Cacophony

No – I did not make this word up. Yes – it is a word that my sister just younger than I would have asked my Mom to make me stop saying when I was a kid (she would call it a “fifty-cent word”).

Cacophony per Merriam-Webster means “a harsh or discordant sound.” And frankly during Carols especially when sight-reading and even more so when brass players sight-read something really difficult such as the arrangement of Procession of the Kings we are singing this year. I am not being critical of our brass playing friends – I played low brass (trombone) from 6th grade through my years at Ole Miss. I read music. The stuff they are reading looks like some weird foreign language to me!

By the time rehearsal ended last night, the brass players had it worked out (again – seems like a foreign language to me)! It is a majestic processional of the wise men as they present themselves to the Savior.

Still the first playing stayed with me. Compared to the worship of Holy, Holy, Holy, the wonder of Silent Night, and the singing of a lullaby of hope by the earthly parents to this Boy who is King in Someday, it just caught me off guard.

I have thought today that the worship, wonder, and hope of heaven is in such sharp contrast to the chaos of hell. Cacophony is the music of Satan. Chaos in our lives – regardless of its source – is of the devil. Through chaos, however, God can refines us if we allow it. How we react when the cymbals are clanging and fires are raging and people are hurting and discord tries to overwhelm us, is what people remember about us.

Tonight we will share with a number of people who may work for First Jackson, as well as others, who may know about Jesus but do not know Him in a personal way. More likely, they see the way we treat each other and how we use (abuse) the resources that are at our disposal. If not careful, we present a very mixed message, a chaotic one, a cacophony.

Some thirty-three years after His birth in Bethlehem, Jesus faced chaos unlike any we will ever face. He knew He was going to die for each one of us. His hope was in His knowing that God was with Him. His faith spoke volumes. He was the calm in the middle of a storm unlike any we have known.

Matthew 27:24 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

Surely He is the Son of God. He changed me. He lives in me. May I live in such a way that every minute of every day others will see Jesus in me.

Still Choosing Joy

Cille

The Hope of Christmas

I seem to always get back to blogging around Carols.  I think it is because the deeper I get into the details (sort of just have my head above water now), the more I pray, the more I read my Bible, the more I think about what Jesus expects of me.  I know. I know. My spiritual journey is a 365 X 24 experience and should always be at an elevated level. After all, Jesus did not die for me for this intense six-week period every year. He died for me. Period. End of discussion.

Anyway, today, I found this article from Grace Communion International  when I was surfing the web. The title of the article is Why Jesus Gives Us Hope.  This paragraph really struck home: “God started in the smallest possible way—as an embryo in a virgin. Behold, I will give you a sign, he had said through Isaiah. A virgin will conceive and bring forth a child, and you will name him Immanuel, which means “God with us.” But he was first called Jesus — the Hebrew name Yeshua, which means, God will save us.””

We are all in need of the Savior. God sent Jesus to save us – to fill our lives with hope. Think about it – that little Baby did change everything. Because God loved us, He gave us Hope. And as Romans 5:5 says, “and hope does not disappoint..” The Hope we are sharing this Carols is the Hope that is only found in Jesus Christ. Pray about this – this Hope that is within you. Pray, too, that others who are coming to Carols and those in your circle of influence will see the Hope of Jesus in you.

I struggle to keep “the main thing the main thing” as Dr. Pollard used to say.  I tend to get wrapped up in the details of “who did what?” or “whose responsibility is that?” or “no, you can’t do that?” I even lose my cool (imagine that!) when the frustration level rises. Guess what. God is NOT honored by any of that.

Many have heard my story of what I remember as one of the first Carols in the new (existing) Sanctuary.  Somehow they used to know where folks were seated in the Sanctuary  based on the decision cards – I guess the ushers marked the collection bags by section.  In this particular case, the card came from a guy in the balcony – the section that is now behind the big screens. Even in those days they were not the most desirable seats.  When folks from FBCJ followed up after Carols, we learned this young man died a few days after he checked that card stating that he had prayed to receive Christ – a car wreck – life here done but Life Eternal assured. And God WAS honored because that young man’s life was saved for all eternity.

I hope to meet that fellow in heaven one day. I want to tell him thank you for inspiring me some 20+ years later to stay the course and be the encourager and help keep our focus on why we are doing this. If we forget why or do it just to do it, then the devil wins. I can assure you, God does not intend that (says so all through scripture beginning in Genesis) and neither do I.

