Understanding The Restlessness Within

Learning to reject our ‘old’ identity and habits for our ‘new’ identity in Christ is an ongoing struggle for dominance in our Christian psyche.

Each heart that confesses the name of Christ and invites & submits to His presence as ‘Lord” and savior in our heart, has activated a soul transforming process catalyzed by the Holy Spirit. 

No one can experience the presence of Christ within one’s heart and mind without being affected. It reorients and rearranges our spiritual DNA into something ‘new’ and ‘different’ than what was ‘us’ … before.

Photo by Amine M’Siouri from Pexels

Speaking only for myself, and quoting directly from my own personal journal entry, the process looks and feels like this;

I can sense the old patterns of thought, behavior, self-condemnation, guilt, and shame are being slowly replaced with a new confidence in the power and presence of Christ within me. The ‘old’ brad is almost gone, the new ‘brad’ is slowly emerging from the shadows of my past life. The habits, tendencies, and temptations of two decades ago are no longer a constant, living, memory, within my heart and mind. New habits and affections have replaced the old. My soul, heart, and mind are coming into alignment and my sense of becoming ‘whole’ is growing inside of me. The more ‘wholeness’ I sense, the less restlessness remains. The transformation of my identity from old to new is reducing my wandering heart and diminishing my anxieties and fears. 

The alignment of who I am in Christ with how I see myself, this is the new-growth of my current identity. I’m moving away from the ‘old’ man and actively leaning into the ‘new’ creation I was promised in scripture. This convergence of the internal and external man is what I mean by ‘wholeness’.

For me (and I believe for you too), the convergence of the promised and the present within, this is the hidden work of God’s Holy Spirit. He’s gently remaking me (us). We are works in progress, transitioning from being motivated by a restless and uncertain heart to a more grounded and comfortable one. A hidden transformation expanding from within.  This growing sense of inner peace and contentment is firmly connected to my (our) growing understanding of who and whose I am.

The Christian life is more than a static existence, more than a series of devotions and disciplines, it is a transformational journey. A hidden supernatural work within that recreates our very identities and deepest passions. 

God is re-writing His laws upon our hearts, as he repeatedly promised and prophesied. The presence of Christ within changes everything, and that my fellow believer, is the eternal power of the Gospel.

May the peace of Christ guard you’re ‘heart’ and mind.

Father Brad Mathias

 

A Fellowship of Heroes & Saints

As believers in our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, we have been invited into an Epic adventure.

Like the famous Lord of the Rings trilogy, we have pledged ourselves to a “fellowship” of heroes and saints. We are well beyond the honeymoon phase of our adventure and the sunshine has faded and the mud and muck of our journey has obscured the brilliant beauty of our surroundings. The shine is off the metal and we are wondering what we were thinking…

Our youth was full of clarity and confidence, we knew what we knew and mortality was a distant storm, we would go where we would, fearless and free of the bonds of fallibility.

Decades later…Life isn’t what we imagined it would be. Our world isn’t what we hoped it would become. Our faith isn’t as strong or as sturdy as we once believed… God seems distant and remote, far away from our struggles and pain.

Yet, we are still here. Still wrestling with our world, still standing up to the punishment of our past choices and hopeful for validation. We want it all to have meaning, for our time to have significance and our blood, sweat, and tears to matter.

This is the pilgrim’s path of ascent.

We remain despite our defeats; we believe despite our doubts. God is still a sacred heartbeat within our aging hopes and dreams, we long for more and pray it will one day be.

Photo by Suliman Sallehi from Pexels

Be encouraged dear one. Be refreshed today in the truth of God. Soak In the gospel and allow its endless power to redeem and restore. You will be – all you dreamed and more, God will win.

The path ahead may seem impossible, impassable, and steep, but God has made a way. The path will grow bright as you step in faith forward.

He will not be denied. You will not be left behind and all that was promised will be.

