Thinking Out Loud

December 4, 2010

Baxter Kruger’s Christmas Song

Most of us think of Baxter Kruger in terms of books (see below) and a the occasional video clip, but apparently he’s also a lyricist.   I don’t know if the melody for this exists anywhere online, but I’ve had this in my file since before last Christmas, and then neglected to post it then…

Christmas Song

O Hear the Word Declared to You
©C. Baxter Kruger 1994

O hear the Word declared to you as He became a man
the Father’s passion ceases not for His eternal plan
Wake up and see the time is full the great exchange has come
the Son of God stands in our place the Father’s will is done

O look and see the ancient Son though rich became so poor
with our own poverty He fought and blow by blow endured
Wake up and see His painful wealth for this He came to be
the treasure of the Triune life in our humanity

O see our awful flesh embraced by Him who dwells on high
he plunged into our darkness to bring the light of life
Wake up and see amazing grace in flesh the Father known
to share with us within our reach the life that is His own

O Spirit grant with unveiled face that we this Man would see
and know His heart and soul and mind and share His victory
Inspire our empty hearts to run to this vicarious One
and give us fellowship with Him the Father’s one true Son

 

My Photo

About Baxter…
C. Baxter Kruger, Ph.D.
Dr. C. Baxter Kruger, theologian, writer and fishing lure designer is the Director of Perichoresis Ministries. Baxter is a native of Prentiss, Mississippi. He and his wife Beth have been married for 27 years and have 4 children. Baxter has degrees in political science, psychology and earned his Doctor of Philosophy from Kings College, Aberdeen University in Aberdeen, Scotland under Professor James B. Torrance. He is the author of 7 books, including The Great Dance, Jesus and the Undoing of Adam and Across All Worlds. He teaches around the world. He is an avid outdoorsman and holds two United States patents for his fishing lure designs. He is the founder and President of Mediator Lures.

November 28, 2010

James MacDonald’s “Merry Christmas” Comeback

This was sent out by Walk in the Word to e-mail subscribers this week:

I look forward to having a great time with a new response to ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays.’ When people say that to me, I will answer, “It’s a boy!”

You should try it out. These three words will help you point to Jesus and lead you into some great conversations with both believers and non-believers.

It’s so easy to forget that Christmas is about the fulfillment of prophecy: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6). It’s a boy!

And the miracle of a virgin birth: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us)” (Matthew 1:23). It’s a boy!

And the mission accomplished by this baby: “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). It’s a boy!

Why do I like this response so much? It’s God’s answer for the universal problem of sin in the world. It’s what makes it possible for me to look forward to eternal life. It’s what gives me the peace and joy so I can have a Merry Christmas. It’s a boy!

So try this response. It’s just one way to stay focused on the real meaning of Christmas.

~James MacDonald

January 10, 2010

When God Breaks In

Filed under: Jesus — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 2:33 pm

When Rick Apperson at Just a Thought did a blog switch with me before Christmas, I noticed that he later used his post on his own blog, and I decided it might be good to do the same some weekend.    I’ve changed some of the verb tenses on this so that makes more sense in mid-January…


While other Christ-followers were fretting over the substitution of the word “holiday” for “Christmas,” I kept busy trying to substitute “incarnation” for “Christmas” in my correspondence and everyday conversation; although, as in the phrase, ‘Have yourself a very merry incarnation;’ it doesn’t always fit.   It’s not that I was trying to sound more theologically sophisticated around other believers, but I was hoping that it would simply become a habit as I engage people who are on the margins of faith, so that I could then explain what it means for God to enter into the human condition and be both 100% man and 100% divine at the same time.

