The Native: From Their Sins

Nativity1Matthew 1:21

 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Many times in translation, because of the difference in language, small words are necessary in English to explain the thought of the Greek or Hebrew. The concept is there, but an and, or the, is added to make the English make sense. This is not the case in this verse.
The word for their in the Greek original is autos, and the definition of it is worth its weight in gold. Much more than a preposition, it contains the concept of a baffling wind. Wind is easily explained, but baffling can mean inexplicable, impossible, and puzzling. When you put the two together, it’s a very specific description of our sins.
Just as people have watched the threat of a hurricane or a tornado on the horizon, the same thing held true with our sinful nature. The only difference was , before Christ, no matter how much warning you had, there was no escape. They were neither out-runnable, or deniable, and prior to Calvary, they most certainly weren’t dis-solvable.

[tweetthis]He calmed the storm that was locked in our souls, washed away the stains, and removed the hold they had on us.[/tweetthis]


Yet, Christ came to save His people from their sins. So that inexplicable, impossible grip man’s transgressions had, would no longer hold any power. The God we serve, not only forgave our sins, He separated us from them. Jesus was born so that you and I could be made new.
He calmed the storm that was locked in our souls, washed away the stains, and removed the hold they had on us. The word not only translates their, but both him and her. Jesus came to redeem the world, and to be a Personal Savior.
He cares about us individually just as much as He cares about the Church as a whole. No problem is too small for His attention and nothing is so big as to baffle Him. It may confuse us on our own, but not our Christ.
Sin’s winds may intimidate us, but they hold no terror for Him. The God that rescued us from a destroying wind, spoke to Job in the whirlwind. He took Elijah home in a whirlwind, and empowered the early Church by filling the Upper Room with a Mighty Rushing Wind. Mighty in the Greek indicates violent, wind translates Breath, and Rushing is phero, to carry some burden, or to move one with force or speed.
As our Lead Pastor, Pastor Denny Livingston once preached, He didn’t only carrry something into the Upper Room, He expelled some things. The God we serve is powerful enough to still the winds that rage against our soul, separate us from their power and their practice, and bear whatever burdens we will face in the future.
In this season, we don’t rejoice because of an age old story, we celebrate a very present Savior. The God we worship in Bethlehem, greeted us this morning. He is present above, around, and inside us. We feel Him, we see His work, and know that He is soon to return.

[tweetthis]It may confuse us on our own, but not our Christ.[/tweetthis]


If you don’t know Him, I challenge you to bring your past sins, and your present condition to Him. Allow The Lord Jesus to show you why Bethlehem changed everything. If you know Him, don’t allow temporary problems to rob you of the joy of the season. He is in your present season with you, and He will bring you through to the next season, with something greater than you had before.
The gift of Christmas is not complete without the rest of Christ’s life, and it’s not meant to be. As Pastor Livingston preached so wonderfully yesterday, birth is just the beginning. We follow on, no matter how cold the season, or how dark the days, in the warmth of His light.
Jesus saved us to transform us, giving us a whole new life. One that isn’t isolated from the problems of this world, but insulated against them. We face a very real, and very dangerous world, but we face it with a very real, and very formidable God on our side. He matches the wind with a whirlwind. His voice is louder than the waves of the sea. Finally His hand is powerful enough to takes us from Earth to Heaven.  Whatever your their is, He is strong enough to deal with it!

Alaskan Silver The Golden Fleece

  Carl Lafayette looked at his head of police, who like his rank, was so much more than he appeared.  “Gold, it’s got to be.”  Pin smiled. “Mayor, this isn’t the old west, there’s no gold shipment coming through.”  

“No, but there is a museum exhibit coming to town.  One of the artifacts is a set of Greek gold coins worth millions.  I’ve tried to down play there value, but they must have found out.”

The Mayor, like any city leader, strongly believed in the future of his city.  To that end, he wanted to improve every area of life.  One of those areas, was the culture of the town.  

The Lafayettes had spent their own money spear heading the foundation of a museum for the city.  The Mayor had arranged a special exhibition to kick off the grand opening.  The star of the show was going to be this Greek artifact collection his family had purchased.  

“It’s supposed to be here next week.”  Pin shook his head. “That can’t be it.  They would just rob the museum, but it does give me an idea.  I don’t believe it’s the reason, but we can use it to, if you’ll pardon the pun, fleece them out.”