The work has already been done. We simply walk into the works of God already established for us… I love this elegant passage from the Anglican Traditional Altar Service;

“And we humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen” 

The prayer above echos our hearts yearning, as we age… the disciplines of our devotion never stop pulling at our hearts, we are forever affected, forever in need. Only His presence can soothe our aches, only His words can still our storms. Only Him.

This fellowship is for those who cannot forget, for those who cannot begin to comprehend the mystery and the marvel of Him. Its truth resonates deep within, flowing full and free from a source too deep to see and too bright to dim.

This fellowship never ends.

————————-

Take comfort dear one, your faith in Christ is well placed.

Peace out, Fr. Brad Mathias

———————

References for study: (all scriptures are in the ESV translation unless otherwise noted)

Commentary:

biblehub.comGill Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:4-9: “Who shall also confirm you unto the end, The author of this blessing of confirmation is not the Lord Jesus Christ, though he is mentioned in the latter part of 1 Corinthians 1:7; and seems to be the antecedent to the relative “who” in this, but is not, for this confirmation is made in him; see 2 Corinthians 1:21; and besides, it is in order that the saints might be blameless in the day of Christ, and so must design some other person distinct from him, which is God the Father,

1 Corinthians 1:4, to whom the apostle gives thanks, and continues to do so unto this verse; in which he assures the saints of confirmation in grace by God, the author and giver of all grace: and which may be understood of their confirmation in the love and favour of God, from which there can be no separation; and of their establishment in the person of Christ, and in the doctrines of grace; and of the permanency of the grace of the Spirit in them, and of their perseverance in faith and holiness unto the end: that is, of their days; even until the day of Christ, when the good work begun in them shall be performed and finished; that is, “forever”,

as the Ethiopic version reads it; “for the love of God to his people always continues; their interest in Christ can never be lost; grace in them is an immortal seed; nor shall they be ever finally and totally moved away from the hope of the Gospel: that ye may be blameless; not in themselves, for no man is without his faults; none of God’s children are without their failings and infirmities; they have whereof to blame themselves, and may be blamed by God too in a providential way; but they are so in Christ their head, being justified by his righteousness, and washed in his blood; and so in the sight of God, as considered in Christ; and will appear such in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, when he shall descend from heaven, and take his saints to him, and present them to himself a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.

—————- References —————

Jude: 24 “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

1 Corinthians 1:4-9 “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—  even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord”

2 Timothy 1:12 “..which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”

Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace,”

Ephesians 1:13-14 ”In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory”.

—————-

Recommended Reading: Epic by John Eldredge.

These notes and thoughts are from Father Brad’s sermon preparation for St. Margaret’s Anglican Church, in Conway NH.

Praying with Perspective

Do you struggle sometimes to pray. To sincerely trust God more than we do our-self? Do you wonder if He’s really going to ‘show’ up in our life when we need Him the most?  I mean the whole idea of God being engaged and concerned with my struggles and fears can seem laughable. I’m sure He has bigger ‘fish to fry’ than my petty little anxieties and circumstances.

If you’re like me, you might find yourself praying timidly around the edges of your life, asking for general things like favor, health, wisdom, etc. We’re  easily convinced He has better things to do than talk with us. 

It’s easy to feel that way. It’s not true of course, but it can ‘feel’ that way. We keep our conversations with Him short and superficial, we avoid asking what we’re in true need of, uncertain of our status with Him.  Sometimes it’s because of the fear we have about His true ‘answer’ to our deepest concerns, but I think its also because we don’t feel worthy of much blessing. We are keenly aware of our own shortcomings, inconsistencies, and hypocrisy.

Photo by Rodolfo Clix from Pexels

In the opposite extreme, sometimes we can totally take prayer for granted, rushing into things we go through our ‘check-list’ of needs, heedless of who and how we’re talking to the one who saved our very souls. We charge ahead in our demands, wanting answers to our ever present emergencies, approaching God without the reverence and awe He deserves.