But really, God has been “breaking in” for quite some time now:

  • Evening walkabouts with Adam and Eve at Eden.   There’s something in their pre-fallen state — and something about that location — that helps facilitate these visits, which so sadly, last only a short time.
  • The original “summit meeting” with Moses.   Hey, I guess that’s where we get that term.   Contact with God’s “brightness” leaves Moses severely tanned.
  • The Old Testament “Christophanies.”   Not everyone agrees on this, but many believe that when the Bible says, “An angel of the Lord appeared…” that it was actually the pre-incarnate Christ who showed up.
  • Relaying messages through the prophets.   Think of the prophets as forwarding e-mails from God.   “This just in…”
  • Then the incarnation.  God the Son enters into the human state of his creation; going “the whole nine yards,” so to speak, from conception to birth to childhood, to working a trade, to temptation, to a wedding celebration, to hunger, to paying taxes, to weeping for a friend, to betrayal, to false accusation, to death.
  • The filling.  No, not a pie filling.   Just as Jesus was 100% human yet was 100% divine, he leaves his followers with a teeny, tiny taste of what that might have been like by placing his Spirit in each of us.   Enough of Himself to empower and strengthen us in difficult challenges, and give us the right words to say in all kinds of situations.   But not, of course, the 100% that Christ experienced;  such that sometimes I forget that His power is there waiting to be recognized, waiting to be called on; forgetting that “He lives within my heart.”
  • One more thing; a short, quick, special intervention with a guy named Saul.  He finds out why Moses got so tanned.   Moses was on God’s side.  Saul — at the time — was fighting against God with all he had.   Moral of the story for people like that:  Don’t look directly at the light.   Not right away.   Or something like that.  Fortunately for most of us, the song Amazing Grace doesn’t go, “Could see, but now I’m blind.”

Hebrews 1:1 tells us that God has been going through a long succession of ways and means and people trying to get our attention.   (That’s a very loose paraphrase, but you can look it up.)   The most recent e-mail forwards from the prophets indicate that this is how it’s to remain until the next stage, which will kind of wrap up the present age of opportunity (my new theological term) and bring his children, his followers, back to the way things were at Eden; and then some.

That being the case, I’m looking forward to those evening walkabouts.

December 17, 2009

What If God Was One of Us: Which He Was, Briefly

If selling the idea of the virgin birth to unbelievers has been tough over the centuries, it’s an especially hard sell in an age of greater sexual abandon.   It’s just too easy for the skeptic to wink and go, “…Yeah…right…”

I get into discussions with people on atheist and general religion discussions sites about this.   (If you’re a Christ-follower, and you want to have a real ministry online, consider spending your time apart from Christian blogs.   But you need to be creative and allow God’s Spirit to lead you at each step.   The rest of the world has heard all our formulaic answers already.)

Sometimes I’ll engage in a rather risky game of speculative theology.  “What if?”   I ask, “What if there is a God, and for whatever reason — because if there is a God, He can do whatever He darn well pleases — He wants to fully enter into the human condition?”   Except that recognizing who I’m dealing with, I don’t always capitalize “he” and sometimes I don’t hedge with a word like “darn.”

What options does He have at that point?

  1. Vulcan mind meld — While part of Him is still running things at Heaven Central, another part totally enters into the thoughts, feelings and emotions of a randomly selected victim.   It’s not bad, but it’s a bit subjective to that individual to whose mind He is joined at that point.
  2. One to beam down — Yes, that’s right.   Two consecutive Star Trek images.   As Captain Kirk often did in the original series, God could simply borrow a period costume from the wardrobe department and simply show up in [insert name of your local community] and walk over to [insert name of your local community hangout] and begin a conversation about [insert name of your local community’s losing sports team] and then move on to a discussion of higher things.   It’s better than #1, but He would have no history with those people and that would prevent the conversation from going in certain directions.    Then again, Jesus had history with the people of Nazareth which made it hard for them to do the stretch when He suggested He might actually be Someone Else.
  3. Take the entire journey — When you get right down to it, entering into the human experience from conception to birth to adolescence to manhood does start to make a lot of sense.   The “how” of conception must by definition be consigned to the realm of mystery, though.  But compared to other options, it satisfies the need to empathize fully (“…tempted in all points as we, yet without sin…”) with greater disruption to the natural order of things here (i.e.  people don’t usually ‘beam down’ on a regular basis.)

So ultimately we haven’t made the kind of progress the skeptical mind would like to see.  We still begin with two propositions; (1) that God exists and, (2) that He desires the full IMAX experience of what it is to be one of His created.   Then, on top of the two propositions, we have to relegate the full “how” to mystery.

