeking isn't really just a system of checks and balances. Really easy to delude oneself on a myrid of issues. It is easy to mistake personal desire and personal belief with Godly leading. It's the reason we have blue states and red states, for example. Personal conviction is mistaken for religious calling in far too many instances. Perhaps this sign-seeking is the same thing as pinching oneself to ensure things aren't some enormous dream.


the joy that a child has been

Heard a beautiful song by Selah -- the track of the same name as the album. Lyrics in there that broke me, specifically one in the chorus. It goes:
Oh, Rose of Bethlehem
How lovely, pure and sweet
Born to glorify the Father
Born to wear the thorns for me
That last line hurts me to no end.

Fathers watch their children grow and can only think of their futures unseen. They think of the joys that await them, but also the trials that equally bide their time. They think about the ultimate end of their little ones, and in the darkest of nights, the direst imaginings are the ones that distract the mind the most.

And can you imagine Joseph? Can you imagine the shadowed imagining of his little one's unseen? And if he'd known that His destiny was to wear a wrong kind of crown, I imagine he would have picked up the little one from the manger and run for as long and as hard as his legs could have borne him. And longed to have run even further away. And Joseph's imaginings were all hypothetical.

But not God the Father's. Those futures were seen, and here He is laying His precious one in straw and knowing that wrong kind of crown was fitted already just for Him. And to lay Him still amidst that knowledge is the definition of senseless love, of love we will never understand. Love we will never deserve. Love we can only futilely attempt to repay in kind.


when you were younger, you

"The Courage of Joseph" {Matt1:18-25}
* Intro:
- Easy to miss this hero of faith
- Plays a secondary role in manger story
- After temple incident when Christ 12, disappears in print
- Joseph's courage critical to life of Jesus
* Joseph a man of moral courage
- Was an ordinary man used by God to do extraordinary things {1Cor1:26-31}
- Christianity is a faith of ordinary people
* Joseph lived a morally upright life
- Not perfect, but "courageous enough to stand up to corrupt culture & inherent sin"
* Joseph a man of manly courage
- Restrained anger & chose to treat Mary w/ love
- Godly character compelled him to love
- Love covers multitude of sin {1Pet4:8}; empowered by Spirit
- Joseph full of grace in situation many would have considered him w/o blame in divorcing Mary; pursued righteousness rather than societal approval
* Joseph obeyed God
- Took Mary as bride
- Took on shame of Mary
- Accepted responsibility to provide for and raise a child not his own
* Joseph courageously protected Jesus whenever life in danger {Matt2:13-21}
* Application
- Courage cultivated in daily walk
- Courage strengthened through daily trusting of Him
- Courage convinced that Lord stronger than any threat


friend, move up higher

Posed a facetiously rhetorical question to the wondrous one yesterday. "Why can't we be mediocre?" Why do we have to try so hard to be better? Why must we desire to be something more? Why must we have that wanting in us to reach some potential? Why must we reject relativity, especially when that relativity could stop all this reaching?

Wondrous one always answers that question by referring to the endlessness of eternity and the short supply of crowns and rewards. Since I somewhat chalk both up to mythical notions wrought from a human perspective, I only half buy that response.

I buy that mediocrity to me is the difference between knowing Him and knowing Him. I buy that mediocrity is the difference between me following close enough to reach out and touch the hem of His robe and getting lost in a circle amid trees that look so familiar. I buy that mediocrity is the difference between no hesitation between His concerned hand lifting my chin when I fall and wondering why no one can hear my tears falling. I buy that mediocrity is the difference between me being who I want to be and a who whose pockets are empty but lined with regrets.

And those differences are neither facetious nor rhetorical.