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are you buying or telling

Christmas: Are You Buying Or Telling?

are you buying or telling

Recently, I read that the US uses 70% of the world’s resources (actually, I think that it’s more accurate to say that richest 20%, but anyway). The period of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas produces 40% of retail revenue for the entire year. 

Truth telling. 
Are you kidding me?

Forty percent of business has to have Christmas or there won’t be an economy. 
Sounds absolutely crazy. 
If the thing is about Jesus, it does anyway. 

History Lesson Time

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.” [Lk 2:1-3]

When Luke tells the story about Jesus, it starts with an insane amount of money; kind of like 40% of the economy. A census was not about a Caesar who cared about each and every person in his empire. It was about a Caesar who cared about how much each and every person in the empire owed him. 

BIG Difference!

It took a huge military for Rome to maintain its “Peace, Love and Understanding” foreign policy. What’s so funny???

Augustus, conquerer of the whole dang world, needed some cash, so a census was the answer. Each person was taxed on everything coming and going and the only way to make sure the Romans got dey deep rolls of fat Benjamins was to register all of the people that were under Roman rule. 

Caesar was concerned with bringing people together to find out how much tax people owed him. Jesus brought people together and paid their debts himself. 

Caesar tied people down to an economy they couldn’t bear.
Jesus freed people into a new economy of God’s love and grace. 

Visa, Caesar. 
Caesar, Visa.

The story of Christmas isn’t that we have to buy gifts, it’s that we were given one. It’s not that we go into debt. The story of Christmas is that God created a way for us to get out of it. That’s an absolutely amazing story. It’s the most profound story that exists. Everybody wants to sell you something. Only Jesus wants to buy you back (as funky as you may be).

So are you buying or telling?

There’s this song, “Go tell it on the mountain,” the lyrics make you stop and re:think the whole deal. “Go tell it on the mountian, over the hills and everywhere, Go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born.”

If that song were written today, perhaps the lyrics would be:

Go tell it to your neighbor, 
cook up a meal and tak it over there, 
Go tell it to your network, 
that Jesus Christ has freed you from the debt 
that weighed down your soul like a credit card bill.”
(you have to sing that last line really fast)

This #ChaoticChristmas, can you do more telling than buying?


ManCall Episode 3 [Podcast]

themancall200 The CK’s have had a little bit of a chore getting together this week; first Chris had a couple of crises, then Kris had a sudden urge to do a lot of reading. Like ya do…

On this week’s show, we discuss meditation or contemplative prayer, Luke 24:12, and how it reads depends on whether you’re or not you’re an optimist. We discuss the CK’s obsession with index cards, and three stories in the news grace the first edition of The Time Warp.


Show Links:

Connect with Kris

How much salvation can you get with 25¢?

The Temptation narrative [Mt 4:1-11; Lk 4:1-13] describes a really long day for Jesus. Can you imagine satisfaction, unlimited power and divine glory all within your grasp? You probably can. We are all tempted with these things in differing ways and often by improbable means.

The first temptation is about hunger and appetite. Jesus is tempted to convert ordinary objects into supernatural food. He’s tempted to do a manna in the desert miracle, but gives Satan a pass because it’s not the time for miracles. It’s time for faithfulness.

The second temptation is an intellectual lure. The devil asks Jesus to take part in a power grab from God, like he tried in an earlier time. It’s simple, really, all Jesus has to do is use his Divinity to glorify his humanity.

Matthew 4:5-7 (CEB)
After that the devil brought him into the holy city and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him, 6 “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down; for it is written, I will command my angels concerning you, and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.”
7 Jesus replied, “ Again it’s written, Don’t test the Lord your God.”

This is a profound moment for us as witnesses to the Gospel. Paul was so impressed he quoted a Psalm of the early church community when he wrote to the church in Philippi:

“Philippians 2:5-11 [CEB]
Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus:
6 Though he was in the form of God,
he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit.
7 But he emptied himself
by taking the form of a slave
and by becoming like human beings.
When he found himself in the form of a human,
8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
9 Therefore, God highly honored him
and gave him a name above all names,
10 so that at the name of Jesus everyone
in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow
11 and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Jesus possessed infinite cosmic power. Like the genie in Aladdin, “phenomenal cosmic powers, itty bitty living space,” the fullness of God was found in a human body. In a display of ultimate power, Jesus obeyed his way to the cross, enduring the death of a traitor of state, a criminal worse than a criminal: forgotten, diminished…erased.