If we’re being totally honest… often the ‘real’ reason we’re visiting with Him in prayer at all is to ask for stuff or to ask Him to affirm our wishes as His will. He becomes sort of a cosmic cookie jar rather than the Creator and Lord of all.  

In an effort to find some balance its important that we approach Him with the proper levels of both familiarity and respect. It’s vital that we find a healthy balance and perspective for the amazing opportunity that Prayer provides the Christian. In the end, prayer is all about relationship. It’s not about ‘getting’ but growing.

For those who feel unworthy, we don’t need to be afraid to approach Him and for those who are simply spiritual consumers, we shouldn’t over assume on His blessings. Thankfully, we’re offered grace for either imbalance and scripture grants us insights into how to access His faith and power despite our inconsistent and often messy spirituality.

I’ve been struggling with being too timid, too conscious of my shortcomings. Recently I was reminded to pray with more courage and a clearer purpose, to ask with less hesitation and more hope. 

Quick couple of thoughts for you to consider if you’re in a similar state.

  1. Instead of asking God for generic things, I’m learning to ask for specific issues. To be bold and ask for more, not less.  (for example – instead of just asking for His favor or blessing over those who are ill or struggling in their health. I’m asking instead for Him to “heal’ them completely.) I’m getting bolder, asking for the miracle and not just comfort, to see God bring wholeness from the brink of death or despair. (understanding that despite my boldness, His will isn’t always to fix things)
  2. I’m also learning to pray with an understanding that God’s strength and power are already ‘mine’ to access. I’m learning to pray with more confidence, trusting Him for the strength I need when I’m weak, trusting that those scriptural provisions of the Holy Spirit already exist, and I only need to ‘come under’ them or walk ‘into’ them in my day.

This isn’t word of faith stuff or positive thinking, it’s a firmer grip on the work of Christ on Calvary and my status as ‘His’ adopted son.

According to the scriptures, I’ve inherited His strength and wisdom and insight, I simply need to ‘remember’ that and step into it with the confidence of His work on my behalf. I’m not a beat up, worthless piece of poo in my redemptive life, I’m a son of royalty, a prince and heir to the King.

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Rather than giving me hubris and overconfidence, these insights give me the courage to engage my life head on.

I don’t have to slide around the scary things in my day or week, I can confront them directly when required. I don’t have to live waiting for the next crisis to crush me, I have every thing the day will require in Christ.

So do you.

Peace out, Pastor Brad.

 

 

Moving through the Wilderness is Moving Past Me.

Moving past Me

We may be starting to appreciate the design in our wilderness circumstances, even begin to understand the strategy in all our struggles, but the battle to survive the process we’re caught up in will require us to lift our gaze further than we have before.

The journey of faith we’ve been invited into cannot simply be focused on our situation, it’s larger and bigger than us. His presence in our lives is meant to be more than a means to an end. He cannot be approached without shrugging off our selfish and ambitious nature.

We cannot proceed any further in our upward ascent to following God if we insist on retaining what remains of our old self and sense of control. Thus the need for us to be driven into a desert / a wilderness moment of life, a place of being sorted out from the contamination of our world and the sins that so easily clings. (Hebrews 12:1-3) (Romans 12:1-3)

Pexels.com

The maturing focus of our spiritual journey requires a shift from our plans and promotion, to the relationship behind the entire belief system. Christianity is not a path for personal enlightenment or purification for our own merit – but rather as a process of being sanctified and consecrated for the creators presence. We are not our own.

Our relationship with God must become greater than any other preoccupation of our hearts. We can’t simply pursue His favor and blessings, we won’t progress any further than we are. To move deeper and higher we must relinquish our very identities to Him. Finding our strength and value and purpose in our time we spend within His presence.

He is not a means to an end… HE IS THE END.

