Promotion and Demotion Time

When I choose a time, I will judge fairly.
-Psalm 75:2 (CSB)

There is a time when God does something.  It is a window of time that is remarkable. Throughout history, there are times that are 'opportune moments'.

The New Testament Greek has two words for time, 'chronos' and 'kairos'.  Chronos is measured time: how much time has gone by.  Kairos means a moment or window of time that is particular and unique.  It comes and goes.

When they translated the Old Testament into Greek, 'time' here in Psalm 75, is 'kairos',

Kairos time is the moment when the grand slam home run wins the game or those two or three innings when one team just kept getting hits.  It is a specific, unique window of time.

Another way to describe this kind of time is 'season'.  A season comes and goes.  Titus 1:3 is an example of kairos time:

In his own time he has revealed his word in the preaching with which I was entrusted by the command of God our Savior.

Two more examples are Acts 1:7-8 and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2:

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

About the times and the seasons: Brothers and sisters, you do not need anything to be written to you.  For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.


I believe that the concept of time in Psalm 75:2, "When the time is ripe I will arise, and will judge the world with perfect righteousness!" (TPT), is 'kairos' time.

There are times when God intervenes in history.  God is not a micromanager nor the clockmaker who is sleeping.  God is a living person who lets humans have free will, but also does interventions.

There's a note, before the first verse of Psalm 75, that says it is a work of Asaph, to the tune "Do Not Destroy".  David tacked on this same note to Psalms 57-59, which are songs that cry out for God's intervention.  I looked up this Hebrew phrase "al-tashcheth", in many dictionaries and they all say they are not sure what it means, beyond just what it says.

Is the phrase, "Do not destroy", spoken towards God or towards people?  I can not tell.  But there it is, at the top of those four Psalms.  I am going to take it at face value and guess that it means what it says.

It is a tone of lament in crisis.  The tone, tune or vibe being set is: "Don't let things be destroyed".  We say that sin is destructive.

Injustice, lies, gossip, greed.  The list of destructives goes on and on.  Saul was acting destructively towards David, and that is where we first see this phrase.

The Hebrew idea is destruction and corruption.  People who commit adultery destroy themselves (Prov. 6:32).  And being a fool who says, "God does not exist", is the essence of corruption (Ps. 14:1, 53:1).

Psalm 75 is set to the tune or the tone of the idea or motif: "Do Not Destroy" and destructiveness also carries with it the idea of corruption.  The scene or backdrop of Psalm 75 and Psalms 57 to 59, are a season of rising destructiveness and corruption.  This Psalmist, Asaph, and his mentor, David; wrote these four songs in times of trouble, asking for God's intervention.

Asaph was either reflecting on how God has functioned in the past and speaking encouragement that God will do it again, or he is speaking purely as a prophetic songwriter, giving words to what he heard God say.  Both ways are actually prophetic in the NT sense, because encouragement is the essence of NT prophetic ministry.

This is what God says:

"When I choose a time, I will judge fairly."

There are judgement times.  I am talking about God intervening and exercising his sovereignty to demote and promote.

Psalm 75 has ten verses.  Verses 2-5 and verse 10 are words that Asaph is quoting from God.  He either heard God or he is writing inspired words of what God has said in the past, that are God's character to say.

The song opens with thanksgiving.  We come into God's presence through thanks:

We give thanks to you, God;
we give thanks to you, for your name is near.
People tell about your wondrous works.

This is an awesome opening.  "Your name is near", means "We sense your presence".  It means, "We are overwhelmed by your gracious presence."  God's name to us is, "Near one".  These words prophetically resonate out through time and point to Jesus and the Spirit of God and the Father, who gives good gifts to his children.

Then we have the first oracle portion where what God said is quoted and sung back to God:


“When I choose a time,
I will judge fairly.
When the earth and all its inhabitants shake,
I am the one who steadies its pillars. Selah
I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’
and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn.
Do not lift up your horn against heaven
or speak arrogantly.’”

Notice that it does not say, "At the end of time".  Nope.  It says that God chooses a particular time.

God, in Asaph's words, sees wicked ones, like an animal, like a rhino with it's horn coming at God.  Maybe the horn is a weapon.  I think it is symbolic of power.

In the next verse, Asaph writes words about promotion and demotion.  He says that God is the one who ultimately promotes.  God is seeking to promote people into higher levels of authority and assignment.

God brings people down and puts others up.  That is what it says here.

We had a conference at my church once, where everyone was asked to stand and the speaker prayed for God to confirm or deny the ministries of each one.

This is another time, I personally believe, where God is sorting people out; both in the world and in his church.

These are the next words of the song:

Exaltation does not come
from the east, the west, or the desert,
for God is the Judge:
He brings down one and exalts another.

I do not claim to understand this next section.  This is what the NET Bible notes say:

"The psalmist pictures God as forcing the wicked to gulp down an intoxicating drink that will leave them stunned and vulnerable. Divine judgment is also depicted this way in Ps 60:3; Isa 51:17-23; and Hab 2:16."

