Looking ahead

Easter’s early this year

By LEON YOUNGBLOOD

llyoungblood@outlook.com

Regarding this Christmas season’s series regarding the birth of Christ as the Incarnation of God, I am humbled.  I greatly appreciate the comments and observations from readers who have responded (this is not a large group of people), as well as their constructive criticisms: “If you’d get glasses to see with, maybe you’d have fewer typographical errors.”; “If you’d wait a day to proofread your articles, maybe you’d catch your mistakes before publication.”; “Plagiarizing is wrong, but in your case, it might be a pretty good idea.”  To these sorts of criticisms, I admit the observers are right, and offer I no excuses.

BRIAR CIRCLE

Then there are those who were not keen about God being the only infinity, and His Holiness being the reason mortals fear Him and avoid Him, and some who maintain the ways to heaven are varied and numerous.  Quite frankly, some were offended by several of my comments.

Then again, some people said the presentation made them think.  It’s these people I’d like to address, for it may well be that God is talking to some of you.

One occasion when Jesus and His disciples had opportunity to be alone, He asked them, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

They said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  (This was a “Who’s Who” list of Biblical heroes.  They were all dead, but in popular opinion, one had returned to do what Christ was doing.)

Then Jesus asked, “But who do you say that I am?”

I do not know if there was a pause or if their answer was instantaneous, but Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!”

This statement was significant.  If Peter had said this in the presence of certain Jewish religious leaders, he could have been executed, most likely by stoning.  But Jesus answered him, and said, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”—and if Jesus had said this in front of certain Jewish leaders, He would have been subject to execution, too.

But what needs to be pointed out, here, is that God Himself revealed the significance of Jesus the Messiah to the disciples. Now note: If God is communicating with you, it is through some spiritual means greater than mere human interaction.  How this is done is between God and you; but how you respond is up to you alone. 

Further, the odd thing about the maturing Christian is, he or she does not follow Christ to get into heaven, or to avoid going to hell, or to get the riches “prosperity” evangelists promise.  The Christian accepts Christ because he wants God, and he wants God because God is God.  

But to some people, this is not that big of a deal.

It’s because of this “infinity” thing.  Some people can’t see beyond this limited world, and think God and heaven will be chained with the same restrictions.  I once heard a young man say heaven would be boring after a few million years.  But looking ahead, because God our Father is infinite, the eternal life of the Christian will only grow bigger and bigger, greater and greater, the Father’s perfect Love growing endlessly within us—God wants us to grow, and we do not stop when we get to heaven. 

But it is time to move on.  Thus ends the Briar Circle Christmas series for 2023.  So much more could be said, and could be said better, too.  I at least hope I gave you some things to think about.  As for me, I’m less cynical than I was when I started.  In fact, in 2024, I’m going to celebrate Christmas every day!

Again, I appreciate the input from readers, some who gave me things to consider in my own daily walk in the faith.  May God continue to bless us in the upcoming year.   


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God and man continued

Easter’s early this year

By LEON YOUNGBLOOD

llyoungblood@ooutlook.com

I suppose indifference is the easiest, least bothersome, most painless way to avoid interaction with Christ.  With any real encounter with Christ, a person will either love or hate Him, which explains some of the extreme reactions against Him not only during His earthly ministry, but in the present day, as well. Continue reading “God and man continued”

The incarnation

Easter’s early this year

By LEON YOUNGBLOOD

llyoungblood@outlook.com

For years, I thought of Christmas as the celebration of Christ Jesus’ birthday, but perhaps I’ve matured a bit in my understanding.  Now, I try to think of Christmas not only as the celebration of the birth of Christ, but as the celebration of the Incarnation of God. Continue reading “The incarnation”

Getting into the Christmas spirit

Easter’s early this year

By LEON YOUNGBLOOD

llyoungblood@outlook.com

A friend is getting into the Christmas spirit by not getting into the Christmas spirit.  He will work Christmas Day, he will not participate in gift exchanges, he will send no cards, and will not be going to any holiday parties.  He will go to the Christmas dinner held by the church he attends, but that is it.  The curious thing is, he intends to observe Christmas by not celebrating Christmas.  In his reasoning, he wants Christmas to be like any other day, and he wants every day to be Christmas—well, it’s just plain confusing. Continue reading “Getting into the Christmas spirit”

On Thankfullness

By LEON YOUNGBLOOD
Thanksgiving was established as a National holiday by Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation on October 3, 1863—the middle of the Civil War. The holiday was to be observed every year on the last Thursday in November (later changed to the 4th Thursday), and was intended to be a time to thank God for His blessings, but—what, pray tell, was there to be thankful for?

BRIAR CIRCLE

The North and South were engaged in the bloodiest conflict in American history. The notion of war had been somewhat romanticized during the early interactions, the first being the shelling of Fort Sumter by the Confederates, April 12, 1861. This formally started the war, though hostilities had been simmering for some time. Both sides thought it would end quickly; it didn’t. September 17, 1962 saw the bloodiest single day of the war at Antietam. The bloodiest battle was at Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863. Then September 19-20, just 2 weeks before the Thanksgiving Proclamation, the 2nd bloodiest battle was fought at Chickamauga, Georgia. The outcome of the war was uncertain, but it was clear the bloodshed was a long way from ending. Some notable men had some “I told you so” moments, too, to express their thoughts:

Nathan Bedford Forrest stated simply, “War means fighting, and fighting means killing.”

Stonewall Jackson observed, “People who are anxious to bring on war don’t know what they are bargaining for; they don’t see all the horrors that must accompany such an event.” On another occasion, Stonewall said, “I have seen enough of it [war] to make me look upon it as the sum of all evil.”

William Tecumseh Sherman testified, “I am sick and tired of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.”

All these sorts of quotes are well and good; but Ambrose Bierce hits the mark most closely with this excerpt from his short story, Chickamauga, when a child is reunited with his mother on the battlefield:

“There, conspicuous in the light of the conflagration, lay the dead body of a woman—the white face turned upward, the hands thrown out and clutched full of grass, the clothing deranged, the long dark hair in tangles and full of clotted blood. The greater part of the forehead was torn away, and from the jagged hole the brain protruded, overflowing the temple, a frothy mass of gray, crowned with clusters of crimson bubbles—the work of a shell.”
It’s like Sherman said—“War is hell.”

So again, what was Abe wanting to thank God for?

Like love and faith, thankfulness is not only an emotional reaction, it is a conscious act of will. Lincoln was a man of faith. “God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war, it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party–and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose.”

In other words, whatever happened, Lincoln believed God was in control. He was thankful for that; we should be, too. We’ll look at this more next week.


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