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PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2011 1:17 am 
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Christmas For God
by Peter Hiett

It happened several years ago and if I remember correctly it happened in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
I hate Christmas. Actually, I love Christmas—what it truly is. I should say I hate the Christmas season. I’m a pastor… and at that time, a few thousand folks would come to church on Christmas Eve and hear me preach—folks dragged there by relatives; folks that hated church and folks that loved church; seminary professors and folks that had never opened a Bible; old people, wondering if this would be their last Christmas, and little kids amped up on sugar. And I’d have to preach to each and all, making it relevant, interesting and Biblically sound … and oh yeah, God would be listening. People had high expectations for me--people that thought they knew me but really had no idea who… I am. I felt very important, insecure, proud and frightened all at once, but most of all lonely—really lonely.
That’s when it happened. I went into my daughter’s bedroom to say prayers and kiss her goodnight. Becky was about three at the time.
Sitting on the side of the bed I bent down to give her a kiss. She grabbed my head with those pudgy little hands and pulled it down close against her chest as she said, “I’ll be the big Mommy and you be the little baby.” And for a few moments I was. For a few moments I rested. And for a few moments I was so very completely NOT lonely. I think that’s the best Christmas present that I’ve ever received. She patted my head and said, “I love you, little baby.”
She didn’t know how the sermon prep was going. She had no clue about the church budget. She didn’t ask for anything, demand anything or expect anything… except me, just me. She drank me in and I drank her in. She loved me for who I am. Merry Christmas. “I love you, little baby.”
You know a baby is a fascinating thing—A baby is an “I” without much “me”; a person without much persona; a spirit without much of a résumé; breath of God without much dust. We love babies just because they are. Becky loved me just because I am. And check this out: Becky knew me. She knew me better than any of those folks at church. The great Jewish theologian Martin Buber said that there are two kinds of relationships, “I-it” and “I-thou”. The first is how I know things—personas, résumés and attributes. The second is how I know persons, how “I” know another “I.” Well, Becky knows who I am.
Did you know that “I am”, is what God calls himself? He said to Moses, “Tell them that I AM sent me to you.”
I AM. But you know He also has quite a résumé. He’s extremely important and people demand things of Him all the time. All sorts of folks say they “know Him”, yet I suspect they only know a little “about Him”. In the Old Testament, whenever He shows up people tend to burn up, just from the glory of His presence. “The central theme of the great part of the Old Testament,” wrote GK Chesterton, “is the loneliness of God”.

Does God long to be loved just because He is . . . I AM?
Does He long for that kind of communion?
Is God in some way lonely… for you?

Have you thought much about Christmas? It’s an utterly bizarre idea, at least in this world. Everyone in this world is trying to “grow up” and God decides to “grow down”. In the words of St. Paul in the book of Philippians, “Though He was in the form of God, He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself taking the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men…” That’s Christmas. God emptied of His manifest glory—His persona, His résumé—wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a food trough, in a barn, inhabited by animals and peasants—His parents!
Why, would the “Ground of All being”, “The Uncreated Creator”, do such a thing? I suppose we could never exhaust all the reasons, but I think I know at least one.
Just think of it. Mary would pick Him up, pat His head, and whisper, “I love you”, as He suckled at her breast. She would hold Him, stare at Him, delight in Him—just that He is… I AM. And when she did, she knew God. I think she knew God better than Moses knew God at the burning bush, better than Elijah knew God on Mt. Carmel, better than the priests in the temple knew God. She HELD GOD and yet she was not consumed by glory and fire. Was that because God somehow said to Mary, “You be the big mommy, and I’ll be the little baby”?
…Whatever the case, I bet He felt so very NOT lonely.
…Maybe He’s lonely for you.
What would God want for Christmas? …Maybe, what He wanted that first Christmas. And how could you give it to him? Jesus said, “As you did it unto the least of these, my brethren, you did it unto me.”
Well, maybe at the office party, school play or even the Mall, you might look for the last and the least. Then grow down, give them a smile, a hug and maybe even a kiss. Just love them for who they are …or “I am”. For underneath all of that persona, résumé, success and failure is a baby… and in that baby, the breath of God.
What does I AM want for Christmas? The Wisemen brought Him gold, frankincense and myrrh. Stupid Wisemen! What would a baby want with gold, frankincense and myrrh? For that matter, what would God want with gold frankincense and myrrh? See? It turns out that God and babies want the same thing. They want you.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:19 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2011 1:14 pm
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Death and The Magic Kingdom

