This particular season is full of possibilities and fraught with peril. There are expectations and trepidation. One definition of trepidation is “A feeling of fear or agitation about something that may happen…” Some look forward to family ‘get-togethers’. Others dread them. In this post, I want to share a message I preached Sunday, November 26th.
It is my earnest prayer that you may not only experience hope… but that you will find joy as we focus on what God’s Word promises us about our true ‘Home”
I titled the message Home for the Holidays and I contrast nostalgia with the legitimate longing for home that Christians experience at this time of the year. Watch;
Or listen here
Lord, in your name, I ask that your Holy Spirit will take what I say now.
From your word.
And ministered in only the way that he can, and so specific a way that we would be changed.
That we would be encouraged and edified and built up.
And with laser like focus, come back to what this season is all about. Even if the culture.
We know who we’re celebrating and we know why.
Help us today Lord to worship you in our message and the songs that we sing and who we are.
And the assignments that you give in Jesus name.
I had a – long run at one particular congregation over 20 years down in Cottage Grove.
And so I had the chance to watch a whole generation come up through our time there. And little guys graduating from high school.
Some of them I did their weddings when I remembered them in nursery class and and went through all sorts of things, but I had some amazing people I worked with and one was one of the first assistants I had was a fellow named Kip Richmond.
Now Kip was a very interesting character. He was an artist.
In fact, how many hunters do we have? Here you have people that hunt in here.
OK, take a note. The guns all over. No, never mind.
Kip actually submitted and won the competition for the artwork on the the Hunting license. The duck thing. There was a competition he wanted and he really was an amazing artist, but he had a real knack for kind of saying things that were pithy statements that kind of you knew what you were thinking, but he gave you the word for it and he said, you know, when it comes to Christmas.
I think people are obsessed with trying to replicate a Norman Rockwell.
So go ahead, Matt. Let’s put that first. There we are.
Home for the holidays.
Man, I would love it if it was like that all the time.
You got to the door. Nobody was obsessing about the meal.
The kids weren’t duking it out in the other room. The drapes weren’t on fire.
They’re just there and we’re all going to enjoy each other, and it’s going to be just great. Let’s look at the next one, Matt.
It’s you can’t really read us as Merry Christmas grandma we came in came here in our New Plymouth.
They don’t even make Plymouth anymore.
But that wasn’t famous Norman Rockwell Christmas.
Painting, let’s look at the next slide.
OK, this one is pretty accurate. That’s me putting something on the tree.
There’s there’s a right way and a wrong way for everything. OK guys, I’m looking for support support here, right?
The wrong way.
Is to take each strand of tinsel.
The right way.
Everybody knows that.
Well, let’s let’s say this for sure.
This is a season where nostalgia comes and goes, isn’t it?
Sometimes you feel deeply moved and you don’t even know why. Maybe it’s some music playing in the background, but.
One writer I love how he put it.
It’s this next slide, please yeah.
Now that was not the recent riot.
That occurred outside of Walmart on Black Friday.
People duking it out. I remember stories over the years of at least two or three murders that took place in in the city of Chicago over a pair of Air Jordan shoes.
I remember people fighting to the point of drawing blood with each other to see who was going to get the cabbage Patch doll.
And the one center anybody under 30 stink? What’s that?
It was a fad and it was the thing that you had to get and there’s so many different things that we all have to get. I love this one.
Our expectation now is if you’ll just walk by the window and justice have that wistful look in your eye, there’s going to be a Mercedes with a bow on it in your driveway.
We have all these expectations. My niece, who’s now a wonderful godly woman. Carol Jean.
When she was the youngest of all of her siblings, I guess they were having Thanksgiving one time and they were holding hands and praying and she was just learning how to talk and she wanted to participate and there was, let’s say what we’re thankful for and then we all thank you for Mom and Dad. Thank you for our health and Carol panic for a minute and she went. Thank you, Turkey.
And then after it was all over, she she looked at her mom and said is that it?
Now the meals there. We said that it is that with Thanksgiving. This is what everybody been all hyped up. That’s it.
Nostalgia this next slide, please.
Oh, how’d that get in there?
Here I was preparing to preach and a picture of my grandson made it into the slide presentation. How did that happen?
That was for Pastor Mike in absentia on getting even.
But you know, when I looked at that picture of Camden, his name is Camden Jonathan Riddle.
Camden is is that a real magical age? Right now you can even see it on its face.
What that look of wonder is about.
Are some Cheerios?
But he’s at the big boy table now and he can pick him up with his own hands. So it’s a big deal.
Let’s look at the next slide, Matt.
Now here’s the definition for nostalgia that I came up with. There’s a couple of them, and I read this one.
That’s Bing Crosby and on purpose I knew how faded that slide was.
But I left it faded because already in our generation and a lot of younger people will hear the music on the radio and not know who it was.
But you cannot go to a department store at Walmart or Target without hearing. I’ll be home for Christmas.
There’s no place like.
Home for the holidays.
