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Attempting to obey God and follow Jesus Christ our Lord

Christianity

Don’t You Dare Quit

There are times when you just have to walk in faith. This is to say that in life an absolute dependence on God and His Word become paramount in good times as well as bad times. I can attest to faith on God on both levels. There is no doubt that God has been nothing less than incredible in my life and to speak of things most recent would take a book just to begin to understand the many twists and turns that have led me to this point. Let me explain.

Many may be familiar with the fact that I am in Texas as a result of the Fort Worth veteran’s health clinic offering me a chaplaincy internship. Now, the Fort Worth clinic is part of the larger Dallas VA medical system. Still, with that offer I quickly accepted the position while I was still in Baltimore and began in earnest to make my way to Texas. Of course this was not an easy task because I had been unemployed for some time and was unable to pay for any means of transportation. Well, this was nothing for God. As a matter of course I was put in touch with the founder of an organization called The Open Table (http://theopentable.org/). Without hesitation the founder sponsored my trip to Texas and provided other financial aid. So, someone please tell me that God does not take care of His own!

Still, that is far from the end of the story. I also needed a place to stay and while researching what could be done I learned of Veteran’s Community Outreach (http://www.vetsco.org/). I received the same type of response from its founder as I did with The Open Table. Without hesitation the founder simply said, “I’ll help you.” And with that he did help. I was picked up at the train station in Fort Worth, transported to a hotel that Sunday evening, picked up Monday morning and transported to a wonderful four-bedroom house in Arlington, TX. It is true that God does put people in our way to be a blessing to us. The fact is that God uses people to bless people so I would encourage all that have a hard time receiving to open wide your hands so that God can do what He does best.

To my dismay the Veteran’s Administration was not nearly as accommodating. After getting to Texas and doing all that was required I soon learned that things within the Veteran’s Administration are far from honorable. No doubt that many have heard of the atrocities at the hands of the Veteran’s Administration in which a number of veterans died waiting to be served. While my situation is not as dire as that suffice it to say that I served in the United States Marine Corps. I was honorably discharged in 1985. From that time I have had no problems because of my not registering with the Selective Services. In fact the Selective Services letters I have clearly show that because of my service I should be denied nothing from the Federal Government.

Well, this did not matter to the Dallas Veteran’s Administration. I had already started my internship and was fully seated. My background was clear; I was able to get through a very intense interview process among other things. And while human resources did not fire me they did say that my package had to be sent to Washington, D.C. for clearance. The process could take as much as ninety days. So, after much hard work my program was suspended impacting not just me but also my co-workers. With that it seems that well qualified veterans such as I deserve extra scrutiny in order to work with veterans. For real? Is this the way veterans should be treated?

It needs to be made painfully clear that my experience with Human Resources of the VA has nothing to do with my immediate supervisor. In fact my supervisor in the Fort Worth clinic, insofar as I am concerned, is a superior and wonderful person. In fact all the chaplains I have met in the Texas VA have proven to be high quality people many of whom are themselves veterans. My issue is the administration and the administration alone. The fact of the matters is that  my supervisor was kind enough to refer me to a chaplain at Huguley Hospital (http://www.texashealthhuguley.org/) in Fort Worth. After meeting with him his words were “I can see why they hired you” and immediately offered me a position. Yes, there was some red tape but nothing like that of the Veteran’s Administration. My work at Huguley is to start Monday the sixteenth.

Now, this will be a very intense program. Within two and a half months I will put in at least four hundred hours and about ten on-call days. This means that I will be spending much less time online as I walk further into my destiny. And while I will not be online a lot my plan is to chronicle my experience with the Huguley Hospital internship weekly. Please be sure to follow what is going on in my walk as I continue to press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

With that said it is my hope that all be encouraged. It took several years for me to get to this point with considerable opposition. Some have said that I was not qualified while others mocked my faithfulness. Some saw no reason for me to perform academically while others have chosen to smother themselves in the stench of jealously. This will also happen to you if you choose to go after what God has for you. But, be not dismayed. Do not give up. Keep on moving toward your destiny and your end will be most victorious. No, don’t you dare quit!

