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Football Camera Person

Was too preoccupied during the week to stay with the conversation as it unfolded. But I’ve had a chance this morning to catch up and appreciate the way you’ve interacted with one another. Am guessing that others who came and checked in without posting found something helpful (as i have) in the thoughtful ways you’ve compared notes.

Would like to keep the conversation going on what it takes to experience— for ourselves— the trustworthiness of the God of the Bible.  I’m working through the process again myself, and am not sure that there is one right answer, but let me see if I can give a sense of what I’m wondering:

Whenever we talk about what it takes to experience God’s  presence in the problems of relationships, and in the common troubles of life, we are inclined to be somewhere between two seemingly polar opposites. On one hand there is the thought of “letting go to let God” show up. On the other, there is a sense of “duty to do” what God urges us “to be”— knowing that it is God who enables all good things to happen in us.

P1000030So here’s what I’m wondering. Have you found—as I think I have—that what I’ve described above as “polar opposites” somehow end up being at the very center of our life in Christ? In other words, sometimes it seems so clear that it’s only with a sense of “giving up”– that I experience the ability to “keep going”… with the resulting sense that it really isn’t just about us– but about the God of Christ… in us… giving us the grace of self-control, endurance, and deepening our trust in the God who loves us.

Pictures of a television camera person and players in a Philadelphia snowstorm.


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49 Responses to “In Low Visibility”

  1. swwagner says:

    I don’t see these as opposites, but as different ways of trusting God depending on the circumstances.
    As I grow older in the Lord, I have a growing sense of “well being” and “knowing” that He will guide me in every circumstance. Sometimes the path is clear and obvious, other times, the path is more obscure. He holds the future…what is there to fret about?

  2. SFDBWV says:

    On one hand we talk of the ideals of our faith, we talk about the ideals of living, then on the other hand we have to experience *life*. Somehow we try and stitch the two together and make sense of things and have peace.

    The opposite of peace in this thought is anxiety. Even though Jesus tells us not to be anxious for anything, many things make us anxious and cause worry and stress in the best of us.

    There is a word I will share with you it is “existentialism” the definition from Webster is as follows; “A philosophical and literary movement, variously religious and atheistic, stemming from Kierkegaard and represented by Sartre, Heidegger, etc.: it is based on the doctrine that existence takes precedence over essence and holds that man is totally free and responsible for his acts, and that this responsibility is the source of the dread and anguish that encompass him.”

    Jesus tells us not to be concerned about our needs, because God knows them and will *provide*, yet many will tell you if you just set down and do nothing to provide for your self, you will become destitute living off the work of others or starve to death and die, impoverished.

    The Scripture tells us that faith without works is dead; so when or where is faith enough and when or where is it that we are moved into action for either our own needs or the work God has given us?

    I do indeed believe that all of Scripture is about God and God in the persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not about us. However without *us* what can we know about God?

    His love and interaction with us provides a glimpse of Him.

    We either believe that we control our destinies or that God does, and if we believe that God is in total control then our actions are either in concert with His or in opposition to it.

    If we believe that our free is absolute in controlling our destiny, then where does that leave God in the relationship?

    Much to consider and ponder, I am certain of one thing there will be as many views on this matter as there are thinkers.


  3. BruceC says:

    I once heard someone say (maybe a preacher) that we should do what we can do with the gifts God has given us; without worrying, and leave the rest up to Him. And in doing so; praying always.
    Sometimes in discussing a topic such as this we can up like a dog chasing his own tail.
    It is akin to hearing a report of an approaching storm. We can do all we can to limit the damage; but there is always a limit to that. The rest is trust and faith.

    Speaking of storms we have one on the way that may leave up to ten inches by morning and cancel our plans to get to church 15 miles away. But that does not mean that I will not be able to praise and worship God. He is still here with me. Hope all are safe.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  4. SFDBWV says:

    I am drawn to Mart’s “giving up” comment and want to start off with a little story from my past.

    When I was about 13 my dad and I along with another man and my dog went on a camping trip.

    In those days we would drive my dad’s pickup truck up on the huckleberry plains (now called Dolly Sods) park the truck and walk for about 3 hours to an old dam to spend a few days camping and fishing.

    Since such camping trips revolved around my dad’s days off from work, sometimes the scheduled time off and the weather were not in sync.

    This particular adventure started of in a dense fog, the type of fog where seeing your feet was difficult.

    Dad was concerned that if we veered too far to the right we would find ourselves too near the sheer cliffs of the Allegheny Front so he led us to the left. What should have only taken us 3 hours suddenly was several hours and we had not gotten to our destination, in fact we couldn’t see where we were going at all, but we kept going.