Tozer quote: “We must be concerned with the person and character of God, not the promises. Through promises we learn what God has willed to us, we learn what we may claim as our heritage, we learn how we should pray. But faith itself must rest on the character of God.

 Is this difficult to see? Why are we not stressing this in our evangelical circles? Why are we afraid to declare that people in our churches must come to know God Himself? Why do we not tell them that they must get beyond the point of making God a lifeboat for their rescue or a ladder to get them out of a burning building? How can we help our people get over the idea that God exists just to help run their businesses or fly their airplanes?

 God is not a railway porter who carries your suitcase and serves you. God is God. He made heaven and earth. He holds the world in His hand. He measures the dust of the earth in the balance. He spreads the sky out like a mantle. He is the great God Almighty. He is not your servant. He is your Father, and you are His child. He sits in heaven, and you are on the earth.”

 From his book; Faith Beyond Reason, 44.

The Politics of Parenting

Politics. (imagine a sneer and snort of disgust as I type these letters out…)

Not my favorite topic. I watch the flurry of Facebook and Twitter posts bang around the web as the most recent dirt of 24 hour news hits the proverbial public opinion fan.

As parents, what is an appropriate posture to take on current political events with our kids?

Tweens and Teens are very aware of the social issues of our time. Focused on the ideas of social justice, equality, and financial excess. They may however have no idea who or what Trump or Hillary represent in the way of tangible positions on real issues. Instead… they are digesting the basic stereotypes around those candidates, with social media as their exclusive source of information… teens-social-media

Given these emerging adults will one day be voters… it’s probably a wise idea to discuss the real issues and realities behind all the political banter and smear campaigns. 

Many of us have strong (right vs. left) political leanings, based on family histories… labor environments, denominational backgrounds etc… I have many friends and fellow pastors (who I respect) who take polar opposite positions on major issues.  The concept of ‘right vs. wrong’ can quickly break relationships in the world of personal politics and social media posting. (just check your FB threads today and see for yourself)

There is always someone with an axe to grind. An issue to elevate above the others and a ‘for us or against us’ attitude. This can be confused with being a good Christian or bad. 

Note the way Christ responds to the political pressures of his time in Jerusalem. He sidesteps the manipulations of the leaders and sticks with the core issues of the heart and soul. Not taking the bait to argue the points. ft-trump-clinton-1024x576

Not saying we can’t or shouldn’t have strong opinions… just reminding you to keep it all in perspective. God is sovereign. Period. We are products of divine grace and mercy, and as such our postures should reflect patience, perspective, and compassion on those we relate to and with on a regular basis. It’s our validation as a Spirit filled being.

Christ was active to speak to the issues of his time, and he chose to live in the moment without becoming a part of someone else’s agenda. In the end, his refusal to take sides made him very dangerous to the ruling classes, but it set the bar very high for us. 

So… as you ponder, meditate, and prayerfully consider who to vote for this November… do so with respect, gentleness, and kindness. The future of our nation is not going to be won or lost this election cycle. The future will be determined by our children and their faith or lack of it…

Peace out, Pastor B.

What about Peace?

Candles glow, the Advent wreath is full of light, week 4 has arrived… time for us to focus on “PEACE”.

Ultimately that’s the idea behind our search for faith. To find ‘rest for our souls. To relax our clenched hearts… to wonder again. To be secure… to feel safe. 

Our lives often don’t feel balanced…tipping from one extreme to another. Too busy, too empty… too full. We search to find meaning in our wandering, to discover some secret key to unlock all the pain and mystery of our past mistakes, our current dilemmas… future fears! A key to help us make sense of things. It-s-A-Wonderful-Life-christmas-movies-2394010-1024-768

Christmas can be a wonderful time to reconsider our story. To re-imagine life as it was meant to be as we would want it to be. No illness, no shame… no worry and no pain. Full of Joy and promise, we long for things to change. We hoped for more than we can see…

Peace is that most elusive goal. A destination too far to discover. Yet we yearn.