Now that is power.

God’s glory on full and confounding display.

Jesus’ divinity, his Godness, is just as complete as his humanity. It’s kind of like a quarter — On one side of the quarter is a human face: a powerful face, a historical face, a political face. And now, thanks to new biographical research, we understand what a human face it is. The other side is an eagle, the wings of divinity. The seraphim. The cherubim. The glorious and untethered majesty of the King of the Universe.

In Christ, God’s divinity and humanity, humanity the way it was created to be, are on display, two in one. Two sides of he same coin. Both at the same time, face and wings. Jesus withstood Satan’s temptations because his mission wasn’t to become a power figure in Jerusalem’s religion (anymore than it was to become the devil’s lapdog). His mission was to glorify God, to show God’s radical, boundless love viewed best not from a Temple Mount, but from a hill called Golgotha.

No legion of angels came to him there.
Instead, what Jesus found was
forsakenness, darkness, the sins of the world.

My sin. My forgiveness.
A face and wings.

quoting Isaiah

As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the desert,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.

Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.”
6 And all mankind will see God’s salvation [Lk 3:4-6; NRSV].”

shoveling lava into your brain

Reading Watchmen Nee is like shoveling lava into your brain through your nose. I can read a whole paragraph of his writing before I have to reassess my whole approach to The Way (Acts 9:2-3). There is something so visceral and austere, if you will, about the way he describes the life of faith…of Christian faith. I respond to it in little bites, Neelets.

Today, our prayer reading came from a compiled Nee quote out of the NLT Mosaic Bible (this is a fantastic Bible and meditation material). Before I read it, funny enough, we were talking about a Presbyterian’s inclination to place thinking and analysis over experience and understanding. Thought I’d share:

This matter of the…Trinity of the Godhead is one which we cannot use our mind to comprehend. When the Lord was in the flesh, He told the disciples clearly that at that time He could not speak much with them, for they could not bear it; but when the Spirit of reality would come, He would lead them into all reality (John 16:12-13)…He could not come into them. He could only be outside of them. He had already told them much and if He were to tell the more, their mind would not be able to comprehend. But when He would rise from the dead…the Spirit entered into them, He would then be in them and bring them into all reality to enjoy the Triune God. We cannot…simply use our mind to understand the mystery of the Father, Son and Spirit; The conclusion of mental analyses is certainly that the Father is one, the Son is one and the Spirit also is one; thus the Father, Son and Spirit are three Gods! This is the reasoned judgment of your mind. But if you check with your own experience, you will declare that the Lord who dwells in you is surely one…If you follow your mental understanding you will be puzzled, but by your own experience you are clear that the Father, the Son and the Spirit are the three persons of the one God.

Proverb 1:7 makes a similar affirmation, “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

Fear is experiential; it is rooted in memory and imagination

It is thinking and analysis that move a person beyond fear; as in, “take some deep breaths.”
It is possible that thinking and analysis can move a person beyond Fear of the Lord.
And so oftentimes, it does.

If you were to put Fear of the Lord on your emotional spectrum, where would it fall? Right next to zombies and vampires? Feathers and ladybugs? Can your mind ascribe fear that is appropriate a cosmic, life-giving, soul affirming deity? Probably not. Like Nee writes, experience informs the way we relate to Christ. We can’t begin to fear him, to live in constant awe and heart stopping reverence, if we try to think our way into it.

This is why we need to experience the Lord.
To imagine.
To remember.
To confront him in Scripture and in community.
To be confronted by him in all his fullness.

Luke tells this great story in Acts about a man named Saul who encountered Jesus on the open road. He was confronted, confounded, blinded and converted with a panicked heart. It took the full reality (as Nee puts it) of Jesus to shake him from the grip of a false reality in order to experience a more real one.

Think on these things (2 Tim 2:7)