God’s Mirror

“The Lord sent Nathan to David” 2 Samuel 12:1.

Dirty, dirty face.
Mirror, mirror on the wall
show no dirt to me.Michelle in the mirror 2

Mirrors reflect the images they see.
In the Broadway musical West Side Story, Maria, dressing for the dance, is holding her white dress against her as she sings and dances in front of a mirror: “See the pretty girl in that mirror there. Who can that attractive girl be? Such a pretty dress, such a pretty girl, such a pretty me.” The camera picks up her image in the mirror as she dances.
When I direct plays, I tell the cast that as a director I am a mirror that reflects what the audience sees and hears. When “that mirror” suggests improvements, I become the audience feedback to the performers.
While studying 2 Samuel 12:1-14, the Lord let me see that His Word is the universal mirror that reflects necessary character and behavioral changes in us. Although He doesn’t “need us,” He chooses to use us as mirrors.
The Lord loved David with all of his “Godly heart,” and he longed for David to see the error of his way. However, since David didn’t repent on his own, God sent the prophet Nathan to be a mirror (12:1). That mirror reflected David’s need to confess his adultery and murder and he did!
Perhaps there are four reasons God sent Nathan as a mirror to David. First, he had invested a lot of time, effort, and plans in David (2 Samuel 7:18-29). Second, God wanted David’s heart to “get wild” about Him again. In Psalm 42:1 (MSG), David shows that previous close relationship with the prayerful cry, “A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek; I want to drink God, deep drafts of God.” Third, God needed to redeem His name from the disgrace David had brought on it “All day long my name is constantly blasphemed” (Isaiah 52:5b), and lastly, God’s redemptive plan was all wrapped up in the Davidic covenant (2 Samuel 7:4-16). He wasn’t about to let David mess up his plans.
So praise God, to get us “back on speaking terms” with Him, the Lord sends “mirrors” to motivate and reroute us from self-destructive ways to self-preserving ways. And we may never know when He’s going to use us as “Nathan mirrors” to Davids in our lives. Therefore, we must be ready daily so that our mirrors reflect no unconfessed sin, “no dirt” in them.

Read 2 Samuel 12:1-14 for the whole story.

Angels Unaware Reversed

My wife recently advertised a set of juggling pins for sale that had been used in the musical Carnival which she had directed a number of years ago. A lady called interested in buying them for her grandson who is learning juggling. She and her husband dropped by. The pins were a treasure to her, so she paid and they left. A few minutes later, our doorbell rang. There she and her husband stood.

Her husband had backed into the neighbor’s driveway across the street to turn around and inadvertently backed over a drainage pipe and couldn’t get out. He used our phone, called Triple AAA and was informed it would be at least an hour before the tow truck could be there. They planned to wait in their car.

“Nonsense,” we said, “come in.”

My wife had some left over muffins she had baked for her Bible study that morning So we invited them to have coffee and muffins. They were so grateful and the wife called us “angels.” I’d been called lots of things in life, but never an angel.

Russ, her husband, got another call saying it would be another hour before the truck would be there to help him. So we invited them to play the game Phrase 10 till the truck finally arrived.

They were so thankful for our friendship and hospitality. We haven’t known such grateful, thoughtful people in a long time. We arranged to get together for lunch with them later hoping to share the Lord with them before they went back north.

That morning, God orchestrated our lives both to be enriched and to enrich. We were reminded of Hebrews 13:2, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” However, they called us angels so we call them “angels unaware reversed.” How thankful we are that my wife decided to sell those juggling pins!

Holy Habits

According to a recent survey, the top two New Year’s resolutions for Americans are to lose weight and to exercise more; both broken within 30 days. My son prefers setting goals to making resolutions for if you fail to keep resolutions, you tend to give up, but if it’s a goal, you can continue pursuing them. I have discovered, however, that to set holy habits for the New Year has helped me achieve better than resolutions or goals. Among the holy habits I am focusing on this year is to study the Scriptures an additional hour daily.

My motivation to read and study the Scriptures has been triggered by three Scriptures.

The truth given to the prophet Ezekiel 3:3, 4: “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it. So I ate . . . He then said to me, ‘Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them’.” We are only prepared to communicate his truth, in my case, to write about his truth, when our minds are full of his words and our hearts are prepared by his words to share him.

Psalm 119:20 burdens me to experience the reality that “My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.” A high order. But that’s the holy habit I am pursuing this year. It will come gradually as I read, study, memorize, and meditate on his laws. My weakness will be memorizing, especially the references. My mind doesn’t hold them as it used to.

Last year as I studied the Book of Job, 23:12 burned into my heart: “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.” I confess it will be a challenge to pursue that holy habit. But what a habit to form!

Psychologists suggest that it takes only twenty-two consecutive days to establish a habit. Knowing me, it’s going to take me much longer.

So readers, let’s join together in pursuit of our holy habits. Maybe we need to pray more, serve in our churches more, establish a daily devotional time, share our faith more, help others more, or even read the Bible through this year. These holy habits will not only help us individually but the body of Christ as well so that we experience the reality of strengthening spiritual muscles for ourselves and in our churches to make them power houses for worship, growth, outreach, and discipleship. Our communities will benefit from Jesus being alive and well and active in his people.