PEACE... not a goal we can work to attain. 

PEACE... too far away for us to find. 

PEACE... uncertain, we’re too afraid to feel.

Christians… have a promise that transcends this life, this world.. even us. A promise of PEACE. Not a hope that we can grasp or learn, but a belief that our Prince of PEACE will come for us. That His PEACE can become our own. Literally infusing us with something ‘other’. Something we can’t understand or fully describe. PEACE in the middle of all our chaos.

PEACE in a world gone mad… PEACE in our marriages, PEACE in our families, PEACE at work. PEACE in our hearts and PEACE at home. candle-hand-blue

Christmas reminds us of the promise of PEACE. A promise that cannot be found anywhere else. It’s essential that we remember…CHRIST ALONE “IS” our PEACE!  A truth that changes everything if we let it soak in. 

Merry Christmas dear friend!

Micah 5:2-5 (ESV) – Source BibleGateway.com 

2 “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
    one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
    from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
    when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
    to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
    to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace.”

The Agony of Alone…

Parents, there are times when we must walk alone.

Our kids, our spouses and our friends get uber-busy, totally distracted and generally overwhelmed by the drama of life. When they do, we can start to drift a bit further away…simply to protect ourselves from their personal stresses draining us of what little reserves we still have left.

The reality is sometimes we are the only one able to keep moving forward, and it’s our turn to lead.

To risk walking into the wild alone, to knowingly endure the isolation. To stand firm, feeling like you’re the sole representation of strength and sanity in a world of exhausted, exasperated and crazy. It’s a heavy burden to carry. Depression - bw lady

But just when we start to wear out, God sends refreshment or forces us to take a time out for our self. Raising up stronger – rested folks to cover our weakness just when we’re about to fade completely out or pushing us into an adult version of “time-out”.

Whatever your situation, it’s likely your reading this blog in part because your feeling “alone”, isolated and empty. My encouragement is to trust that your creator knows you better than you.

His path can seem twisted and often leading in the “opposite” direction we want to go, but in the end… our faith draws us closer and it chooses for us, to believe when nothing around inspires. It’s that deep-down faith that insists it’s worth the effort to stick with the divine map drawn for our lives, no matter how empty or alone we feel.

It was a common thing for Christ to withdraw from the crowds when He was on earth, to refresh Himself on a mountain top and be alone with His heavenly father, it’s no surprise then that we might require the exact same “medicine” to refresh ourselves.

It’s also true that Christ himself had to go through the “agony of alone“. He thrashed in isolation at the garden of Gethsemane, endured the injustice of the courtroom alone and approached the shame of a criminals death by himself.

The suffering we feel as “alone” cannot be fully felt or shared with anyone else but the son of God. As parents, BFF”s and spouses… we believe in relying on each other, but in the end we will find those rare moments when all others we’ve counted on are gone or otherwise “occupied” and we have to move forward with just our faith in Christ to comfort and encourage us.

It’s in those times we grow. 

Our roots go deeper and our courage grows stronger, not because of any personal triumph we achieve, but from the reality of our faith becoming “tangible” and “real” in the midst of impossible odds and un-reasonable demands. Problems that overwhelm us, stuff so big, we have no-hope of ever meeting or completing.HandsSoilPlant

It’s time to “let go” and trust God to make up for our shortcomings. 

It’s time to “trust” that He has things under control. 

It’s time to “listen” instead of demanding things change. 

It’s time to “rest” in the middle of our storms. 

God is pursuing each one of us, and like the disciples… He has a unique and creative plan for our life, one that we can only live out if we choose to surrender it to Him.

It will be the same for our kids as it is for us.

Don’t fake it, don’t smooth the rough patches of life over… let your pre-teens/teens see the struggle and hear the tears. Real life is coming to each one of us and learning to turn to our heavenly father with our pain is the best “life-lesson’ we could ever hope to share.

Pastor B.