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The Blessedness of Forgiveness Psalm 32

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,

Whose sin is covered.

Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,

And in whose spirit there is no guile.

When I kept silent, my bones grew old

Through my groaning all the day long.

For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;

My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah

 I acknowledged my sin to You,

And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said,

“I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”

And You forgave the iniquity of my sin, Selah

 For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You

 In a time when You may be found,

They shall not come near him.

You are my hiding place;

You shall preserve me from trouble;

You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah

  I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;

I will guide you with My eye.

Do not be like the horse or like the mule,

Which have no understanding,

Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle,

Else they will not come near you.

 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked;

But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.

Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous;

And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!


What if Ninevah had not listened to Jonah?

Source: tumblr.com via Ashley on Pinterest

The story of Jonah and the whale is often dismissed by most as a Children’s story, but it really is not. It is one of the most important stories of redemption in the Bible. When God wanted Jonah to go to Ninevah and warn them to turn back from their ways, Jonah did not want to go.

Jonah 1

King James Version (KJV)

1 Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,314428_189607997781575_188738997868475_422680_285128613_n

Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.

But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

What we see in Jonah is a man who thought that his way was the best and didn’t not trust in God when He had a plan for the future of Ninevah. Jonah did not believe that Ninevah deserved redemption, and did not want to be the messenger that gave them the opportunity. But one of the most important things that we learn from the story of Jonah is that God is in control!

But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.

Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.

So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.

And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?

And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.

10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him. Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.

11 Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.

12 And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.

13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.

14 Wherefore they cried unto the Lord, and said, We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, OLord, hast done as it pleased thee.

15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.

16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows.

17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

We all know this part of the story, this is what we learned as children. But for so many the story stops here. Yet when Jonah gets to Ninevah is more important to the world of Jonah’s day. God warns them through Jonah that if they do not pray for forgiveness and turn from their ways that they will be destroyed.

So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.

And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.

For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:

But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.

Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?

10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

Jonah was one of God’s messengers that rebelled from doing what God wanted him to do, and yet God used that very rebellion  to convince Ninevah of His message. If Jonah had been a willing messenger, Ninevah probably would not have taken him seriously. And yet Ninevah still might have gone the other way. They might have refused to listen. If they had not listened God would have kept His promise to destroy them. We see from this story that no matter how bad things are that there are hopes for redemption, that God always keeps His promise, that He is in control no matter what we think, and that no matter how faulty we are as humans, He can use us to save others. We see an example of resurrection and redemption, a forerunner of Jesus Christ Himself.

No matter what we think about this world, we need to remember that things are not always what they seem, and that God is still in control and His plan is in place. We are not aware of what He is doing at any given time, and what we think is a failure, may just be another step in the process to the final goal that He wants. We have read the Book and we know the end. God’s time is His own and our time on earth is only important in fulfilling the objectives that He has given us and that is to “go forth and make disciples.”

God bless you all, have faith and trust in God no matter what you think should be the right path!


The Curse of Blindness

Julije Klovi? - Elymas Struck Blind by St Paul...

Julije Klovi? – Elymas Struck Blind by St Paul before the Proconsul Sergius Paulus – WGA05091 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So many times we wonder how someone can not see the reality of a situation. We wonder how they miss the obvious and twist reality into something totally different. In this world of craziness it is as if a fellow blogger said the other day, we are living in an upside down world. As if the Mad Hatter is in charge of the world and whatever we view is in their eyes something totally different.