Pin outlined his plan to the Mayor.  They were going to announce the value, not hide it.  As far as everyone was concerned, the entire force would be focused on the coins, nothing would seem more important.  

“They’ll think were distracted enough for them to show us what they’re really up to. Then, we’ll strike back, and they won’t know what hit them. The wolves haven’t slept since the attack, they’re going to pay for costing them their sleep.”

Thanksgiving and Pizza

  My first job was in a pizza place, and the night before Thanksgiving was one of the busiest of the year.  Up until then, I never associated pizza with November in any way.  It seemed everyone was so busy cooking tomorrow’s dinner, that no one wanted to make that night’s meal.

Most people were nice, some were not, but we couldn’t allow it to affect our reactions.  When their pizza was boxed up, and they turned to leave, we were smiling at the next person in line. It was more than good business, it’s a wonderful prescription for enjoying this season.

Someone you meet in the next twenty four hours will be either angry, or grouchy. You may not realize it, but rude people lurk around the spice aisle where you buy nutmeg once a year.  You can’t isolate yourself from them, but we can insulate ourselves.

First, find the joy in this time of year for yourself. What about it makes you happy? Once you know, lock that down in your heart. Don’t allow others to steal your happiness these next few days and weeks.

Second, view others, especially the irritable ones, through eyes of compassion.  Their anger, attitude, and actions, could stem from depression, heartache, or loneliness.  Remembering this, will alter your entire view of the man who just snatched the last stalk of celery you needed.  

Lastly, if you find their moods affecting you, watch for it. You’re human, people are going to get on your nerves, don’t let them stay there.  Refuse to allow a momentary interaction to dictate your actions the rest of the day.

Thanksgiving and Christmas and all the other special events of your life, are too important to allow others to ruin them. Mentally box up the few minutes you spent with them, and push it out of your mind.  Then smile at who or what is ahead of you, knowing that you’re happiness is safe behind the counter of your heart.

Cranberry Sauce 

  I bought some this week, cranberry sauce, not the fresh kind, but that jellied, can shaped substance people make fun of.  I always did, until I married my Wife Ashley, she loves it. Now it’s part of our Thanksgiving traditions.  

Before we were married Ashley enjoyed the Macy’s parade, but she had no idea how important it was, until she met me.  Now, it’s something that must not be missed. Such is the case with family traditions, they are pieces of a relationship.

They’re not the relationship, merely things that bring us closer.  Traditions change, as families add members, new ones are created.  Sometimes we try too hard, and make holidays more difficult than they have to be. 

It’s not just about the parade, the food, or even the football game.  Thanksgiving is about being thankful for who God has placed around your table.  They are more important than if the turkey is perfect, or if the mashed potatoes have enough salt.

Making a new tradition means creating a new memory.  It doesn’t have to be big, or elaborate.  The only requirement is that we focus on those we love.  It may be as simple as a can of red goo, but if it’s important to the love of your life, you’ll give it a proper place on your table.

Alaskan Silver Motive

  
Pin ducked on the floor, while Runner and Snowshoe lunged at the attackers. The two wolves had the two intruders huddling in the corner in seconds. “I warned you, now, do you talk, or do I let my friends talk to you some more?” The two never answered, Pin sighed, his bluff hadn’t worked.  

He called his men at headquarters to take the two into custody. Pin guessed they were too low on the hierarchy list to have known much anyway. They would spend a long time in prison regretting their encounter with his new roomates. 

Pin asked himself a question. “Am I getting close to something, or are there bosses just impatient? They attached much quicker than I suspected they would.”

He thought long and hard on this for the next few days. Carl Lafayette stopped to discuss it with him the following Monday.

“Mayor, has anything changed since last week? Is there some business deal happening in town that would force the group’s hands?”

“You thought they moved too quickly too? It doesn’t add up, they’re not amatuers. First the attack on me, which while bold, was stupid, and then …”

 The Mayor’s voice trailed off. Pin looked up suddenly. “It’s not about us. Something has happened, but not in town. They’re not getting ready for something here. They’re trying to get here ready for something or someone who is coming into town.”

“If they can disrupt the town, then no one will be able to prevent what they’ve got planned, and what better way than …” “To get rid of the Mayor and the head of the Police department would create a vacuum in town.”

 “Pin, who do they have in mind to fill it? What happens when they do?” “First, we have to know what or who is coming to town that they want to gain access too?”