———————————Scripture for today’s blog:

Hebrews 13:5 (Amplified Bible – courtesy of Biblegateway.com)

Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God]Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]

 

 

Timing is everything…

Advent reminds us to “look” for Christ’s coming. To remember anew that Christ did come 2013 years ago for mankind, that Christ is coming today for each of our hearts and that Christ will come again someday.

tamedcynic.org

tamedcynic.org

It’s a familiar theme to marvel at the humility and improbability of the long promised King arriving as a child in the middle of the night. It’s iconic for us to visualize that “Holy Night” as a helpless baby is birthed in obscurity, tucked into the low rent district of Bethlehem. We joyfully sing song’s about “little drummer boys” and wonder at the powerful juxtaposition Christmas presents to our modern and enlightened way of thinking.

How odd for us to consider the Christmas story. How it reverses the normal order, how it illustrates weakness and man’s strength must be flipped on their respective heads for a manger to substitute as a palace.  It’s an amazing example of Heaven reaching down to touch earth and how it’s profound simplicity affects our hearts all over again. Each Christmas we are drawn to reflect on the immeasurable power represented by this noble newborn child.

We marvel each December as we rejoice at our hope surviving against all the odds, our child-King living to die for us and in-explicably saving our world from sin and death and shame.

That’s a timeless theme, worthy of every Christmas season’s fullest attention. But this Advent… I’m pondering a slightly different emphasis on the Advent story. A focus on the “timing” of God. A practical reality check, one that forces me to consider again how God’s schedule never – ever – seems even close to matching ours.

latterdaymusings.blogspot.com

latterdaymusings.blogspot.com

How long had the Rabbi’s and Prophet’s pondered and studied and scrutinized the ancient texts to do their best to calculate the coming date of their beloved Messiah ? How many generations had been born and buried and turned to dust before we have the Divine visitation outside Bethlehem? How long was it between the ancient cry of Isaiah the prophet to look for God’s final solution to Israel’s misery, searching every generation for the child-King to be born “Immanuel”?  (Isaiah 7:14)

It was seven hundred years from the writing of the Prophet Isaiah in the 8th century BC until the birth of Christ as described in the scripture. That’s a LONG time to wait on God.

As we consider the unique and amazing ways of God, let’s be sure to remember that His timing for answering our urgent requests for relief may be much slower than we want. Advent is truly a time of reflection, of remembering the perfect plan and the exact timing of God’s redemptive masterpiece in Christ.

Christmas is not only a reset of our human understanding of “HOW” God works among us, but also of “WHEN”. It’s expected then, that like the Hebrew scholars of old, we may find God delaying to answer our prayers… asking us to linger a bit with Him before revealing His promise in our lives.

Advent then becomes not only a reminder of Christ’s coming, but also of God’s master plan and “Perfect Timing” in each and every life situation…especially parenting.

Peace and Grace to you this Christmas season and may we all find renewed patience as parents in this season of expectant “waiting”.

Pastor B.

“Epiphany”… Rocking Your World in 2012

For Nashville media folks… this blog title would come as a normal “in-box” discovery on a monday morning at the office. After all it would sound like just another artist Press release being blasted out for the world to ignore. IF someone actually read this title, they might wonder if it’s related to some long-lost washed up, one hit wonder – 80’s rock superstar whose delusional comeback tour was about to begin. Well as much as that sounds like fun…we’ll need to move on 🙂

The title “Epiphany… Rocking your World in 2012” is referring actually to an old, old holiday, found on most of our calendars. January 6th in fact, and as such it is the traditional day the church has celebrated “Epiphany”!  Although it’s not a new event, or a high profile one, it is of significance to those who call upon the name of Christ.

However respected or venerated this holiday is… compared to Christmas, New Years, Kwanza, Valentines Day, Presidents Day and the elusive WildCard NFL playoffs… it’s not exactly been hot current events or breaking news. But it is important!

