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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

the informed christmas story


i went digging around to see if i could sythesize some of the prophecies of Jesus' birth with the story from luke's gospel... this is what i came up with.

all quotation is from eugene peterson's the message courtesy of the good people at www.biblegateway.com who did all the typing!












The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word.
The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one.
Everything was created through him;
nothing--not one thing!- came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn't put it out.
(John 1.1-5)

I see him, but not right now,
I perceive him, but not right here;
A star rises from Jacob
a scepter from Israel,
(Numbers 24:17)

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David's town, for the census.

But you, Bethlehem, David's country, the runt of the litter--
From you will come the leader who will shepherd-rule Israel.
He'll be no upstart, no pretender.
His family tree is ancient and distinguished.
(Micah 5.2)

As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancee, who was pregnant.

So the Master is going to give you a sign anyway.
Watch for this: A girl who is presently a virgin will get pregnant.
She'll bear a son and name him Immanuel… God-With-Us.
(Isaiah 7:14)

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

A long time ago you spoke in a vision,
you spoke to your faithful beloved:
"I've crowned a hero,
I chose the best I could find;
(Psalm 89:19 )

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide:

I'll bless those who bless you;
those who curse you I'll curse.
All the families of the Earth will be blessed through you.
(Genesis 12:3 )

A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."

So what's this I'm hearing--this bleating of sheep, this mooing of cattle?"
(I Samuel 15.14)

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:
“ Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

For a child has been born--for us!
the gift of a son--for us!
He'll take over
the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
Strong God,
Eternal Father,
Prince of Wholeness.
(Isaiah 9:6)

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows-- light! sunbursts of light!
(Isaiah 9.2)

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself.

Take a good look at my servant.
I'm backing him to the hilt.
He's the one I chose,
and I couldn't be more pleased with him.
I've bathed him with my Spirit, my life.
He'll set everything right among the nations.
(Isaiah 42:1)

The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!

The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.
(John 1:14)

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christmas muzak


okay, i think i've figured something out.

satan really hates the day designated as the birthday of Jesus.
that's why christmas music is often so bad...

just another satanic distraction.

it's all making sense to me now.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

replace it with an x


in his post concerning holiday greetings, ezekiel said...
this is america. celebrate whatever you want. but dont try to change mine.
***


i've often heard of america being compared to a 'melting pot' where people have their respective origins, but are assimilated into the american ethos. this 'melting pot' idea probably has its natural result in saying 'happy holidays' as opposed to 'merry christmas.' it's an all-encompassing seasonal salutation that tips its hat to everyone while being open-ended enough to allow everybody to celebrate what they want.

the same people that call america a 'melting pot' also call canada a 'mosaic.' it is a country peopled by citizens all embracing their cultural heritage, acknowledging that this multi-cultural colour is exactly what canada celebrates. nice.

the problem is that the same plurality that celebrates the mosaic also digs in its heals when it comes to locking in on christmas as being a christian holiday. even though everybody gets the time off work for it, there are those who whine and complain about it being celebrated as a 'religious holiday.'

to that, i find myself loosely paraphrasing ezekiel
(the blogger, not the prophet...)

'this is canada. call it whatever you want... but let's not pretend that this holiday would still exist if Jesus' birthday had not been selected as the 'reason for the season' by constantine when he was looking to abolish the pagan festival of 'saturnalia' after he accepted Jesus and made christianity the official religion of the roman empire.'

on a post left at http://ultimatewriter.blogspot.com/2005/12/for-hesitant-holiday-wishers.html , chetan dave provided some thoughtful responses that may serve you in those moments when you feel the need to greet someone who, for whatever reason, has a problem with acknowledging Jesus' role in our holiday calendar around the time of the winter solstice...

if you still wish to be sterile and handsoffish on the holiday wish issue, here are some suggestions that (most likely) won't offend anybody:

1. Happy November-December
2. Good Arctic Season To You
3. May the Force Be With You
4. Top O' the Holidays To Ya!
5. Be Safe When You Hang Lights Outside Your Home
6. Merry Winter
7. You Wanna Buy Some Discount Wrapping Paper From Me?
8. Here's to Jolly Gifting
9. Don't Let the Snowballs Getchya
10. Happy Cold, Unforgiving Wind Resistance Months
11. Hope You Have a Happy and Merry Non-denominational Holidayistic Paranormal Event (A What?!)

feel free to add your own to the comments box, that we may all become tragically more politically correct?

Merry Christmas, no matter what the non-affiliates say. i won't be replacing my tree with a festivus pole any time soon.

(however, if you must greet one another with no.8, remember to live out the greeting in the form of a cash donation...)

