For Unto You a Child is Born – The Boy Who Lived - Purity 607
Purity 607 12/21/2021 Purity 607 Podcast
Today’s photo of a quaint New England lighthouse on the shores of Cape Cod comes to us from yours truly and the distant past as I captured this scene while on a whale watch cruise during a family vacation in the Summer of ’09, maybe or sometime in the 2000’s. I wasn’t the most diligent in labeling my photos in years past and the technology I used didn’t timestamp it, but I do believe this comes from a trip that was B.C. before Christ.
Speaking of another B.C., if you happen to see my son today, Brennan Clark, be sure to wish him a happy birthday as he began his epic journey of life in this world 20 years ago today. Brennan’s coming was dramatic and his life has been filled with drama in various ways ever since.
Brennan is a twin and my eldest born son as he and his brother, Holden, were born two months premature with Brennan being the first baby born and the only son I held on the day of his birth as the team of doctor’s and nurses whisked both babies away from us after Holden was delivered, something I interpret as somewhat prophetic in the wake of Holden’s death to pneumonia in March of 2022.
We didn’t know Holden’s days were numbered at the time and by all appearances he was the healthier of the two twins, weighing about 8 pounds to Brennan’s 5. Holden was allowed to come with us shortly after his birth, but Brennan had to stay in Albany Med’s NICU for a time before it was deemed safe for him to come home.
When Brennan was allowed to come home, he came home with a heart monitor which would beep loudly whenever Brennan’s little heart would skip a beat, causing his parents to run in a panic to his crib. We nicknamed Brennan “beeper” because of it but we had the utmost confidence that he would live.
We had confidence both of our boys would live and when they both had colds in March 2022, we rushed them to the doctor on a Saturday to get them checked out. The doctor assured us that the boys were over their colds and that they would be fine. Two days later I received the traumatic shock of my life as I woke up with Holden dead in my arms as I had fallen asleep with him in the recliner in our living room.
I thought I had inadvertently killed Holden in his sleep somehow, but the coroner’s report explained that Holden’s cold had turned into pneumonia and that was the cause of death. Although I have the utmost assurance that Holden is alive in heaven with God, he is my son who died.
But Brennan, the smaller of the two twins, who was delayed in coming home with great concern and a heart monitor, got over his cold and lived.
And boy has he lived. A few days ago I wrote about something being the gift that keeps on giving and that is how I feel about my son, Brennan, sometimes.
Both my son, Brennan, and daughter, Haley, are artists. Haley draws, paints, and writes stories and actually was the first of my children to bravely enter into the performing arts but Brennan followed in her footsteps and wasn’t content to stay in her or in anyone else’s shadow.
Brennan was always an intelligent boy and excelled academically from the start but his penchant for questioning tradition, the status quo, and authority that he may have inherited from his father would also cause him to get in trouble as his passion would occasionally cause him to rebel or lash out in unpredictable ways or cause him to literally escape the school grounds.
Thankfully, his passions eventually found a more acceptable way of expression in the performing arts as he became a soloist in the school choirs and one of the lead performers in the school dramatic performances.
I took great pride in Brennan’s musical and dramatic performances and because I knew what a gift from God that he was, this was the boy that lived after all, I would go to all of his performances. But unlike some parents that aren’t shy to point out their relationship to their child star, I was content to stand in the shadows and not take any of his glory for myself. I figured that Brennan is a gift from God that was not just for me but for everyone that his life will touch.
That once small life that the experts doubted was meant to survive and to thrive. My son, the boy who lived, was meant to survive because of God’s sovereign will and the joy that he brings to people who see him perform and who befriend him. The talents that God gave Brennan point to the joy of living and the God who gave him life even if he isn’t always confident in his direction or sure of his course.
Brennan was slated to be the lead for his school’s spring musical in 2020, Little Shop of Horrors, before Covid-19 and horror of forced lockdowns cancelled his performance and his senior year in effect.