He didn’t say this, but listen to the definition for nostalgia. It’s the desire to possess what you never had.
Have you ever gotten together with your adult siblings and tried to remember the same event?
You say what you remember? They go now. That’s not how it went.
Then you challenge them. Say yes it was.
Then you get into a fistfight. It’s adults and say we’re going to have a good Christmas.
But seriously, we have this this romantic thing that kind of gets a hold of us. It tugs at our heartstrings.
But there are a lot of ambivalent feelings that come particularly with Bing Crosby. He was the most prolific entertainer from the bottom line of the entire 20th century.
Or yet 20th century.
Sold over a billion.
Billion with a B records that he performed on in his lifetime.
How many of you saw white Christmas?
How many of you saw Holiday Inn?
I did too.
Warm fuzzy feelings. I always had an opinion about Bing Crosby. I knew he was a golfer. I knew he and Bob Hope were great comedians.
They went around and entertained the entire world. The troops there. I’m so proud of what they did with the USO tours.
Bing Crosby family life however.
With something of another order.
Apparently he was an abusive parent.
One of his sons, the oldest, 1 Gary, wrote an expose.
Called going my way, a takeoff on one of the famous Bing Crosby movies where he he played a priest who took care of the young kids in the neighborhood was so fatherly to him he was obsessed with performance. And if the kids didn’t line up they were punished in really humiliating ways.
Two of his sons.
Gary wrote the book and the other ones argued with him because he was married twice and he had a blended family.
They were all arguing about this big wealthy thing that happened and I was thinking about what, what would it take and somebody had to do this. He put his his money into a trust.
And there was a proviso in the trust that his sons would not be able to touch their inheritance until they were 65 years old.
That’s big time bitterness from somewhere I don’t know where that would have come from, but let’s talk about nostalgia for a minute.
I I love word studies, you pick that up. If you’ve heard me speak here periodically, I just the origins of words will really give you insight into the deeper meaning that people used to ascribe to it. Nostalgia comes from 2 Greek words, one has to do with.
The second part of it remembered anybody who heard of neuralgia.
Pain associated with memories of home or with going home or with going home and finding out it wasn’t what you thought.
I want to have a Currier and Ives print. I want to have a Norman Rockwell Christmas thing in my heart, but if I went back to Youngstown, OH, where I grew up, we only lived in two homes. They’ve both been razed to the ground.
One was to make room for the university that was expanding. The other was due to the crime being so severe that the police got the permission of the city to raise the entire city block. Because of all the drug dealing that was going on.
There are now pitched battles with automatic weapons in Youngstown, OH.
I’ll be home for Christmas. It doesn’t kind of tug at your heartstrings about nostalgia, but listen to what it originally meant.
Originally in reference to the Swiss.
Nostalgia was called severe homesickness. It was actually considered a disease. It was said to be peculiar to them, and often fatal, whether by its own action and in combination with the wounds or disease. By the 1830s, the word was used of any intense homesickness that of sailors convicts.
The bagpipes produce the same effect on the Scottish regiments serving abroad.
It is listed among the endemic diseases in the cyclopedia of modern medicine in the time of the Civil War.
The concourse of these depressing symptoms, which sometimes arrive in persons who are absent from their native country when there sees with a longing and a desire of returning to their home and friends, the scenes of their youth.
It was a military medical diagnosis. Principally, it was considered a serious medical problem by the north in the Civil War.
I had no idea I knew nostalgia. It sometimes is bittersweet, but the term itself was mostly used. If somebody was actually physically ill or had symptoms to do with the disconnect. Catch this part. The disconnect between our expectations.
The reality of it.
But the reality of anything.
Say this this phrase with me, he knows.
And I’m gonna let you think about the third one.
The famed jurist William Blackstone was once asked to define the term home.
Apparently a British nobleman had died and inherited titles and castles in both England and Scotland, and had lived most of his life abroad.
If he was found to be a Scott, it would be administered under Scottish law, but if he was determined to be English, it would be administered.
Under English law, the great interpreter of the law, Blackstone wrote this.
Is that place from which when a man has departed?
He’s a wanderer until he returns.
Isn’t that it?
Isn’t there something that tells you there’s got to be more than this?
Little Carol Jean was right. It’s this city.
No, there’s got to be more to it than this. And and there’s something about that the phrase home.
But now, how many moms do we have in here?
OK, I want you to remember back to the time you had your baby and and try to picture this.
Your husband comes in and says, OK, honey, I got some great news. We’re going to get you on a donkey and we’re going to go through the elements. And there’s a tax and we have to go registers so we have to go come on.
And she said, did you book a room in the Ramada? And Joseph lied as most men would lie and he said yes, that’s true and we have it all set to go. No they got to an end didn’t they? Let’s look Luke chapter 2. Let’s turn there.
Luke chapter 2.
Verse one Luke chapter 2 verse one in those days.
Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
This was the first census that took place while Corineus was the governor of Syria.
And everyone went to his hometown to register.