I turned fifty this summer. Now I need glasses. I say, “What?” more than I used to. And I think about dying…
When my kids where little, their idea of Heaven was the “Magic Kingdom.” Several years ago a friend gave us a gift that put Disney World in our grasp… if, we drove.

I came up with the idea of surprising the kids because I cherished that moment of glorious revelation painted on their grateful faces, as I would exclaim, “We’re going to Disney World!” Also, we knew that at 3, 6, 8 and 9, they couldn’t bear the wait… the weight of waiting. They’d self-destruct from a combination of joy and longing.

As summer approached they pressed for information about summer vacation. I didn’t want to lie. So I plotted out our course and realized that we’d be driving through Junction City, Kansas, where I had been born. The next time they pressed, I said, “Kansas! We’re going to Kansas!” They jumped up and down and said “Yeah! We’re going to Kansas! What’s in Kansas?” I said, “Stuff! There’s stuff in Kansas, hotels, swimming pools…stuff.” They started dreaming about Kansas.
One day at McDonald’s the Happy Meals were promoting Disney’s new Animal Kingdom. My daughter looked longingly at some plastic gizmo and said “Dad this is so cool!” I asked, “What is it?” She described this magical land. “Where is it?” I asked. She said, “A place called Orlando—it’s really far away. We could never go there.” I said, “Yeah, but we’re going to Kansas! Trust me, it’ll be great.”

The day finally came. After 7 hours of driving, as we pulled off of I-70, the kids could barely contain themselves. They were looking and yelling, “There’s a motel! There’s a swimming pool! There’s a bowling alley!” We met the pastor of the church where my Dad had pastored years before. He showed us all around the old stone building. He showed us the house in which I had lived as a boy. Then we all sat down on the front steps across from the park. Mom got the secret bag out of the mini-van. I turned on the video recorder and began the pre-arranged dialogue with pastor Underhall-Pierce.

“Well, we’ve seen the church and my old house, what else is there to do here in Junction City?” I asked. “Oh you could go to the lake,” he said. “We have a lake in Colorado,” I replied. “Well, there’s the bowling alley.” The kids all screamed, “Yeah! The bowling alley.” “But we’ve got a bowling alley in Colorado,” I said. It went on like this for a while, the kids getting more and more frustrated. Finally I said, “You know, we’ve got a lake, a bowling alley, a swimming pool, playground and a Tasty Freeze in Colorado… I think we oughta just leave.” The kids were incredulous. I then said, “Hey where would you end up if you just kept going on that I-70 out there?” He said, “Well golly, if you just kept going you’d go all the way to the ocean and if you turned right when you got to the ocean, you’d end up in Florida.” I said, “What’s in Florida?” He said, “Disney World!” I said, “DISNEY WORLD! Let’s go to Disney World!” Mom pulled out the Mouseketeer hats. I started jumping up and down. And Coleman, my three year old, said, “Shoot! I wanted to go to the park.” Another said, “Aren’t we gonna stay in Junction City?” Another said, “I wanta go bowling.” And another, “I wanta stay in a hotel.” I said, “We will, but we’ve got to just drive a little further and we’ll stay in lots of hotels.” Then Becky exclaimed, “I DON’T WANTA GET IN THE VAN!”