Here's the next stanza:

For there is a cup in the Lord’s hand,

full of wine blended with spices, and he pours from it.
All the wicked of the earth will drink,
draining it to the dregs.

As for me, I will tell about him forever;
I will sing praise to the God of Jacob.

The "telling about him", is remarking about God as judge, who demotes and promotes.  He did not just do it to Egypt, but does it now, at times.  

The song ends with another quote from God that the singers sing to remind us about God, what he does and will do when the time is right:

“I will cut off all the horns of the wicked,
but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.”

There is your praise chorus for today:

“I will cut off all the horns of the wicked,
but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.”

That is the summation of this song.  God is going to cut the power from the wicked and lift up the righteous.  Demotion and promotion time, when God says it's time.

And 'the righteous' are not self righteous, religious, pious people.  The righteous are just people who are walking with God, people of faith, people who are faith-full.  Righteous people are God's kids.  Righteous people are people who have Christ in them and who Christ is living his life through.

There comes a time when God judges and promotes some people and demotes others.  That's my message for today.  Blessings.

The Falling of The Failing 'Gods'

However, you will die like humans and fall like any other ruler.
-Psalm 82:7

There is a saying that goes, "He got too big for his britches".  It means that a person began to live or function in an inflated unreality about themselves, which ended up causing their demise.

I listened to someone this week, who's message is humility.  He said, 'everything in life is about humbling us, so that we can be closer to God and obedient to him; and so that we can know God, serve God and go into a rewarding afterlife'.  I'm paraphrasing, but this guy's message, who is also bold, but humbly bold for Jesus; is that life is all about being obedient to be who God made you to be.

Around 99% of us are called to be obscure.  You may have a thousand or more social media followers or a book or two out and still be pretty obscure.  And on the other hand, you might 'catch fire' and see big growth in sales, income, numbers, influence or fame.

In any of these scenarios, the goal for your life is humility. Our calling is to humbly walk in fame and fortune or failure and poverty, loving God and loving people.  Our problem in discontent, at whatever station or level we are in or at, and then corruption, whether we manage one person or are looked up to by thousands of people.

The message of Psalm 82, is to remember that you are human and to humble yourself.  On the world's stage, we see people who have been given great authority blow it.  Instead of doing good, they basically do bad.

The writer of Psalm 82 saw a picture, a vision, of God coming to judge every judge and ruler.  God evaluates and judges the judges.  Part of God's word to these people is, "You are human: you're going to die".

Why would God say that to anyone?  Because they are acting like they are above humanity, untouchable 'gods'.  That is exactly how you do not want to be in your leadership.

Humility is the way of Christ, while pride is the other way.  Psalm 82 is a poem or song that was a rebuke or take down of judges.  These judges, who were rulers, had the opportunity to do the right and just things, with their power.  But they failed and instead did nothing.

People gain power and authority in various ways, but all of it is allowed by God and judged by God.  Having power is to be like God, who holds all power.  It is disastrous to think that because you have some power or authority, fame or a following, that you are a god.

But that is the way, oftentimes, outside of Christ.  We can marvel that God has given us or that we have certain power or authority.  But to think we are God or a god is a grave mistake.

There are people who have been given authority to make them 'like gods', who have operated like their own sort of 'god', who are misrepresenting God.  And God has a time when he shows up and takes over for those who have not been doing the job on the earth, that was given to them to do.

The rebuke or take-down is to say to them, "You are human and will die like everyone.  The power you were given made you 'like gods', not 'gods'!".

Men and women are given authority on the earth, which is like being 'gods'.  The key word is 'like'.  You have power and authority, like God does, except you are not a god, but human.

I like the way that The Message renders Psalm 82 and I will highlight verse 7:

God calls the judges into his courtroom,
he puts all the judges in the dock.

“Enough! You’ve corrupted justice long enough,
you’ve let the wicked get away with murder.
You’re here to defend the defenseless,
to make sure that underdogs get a fair break;
Your job is to stand up for the powerless,
and prosecute all those who exploit them.”

Ignorant judges! Head-in-the-sand judges!
They haven’t a clue to what’s going on.
And now everything’s falling apart,
the world’s coming unglued.

“I commissioned you judges, each one of you,
deputies of the High God,
But you’ve betrayed your commission
and now you’re stripped of your rank, busted.”

O God, give them their just deserts!
You’ve got the whole world in your hands!

The message here is that God is calling judges to account.  The Judge is judging the corrupt judiciary.

What does this verse, "However, you will die like humans and fall like any other ruler", mean?  It means, remember that you are human and not divine.  There is one divine one, the three in one God.

We need to humble ourselves or face humiliation.  Everyone dies and we need to be reminded of that.

And God does come on the scene, if he chooses to, and strips leaders or judges of their power and authority, that is ultimately from him, when these people are blowing it.

When Leaders Fall, Be Civil

How the mighty have fallen!
-2 Samuel 1:19b, 25a, 27a

When an influential television evangelist fell, in the late 1980's; some Christians celebrated.  The cheering was over that fact that God was cleansing his house.  