Now first of all, a very it’s kind of a trivial point, but I think for people who wonder about these things, this ought to really give you some great confidence. The mention of Quirinius.
The governor of Syria.
Is the linchpin around which we date. The entire New Testament.
Because there was a coroneos, we know when he was in Syria, there’s architect or.
Ancient evidence that on relics that they found that proved that such a guy was there at that time. If you take that and then you start at the book of Galatians and you start to go and you can date the entire second Cotter pin just so it’s got it.
It really happened. There was a cranius. There was a Jesus.
There were actually books floating around when I first went to seminary. It was called the quest for the historical Jesus.
As if there wasn’t one.
And that was there because people began to speculate about all sorts of things, and you’d say, what can we rely upon? Well, who was Luke, by the way?
Probably one of the most educated men in his time. He was a physician.
He was also the traveling companion of Paul, the beginning of Luke and the beginning of Acts, which he also wrote.
He makes it a point to say I I have an orderly account of what happened. He’s writing as a historian and he said, I interviewed many eyewitnesses, including Mary the mother of Jesus.
So his account is trustworthy and he says that’s how it happened. Now let’s let’s try to think about that for a minute.
Does anybody else argue in the car with your spouse?
I’m just asking you don’t have to look at him.
Just kind of go, no, not me.
How often have you been in a situation like this?
You should have turned back there.
Or in this one I’ve tried for years to shift the blame on this, but it’s on me.
We were going to take a trip to Canada, Judies of Canadian. We’d pastored up there for 12 years. We were going to go up to Canada, and our last stop in the states was going to be Spokane, WA.
And so I I like doing things at the last minute.
I’m a spontaneous kind of guy.
So I thought there’s lots of hotels in Spokane. I mean, how bad can it be?
In the middle of July.
At the height of tourist season.
The one that we could find that was left.
They only had one room left.
And I said, look, it has a pool.
The kids were all excited about the pool. I was glad that I got out of hot water ’cause I found a place, but I saw a curious thing. There was a railroad track like an L in Chicago going over the hotel.
And the guy must have seen the look on my face. He said look, don’t worry about the last one’s already gone for today.
He neglected to tell us about the one at 3:00 o’clock in the morning, and at five it shook the plaster off the walls.
But I told the kids there’s a pool. Next thing I hear umay kids are there. There’s some pond scum on a cold pool.
So we got in in the car again and I said let’s sing some songs. No, I didn’t do that. I wouldn’t have been that cruel.
Remember your first child to concern all the circumstances around Jesus birth were traumatic for Mary in the sense that there were rumors about her.
She was young. This was her first and she has to go on a trip. She didn’t count on taking.
We’re going to put it really, because the emperor wanted to find out how many people could pay taxes to the empire.
It was because of a tax argument.
And so she got there and they didn’t have a room, but they did have a place where the cattle were.
So the son of God was born.
In a very inconvenient time and a very stressful time for his mom and Joseph.
In a place with wet straw.
Most probably damp and open air.
With cattle droppings on the ground.
Now you could easily say what was that all about?
Well, the scripture will tell us a little while here it happened because it was prophesied that he was going to be born right where he was born.
I have trouble getting my head around this sometimes and I want to tell you I’m not very good at walking the walk on this one, so I find myself doing that a lot I wanted was how about?
We don’t have to go through that for.
I remember a situation about a year ago.
I did a wedding of one of my relatives in Florida and I went down and it was my nieces son and that was a lot of fun.
We did the wedding but you know I’m down there. I traveling was kind of arduous for a number of reasons at that particular time. I got there as visiting my sister was pretty critically ill at the time, and.
I was I was kind of getting everything done. Kind of hitting my benchmarks and I thought we’re going to do this.
And then all of a sudden, at the rehearsal dinner, this guy came over.
And I’m I’m, I’m guessing Vietnam era and I just knew he was a vet before I even talked to him. I’m kind of wired like that. I spot that stuff.
And it came up, and he was kind of grumpy.
He was the step dad of the bride.
And he was going to be involved in the wedding and everything and his posture was kind of like this.
So my posture was kind of like.
No, I didn’t do that, but.
Inside I was saying, well, I don’t know what he’s upset about, but let’s go and we were fine and we had a couple conversations he found out we were both veterans and he started telling me a little bit of his experience in Vietnam and it started going on for about an hour and a half.
And I I finally had to go to get some sleep because it was a long day and I went to we were staying in the same hotel next morning.
I went for the famous rubber egg breakfast that the hotel provided.
And so I was down there and he comes over. And he says, so we’re going to go on a walk or what?
We must have walked 10 miles.
For two hours, he poured out his heart about all this stuff. He had been a career police officer in the city of Boston.
After getting back from Vietnam being treated with severe post traumatic stress disorder, 100% service connected disability with the VA telling me all this stuff about his experiences and I would listen and I said I’ll call him.
Tom, that wasn’t his name, I said Tom.
Let’s let’s just pray.
And I prayed for the Lord to reveal himself to Tom.