    Up one hill and down another listening for what should be the running water of a stream, up one hill and down another. We could hear running water and Dad was sure it was the breast of the dam, but when we got next to the creek it was not the river we were expecting and it was getting late so we set up camp.

    In the morning the sky was clear and the realization that we had no idea where we were.

    So after striking camp we lit off again up one hill and down another, every ridge we climbed over my dad would say “now this looks familiar”, but when we capped the ridge top it was neither familiar nor where we needed to be.

    We came upon a huge basin bedded with a thick soft moss and Dad wanted to camp there and spend the night sleeping on a nice soft mossy bed rather that the cold hard ground, but the other man with us convinced him to climb up out of the bottom and camp in the hillside.

    That night it came a horrific thunderstorm and rained about as hard as it can all night. The next morning the basin Dad would have camped in was about three feet under water.

    We struck camp and moved on again and about mid day came upon the very familiar mountain top of the huckleberry plains; we had for three day walked in a complete circle to the left right back where we had begun.

    We got in the truck and went home.

    There are a great many lessons from this little adventure, one being never give up and keep on moving forward. Behind each disappointment is the hope of finding our desires and the necessity to keep going toward your goals.

    It is only when hope is lost and we give up that we come to that crossroad of what do we truly believe. For most it comes down to choosing either life or death.

    Jesus offers life.


  5. remarutho says:

    Good Morning BTA Friends –

    Mart, describing the center of our life in Christ, you wrote:

    “On one hand there is the thought of ‘letting go to let God’ show up. On the other, there is a sense of ‘duty to do’ what God urges us ‘to be’— knowing that it is God who enables all good things to happen in us.”

    The crucial balance we are called to keep is holding this “letting go” and “knowing,” at the same time. It seems to me the letting go is always in the intimate presence of Jesus (by prayer, devotion and love). At the very same time, the knowing is a heart invaded and transformed by his presence. Whatever duty we have is surely not a call to aggression. I struggle with this desire to roll up my sleeves and implement some plan of my own, whereas the duty is more being proactive or ready and willing.

    This morning a Salvation Army major was interviewed by a radio announcer. The topic was a world record for continuous ringing of the bell reminding shoppers to put something in the red kettle. When the interview ended, the announcer said, “Happy Holidays.” The man of God said, “Merry Christmas.” There is a firm and friendly witness, even a blessing, in the phrase. He seized the moment of obedience.


  6. remarutho says:

    Am enjoying the contrasting photos: the poor soul behind the camera, standing still in the snow — and the football player who is able to move about and stay warm.
    :o) Maru

  7. swwagner says:

    I agree that faith and trust in the Lord requires action…a “stepping out” into an unfamiliar terrain of life, be it a ministry, a job, or changing our way of thinking. It is always good to feel the nudge/conviction of the Holy Spirit…sometimes gently and sometimes uncomfortably urgent and strong.

    I also agree that we don’t always see “the plan” until we have come full circle…which can take days, years, or our entire lives. There are some area’s of obedience we must follow that don’t show the results or reasons this side of eternity.

    It is a very safe place to live…in the arms of a loving God who always watches and never sleeps. Even in the midst of tragedy, we must say…”even though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

  8. Artle says:

    ”even though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

    The thought warms my soul and gives me reason to exist.

  9. poohpity says:

    When I first began this relationship with the Lord I was so broken and was willing to give all of me to Him. He brought me to a path of wellness, restoration and healing of many relationships and more importantly a relationship and dependence on Him. The funny thing was that the stronger I got the less dependent on Him I became the less I read the Bible while still going to church, leading Bible studies, serving in the community but started like many Christians do going through the motions without the reliance.

    Having the rug pulled out from under me was the best thing to happen. It took me back to the Word and brokenness. I would say similar to what we saw happening to Mandela and his 27 year prison experience. To some that brokenness and weakness would be a horrible place to be because they would experience a total loss of control. Being in control gives us a false sense of security, safety so when that proverbial rug gets pulled out the fall is really tough and hard but when we stay on our knees there is not far to go to fall on our face.

    So when I give up being in control that is when God does His best work in me cause I let Him. The struggle to be in control turns to relinquishment of control to the One who can turn plain water into the best wine anyone has ever tasted. We are going to come to that place one way or another either with scratch marks from holding so tight to doing things my way or with the fruit of the Spirit doing things God’s way. We all end up in the same place I guess we have determine what the journey will be like, struggling all the time or smooth sailing even in treacherous waters.

  10. swwagner says:

    To Artie

    “even though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”
    The thought warms my soul and gives me reason to exist.
    (I guess I don’t know how to insert a quote from someone else.)