A better response is, "How the mighty have fallen!"  

David sang a song of lament and had the song distributed to all of Israel.  The song says, "How the mighty have fallen!"  This sentiment is the proper response when leaders, who had great influence, fall from grace, or are exposed in their hypocrisy, betrayal and sedition.

Remember that our brother or sister is never our enemy, even when they continually act like one and treat us as theirs.

The story of Saul's death, that led to David leading Israel, in mourning and lament, rather than celebration; is recounted in 2 Samuel 1:9 to 2:7.  Saul was mortally wounded, but not yet dead.  An Amalekite man, someone living in Israel, but not an Israelite while still coming under the rules, regulations, faith and practices of Israel: this man killed Saul, at Saul's behest.

The young Amalekite man killed Saul and then took his crown and royal armband.  He then journeyed to David's camp and sought a meeting with David, to give these to David.  As soon as David received the bad news about the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, he and all his closest men went into grieving.

After a short time of mourning and fasting, David questioned the young man.  He found out that the man was someone who was living in Israel.  He was accountable to the laws of God, and should have known better.  David immediately had the young man executed for the murder of Saul.

Then he begged me, ‘Stand over me and kill me, for I’m mortally wounded, but my life still lingers.’ So I stood over him and killed him because I knew that after he had fallen he couldn’t survive. I took the crown that was on his head and the armband that was on his arm, and I’ve brought them here to my lord.”

Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and all the men with him did the same. They mourned, wept, and fasted until the evening for those who died by the sword—for Saul, his son Jonathan, the Lord’s people, and the house of Israel.

David inquired of the young man who had brought him the report, “Where are you from?”

“I’m the son of a resident alien,” he said. “I’m an Amalekite.”

David questioned him, “How is it that you were not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” Then David summoned one of his servants and said, “Come here and kill him!” The servant struck him, and he died. For David had said to the Amalekite, “Your blood is on your own head because your own mouth testified against you by saying, ‘I killed the Lord’s anointed.’”

-2 Samuel 1:9-16

Assisted suicide is not ok.  If an an authority gives an order that goes against God's orders, we must obey God.  The right thing to do, for the Amalekite man, would have been to stand with Saul and defend him or drag him to shelter, if possible, so that he could die, if he was to die, in peace.

Everything the young Amalekite man did went against God's laws.  The text makes note of the fact that he was both young and without excuse.  He lived in Israel and the prohibition against murder was well known, and he was young, which did not excuse him.  Perhaps the text is telling us, as the whole book of Proverbs does, that when you are younger, you need to be more careful to learn wisdom and leave folly and gain life experience and not think you know everything, when you do not.

Another notable feature of this story, is that David first mourned.  He mourned first, before trying to assign blame or make a judgement.  He only did the later after he did the former.

David, the warrior, knew how to cry.  That is a huge lesson for us.  Become a warrior, but grieve deeply, when appropriate.  Stoicism is not wisdom, Godly or Christlike.  

David neither reacted in anger nor went into stoic denial.  He mourned and fasted.

Then, after some processing, he interview the young man and had him immediately executed for murder.

David indicted the man from his own words.  You may not kill the one who is the Lord's.

There was an extreme audacity in the man, in that he thought he was doing the right thing.  The right thing by God?  The right thing by David?  Saul?  No, no and no.

What he did was purely selfish.  It was mercenary.  We can surmise that he was looking out for himself.

He murdered and robbed a dying man, who had mental health issues and was loved by God and David.  The Amalekite was completely deluded to think that this was the right thing to do and that David would congratulate him.

We can become just like this guy and somehow deceive ourselves that sinfulness is ok in certain circumstances.  We kill people, often leaders, with our words.  And we rationalize that it is ok because that person is a heretic, or carnally sinful.

For some Christians, their favorite indoor sport is wishing for the death of leaders, whether Christian (even Catholic) or political.  If you are a self-identified Christian, look at what Jesus said about murder and how religious people commit murder with their words:



For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Whoever insults his brother or sister, will be subject to the court. Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be subject to hellfire. So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.

-Matthew 5:20-4


Somehow, we fool or deceive ourselves into thinking we are on God's side or God is surely on our side, when we bash, trash and kill someone with our words whom we deem to be under God's judgement or we  rap on about how bad that person is.

When a corrupt leader falls from grace, is exposed, loses God's protection and is ravaged by the enemy; that is not our time, our cue, to kill them and steal their jewelry and audaciously try to claim a reward.  No.  

David lived in the tension that we are all called to live in, of the prophetic future beckoning, while the present has not given way yet completely.  How to live into our prophetic destiny without 'helping' God and letting God develop you in that tension is what we are all called to.

David led the nation in mourning for Saul.  David knew he was called to be king, but the whole nation was not there yet.  They didn't get that.  What they may have got and what they may have appreciated about David though, was his abilities as a worship leader, a poet, an artist and a songmaster.  

So, in that sphere of his giftedness where they did see him and appreciate him, he served them, the nation; by disseminating this song of sorrow and lament that also celebrated and said "good-bye" to Saul and is regime:




David sang the following lament for Saul and his son Jonathan, and he ordered that the Judahites be taught The Song of the Bow. It is written in the Book of Jashar:


The splendor of Israel lies slain on your heights.
How the mighty have fallen!
Do not tell it in Gath,
don’t announce it in the marketplaces of Ashkelon,
or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice,
and the daughters of the uncircumcised will celebrate.
Mountains of Gilboa,
let no dew or rain be on you,
or fields of offerings,
for there the shield of the mighty was defiled—
the shield of Saul, no longer anointed with oil.
Jonathan’s bow never retreated,
Saul’s sword never returned unstained,
from the blood of the slain,
from the flesh of the mighty.
Saul and Jonathan,
loved and delightful,
they were not parted in life or in death.
They were swifter than eagles, stronger than lions.
Daughters of Israel, weep for Saul,
who clothed you in scarlet, with luxurious things,
who decked your garments with gold ornaments.
How the mighty have fallen in the thick of battle!
Jonathan lies slain on your heights.
I grieve for you, Jonathan, my brother.
You were such a friend to me.
Your love for me was more wondrous
than the love of women.
How the mighty have fallen
and the weapons of war have perished!

-2 Samuel 1:19-27


There you have the example of the proper response and a hymn to the fallen leaders.

The last part of this story, that I want to touch on, is in the next scenes.  David asks God, "Now what?"  And God tells him his next move.  And David is anointed king, not over all of Israel, but just over the house of Judah.  

Then we have the report of the men who bravely buried Saul.  We know where David is headed and who he is, but many people at the time were slow to realize this and might have thought that another son of Saul was the next king.  David had to both be obedient to God and be diplomatic with those who were not on-board yet.

The lessons here are that David was bold and filled with faith, but he waited on God to open the doors; and that he was a bridge to the future and not an island that demanded others join him in God's obvious will.  In other words, David's feet were firmly planted in the prophetic future of his destiny, while at the same time, his hand was reaching out to others, in kindness who did not get it yet.

The final words in this section are David's words to men who are grieving and coming to grips with David's rise to power.  We know God is behind David, that David was God's choice; but they do not.  And, we can only imagine that if David sat down with them and told them, "Guys, you've got to see that I am the one God has chosen!", that they may not have believed him.

So, he is as kind as he can be and he does diplomacy maybe.  He says these words to these men, as he calls them to grasp the reality of what needs to happen and who he is, saying, "be strong and valiant".  Why does he say that?  Because more civil war is imminent and he is encouraging them to choose the right side.

Here is 2 Samuel 2:1-7:

Some time later, David inquired of the Lord: “Should I go to one of the towns of Judah?”

The Lord answered him, “Go.”

Then David asked, “Where should I go?”

“To Hebron,” the Lord replied.

 So David went there with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelite and Abigail, the widow of Nabal the Carmelite.  In addition, David brought the men who were with him, each one with his family, and they settled in the towns near Hebron. Then the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. They told David: “It was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul.”

 David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead and said to them, “The Lord bless you, because you have shown this kindness to Saul your lord when you buried him.  Now, may the Lord show kindness and faithfulness to you, and I will also show the same goodness to you because you have done this deed.  Therefore, be strong and valiant, for though Saul your lord is dead, the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”


A lesson here is that God provides the opportunity to do the right thing, but often, people choose otherwise.  This led to the personal destruction for the Amalekite man.  Choosing to be on the side that opposes what God is doing with a person, and David is that person in the lesson of this story, will lead to your own pain, suffering and even death.

And we can not blame God, because God makes provision for our weakness.  Every day, people chose a side that is against God and they will suffer consequences for it that were preventable.  God made provision for them not to be deceived, but they said "no thanks" and drove into the ditch.

There is a way to respond when a leader falls from grace or is exposed.  And there is an improper way to talk, speak and write; that comes from a heart that is not right with God.

There are steps to follow and ways to discern what God is doing.  The first step is to be obedient to the ways of Christ living in me.  Jesus was obedient and kind and was an active participant in waiting upon Father and seeing and doing with Father what Father was doing.

David is "the man after God's own heart", said God (1 Sam. 13:14).  His number one thing was passion for God, personally.  Being king was secondary and God's idea for him. 

David, like many of us, was a reluctant leader, as far as we know.  And he was a passionate God-seeker, musical artist at the genius level and a skilled warrior; who God chose to be king.  

The guy who had been on the hard road for quite a while, spoke out of his experience in suffering and becoming more courageous, when he said to potential enemies in the looming civil war, "be valiant".  In other words, "You know what the right thing is to do, and it might seem harder and far more dangerous.  Search your hearts, be brave and do the right thing."  That is what I think David was saying to people who were shell-shocked by Saul's epic failure and what is next.

Searching

Every year His parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. When He was 12 years old, they went up according to the custom of the festival.  After those days were over, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but His parents did not know it.  Assuming He was in the traveling party, they went a day’s journey.  Then they began looking for Him among their relatives and friends.  When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for Him.  After three days, they found Him in the temple complex sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all those who heard Him were astounded at His understanding and His answers.  When His parents saw Him, they were astonished, and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for You.”

