Post-Christmas Musing: Christmas Future- Keeping each day well

The Christmas Holiday has come and gone. Gifts have been given. Traditions have been followed. Interactions with family have occurred. It is the time for taking down the decorations, using or returning gifts, and returning to normal routine. The focus becomes on what is needed from day to day until the Holiday season returns. It is important to recognize that there is far more available than moving from one Holiday to the next. There is far more than “keeping Christmas well.”

The famous character grew to “keep Christmas well” by being exposed to past, present, and future relationships. He turned from being self-focused to “keeping Christmas well” by being concerned with others, being generous and engaging the relational. The turning point came with awareness of own mortality and no impact on others. His looking at Christmas future showed limitations and changed focus.

In thinking about Christmas future it does seem to be all about where is your focus and impact. Are you focused on concerns of self or is there priority to growing in relationship with God and others? Christmas ultimately is about the celebration of God’s gift of a reconciled relationship. It is all about God being accessible. It is about God demonstrating his love and our reflecting it by sharing what we have received with others.

Each day is a day where ones focus is needs to be examined. Are we living in such a way to connect and impact others? Are we growing in relationships? Do we take in consideration all of past, present, and future in our day to day existence? Such examinations and more are worthwhile for the choices we make now impact what is ahead and lead to “keeping each day well.” For each of us need to daily keep the Christmas focus on God with us with the result of engaged loving of God and others. Doing such results in moving beyond “keeping Christmas well” and touches all.

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Passion Week Musings: The Last Passover Supper

After the Olivet discourse the events documented in the Gospel’s really focuses on events of preparation leading up to the Last Supper which was a Passover meal.   Prior to that meal there are two other significant documented events.  Jesus was anointed with perfume by some woman, which Jesus described as his being prepared for burial.  During this same time the other event described in the Gospels is Judas making a deal with the religious leaders to betray Jesus.   Up until the last Supper all the tensions were mounting and the crescendo was building.   As Jesus spent time preparing both himself and his disciples for what is coming there had to be an emotional storm building in Jesus.  The anticipation of what was to come had to far more intense than anything any of us have gone through.  Tomorrows post on the Garden will touch a bit more on the emotions of Jesus.  Here the focus is really about the preparation and Jesus pointing ahead and trying to prepare his disciples for what is to come while the pieces were moving and being set into play.  Jesus focus during that last Passover supper was all on what is to come.

After all the pieces were in place, Jesus and the disciples had the Passover meal and celebration. Now if the reader is not aware, the Passover points to the night Israel was delivered from Egypt with the tenth plague, the death of the 1st born males in Egypt.  There was instruction to sacrifice a lamb and place the blood on the doorpost, resulting in being spared having the first born killed.   The Passover meal reminds us of sin and bondage and points to God’s once and for all sacrifice in Jesus.  Jesus declared himself the “Afikomen” when he directed his disciples to eat the bread. He declared himself “salvation” when he drank the third cup.  He really told the disciples about what was coming and it would be for salvation.   Jesus also spent time giving the disciples words to remember and a significant object lesson of serving and loving one another.  His actions were all about preparing the disciples for what was ahead, even though he knew they did not understand that they could not possibly understand. When Judas left the meal, after likely dipping the parsley at the same time as Jesus and announced as a betrayer, imagine the confusion and shocked the disciples experienced.  I can imagine the indignation the disciples felt as they were told that they would all falter.  Imagine after the resurrection, the disciples talking and discussion the events of the Last Passover Supper with a new grasp and understanding that had failed them in the midst.  The point that really hits home today thinking about this, is the Jesus and the Father both spent a lot of time preparing the disciples and those around for the events that were to unfold.  The essential point here is God does prepare us for what is ahead. 

Now our being prepared is not something that we are fully aware of at the time.  We like the disciples may be confused and lost in the midst.  We wonder the who, what, when, where, and whys of things we do not grasp. Yet, God does go before us and prepare us. God is in control.  Sometimes many pieces come into play that converge, but God is not caught off guard or surprised by anything and he gives us what He knows we need, which is often different than what we think we need.  Jesus spent personal time with his disciples during an important and meaningful time to prepare them for what is to come.  As what was to come in the next few days was an apex of darkness before the point of victory occurred.  The time leading up to the Last Passover supper was all about preparation,  it was the “middle” part of the story that at the time seems insignificant and can even get  bogged down but really is the essential time as it was the time the pieces moved into place, the character moments established that build to the climax, which in the cause were the death and resurrection to come. 

In this day and age, when pieces and events seem to be moving us ever closer to the second coming, it is important to know that God has us undergoing times of preparation. Whatever we are doing and going through, it really serves to build us up and prepare us for what is yet to come.  God is working in each of our lives to give us the teaching, training, and growth needed for what is yet to come.   Each day is a day closer to Jesus return.  Just like the cross, the moment of victory will be preceded by a time of great darkness and the appearance of victorious darkness. Yet, Jesus is coming and Victory is assured.  God has prepared us for what is ahead and will go before us and lead the way.  We just need to stay the course, be sober, be alert, and remain awake.  God is and will test all claiming to be in the faith. Lines are being drawn, pieces are moving, and we are nearing the end.  It is both a terrible and glorious day.  But worry and fear not, because it is God that prepares our hearts and minds, it is he that enables us to stand firm.  Just seek and pursue truly loving God and others, walk the path God directs and points you and trust that God will prepare you for what is ahead.