According to wiki.answers.com In the King James version

  • the word – blind – appears 82 times
  • the word – blinded – appears 5 times
  • the word – blindeth – appears once
  • the word – blindfolded – appears once
  • the word – blindness – appears 7 times

There is a physical blindness, a mental blindness, and a spiritual blindness. We see Jesus use blindness in ways to get His message across, whether it is healing, as in:

Matthew 15:30

And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them:
Or as an allegory:

Matthew 15:14

Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
It was used as a curse by Paul:

And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:

Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.

But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.

Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him.

10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?

11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.

12 Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

But one way that it is used is the way God uses a type of blindness in the days preceding the Day of the Lord:

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

King James Version (KJV)

Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

God is not allowing some to see the truth and nothing we say or do will remove their blindness. At some point they made a deliberate decision to be unrighteous. To these whom the seed of faith and truth will never grow, they will only find the truth when it hits them in the face.

It is  an object lesson to all of us to choose righteousness, if we willfully choose to do wrong, we will not be able to see the truth. My friends consider your actions carefully, understand that when you see someone who will not see the truth and takes reality and turns it into something totally different, that it is sometimes God’s will that they do not see. Prophecy has to be fulfilled in order for the Lord to return. What it shows us is that God’s word is true and that His will is being done!

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The Runaway Bride

If you are thinking about the movie The Runaway Bride featuring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, I am so far from that! Sorry. Not sure if it is a good movie or not but…… when I get a word from the Holy Spirit I either move in obedience or I don’t. The title came to me out of nowhere. I was sitting down minding my own business when a spoken word came. Things that make you go Hmmmm.

The video will do all the talking for me but as a fellow sister and blogger, I wanted to reach out through typing as well. I’ve missed writing to you all! Please know that I continue to write but I will also be sharing messages through my YouTube vlogs. I’m becoming a bit more comfortable doing it so here we go! Remember that God loves you and adores you. I did not speak or emphasize this portion of scripture on video but I wanted to share it with you  here. And the Word tells us in the book of Ephesians:

Instructions for Christian Households

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33)

So I implore you brothers and sisters in Christ to cleave to Him as the Head of your life whether you are single or married. Be the best bride you can be and do it with all your might and strength in the Lord with love and adoration.

Be blessed and encouraged always in the Lord,

Terra

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23 ESV)


Seeking Peace:Breaking Away to Be with the Lord

Making Quiet Time

“The Lord  bless you and keep you; The Lord  make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26 NKJV

There are moments and days when I personally have to make quiet time to be with the Lord. I need His peace. I seek His peace so that my thoughts and my walk will align with His.

Do you ever find yourself seeking peace in the most war waging times in your life?

How easily it becomes getting caught up in our thoughts especially when it’s on a battlefield. We cannot always give the adversary credit for a wandering mind filled with thoughts that may turn unpleasant. At times we do this to ourselves. (time for a self check)

Scripture plainly tells us about taking our thoughts captive in II Corinthians 10:5 NKJV:

“…… casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,”

I encourage you dear reader as I encourage myself, to do some kneeling of prayer and seeking of the Lord when you arise each morning, throughout the day and upon going to bed. We cannot have peace where strife is taking up residence. Get up, grab your Bible and apply it. Call on the Lord and speak His word into your life and the burden that you are carrying.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV

As we begin to close out the year 2013, I pray we all begin to take more self evaluations as we learn more to lean not to our own thoughts and understanding. They are to be in sync with the Lords. (Proverbs 3:5-6) Things may not always be as they seem. If they are, I urge you and myself to go to the throne more often so that our walk with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be in unison. Be blessed and be encouraged.

~Terra

Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen. Ephesians 6:23-24 NKJV


The Just Shall Live by Faith

Galatians 3

King James Version (KJV)

3 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.

5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.

16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.

21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.

22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

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All I Need for Christmas is Jesus

Photo Credit: outreach.com

Photo Credit: outreach.com

I simply cannot explain these feelings that have been welling up in my soul lately as we approach Christmas. While Jesus is the reason for the season, like a flower blooming petal after petal, a swarming of love and adoration for Christ has covered me like an abundance of sweet honey reserved just for the best. Jesus Christ is our best. He is the greatest gift we could ever receive. Not just for Christmas, but for all time.