    I could not agree more!

  11. oneg2dblu says:

    Steve shared a while back this rule of physics, “For ever action there is reaction.”
    I hope I did not mis-quote, so I’ll add this…
    “For every action there is an equally resulting opposing action.”
    like, Yin/Yang, darkness/light, hot/cold, or good/bad, perhaps just a form of giving balance to an imbalance.

    I see this basic principle of balance in the same way Faith and Actions balance and prove each other out.

    I would say that it takes very little or no effort on our part to first recieve the Gift of Faith.

    Our part may be only in the receiving and then in the trusting that we did actually receive something, though unseen and unfelt by others, certainly very real to us.

    Now for the balance after receiving comes the giving, sharing, exposing, the actual living out part of the equation where we get to display what we have received.

    All the mentioned people in the Bible’s Faith chapter have before thier name is mentioned this one phrase,
    “By Faith…” and immediately proceeding we see the action part displayed.

    I do not remember ever reading in those verses, “By Faith no action was ever taken, no result ever shown, no testing to accertain any real proof of that faith.

    Not to beat the dog to death or wear out this phrase,but, “Faith that is not tested can not be trusted.”

    I would say probably because it would be a one-sided
    affair, or more like a light put under a bowl, hidden in the heart put never exposed.

    If the bible wanted to show us “blind faith” then a blank page deviod of any action would be it’s greatest testimony.

    So, I’ll rest my case “after doing” the typing, not without typing.

  12. oneg2dblu says:

    I have recently chosen to come out of retirement and return to my old profession of school bus driving to help balance my income to debt ratio, even though I know God will supply all my needs, I know that working again will be a smarter move on my part then just sitting and waiting for a by faith only resolve.

    Many of those supervisors who will decide whether I get that opportunity to be re-mplyeed again or not, already know my past abilities well enough and cold just by faith in me allow my to drive sgain, but we all know that is not the case and there will be a testing involed in the process before the keys and the lives of any students ever get placed into my hands again.
    I have also applied for a position at my church which is not driving but filling a place of need in their staff.
    God knows both my needs and my heart.
    I will certainly take the first job that becomes available, calling it a door of opportunity opened to me, and trusting it to be God’s plan for me to take it.
    Is that not also actively using my faith?


  13. oneg2dblu says:

    Sorry for all those mistakes,
    I’m on my small screen and really need to proof myself more..
    “Many of those supervisors who will decide whether I get that opportunity to be (re-employed) again or not, already know my past abilities well enough and (could) just by faith in me allow (me) to drive (again,)

    I trust they are not proof-reading this as my test. :0

    Thank God, Our God is a God of Second Chances!

    Please prsy for me on this need for employment.

  14. SFDBWV says:

    You have my prayers Gary…’where two or more…”


  15. poohpity says:

    Gary, sad to hear you lost your job and will join Steve in praying for a new job or a second chance and God’s provision in the meantime. ;-)

  16. cherielyn says:

    Mart’s comment, at the end of the blog says: “So here’s what I’m wondering. Have you found—as I think I have—that what I’ve described above as “polar opposites” somehow end up being at the very center of our life in Christ? In other words, sometimes it seems so clear that it’s only with a sense of “giving up”– that I experience the ability to “keep going”… with the resulting sense that it really isn’t just about us– but about the God of Christ… in us… giving us the grace of self-control, endurance, and deepening our trust in the God who loves us.”

    I have been struggling with my health issues over the past several weeks, since my radiation treatments. I have found that my husband is totally incapable of being a caregiver. He is so used to me doing everything for him that he cannot seem to help me at all. I have struggled with extreme fatigue & one night, before he went to bed, mentioned that he needed pants washed & would I do his jacket & hat, also, when I wash them.

    My meds are really affecting my thinking processes & he cannot remember to remind me when to take my meds. Fortunately my sister & daughter are taking turns, calling me with those reminders.

    I am so tired, most of the time, that I can barely function. On the upside, hubby took an interest in cooking after he retired in 2006, so he is making most of our dinners. So, I can identify with the “polar opposites” Mart referred to.

    The feeling of “giving up” has been very familiar these days, but somehow I manage to “keep going” with God’s help. He, alone, is giving me just the amount of endurance I need to continue these days.

    Last Saturday I began experiencing more pain & it got worse on Sunday. Called the doctor’s office on Monday & they said, based on my symptoms, I was having brain sswelling & I had to restart the steroids.

    Wish I could say I have self-control. Unfortunately, the steroids I am on for brain swelling, can (& have in my case) cause personality changes & I find words coming out of my mouth that I don’t intend to or want to say, yet am unable to stop them. PLEASE PRAY FOR ME, SPECIFICALLY FOR THIS!