Brennan stagnated in the wake of Covid-19, graduated in summer school, and spent a “gap year” in my home neither working nor going to school. In that gap year, I gave many a pep talk and words of encouragement which seemed to fall on deaf ears as Brennan continued to stay home. In that gap year, many people gave lots of advice on what I should do to straighten Brennan out, but I remained patient and encouraging, hoping that he would once again enter into the world to share his talents and himself with those who could use him.
He was my son and unlike like his father he wasn’t involved in alcohol or drugs and as far as I was concerned he could take his time in finding his way, although I admittedly was tested in my patience.
Thankfully, the boy who lived decided to live again and this past fall he became a full time student at Hudson Valley Community College and recently had the male lead in the college’s production of Little Women, playing a character who didn’t ascribe to the status quo and was willing to think outside of the box, and to use his talents and resources for others, and to do anything for love.
Not surprisingly, Brennan has new friends and a new attitude. He is not sitting around the house anymore and although He may not be sure of his ultimate purpose he is giving himself to the world again.
So today he will be going to Koto for his traditional hibachi birthday dinner but because of the difficulties in the post-divorce landscapes of our lives I won’t be in attendance. Brennan will be enjoying his 20th birthday dinner without either of his parents.
Last night he said he knew I would understand why and said that “I didn’t care”. I assured him that it was fine and that it was only natural for a man in his 20’s to gravitate towards his friends and wish to avoid any familial drama.
I’m a grown up and don’t need to go to the birthday party but my absence shouldn’t be seen as a lack of care.
While I don’t need to be at the party, my son, and daughter, should know that I love them dearly and only wish the best for them. I have tried to raise my children to be independent and I want them to find their way in the world. Their lives are their own and I am immensely proud of each of them. I understand that my children are a gift from God that I am to steward and then release into the world for His purposes and for His glory. So I am content to stand in the shadows and love them from a distance, to be proud of them, and to take no portion of their praise or glory.
I can only hope that they know that as much as I love them, their heavenly Father, God, loves them too. God loves them much more than me and He sent His Son to earth to prove it.
Father God stands in the shadows of our lives. He provides for us and pours the talents and abilities we have into us. No matter what mistakes we make or how we perform He loves us. And when we listen to His advice, follow Christ’s example, and walk into the good works that God has prepared for us, He is immensely proud of our accomplishments and basks in the glory of what we do that reflect His likeness.
As I am reminded of and celebrate my son’s birth today, I would encourage everyone to get to know that Son who was born in Bethlehem whose purpose was to reflect His Father’s image and to use His talents and love to bring us to Him.
The Father stands in the shadows loving you and He sent His son to give Him glory and to bring you home. So go home for Christmas. Take the Son’s hand by making Him your Lord and Savior and take the eternal life and peace with God that comes from accepting His love.
Today’s Bible verse is drawn from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verses are:
Proverbs 2:10-11 (NLT2)
10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy.
11 Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.
Today’s verses conclude our short walk into Proverbs 2 and speaks of the experiential aspect of wisdom and the protection that comes through living it out.
Today’s verses speak of an emotional aspect of wisdom. It’s not just good thoughts that enter our brains when we interact with God’s wisdom. The term wisdom means applied knowledge. It is one thing to know facts, it is another to use those facts in how you live your life.
While we can’t assume that any knowledge is universal, most of us would admit that somethings, like smoking or eating non-nutritious foods, are unhealthy or not good for us. While it is great to know that these habits can cause us to suffer, the knowledge doesn’t help us unless we apply it to our lives and decide to abstain from them.
Spiritually, we can also “know” certain things but unless we apply our spiritual knowledge we could be led astray. When we let others make choices for us, we have to be careful and are responsible for the consequences of those decisions.
Recently, that boy who lived, my son, Brennan went shopping with his girlfriend to purchase Christmas gifts for their small group of friends. Brennan took a back seat and relied on his girlfriend’s suggestions for their various friends’ gifts.
One in their circle of friends apparently has macabre tastes and an interest in the occult. So Brennan’s girlfriend decided that their friend might enjoy a small giftset on witchcraft. The box advertised that it contained a guide to magic, spells, and potions and promised that its spells would help to “de-stress”, to make your wishes to come true, and to give you a new adventure for your life.