Election Day Admonition: Fear Not!

Today is a day where the citizens of the United States choose there elected representatives.  We have watch and observed a highly intense political season filled with much vitriol.  In terms of the battle for the highest office in the land much has been said on both sides.  Each side has expressed anger and fear about what would happen if the other side wins. 

       Today, perhaps this morning, we will learn who is the next president of the United States.  Barrack Obama or John McCain.  Many believe the decision is pivotal for the future of this country, and perhaps that is true.  What I do know is that God is in control and what is ahead is nothing to fear.  If Barrack Obama or John McCain win and push the country down their respect paths, ultimately neither one will deter from what God has set in motion.  Regardless of appearances, Satan is already defeated.  Sure,  there is promises of pain and suffering ahead for many as the end approaches and the return of Jesus draws ever closer.  Yet, any believer in Jesus as Messiah should not fear, there is no real reason to do so. 

      We need to take our mind and focus off of the political and onto what Jesus asks of each of us.  Political moves and changes come and go. They impact us and this country. There are consequences ahead for the choices we have made.  None of this is reason to fear.  We each need to put our faith not in politics or some politician, but in God. We need to examine ourselves to see where we are or are not surrender to the King of Kings. 

      Many of you will read this well after the election is determined.  Regardless of who has won, FEAR NOT!  Place your faith in the one true God and walk in the ways God leads you.  Focus your mind on things above, focus your mind on our Fathers will, not on the temporal things of this life that come and go.

Life reflections: On memories

 This weekend was a reflective one. The reflecting occured initially while on a boat with my Dad on Lake Minnetonka.  During the time places of memory were passed by. One was the property that once held my Grandparent’s home. They really were blessed to live of the lake, because they couldn’t do so today. Today all the houses are big. Some are moderate sized, like the house where my early childhood was spent.  There are good and bad memories of both. 

     Also went by the city of Excelsior, Minnesota  where there used to be an amusement part in the early 1970’s.  I used to pass out tracks, invite people to a smelt fry, and other ways of outreach.  There was an outreach house there, rented by the Church and overseen by a man by the name of George Gospel, I remember we called him brother George.  I don’t recall many details, but the memories I have are good.

    In thinking about memories, it is interesting to think how a child who had no fear in approaching others, who approached others without second thought progressed to the man I am today.  Perhaps coming to Jesus like a little child is more then just simple faith, but also a fearlessness, and unfettered approach. 

     Thing is as we go on life there are wounds created. I thought of some past wounds as well. Wounds from my family, wounds from other children as I grew up.  We all have wounds.  The wounds I thought about I thought had been healed, but perhaps still are parts open.  Dealing with past wounds is never easy. It is hard to let go and forgive.  However, I have seen the ravage holding on to wounds and anger and bitterness do to a person.  Holding on to wounds can lead to bitterness and rage, to sitting by passively, to not stepping out and doing all.  Sometimes fresh wounds open up parts of old wounds that hadn’t fully healed.  Whatever is open, if we hold on to it damage is done psychologically and spiritually. It also impacts our relationships and ability to relate.

    Here is a good thing though, as long as we surrender to God, and move and act as He does, he will be faithful to heal those wounds. It is often neither fast or pretty, but God heals.  God even moves in our lives to move us toward healing, even when we are far away. The dark points of my life, God was always there calling me back.  An old paster used to say, “God sends his sheepdogs after you when you stray off the path.”  I find this to be true.  Here is the amazing thing about God.  God being beyond time knows all aspects of our lives.  He knows all of the past, present, and future. He is not bound by the limits of time.  And he meets with us in the moment and while meeting with us in this moment, he meets with us at all moments. 

     Now I don’t have clear scripture to back this up, I do know that God is I AM, at all tenses. Somewhere I read that YWHW in Hebrew contains a conglomeration of all tenses of I AM in Hebrew.  I also know God created time.  There are some that believe that God is not really omniscient, omnipresent, or any of the other omnis. I find that it is very possible for God to be some because He transcends our understanding.  So in my memories, good and bad, the verse that stands to mind right now is: Romans 8:28 (NIV): And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

    So take some time, reflect on your memories good or bad. Ask God to show you what he wants you to know or steps he wants you to take regarding your memories.  Reflect on any lessons learned from the past, examine how it impacts you today and even how it impacts your thoughts about the future.  Above all, submit all of time to Him.  The past, the present, the future. Good memories, bad memories, and even lost memories are best laid at His throne. A step to true peace is found in this, surrendering all of our time on this earth to Him.