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

epiphany


i found it!

after years of searching for it, it was right there in front of me!

after praying that God would make it plain to me, that i would be able to somehow comprehend it in a vision or a word, i discovered it in his Word.

you see, for my whole life the question of God's will has been an enigma.

endless prayers asking for signs, visions, leadings, words of prophecy spoken through another... all this with it right there in front of me.

i was preparing for a bible study when it happened, this epiphany. the study was a topical one, and this day the topic was freedom from fear. the text: psalm 91.

at first, it read the way it always did. the first two verses speak of rest, refuge and trust. further in, we see these themes opened up and elaborated upon. however, by the time i typically reach verses 14-16, i have already drawn my conclusions about the whole passage. this time, however, the conclusion for me actually came at the end (nice when that happens- only when all the facts are in does the message lock in...)

"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."


you wanna know the will of God? read it again- it's right there.

"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."


the expressed will of God is that
when in need of rescue, those who love him would be rescued
when in need of protection, those who turn to him would be protected
when calling they would be able to hear his answer
when in trouble they would not feel alone or abandoned
when assailed they would be delivered and honoured for their faithfulness
when in mortal need they would be satisfied in the knowledge that life begins here, but it does not end here for those to whom he has offered life eternal and been accepted.

the rest are details that God has entrusted to our care, remaining ever at our side as we travail.

hmmm

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

legal opposition

anything ordained by God will be opposed by the cast and crew of hell

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

so much for starting over


twenty-five years ago, i was in my 65 mustang convertable on my way to work at mcdonald's... i turned the radio on and learned that one of my musical heroes had been assassinated.

sounds cheesey, but i remember exactly what i was doing at that moment.
did the death of john lennon impact you?

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Monday, December 05, 2005

'be low'


"the de-humanization of all mankind "

it’s hell’s directive…

we were created in the image of God with the expressed purpose of being his beloved and, as such, bring him glory. this was what it meant to be human: to be very good in the eyes of God… the crowned of creation….

hell is bent on stealing that which God created in order to redirect our praise and worship because intentional, active worship is a crucially implicit part of being human. any of the lies whispered to our hearts by the idols whom we’ve permitted to stay upon our internal throne will be aimed at our de-humanization

aimed at bringing us below God’s initial satisfaction with us;
below God’s greatest desire for us;
below all that is essentially natural to us.
(2 peter 2.12)
***
for more yada yada yada, go to
http://e-pistles.blogspot.com/2005/11/yes-virginia-there-is-santa.html

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

picasso pretzel


which comes first- the chicken or the egg?
who cares.

okay, let me put it a different way... the way it came to me today as my friend and i were meeting to hash out some futurethink:

which comes first- vision or identity?
i mean, to what degree does vision forge identity?

regardless of who you are, your involvement in the world is informed by your world view. in fact, your involvement in the world kinda depends on how big your world is and what you see that world to be. if your world is finite then your involvement in it will be based on existing realities... if your world is infinite then your involvement in it will be based on preexisting realities. preexisting realities are realities that are, at this point, only envisioned- things yet to come.

take your pick: the world of the present (which will be the world of the past in the next second) or the world of the future.

i know that i've gone down this road before, but here's the notion that settled in as we spoke. if our vision (or lack thereof) forges our world of tomorrow, then what forges our identity of tomorrow? i think that the answer is 'our vision.'

what we see- what we are willing to explore- determines what we pursue.
if we see the immediate then we pursue stability.
if we see the ultimate then we pursue change.

who we are is largely determined not by what lurks inside of us, but what we do with all that lurks inside of us. (oops- i think batman begins taught me that one!) unrealized potential is of no consequence... or is it?

ideally our identity should be something that is ever-changing, yet ever the same... it's called growing. our growth is largely contingent upon that which we are reaching for-our vision... and our vision is largely contingent upon that which we've experienced already and what effect it has had on us- our growth.

where this all slows down a bit is in the area of difficulty. through difficulty people either get stronger or they break. however, the breaking can often be prevented by some broader perspective- the ability to see beyond the difficulty and press on, undaunted towards something beyond the present: vision again.

hey, whatever- i'm out of my depth and sinking fast!

picasso said 'if i ever finish a painting, then i'm finished.'

the guy lived until he was 91, producing an estimated 50,000 works of art in various stages of 'completion'. just google him and see. it is said that his paintings were his diary- chronicling his every change and challenge aesthetically. yet before the world had caught up with him in any one of his many stylistic phases, he had already moved on.

he has been called the greatest artistic genius of all time- a man of vision who left his mark indelibly upon the aesthetic possibilities of the western world by selling people unrealized potential... in fact leaving, as his legacy, more unrealized potential than any artist in history.

nice.