Things can Change in a Heartbeat: Give Jesus a Chance

 

Well, Christmas 2016 is over.

My holiday took an extremely unexpected – shall we say ‘turn’ – when I stepped outside onto the 2nd. floor landing of my apartment stairs. What I didn’t realize: how slippery it was.

Things happen fast.

My left foot shot our from under me like greased lightning.

How quickly – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye – we can lose control. And there is nothing you can do about it. Even if there was, the whole thing is over before you even have time to do it anyway.

Oddly calm, I remember knowing that this was it, I was either about to die from tumbling headlong down the stairs, or sustain severely broken bones, maybe my back. Like that, it can be over.

~~~

Well, it wasn’t.

~~~

I don’t think that I was ‘lucky’. I think that either Jesus Himself, or an angel sent as a ministering spirit guided my fall or actually set me down, in a seated, upright position with the door sill right up against my lower back area.  I was not aware of any jolting impact. I noticed I was in no pain. Check. Nothing seemed broken. Check. Or bleeding. Check.

For He shall give His angels charge over thee…they shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.”  (Psalm 91: 11, 12)

Wow.

~~~

I had been carrying a box full of Christmas presents, which barely spilled out. They were okay, too…

I had not even had time to panic before it was over & I realized I was basically unharmed. After a minute, I carefully raised myself up, looking around and beginning to notice that the toe of my left foot was hurting. That got alot worse as the day wore on, witangels-charge_2h swelling & bruising, but apart from that and the onset of shock & nausea etc., at this moment I seem  relatively unscathed.  Some may say, Well, you still fell down & you did actually hurt your foot, so….what’s your point?  My point is that it could’ve been so much worse.

~~~

 

I imagine as the days go by, I will experience a continuing aftermath of realizations. Today, though, mainly I keep recalling my ‘flying through the air’ moment, no contact with the ground or handrail or anything…but Jesus. I know this is hindsight, maybe I’m wrong, but in that moment I think I sensed I was being somehow ‘held’. I just didn’t have time to consciously process it, so initially  I assumed the worst .

~~~

…so my Christmas Day was delayed for a while, I ended up on my sofa with ice on my foot. When I finally made it to the family gathering…well, the starch was knocked out of me, sooo….but I find that without all the usual hullaballoo – and nothing wrong with that! – I seem to be seeing spiritual reality with a wonderful focus and clarity. Today, I think my ‘eye is single’. (That’s not always the case!)

“Therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light.”  (Luke 11:34)

Over the years, so many times at Christmas I’ve heard those cliché statements about Jesus that I knew should’ve resonated with me but did not. I was doing my Christmas thing, ya know? But today – today I get it. There is nothing more important than knowing Jesus. The real Jesus. He is so unbelievably integral to all things that it behooves any one of us to give Him a chance.  Every day.

 

 

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Christmas 2016…some Gifts aren’t Tangible

 

 

In years past, I’ve written articles relating to this Christmas time of year, or re-published  ones previously written to mark the holiday season.

(https://godhistoryandyou.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/about-that-christmas-tree/ https://godhistoryandyou.wordpress.com/2008/12/19/on-the-giving-of-gifts-etc-at-christmas/)

christmas-tree-fireplace This year – for me personally, it is a landmark holiday season – but my Christmas time post might not even include that much about the actual holiday. Maybe nothing…we’ll see…I’m not sure where I’m going with this…

~~~

 

 

In the comments section of one of Lana Vawser’s recent prophetic posts (https://lanavawser.com/2016/12/anxiety-attacks-attempting-to-come-upon-the-writers-and-pioneers/) concerning anxiety, someone explained that Jesus had shown her, in a dream/vision, to simply worship Him when anxiety strikes. Turn your back on the adversary, the enemy of your soul. My anxiety levels at that time were unusually high, almost at an unprecedented level, so I began practicing spur-of-the moment worship. When numbing, immobilizing fear gripped me, when my stomach began crunching from dread or anxiety, I began stopping whatever I was doing, wherever I was, and entering into my own ‘compressed’ version of bowing down before Him. I usually could not concentrate very well in these tormented moments, so I kept it simple. Very simple. And I don’t know that I worshipped Jesus so much as said “I worship You, Jesus.”

But it worked.

~~~

Why this is happening now, in the way that it is, and not years ago during so many times of prayer & supplication, intrigues me. What is different?

