Posts Tagged ‘john’

This is a poem that I wrote with the help of my lovely wife Allana for the 2019 Christmas Pageant at Collingwood Presbyterian Church.  The youth narrated the poem and Scripture while the children acted it out for the congregation.

A Stable Christmas
Sam Guidry

In those days, Caesar Augustus made a law. It required that a list be made of everyone in the whole Roman world. It was the first time a list was made of the people while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be listed. Luke 2:1-3

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the stable
Every animal was sleeping, at least all that were able;
The straw was all stocked and the water filled with care,
Knowing that soon many visitors would be there;

The dog and the cat lay snoring in newly made beds,
But the donkey and the monkey had too many thoughts in their heads;
Would all be ready for a busy busy day?
There were just so very many guests headed their way,

The donkey counted oats while the monkey fluffed the straw,
But he woke up the dog by stepping on a paw.
He let out a yowl and jumped to his feet.
Complaining so loudly of being woken from his sleep.

The cat simply smiled with such big yawn,
A yowling dog was a nice touch for the dawn. Her Cat sense told her this was a very special day.
But little did she know the very special guests that were on the way.

So Joseph went also. He went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea. That is where Bethlehem, the town of David, was. Joseph went there because he belonged to the family line of David. He went there with Mary to be listed. Mary was engaged to him. She was expecting a baby. Luke 2:4-5

One by one all the animals awoke.
But it was late in the morning before anyone spoke.
The donkey exclaimed it is only just noon.
But the Inn is filling quickly and will be full soon.

As all gathered round for an afternoon snack
The news traveled quickly from the front to the back
The Inn was filled up, not a room to be had
For many travelers this news would be bad.

It was then that the stable got an unusual pair
Who knew that a man and a pregnant woman would come there.
They found an open place as the animals gathered round.
It was clear that soon a place for a baby would need to be found.

While Joseph and Mary were there, the time came for the child to be born. She gave birth to her first baby. It was a boy. She wrapped him in large strips of cloth. Then she placed him in a manger. That’s because there was no guest room where they could stay.  Luke 2:6-7

The cat knew that she had been exactly right.
This child was special who had been born on this night.
Just then as if they had been given a cue.
Shepherds arrived the baby to view

The lamb they brought with them told such a story
It was of a host of angels all singing glory.
A surprising spectacle lighting up the night
It had given both man and beast quite a fright.

There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were looking after their sheep. An angel of the Lord appeared to them. And the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy. It is for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord. Here is how you will know I am telling you the truth.

You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a large group of angels from heaven also appeared. They were praising God. They said, “May glory be given to God in the highest heaven! And may peace be given to those he is pleased with on earth!” The angels left and went into heaven. Then the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem. Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” Luke 2:8-15
At the end of the story they all let out a sigh.
They peered into the manger where the little babe lie
Together thanked God for this gift of His light!
And wished Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth … Out of his fullness we have all received grace John 1:14,16

All Scriptures from NIRV

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Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.  God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

1 John 4:7-12

 

Someone that I have come to know a little and respect a lot recently said this to me. “You don’t know how to be well loved.”  As I absorbed this statement its truth resounded, echoing in my heart and mind.  Some time has passed since this discussion and the Holy Spirit has brought this statement to me again and again.  That gently nagging voice in my heart that tells me it is time to “grow up  in every way into Him” (Ephesians 4:15) a little more.

Our Christian world is full of songs, sermons and teaching that God loves us and that we should love others.  However many of us miss the corollary that should be implicit and perhaps explicit in the consideration of God’s love.  Not only must we learn and be transformed into creatures that love well.  We must also learn and be transformed into creatures that are well-loved.  One might think that this is easy and requires no effort but the reality is that this may be even more difficult than loving others.  It requires a tremendous amount of vulnerability.  In fact it requires complete vulnerability to God.  Absolute surrender is integral to the competency of being well-loved.  It is amazing how tightly we will hold on to compartments of our life, locking them away from God’s loving and merciful view.  Given this propensity to wall God out it ceases to be amazing that we keep His people, those called to love us as He does, at arm’s length.  We deal in platitudes.  We segregate our lives.  Love me in the sanctuary, pray for me there, lay hands on me, pat my back and say “love ya brother”, but don’t reach into my life; into my real need.

Satan whispers in our ear that being well-loved is just being needy, being weak.  He whispers that we don’t deserve it anyways, that we must strive harder, do more, be better before we can open ourselves up to being well-loved.  Some of us just have absolutely no idea what  being well-loved means.  As I considered this topic I felt drawn to two biblical characters, Peter and John.  Peter loved well, he loved with passion, with energy, with action.  Peter believed in his love for Jesus more than he believed in Jesus’ (hence God’s) love for him.  Don’t get me wrong, Peter’s passionate love for Jesus is a great example to us all and even though it landed Peter in hot water more than once it also energized him to Spiritual insight and action when others were frozen in fear or indecision.

