Send Me an Angel –We Wish You a Cr***y Christmas! - Purity 610
Purity 610 12/24/2021 Purity 610 Podcast
Today’s photo of a most mystical twilight over the Port Wilunga Old Jetty in South Adelaide Australia comes to us from Dave Baun Photography. Little did Dave know that when he decided to brave the cold and wind, in shorts no less, on December 9th in his first time ever shooting at Port Wilunga, that he would capture what I think is the perfect picture to reflect the wonder of Christmas Eve, the wonder that goes far beyond twinkling lights on a Christmas tree and the festive decorations at a holiday gift exchange. The beauty of the light in the darkness that Dave captured here points to God’s beauty, wonder, and grace.
The wonder of Christmas Eve is the incarnation, God coming to earth in the humble setting of a manger in Bethlehem to begin the ministry work that would result in all those who put their faith in Jesus Christ finding peace with God and a new and everlasting life of hope in His kingdom as adopted sons and daughters.
But unfortunately so much of the wonder and true meaning of Christmas, which is finding peace with God through Christ, is lost because of the hardness of our hearts and the deception that enemy perpetuates.
For those who are spiritually blind, the Christmas story is quaint but boring. Those whose hearts are cold to the Christian aspects of Christmas but who delight in the pageantry of holiday celebrations are in grave danger. It is not always the Ebeneezer Scrooges that we should worry about. Without faith in Christ, the most kind, dear, merry, bright, alive, and joyous in our midst will find that they worshiped the wrong god: themselves and their own “goodness”.
As someone who “just didn’t get it” for years and years of my life, I have the utmost sympathy for those who don’t like church, hate religion, and think that being “good” is “good enough”.
I was raised in a denominational liturgical tradition and struggled mightily with the Christian message and what I viewed as a disingenuous, superstitious, sentimental, and unrealistic faith that I saw people pay lip service to but not actually live out. On the opposite side of the coin, the devout of our congregation seemed to be positively insane and odd as they either seemed to believe just for believing’s sake and or didn’t know why they believed what they believed or couldn’t adequately express what the Christian faith was to a young man who frankly didn’t want to hear it.
So although my family religiously went to church every Christmas Eve, our hearts were filled with joy when we were released from the service and walked briskly towards the exit and literally went running into the night towards the Christmas party and the opening of presents that awaited us at my grandparent’s house.
Santa, the decorations, and the gift giving and receiving was what played the big part of Christmas for my family, and it still does as my parents have become the grand parents and now host the Clark Family Christmas Eve extravaganza.
However, amongst all the years of holiday hoopla and looking forward to receiving items on our Christmas wish lists, we will all eventually experience that first “crappy” Christmas where our innocence is lost, our disappointments are depressing, or our losses are devastating.
For me, my first disillusionment over Christmas was in my 12th or 13th year of life. Although as a child I was positively insane in my belief over Santa Claus and would dance around the house with the Album Cover of a Gene Autry’s Christmas Album that displayed a picture of Santa Claus Riding in a single reindeer sleigh with Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer sort of just standing out front, my heart wasn’t too broken at the discovery that Santa wasn’t real. My older brothers simultaneously debunked the Santa myth and filled my childhood heart with delight at the same time one year as they revealed our parent’s hidden stash of “Santa presents” that were locked away in my dad’s room in the attic.
So I wasn’t heart broken at 12 or 13 because I discovered Santa wasn’t real. And before you start guessing about some death in the family or other trauma, let me assure that wasn’t the cause of my pain on the Christmas Eve of my preteens.
No the cause of my “worst Christmas” as a youth was for far less sympathetic reasons. As I said Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa Clark’s house was a joyous affair because of the gifts I received but on that 12th or 13th year I was very disappointed because my regular stash of presents was less than what I was used to! I had fallen victim to the biggest menace of any secular Christmas – the pain that comes from having high expectations and basing your happiness on positive circumstances.
In hindsight, I think my grandparent’s resources were split or less than previous years, so I understand but honestly that year, although I believe I was successful in hiding my disappointment, I was thinking “is this it?” “Is this all I get?” And unfortunately, that year the disappointment was the perfect storm of dashed expectations, as not only the quanity of the presents was significantly diminished but the quality of the presents was so low that it made me question if my grandparents were mad at me, even knew who I was, or even cared. I recall thinking that I didn’t receive one gift that was worthwhile or showed any fore thought or care. The lesson learned that year was that you should temper your expectations and that you should know that those even nearest and dearest to you can let you down.
After that year, I learned to not get my hopes up in terms of presents but they still played the biggest part of my enjoyment of Christmas for the rest of my childhood and for most of my adult life. So I carried on tempering my expectations and each year and sought to create a Merry Christmas by spending abundant amounts of money to ensure that I and my family would be blessed with happiness that didn’t depend on Santa or anybody else. I was Santa.
