Love In Skin


20161004_150844 (2)So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him -1 John 4:16/ESV

I have not done an extensive study on the word “touch” in Scripture. But at first glance, the general rule is that the word “touch” in the Old Covenant is usually surrounded by negatives.

When Christ enters the picture, the word is elevated to a thing of beauty. Jesus touches hearts, minds and bodies, healing them.

Couple, African, Happy, Man, Woman

From what I have learned over the years is that the act of touch, particularly hugging, releases the hormone oxytocin, known as the love or happy hormone, which lessens stress.

 

Soldier, Dog, Companion, ServiceHugging a stuffed animal, like a little child coddles a favorite stuffed toy, can release the feel good chemicals as well. Hugging and petting animals is a bit more effectual. The ultimate release is when humans exchange caring hugs. It elevates the spirits of those who are open to it, giver and receiver.

Our humanity is not separate from the spiritual. It has been said in some spiritual communities that nature is the second Bible. God created two robust rich systems that are more filled with Him the closer I look.

Squad, Man, Group, Group Together

Imagine a world where hugs are free-flowing. Imagine Christ at the center of every hug. Paul writes of this captivating truth when stating Christ indeed holds all things together in the letter written to the Colossians.

The thought of God among us is a rich and endless study. But in one if its simplest forms the sweet act of hugging brings an unspoken joy, for it is Love in Skin.

Amazing!

 

Shepherds Worshiped


GodReflection: It’s a Boy—We Worship the Gift Baby

“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about” (Luke 2:15).

gary-2015Perhaps a subtitle of this post could be level ground. I have no idea who first used the phrase: “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” I hear it used periodically in sermons, come across it in writings and find I too incorporate it often.

Certainly, the idea comes from Prophet Isaiah:

A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain . . .” (Isaiah 40:3-4).

shepherd1Jesus came to make the ground level for all humankind at the gate of the kingdom. There is no better example than Luke’s historical account of the shepherds.

In royal palaces across the pages of history when time came to compile the guest list for a new king, shepherds weren’t first on the list.

The name of shepherds didn’t even appear. Invited were royalty and those with the right pedigree. No commoners allowed.

I’m a city guy. I’ve never met a real shepherd. I do recall an encounter with shepherds while on a back-packing trip in my younger years as we fished The Rocky Mountains’ Piedra River. With their dogs they navigated a large flock down a meadow and across river.

shepherd0They stopped only long enough to drop a string and a hook in the cold water to catch a trout for lunch. How did they know to do that? I had been at the task all morning and would probably have to depend on the skill of one of my buddies for my own lunch.

Back to Luke’s account of the shepherds. They too were living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night (Luke 2:9).

In my last post I look at the Angelic announcement:

“. . . Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:11-12).

Luke drew us to the under the stars praise service led by a chorus of angels in the open field.

The worship ends. The lights are turned off and the angels returned to heaven. I really like this next part. It makes all sorts of sense.

This wasn’t the first time these rugged guys heard of Messiah. Their formation came in the laps of mothers and grandmothers as they heard repeatedly the stories of King David and the promised Messiah who would be even greater. Yet, my bet is they were more startled than anyone to be first to hear the announcement of his arrival.

The first reaction of the shepherds is no surprise. If I had received a angelic announcement follow by a symphonic angel chorus with stage lights in an open field, I would respond just as they did. So, would you.

shepherd6Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

They found the baby to be just as described by the angels. I doubt they had a prayer service nor sang songs in the barn. They went to see.

Luke gives us four bullet points results from their visit.

  • They spread the word of what the angel told them about this child.
  • All who heard their story were amazed.
  • Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
  • The shepherds returned to their flock glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

shepherd13Back with their sheep the shepherds worshiped. They praised Holy God for all the things they had heard and seen. They must have praised Him for level ground.

Of all possible recipients on earth, they—common shepherds—were chosen to hear the first announcement of Messiah’s arrival in an ordinary manger filled with straw.

I find it pretty neat to know that as a guy raised in the Chihuahuan Desert I can join both angels and shepherds in praise to God. All because the gift baby born that night in a stock shelter leveled the ground at the foot of the cross for us commoners. Yep, pretty neat don’t you think?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Shepherds Worshiped

Gary@Godreflection.org         www.GodReflection.org

www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

Angles Worship


GodReflection: It’s a Boy—We Worship the Gift Baby

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God (Luke 2:13).

gary-2015Never before had an announcement equaled this one. In terms of cosmic impact this news had no rival. Messiah the Lord has arrived.

God’s heavenly messengers appear throughout His story. The Great I Am communicated with His human creation through angels at critical points across the divine restoration project. Angelic appearances are recorded with about forty people in Scripture.

Only Luke the investigative reporter tells about the angelic announcement.

angels2And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:8-12).

It was the announcement of all announcements. God arrived as baby on planet earth to restore creation. The angelic message drew angelic attention.

angels3Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:13-14).

The next thought provokes within me both exhilaration and humility.

