Posts Tagged With: Bethlehem

When “THIS Mountain” Moves

herodium-complex-balageTo be perfectly honest with you, the passage here in Matthew 21 is coming — for me,at least — at just the right time. And perhaps for you as well.

Given the current political climate in our beloved country, and the increasing despair that I have felt as the presidential primary season has now concluded, I so desperately need to hear my own message, courtesy of Jesus.

Jesus assured His disciples,

“Whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

As you will hear in this PODCAST, the irony of what Jesus said is so thick that you could cut it with the proverbial knife.

The irony being this: Jesus said those words to the disciples on the eve of His crucifixion in order to strengthen, to fortify their fragile faith. And frankly, to strengthen and to fortify ours.

Jesus knew that the events in their lives were about to spin seemingly out of control. The hopes they harbored in their hearts were about to be crushed into the ash heap of history. The Jesus movement in which they played a central role was about to careen into a wall and to explode into a thousand broken pieces.

The wave they had been riding had peaked on Sunday during the Triumphal Entry, and then again on Monday during the Cleansing of the Temple. But Jesus knew only too well on that Tuesday AM that by Thursday PM that same storm surge would dash them into the jagged rocks of reality.

So to bolster their soon-to-be faltering faith (and ours), Jesus made them (and us) this glorious promise:

“Whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

The only problem with that promise? As many of us have come to experience during own crises of faith, It.Doesn’t.Always.Work.

If it did, none of our loved ones would ever die. (Who of us hasn’t prayed for God, in faith believing — to invoke Jesus’ formula — to heal someone near/dear to us, only to watch them whither away to nothing?)

Our kids would never disappoint us, if that promise worked. (What parent hasn’t prayed diligently for their children, in faith believing, Amen, only to stand by and watch helplessly and at times hopelessly as one or more of our kids go sideways?)

If that promise did indeed work, we would always get the jobs we want, have the perfect marriages for which we pray, have enough money at end of each month.

Fact is, myriads of books been written and purchased and read about that promise. Countless sermons been preached and listened to and heeded. All to affirm the fact that if we pray in faith believing and do not doubt, we will receive whatever things we ask. We CAN move mountains by our prayers, we are told. The mountain of sickness, the mountain of debt, the mountain of broken relationships, the mountain of wayward children.

Over the years, I’ve heard it all, read it all, a thousand times. To the point where I’m sick of hearing it. Because it just doesn’t work… Or does it?

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The First Noel

12390995_10153185910760841_423099692962636577_nIt is without a doubt one of the most beautiful and meaningful of our Christmas carols.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, its seven stanzas tell the complete story of Christmas, brilliantly combining both Matthew’s and Luke’s Nativity narratives.

The carol to which I refer? The First Noel.

The First Noel, the angel did say, was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay. In fields as they lay, keeping their sheep, on a cold winter’s night that was so deep.

Chorus: Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, Born is the King of Israel.

They looked up and saw a star shining in the east beyond them far. And to the earth it gave great light, and so it continued both day and night.

And by the light of that same star three wise men came from country afar. To seek for a king was their intent, and to follow the star wherever it went.

This star drew nigh to the northwest, o’er Bethlehem it took it rest. And there it did both stop and stay right over the place where Jesus lay.

Then did they know assuredly within that house the King did lay. They entered in then for to see, and found the Babe in poverty.

Then entered in those wise men three, fell reverently upon their knee, and offered there in His presence their gold, and myrrh, and frankincense.

Then let us all with one accord sing praises to our heavenly Lord, that hath made heaven and earth of naught, and with his blood mankind hath bought.

Chorus: Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, Born is the King of Israel.

Let’s talk about those Wise Men, mysterious Magi.

And the star, what it was and why they followed it.

And their gifts, and their amazing significance.

From all of us at the Safe Haven, to all of you, A Very Merry Christmas!ThreeWiseMenblueskyandstars

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Jesus Who “Gets It”; A Jesus Who “Gets” You!

a-lonely-place-to-prayThis may sound strange to you, as you will hear on this PODCAST.

But if I kicked a bottle and a genie popped out, offering to grant me but one wish, any idea what I’d wish for? I’d wish for the ability to point my finger at anyone, anywhere, at any time, and become that person for 10 minutes.

On the surface of things, an odd request, I know. But if you think about it, for me it makes perfect sense.

When people share with me their stories, invariably I feel an acute longing to become that person — for 10 minutes — so that I can truly understand what it’s really like to be them.

Just imagine if we each possessed that power. If we did, and become that person for just 10 minutes, we would completely understand. We would understand why they do the things they do; why they say the things they say; why they make the choices that they make; why they act the way they act. All would become so crystal clear.

And in knowing the whys behind people’s words, actions, and attitudes, just think of how revolutionizing such knowledge would be. We would be so much more understanding, so much more forgiving, so much more compassionate, so much more loving.