Only after I placed my faith in Jesus Christ, did Christmas become more about Him than about me creating the circumstances of a joyous holiday. As my children aged, the Santa myth was debunked once again, and my faith in Christ grew, I saw less and less need to buy a happy holiday. After 2010, I surrendered more and more of myself to God each year and was filled with joy at Christmas not because of the presents I received but because of who I was in Christ and because of God’s presence in my life.
Of course, when you come to faith in Christ and decide to actually live as a Christian, things change significantly and sometimes what you gain in Christ is matched by the losses of your former life.
In 2018 my marriage dissolved in part because of my decision to live as a Christian and that year I was faced with the prospect of facing the worst Christmas ever as my ex took the kids to celebrate Christmas Day at her sister’s house, leaving me home alone.
I was in deep pain over the negative circumstances of my life and no amount of circumstantial manipulation on my part was going to give me a Merry Christmas on that day in 2018. Although I was appreciative of the gifts I received that year they were cold comfort compared to the pain of being forced to live in a house with someone who summarily rejected me and seemed to take delight in my misery.
However, what could have been the worst Christmas of my life didn’t turn out to be that. Instead it became another part of my ongoing testimony of the reality of God’s presence in our lives and of His goodness.
The thing I encourage people to do is to develop a daily spiritual practice of connecting with the Lord through prayer, scripture reading, or just talking with God. Before 2018, the Lord had given me victory over addiction and the negative mind states that accompany a life of condemnation, so I knew that when the going got tough it was best for the tough to get going to God.
So after my ex and kids left me alone on Christmas Day of 2018, I pressed into my faith and started praying and reading a book on Angels that described people’s encounters with God’s heavenly messengers.
I had been baptized by the Holy Spirit in 2015 and had and continue to have moments of experiencing His manifest presence in my life and not surprisingly it has been both a cause and confirmation of my faith and the reason why I encourage people to seek the Lord and to live a life of Christian discipleship and walking in the Spirit. So I knew that God is alive and well and can be experienced on the terra firma as well as someday in heaven.
As I read the book on angels, I reached out in prayer to the Lord and pleaded for His comfort and presence and made a request to send me an angel like the people in the book had experienced.
While I can’t testify to a visible manifestation of one of God’s heavenly hosts, shortly after I prayed for a messenger of God I was overcome by a feeling to get out of my chair and to get on my hands and knees. As I prostrated myself on the floor, I was overcome by the feeling that I wasn’t alone anymore and that there some one there with me. It similar to my experiences of the manifest presence with the Holy Spirit but slightly different. I closed my eyes but saw a brightness through my closed eyes and I was overcome by feeling of joy, peace, and love as I received the nonverbal message that I was not alone and that I was loved by God. I open my eyes and there was no one there but I cried and praised the Lord all the same and felt that even though I couldn’t see anything I wasn’t alone. The unseen entity, the angel, was still there and I bowed again and just stayed in the peace that I had found thanking the Lord for His goodness. I was overcome and after a time I received assurance that I had “received the message” and the presence departed.
My spirits were transformed. What was a very dark and depressive morning was changed in the wake of what I consider as my angelic visitation.
When I reflect on it, I struggle to articulate how this visitation was similar to but different from my experiences of the manifest presence of Holy Spirit. All I can say is that they were both powerful expressions of God’s love for me and evidence of His presence, but they were a little different from one another. If pressed for details I can’t really give you anything to convince you that this experience on Christmas of 2018 was indeed an angel, but I will stand on the fact that a message of God’s presence and love was the best gift that I received that year or any other Christmas before or since.
So yeah, I know – cuckoo! But I have to be honest and tell you that this really happened to me, and I am sure that if you put your faith in Christ, surrender to the Lord’s will for your life and seek the Lord’s presence continually, similar manifestations of the Lord’s presence will happen in your life. The word tells us that if you seek the Lord and you find Him, and I can assure you that the word of God is true.
So for those in Christ, I encourage you to press into your faith and share the love of God with those in your life who don’t know Him.
And for those outside of the faith, or who find more joy in presents at Christmas than in going to church, worshipping the Lord, or being in God’s presence, I wish you a very very crappy Christmas.
Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a broken relationship, or just the fact that you won’t receive the gifts you wanted this year, if you don’t know the Lord, I hope that your Christmas sucks so bad that you lose hope in all the things that aren’t meant to satisfy you and you hit “rock bottom” in seeking your happiness in creating the circumstances for a happy holiday.
Its through great disillusionment of the world system and our own efforts that we can be humbled enough to seek the Lord, and as I have already stated when you seek the Lord you will find Him.
I would rather you suffer a crappy holiday than to go on to be enslaved to a circumstantial secular xmas and find that you never knew God and are subject to His wrath one day.