All I need for Christmas is Jesus.

Teaching my children why we celebrate Christmas is very important. While decorating for the holidays, giving and receiving gifts comes with tradition, the main focus is on Christ and His coming to earth in the form of man. (starting off as a baby of course). Lately I have being drawing closer to Him asking that my eyes be opened like never before and that my ears be tentative to my surroundings. Having a little talk with Jesus is like chicken noodle soup for the soul. That’s just my opinion.

I remember some years ago that I would become overwhelmed with the Christmas season approaching. It was more emotional than physical. I would become saddened and somewhat lethargic. I say this because my eyes were set on the wrong things and I was always “thirsty”.

I’m not one to do the Christmas shopping in my house for the most part. Thankfully it has always been my husband because no one would get anything most likely had it been left up to me to go out in the chaos and mass of people rushing, shoving, cursing and just flat-out been mean-spirited. Plus, I don’t have that kind of patience. Having 5 babies back to back kept me busy so it just became easier for my dear husband to do. I digress but for a moment!

My thoughts always went back to my childhood. While I had a pretty decent life growing up, I always felt something missing.

Jesus wasn’t there. 

Feeling confused and happy at the same time was just weird. Plain old strange and yet I managed to get through another holiday season. I could not wait for the holidays to pass.

Recently, my heart was on a couple of senior citizens who were in need of some items that they needed. It was an article I caught in the newspaper that came from the aid of the Salvation Army. I told my husband about it and that I wanted to sponsor the people’s needs. While my eyes glazed over the many people young and old with a wish list, I wondered even more about those lost. The lost who needed Jesus; the very One who is our ever-present help, comfort and aid.

I began to cry. Not just because some cannot afford material needs and wants, but that many go lacking without a Savior.How often we walk daily without Him. As Christians and sinners alike ,but first as human beings, we find ourselves at times trying to do things on our own. We try to make things happen within our own power and might. We fix our eyes on higher prizes and treasures beyond our means. Some are just desires to want, want,want. Fleshly things. Things that will pass. Treasures that will not go with us on a U-Haul when we leave this old world.

Getting caught up over-shopping and over-spending will give anyone a headache and then possible regret for debt than may take a while to pay off when we “rob Peter to pay Paul”. That’s a saying I got from my Mom. Maybe you’ve heard of it before.

Nevertheless, we need peace and true joy. It can only be found in Christ Jesus. He will make us whole. He can satisfy our deepest needs. Will you invite Him into your life? Will you  allow God to direct your life, your finances, your will, wants and your plans that they will align with His?

While I am not attempting to take away your joy of shopping for your friends and loved ones, I just want to provide you with the opportunity to receive the greatest gift of all this year as we bring 2013 to a close. Health may have fallen, bills may be behind and loved ones may have turned their backs on you but know that there is a risen Savior who is waiting to receive you today.

I want to share with you a song I heard on the radio yesterday. I don’t drive much if I can help it but when I do, I tend to listen to uplifting music to carry me throughout my day. This song about had me in tears. No matter what we are going through, we must know that we cannot do anything in this life without the Lord no matter how hard we try. I know for myself that I cannot walk without Him holding my hand. This song has become one of my favorite and it lingers within me to the point of praise.

All we NEED for Christmas is Jesus Christ. If we trust God, He will provide all that we need and bless us with our wants. By His grace we have what we have. May we be thankful for the little and great. Be blessed one and all. You are loved, cherished and prayed for.