But this is indeed the premise on which our faith as Christians is based.   And this is the faith that has survived all manner of attempts to shut it down.   Throughout history, from the time Christianity began to as recent — I’m sure — as last week, people have been willing to die for belief in a creator God who enters fully into the experience of HIs creations.

But he doesn’t just show up.    He comes “in the fullness of time.”  Timing is everything.   The prophets give the heads-up that it’s going to happen, though no individual prophet has all the puzzle pieces.   While here, He plays by most of our rules — which are actually His rules, His design — but offers a glimpse into greater power.

A party trick with some washing water that becomes wine starts things off rather innocently.    But there is a wisdom in this rabbi’s teaching that transcends anything the people have heard before.    Then there are the healings.   Reports of the raising of the dead begin innocently, too; you can think Jarius’ daughter was only sleeping, but then what do you do with Lazarus, dead four days?   But then He, Himself beats death itself.

In the end, His identity can’t be hidden any longer.    From age 0 – 30 he did his best to ‘blend,’ but then for three years, His identity becomes less and less veiled.   And finally…

Finally…the God who didn’t just ‘beam down,’ does, in fact, ‘beam up.’

To be continued…

More on this tomorrow, but with a twist… you’ll be directed to click to another blog to continue this topic…

November 3, 2009

Zacchaeus Meets The Christmas Story

The story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19: 1-9 is the ultimate children’s Bible story.   Think about, it’s got:

  • zacchaeusa short key character; kids can identify
  • a parade — or something similar —  about to pass by
  • tree climbing; what kid doesn’t like that?
  • unlikely guy gets singled out for special treatment
  • Zacchaeus and Jesus have a tea party, at least according to the children’s song; actual serving of tea may have been unlikely
  • restitution of unfair trade practices; he did something bad and is going to make it right

But the tree climbing is the fun part of the story, so much so that we omit to notice the fact that respectable adults in the culture don’t climb trees.   In the book Preaching the Parables to Postmoderns, Brian Stiller reminds of another story where we miss the cultural nuances.

Stiller notes that in the story of the prodigal son, the father sees his returning son in the distance and runs to meet him.   To run meant to lift the lower hem of the tunics worn at that time, which would expose the ankles and lower leg.   While that may not seem out of line with the bathrobes worn in most church plays you’ve seen, it in fact is out of line with norms in that society.   Besides, the patriarchal head of household doesn’t run, period.

Zacchaeus climbs up a tree because he doesn’t want to miss Jesus.   The father in the story of the two brothers runs because he doesn’t want to miss a moment with or hide his enthusiasm for the return of his lost son.   Both actions involve a considerable loss of dignity on the part of both parties.

David understood this.   Consider this account from II Samuel 6:

14 David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, 15 while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.

16 As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.

17 They brought the ark of the LORD and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the LORD. 18 After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD Almighty. 19 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.

20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”

21 David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the LORD. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”

The line I like is verse 22: I will become even more undignified than this.    Nothing reinforces this like the Matt Redman song,

David Danced by Steve PhelpsI will dance I will sing
To be mad for my King
Nothing Lord is hindering
The passion in my soul

And I’ll become even more
Undignified than this
Some would say it’s foolishness but
I’ll become even more
Undignified than this

David’s removal of his outer garment ought to remind you of something else.  Think about this moment from John 13:

1It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

2The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

7Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place.

The outer garment that Jesus removed was the fine piece of clothing that symbolized his authority as a rabbi.   Hours later, Roman soldiers would gamble for the chance to walk way with this prime specimen of clothing as a souvenir of their day’s work.

This action symbolized his servant leadership, but as he told Peter, there was a bigger picture yet to be grasped.   I believe that the removal of his outer garment symbolizes something else entirely, as shown in Philippians 2:

5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

6 Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor…

Jesus gave up the splendor of heaven — took of his outer robe — to enter into our human condition.   But then, as John 13:12 shows us, he puts that outer robe back on, i.e. he returns to the glory he had known before at the right hand of the Father.

There are lots of words we could use to describe this, but the key one for today is that he made himself undignified.

Now, he invites you to find a place where you can lose your own dignity in order to accomplish his purposes in your generation.

I Samuel and John passages – NIV; Philippians passage – NLT

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