Tag Archives: Christmas

Overflow with Hope

Then signaling to the children to stand as close around it as they possibly could, so that their faces were actually tickled by its whiskers, it added in a low whisper —
“They say Aslan is on the move – perhaps has already landed.”
And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was anymore than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning — either a terrifying one or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in his inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Ch. VII

Last week I was on my way to deliver this message to my church  in Piermont, New Hampshire, when I hit a patch of slushy snow. I slid about 150 feet and into a ditch. Now, that probably sounds scary or exciting, but it wasn’t. If you’ve ever hit ice or super slush like this, then you probably know what I mean when I say it happens in slow motion. It’s not because it triggers a metaphysical, introspective anomaly in which time is perceived differently. It’s literally slow. You lose control, and you have plenty of time to process how lame it’s going to be once you end up in that ditch as you inch towards it. So anyway, instead of preaching I sat in a ditch at 45° and had an incredible time. As I waited for my friend, Mark, to show up with a big truck I talked to over twenty people who stopped to see if they could help me. Not one of them was able to help me in any tangible way, but they showed me Jesus and gave me hope.

Now Narnia had been cursed by the White Witch to always be winter and never Christmas. It was into this setting that Mr. Beaver spoke a chilling message of hope. “Aslan is on the move.” I was trying to figure out why God put this cool moment from Narnia into my head and realized that C.S. Lewis was once again borrowing from the Bible. Jesus coming “at the fullness of time” did not mean He came during a wonderful time. Jesus arrived into a world ruled by a pagan idol of a man named Caesar. Israel was not truly autonomous and were not in a time of closeness with the Father. Babies were being killed. Sin and empty religion reigned together. In short, Hope stepped down into hopelessness.

It was the same with the prophesies about Jesus. Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans[a] of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” was given at the same time as Mic 1:2-7 “Hear, O peoples, all of you; Listen, O earth and all it contains, And let the Lord GOD be a witness against you, The Lord from His holy temple. (3) For behold, the LORD is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. (4) The mountains will melt under Him And the valleys will be split, Like wax before the fire, Like water poured down a steep place. (5) All this is for the rebellion of Jacob And for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the rebellion of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? What is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? (6) For I will make Samaria a heap of ruins in the open country, Planting places for a vineyard. I will pour her stones down into the valley And will lay bare her foundations. (7) All of her idols will be smashed, All of her earnings will be burned with fire And all of her images I will make desolate, For she collected them from a harlot’s earnings, And to the earnings of a harlot they will return.

Isaiah 7:14  “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”  and Isaiah 9:7 “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” were given to the same situation as Isaiah 1:2-4 “Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, “Sons I have reared and brought up, But they have revolted against Me. (3) “An ox knows its owner, And a donkey its master’s manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand.” (4) Alas, sinful nation, People weighed down with iniquity, Offspring of evildoers, Sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the LORD, They have despised the Holy One of Israel, They have turned away from Him.”

The Messiah is coming. Yahweh is on the move! The message of hope was given during one of the darkest times in history – during the fall of Israel and Judah.

The original prophecy and message of the Gospel was Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” There was no worse time than this. In Genesis 3, 100% of the people on earth had just sided with Satan and sinned.

In these contexts of despair, wickedness, rebellion, God proclaimed the coming of the Messiah. From the Garden to Abraham to Moses to David to the Prophets to The Fullness of Time things were awful, but people had something to hope in. Jesus would come. One day, it’ll all be made right.

When there WAS no hope, God said, “Hope!”
“Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13
Do we pursue faith and love but forget hope? Yeah.
We trust God. We choose to love because He loves us. But hope? What is our outlook on life? How do we view the future?

When there IS no hope. God says, “HOPE!”

“Didn’t I tell you,” answered Mr Beaver, “that she’d made it always winter and never Christmas? Didn’t I tell you? Well, just come and see!”
And then they were all at the top and did see.
It was a sledge, and it was reindeer with bells on their harness. But they were far bigger than the Witch’s reindeer, and they were not white but brown. And on the sledge sat a person whom everyone knew the moment they set eyes on him. He was a huge man. in a bright red robe (bright as hollyberries) with a hood that had fur inside it and a great white beard, that fell like a foamy waterfall over his chest.
Everyone knew him because, though you see people of his sort only in Narnia, you see pictures of them and hear them talked about even in our world – the world on this side of the wardrobe door. But when you really see them in Narnia it is rather different. Some of the pictures of Father Christmas in our world make him look only funny and jolly. But now that the children actually stood looking at him they didn’t find it quite like that. He was so big, and so glad, and so real, that they all became quite still. They felt very glad, but also solemn.
“I’ve come at last,” said he. “She has kept me out for a long time, but I have got in at last. Aslan is on the move. The Witch’s magic is weakening.”
And Lucy felt running through her that deep shiver of gladness which you only get if you are being solemn and still.
“And now,” said Father Christmas, “for your presents…