We would “get it.” And others would “get” us.

I mean, if you could just be me for 10 minutes, you would finally understand why I am certifiably neurotic.

Well, Jesus didn’t have a bottle; He didn’t need one. Jesus never met a genie; there are no magical genies to meet. Jesus wasn’t granted one wish. Wishes were irrelevant to Him. But Jesus did exactly what I would wish I could do. And He did so for much, much longer than 10 minutes.

As a baby, laying in a manger, in beautiful downtown Bethlehem, Jesus became one of us.

Jesus experienced every human emotion, felt every human need, faced every human temptation, and lived every possible kind of human suffering.

He understands exactly what it is like to be you, and what it is like to be me.

This picture of an understanding Jesus is painted ever so clearly in this story. After hearing it, you will never view Jesus the same way again:

A Jesus who “gets it.”

A Jesus who “gets” you.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God is THIS Close. (He REALLY Is!!!)

God can sometimes seem so distant. Remote. Removed from the intricate details of my daily life.

BUT HE’S NOT. As you will discover by listening to this PODCAST.

God is closer to you than you can possibly imagine.

To prove this point, here’s a pop quiz for you. When Jesus wanted to convey to the people He loved — in the single most culturally-emphatic way — just how close God is to YOU, what image did Jesus invoke?

bread

You, my friend, are in for quite a surprise.

Please note that depending upon your connection speed and web browser, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to play. But it’s worth the wait!!! 😉

HAPPY LISTENING.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

O Little Town of Bethlehem

bethlehem

Bethlehem. 

Why in the world did God choose to have His Son born in Bethlehem?

He could have chosen Jerusalem. The Holy City was then home to the Temple, and the epicenter of all things religious. For that matter, He could have chosen Rome, Athens, Corinth, Alexandria, or any number of major metropolitan centers of ancient world influence.

Why in the world did God choose Bethlehem?

Well, for the answer to that singularly significant question, we have to go all the way back to the beginnings of the Bible. There you will read this in Genesis 14:18, about Abraham and his first meeting with the mysterious Melchizedek, the king of Salem, Shalom, Peace. Arguably the first reference in the Bible to what would later become the City of Peace, Jeru-salem

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.

Hmmm. What were they doing, Abraham and Melchizedek? Certainly not celebrating Communion with that bread and wine. And more to the point, What does this baffling bit of trivia have to do with Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem?

On the surface, nothing. Dig a little deeper, it means everything.

The backstory of their tête-à-tête is straightforward and rather simple: Returning from a period of conflict over the capture of his nephew Lot, Abraham now craved a much-needed period of peace. So did Melchizedek. In order to establish an unbreakable bond of peace, in order to confirm an indestructible contract of commitment to one another, in order to seal a deal of an abiding agreement of love and loyalty to one another, Abraham and Melchizedek broke bread together.

The breaking of bread was in biblical times, and is even today in the Middle East, the culturally-binding symbol of a relationship of love, loyalty, and commitment between two parties.

Breaking bread. The sharing of the very sustenance of life with one another, the symbolism of which binds the two lives together in a mutual pledge of life, love, loyalty, and peace.

It is no wonder that bread is specifically mentioned in the Bible 448 times. 

It is no wonder that in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us specifically to pray for our daily bread, a regular reminder of the unbreakable relationship of life, loveloyalty, and peace that we now share with God Himself.

It is no wonder that when Jesus fed the five thousand, He broke bread with them.

It is no wonder that Jesus referred to Himself as “the bread of life,” adding in John 8, 

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever. 

“Forever.” An unbreakable bond indeed!

It is no wonder that on the night before the crucifixion, as Jesus shared one last supper with His disciples, He broke bread with them.

It is no wonder that after Jesus was nailed to the cross, as the body of the one who called Himself “the bread of life” was beaten and broken for us, that it can now be said of us who love Him, 

We have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us (Romans 5:1).

It is no wonder that the first committed Christ-followers (according to Acts 2) broke bread from house to house. 

Bread: the God-given, Bible-driven symbol of two persons who desperately long to establish between them an unbreakable bond of life, love, loyalty, and peace.

So it is no wonder that God chose “His only begotten Son” to be born not in Jerusalem, not in Rome or Athens, not in Corinth or Alexandria, nor in any major metropolitan city of great influence. No.

When God sent His Son, He chose to have Him be born in the humble hamlet of Bethlehem. Or as it is called in Hebrew, Beit Lehem, which in English reads, “the house of (Care to make a guess?) bread.”

———————-

This is just one of the five Scriptural snapshots of Christmas that we shared with our beloved Safe Haven family last Saturday night. You can hear all five in this podcast by clicking HERE.

From my heart to yours, a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.