My “Final Four” – #4 The Little Drummer Boy
Nothing you can’t find in a quick Wikipedia search, but noteworthy enough for holiday chit-chat around the egg nog bowl. Written in 1941, first recorded in 1955 by who? The Trapp Family Singers. Yep, that quaint little family who brought you “Doe, a Deer, a Female Deer”, made Julie Andrews a household name, and currently has Carrie Underwood looking… out of place. Based on a Czech tune and originally published as “Carol of the Drum”.
Though Jesus isn’t the main character, I’m still okay with playing and singing it because Christmas is the season when Holy God became incarnate: the earthly merger of the magnificent with the mundane. The story juxtaposes wise men from far off with the Wisest of all, who would now come nearer than any earthly man would have ever known. Great men, great gifts, cow dung, and a precious and Holy King in an animal’s feed trough – magnificent, meet mundane. Perfect, meet profane. Yet, God ordained it all.
Enter, Scandalous Child
The religious people of Jesus’ time had become so emphatic about the law, they were drifting from true relationship with the Law Giver. They’d begun to call worthless many of the things that God truly valued. Women and children in this time were “to be seen and not heard”.
Yet, the scandalous Christ would later scold (in three different gospel accounts… OUCH!) His own disciples: “Let the little children come to me!” Mt. 19:14, Mark 10:14, Luke 18:16 So, what an insulting scandal that a little boy, bearing no tangible gift would be given audience with the King of Kings? Isn’t it already scandal enough that His birth to a virgin mother was proclaimed first to lowly shepherds (not exactly the top of the socio-economic ladder of the day) and his birthplace a barn?
Hallelujah, yes! Bring on the scandal.
And, so the scandal of the gospel is proclaimed in this song – that a little child, in the face of the wise who offered great, majestic gifts, would bring but a humble song, yet would garner the smile (favor) of the child born to live, suffer insult, and die to erase the scandalous sin of the rich, the poor, the wise, the foolish and all in between! Wow. Majesty amidst the mundane.
Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. (1 Cor. 1:20-21)
Here’s My Favorite Version – What’s Yours?
I’ve been through a few favorites on this song – first time I heard Candi Shelton (then, Candi Pearson, on North Point Community Church’s first Christmas CD) do her acoustic version, my jaw dropped. “Who does that to that song?!” If you look around the iTunes store, Grooveshark, or even Pandora, you might get yourself a listen.
When I heard these next two versions, I thought the exact same thing. “Who’d have thunk THAT?!” The following videos are my #2 and #1 favorite versions of this song for obvious reasons. Alicia Keys at Rockafeller Center in ’09 and my new favorite – Pentatonix.
Drop us a comment below with your favorite version, will ya? Merry Christmas, and may Christ be at the center for you this season and all year long.
…”Put out into deep water,
and let down the nets for a catch.” (Luke 5.4b)
Sportman vs. Professional
If you fish for sport, you know your gear, the boat, the weather, and how to find the good spots and how to find a good spot when all the good spots are taken. If you fish for a living, you not only know where the good spots are, you also get there before anyone else does – it’s your livelihood, isn’t it?
What Jesus told Peter to do made no sense. It sounded “foolish”. A carpenter turned rabbi telling a fisherman what to do? Are you kidding? If anyone else had commanded him to do it, Peter would have rebuked them on four logical, well reasoned grounds. After all, he’s a trained professional.
- Availability: We’re not going to catch anything, because we’ve been out all night and have already caught nothing (which Peter reminds Jesus, anyway).
- Exhaustion: We’re not going to catch any fish because we’re exhausted – these aren’t butterfly nets we’re cleaning. They’re made from strong, heavy rope, made heavier by the weight of the water within them, and we’ve already labored all night to place them, pull them in, and clean them.
- Timing: We’re not going to catch anything when the daytime sun is high because the fish are all hiding in darker places.
- Location: We’re not going to catch anything in the deep waters because fish are caught where the water is just deep enough and not too deep.
Any logical, wise person would hear the counsel of this seasoned professional and intelligently decide not to ask him something so foolish. Yet, the Lord asks Peter to do something utterly counter-intuitive. Scarcity of fish, exhaustion, wrong timing, bad location.
Have you ever sensed the voice of God calling you to the wrong place, at the wrong time, when you’re discouraged and spent, and there’s no logical hope for accomplishing what He’s asking you to do?
Who am I?
I’m adventurous, with a moderate to high tolerance for risk. Right? I’m strong in my faith – after all, I’ve been called to “full time vocational ministry” for the past 6 years, right? I mean, I’m a trained professional, right?! I cheer on fisherman for a living! Uh, oh… You can see where we’re headed here, can’t you?