“Why were you searching for Me?” He asked them. “Didn’t you know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” But they did not understand what He said to them.

Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother kept all these things in her heart.
-Luke 2:41-51

I am searching for something right now and it is consuming me.  I have been preoccupied with it.  I have let my search stress me out to the point that I have been too anxious about it.

This story, from Luke chapter two, came to my mind.  In this story, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, after the festival was over; when his mom and dad, family and friends left.  Their group was big enough and Mary and Joseph were trusting enough of Jesus maturity, that when they travelled, they did not need to always have an eye on him.

I can really identify with them, because my son is eleven years old.  He is right at the age where we do not have to keep an eye on him all the time.  But we are still concerned about where he is and with whom.

I know exactly what the panic must have felt like for Mary and Joseph.  They were one day's journey away from Jerusalem, when they realized they lost him.  Talk about losing something or someone special.

I'm talking about losing your own child.  When I became a parent, the stories of children being abducted struck horror in my heart.  I took it all for granted, before I became the parent of a beautiful little boy.

When Jesus parents realized he was unaccounted for, they first looked among the whole group that was travelling with them.  Maybe he was there somewhere?  But he was not.

So, they made their way back to Jerusalem, and looked all over, perhaps retracing their steps.  Then, they got to the temple complex and there he was, seated with the rabbis.  He was so engaged in the discussion that he hardly noticed mom and dad walk up.

Joseph and Mary perhaps had the chance to hear Jesus words as he dialogued with the teachers and saw the amazement at what he had to say.  Luke does not tell us that they scooped Jesus up or that they said, "Thank God, you are ok!"  Nope.

Instead, we are told that they rebuked him: "Son, why have you treated us like this?"  Mary was calling him to responsibility.  She is speaking to him, like we might speak to our 15, 16 or 17 year old; because maturity and responsibility came at a younger age in first century Jewish culture.

We say that someone becomes an adult at age 18 and the truth is that many young people do not even become adults today until their mid-twenties.  And the markers of adulthood are maturity and responsibility.

In that culture, where Jesus grew up, age twelve was the transition from boyhood to manhood.  He is more mature than our twelve year olds.  He is ready to be a man.

Have you wondered where he spent the night?  Probably at the place where one of those teachers lived or at the temple.  Have you wondered if those teachers would have asked him about his parents or if he should be going home?

Whatever those conversations entailed of if they happened at all, there he was.  

I had scenes in my childhood, when I ventured out of my mom's sight and she lost me.  My mom was very upset.  I know the phrase, "Where have you been?", when I was perfectly fine, in my mind, and having an adventure or just enjoying myself with others.

Mary's rebuke to Jesus, "Why have you treated us like this", puts the blame for her anxious turmoil onto the boy.  He neither responds with "Sorry, my bad", nor, "Don't talk to me like that".  

Instead, he gently turns the issue back to her and reminds her that God, His Father, is the center of his life; even though he is rightly related to his earthly parents.  Jesus is teaching me how to talk to my mom.

In the same section of scripture, it says that Mary and Joseph were Jesus parents and that he also has The Father as his father.  This is important, because Luke is underscoring that Jesus was human and divine.  He was not delivered, as a baby or a boy, from heaven; but came out of Mary.

They lost him and were searching, searching, searching for him.  But all along, there he was, at the temple, consumed with his Father's things.  These are the first words we have of Jesus: "Didn't you know that I had to be in my Father's house?"

This is our English language rendering, and in the HCSB that I am using here.  The oldest translation that we are commonly familiar with, the King James, says, "Knew ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?”  But what it literally says is something like, "did ye not know that in the things of my Father it behoveth me to be?'

That is how we get the idea that Jesus was saying something like, "Didn't you know that I am all about being consumed by the things of my Father?"  Jesus did not say the word "house".  House is in our translations  there because the translators would say that it is implied.

Jesus is saying that they should have known that he would be at the temple, the figurative 'house of God', involved in the discourse with people about the things of God.

The motif of this story, for me is 'searching'.  We could say that the human perspective was of the parents and their tribe, searching for the lost boy.  Searching equals seeking.  They were seeking the boy while the boy was seeking or involved with the work of  seeking God.

They were seeking Jesus, all the while Jesus was involved with the pursuit of the things of the Father.  Jesus did not take a detour to an alone place to seek or be with the Father.  Jesus went to or stopped and stayed at the place where people gathered to discuss God things.

This is where we get the phrase, "I had to be about my Father's business".  What is the Father's business?  It is God's whole enterprise of loving and saving the people in the world he created.

Today, I am seeking something or a number of somethings.  And at the same time, Jesus is seeking or all about, as in 'consumed' with something.  I believe Jesus cares about what I am searching for, but mainly to the extent that he cares about me.

He loves me and he is consumed with the Father's business.  I am searching for something, while he is involved with doing what he sees the Father doing.

What I am searching for is not bad.  Some people in the world must search for their daily food each day.  Jesus is not too busy discussing theology with the teachers to care about his people.

He does care and he does understand.  But where we get in trouble is when we stress out in our searching for whatever and I am assuming here that we are searching for something wholesome.  Something we do not want to do is to  stress out and then say to Jesus, "Why did you do this to me?"

My grandmother never touched alcohol and never went to a 12-step group, but she had the serenity prayer on a plaque, above the kitchen sink.  I grew up, looking at that prayer, and thinking about it.

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change; courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

People who blame God and do not accept responsibility and and do not take the initiative are not developing spiritually, and are half-baked and stunted in becoming men and women, and staying childish.

Another remarkable thing about this story is that it says that Jesus went with them, back to Nazareth, in obedience.  Let that sink in.  He just showed them that he was ready and they did not get it.

Instead of forcing himself on them, he submitted himself to them.  This should blow our minds and massively teach us something about submission.  God was ready, but they were not ready to let go.

This is how it is so often with us in our lives.  We think we are waiting on God.  "Why is he taking so long!", we say.  And all along, God is waiting for us.

Jesus and history had to wait 18 years.  When he left home at age 30, his family still did not get it.  They had lived with him and did not get him.

This is very sad in a sense, but should also encourage you, if your family does not get you.

It is really nice when people get you, understand you, to the best of their human abilities.  But the default position or the case that is most common, is that they won't get you.  And then there is the whole range of the ones you love actually opposing you.

When we fast forward to when Jesus is 30 and begins his public ministry, in one of his first times of teaching, they love it, but then say, "Wait a minute, isn't this Joseph's son?"  Somehow, many people can't wrap their heads around ordinary people becoming extraordinary because of God in their lives.  Instead, they want to see extraordinary people as gods.

The whole ethos of Christianity is that God in Christ comes into you and makes you a person in-Christ, that Christ works through and points to God.

What does this story from when Jesus was 12 have in it for me and what might it have for you?  I am searching.  I am always searching for something to one extent or another.

Sometimes my searching overwhelms me and I get stressed out.  I am tired and I need rest.  That is first.

Then there is the issue where I realize that I am missing God.  I have been praying about my search to God, but maybe not enough because my search has taken me away from God's presence.  Maybe I need to search a bit less or pray more or perhaps wait on God more?

What about time out for recreation?  But if my search is desperate, like for food or water or a place to stay when all the places say 'no vacancy', I probably do need to pray more and practice God's presence. 

It is all grace right?  Not my works that make life happen.  But faith is only real if it is tested and tried.

The circumstances of life test and try our faith to make it genuine.  Faith involves risk and when we risk we do often fail.  But God loves riskers who fail.

It is worse to do nothing than to do something that fails.

I am searching.  Will Jesus follow me in my search and make it work out? I am supposed to be following him.  But I can ask him to grant me success in my search.  I can pray as I consider things and choose things.

I would rather be with him wherever he is.  When I am searching and he is not with me, that is not his fault.  I left him behind and he never left me.

Rather than doing a comprehensive search and then getting overwhelmed and saying "Where are you in all this?", I want to be with him and then put my head on his chest and ask him about it.


Deck The Halls With Boughs of Holly

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Don we now our gay apparel,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Troll the ancient Yule tide carol,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

See the blazing Yule before us,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Strike the harp and join the chorus.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Follow me in merry measure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
While I tell of Yule tide treasure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Fast away the old year passes,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Sing we joyous, all together,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Heedless of the wind and weather,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

"Deck The Halls", originally called, "Deck The Hall", is a Christmas Carol, that is for New Year's Eve.  The idea that Christmas hails the new year, is brought to light in this song.  It was originally a Welsh poem, translated into English by Thomas Oliphant and published in 1862.

The words above are the rendition that I am most familiar with.  My understanding is that these words were not the original, but changes were made in the fifteen years following 1862.  The original has lines in it about drinking:

"Fill the meadcup, drain the barrel", and, "See the flowing bowl before us", 

As well as, 

"While I sing of beauty's treasure", and, "Laughing, quaffing all together".

See the wikipedia article, if you are interested in reading about the variations.

I was wondering what this song was all about.  I get it about, 'tis the season to be jolly'.  And that is true right now.  We are in a season of joy.  And the world is trying to convince you otherwise.

Holly symbolizes masculinity.  And ivy symbolizes femininity.  There is another Christmas Carol called, "The Holy and The Ivy".  But this song is about putting up holly throughout your house.

The word 'holly' is not connected to 'holy', but 'prickly'.  Holly has leaves with sharp, prickly ends on it.  The vibrant, red berries on holly are also associated with masculinity and the blood of Jesus.

In ancient times, holly leaves were used as a tea, to treat arthritis, kidney stones and bronchitis.  

Some people believe that the crown of thorns that the Roman soldiers put on Jesus' head was holly.  This may be a myth, but the symbol of the holly and it's similarity to the thorny vine used as the crown of thorns put upon Jesus' head remains.

David Beaulieu, wrote:

"There are hundreds of species of holly plants (Ilex), and the plants come in all sizes, ranging from spreading dwarf holly shrubs 6 inches in height to holly trees 70 feet tall. Their shapes vary from rounded to pyramidal to columnar. Landscaping enthusiasts use this versatile plant in a number of different ways, including as foundation plantings."

Here is an excerpt from Andy Byfield's article on Holly, in the Guardian's Gardening Blog:

"As well as playing a key role in a woodland's winter ecology, holly has a strong cultural resonance amongst humans. Festive holly imagery on Christmas cards may be a Victorian invention, but the tree's association with Christmas goes back to pagan times, when it was customary to bring holly boughs in to deck out the house. Holly was seen as a powerful fertility symbol, and was believed to be an effective charm to ward off witches and ill-fortune: for this reason it was often planted close to homes and outbuildings. Conveniently, its thorny foliage and blood-red berries lent themselves to Christian tradition, and the early customs surrounding the species were fully adopted by Christianity. With its intense red berries, the holly was also seen as a very masculine plant – after all, "the holly wears the crown" – though the fact that hollies with berries are always female seems to have been conveniently forgotten by some in society."


According to Catholic tradition:

"the holly is held by tradition to be of the same plant as the wood of the Cross was said to come from. During Advent and Christmas Christians acknowledge the need for a Savior and holly reminds them of this: the holly bough is one of St. John the Baptist's symbols; the Saint heralded our Lord's coming as Isaiah did in the Old Testament."


Joy To The World!

Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth! the savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousness,
And wonders of his love,
And wonders of his love,
And wonders, wonders, of his love.

-Isaac Watts, Psalms of David Imitated (1719) under the heading “The Messiah's Coming and Kingdom.”

This magnificent hymn, which is popularly sung at Christmas time, is about King Jesus and the kingdom of God.

The echo is of Psalm 98: "Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!"

The gospel is the gospel of the kingdom.   The great joy in the gospel is that the Lord has come.

It is a great misconception that the kingdom of God is all future, all 'not yet'.  The kingdom is 'already and not yet'.  The kingdom is neither finished coming nor postponed in coming.

The kingdom of God has been coming.  Isaac Watts' song is describing the world: past, present and future-

"Joy to the world, the Lord is come.  Let earth receive her King!  Let every heart prepare him room."

"Joy to the earth the savior reigns."

A hallmark of the kingdom of God is joy.  It is the realm of the Holy Spirit, filled with righteousness, peace and joy (Rom 14:17).

Father's great joy is to give us the kingdom (Luke 12:3).

The news of the kingdom is news of great joy (Luke 2:10).

Right now, the kingdom is breaking in and breaking out on the earth and a marker of it is the joy.

Despite what the world would tell you, there is more joy right now and joy is increasing in your life.  Joy is flowing out from God to you, if you will see it.

Look for, recognize and live in the new level of joy that God has provided.  Cultivate it and share it.

Experience the joy that God is opening up to you, pouring out upon you and reinvigorating you with

The message is: "Joy to the world, the Lord is come.  Let earth receive her king!"  That was the message when baby Jesus was born, when Jesus lived, when he died, when he rose, when he ascended and today.

We do not live in a 'grim time' of no joy.  Today is a day of joy.  God is pouring out joy on his people today.

Joy is coming from heaven to earth today.  Joy from God is here.  Christians are meant to be the joy filled people and God is making sure of this by giving us more joy right now.

Discover it, pick it up and put it on.  See it in your heart and let it out.  Thank God for it.

Praise God.  Worship the Lord.  Turn to God always.

Simply enjoy your life with God and welcome those you meet to join in and be adopted by papa in Jesus.




Silent Night, Holy Night

Be angry and do not sin; on your bed, reflect in your heart and be still.
Selah
-Psalm 4:4

The Psalms are the Bible's book of prayers.  The Psalms teach us that God listens and we need to learn listening.  And the Psalms ask us to be brutally honest with God.

These are three things I have learned recently about the Psalms, the Psalms of David particularly.

Blessed rest and sweet sleep are connected to not sinning in our anger, open-hearted hurt process, living 'honest to God', and being in union with God, no matter what.

Psalm 4 has some advice about silence and anger.  When we are angry, we want to vent it out and a common way of venting is with words.

First of all, anger is not taboo.  We are allowed to be angry.  But be angry and do not sin.

Things like being abusive or destructive, being vengeful or vituperative, and just punishing others because you are angry, is wrong.  Anger is a secondary emotion.  We get angry when we suffer a loss.

Beneath the anger is hurt and sadness that needs expression and processing: grief.  The ungrieved losses that give rise to anger become bitterness.  The anger at your loss is understandable, but you must take the time to feel the pain and suffer your loss, feeling it and grieving it; in order to heal and not add sin to your loss.

The person who does not do this instead takes on the role of being forever angry.  That becomes their identity.  Instead of being for something, whether it is that they want to make something better, in a role or a job, they instead are the angry person, that is against something.  

We constantly have reason to be and opportunities to become angry, because we constantly face losses and infractions upon our will or plans.  But, we must learn how to have healthy angry, to be angry but not to sin.

For nice, Christian people, this might be hard.  The nice, Christian person's 'anger problem' is not yelling or rage, but sadness and passivity.  The hurts of life that give rise to anger are suppressed into an inner sadness.

Silence is really what I want to share about.  It is a discipline of your self, to remain silent.  God is listening, but am I listening?

Go ahead and be angry, but also reflect on your loss and let it go.  In the silence, let the hurt that is beneath the anger, come up and out.

What I see is a discipline of taking your hurt self, your self who has suffered a loss or injustice, to God.  And the deepest and most profound and mature thing you can do is to take your self to the cross.  Bring yourself to Christ to be crucified with him (Galatians 2:20).

That thing you lost or you do not have that you want.  What was taken from you or that you think is yours that you do not yet possess.  You hurt about that and want God to give it to you.

You want breakthrough or breakout.  But, what God wants to give you right now is break-in.  God wants you and Him to be together right now in whatever space or place you are in.  That thing or situation you desire and hurt over so much that you've got all this anger about not having it.  And some of it even gets directed at God.

But you know God is good and God loves you and is a good Father.  So, you feel confused and you go back and forth, blaming yourself and consider blaming others who have blocked you or held you back.  And this whole thing you are in has affected your sleep.

Your worries and thoughts are keeping you up at night.  You sleep, but you don't sleep well and you don't wake up refreshed.

God wants to be with you where you are at right now.  Jesus wants to have table fellowship with you and communion (Revelation 3:20).

I have learned recently that the Psalms of David teach us that God listens and we need to listen better.  I have also learned that the one thing God wants, that God requires of me, it to be honest with Him, brutally honest.

And that is what Psalm 4:4 is about: being honest to God.  Sit on your bed or couch and be silent.  Let God speak and let the words of your heart well up, in silence and find their way into communion with God.

Go for the highest aim, the highest road; which is union with God.  And then let everything else in your life fall into place.  God is listening, so speak honestly; from a cultivation of your own listening to the inner regions of your heart.

Have no thing, no thought, no obstacle of resentment, disappointment, fear, judgement or hopelessness that would block your union with God, your papa.  Come as you are and sit in his lap.  Laugh, cry, snug and hug; be loved and let your destiny as his child be formed in you.

Sleep in heavenly peace.

We Need A Little Christmas

Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.  (This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed.)
-1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (The Voice)

Someone lost her adult son this week.  Someone else has a son with stage four cancer.  Someone else I closely know had the anniversary of losing his young son this week.  I also know someone else who's husband left her and their kids.  I know someone who's romantic relationship has broken up after a hopeful year.  And I know several women who lost their husbands in the past 15 months, who are grieving.  We also said goodbye to my neighbors of over twenty years, yesterday, who are moving away, to be closer to their family.

The gospel of Jesus, the good news of the kingdom, is that God has come and rescued us for time and eternity.  Jesus is emmanuel, God with us.  Jesus saves and Jesus is with us.

He promised he would always be with us and would send the Holy Spirit, who is the comforter.  This is what he told the disciples at the last supper, when he was saying goodbye to them and we get the same benefit.  Being a Christian is not just about going to heaven when you die, but having Christ in you when you live.

That is the good news.  I have this thought that we need to celebrate Christ coming often.  Christmas is not once a year, but part of our whole lives.

When someone receives Christ and believes the gospel for the first time, that day is their Christmas.  Christ is birthed in their heart or rather, they are birthed into the kingdom of God.  Then throughout our lives, we continually celebrate Christmas: Christ coming as a gift and the gift of being born into Christ's kingdom.

We all are celebrants is the mass of Christ.  We take Christ into our lives daily in celebration.

Baby Jesus was born into a dangerous and violent time.  Jesus comes as God's gift to save the world and redeem it.  He changes everything.

Jesus does not hand out tickets to heaven, but changes lives and teaches us to ask God to bring heaven to earth.  Jesus brings redemption to chaos and suffering in humanity.  Jesus also heals us and delivers us.

Jesus life that we share is also a life of suffering, where we are with and in him, utterly depending upon Father, and living by faith in God as our papa.

Today, right now, we need a little Christmas.  We need to come back to remembering what life is all about and what is important and what we celebrate.  The good news about Jesus is good everyday, especially when we are digesting bad news in our lives.

The good news is so good that it almost makes us forget the bad things we are experiencing.  The good news is not a distraction but the transformative event that changes everything.  We celebrate Jesus coming because he is the gift from God that redeems.

Jesus is the redeemer.  He takes us and pays for us.  And more.

Jesus does not just make the pain or sorrow go away.  His redemption is that he comes into it and is with us in it.  The good news is that we are not alone or left alone.

Jesus coming does not just cheer us up.  He comes to change everything and redeem us.  When we celebrate Christmas, with all of it's accoutrements, like holly, trees, lights and gifts, santa, reindeer, decorations and fun foods; they all point to the gift and the joy and the celebration of Jesus coming.