It was the most anti-climactic moment of my life. I was so frustrated… and embarrassed in front of this fellow pastor—what spoiled kids! Finally I just forced them back into the van. “JUST GET IN THE VAN.”

As I slammed the door and prepared to apologize to Pastor Underhall-Pierce, I think God spoke to me, not in words, just a thought: “Now do you understand Peter? Do you understand what it’s like to be your Daddy?”

You see, it’s not that my children expected too much. They expected too little. Their dreams were not too large, but far too small. They had settled for Junction City. And make no mistake, the bowling alley would be fun; the Comfort Inn would be fun… for a time. But after three weeks, sitting in front of the Tasty Freeze watching the trucks drive by, Junction City would turn into Hell.

In English Bibles, there is no single word consistently translated “Hell.” In the King James Version the word most commonly translated “Hell” is the Hebrew word “Sheol,” which is then rendered “Hades” in the Greek New Testament. “Hades/Sheol” is the shadowy underworld—the realm of the dead, the realm of ghosts. And it begins here and now. It appears to be for those that hang on to this world and the things of this world, those that hang on to control. You see this world is a junction—a Junction City world. It’s full of wonderful things, but those things are signs. They point to something. You read the signs and keep going.

Hell starts here and ends here. Heaven also starts here, but never ends. Heaven is this world filled with the Glory of God our Father who is Love. Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Heaven starts in the van. Jesus is the van—if what He said is true. He said, “I am The Way.” “Jesus” literally means, “God is salvation.” It’s the Spirit of Jesus in us, that has faith in the Grace of God our Father; that hopes in a reality better than this Junction City World; that loves even when it hurts; that get’s in the van.

See? My children had Junction City in their grasp, but the Magic Kingdom looked like nothing but a painful van ride. It looked like a cross. It looked like death. It’s the Spirit of Jesus in us that says, “Nevertheless not my will, but thine be done.”

Now you may think, “Fine. I get the analogy. But why do we have to stop in Junction City at all? Why this messed up world at all?” I’m not sure exactly, but I think it must have something to do with learning Faith, Hope and Love.

I do know that once we arrived in the Magic Kingdom, it was just that much better because we’d stopped in Junction City on the way. It happened several times. We’d be standing in line for Space Mountain or something and one of the kids would look at me trembling with joy, as they would exclaim in wonder, “This is SO AWESOME! Daddy, I can’t believe I wanted to stay in Junction City. I love you.” They had the Magic Kingdom AND they had me AND I had their faith, hope, and love. I had their hearts.

Well anyway, like me, maybe you need glasses. And maybe you have to say “What?” more than you used to. Maybe you’ve been thinking about dying…

Well, maybe your Father is taking you to the Magic Kingdom.

So… get in the van.


© Peter Hiett, 2012


Peter Hiett is the pastor of The Sanctuary Downtown and The Sanctuary Foothills.
He will be preaching the following weekends: Feb 11th, 18th, and March 3rd, 10th, 17th

The Sanctuary Foothills The Sanctuary Downtown
Services Saturday evenings at 5:30pm Services Sunday mornings at 10:00
(United Methodist Church Building) (30th and Vallejo, by Speer and I-25)
3757 S. Ponderosa Dr., Evergreen 2215 W. 30th Ave., Denver

http://www.tsdowntown.com


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:35 am 
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So, everyone goes to the Magic Kingdom, aka Heaven?

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Too bad future generations aren't here to see all the great things we are spending their $$ on!!