~~~

The Scriptures speak of all things being put under His feet. ( Jesus’ feet, that is.)  And the glory, the power, and the kingdoms belonging to Him. Do you want to keep some things out from under His feet & instead keep them under yours? Ya want some of that power for yourself? So maybe you aren’t willing to yield it all up…I am now sure I was not willing. And I cannot say if I even recognized that.

What I can say is, in declaring “I worship You, Jesus” out loud (even if softly) & in public places that were not churches or Bible studies – I FELT myself yielding things up. I FELT myself ‘coming under’ Him in a way I never had before. I FELT & I SAW Jesus covering me, and all that I was yielding. HE is the Possessor of heaven & earth, and all that is herein. HE is your Champion. He is gracious. He’s got your back…

~~~

Merry Christmas!

 

christmas-star_2

Wise Men still Seek Him

 

…about that Christmas Tree…

Author’s noteAs I see Christmas Day bearing down on me, and wanting to eliminate any stress that I can!, I’m not attempting a special post for this December 25th.  Rather, I am reblogging again one from 2011. 

But I do want to make a very somber and serious observation on our times, one which I had been hearing about for a few years now, but wasn’t aware of in my own areas of life.  Franklin Graham hit the nail on the head in his article “The War on Christmas.”  By endorsing Rev. Graham’s thoughts on the ‘sacred nature of Christmas’ I might seem to be contradicting my own, expressed in the following post.  Not my intention at all!  Rather, the removal of God in Christ from any aspect of our society will leave us an emptiness & lack of joy that will only get worse.  I have never been so aware of hearing “Happy Holidays”, and not one “Merry Christmas.”  Twice, I wished cashiers “Merry Christmas” recently, and they seemed caught off-guard, flustered. I felt a little bit sad.  I had not realized how far along spiritual changes had progressed.

Even so, we who still believe, (regardless of how we do or don’t celebrate Christmas) keep on keeping on, looking within our own hearts & spirits, where Christ dwells, and shines.  And the darkness overcomes it not. 

ΑΩ

 

 

All around the world, people are preparing to celebrate that Holiday of all holidays, Christmas.  Like the siren call of myth, the lure of yuletide activity is almost impossible to resist.  Even the Scrooges I’ve known, still, amidst their bah humbugs! usually join in the celebrations, one way or another.  Just about everyone finds him or her self sitting around a Christmas tree, sharing food and exchanging gifts amidst garland, glitter and goodwill.  And those who aren’t able to, wish they were.

What is it about that Christmas tree?  I’ve been working on mine for awhile now, off & on, taking my time and ensuring that it is just right!  Why do almost all of us do it?

My money is on hope and expectation.

We think we’re ‘decorating a Christmas tree’, but the roots go much deeper than that.  People are looking for something better.  We want the comfort & contentment of security.  We want the release of joy.  I believe the decorated Christmas tree stands as a symbol & token of such things.   For myself, I find an almost inviolable sense of peace, of serenity as I gaze upon my own tree, with its twinkling lights and its sparkling elegance.  It is a silent and immoveable testimony to enduring abundance.

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”   (John 10:10)

~~~

Springing up around the centuries-old tradition of decorating a live evergreen tree at Christmas time are several different stories pointing to its origin.  Reading these accounts I learned that it was possible that Martin Luther himself had set this practice in motion…or St. Boniface…and the tradition began in Germany…no, wait, it was France…I’ve seen Egypt mentioned…well, actually, it looks like ancient Rome was where the practice first surfaced…

And speaking of the ancient Romans, their trees were just pieces of evergreen shrubs decorated with bits of metal, celebrating a winter festival (that ended on December 25) in honor of their god of agriculture, Saturnus.   The pagan god Bacchus was honored in a similar fashion as well.  And the prophet Jeremiah wrote of the cutting down & adorning of trees, declaring it a vain, heathen custom  (Jeremiah 10: 2–4).  So it does seem that what eventually became the symbol of the birth of the Saviour of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ, had its roots in pagan practices.

