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Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Christmas Paradox: A Labor of Love

This Christmas post is going to be a little different.  There is going to be a lot about Jesus, of course, but there will also be what I am going to call Theological Physics.  A little science mixed in with knowlege about God…hey, it’s Christmas!  Don’t worry, it won’t be too bad.  I hope.  This is part one.  I will save the physics and theology for part two.

For the last couple of years, a friend of mine has been telling me about Andrew Peterson’s Christmas Concert.  Andrew Peterson is a Contemporary Christian Music Artist and he has been doing a Christmas tour since 1999 where he goes through the story of Christmas but starts in the Old Testament and works his way through to the birth of Christ and its significance.  My friend said that there is an amazing song in this called, “A Labor of Love,” that talks about the birth of Christ in a very real way.  It was, afterall, an actual birth with everything that comes with that.

The tour and CD is called Behold the Lamb of God.  I knew we were going to be doing a lot of driving this year to our various Christmas gatherings and I wanted some new Christmas music to listen to besides the same songs they always play on the radio.  I remembered my friend talking about Andrew Peterson and that song, so we got the whole CD…I am a big fan of how the Christmas story fits into the “whole story” of the Bible, so I figured it would probably be pretty good.  It is.

We gave it a listen on one of our long drives to a family Christmas party.  I was completely enthralled with how they were able to weave the story of the Bible in such a cool way.  The songs about the Old Testament were amazing.  He wrapped the gest of Israel’s Biblical history into just a few songs, but it was done beautifully.  He built it up to the birth of Christ.  Then the song “Labor of Love” came on.  It was everything my friend said it was.  Graphic yet beautiful.  Then suddenly a line was sung that I was not prepared for…I didn’t see it coming and I don’t know that I will ever be theologically or philosophically the same.  A very simple string of words that left me in tears at the wonder of the gospel and amazing love of God.

I would encourage you to get the CD, listen to all the songs up to this one, and then hear these lyrics in context, but I am going to share the lines that rocked my little world.  It is a simple thought, but such a huge effect on me.  The context within the song is that Mary is giving birth on the ground of a dirty stable with no family except her new husband.  Joseph is there with her being as brave as he can given the earthy and heavenly circumstances.

So he held her and he prayed, shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb, he was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the Faith that could make the mountains move

This thought…I almost don’t have words to convey how God sent shockwaves through me with it.  You have a poor family in a stable.  A birth happening in the worst of situations.  We would call this horrible in our time.  Think about it.  A baby being born in a dirty, fifthy stable.  A place were dusty animals eat and use the bathroom.  No professionals around.  Just a man with rough hands from carpentry who probably did not know much about childbirth.  And there is Joseph trying to have enough faith to believe that an angel really did come to him and tell him that his wife is going to have a baby that is not his but was the work of the Holy Spirit.  Mary is going through the real pain of child birth.  No family.  No help.  Just Joseph.  She was probably trying her hardest to believe that he truly believed that all of this was really the work of God.

And then there is the baby.  The real son of God.  God in flesh.  The very Word of God that created the created everything was now a part of creation.  Get ready, because here is the thought that blew me away…Joseph had moonlight/starlight on his face as he mustered up the faith needed to guide this baby into the world as Mary gave birth…and this baby was the one who made the moon, and the stars, and gives us the ability to have faith in him.  He came up with the birthing process and was now experiencing it.  His hands molded the first man, Adam, and now one of Adam’s decendents was using his hands to guide the creator into creation.

Wow.  Do you get the contradictiction here?

I am going to let this one sink in.  Take some time to meditate on the thought of the maker of the moon being brought into the world to have the moonlight on his face.