If you’re wondering what I’m even talking about, don’t sweat it… you’re in good company. If your from an older tradition of the Christian faith you probably understand and appreciate already the powerful symbolism and thousands of years of inspiration represented in the name. But I would dare to say that for most of us, “Epiphany” is still a bit foreign.

This last sunday, (Jan 8th, 2012) my pastor, Brian Hardin shared on the concept of “Epiphany” and it sort of rocked my world. I wanted to share it with you to see if might rock yours too 🙂

e·piph·a·ny(-pf-n) / noun . pl. e·piph·a·nies – ( http://www.thefreedictionary.com/epiphany)

1. Epiphany

        a. A Christian feast celebrating the manifestation of the divine nature of   Jesus to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi.
        b. January 6, on which this feast is traditionally observed.
2. Epiphany: A revelatory manifestation of a divine being.
3. Epiphany:
         a. A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of  something.
         b. A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization
Epiphany it seems is the moment when we celebrate the recognition of the divinity of Jesus Christ. Sounds a bit scholarly still… let’s translate that a bit more… to paraphrase quote my pastor and DAB founder Brian Hardin. “Epiphany, is the day we realize the baby in the manager on Christmas is the actual and only SON OF GOD.”  That’s a bigger deal than you might think. It means that little one we adore on Christmas is also the young man who grew up a carpenter’s son and chose to die on a Roman cross for crimes he didn’t commit. It means this baby Jesus…the star of Christmas, who just born in a manager and celebrated with endless joy and fanfare each December is the same one who actually created all things, knows all things and loves all things and is keenly and specifically aware of the actual date of our own birth and eventual death. That bouncing baby Jesus is WAY more than just a cute and cuddly iconic symbol of hope and joy and peace. HE IS GOD, THE CREATOR, COME to SAVE CREATION.
 
IF we get this truth from our heads down to our hearts… it will change EVERYTHING in us, about us and around us. It would mean that the words of Jesus are actual truth. It would confirm that the bible is really trustworthy and that the commandments of Christ are actually to be followed as the  “life-giving” words they are promised to be. That’s right… words to LIVE by… not as a cold, dead, legalistic, moral code of conduct that allow us to simply survive yet another year.
 
It would mean that for 2012, we would be consciously putting our faith, our hope and our very lives into the uniquely human and uniquely divine hands of the God of the universe. The King of Kings, the baby that brought us new birth would suddenly become the focal point of each of our days, of the 51 weeks remaining in the year ahead. It would mean that we could “relax” and trust completely in the peace of our promised redemption once and for all for each and every moment this year has yet to reveal.
 
 
 
It would also mean that to follow this Jesus we would need to do what He says. To take the effort to stop and Listen to His voice, and then have the courage to trust and obey His instructions for our lives. To let go of the steering wheel and let someone wiser, someone stronger, someone divine direct our paths. It would be scary and exciting and an exhilarating adventure to let GOD himself be who He claims to be in our lives…
That’s why we call a new insight or revelation an “Epiphany“. Because in grasping an Epiphany we experience a life change, a moment in time when everything becomes different and forever new. A moment like the world had when the son of God Himself chose to visit us, and allow Himself to be wrapped in flesh and become an earthen vessel. At that moment, an unprecedented change in the divine order occurred, an epic shift in the cosmic “status quo” that has not stopped impacting, remaking, re-directing all of life, all of history, all of time, all of culture and all of our faith ever since.
It seems this all might deserve a moment or two of contemplation from us… two thousand years of history notwithstanding… and may this blog serve as some small insight as to why the early Church fathers may have chosen to mark this 6th day of January each year as “sacred” and crucial to the history and substance of the church.It was, it is… it forever will be a cornerstone of our Christian heritage.
 
Oh and now I want to re-phrase that earlier Press release… something like… “EPIPHANY… playing LIVE…Rocking the universe for ALL Eternity”
 
Peace out,
brad.