Notice that in both of these Narnia passages how the characters respond. The setting is bleak, but when the truth of hope is simply spoken things change. A message of hope shakes off our blinders. It brings chills and laughs and tears. It’s sobering and relaxing and energizing, and I hope you feel it right now. We’ve spent the last two and a half years in New Hampshire, a cold place. Where it is literally always winter and never spring for six months. Where it is figuratively always winter and never Christmas spiritually. Except this is not true. Satan wants people to be weak and hopeless, to always struggle, to always sow and never reap, but this is changing. His grip is failing. Revival is beginning in our valley. It’s just glimpses right now. It’s just light breaking through the clouds. It’s ice melting and cracking in the river. It’s the smiles returning. It’s the friendships rekindling. People are waking up, and I’m encouraged. We have so much hope. Christmas is here. Let this Christmas be just like the return of Father Christmas in Narnia. A fullness of time. A return of hope.

God is on the move! Of the increase of His government or of peace there will be no end!

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Merry Christmas from Micah, Beth, Bekah, Lil and our new little guy coming May 2017! We love you and pray you meet with the Living God today.

Peace On Earth: A Christmas Letter

final copy (Medium)
Yes! That is Bekah’s adorable handwriting.

Isaiah 9:6-7
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

Jesus did a lot more than bring peace, but I believe that peace was high on His agenda. It was one of His biggest goals and purposes. Isaiah said that peace WILL increase. The zeal of the Lord WILL accomplish it. God wanted this for the world, and He would make sure that it happened no matter what.

So what is Peace? And did Jesus bring it?

In Greek the word used for it means to join or to make one. In Hebrew it was the familiar word “Shalom” which was the opposite of being at war.

Peace is not hippy calm. It is relational. It is being in a state of not-war. It doesn’t look like a sleepy monk. It looks like two people tearfully hugging again.

In Ephesians Paul says, “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one.” This was a glimpse of Isaiah’s prophecy being fulfilled. Jesus brought peace. In the first century there was basically one problem. Jews and Gentiles were both getting saved. This was cool, but they were supposed to be in the same church and even in the same room. I’m happy to sing with him, but do I have to watch him eat? He’s gross! There was no end to the fighting and wall building and shutting out and name calling. But Paul worked tirelessly to fix this. He brought them back to Jesus.

Jews, how did you get saved?
By faith in Jesus.

Gentiles, how did you get saved?
By faith in Jesus.

Then stop fighting! No one is better. No one needs to become more like the other. You both need to focus on Jesus and love each other.

It’s easy to find an application to this message for first century Christians. Jews and Gentiles drop your weapons against each other. And more! Actually become one. Come into good relationship. But what about us? Well, it’s simple too. Drop weapons your against each other. And More. Actually become one. Come into good relationship.

• Is there a distanced relationship in your life that doesn’t have to be distanced?
• Jesus brought peace between God and man and between Jew and Gentile. He can do it again.
• Honor Him this season by being a minister of reconciliation. A minister of peace. Shod your feet with the Gospel of peace, and go fix a relationship!

Merry Christmas, friends! We love you like crazy.

Micah, Beth, Bekah & Lil

What does God get for Christmas?

buddy
I’m in a store, and I’m singing!

Christmas is my favorite time of year (pretty sure that Buddy the Elf was modeled after me), so it’s easy for me to come up with what Christmas means to me. It’s fun. It’s full of better food and time off. I get to see my family more. I get presents! I get to sing more. I was singing along to Christmas carols while walking at Wal-Mart this evening. People smile more. The bell ringers make me chuckle. We get to make a new sign and take our Christmas picture. And that’s all just surface stuff. It’s also the big thing. Jesus came and saved His people from their sins! I was saved from my sins. I get to be friends with God.

But what about God? What does He get for Christmas? What does Christmas mean to God?

I believe God would say, “I get to be with them.”

That’s what Christmas meant and means to Him. His Christmas gift is a people that would be His. “He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” Titus 2:14 (NLT) When I was a kid I would have a hard time going to bed on Christmas Eve. I didn’t think Santa would be there. I just wanted to go open up the presents and get the surprises over with. As soon as my eyes opened Christmas morning I’d run to the living room only to find that I had to wait as Nate woke up and for Dad to shower slowly. And then I grew up. Who am I kidding? I still do this, and the more I study scripture the more I realize that God does too.

God gets excited and not impatient but definitely eager and in a hurry. From the Old to New Testaments God has been in a hurry to open His Christmas presents. He wants to be with us. He wants us to speak to Him, to listen to Him, to just sit with Him. He wants our attention. While Israel was in the desert God asked Moses to build a tent of meeting. The moment he finished building it “The cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” On the day of Pentecost the disciples were all together and “suddenly” the Holy Spirit filled them. And this is the Nativity, the First Noel. In the fullness of time God came to be with us. That is, He came as soon as He could, as soon as everything was ready.

So Merry Christmas, God! I’m so glad you get to open your presents. It makes me happy to imagine your smiles as we all sing about you and talk to you. Thanks for being in a hurry. Thanks for getting up as early as possible and coming to rescue us.