Father, Jesus, Spirit, please fill us with the starking contrast of the reality that Jesus made the world and then was born into it.  You gave up the glory of the role of Creator to become part of creation.  More than that is why you did it.  You did it because we needed you to.  Only you could unravel the curse of sin by taking on a body that has the curse.  Then you lived a life that went against the curse…then you died to kill the curse.  Halellujah, what a savior.  Jesus, make yourself real to us today.  We pray this in your name.  I love you.  your son, joe

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Posted by on December 25, 2012 in Christmas, Gospel and Faith

 

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the sinners prayer PART III

I am back among the blogger living.  At least for another week or so.  It has been a busy school year as a teacher and a father of a now almost one year-old and almost four year-old.  But, I have finally found some time (winter break) to do a little writing.  So now it is time for the final installment of what God has taught me about the sinner’s prayer.

For a refresher, go back and read Part 1 and Part 2 and then come back.

Are you back?  Great!  Here we go.

Quick summary (in case you did not go read):

  • Part 1- I am amazingly disobedient and selfish toward God, and he is exceedingly patient and loving towards me.  His “no” and discipline it is out of love and care for my soul.
  • Part 2- Being a Christian and my hope of salvation is not built on a moment in time when I “did” something.  It is not a prayer, a pastor handshake, or a dip in water.  It is a life marked by change that can only be explained by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

In other words, I am a destable sinner in utter need of the saving, life changing gracce that is found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  And that circle me back around to the original thought that sparked the start of this series of posts.  The sinner’s prayer and what it means for my life today.

The basics of the sinners prayer is communicating this to God:

  • We realize our sinfulness and inablity to do anything about it.
  • We know our separation from God because of this sinfulness.
  • We accept and believe that Jesus came, lived a sinless life, died a gruesome death, and came back to life again…and that he did this all to make us right with God.
  • We commit to a life of loving, trusting, and believing God and following him.

Some of us were lead through prescribed prayers that cover all of this, some of us were given the basics and encouraged to pray from our heart, and others may even have just been lead to pray without any leading at all.  But the gest of it is that we acknowledge that we are sinners separated from God, Jesus paid the price for our sin before God, and that we will live in trust of this and follow where he leads our lives.  The sinner’s prayer.  Basic and simple.  Proof of a change of heart.

“CupofJoe Guy, we get it.  What’s your point?”

Well, my getting irrated with the comment I mentioned that I read on Facebook (mentioned in Part II), led God to work on my heart.  Why did the overemphasis on the prayer itself bother me so much?  What was wrong with my heart that this was such a big deal?

God started to burn in my heart and mind the idea of the simplicity of the sinner’s prayer.  If the evidence of my salvation is a marked life with change and not a momentary prayer, how am I doing with that?  What does my life look like?  Am I characterized by this change of heart and life?

Slowly, the fact was impressed upon me that the sinner’s prayer is for me.  It is about me.  It is about my relationship with God.  Not the time I said it when I was six, but it is about my daily relationship with him.  Do I start each day with an admittance of my sinfulness and separation, a renewal of trust in Jesus sacrafice and resurrection, and a commitment to follow and trust him?

I don’t.  I live many days without any thoughts in this direction.  I am so focused on my day-to-day life that my relationship with God is mostly an afterthought if I give it any thought at all.  God gave me the realization that I need to begin each morning with the sinner’s prayer.  I need to start each day fresh.  I need to live each day in trust of Jesus.  I need to remind myself of that.  I need to preach the gospel to myself, accept it, and pray to admit and commit that day to follow God.

Have I lived each day this way since these revelations?  No.  But I have somewhere to start from each day, and I pray that it will become a daily instinct to one day start each day this way.

I know it has taken a long time to finish this thought, blogwise, but hopefully God will use the lesson God taught me to help you in your daily relationship with him.

Father, Jesus, Spirit, I am a sinner.  I am sperated from you based on anything I do or offer of myself.  Only Jesus was able to live a life that did not deserve death.  I know that his death on the cross allowed him to take my sin and your wrath.  I believe that he really died and was truly raised again.  I commit to you today.  Help me follow you today.  Please lead me and help me to obey.  I love you.  your son, joe

 

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