To praise God for the gift of His Son is the one act where I bring all of my humanness and join in unity with celestial angels to worship and praise God through the angelic statement, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his angels8favor rests.”

I join with the angels in praise to God to thank Him that I can find peace wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

It’s peace now and immediate. It’s peace deep down in my bones as I live in a world filled with war, terror, greed, corruption and constant political unrest. It’s peace that rests on all who trust the Savior born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

It is that very angelic announcement that feeds the hope in each of us who trust the baby worshiped by angels. We see a future reality never to be plagued again with war, terror, corruption, greed and political unrest.

It will be a time—even more real than now—when angels will be seen by the new eyes that function perfectly in our own eternal bodies. We will join in person with angels as they continue their charge, “Let all God’s angels worship him” (Hebrews 1:6). And, our voices will blend with the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand (Revelation 5:11).

When I pause to recall the angelic announcement, by so doing I find that I once again join with angels in worship. That is a special time, don’t you think?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Angels Worship  

Gary@Godreflection.org         www.GodReflection.org

www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

The Carpenter Held His Baby


GodReflection: It’s a Boy—We Worship the Gift Baby

gary-2015I already have a partial to do list for the next reality on the new earth. Can you imagine the fun it will be to drink coffee with God’s faithful greats?

I am anxious to spend some of my eternal time with Joseph the carpenter. I have great admiration for carpenter types. My dad was a carpenter named Joe. I’m easily drawn to a good carpenter Do It Yourself television show.

Is my aim set too high to look toward a relaxed cup of hot coffee with Joseph the carpenter and his son who learned the trade in the village of Nazareth? I’m sure my dad the carpenter will join us.

carpenter4Carpenters are thoughtful types. They measure twice and cut once. They reflect and plan. Carpenters are craftsmen. They approach their work with care and creativity. They craft their life with many of the same skills.

I suspect God selected Joseph as the best man he knew to raise His Holy man-son. He and Mary had hearts that beat with God’s. Upon discovery that his virgin bride to be was pregnant he listened to this message from God and obeyed:

“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus (Matthew 1:20-21 & 23-25).

In his short appearance in the Gospels we see a man whose trust was in God. At every request from the Holy, Joseph reflected Mary’s response, “I am the Lord’s servant” (Luke 1:38).

carpenter18A carpenter’s hands are rough. The constant use of tools form callouses on palms and fingers. Carpenters hold in common a missing finger or a partial digit from a rare slip of a saw, knife or sharp chisel.

Those were the hands that both held and guided his son Jesus. I wonder how often the thought crossed his mind that into his hands was handed the gift and responsibility to raise “God with us?”

I’m getting ahead of myself.

It was census time in Rome. Caesar Augustus wanted to know how many people lived inside his empire. Joseph took his pregnant virgin wife to Bethlehem to participate in the count. It was the law.

Without technology for reservations they arrived and the hotels of the day were already full. It must have been a compassionate Jewish family who had only room left in the barn cave with the family animals. Protected from the night elements it would have to carpenter16do.

Then it happens. Mary gives birth to God’s baby—now Joseph’s baby. Surely, it was Joseph—ever the creative carpenter—who combine a feed holder with fresh straw to create a comfy bed for their newly arrived son.

Scripture doesn’t share details of Joseph’s touch as a father. I bet he grew up holding baby sisters and runny nose little brothers at the request of his own mother.

Now, a carpenter by trade, I can easily envision his rough-skinned fingers touch the soft little face of his baby boy. He was careful not to let a stray piece of straw near new skin. He must have held Jesus countless times as he assisted Mary.

Carefully, he moved the baby from crib to mother’s lap or secured his son in his arms as he passed him to Mary seated upon the family donkey or on the seat of the family cart.

The last mention of the carpenter comes with Jesus’ miracles and teaching in his hometown. Matthew records the skeptical audience response with:

carpenter12“Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?

Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things” (Matthew 13: 55-56)?

And interestingly, Mark records the people’s reaction as:

“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing?

Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him (Mark 6:2-3).

The carpenter’s son held in the arms of his carpenter father grew into his own identity as the carpenter.

This holiday season I want to tune out the noise of marketeers who target my selfishness and greed. I want to quiet the magnetic powerful cultural draw toward commercialism and be held like a baby in the arms of the carpenter’s son who is now the carpenter applying his craft to skillfully form my soul into the image of the Holy.

Want you join with me?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: The Carpenter Held His Baby  

Gary@Godreflection.org         www.GodReflection.org

 

www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

Peace


20161004_150844 (2)

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He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10/NIV

Jesus was God’s perfect reflection; His desire to please the God of All was that all of us know how loved we are.

We are the best reflection when we know and feel God’s love down to our bones.

To be still and know God is to know who we are and Whose we are.

Peace is a ceasing from striving, of seeing commonality with each person around us.

The Good News Translation writes Psalm 46:10 this way…

“Stop fighting,” he says, “and know that I am God, supreme among the nations, supreme over the world.