    Gary, you are in my prayers about your work situation.

  17. freedom12 says:

    I tend to tackle life’s problems in my own strength or “duty to do” polarity (all the while praying for God’s strength). I know it’s time to get real when I’m lost in emotional pain; my red flag. Like Paul, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me” only to hear “my grace is sufficient for you”. So I surrender in a truer “sense of giving up”, and experience God’s grace again (not that it ever left me), I was erroneously believing that I can be strong. It can’t be that, for when I am weak, then I am strong (2nd Cor 12)

  18. swwagner says:


    The Lord is faithful to help us resolve differences caused by loss, and change.

    I have been where you are…with a husband who was not helpful. I finally had to tell him that I was no longer able to do the things that he was use to me doing, even if he couldn’t “see” my ailments. Unfortunately you have to stick up for yourself when you need to rest and not deal with the guilt of falling short of another persons expectations. I hope your husband isn’t acting as ugly and childish as mine did before he realized that my deficiencies were for real.

    It is hard to be pleasant under such circumstances but sometimes it takes an uncomfortable/painful situation for growth to occur. My husband and I are doing okay now that we have adjusted our roles and switched chores. Part of it was him not wanting to think about and deal with my illness and part of it was my lack of explanation while assuming that he knew how to use household equipment, etc….but everyone has a different scenario.

    I will be thinking of you.

  19. swwagner says:


    Thanks for the reminder that “when we are weak, when we are strong”. I also tend to take things in my own hands…getting too tired and emotionally exhausted before I “remember” that I am trying to do something that was not intended for me.

  20. oneg2dblu says:

    cherielyn… I am praying for you and realize how scarey it is to not know for sure if you’ve taken meds because you are weak and out of it.
    What I like to do is write out the taking of each dose with the date and time when taken.
    Having that type of record handy takes away
    that anxiety of not knowing for sure and will bring much peace for those very weak times and help much with this type of confusion.
    All this tells us just how important proper nursing can be to a patients health and well being.
    But, when you are on your own or do not have good help available, one must keep the faith and do the best we can and leave the rest to the Lord.
    He knows our every need and He is there when we need the most.

  21. bec4jc says:

    Cherielyn and Gary my prayers for you and everyone here I send up that you will have a peaceful season of the our Christ child’s birth. Jesus promised it to us when He said “Peace I give to you, *NOT AS THE WORLD GIVES, I give to you.” The world includes all the illnesses we are going through and jobs we have lost and struggles to find employment as well. It includes everything we consider dark times we are going through now. I pray we can concentrate on the Light of this world in hope that we may see our way through the darkness that the world has and continues to, produce. Have a Holy Christmas.

    *caps are mine

  22. belleu says:

    My prayers are with you all.

    As for “letting go”, I just had another experience of this. I’ve been worried about my sister and her struggle with God and while praying I felt God tell me again to, “Let go.” So, when I did I felt a peace inside. For me, “letting go and letting God” is very important. But since I am such a worry-wart I have to do it again and again.

    I remember learning to let go of my daughters when they left home. This was very hard for me to do, but the result has been a close relationship with my daughters. They didn’t want to be around someone who was always trying to control their lives or tell them when they were doing the wrong thing. It was good for me and for them to let them go and trust God to work in their lives.

    I do think letting go helps us to “keep going” as Mart says. It’s hard to be productive in life if you are always worried and trying to control life. I also try to “let go” of daily things like money, where to live, what to do. Hubby and I pray and then leave it up to God to open or close doors. This always seems to work out fine.

  23. belleu says:

    I want to add that I also let go of feeling guilty for every sin and mistake I made. Guilt used to rule my first years as a Christian. So, I’ve let go of my sinning for may long years and it feels good! I let God deal with it.

  24. BruceC says:


    I will keep you in prayer beloved sister in Christ.
    I pray for comfort and healing in Jesus name; and that the Lord will touch your husband’s heart to start to do all of what needs to be done for you.
    When my Mom was diagnosed with cancer years ago I was living and working in upstate NY and my folks were still at home in NJ. My wife and I were married a couple of years after I moved here. So, I could not move back down to help. But my Father and my Aunt(his sister; and a born again Christian) did everything for my Mom. Dad took a job locally in maintenance and gave up his union job up so he could be home at lunchtime and breaks( only 1/2 mi. away). And my Aunt was there almost all the time. People that are in poor health need the help and support of loved ones. May our loving Lord be with you dear sister!