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:07 pm 
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"Does every body get into the Magic Kingdom?"
That's such a fascinating question and one that I wish more people would ask biblically. If you'd like to really dig into the answer I'd encourage you to go to our church website at www.thesanctaurydowntown.org and click on the theology prompt... But quickly, I think this is the biblical answer: "Everybody that's Anybody will arrive in the Magic Kingdom." I believe that Scripture says that in hundreds of different places and in many different ways. In 1 Corinthians Paul puts it this way, "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Cor. 15:22)

That little text explains a bunch:
1. Christ is the way. No one gets to the Kingdom without Him. He is the Word of God and Mercy of God.
2. The "All" that have died in Adam is the same "All" that are made alive in Christ.
3. Perhaps some never died in Adam. I think that means that they would not be human as we think of human. They would have no soul. That's why I say "Everybody that's Anybody." In Revelation 21:5 The Lord says that He is "making all things new." Perhaps some are only shadows... not even self-aware... which means you couldn't even "know them." I don't know. But it certainly appears that anyone that contains the Breath of God is a "someone" that will be made new.
4. However this doesn't mean that some won't languish in "Sheol" (Junction City) until the end of time (chronological time). Sheol is often translated "Hell"
5. It also doesn't mean that some won't be "consumed" by Eternal Fire at the end of time ("Our God is a consuming fire.") "Junction City" will one day be consumed with fire, like the whole earth, just as Sodom was "destroyed" with "eternal fire" in Jude 7... yet Sodom will be made new Ezekiel 16:53-63.
6. God has power to destroy and power to make new. He's the creator.
7. It does mean that God's "Mercy is over all that he has made" and that "the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases."

These ideas are all over Scripture. If you’re interested please check out the website!


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:47 am 
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All roads lead to God, but only one leads to salvation (and thereby entrance into Heaven) and that is Jesus. As He said "no one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) All the other roads lead to judgement and condemnation.

God loves us enough to allow us to choose the truth or to reject it. It's not that God condemns people to Hell (1 Timothy 2:3-5), its that He grants us our wish when we choose to reject him. One day every knee will bow and declare Jesus is Lord (Isaiah 45:22-24, Philippians 2:9-11) so it is our choice to either humble ourselves now or have Him humble us. Eternity for each of us is in the balance.

In His Grace,
Warren

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As Water Reflects A Face, So The Heart Reflects The Person
Proverbs 27:19


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 7:34 am 
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So Warren, do you believe that it is your "choice" that saves you?


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 10:03 am 
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How God “Feels” About You


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Have you ever wondered, “How does God feel about me? Does God just tolerate me? Is God angry at me? Does God Love me?”

At times I’ve figured, “Of course He loves me. He has to. It’s like some sort of philosophically mandated ontological necessity. God is Love…. and so has to love me. ‘Sorry God.’”

John, the beloved disciple, would say, “NO! You don’t understand the kind of love we’re talking about.” In 1 John 3:1 he writes, “Behold what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we would be called the little children of God, and so we are.”

Nothing has taught me about the Love of God, quite like having little children of my own… not seminary, not books, not even Scripture. And it’s not to my credit. The Love just showed up along with these exhausting little needy creations. It’s a different kind of Love. It’s thoroughly unique, unearned and unconditional.

On my office wall, I keep an old picture hanging by the door. It’s a picture of my youngest son Coleman. He’s standing in the living room in nothing but a diaper and cowboy boots with his musical potty chair stuck on his head. He has a distressed look on his face, because I’m not helping him, but taking his picture. That’s because he’s the most delightful and beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

However, if you stood in my living room wearing nothing but a diaper and cowboy boots screaming because a musical potty chair was stuck on your head… I’d call the police. That’s because I’m not your “Daddy.” I am Coleman’s Daddy. Jesus addressed God as “Abba.” It means “Daddy.”

My son is seventeen now. I get mad at him for all sorts of things, but I can’t get mad at him the way I get mad at others... Sure, he’s dressed himself in all sorts of failures and successes, but underneath, I know who he is. He’s still that priceless treasure, just with some new potty chair stuck on his head. I keep the picture by my door to remind myself of who I am and how my Father in heaven sees me. What if God sees you that way? … your neighbor that way? …your worst enemy that way?

Well that’s the kind of love the Father has “given unto us.”
So, why does God tolerate me and my crap? And what is it that He wants?