“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you  not of more value than they?” But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6: 26, 33 NKJV

To God be the glory now and forevermore,

Terra


I AM. 365 Names of God wmv


The Meaning of Christmas — A. W. Tozer

EVERYWHERE, EVERYWHERE, CHRISTMAS TONIGHT!�
�Phillips Brooks.
That there were in the world multiplied millions who had never heard of Christmas did not matter to our poet for the purpose of his poem. He was expressing an emotional fact, not a statistical one.
Throughout the Western world we tend to follow the poet and approach Christmas emotionally instead of factually. It is the romance of Christmas that gives it its extraordinary appeal to that relatively small number of persons of the earth�s population who regularly celebrate it.

So completely are we carried away by the excitement of this midwinter festival that we are apt to forget that its romantic appeal is the least significant thing about it. The theology of Christmas too easily gets lost under the gay wrappings, yet apart from its theological meaning it really has none at all. A half dozen doctrinally sound carols serve to keep alive the great deep truth of the Incarnation, but aside from these, popular Christmas music is void of any real lasting truth. The English mouse that was not even stirring, the German Tannenbaum so fair and lovely and the American red-nosed reindeer that has nothing to recommend it have pretty well taken over in Christmas poetry and song. These along with merry old St. Nicholas have about displaced Christian theology.

We must not forget that the Church is the custodian of a truth so grave and urgent that its importance can not be overemphasized, and so vast and incomprehensible that even an apostle did not try to explain it; rather it burst forth from him as an astonished exclamation:
Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great:
He appeared in a body,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations;
was believed on in the world,
(1 Timothy 3:16)
This is what the Church is trying to say to mankind but her voice these days is thin and weak and scarcely heard amid the commercialized clangor of �Silent Night.�

It does seem strange that so many persons become excited about Christmas and so few stop to inquire into its meaning; but I suppose this odd phenomenon is quite in harmony with our unfortunate human habit of magnifying trivialities and ignoring matters of greatest import. The same man who will check his tires and consult his road map with utmost care before starting on a journey may travel for a lifetime on the way that knows no return and never once pause to ask whether or not he is headed in the right direction.

The Christmas message, when stripped of its pagan overtones, is relatively simple: God is come to earth in the form of man. Around this one dogma the whole question of meaning revolves. God did come or He did not; He is come or He is not, and the vast accumulation of sentimental notions and romantic practices that go to make up our modern Christmas cannot give evidence on one side or the other.

Certain religious teachers in apostolic times refused to believe that Jesus was actually God come in the flesh. They were willing to exhaust the language of unctuous flattery to describe His glorious manhood, but they would have none of His deity. Their basic philosophy forbade them to believe that there could ever be a union of God and human flesh.Matter, they said, is essentially evil. God who is impeccably holy could never allow Himself contact with evil. Human flesh is matter, therefore God is not come in the flesh.

Certainly it would not be difficult to refute this negative teaching. One would only need to demonstrate the error of the major premise, the essential sinfulness of matter, and the whole thing would collapse. But that would be to match reason against reason and take the mystery of godliness out of the realm of faith and make of it merely another religious philosophy. Then we would have rationalism with a thin Christian veneer. How long before the veneer wore off and we had only rationalism?

While faith contains an element of reason, it is essentially moral rather than intellectual. In the New Testament unbelief is a sin, and this could not be so if belief were no more than a verdict based upon evidence. There is nothing unreasonable about the Christian message, but its appeal is not primarily to reason. At a specific time in a certain place God became flesh, but the transcendence of Christ over the human conscience is not historic; it is intimate, direct and personal.

Christ�s coming to Bethlehem�s manger was in harmony with the primary fact of His secret presence in the world in preincarnate times as the Light that lighteth every man. The sum of the New Testament teaching about this is that Christ�s claims are self-validating and will be rejected only by those who love evil. Whenever Christ is preached in the power of the Spirit, a judgment seat is erected and each hearer stands to be judged by his response to the message. His moral responsibility is not to a lesson in religious history but to the divine Person who now confronts him.
�Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight.� But Christmas either means more than is popularly supposed or it means nothing.
We had better decide.

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