It always puzzled me that John referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved.  It seems a little egotistical as a major theme in the Gospel.  What is the message?  Did Jesus play favorites?  Does God love some of us more than others?  I think that this lesson of learning to be well-loved is a framework that we can set over this idiosyncrasy of John’s Gospel and draw a real Spiritual lesson.  John understood what it meant to be well-loved first by God and by his brother’s and sisters in Christ.  “In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us”.  “Beloved since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another”.  I find it no coincidence that the disciple “whom Jesus loved”, the disciple who understood and practiced being well-loved was at the foot of the Cross with Mary the Mother of Jesus, while the other disciples were cowering in fear.  “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.”  1 John 4:18

Teleios, the Greek word translated “perfect” here actually has the connotation of complete, mature or full-grown.  The person who understands Teleios love understands how to be well-loved, first by God and then by brothers and sisters in Christ.  It is out of this understanding that loving well grows into it fullness and the circle of Teleios love is complete.  I am here to tell you that the Spiritual discipline (and I believe it is exactly that) of being well-loved is not easy.  The chasms of pride and entitlement drop off on each side of this narrow path.  It is only through the transforming, maturing power of the Holy Spirit (often working through the words and deeds of God’s people) that we can walk the trail of being well-loved.

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     Pivotal life moments stir the soul.  Mine has been stirred in so many ways over the past 9 months.  As I look back over that time I see God moving me more and more to total reliance on Him.  I am reading through Luke again and several verses jumped out at me.

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”  Luke 12:25

And of course to follow this up I ended up in a Wednesday night class focused on Philippians 4.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God…”

So what does this have to do with the wedding?  As I look at this pivotal event, I consider all that I have achieved or failed to achieve.  As I look at the lives of my siblings and the widely varying values that they hold dear, I feel  that desire to achieve and succeed stir in my heart.  It is not the urge to glorify God, though I am tempted to clothe it in that.  It is a desire to base my self worth in an external value system.  One that looks at outside achievement.  It is the stuff that traditions, expectations and pride are made of.  Whether it is look at my degree, or look at the beautiful facility we have, or see how musically skilled we are, it rejects the utter worthlessness of it all without God.  I can remember a time in my life when I was full of thoughts of all the things “I” was going to do for God.  It may have even crossed my mind of how much He needed me.

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out”   Luke 19:40

All at once a great statement of the utter worthiness of Jesus to be praised and the absolute independence of God.  Guess what, what I can do for God does not depend on my education, my intellect, my musical skill (thank goodness) or any other quality that I possess.  It depends on God.  Anything that I can possibly do, he can raise up the stones to do.  I think of the wedding at Cana.  I wonder if the vintner was there to see Jesus in one moment of Deity surpass perhaps a lifetime of work and training.  Jesus has the best wine.  So does this mean the vintner should just hang it up and quit?  Does it mean that I despair of doing anything or just sit back and let God do it all because he can do it better… no it is the calm assurance that in Him I can do it better; it is joy that he lets me do for Him in spite of my flaws; it is in this assurance that Jesus’ words in Luke and Paul’s in Philippians takes take root and flourish. Be the vintner for God (okay make grape juice), be the manager for God, be the dishwasher for God but do what God calls you to, not what seems right in the eyes of men.  Micah said it aptly,

“He has showed you, O man what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (4:8)

So if the pivotal moments in your life lead you to question the path that God has placed you on, STOP IT.  Be still and let God be God.  What others value, what others achieve is between them and God.  Keeping Him at the CENTER of your life is between me (you) and God.  Daily disciplining myself to experience God’s Glory in my life becomes paramount.  Then comes the education, that He has for me; the ministry that He has for me; the job, that He has for me and the Peace and joy that comes with letting Him be God.  He is A LOT better at it than I am.  So daily I seek God.  He has set me on a path, in the dark with a lamp, so I can see just enough for my next step.  Let me be satisfied, let me be at peace.  Amen.

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The wedding

Well it’s done. I am a father in law. One step closer to being a grandpa. Of course it is one step closer to great grandparenthood for Tito and Tita (my parents). As I went through the various events associated with the wedding God spoke to me in so many ways. I certainly will not be able to cover everything that I want to in a single post (yes there will be a sequel). Time spent with my family is always thought provoking. When you add the amazing type of our relationship with Jesus that marriage is to all of the normal emotions and interactions of a wedding and wow.
God recently refocused me on my personal priorities with Exodus 21:5. God comes first, then wife and family follow. Everything else falls into place after that, especially myself. He had me seal the deal with a tangible symbol, the earring in my right ear that reminds me that “I love my master, I love my wife, I love my children and I will serve Him forever.”. I have chosen to give up permanently my freedom to serve God and my family. Being unusually stubborn and selfish, God called me to this tangible expression of my dedication. One that I see every morning. But in this case eternal servanthood is the most amazing freedom. This is the heart of the mystery of our relationship with Jesus and the mystery of Godly marriage. As I watched John and Julie exchange their vows the wonder of it filled me with joy. I pray Exodus 21:5 over my son daily. (the earring is wholly optional and not recommended unless you feel moved by God 🙂 ).

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