And after that I lost track almost a year to the day I was back to do another wedding just recently here.
And I I had a lot of other things on my mind for this one, because there were a lot of really heavy situations going on in my extended family.
And I hear on my last day before I’m going that somebody said, did you? Did you talk to Tom yet?
And they were kind of lobbying for me to go see this guy, and I wanted to, but I had all these other things that were my primary reason for being there. So I made an appointment with him at a Starbucks.
And he came up, and he said.
First of all he he walks.
He has Agent Orange nerve damage for his whole auto immune system. He has arthritis, severe arthritis in his hands and his feet and he kind of just hobbled in. He sat down. He still wasn’t smiling.
And then he said.
I got to tell you.
He said I’m just built a shed and I didn’t swear nothing.
Then he then he started to say.
Right after you left.
God started doing stuff in my life.
He said I went to another church and I I only went to the church before because my wife pressed me to do it and I I went there and all of a sudden I started to understand the Bible and then I cried out to God and and I I asked him to help me.
I said if if you’ll help me walk and help me use my hands, I’ll go to the church and offer to be a handyman and help build stuff over there.
And he said, you know what? I have more pain when I’m just walking around, but when I’m working for the Lord, I feel just great. And he said the other day I lifted up my hands to God.
You know what?
I thought there was this great inconvenience to get to this thing that I thought was the thing.
When the appointment was standing next to me the whole time.
I had one other experience like that in my life when I was with the Marines.
They were doing training. Of course it was raining. That’s mandatory.
And every marine carries only half of a tent in their their backpack, and it’s called a shelter. Half you have half the tent, tent poles and half the tent.
The idea is when you hunker down for the night, you’re going to put those two things together and you’re going to be with one other marine for safety reasons and accountability reasons. A whole bunch of things.
So I’m really tired, I’m I’m the oldest guy in the whole thing. I didn’t even get into the chaplaincy.
Tall is 38, so I was probably in my mid 40s and they were doing all this stuff outside and I was trying to act like John Wayne but I wasn’t really tired. I was exhausted.
So we finally put this thing together in the dark.
And this guy is staff Sergeant sitting next to me says, oh good, the chaplains here. Let me tell you he talked.
We were only going to be in that thing for about four hours because they get up at 5:00 in the morning. Oh, dark 30.
I I knew a bit the best I might get 2 hours and he starts talking and talking and talking.
And again, I felt like how? What’s this all about? What am I doing here? How come I get the one guy that wants to talk all night?
All of a sudden he stopped.
He said it was today.
So much that he goes.
This is the anniversary of the day my dad plane went missing in Vietnam. They never found him.
I ended up praying with him.
And once again, the mighty man of God seized out here.
Right, here’s the appointment that was there all along. I didn’t see it.
Because sometimes we get our minds interpreted through our own experience prior to what the Lord wants to do. Turn to Matthew Chapter 2 talking about the same.
Events about the birth of Jesus.
Now, this isn’t going to talk about the exact birth of Jesus in this table. This is saying on verse 13.
The Magi had come the wise men from the east. That was a pretty impressive thing. We have no idea what that exactly looked like, but it would look pretty impressive to some people that were country.
When they’d gone, the Angel of the Lord. This is verse 13 of Matthew 2 the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.
Get up, he said, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod’s going to search for the child to kill him.
Mary’s already been on one trip.
And that was pretty amazing, but also very difficult. So now Joseph he says, oh, by the way, we’re going to pick up and move now and we’re going to Egypt.
I mean, you got to think of the stress that that would cause on anybody, but why? Well, the Lord told me.
How many times did you move thinking the Lord told you to do something? You get there and you say what was this all about? Only to find out later why it was such that that it occurred like that.
I want to know too so he they took the child, his mother, and during the night left for Egypt verse 15, where he stayed until the death of Herod.
And oh and so.
Was fulfilled what the Lord said through the Prophet.
I’ve wondered, do you sometimes think that there are things ordained to happen to you that you don’t know anything about?
And before you ever even got into this situation, the Lord knew what he wanted to have happened in your life.
Now that couldn’t get out of control. You know people can be spooky about guidance and say the Lord did this and the Lord did that when in fact it was just some circumstances that got you there. But if you really believe that God has a plan for your life.
Sometimes you’re going to be uprooted and you’re going to be moving and not being settled in your life.
I think you could look in vain for the residents of Joseph, the Carpenter.
Among all the artifacts in the world, you could find the pyramids.
You know you could find where the hanging gardens in Babylon were, but I don’t think you’re going to find out the Carpenter shop that Joseph had.
’cause he kept moving around a lot.
So now he goes to Egypt. He goes back. Look at this verse 19 after Herod died and Angel the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel.
Mary get EU haul boxes out again. I’ve heard from God.
For those who were trying to take the child life or dead, so he got up, took the child, and his mother went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was raining in Judea in place of his father, heard, he was afraid to go there.
Having boy you think Ben Crosby had some trouble with his sons?
It was actually said of King Herod. There was a play on words with the Greek word for Pig said it would be better to be a pigged inherit son.
He killed some of his sons. He killed some of his wives and so this is one of the ones that survived it.
Having been warned in a dream, he was through the district of Galilee when he lived in a town called Nazareth. Now I do know there’s one other verse that mentions Nazareth by name.
Can anything could come out of Nazareth?
How did you think about your hometown? That way? Can anything good come out of there?
May I offer to you if the Lord loves you and has a plan like I believe he does and how he says in his word that he does some of the things that happened to you that you think were the worst things that ever happened to you were propelling you and impelling you forward to something you didn’t know that was going to happen.
I had this notion about Canada.
I always felt I wanted to go there someday and when I graduated from seminary, I had a colleague that was.
Was pastoring in Calgary AB so when I graduated a year later than he left, we made a big long road trip all the way up to California to Alberta and then all the way to Ohio. A friend of mine and I did.
And I really enjoyed that and just I left a resume with the district supervisor, the denomination I was with, and then all of a sudden when we’re back in Ohio. After all that takes place.
I get a call from the district supervisor and he says Jim Jenkins said yes he goes. Why are you on my desk?
What’s he talking about? Said? You’re on my desk? Why are you on my desk?
I thought for a minute I said, well, I I did have a. I left the resume with you. I just felt called that. I thought maybe I should be in Canada Ministry.
It goes good. You get up here, we’ll talk.
So I went up there.
And I’m there for the major big.
Beautiful thing that’s all lined up then my whole it’s all gonna be lined up pretty good. I was on his desk.
Tiny little church in a place called Bridgeland. It was really just a large house.
Pastor Grady Williams, my dear friend.
He says, turn around and greet one another.
I turned around and saw Judy Rasmussen and I thought I’m going to marry her.
And then I thought, Oh no, not now.
And I didn’t say that about her. I said that about the fact that I was one of these guys that wasn’t.
Satisfied being single and just serving the Lord, I was always waiting for the next big thing. Well, I’m there to be the mighty man of God to come and save the nomination.
I turned around and the mother of my children and the grandmother of our grandchildren was standing there and I didn’t even know she was there. The Lord had a purpose in the trip.
To get us there.
One writer said nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a poor memory.
It’s true in it.
You know you can long for things, but there’s a seeming disconnect. The moves you made in your life, they caused anxiety. You know what was that all about now? Remember, we said a minute ago, West said he knows.
None he shows.
He knows he sews.
How many have you ever heard the term diaspora?
So we don’t use it everyday, it’s used to describe the dispersing of the Jewish people throughout history at the diaspora.
And then when they started to come back in 1948 when when the nation of Israel was born and Jews began to return, they were returning from the diaspora.
Two Greek words.
Dear thoroughly, thoroughly.
Not to just.
Throw things out happenstance, but to so thoroughly.
But it’s how did the early church grow? Everybody knows they went to a seminar on church growth.
They took a flight and they made sure they were at a coastal town, so it was kind of festive for the convention and they sat down and studied.
I can picture Paul and Peter talking together, so Peter, I’m really concerned about the decay to growth rate of our church. You know, we’ve been doing stats. We did all the demographics.
What are you thinking he said? Well, I think we ought to have another book tour.
I think that’s how this is all going to know. They were fleeing for their lives.
The persecution got so bad they had to go from here to there, and once they were there, they had to go from there to there.
And you look back on those apparent, disjointed interrupting kinds of trips.
And the Lord was thoroughly sewing, not just the seed, but sewing them into communities, sewing them. He puts the solitairy in families, the Bible says.
He knows where you live. He knows your address. He knows how much money you make. He knows you. You’re married to, he knows who your kids and your grandkids are. And he knows when he’s coming back.
And interspersed between all that he is thoroughly sewing turned to first Peter.
Give you a minute to find that one. We don’t turn to that one every day.
So first of all I want to mention.
When Peter wrote this, he was in Rome.
The emperor was Nero.
He had set the city on fire. He blamed it on the Christians.
And he actually to make a big display to divert what he had done.
He had the Christians actually impaled on Poles.
Their bodies doused with pitch and he set them on fire as human torches to light the Appian Way. Peter saw all that.
And he wrote to the churches in Asia Minor, warning them if this is going on in Rome, it’s going to find its way out to all the outer parts of the empire. Get ready. It’s going to be. It’s getting heavy now. There’s going to be some persecution.
For walking with the Lord.
And in preparing them, he says this concerning this salvation. First Peter 110.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who spoke of the grace that was to come to you searched intently with the greatest care, trying to find out what time and circumstances in which the spirit of Christ in them was pointing.
When he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. Oh, I don’t know about you, I want to know.
I want to know the signs what they mean and I want to get out ahead of it and know stuff.
But we only we don’t get it all do it. We get the next thing. Sometimes that means this making a move. Sometimes that means making a change. Sometimes it means a change that you didn’t want to make.
But all the while.
It’s been written what’s going to take place. It was revealed to them. Verse 12.
They were not serving themselves, but you, when they spoke of the things they have now been told to you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, even angels long to look on these things therefore prepare your minds for action.
Be self controlled. Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Turn to chapter 2.
He gives a little bit more instruction to them about how they should view themselves.
First Peter chapter.
Two verse 9 but you.
Our chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation of people belonging to God that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Once you were not a people but now you are the people of God. Once you’ve not received mercy, but now you’ve received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you as.
In the world.
Aliens and strangers in the world.
Have you ever had that feeling like?
I don’t fit.
I just don’t fit in the world the way it is. Coming back on this last leg of the trip that I made to Florida. This is just a couple weeks ago now.
I can’t sit on a plane for more than about 2 1/2 hours. I just cramp up and I get very claustrophobic. It has a whole host of history to that thing, but.
I break it up into two and a half hour things, so I flew to Las Vegas, then to Dallas and then on to Florida.
So coming back, I’m on the last leg of my my trip home and I’m making it from Las Vegas.
To Eugene, where I flew out of.
And I thought, boy, there’s a sure lot of buzz on this plane, everybody talking.
They were talking because there was a convention in Las Vegas that I didn’t even know what was going on.
There were 10,000 people at a convention in Las Vegas to talk about how and what a great windfall recreational marijuana was going to be, and it was a trade fair on how to market it, how to get the purest extracts, and they were all 2530 year old.
People that we’re seeing this is going to be the cash cow of all time. Get in on the ground floor.
Then I heard another conversation over here people talking about their family and how what little use they had for their kids or their grandchildren, and they were thinking about cutting them out of the will.
And then I saw some real counterculture folks over here, and I honestly I could almost hear the theme music from the Twilight zone.
I thought I was writing for Rod Serling voice. Where am I?
How did we get here? How did it happen so fast? Would you have ever believed in your lifetime when you drove by Oregon State University, the first three billboards you would see would be pot this exit. Come here. This is this and of all things.
What’s the logo for the recreational use of marijuana?
The green cross.
I heard one enterprising entrepreneur said he was going to open a bud and breakfast.
I thought it was cute for a second and then I almost got sick.
Because a little Camden.
And my other grandchildren ask myself, what on Earth are they going to face in their lifetime? Well, they’re born now, and the Lord knows they’re born.
He knows they’re born into the family they’re in. He knows where they live now. He knows where Jonathan career is going to take him.
He knows the relationships they’re going to have when they’re in their 20s, and he knows all of that.
But he tells Peter told people when something is going to change. You don’t feel like you fit anymore.
Recognize that you are aliens.
And you’re strangers.
That’s all right, the Lord knows.
I thought about this with my my son and my daughter.
If we had.
Not moved around as much as we did, and we did move around quite a bit.
If we had not moved as many times as we didn’t end up where we were at the time that we were.
I want to remind them both. They never would have met their spouses either.
My my daughter. I’m thinking of her right now.
She’s an incredible musician and just a really gifted teacher and choir director and everything. And she was our primary worship leader at the church.
And we had one family coming. I was just starting to get to know them and the one son of the guy that I knew.
He called his brother in Europe.
Who was involved in a ministry to some sports teams in Europe?
They said you need to get back here and meet this girl that’s playing the piano.
I kid you not. He took his brother’s guidance, got on a plane, and came back and he saw Hannah and the rest as they say, is history.
All the pieces that went in to make that happen.
You wonder sometimes don’t you.
To God’s elect.
Live your lives here like strangers.
Look at Chapter 4.
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourself with the same attitude.
Because he has suffered in the body is done with sinners. As a result, he doesn’t live the rest of his earthly life. For evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
You had spent enough time in the past doing what pagans do, living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, ****** carousing, detestable idolatry.
They think it’s strange that you don’t plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation and they heap abuse on you. Have you noticed that the media and the culture is not necessarily friendly to Christians these days?
It’s getting ugly.
It’s getting very ugly.
And I’m not at all convinced it’s not going to get uglier before.
But but there’s something you can do. I came across this little story and it it just warmed my heart and I hope it warms yours.
There was a fellow that wrote for.
Guidepost magazine and he said one one evening in Albany, NY.
I asked a sailor what time it was. He pulled out a huge watch. He said it’s 7:30.
Now I knew it was much later, your watch has stopped.
I’m still on mountain Standard Time. He said I’m from southern Utah.
When I joined, the Navy Paw gave me this watch and told me it would help me to remember home when my watch says 5:00 o’clock in the morning.
I know Dad going out to milk the cows and when it’s 7:30 at night I know the whole family is around a well cooked well spread table and Dad thanking God and praying to God to watch over me.
He said I can almost smell the hot biscuits in bacon.
It’s thinking about these things that helps me to fight when the going gets tough, he said.
I can find out what time it is where I am easily enough.
But what I really want to know is what time is it in Utah?
What if we got our clocks turned around instead of just changing for the seasons and we got ourselves on Kingdom time?
I don’t know where the clock is about Jesus returning.
And the end of this earth as we know it in the new creation. I don’t know the timing and all that, but I know we are to be expecting that.
When you see all these things, Jesus said, look up.
Look up because your redemption draws 9, so we said he knows.
Now this last part floats.
No you wouldn’t.
Beyond my boyish good looks.
You would not think I was a poster boy for anything.
I’ve never liked you, no.
I am I’m a poster boy for a lot of things. You know what the the chief is.
I used to tell the congregation that I served all those years. I said if you knew.
What goes on in my head in a day and the battles I have to stay focused and the failures and the miserable failures I’ve made in my life and all the mistakes I’ve made in my life.
The fact that I’d be standing behind a pulpit preaching God’s word. You’d have a good laugh and say I don’t believe that.
But you know what?
I am a poster boy for God’s grace.
I’m a poster boy for God’s grace, his unmerited favor.
And when I preach his word and when I get to pray for people when I get to go visit people, it is literally a show of who God is because I I was there.
But that you’re really getting kind of arrogant there. No, it’s really true. Same thing is true for you.
One time in New York.
After September 11th, I hit a really rough patch.
It was just the overwhelming scope of it.
And this one particular day.
We would 3 hours at the pile itself. It was still on fire when we were there.
Watching them stop and blow a siren and go pick up a body part. Wrap it in a flag and the firefighters do a little ceremony to bring it down.
Three hours of that interviewing. The guys that I’m talking to and just asking him their story. Ask this one guy that ran a crane.
I said, do you have anybody here? He turned his hat around. He had three pictures of his, his, his brother, and his two nephews were in that pile somewhere, and he was trying to.
I saw the dogs get fatigued from digging.
Went to the morgue.
It’s a city had at least a city block long with refrigerator trucks. His biggest Safeway trucks filled with body parts.
And the forensic people turned the smell of death and all that.
And then at the end of the day, the last third of the day. This is all in one day, every day.
And the last part of the day we went to see the families, and there was a nursery for little children. Little toddlers. Bigger than this sanctuary.
For little kids whose parents were killed in those towers.
So one day I really kind of hit a wall. I I put the hard hat down over my head.
And I I tried to pray and I just started to pray, almost groaning.
I said, Lord, I need your help I I.
What am I? Am I doing it right and what do I here for?
So I went to the morgue. After that the van took us to the morgue.
And I’m just sitting there having a cup of coffee with a guy who was diverting my eyes from what he didn’t want me to see. They were working on.
And the amazing thing they call it. Disaster. Mortuary services demark. They go to all these major incidents and they volunteer their time, their funeral directors and and forensics people, and so they’re doing all that.
This guy is just kind of getting between me and when I was looking at he’s talking to me.
And I was.
I was just thinking.
I wasn’t even praying at this point, I’d prayed earlier.
This is exactly what I did. I had a cup of coffee and I just looked over.
And across the street there were these three or four young women in surgical scrubs.
Looking very troubled about something.
And so they got in a little huddle. I thought, you know they were.
I don’t know what I thought they were doing.
But I just had a thought popped into my head.
I don’t want to tell you I heard an audible voice. I won’t tell you I didn’t.
Just a really strong thought to go over there.
So I went over and they the little huddle broke up when I got there.
And the one the leader of the group looked at me. She had tears in her eyes.
And I said, can I help you?
And they all looked at me really funny.
You know, and I thought.
Well, we’ve been here all day and we came all the way from Nevada.
And we’re forensic dental workers. We want to help out, but we can’t find the badges. Nobody will let us in.
He had to have three or four security badges, was the biggest biggest crime scene in American history, so the security was a big deal and it was a big whole day long ordeal to get those badges.
And she said we just got together and prayed.
And for God to send somebody.
And I I said I can. I can help you get those badges.
They just started crying again and everything and we started talking. This gives me chills. I still remember.
They were from the same denomination that I was in at the time.
I knew their pastor from Nevada.
Somebody who doesn’t usually get it pretty dense. Go over there. OK, Joseph, get up.
Leave Joseph leave again. Joseph and Mary leave again.
Paul, they’re going to lower you through the wall on a basket full of stinky fish. Don’t let there be. Don’t worry about that. They’re going to try and kill you the next place.
These kind of things at that this season of time. What might the Lord be doing?
Our Heavenly Father said CS Lewis.
Allows us to stay in some lovely Inns along the way.
But we are never to mistake it for home.
We’re never to mistake it.
For home, let’s close with Hebrews Chapter 11.
Hebrews Chapter 11.
Some have referred to this passage as God’s Hall of faith or people with fame or or Hall of Fame. Rather, people who displayed faith.
Verse eight of Hebrews 11 says this by Faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he didn’t know where he was going.
Do you know how many books and volumes and sets of books have been written on how you figure out God’s plan for your life and you map it out?
I have a doctorate in church growth.
I’ve thrown half of it away.
Because that’s not how it goes.
If we do believe there’s a Holy Spirit, and if we do believe there’s a plan, he’ll get you where you need to go.
Your heart attitude and I’m dense but I get it every now and then. I’ll say here, my Lord.
Send me and trust that he will.
Trust that he will.
You didn’t know where he was going. Verse 9 by faith he made his home in the promised land. Here it is again like a stranger in a foreign country.
He lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise, for he was looking forward to the city with foundations whose architect and builder.
By Faith Abraham, even though he was passed age and Sarah herself was barren, was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise now.
I’ve heard lots of messages that go more like this.
You just muster up enough faith, and if you speak with a faith that you’ve mustered up, it has to come to pass. Because you’ve spoken in faith. I’ve heard those messages. You probably heard them too.
Make sense out of what follows then.
And so from this one man, he’s as good as dead came descendants as numerous as the stars of the sky. It is counted as the sand of the sea shore. Verse 13.
All of these people.
We’re still living by faith.
When they died.
They did not receive the things promised.
They only saw them and welcomed them from a distance and they admitted here it is again.
That they were aliens and strangers on the earth. People who say such things show that they’re not looking for a country of their own.
If they’d been thinking of the country they’d left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country, a heavenly one.
Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God.
For he has prepared a city for them.
On the night before I went to the cross.
If you if you just track how many times Jesus told them, told them overtly what was going to happen to him. I’m going to chief. Priests are going to arrest me. I’m going to be killed.
Told him a number of times, but they weren’t able to receive it. I don’t beat up on them for that. I don’t get it the first time. I don’t get it the 50th time sometimes I’m so dense.
But they they didn’t understand why. Why is this got to be, Jesus said.
In the world.
You will have tribulation but be of good cheer.
I’ve overcome the world in my father’s house. There are many mansions.
You know what else he said and I I I tear up every time I remember it.
Have you ever had anybody break a promise to you?
How hurtful that is? When you’re really counting on it.
Jesus put his own character on the line, he said if that wasn’t so.
What I have told you.
That’s the end of the discussion. As far as I’m concerned.
So here’s what we’re strangers. We’re aliens. We’re in a culture we can’t even begin to relate with and understand circumstances.
Seemingly happenstance circumstances have made parts of this sojourn very difficult and financially rough and inconvenient. And sometimes this flat out hard.
I remember hearing about these two missionaries that had come back from Africa.
That they returned from their mission.
Broken in health without leading one convert to the Lord.
They spent decades where they were laboring in obscurity.
And they just happened to be coming back on the ship that Theodore Roosevelt the president was on. Coming back from a safari.
TR was on one of the most popular presidents in our history, the big outdoorsman. The national parks. All that stuff that was Teddy Roosevelt.
Well, these folks could only afford steerage down where the bilge was.
So there’s this little plank here and over there. The president’s getting off their marching bands, reporters, thousands of people welcoming me home.
And these two people broken in health hobbled outta steerage and they were starting to walk away. And then the husband finally just gave into self pity and he said we gave 20 years of our life were broken. Health haven’t even. There’s no they didn’t even send anybody to pick us up.
Here we are. We’re home now.
And he married well.
His wife looked at him and said.
We’re not home yet.
I’ve never been, but people tell me Mount Zion is an amazing National Park.
And there’s a sign when you enter Mount Zion National Park that says this.
Take nothing but pictures.
Leave nothing but footprints.
Take nothing but pictures.
Leave nothing but footprints.
And he shows.
And he uses you to do it. Let’s pray.
Thank you Lord, for today.
Thank you for.
The application that I don’t even know about that you’ve made in the lives of many people right now.
And I pray that we would find ourselves comfortable with the fact that if we’re moving around and we have great upheaval, it’s not always a bad thing, and you know about it.
In it you can show yourself mighty on our behalf and people can see you through what we do.
I believe that.
And so Lord, this Christmas season a stressful season for many people I pray.
That we will put our watches on Kingdom time.
We’ll put our watches on.
There was one other thing in Utah you can look up here.
When I saw this picture, I don’t know how I came across it, but.
I just started blubbing. I think if I was in public, people probably thought what’s wrong with that guy. Just I lost it when I saw this picture.
Go ahead, Matt.
OK, well wait a minute for that.
We had a little period of time we could.
At the very end.
There it is.
That’s a tombstone.
Of a little boy who was in a wheelchair his whole life.
And his dad as a faith statement, made that the headstone.
And you see the little boy’s hole and he’s on his way home.
His real home.
I don’t know what it is that you carried in here today. I don’t know what it is. You bear as far as a burden in your heart, but I.
We’re not home yet.
Oh come, All Ye Faithful, let’s see.
How are you?
Joyful and triumphant.
Whole comeo coming to breath.
Angels who come let us adore who come let us adore him spoken, let us.
Mpra, let’s sing for he alone is worthy.
For he alone is worthy.
For he alone is worthy.
Worthy for he alone his word.
Go show it.
In Jesus name Lord bless.