 I find it so amazing, then, that the ultimate outcome of God-less ritual became this universally recognized symbol of  true Life, eternal Life.  Talk about transformation!  Talk about restoration!  Talk about mortality being swallowed up of Life!  In fact, turning it inside out, who is to say that this very outcome was not the original intention of a  seed constrained within an outward expression of another sort.    Certain types of men “..hold the truth in unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:18) 

But the truth is still there.  When Ecclesiastes 3:11 speaks of God placing the world in their heart (the hearts of human beings), it is important to know that the more literal meaning of ‘world’ connotes a sense of eternity, and that which is concealed (Strong’s Concordance, Hebrew #5769, #5956.)  This awareness is placed within us all.  That is a good thing.  Those invisible things are understood by the visible, created things…such as a tree…but ‘vain imaginations’ (Romans 1:21)  darken hearts, and what is produced misses the mark. 

You end up with a raggedy shrub wearing scraps of metal.

How triumphant, then, is the glorious Christmas tree of today! 

 “…The evergreen theme continues to weave its way through the history of Christmas trees as a symbol of the promise of life to come…” (link)  While this statement refers to the warmth of spring after a cold, hard winter, there is another Parallel here.  The truth of eternal Life in Christ, who has abolished death!  bears witness of Itself throughout this same history.

~~~  

      

…so, about that Christmas Tree?

 

All around the world, people are preparing to celebrate that Holiday of all holidays, Christmas.  Like the siren call of myth, the lure of yuletide activity is almost impossible to resist.  Even the Scrooges I’ve known, still, amidst their bah humbugs! usually join in the celebrations, one way or another.  Just about everyone finds him or her self sitting around a Christmas tree, sharing food and exchanging gifts amidst garland, glitter and goodwill.  And those who aren’t able to, wish they were.

What is it about that Christmas tree?  I’ve been working on mine for awhile now, off & on, taking my time and ensuring that it is just right!  Why do almost all of us do it?

My money is on hope and expectation.

We think we’re ‘decorating a Christmas tree’, but the roots go much deeper than that.  People are looking for something better.  We want the comfort & contentment of security.  We want the release of joy.  I believe the decorated Christmas tree stands as a symbol & token of such things.   For myself, I find an almost inviolable sense of peace, of serenity as I gaze upon my own tree, with its twinkling lights and its sparkling elegance.  It is a silent and immoveable testimony to enduring abundance.

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”   (John 10:10)

~~~

English: A Christmas Tree at HomeSpringing up around the centuries-old tradition of decorating a live evergreen tree at Christmas time are several different stories pointing to its origin.  Reading these accounts,  I learned that it was possible that Martin Luther himself had set this practice in motion…or St. Boniface…and the tradition began in Germany…no, wait, it was France…I’ve seen Egypt mentioned…well, actually, it looks like ancient Rome was where the practice first surfaced…

And speaking of the ancient Romans, their trees were just pieces of evergreen shrubs decorated with bits of metal, celebrating a winter festival (that ended on December 25) in honor of their god of agriculture, Saturnus.   The pagan god Bacchus was honored in a similar fashion as well.  And the prophet Jeremiah wrote of the cutting down & adorning of trees, declaring it a vain, heathen custom  (Jeremiah 10: 2–4).  So it does seem that what eventually became the symbol of the birth of the Saviour of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ, had its roots in pagan practices.

I find it so amazing, then, that the ultimate outcome of God-less ritual became this universally recognized symbol of  true Life, eternal Life.  Talk about transformation!  Talk about restoration!  Talk about mortality being swallowed up of Life!  In fact, turning it inside out, who is to say that this very outcome was not the original intention of a  seed constrained within an outward expression of another sort.    Certain types of men “..hold the truth in unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:18)

But the truth is still there.  When Ecclesiastes 3:11 speaks of God placing the world in their heart (the hearts of human beings), it is important to know that the more literal meaning of ‘world’ connotes a sense of eternity, and that which is concealed (Strong’s Concordance, Hebrew #5769, #5956.)  This awareness is placed within us all.  That is a good thing.  Those invisible things are understood by the visible, created things…such as a tree…but ‘vain imaginations’ (Romans 1:21)  darken hearts, and what is produced misses the mark.

You end up with a ragged shrub wearing scraps of metal.

How triumphant, then, is the glorious Christmas tree of today!