    I pray that all goes well with your job possibility. Feeling the money crunch is not fun as I know it firsthand. But the Lord does provide as you said and He is faithful even though we may not be at times. What awesome grace!!

    We received 8″ of new snow and later it will be “blower time” later today!! Thankfully the temps have risen a little and by Friday we may see 40+ degrees. Yipee!!!!

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  25. SFDBWV says:

    Mart said he would like to keep the conversation going on what it takes to experience for ourselves the trustworthiness of the God of the Bible.

    There is a popular medical term used today called “Bi Polar”, whereas I sympathize greatly with those who suffer it, I also believe we all experience the roller coaster ride that living produces.

    We all experience *spiritual* highs and lows.

    Periods where our faith is strong and periods when weak.

    Who among us who suffer any degree of misery hasn’t questioned God’s judgment of our particular circumstance?

    Are we going to burn in hell because we already suffer and wonder where God is and why won’t he come and help?

    I don’t think so.

    Where does doubt come from? It is said that faith comes by hearing the Word of God; so what is it that causes us to doubt?

    Using the current subject of opposites it would make sense that doubts come from what or who we are listening to, along with our struggles.

    If I were to try and keep God of the Bible or even what the Bible presents historically in line with modern enlightenment I would find the Bible at odds with what the world accepts as truth.

    If I begin to doubt the authenticity of Biblical accounts of history then finding fault with God isn’t far behind.

    Followed soon by not believing that there is a God at all.

    There I would find myself at the low end of my spiritual journey. All because of what I have chosen to believe.

    Here is the miracle of faith, when all we see or understand only produces gloom and doom, *faith* gives us that glimmer of *hope* and keeps us moving ahead. Hope makes us feel better and something in our being causes us to believe against all evidence to the contrary.

    Our heavenly Father gives us a hand up and one such Psalm says it all “Yea though I walk through the valley of death I will fear no evil…” Psalm 23:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

    Be fed by the Word of God and listen with your heart because the Word is speaking to you all the time.


  26. oneg2dblu says:

    Biblically speaking, We are to live by faith and not by sight, but, God did not say we should walk around with our eyes shut.
    If we have the gift of sight then we need to use it along with our gift of faith.
    For now we are to walk in both the natural and the spiritual gifts we are given, and if we lack anything, that lack would be in our faith to believe that God can not meet our every need.
    He is both willing and able and we only need to present our need to Him and believe He hears our prayers and answers them all.
    I pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, fully realizing the very House of God is supported by those prayers.
    Are we not all gathered here in Christ as part of that family and house, making those prayers as Prayers to All?
    Be Blessed, Gary

  27. Artle says:

    I too thought of the valley of the shadow of death as I read this topic and see the ups and downs of myself as well as those around me. I asked a minister friend once if his faith was stronger than it used to be and he replied that yes it was. I then ask if his doubts were weaker or stronger, to which he replied, much stronger.

    Would faith be possible if there were no doubt? So, even doubt has a purpose in the life of the faithful.

    Faith is the inner force that allows us to continue when there is no earthly reason to do so. Grace is the outer force that sustains us when there is no heavenly reason to do so.

    God is trustworthy. The bible is trustworthy. Disagreements are simply evidence of a lack of understanding on the part of at least two people.

  28. poohpity says:

    Aren’t doubt and faith polar opposites? I would agree that the more faith we have the more it can be tested but would it create doubt or diminish it? The testing seems to refine our faith or show we did not have much faith to begin with. When Abraham laid his only child on the alter if there was any doubt he would have taken him off but because of that faith he “knew” that God would provide as He did when in his old age he had the promised child that the whole world would be blessed through his offspring.

  29. street says:

    darkness/light, hot/cold, or good/bad

    these things have nothing to do with balance and they are a description of the presents of something or the lax there of. for instance, darkness/light….darkness is the absence of light….cold is the absence of heat….and bad is the privation of that which is good. street

  30. street says:

    Would like to keep the conversation going on what it takes to experience— for ourselves— the trustworthiness of the God of the Bible. I see this in many christans and myself. Wanting to experience God presents. Jesus said you need to deny yourself and follow Him. I think the problem is we think more highly of ourselves then we should…remember sin/pride? The parable of the pearl has greater meaning when you realize Jesus is more valuable then self and to surrender all to gain true life in the presents of a Loving God who share His very nature with the Holy Spirit poured out in our hearts. we are always in His presents if we feel it or not.

