A Wonderful Gift in Ordinary Wrappings

The Christmas season is here… and I don’t want to miss what it’s really all about in the glitzy wrappings of the season!! 

One of the most disappointing things that can happen at Christmas is to receive a beautifully wrapped box that promises something really valuable… something significant… something needed and desired and discover that what is inside is cheap, insignificant, or just a worthless gag gift.  I think we’d all rather receive something a bit more commonly wrapped that was really something needed and desired!

All that to say, I really don’t think what the broader culture does with Christmas (or what they call “the holiday season”) captures what this season of the year is all about!  In fact, one of the sad commentaries on the secular season, is when it’s all over their analysis of the season is that depression sets in with all of its negative consequences.

Give me the ordinary wrappings of Bethlehem and shepherds on a hillside “keeping watch over their flocks by night” … filled with the splendor of an “angel of the Lord who appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shining around them” and “a great company of the heavenly host appearing with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests!’”  Now that’s Christmas!!  And I don’t want to miss it!!

All of that was prompted by reading this passage this morning from 2 Peter 1:16-21…

“For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’  We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.  We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.  Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things.  For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

I, like the shepherds, want to make my personal journey to “Bethlehem” this Christmas season and rediscover the One of whom the prophets spoke… “Today, in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, Christ the Lord!”… “So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger… When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child… and they returned glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.”  (from Luke 2.16-20)

I do not want to be sidetracked from the real gift of Christmas in some glitzy wrappings!!!   

Needed: “Shepherd Style Leadership!”

During “coffee with the Lord” today I read a wonderful passage from God’s word – a passage that addresses leadership and styles of leadership – 1 Peter 5.1-5.

“And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches… As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly – not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor… And all of you… serve each other in humility, for “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” (New Living Translation)

My doctorate is in leadership. I CAN TELL YOU THERE ARE ALL KINDS OF LEADERS AND LEADERSHIP STYLES… Transactional, autocratic, bureaucratic, charismatic, democratic-participative, laissez-faire, task-oriented, people/relations-oriented, transformational and servant-leadership! And the list could go on…

THIS PASSAGE HOWEVER, APPEALS FOR A “JESUS-STYLE” OF LEADERSHIP – THE STYLE OF “THE GREAT SHEPHERD.” Jesus said…

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me… I sacrifice my life for the sheep.” (John 10:11-15 NLT)

Discovering the “Quiet Place” in Worship

Just a balancing perspective on worship today…

I am aware that some worshippers almost prioritize “noise” and “volume” in worship. I’ve heard them argue, “Hey if you’re offended by noise get over it! In heaven, at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb there’s going to be plenty of noise expressed in worship (check out Revelation 19:6-8)!” And there are other passages where the presence and power of God are connected with heightened decibels (Revelation 4:5-6 in the heavenly throne room and in Isaiah 6:1-6 when the Living God revealed Himself to Isaiah).

Having acknowledged that, and having personally experienced God’s power and presence in powerful music and praise, I’d like to suggest it isn’t always that way. In fact, God often reveals Himself in profound silence and stillness… Just ask Elijah, the prophet, who experienced “a great and strong wind that tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.” (1 Kings 19:11-12) And believe me, check it out – God was in the “whisper!”

So in my Bible reading this morning during “Coffee with the Lord” I was challenged cautioned and encouraged by the writer of Ecclesiastes and his observations…

“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools… be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you on earth. Therefore, let your words be few… a fool’s voice comes with many words!” (From Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 ESV)

Wise advice I think! There is an important place for quiet and silence in God’s presence! Let me tell you some of the most profound awareness of God’s presence and power in my life have come in times of silence in God’s presence! And “me thinks” in prayer we would be well served to do less compulsive talking and more quiet listening for God’s voice deep within!

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