Brennan doesn’t believe in witchcraft and didn’t think much of it. So when I came home this weekend I found this witchcraft gift set sitting on my kitchen table!
I teach spiritual warfare. I know that witchcraft is prohibited in the Bible and is essentially the worship of demons and has great potential for harm. So filled with righteous indignation and a desire to cleanse my house of this demonic gift, I took it and immediately constructed a bonfire to destroy it. While I was at it, I also threw in a few books I had purchased that highlighted aberrant religious practices that I had re-purchased under the guise of research but when the spirit to cleanse house came they simply had to go to.
So the house is spiritually cleansed for Christmas, Brennan has professed his non-involvement with the occult and fully understands that my home is a Christian home and hopefully will understand that the occult is not to be trifled with.
So sometimes you have to apply your knowledge, in dramatic experiential ways. I knew witchcraft was no good and followed the Bible’s teachings on what to do with occult books: we are to burn them.
Knowing that material is out of my house, has been destroyed, and can’t harm anyone else fills my heart with joy.
As today’s verses testifies: “Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.” So know the word of God, stand on what it says, reap the joy of understanding it, and enjoy the safety that your wise choices that are based on the word of God brings.
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 25 as this current resource series will lead 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.
THE WONDERS OF GOD DECLARED
No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
Now the mystery of atonement had to be performed. Why in the Old Testament did the priest go behind the veil to perform the ritual of atonement and then come out from behind the veil? It was God saying, in beautiful symbolism, that there would be a day when another priest, with other blood, should enter into a realm where the mind of man could never penetrate, and there in a mystery too deep and dark and wonderful for man to understand, all alone with none to help him. Not David, not Abraham, not Paul—no one. Alone in the silence and the darkness he should make atonement for sin.
And that is what happened. God stepped back and allowed Him to die. But briefly and quickly, His heart was joined again to the love of God, for three days later He was raised from the dead and later ascended to the right hand of God the Father Almighty. And one day He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
Now consider the closing line: “has made him known.” What has Jesus declared about God? There are profundities that He could never declare, there are depths that He could never declare. But there are some things He could declare and did and does. He could declare God’s holy being and, above all, for us poor sinners, He declared God’s love and mercy. So He has set Him forth, and Jesus Christ tells us in His tender, human being, that God has a care for us.
I remember hearing years ago of four or five sons who had been reared in a home, and the old folks were wordless. They did not say much; they did not show much affection. Nobody did. And the boys didn’t. After they were babies, they quit kissing their parents and quit using words of affection and grew to be strong men, and married and separated and got away. They seldom came home and seldom wrote. And when Mother’s time had about come, they sent for the boys. They said if they wanted to see her, come. They came, all of them—big, fine fellows now, each with his own home and his own business and job. As they stood around her bed, one of them said, “Mother, we want you to know that you’ve meant a lot to us boys. We haven’t been unappreciative. We’ve loved you, and we thank you.”
And then they separated and when they were gone from her, she turned and said to someone by her side, “Oh, if they had only told me before. These years I’ve wondered if I had meant anything to them. These years I thought I had failed them. Now they tell me, ‘We’re so thankful.’ If they had only told me earlier.”
You know it is possible to feel a lot that you don’t tell. It is possible to have fine intentions that you never make known. And how easy it might have been for God to have loved us and never told us, to have been merciful toward us and never revealed it. But the Scripture says that nobody ever saw God but the only begotten Son. Some translations say, “the only begotten God,” who is “in the bosom of the Father.” He has told us. He came to tell us what the silence never told us. He came to tell us what Moses could not even tell us. He came to tell us that God cares and God loves and God has a plan and God’s carrying out that plan. And before it all is finished there will be a multitude—redeemed, out of every tongue and tribe and nation—that no man can number. That’s what He told us.
He revealed God’s being, love, grace, mercy, good intention, redemptive intention, saving intention. He gave it to us. Here it is. It is ours! Now we have only to turn and believe and accept and take and follow, and it all is ours.
Tozer, A. W. (2016). From heaven: a 28-day advent devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
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