“…The evergreen theme continues to weave its way through the history of Christmas trees as a symbol of the promise of life to come…” (link)  While this statement refers to the warmth of spring after a cold, hard winter, there is another Parallel here.  The truth of eternal Life in Christ, who has abolished death!  bears witness of Itself throughout this same history.

~~~

Forcing Christmas

It used to be different, for me.
It used to be that my ‘Christmas-ing’ activities were focused, concentrated into a month or so of decorating, gift-buying, tree trimming…the usual! I liked that. I miss it. Anymore, and especially this year, it seems like everything is blended together. Between working in the retail field, where signs of the holiday start showing up way too early! and blur the seasons together – and spur of the moment Christmas shopping, etc., when I have the time & energy – it just isn’t anywhere near as satisfying.

Last two years, I wasn’t even able to get my Christmas tree up, the way things went in my life!

So, this year, I was determined – Christmas tree or bust! And, yes, I’m watching its twinkling lights right now…but something’s still missing. I think it’s the absence of focus.

Most people with whom I’ve spoken seem to feel the same way. Between rough personal situations and (in my opinion) economic/national & world events, our focus is shattered. I think many may not realize the impact of years of terrorism awareness, or the threat of the loss of our American liberty being exerted through an administration that, in part at least, surely seems to have Socialist leanings. But, though one may not consciously realize these things, they are felt anyway. I believe there is a threatening spirit leaning upon America, producing fear and dread in many of her citizens.

And, as the logo of Canada Free Press expresses, ‘Because without America, there is no Free World‘, what affects the (so far) Land of the Free affects all peoples, eventually.

Freedom has always been at risk. Right off the bat, you have the serpent slithering around in Eden. In your own lives, haven’t you noticed how, when something good arises, along comes some kind of problem, an obstruction or, yes, threat! to accomplishing or keeping whatever the good thing is? Doesn’t always show up instantly, but often, it does show up!

======

For myself, I have reached, in a sense, an impasse. I am standing in front of truth from which I cannot back away. I have to face it. I must accept that a possibility exists which, before now, would’ve been unimaginable to me. This is real life. There is danger here.

I had NO IDEA how much of past world history has been forged by Muslim invasions and conquests. I cannot repeat this enough. I have no starch left in me, right now. I’ve been floored. And assimilating this horrible information has neutralized much of my Christmas spirit, because, going forward, I can see that it could happen again. And it could happen here, in America.

======

But in addition to this, I’ve also gained a much fuller understanding of the ‘Big Picture’. Which is very, very helpful! Biblical knowledge meshes with history, and voila! My understanding of the invisible forces behind the visible is only confirmed, once again! My trust & belief in the Scriptures is solidified and, yes, confirmed once again! And, as is His way, once again the Savior brings Life out of death.

======

At this point in time, America is still a free country. This year, though purse strings have been tightened for most, we still have the freedoms we’ve known, and can still celebrate Christmas, if we want to, in the manner we’d like. That right there is alot to be thankful for, and for which to rejoice & be glad. This unprecedented, glorious experiment in democracy, this government by the people is unlike ANY other, in all of known history. We may be living in its demise, but it isn’t done yet…there’s still time. We are still a free nation.

Maybe that’s why I’ve been forcing Christmas this year…because I think that Christmas exists, as hope in our heart. Jesus Christ is called ’the hope of glory’ in us who believe. It’s an inner thing! On the football field, isn’t there that “Push ’em back, push ’em back, waaaay back!” chant? Well, I’ve been pushin’ it out! Push it out, push it out…waaaay out! We’re told to work out our own salvation, in fear and trembling, because it is God who is at work in us, so…kind of fits this analogy, I think. I don’t want to give up, not really. And though I’m writing about Christmas celebrations here, much more than that is at stake.

======

…tis the Season !

Ah yes, it’s that time of year once again – when just about all of America, one way or another, gets caught up in the rush, pressure and joy that is  Christmas. Below is a re-post of some of my thoughts from the 2008 holiday season…                        

…on the Giving of Gifts, etc. at Christmas

For those of you who may have read my recent Christmas posts, I direct this, uh, warning: my next words will make it appear that I’m doing a complete 180′ on the whole ‘keeping Christ in Christmas’ theme. Be assured, that is not my intent at all! I just have a real problem with religiousness. Some don’t realize, so did Jesus…

Years back, I listened to a Christmas Eve message, via radio, broadcast by Jack Hayford, at that time pastor of the Church Along the Way (I think that was the name) in California. ‘Born-again’ celebrities attended his church. I think he is a very cool guy.

Pastor Jack was saying something like this: he had a real problem with ‘religiousness’, too, meaning, persons who had a thumbs-down ‘tude towards the celebratory aspects of the Christmas holiday, giving gifts, etc., and having parties. For the rest of my life, may I always remember what he declared next, with emphatic joy – Jesus BROUGHT the party!!!

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…”  (Romans 8:1)

This right here is a huge reason to celebrate, not only at Christmas but every time you realize that you are free. In Christ, under His blood, you cannot be legitimately accused before God. (And, for the record, I know what the second half of that verse says, and I also know that you’ll find those words in italics in some Bibles. Which means that those words are not in the original manuscript. Bible scholars added them, over time.) (That’s a story for another day.)

Now, some may say, the Magi ( the three wise men) brought gifts to the Christ at  His birth…so,there is our example, proving that God intends for men to commemorate that birth in a solemn, holy way, etc., etc. Let me burst your bubble – Jesus the ‘babe’ was born in a ‘manger’ (Luke 2: 15,16) , everybody knows that – but the wise men brought gifts to the ‘young child’ in a ‘house’. Time had elapsed. Not everybody knows that. Matthew 2: 9-11. Check it out. Also, the phrase ‘young child’ is used six times in that section of Scripture, so…it occurs to me, (and I stress that this is just my opinion) that the Lord, knowing future generations would condemn ‘worldly’ Yuletide tradition while insisting on religious custom, delayed the arrival of the Magi ’til well past Jesus’ actual birthday, deliberately not setting a precedent. I don’t see the Lord instituting this particular religious holiday, in any way, anywhere in the Scripture. Other than the magnificent, extraordinary appearance of the angels to the shepherds in the field, it seems like God the Father kept this whole event on the down-low. Other than the principle players, we have…let’s see…cows? Sheep? Donkeys? And if there would have been any pomp and circumstance, it arrived way late.

Which is not at all to say, Christmas shouldn’t be celebrated, in whatever fashion you choose. It is to say, however, (short of the ludicrous, dangerous, or  bizarre) don’t condemn others for the fashion they choose! As stated in an earlier post, (link) I believe God has placed an awareness of Himself in the hearts of men, (regardless of their conscious belief or not in Him), so…one way or another, Jesus Christ is celebrated.

~~~

“I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)

Staying out of Hell

As Christmas approaches, my thoughts have been turning towards an official ‘Christmas post’, but I doubt that will happen. My thoughts have also been turning towards the concept of loving others, forgiveness…that kind of thing. I’m wondering about the dynamics of spiritual realities, and wondering also, when I die & look back, will it be a case of, “Aw, man! I shoulda known! Jesus said (insert specific Scripture) and I didn’t do it…!” A case of, too little, too late? I’m wondering, is there more of a – what would be the word, maybe ‘metaphysical’? – essence to the instructions from our Saviour than we know?

I’m thinking about what we call ‘hell’. I’m not saying it isn’t a place, but I am saying that I consider the possibility that hell is a condition, as well. We use terms like ‘a living hell’. Maybe your marital situation is such a hell, or you’ve spiraled so far downwards into drugs, or poverty…maybe your life is in danger…maybe you’ve served in Iraq or Afghanistan, or been captured as a prisoner of war…these are surely conditions. They exist in places, but they are, concurrently, conditions.

When Jesus issues certain commands/directions, through the living Word, I balk. I am concerned that I balk, but nonetheless..balk I do. I know that I’m saved by grace, not works of my own, so I feel relatively secure in that, but…still balking, and what will happen, in this realm and/or the next, if I don’t get with the program?

Now, the key, as I see it, is love. Not my ability to love, but God’s love. We love, because our Father loved first. Loved us first. And, let’s not forget God IS love. Wow….imagine being love. There must be moments when you feel it, so much so that you are just about lost in loving someone, or so appreciating what a person has done for you…or you’ve created something, designed something, and it is close to perfect, in your eyes…that you are so absorbed by love, that for that instant, you become love. What you generate in that instant is love. It is a good and a healing place in which to be, for you and everyone/thing around you.

I would theorize that hell is just the opposite. No love there, I’m thinkin’!

The commands & directives of our Saviour are designed to protect us, and keep us out of hell. He knows the dynamics of our nature, because He created us in the first place. He created all things, including the fallen Lucifer, who wants company in ‘hell’ and hellish places, and has a vast array of plots & schemes designed to lure us there. But Jesus is, may I say, ‘One up’ on him, and has His own designs for us. Those designs originated in love, and operate in that realm as well. They function as a safeguard, and can counter-act hostility, hate, & resentment, to name a few.

Neutralize those bad guys!! Stay out of hell!



(There may be a Part 2 on its way)