The promise of Christmas Eve is the coming of the King. Jesus came as a baby in a manger, but He is coming back to judge the world and to reclaim it.
So to all the “Me’s” down in “Me-ville”, whether they be sad, bad or glad”
It its my prayer that this Christmas, you make Jesus your Lord and Savior
Because when he comes back to earth, He’s coming back to reign and rule, and
because of all the evil in this world, He’s coming back mad.”
Now don’t get me wrong, as someone who has suffered some major losses and traumas in my life, I know how hard it can be to be suffering when everyone else is having holiday fun. So I would encourage those who are hurting to seek the company of family and friends to share your burden but to also seek the comfort of the Lord for He will never leave you or forsake you.
Forgive my zealous silliness and know that all I say comes from a heart of care and compassion that knows that the only peace that lasts comes from knowing the Lord through faith in Jesus.
God bless you all and have a Merry Christmas Eve. Or a crappy one,,, you know what I mean.
Today’s Bible verse is drawn from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Hebrews 10:25 (NLT2)
25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Today’s verse is the go to verse to encourage people to come to the corporate gathering of believers commonly referred to as “going to church.”
I find it just another evidence of God’s presence in our lives that this verse would come up on Christmas Eve. Not only is Christmas Eve one of the highest, if not the highest, attended church services but it is also an occasion where the Lord’s coming is proclaimed.
Today’s verse encourages Christians to gather together and to encourage one another and it reminds us of the promise that Jesus will return someday.
Although I encourage an individual daily spiritual practice for every follower of Christ, I also encourage those who would call themselves to be Christian disciples to join and serve at a local church.
I credit my local church, Rock Solid Church in Hudson NY, and its leadership in providing me with teaching, guidance, and a church home where I could grow in my faith.
Practicing what you preach will not be tested adequately if you are living in solitude. Our abilities to encourage, serve, and ministers to others are developed in community. The corporate gathering can also teach us a great deal about forgiveness and patience as well. The church is the ideal place to practice Christ’s second commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves as we are all part of the same body and have the common goal of being more like Christ.
So get yourself to a church tonight and if you are not a member of a church already, find one where the Bible is held as the inspired word of God and where you can worship, serve, and grow.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from A.W. Tozer’s Advent Devotional – From Heaven, for Day 28 as this current resource series has brought us to Christmas Eve.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase A.W. Tozer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.
PREPARING FOR THE BRIDEGROOM
All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
1 JOHN 3:3
Why is it that such a small proportion of Christian ministers ever feel the necessity to preach a sermon on the truth of His second coming? Why should pastors depend in this matter upon those who travel around the country with their colored charts and their object lessons and their curious interpretations of Bible prophecy?
Should we not dare to believe what the apostle John wrote, that “we shall be like him because we shall see him as he is”?
Beloved, we are the sons of God now, for our faith is in the Son of God, Jesus Christ! We believe in Him and we rest upon Him, and yet it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He shall appear, when He shall be disclosed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!
Then, John says bluntly and clearly: “Every man that hath this hope in Him purifies himself, even as he is pure.” Everybody! Everyone, he says! He singularizes it. Everyone that hath this hope in him purifies himself as He is pure!
Those who are expecting the Lord Jesus Christ to come and who look for that coming moment by moment and who long for that coming will be busy purifying themselves. They will not be indulging in curious speculations—they will be in preparation, purifying themselves!
It may be helpful to use an illustration here.
A wedding is about to take place and the bride is getting dressed. Her mother is nervous, and there are other relatives and helpers who are trying to make sure that the bride is dressed just right!
Why all this helpful interest and concern?
Well, the bride and those around her know that she is about to go out to meet the groom, and everything must be perfectly in order. She even walks cautiously so that nothing gets out of place in dress and veil. She is preparing, for she awaits in loving anticipation and expectation the meeting with this man at the altar.
Now John says, through the Holy Ghost, that he that hath this hope in Him purifies and prepares himself. How? Even as He is pure!
The bride wants to be dressed worthy of the bridegroom, and so it is with the groom, as well!
Should not the church of Jesus Christ be dressed worthy of her bridegroom, even as He is dressed? Pure—even as He is pure?
We are assured that the appearing of Jesus Christ will take place. It will take place in His time. There are many who believe that it can take place soon—that there is not anything that must yet be done in this earth to make possible His coming.
It will be the greatest event in the history of the world, barring His first coming and the events of His death and resurrection.
We may well say that the next greatest event in the history of the world will be “the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, we love; in whom, though now we see him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory!”
The world will not know it, but he that hath this hope in him will know it for he has purified himself even as Christ is pure!
Tozer, A. W. (2016). From heaven: a 28-day advent devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship