“The Holy One Came” – PT 5 – Christmas Blog Series

“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15 (ESV)

Holy.

That word seems as distant and arcane to us as some far off tribe.

Yet when we try to define it we get a few images.

Maybe we think of moral purity?

Not lying?

No cursing?

No sex before marriage?

And those are true. But true in a minuscule kind of way.

Like pouring out a bottle of water when asked to describe a waterfall.

Holiness is something altogether different and higher than mere morality.

And though Holiness is never something LESS than moral standards, it is always something MORE than moral standards.

When we pull back the curtain to see true Holiness we are awestruck by two characterstics… “otherness” and “purity”.

These two words are exclusively true of GOD.

And it is only when we enter into relationship with HIM that it can become true of us.

God is the only one who is completely unique or “other”.

There is no created being that is entirely unique. A Zebra may have a stripe pattern that’s one of a kind, but he’s still a Zebra. The same goes for us. No matter how unique we are, we’re still humans. Still apart of one species.

God has no species. He holds no similarities to anyone or anything. He is utterly singular.

He stands alone.

Above.

Beyond.

Apart… from all of us…. from everything.

Holy.

So Holiness is a word that describes someones nature and position just as much as it describes someones character or purity.

In fact God’s moral purity is a direct result of His “otherness”. There is NO ONE who is morally perfect expect Him.

There is no one as wise or good or loving as Him!

And these moral attributes are not only perfect, but so intense as to be more than we can bear to look upon.

Unimaginable goodness, purity, and love. This is what Holiness is.

Not just purity or goodness… but purity and goodness that is completely singular and unmatched in all the universe.

The amazing thing his that we are called to partake of this holiness. How? How on earth can we be holy?

The Holy One had to come.

Ever other religion tries to open the “bottled water” of morality, while Christ stands amidst a tumult of glory, inviting us in.

Other religions start with a moral ethic that works it’s way to God.

Christianity starts with a moral God who worked Himself to us. A God who surges toward us with terrible power and love.

One of the most profound truths of Christmas is that the God who is completely “other” than us (as God) … became similar to us (as man).

The Holy One came. So that through Him we might become holy.

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“Influencers” – Christmas Series – Pt. 4

There could have been more fanfare.

It’s one of things we can’t help but be shocked by when we read the story of Jesus’ birth. It goes against everything we’ve been trained to value in our modern culture.

Here we have GOD being born as a baby to save the WORLD, and there are no power brokers there. Some animals. His parents. So ordinary.

It wasn’t until He was one or two years old that the wise men came with gifts.

And while we live on our digital stages with bulbs flashing and shutters clicking… streaming our lives to the ends of the earth… we look upon this nativity and see God being born in silent obscurity.

There was an announcement though!  A heavenly press release!

To shepherds.

In the back country.

“Peace on earth! Good will to men!”

The most monumental piece of information since the Ten Commandments, entrusted to men who smelled of sheep.

(More ANIMALS heard these words than humans!)

We are so worried that our messages won’t be heard, and our stories won’t be seen…. and God goes to the guys with no “influence”.

“Influencers.” We love influencers. But this story tells us that God doesn’t need them.

He didn’t need the Sanhedrin to hear His announcement.

He didn’t need the Roman power players to know.

He wanted the humble to hear. Because the Humble one was coming to save the humble… and to use the humble.

Jesus, the consummate “insider.” The one who knows EVERYTHING. Privy to all the grand decisions made from the throne, He comes to hang out with the people on the edges of society!

Who IS this God we serve? He is too wonderful for words!

Jesus didn’t need “influencers”, because He WAS the influencer.

He would influence twelve so deeply as to turn their lives inside out.

And these twelve would turn the world upside down.

He didn’t need fanfare because His success never depended on fanfare.

His success depended on humility, which is utter dependance on the Father.

THIS we see in His birth.

Do you feel like you’re on the outside of the important meetings? Not in the “in” crowd? Take heart, because God loves you and values you. He sees you as an integral part of His redemptive plan.

And when Jesus comes in to transform us, we stop seeing the popular and the powerful as people to be envied or hated. They are people to be loved. People Jesus came to save. People he can use!

But he doesn’t need their influence… they need His.

WE need His.

Let him in this Christmas.

“Incarnation” – Christmas Blog Series – Pt. 3

“The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became Man. Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this.”
– C.S. Lewis

If you were raised around Christianity, the idea of the incarnation becomes so commonplace that we forget just how astounding it is.

God became a human.

GOD. BECAME. A. HUMAN.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
– John 1:14 ESV

As much as I can, I like to sit and just THINK about God. No worship music. No prayer requests. But just sit there and think about Him. It’s actually really fun!

Often I will start with His dimensions. Like, how big is He?

He, of course, is infinite and has no limits, but I’m not gonna let that stop me! I was made to know Him, and I want to know how vast He is!

So picture me sitting down…. eyes closes…. and my little brain nearly bursting as I try to get a picture of His immensity.

It is a fools errand, I know. But I must try! It is my privilege to try!

Often, it feels that I only get a few steps in to that holy place.

But I leave with my face glowing.

I love that I get to seek this vast God. This God who we cannot comprehend. A being with terrible power, who could vaporize us with a thought! Yet loves us! The God who speaks GALAXIES! STARS! BLACK HOLES! Dangerous things! Beautiful things!

Did you know that on average, we can only see 0.00002% of all the stars in the Milky Way?

And that’s just our galaxy! There are 285 galaxies for every person on our planet. All 7.6 billion of us.

And not only did He create all of this with His word… He is holding bearing the weight of all of it with his Word! Keep it all together! (Heb. 1:3)

This God. The only God. Became one of us?

CS Lewis was right.  Jesus, being born of a virgin is THE miracle. Every miracle that preceded it points to it, and very miracle that follows is born from it!

My life is a miracle because He came.

I have had some dark moments in my life. Depression, pain, sin. But I stand here today as a miracle. I am a new creation. I live with a life burning inside me that is not my own. It is a Christ life.

I am a miracle.

But only because He came! Only because he lived for me, died for me, and was raised for me.

So yes, I sit in empty rooms and just think about him. My little brain… my heart…. my spirit reaching out to Him. It is my privilege.

In fact, it is a privilege that the God man, Jesus, paid for.

Let us thank God today for the miracle that is his birth! And all of it’s glorious implications!

“Isolation” – Christmas Blog Series – Pt. 2

To be alone is a painful thing.

Many of us with strong, happy families often forget this. And it’s not until we’re in a season of isolation that we really feel it. But many around the world; due to family breakdowns, sickness, poverty, or other life circumstances find themselves alone.

alone4

We were made for relationships, and when we’re cut off from them we experience a very intense pain. This is why solitary confinement has been outlawed in many countries. It’s torture.

God is a God of community. He is a triune God. Three in one. God has never been alone because He is self-sufficient. We are made in His image, therefore we have a deep longing for relationship!

When sin entered the world, isolation began.

Adam and Eve found out there was a boundary to paradise… and their sin had put them on the outside of it. I can see them trying to look past the angel’s fiery sword just to get one more glimpse of that place where they had walked with God.

And from that time forward men and women have struggled along on their own, trying their best to relate to one another only to fumble in their attempts. In a sin-marred world, often we find friends only to lose them. Or we give love only to be hurt in return.

But God saw our pain.

I can see Him weeping from the inside of the Garden as Adam & Eve wept on the outside.

Who can solve a problem that sin created? Only the Holy one.

He set a plan into motion.

“They will NOT be alone.” I can hear the Father say to the Heavenly host.

“I will be their friend.” I can hear the Son say, with fire in His eyes.

“I will come along side them.” Said the living Holy Spirit.

And in Bethlehem a baby cried.

Our forever friend had come. A savior who would heal us of our sin make us alive. The Spirit who would fill us and transform us.

A God who would invite us back to the Garden to walk with Him once again.

God with us. Christ in us!

When we say yes to this Jesus, we are never alone. And in the pain of abandonment we can run to the one who will never abandon us.

We begin to see the world as He sees it.

We see people as He sees them, and it changes everything! Every relationship is now experienced through who He is in us.

Every hurt an opportunity to be healed and to release healing. Every attacking enemy, a target for love. Every empty room a place to be filled with God’s presence!

We are never alone. God is with us!

“Silence” – Christmas Blog Series – Pt. 1

The greatest act of God in all of human history was preceded by the longest silence from God in all of human history.

Four hundred years of nothing. Then…… JESUS!

From Malachi to Matthew we see a brass heavens. Where there was once a lush garden of God’s words, we see a quiet desert. It seemed that our God was stone, and eight generations of His people faithfully served Him even though they couldn’t hear Him.

But could it be that this silent season was more important than we think?

What if our earthly timeline doesn’t stand alone, but runs in parallel with a heavenly timeline that is just as real, and just as active?

What was happening behind the scenes during these “four hundred years of silence”?

A radio show I listen to recently began their program with this statement: “This is the last broadcast of this program as you have known it.”

They had been building a TV studio and were transitioning from a radio broadcast to a television broadcast. The host went on to let his audience know that there would be a week of re-runs on their radio program until the launch date of the new TV program. A week of no new content. A week of silence from their team.

But “rest assured”, he said, “we’re not taking a vacation! We will be working behind the scenes to bring you something amazing.”

What if the four-hundred year radio silence from heaven was exactly that? Radio silence. And what if a transition was happening? And all of heaven was buzzing with preparation for this transition?

This span of time was all of that and more!

I don’t know what was happening in the heavenly realms up until the moment of Jesus’ birth, but I do know that whatever work the angel’s had done previous to this time, paled in comparison.

Because of sin’s affect on the world, the will of God on earth does not come without a fight. And a fight there must have been. Principalities and powers clashing and fighting for (and against) the delivery of a baby! All for us. All so God could speak to us in a new way. And not through a prophet this time, but as Himself. In brilliant color. “The word became flesh.”

Does it seem like God is silent in your life right now? Well take heart, because He is working on something wonderful.

The wheels of redemption are silently turning and a moment of revelation is coming. You will see what your God has been preparing. Keep trusting Him. Keep loving Him. Because He loves you. He proved it to us by coming down to us. By becoming one of us. The silence is forever broken!

“Silence” Pt. 1 – Christmas Blog Series

Wisdom to the Outsiders – Pt 1

“Walk in wisdom towards outsiders, making the best use of the time.” Colossians 4:5

How we treat those on the “outside” says so much about us. Whether you are into comic books, or hunting, or exspensive coffee; there are always the insiders and the outsiders. And we are always tempted to look down our nose at those who don’t “know what we know” or “like what we like”.

Paul says here that there is a very specific way that we as Christians are to treat non-Christians.

How? With wisdom

What is wisdom? We’ll simply put, it is knowledge LIVED. 

It is when we turn the theoretical into the experiential. Something real!

So this is our simple charge; to live what we believe towards everyone we meet.

Honoring the outsider. Loving the outsider. Serving the outsider. Truly caring about the outsider. 

This is a profound way of living. A way of living that is only possible through Christ in us the hope of Glory.

Are you walking in wisdom towards this outsiders?

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit for help! For as we’re reminded at the end of this verse, our time here is precious.

He Is Better Than You

The only person better than you is Jesus.

But He was never content with just being better than you. He made it His mission to bring you into His perfection and make you a part of it. He’s the good older brother who includes the younger brother in the game. All He wants is fellowship with you. And He is willing to pull you up to his level of moral superiority rather than laugh at you down below.

He is above us all, yet came down to us all. What an amazing Savior!

Aren’t you glad He is better than you?