Years ago my wife read a book called Potty Training in a Day. Because I had the same plumbing system as my firstborn, Jonathan, she figured that I should do the training … and she went shopping. Uhgg.

I hated poop, but loved my son. We had a nice time, a short time. And then Jon had an accident, a sizeable one. Well at that point, according to the book, it was my job to take him to the potty and make him sit on the toilet anyway—to see that crime doesn’t pay. He was obviously distressed as I led him to the throne room in his little white T-shirt and underwear. I stood him there, before the porcelain judgment seat, pulled his underwear down and turned to get some toilet paper. I turned back just in time to see the following: Jonathan looked left then right, then reached down into his underpants seizing the visible expression of his “sin nature.” He stood up and just hurled it at the toilet. It bounced off the lifted lid, like a basketball off a backboard, and plopped into the bowl. TWO POINTS! Jonathan turned and looked at me. His eyes lit up with joy, thrilled with the gift he had just given me. He then took his dirty hand and wiped it several times across his clean white T-shirt, smiling the whole time as if to say, “Daddy, aren’t you proud of me?”

I remember standing there, staring at my son, covered in the thing I hate most and smiling… “I did it for you, Daddy. Aren’t you proud of me, Daddy?”

And I WAS! That was my judgment.

I got just what I wanted: my son’s heart …my son standing there in filth and faith. I would gladly bear the filth to destruction in the laundry room and I would treasure that faith as the most priceless of gifts—my own love returning to me, through my son, as faith; faith in who I am; Jon’s Daddy.

Daddy love is unique, unearned, unconditional, relentless, sacrificial, and it seeks the heart; it desires faith. And by that grace, working through faith, it is profoundly creative. If you have faith in your Father’s Love, you will be shaped in His image from the inside out, unaware that it’s even happening.

So how does God “feel” about you? It’s interesting that Scripture doesn’t really have one word that always gets translated as “feeling” or “emotion.” Scripture doesn’t divide up the human heart in the same way we modern people do. Perhaps the closest Greek word would be pascho or pathos; words that get translated suffering or passion. And that makes some sense. You “suffer” an emotion. An emotion is something that affects you. Is God “affected” by you?

I’ll tell you what: no one can “affect” me like my kids. I’m a big guy, but they can strip me bare and nail my heart to a tree. It’s John that writes, “Jesus… from the bosom of The Father, He has made Him known.” Jesus is the heart of God nailed to a tree for the love of you, not because He has to be, but because He wants to be. The Passion of the Christ is the passion of God for you. It’s there that the Father bears his own sorrow over the way we wound each other. It’s there that the Father takes our suffering upon himself. It’s there that the Father exhibits the depths of His passion for each one of us. It’s there that He issues his Judgment of Love. And it’s there that He delivers up His Spirit, His Word, the Spirit of Jesus that descends into our hearts and returns to Him crying ‘Abba Father.’” Romans 8:15-16: “When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is the Spirit himself, bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” When we cry “Abba,” it’s Faith; Faith, that creates us in His image.

Of course you feel ridiculous. Of course you’re covered in filth, but behold the kind of Love He has for you. Have Faith, and you will be made in His image.

How does God feel about you? Look to Christ Jesus, His Heart. He gives everything for you; literally “feels” everything for you; He’s utterly captivated and affected by you. It wasn’t Roman nails or even the Devil that held Him to the wood. It was you—His love for you. That’s how He “feels” about you. Say, “Abba.”



Peter Hiett is the pastor of The Sanctuary Downtown and The Sanctuary Foothills. The Sanctuary Foothills’ services are Saturday evenings at 5:30 pm in the United Methodist Church Building at 3757 S. Ponderosa Dr., Evergreen. The Sanctuary Downtown’s services are Sunday mornings at 10:00 am at 2215 W. 30th Ave., Denver.
www.tsdowntown.com.


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