    Whenever we talk about what it takes to experience God’s presence in the problems of relationships, and in the common troubles of life, we are inclined to be somewhere between two seemingly polar opposites.

    this verse comes to mind, 24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I [ag]do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking [ah]in Christ’s afflictions. Colossians 1:24 this is an awesome verse


  31. poohpity says:

    In the “giving up” we let go of self then dependence on the Lord keeps us going. We can have the “duty to do” but if it is to get the praise of man then we have yet to “give up”. The magnificence and awesomeness of our Lord is He understands our times of doubt by giving us His endurance, shinning light by living during the darkness to bring warmth to the cold and forgiving our bad and giving His grace.

  32. belleu says:

    “The trustworthiness of God and the Bible” – Through years of a relationship with God I have found Him and His word to be trustworthy. I would say especially in the area of bad feelings and endurance. When I go to Him in prayer and I am hurt and upset, after giving all this to him I am calm and ready to face the day again. I know I cannot do this myself.

    As for doubt, I think doubtful thoughts come from Satan. I think we are all unaware of his schemes, whereas Paul said he wasn’t in 2 Corinthians 2:11. It is easier to dismiss doubts when we realize the origin. John 13:2 says Satan put the thought to betray Jesus into Judas’ heart. What thoughts does he put in our mind? He tempted Jesus in person, but with us it is in our thoughts.

  33. SFDBWV says:

    For those among us who may not understand how an electric motor is able to run, I will give a crude explanation.

    The motor is made up of a rotating center and stationary outer shell; they are configured so that when electric current is applied the two magnetic fields oppose each other and cause the motor core to rotate.

    Electric current can also be generated by the rotation of the inner core interacting with the magnetic field of the outer, thus generating electricity.

    It would seem that electricity also called *power* is a physical replica of the spiritual power that drives and is generated in our inner beings.

    Some eastern religions speak of *harmony* being the essence of contented living, I believe they may be right.

    Our harmony is found in a contented relationship with Jesus of Nazareth who connects us to the ultimate power source of all creation, God. The result a smooth running inner motor that gives us life and keeps us going.

    There is an electrical term called an ohm, it is a unit of resistance to the flow of electricity. It is when we allow resistance to block that flow of power that we weaken, dim and soon run out of energy.

    We must keep our connections clean and clear and void of resistance if we are to expect that harmony we seek after.

    Much to learn from the *natural* world around us in understanding the unseen supernatural world around us as well.


  34. remarutho says:

    Good Morning BTA Friends —

    Thewhole Advent dynamic is a kind of “push-me-pull-you” effect:

    The marketplace blares messages to buy-buy-buy — and impress those who will receive the gifts we give —

    While the unfolding story that Jesus-followers find in Scripture quietly calls us aside to re-member yet again the miracles of the Lord Jesus’ conception, the journeys of Mary and Joseph of Nazareth, and the divine guidance that brought them through many dangers

    It is difficult to hear the still small voice when the racket is so loud. But it seems to me the goodness of a growing understanding God’s will outweighs the tug of the cultural model of Christmas. At some point, Jesus-followers turn to the greater meaning of Advent (Jesus Christ coming to us). The noise fades. We look up because our salvation is approaching.

    God’s will (capital W) becomes my will (little w). Some folks I know have scaled down the extravagance of gifting at Christmas. Giving to mission efforts, or to faith-based work has supplanted individual gifting — such as food, clothing or shelter for those in need, with a greeting to the recipient informing them of the gift.

  35. remarutho says:

    …hit “enter” before adding that the God we learn about in Scripture is not always high-profile in our low-visibility world. The interference of all this “white noise” must be tuned out. The value of the still, small voice is great in the midst of it all.


  36. SFDBWV says:

    I don’t know Maru if you’ve ever read “Dante’s Inferno” but these past few days remind me of the frozen hell he described in his thoughts.

    Howling wind continuous snow with a blue haze like color everywhere. The whirling wind causing little snow devils to spiral around and around.

    Is this how Christmas is supposed to look?

    I laughed the other evening when on the TV there was a little feel good news story about seniors making wooden toys for the needy. Laughed because I knew that the children who get a wooded truck for Christmas instead of the latest hyped techno gadget are going to be disappointed, perhaps even angry for not getting what they want.

    It reminded me of how we all have the tendency to go to God and ask for one thing and get another.

    It is no small wonder that for some Santa and God are confused in their minds.

    A few nights ago there was an atheist on a CNN segment insisting on removing Christ from the Christmas celebration, the next show argued about what color Santa should be displayed as.

    No small wonder that many of us just want to go home close the door leave the TV off and go to sleep until the *season* is over.

    Oh I forgot did you perchance see any of the fist fighting between women over “Black Friday” shopping shown on the various media’s? Thanksgiving followed by riotous behavior to get what they want by any means.


  37. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Steve!