Sitting quietly in nature, refusing to have a demeanor of argumentation, releasing ALL that hinders in that meditation through thanksgiving and humor grows my spirit. I know more deeply God’s beauty through Love, nature and connection which is  transformational.

God Is already pleased with us through Christ’s work, and when we simply live in this truth, we are fully alive…

And God Is exalted!

Amazing!

Mary Held Her Gift Baby


GodReflection: It’s a Boy—We Worship the Gift Baby

gary-2015If I were to create a “Cloud of Witnesses” Mary would be near the top. Truth is, she has been somewhat of a supporting character on the pages of my Bible. My church claimed the apostle Peter and his baptism sermon but maybe we assumed Mary was Catholic property rather than one of the greats of our faithful.

However, Mary was one remarkable young lady, perhaps only a teenager when God called. When Gabriel announced she was to become the mother of a child miraculously father by God her response of “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled,” set a high mark of holy trust.

mary7My guess is Mary’s most precious moments were those spent with her gift baby in her arms. Twice Luke shares the insight that Mary treasured and pondered all that God was doing. When she looked at the gift baby in her lap that would bless the world, the smile that formed on her face must have flowed straight to her heart.

Luke is the only Gospel that shares Gabriel’s visit with the young girl. The account speaks volumes about the God-heart of this special youth selected to be Jesus’ mother.

I wonder if she sang to him her song as she gazed upon his little face? Don’t you wish we still had the original tune?

mary4“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant . . . for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name . . .” (Luke 1:46-49).

Listen anew to the testimony shared with every generation of the last two-thousand-plus years:

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God . . . For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her (Luke 1:26-38).

With a promise like this straight from an angel sent by God is it any wonder that the new mother would treasure and ponder?

giftbaby10What must she have felt every hour of the day as she witnessed the one whom she wrapped in cloths and placed in a manger, grow into a young man who taught, healed and love with Godly Perfection?

It was this mother who held her baby, loved and nurtured him. It was this mother who stood with a broken heart and wept at the crucifixion.

After the resurrection Mary joined constantly in prayer with her children—his brothers, the women who were her friends, the apostle and other believers as they “prayed in” the church at Pentecost. The church would serve as Jesus’ presence once again on planet earth.

The little God/baby Mary held in her arms, we too can hold in our heart. Shouldn’t that one fact of access cause me to celebrate the birth of the gift baby?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Mary Held Her Gift Baby  

Gary@GodReflection.org         www.GodReflection.org

www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

A Baby Like No Other—Like All Others


GodReflection: It’s a Boy—We Worship the Gift Baby

gary-2015How about a Second Hebrews chapter 11?

What we call the Book of Hebrews seems to have been a first century sermon preached to encourage Christians to remain faithful. Doubts sprouted as believers faced hard times and Jesus hadn’t returned. Was he really coming back?

In chapter 11, the unnamed preacher begins a rehearsal of God’s men and women of faith from the roll call of history. An impressive and humbling list it is.

giftbaby4Over two thousand years has passed since that sermon was first preached. Its witness still stands strong.

When I read the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters, I find another great cloud of witnesses who could easily fill a Second Hebrews chapter 11 for the church of our day.

Some of those great saints played a role at the birth of a special baby worshiped by humble shepherds and the world’s wise.

What made him special was the fact that this baby was one hundred percent God and one hundred percent human yet he was a baby like all others. It is a divine equation that defies mathematical logic. It’s a God thing that goes beyond my gnat size fallen Adamic brain.

giftbaby5Another year has zoomed by with rocket speed. A year launched seemingly yesterday now hurls to a close. Once again, the season of Christmas has arrived.

This worldwide holiday has its origin in the birth of a baby like no other, who was like all others. Had the baby not been born, Christmas would not exist.

Christmas is a festive occasion. It is a time of celebration. It is a time of generosity. It is a time when the fortunate feel the draw of family. Ideally, it is a time when the blessed make more of an effort to reach out to the unfortunate.

giftbaby7In the midst of what was begun as an annual holy remembrance comes the invasive encroachment of commercialism. Its intrusive hold hurls us toward a gap that widens between what was meant to be a celebration of Messiah and market driven holiday self-gratification.

I resist the takeover of Christmas as the sole property of merchants and mass media. Over the next few weeks may we all make the effort to remember that Jesus had come indeed as the gift of all gifts.

As we celebrate the holiday season may we show thankfulness to God for His gift baby and the grace extended by the life, death and resurrection of the Spirit child.

GiftBaby1What I hope will come through in this series of posts is an appreciation of the love, faith and trust demonstrated by those who obeyed God as they welcomed the birth of His Son. I want to stand in awe as they held or worshiped the God/man baby.

From a renewed visit to those who held the baby and from a fresh effort to envision the adoration of his first visitors, perhaps a more acute sense of trust will come my way as I too attempt to honor and serve the Christ child.

Once again, I invite you to read over my shoulder. I invite your insight as together we explore events that give significance to Christmas.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: A Baby Like No Other—Like All Others

Gary@Godreflection.org         www.GodReflection.org

www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com