“The Pick Axe organization is rumored to be all over Alaska, but especially in the Nome region. I’ve got contacts there, I’ll see if I can find out anything.”

“Specifically Mayor, ask one question.” “What’s that?” “What’s important enough to kill us both over?”

 Find out the answer to that question in next week’s episode of Alaskan Silver. 

 

Teams Float

mpbEach balloon has exactly ninety people manning them.  Though the shapes are much different, the insides are the same.  Some are bigger than others, but they all are filled with the same substance. All of the elements combine to make each Thanksgiving parade magical.  Leave out one part, and the formula is incomplete.  The same is true of teams and teamwork.

Without the air, you have a sagging piece of material.  Add the air, but use less than the proper number of handlers, and it will float away.  Like most of our life, it balances soaring for the clouds, with having our feet firmly planted on Earth.  Teams transport dreams from the drawing board to the living room.

I am privileged to be a part of several teams, the most rewarding of which, is our local Church.  Point Of Mercy, in Nashville, Tennessee, has been blessed with leaders who value working together.  It is more than a catchphrase, it is part of the very fiber of our Church.  Pastor Denny Livingston and Pastor Jason Potter have worked, from the beginning, to build a culture of teamwork and creativity.

As a result, no matter what person or department, when one succeeds, we all rejoice.  If anyone struggles, we all stand together.  The benefit of this goes so far beyond morale and mind set.  It is an underlying safety net for your organization.  This layer of reassurance that, each individual not only matters, but is personally valuable, insulates against fear and self doubt.

When someone knows how important they are to the hearts of those on her team, and not merely the work they do, it speaks volumes.  Like helium, the caring and support of the group lifts you.  The structure of a team grounds you to what’s important, and directs you in the pursuit of your goals.

This Thanksgiving season, of all the things that we should be grateful for, this should be at the forefront.  Our families, Churches, the places we work, and volunteer, are all different variations of teams.  If you are blessed with a good team, be thankful, and be vocal.

Tell those that are on your team that they are appreciated.  Look for new ways to lift your organization through encouragement and cooperation.  When we do this, much like Garfield a week from Thursday, we’ll all rise to the top.

Alaskan Silver Wolf Pack

  Last week Pin purposely allowed a member of the Pick Axe organization to take a job on the force.  The plan, to play on the young man’s inexperience, and to use him to take down his contacts.  This week, Pin finds himself in the heart of a wolf pack, though not the one you might expect.

“He’s beautiful Frank.”  “Please my friend, Francois, my reputation.”  Pin laughed.  “Your reputation is as phony as that French accent.  The closest you came to Paris was buying post cards on the East side.”  “I do not say I am from France, I merely allow my patrons to hear me speak.”

“You’re a showman Francois,  P.T. Barnum would be envious at your circus.”  “No, not a circus, a menagerie.  At it’s heart, my trained Siberian Wolves.  I maybe fake, but they are very real.”  “I know, I remember when your Dad brought them back, illegally I might add, on the ship.”

“It’s not illegal when you have the Tsar’s permission.  At least not illegal to leave Russia with them.  He didn’t ask opinions on his arrival though, I’ll grant you.”  The two of them, old friends, stood watching the wolves sleep.

“Francois, I can’t take them, I can’t care for them.”  The trainer, and ringmaster laughed. “You are not meant to care for them, they are to care for you.  You are a stranger in a strange land, these people I do not trust.  These, I do.”

“They are still young now, you will grow together, they will adapt to you.  Soon, you will be their pack leader, and family. You will protect each other, I will have no argument.  Your Mother, I promised her to watch out for you. I cannot stay, they can.”  

The two men parted, Pin, Runner, and Snowshoe made their way home.  Pin made them a place to sleep, fed them as Barney’s Dad had trained years ago, and sat down.  Runner, the male, and Pin had their first staring contest.  

For an hour, neither would give.  Pin was wondering who owned who, when Runner suddenly turned.  A low growl, and Snowshoe standing up alerted him.  Pin did not move, Runner growled louder.  

“Whoever you are, you have a choice.  Either show yourself, or face my friends here.  They have pretty big teeth!”  “So do we!”  Was the reply, along with two gun shots.  Their problem was, they aimed for Pin.

Find out what happens next week in the new episode of “Alaskan Silver.”