    Whew! Is the weather signifying the cultural mayhem — or visa versa? Hope you folks are keeping well in the blizzard! Sounds like a white-out.

    Yes, without the God of the Bible — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — the major “holidays” (holy days) of Christmas and Resurrection Sunday fall flat. Commercial stimulus does not equal the divine spiritual power you speak of in your electricity metaphor. Resistance causes the whole thing to grind to a halt.

    Missed the brawling over merchandise — so glad I did. Wouldn’t buy a toothpick on Black Friday! Yet, we are able to live out a witness of running up our spiritual sails and allowing God the Holy Spirit to take us where he would have us go.

    The issue of expectations about “what we get” at Christmas is a big one with children. It seems to me getting together for fellowship, story-telling and games makes a “gift” kids can understand — if not immediately, then in years to come when the memory of “the old folks at home” remains.


  38. poohpity says:

    Is not God the ultimate gift giver? For centuries He has given us gift after gift. I think it is neat to give but there those of us who may not have the ability to give and I know for myself I feel guilty but it does not always have to be materially. It can be giving of time and of our self but Jesus gave and gave and gave. If one makes it a practice to give all year or on birthdays but Christmas is the one big time during the year just spent on giving. If we are connected to the vine then giving is just part of who we are all year. He gives us grace, self control and endurance etc. and we get the pleasure of re-gifting everything He has given us to those we come in contact with.

  39. remarutho says:

    Agreeing with you over here, Pooh.

    Jesus is the gift — and I’ve enjoyed some of the tags that have come up over the years:
    He’s the Reason for the Season;
    Wise Men Still Seek Him;
    The World Needs a Stable Influence

    …This year for me: “It’s Not *Your* Birthday!”


  40. poohpity says:

    I like the one where there is a manger with straw and a sign above saying “The First King size Bed” or Santa Claus kneeling at the foot of the manger.

    If we bring ourselves low in visibility we can bring Jesus to center stage. We are given the gift of knowing God better and better over the length of our lives.(Eph 1:17 NIV) The gift of faith to do good. (Eph 2:8-10 NIV) We are given the ability to share our hope. (Eph 3:7-8 NIV) We are given the ability to know how big the love of God is. (Eph 3:14-19 NIV) We are given the armor of protection from the powers of darkness of this world we live in and to stand firm. (Eph 6:10-17 NIV)

    We have been given gifts for this journey through life, all we have to do is open them and put them to use rather than leaving them under the tree or on the shelf keeping them in low visibility. Hard hearts can be softened, resentment can be replaced with forgiveness, trade-in anger for love, stress and worry for peace, hopelessness for hope, doubt for faith. A life centered on Christ gives us so very much to share. The more we give out the more we have to give.

  41. Artle says:

    I wonder this morning, is there a difference in the work of believing in Jesus (John 6:28-29 NASB), the work of praying, the work of loving God or the work of loving my neighbor?

    What is more important; the work of the hands or the work of the heart or are they essentially the same? Is faith in and of itself a work for God? So, faith and duty are one and the same?? Perhaps opposite in a world view, but combined in a Godward view??

  42. oneg2dblu says:

    Funny isn’t it just how hard the world tries its best to take our Christ, out of their Christmas?

    How can they ever know His Peace until they know Him?

    They may exchange their now named Xmas Cards, Xing out his name, and call the season a Winter Break, or even say their lukewarm Happy Holidays, but they can never know His Peace, until they know Him.

    They even try to replace the greatest gift ever given Under God, for those manmade ones they place under a tree, but, they will never know His Peace, until they know Him.

    Only through knowing Christ, can we bring His Peace and Light into this darkened, hurting, guilty, and lonely and searching peace-less world, who yet knows Him not.

    John 14: 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 (NIV)

    We know the “Who” they need, and the “Why” they need Him.

    We were all once a part if that unknowing world, a world that is constantly coming apart, but now we are set apart and coming together as a Light and sharing in His Peace because we know Jesus Christ is the Christ you can not take out of Christmas.

    No Christ, no peace,
    Know Christ, know Peace.

    Only in knowing His Peace do we know a peace that overcomes the world and even understanding.

  43. poohpity says:

    Artle, I think those verses show it is not the work of our hands but the work of God in our lives as we come to believe in the One whom God sent. Satisfying God does not seem to come from the things we do but who we believe in. Then the works that come from that relationship do not seem like work cause the source has given us the power to do them so it feels like fulfilling a passion not the toil found in laboring.

  44. foreverblessed says:

    Artle, very good question, Dec 16,12.21 pm.
    There was a devotion that was about this point:
    God calling by twolisteners, Dec 5,

    The first law of giving is of the spirit world. Give to all you meet, or whose lives touch yours, of your prayers, your time, yourselves, your love, your thought. You must practice this giving first.

