Time to Treasure (Luke 2:19)

But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them.  (Luke 2:19)

Wonderful things were happening to Mary, and she refused to just let them pass by.  She took time to treasure, to set aside moments for meditating on the things that were taking place in her life.

Mary was able to treasure because she was willing to take the time.

Am I?

Are you?

–Pastor Phillip

Stillness Brings You Clarity

Stillness Brings You Clarity

The backwater lake shimmered in the light of the mid-morning sun.

Ripples danced through the water like figure skaters on ice, making chaotic patterns interspersed with brief moments of circular perfection where the fish poked up for a bite to eat.

Across the water was a stand of cypress trees, their ghost-white forms stretching high into a cobalt and cotton-ball sky, with only their thick layers of spanish moss weighing them down.

It was a place of peace.

As I sat there in the quiet, a thought occurred to me.  Looking at the rippling lake, it was very easy to distinguish between the reality of the trees and their reflection in the water.  While the water echoed the image, it was imperfect, incomplete and unstable.  To see what the trees were really like, I would have to stop looking down at the reflection and look up at the reality.

The same is true about the way we see our lives.

The Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13 that “we see through a glass darkly,” and that as much as we’d like to, we can never truly see things with total clarity on this side of heaven.  As much as we would like to look up and see the world as it really is, we can’t.

So what can we do?

Looking back at the lake it occurred to me how much more clearly I would be able to see the reflection of the trees if the water were still.  Without the restless surface activity, it would be simply to see with greater clarity.

So it is with life.

There will likely never be a time when there isn’t a ready supply of responsibilities and diversions to keep us occupied.  Our whole culture is built on the idea that busyness is a good thing, and that the more you DO the more successful you ARE.  Yet, without regular moments to rest and reflect, it’s doubtful we’ll ever be able to see as clearly as we would if we made the time to simply stop and be still.

As you look at your life, take the time to plan in moments of quiet.

Have the courage to get off the treadmill of life and just sit for a while.

When you do, you may find that whole new worlds open up to you, because stillness brings you clarity.

-Pastor Phillip

How to Not be Overwhelmed at Christmas

Do you ever feel overwhelmed during the Christmas season?

Do you find yourself frustrated by the commercialism, by the long lines and busy schedules, by the financial burden and the family hassles?  Here is your solution.

Selah.

Who is this Jesus?

In Scripture, to “selah” means to stop and consider, to step back and ponder something of great importance.  Naturally, then, we must have something of great importance to consider.

A couple of years ago I was part of a home-based Bible study community.  One night around Christmas time, a friend of mine shared this piece, and it was such a beautiful way to draw our focus to Jesus that I wanted to share it here.

Read it slowly.  Read it deliberately.  Don’t rush through it, but take the time to ponder the significance of what is said.

If you would seek to not be overwhelmed AT Christmas, join me in being overwhelmed BY the Christ whose birth we celebrate.  Indeed, as we ponder, He will be faithful to send His peace.

He always is.

—Pastor Phillip

 


The Mystery of the Incarnation: A Scriptural Tapestry of Jesus as Man and God by Gregory of Nazianzus

“He was baptized (Matt. 3:13) as man, but he destroyed sins (Matt. 9:6) as God; he himself was not in need of purifying rites, but [he was baptized/he came] that he might sanctify the waters.

He was tempted (Matt. 4:1) as man, but he conquered as God; not only this but he even encouraged [us] to be courageous, since he had conquered the world (John 16:33).

He was hungry, but he fed thousands (John 6:10); not only this but he is indeed life-giving and heavenly bread (John 6:51).  He was thirsty (John 4:7; 19:28), but he shouted, “If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37); not only this but he also promised that those who believe would gush forth [with water] (John 7:38).

He was tired (John 4:6), but for those who are tired and heavy laden he is rest (Matt. 11:28).  He was heavy with sleep (Matt. 8:24), but he is light upon the sea; not only this but he even rebukes winds; not only this but he even makes Peter light when he is sinking (Matt. 14:25, 29; Matt. 8:26).

He pays tax, but [he does so] from a fish (Matt. 17:24-27); not only this but he is even king of those demanding [the tax].

He hears himself called a Samaritan and demon-possessed (John 8:48), but he saves the one who went down from Jerusalem and fell among robbers (Luke 10:30); not only this but he is even recognized by demons (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34) and drives out demons (Matt. 8:16), and he sinks a legion of spirits (Luke 8:33) and sees the ruler of demons falling like lightning (Luke 10:18).

He is stoned, but he is not caught (John 8:59).

He prays (Matt. 14:23; 26:36; Heb. 5:7), but he hears [prayers] (Acts 7:59).

He weeps (John 11:35), but he causes tears to cease.

He asks where Lazarus [is laid] (John 11:34), for he was man, but he raises Lazarus (John 11:43), for he was God.

He is sold, and very cheaply, for [it was] for thirty silver coins (Matt. 26:15), but he buys back the world, and [it was] for a great price, for [it was] with his own blood (1 Pet 1:18-19).

He was led as a sheep to slaughter (Isa 53:7), but he shepherds Israel, and now, indeed, the whole inhabited world (John 10:11).  [He is] silent like a lamb (Isa 53:7; Matt. 26:63), but he is the Word (John 1:1), being proclaimed by a voice of one shouting in the desert (John 1:23).

He has been weakened, wounded, but he heals every disease and every infirmity (Isa. 53:5).  He is lifted up upon the tree (John 12:32), he is fixed [to it] (Acts 2:23), but he restores by the tree of life (John 6:51); not only this but he saves even a robber crucified with [him] (Luke 23:43); not only this but he darkens everything that is seen (Luke 23:44).

He is given cheap wine to drink (Luke 23:36), he is fed bile (Matt. 27:34).  Who?  The one who changed the water into wine (John 2:1-11), the destroyer of the bitter taste (Heb. 2:9), the [one who is] sweetness and all desire (Song 5:16).

He hands over his life, but he has authority to take it again (John 10:18); not only this but the curtain is torn apart (Matt. 27:51); for the things above are exhibited (Cf. Rev. 11:19; 15:5) not only this but rocks are split; not only this but dead are raised beforehand (Matt. 27:51-52).  He dies, but he makes alive, and by death he destroys death.

He is buried, but he rises. He goes down into Hades (1 Peter 3:18-19), but he brings up souls; not only this but he goes up into heaven; not only this but he will come to judge the living and the dead . . . ”

(Gregory of Nazianzus Oration 29.20, translation by Rodney A. Whitacre)