The article goes on to say: “Luke tells us that the angels sang when Jesus was born. It was a moment of triumph, even though humans couldn’t see it that way. The angels knew that victory was certain, because God had told them so.” We have that same certainty because Jesus told us so.

“This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:12-14

Name Calling With a Purpose

In my last post, Silence of Saturday, we found Mary Magdalene distressed and grieving with unseeing eyes at the Empty Tomb, and Jesus called her name! Jesus did some other name calling that I had not really considered until yesterday when Dr. Frank Page preached from this text in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 16, verses 1-8 (NIV, emphasis mine):

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”  But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.  As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”  Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.     

Dr. Page’s focus was on “leaving too soon”. Peter certainly missed out and left Jesus too soon when he denied Him that terrible evening in the courtyard of the high priest after he had denied Christ three times, just as Jesus predicted Peter would (Mark 14). Embarrassed, terrified, grief-stricken, Peter is out of the scene. My guess: at that moment when that cock crowed, Peter, burly, loud, braggart Peter, understood finally what sin really is. I also guess Peter sulked off into the night, not to lick his wounds, but to consider what he had done and what he (thought he) had lost.

At the empty tomb that Resurrection morning, Mary Magdalene was given a specific task by the angel at the tomb, “But go, tell his disciples and Peter” – Jesus knew Peter would have disassociated himself in his disobedience and denial. Jesus wanted to make sure that Peter knew he was still important to Jesus, that there was work still for Peter to do, and that Jesus expected Peter in Galilee with the disciples who remained.  Jesus called Peter’s name.

When Christ called Peter’s name, He was saying to Peter to stay with Him. As Dr. Page shared, if we stay with Him, our destiny can be rerouted for Jesus has a job for us to do, too. Our destiny can change just like Peter’s did (remember that Peter was the “rock” upon which Jesus built His church!). Even if we, too, leave Him too soon, we can come back and be changed in Him!

Do you know Jesus? He is calling your name! Have you left Jesus? Come back. He is calling your name!

 
Note: Dr. Frank S. Page is president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee and Transitional Pastor of First Baptist Church, Jackson, Mississippi.
 

Respectable

This is my devotional for today – scripture is I Chronicles 12:38 – talks about getting behind David for king of Israel. The commentary from The Maxwell Leadership Bible says: “We can conclude from the list of warriors who joined David…….that his ragtag team was diverse, loyal, and hungry for victory. So what did David do to reproduce his leadership in them?”……(there were several things but this is the one that struck me right between the eyes)…..”He was respectable. David modeled a leadership style that others wanted to imitate.”

That is what I hope I do and how I want to be perceived. Food for thought.

Cabin Fever

I know I live in the South for a number of reasons. One is because the weather, as variable as it is, allows me to get outside in the daylight (i.e. sunshine) on a regular basis.

We started the day right – Steve, Amy (our niece who is visiting from TN), and I headed south to FBCJ.  We prayed, sang two songs and left because the weather was starting up a good bit earlier in the area than really anticipated. So – come home, take a nap before lunch (honestly), fix lunch, take a nap after lunch, watch a little football, take another nap (doubtful sleep is going to come early tonight!), read some, play games on the computer, do some laundry, fix supper, and do notifications for work related stuff for tomorrow. And I am about to go NUTS with the gray overcast dreariness of it all!!

It seems to have momentarily stopped sleeting and freezing rain right now. I will personally be glad to head out tomorrow morning to cover as “essential personnel”.  These type days always generate some sort of adventure and good, bad, or ugly, I seem to be at my best when I put on my “fireman’s hat” and head out to a battle. Hard to figure that one out.

It did occur to me between naps that God intends for us to have to “sit and wait” sometimes – not saying that is why He allows winter storms but from my life experiences, I have learned that the storms of life are the times we are most encouraged to “wait”.  I think of this verse in these times: “For those who hope in the Lord (i.e. “wait on Him”) shall renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31). A little further over in Isaiah 43:1, we are further reminded to “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name and you are mine.” How comforting to be reminded in the ups and downs of life that we are HIS!

Be careful out there on the icy highways and byways and rest in Him.

Cille