    Then give of this world’s goods and money, as you have them given to you. To give money and material things, without having first made the habit daily, hourly, ever increasingly, of giving on the highest plane, is wrong.

    Give, give, give all your best to all who need it.”

    Yes, that is being in the Kingdom of God, working, (essentially meaning praying above all, as we envision this Spirit world), and all the other things, the cares for ourselves will be taken care of by God. So all the prayer that I did for myself, all the cares of life, I leave it in the hands of God, (try leaving it there). Now with all that worrying gone, I have plenty of time left over: I can now use for praying for others, or what God lays on my heart, when I come into the quiet with Him.
    It is a learning process, by falling and standing up.

    So yes, Mart, giving up our own lives, let go of the things of this world, the things that will pass away anyway, and take hold of the Spirit Reality, which is Christ Jesus, our Lord.
    (It does not mean I do not take care of myself, and my duties in the family, but I do not worry about them.)

  45. SFDBWV says:

    I had confusing dreams last night and awoke this morning troubled in my spirit. It is in such moments that sometimes all I can say to God is that I trust Him.

    The two fold question that is present here is the trustworthiness of God and the written Word.

    How the answer to both comes is in the evidence shown in our lives and our experiences. What we see in ourselves as well as what we see in others.

    The Bible is very clear in explaining that creation took 6 days; going so far as to state on the end of each day of creation “And the evening and the morning were the (numbered) day.” thus underscoring a 24 hour day or one rotation of the earth upon its axis.

    Trustworthiness of the Bible begins here. Realizing that God is above our understanding begins there in Genesis.

    When the serpent said to Eve “you shall not surely die.” (Genesis 3:4) he lied challenged God’s Word and led Eve into believing the lie.

    Nothing has changed over all these years we either believe God or the lie, whichever sounds best to us.

    When I was a young man I often wondered in amazement how the Hebrew people could doubt God as they began their journey across the wilderness afresh from witnessing the amazing miracles they had just experienced in leaving Egypt.

    However as I grew older and experienced more of life, I too experienced what I considered the guiding hands of God upon my life, yet as one struggle after another came against me I too found myself forgetting the care God had always given me and forgetting why I was where I am and how I got there.

    It became more understandable for me to see why the people of Israel had forgotten their experiences in favor of worrying about their next challenge.

    Each of us are where we are because of God, we may not like some of our circumstances, but God has a design for us for His purposes; we need to forget about ourselves and be pleased that God has placed us right where we are and remember in this existence of opposites that our suffering will change to joy in God’s time.

    We choose to believe God or the lie; one brings peace the other endless worry.


  46. remarutho says:

    Good Morning All —

    The Lord answered me when I prayed to be relocated from the Desert High Plains to the Pacific Northwest. Have been here a year last July. Here I am on the Left Coast! What a wonder. Needless to say — no wonder at all — I am doing a close reading of the Book of Daniel.

    What you say is true, Steve. If God had not meant me to be here as an agent of his kingdom, there would have been no way the transfer would have happened. If it is possible at the same time in one human heart, I am filled with joy and I also tremble in reverent awe as I wait to see where the Lord will lead me from here, and what he will call me to be part of in the body of Christ.

    It seems to me we are all on the field with “Low Visibility.” The Lord is calling the plays. What is there but watchful prayer — prayerful watching?


  47. oneg2dblu says:

    Speaking to the Lord’s placing us where we are, this morning I was baptized by a Cormorant who must have had Baptist leanings as he was definitely trying for a full immersion, but God had other plans and positioned me for only a perfect sprinkling.
    Thank God…
    I do not know what he was eating, but whatever it was he liked it because he ate plenty of it! :0

    Had a great row and thanked the Lord for it.

  48. poohpity says:

    Maru, I so agree we are on the field with low visibility. Most times it is hard to see beyond the nose on our faces or admitting we are so limited in understanding yet it is so hard in letting go to the One who is all knowing, all seeing, all powerful and is every place out of fear of losing control. But what a wonderful place to be, out of control, as a child who just knows that their parent has everything in their hands. As a matter of fact they never even give it a thought, totally care free and dependent.

  49. poohpity says:

    God saying, “I’ll take it from here” and as Steve referred to the Hebrews while God was providing their every need forgot about it and said, “we’ll take it from here” and look where it got them. Trusting in limited selves or trusting One who is limitless, easy to say but hard to do. God seems so patient with us waiting as we get ourselves into such messes until we finally admit our need for help, hopefully without to many scars from doing it our way or hurts to others.

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