My DVR Failed

I enjoy watching sunsets. More than most people, perhaps more than almost everyone. It is a time for me to reflect on the day–did I further the kingdom? Did I love people? Did I bring joy to the world? It is a pleasure to watch it together with my wife. It means much more to me than celebrating New Year’s Eve.
Today, as the sun was setting, I became distracted by my work and when I looked up, the sun had already set. I missed it! Naturally I wanted to reached for my dvr remote to rewind and see it. But you can’t do that in REAL life. When your day is gone, it is gone. Oh, I missed a good one too, based on the final remnants of it.
When we end each day, do we ask God how we did today? Should we? I want to do better each day, another day to run the race, to fight the good fight, and to keep the faith. One day closer to hearing “Well done” from my Savior, my Creator.

Brett Alan Pippin, Guest Writer

No God in my Manger

“What! You want to stage the nativity scene without the Infant Jesus in the manger? Then there’ll be no God in your manger.”

“That’s right. No God in my manger.”

The Christ Child Festival, an annual celebration, held in the Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Indiana and open free to the public, attempts to visualize the meaning of Christmas without any secular commercialism, including Santa Claus. Booth displays, set up by individuals, organizations, churches, and schools, stage some aspect of the Christmas story.

One Christmas I decided to set up a booth at the Festival and selected the theme, No God in my Manger. The manger was filled with a Monopoly Game, a portable TV, sprayed gold bricks, stacks of paper play money, and a model red Mustang convertible with Mary and Joseph staged around the stuff-filled manger. The purpose was to provoke dialogue on the real meaning of Christmas.

The irony of this whole scenario was that I had contradicted the theme, “No God in my Manger,” for there was a god in our crib. It just happened to be the gods we substitute for the Incarnate Christ. So having an empty manger was inconsistent with the theme. Then I reasoned, wait a minute, there is still NO GOD in my manger, at least, not the true and living Almighty One, but only false gods fashioned by the creature of the Creator-God.

My prayer was that those who visited our booth would come away with pricked consciences from the visualization of how commercialism usurps the holy celebration.

This Christmas season I can toss out the false gods cluttering my nativity and be like Mary, who in her Magnificat, bursts forth with “I’m dancing the song of my Savior God” (Luke 2:7 The Message). She had already laid her God in the manger. As Mary picked up her firstborn, her son Jesus, and cuddled her Savior God in her arms, I too can”cuddle” my Messiah for there are no false gods in my manger now.

Is your manger, for the most part, filled with the “gods of trinkets, toys, and trifles” or
is it filled with the living God, Jesus?

Two Trees

Two trees; this tree, that tree.

This tree, green full of life and youth.  That tree, brown rough hewn—bare.

This tree whose limbs bear man’s gift to man. That tree—whose limbs bore God’s gift to man.

This tree that causes us to rejoice in the birth of a man. That tree that causes us to rejoice in the rebirth of mankind.

This tree, the symbol of new life in a baby Boy. That tree, the symbol of Eternal life for all men everywhere.

This tree, reminding us of the time when God gave Himself to man. That tree reminding us of the time when God gave Himself for men.

For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, That whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

 

 

Santa at the Manger

At Christmas time when I visit a Christian book store and see the figurine of Santa with his cap in his hand kneeling at the manger where the Son of God is sleeping on hay I am saddened and offended. Santa, a fairy tale figure, bowing to the real Son of God.

We were shopping in a store and an elderly man stopped us and asked our young daughter, “What’s Santa giving you for Christmas tonight?” She so adult-like replied, “Santa doesn’t come to our house. Our mommy and daddy give us presents.”

Another example of a child being confronted by the fat Red Suit asking, “What is Santa leaving under your tree this year for such a sweet little boy?” The young boy answered, somewhat shyly, “Mom and dad put our gifts under the tree for us.”

While we enjoy the story of St. Nicholas, we need to consider three attributes that we are ascribing to Santa.

1. He is omniscient for he remembers what every “good boy and girl” in all the world wants for Christmas and he wraps that specific present up, puts each child’s name on it and signs it “From Santa.” It is estimated that there are more than five billion people in the world and 2/3 of those are children. Wow! He and his elves must have been busy making all those gifts, signing and wrapping them.

2. He is omnipresent for he delivers to most of the countries in the world in one long, very long night., especially if he’s got to climb down a chimney and back up in every house that happens to have a fireplace.

3. He is omnipotent for he is powerful enough to ride in an open vehicle powered by 6 or 8 reindeer who suddenly fly to every house in all the neighborhoods in the world, in all kinds of weather conditions, where Christmas is observed, speak all the languages and dialects, and  able to carry in one vehicle all the billions of presents he’ll deliver. And he’s got to get all the gifts into one bag and load them into his open sleigh,

These are attributes that should only be ascribed to God.

In addition there’s a slight moral issue also. Every time he signs “From Santa” and a parent has purchased that gift, then he is lying. The Apostle Paul encourages us to “Speak the truth to one another.” But are we accusing Santa Claus with deception and even lying?

We tell our children lots of fairy tales – Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs. And these are part of their imaginative childlike spirit. But let’s not tell the “Night Before Christmas” without telling them the true story of Christmas. Perhaps minimizing the Santa Claus story may help us to focus more on the “Indescribable gift” (2 Cor 9:15) God gave us in that hay-filled manger–His own Son.