Yet, over the past month, I’ve heard God call me to cast my nets into the deep. When I look at my assets: high risk tolerance and previously held beliefs about the strength and depth of my faith, I’d normally say “sure, Lord. You say so, I’m in.” If it were someone else asking me what to do, I’d pull out my pom-poms and cheer them across the finish line: “You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!!! Go, team, go!!!” But, this is different.
So, What’s the Problem?
But, this time… This time, I’ve heard God calling me to do something, trust Him with something so big, so dangerous, so counter-intuitive, that if He doesn’t swoop in with a miracle, dozens of people are going to be impacted negatively, including my family. This is deep water – not someone else’s life, calling, boat, or nets… Not only does my boat look too small, but my pom-poms feel like they’re 100 lbs a piece. When I realized the fisherman I’m to cheer on is me, God exposed the shallowness of my own faith when I, a mere man, began to weep and tell the sovereign of the universe: “I’m going to trust you in this, but you’d better come through!” Can you imagine such arrogance?
Yet, Peter wrestled with the soundness and depth of his own faith so much that when the Lord did what Peter expected could only fail, he was brought to his knees by his own lack of faith. “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man! (Luke 5:8)”
So, today, I ask your prayers – that I will trust God in the area He’s asking me to. That I will not rely on my own senses, wisdom, will, or nets, but on Him who calls me to the deep. That I will not be overwhelmed by the fear of men who would later say “why would you have done something so… foolish?” Today, I encourage you as always by allowing God’s faithfulness in my past afflictions and faults to overflow to you as a testament to what He might do in your current circumstance. But, this time, I’m doing it before the fact… With sweaty palms on heavy pom-poms.
Be encouraged: fisherman’s boat nearly sank with the catch… And, he later walked on water.
On October 26th, we staged our fourth local performance of a one man show called “That Day”, about a man who receives his rewards at the judgment seat of Christ as promised in 2 Cor. 5.10. As I listened to feedback from those who witnessed the performance and read through comment cards, I was struck by the number of times I heard people say “I realized tonight that I could be doing more for God.“
It was painful lie to hear.
|As “Dan Matthewson”, Aarron describes his experience
at the judgement seat of Christ in “That Day“.
They weren’t lying – they sincerely want to do more for God. It was only painful to hear because most people have been brainwashed into thinking one of their greatest problems is that they’re not doing enough (at least in American culture).
The lie is: “You’re not doing enough.” The truth is, God is not the God of “enough”. God’s will for us is that we do His will for us. It’s not about doing all of the tasks on our list – it’s about doing only the things that God has ordained for us to do. The truth is often that we’re doing too much – that we’ve heaped extra things on our plate out of guilt or fear (guilty, and guilty as charged), things that are good, but not the things assigned to us in a particular season.
What Do You Call an Underachiever?
Most people would refer to that person as “lazy”. And, they’re probably right. But, someone who consistently does less than what is required is in violation of God’s order and commands, specifically whem it comes to the first command given in the garden – “take dominion”, but also references such as Col. 3.23. Ultimately, God calls underachieving sin.
What Do You Call an Overachiever?
The painful truth is, God doesn’t discriminate when it comes to eternal rewards – “I desire obedience, not sacrifice”. When someone does more than what’s called for, it’s often labeled “overachiever” or “zealous”. But, can we be honest? All time is spent doing something. If we’re spending it doing something God hasn’t called us to do, we’re using time He set aside for us to do something else He ordained for us to do. What does God call an overachiever? Same thing he calls all who do iniquity: wicked, sinner.
In Their Defense
I understood what the commenters were saying – most of the people at “That Day” had a massive epiphany while watching the show: that God is watching us, recording our every deed, word, and private thought. Even better than that, He’s not doing so to shame us, punish us, or squash us for being lowly worms. He’s promised us rewards. So, their desire to do more of the things God was calling them to do naturally increased. Good for them and glory to God.
“Right” vs. More
|God wants us to “do the right thing”… all the time.
This is abiding… Not sprinting on a never
Ultimately, God desires us to walk in obedience, “by the Spirit”, in His ways, not to the left nor to the right, obeying all of His commands and statues, because they bring life. He wants us to “do the right thing”… all the time. This is abiding. This is total surrender, total obedience. Not sprinting on a never ending treadmill.
But, in a Genesis 3 world, we’re assured both that we’ll never do this perfectly and we’re not given license to stray from the path for “good reason”. There is no “good reason” for disobedience. It’s still disobedience. The litmus test for all of our actions is: “is this what God is calling me to do right now.” The pivotal matter is not that we do more, rather that we do more of the right things – not merely good things, but the things God has specifically ordained for us to do at this time.
May God teach us to use our time to do all He designed us to do, nothing more and othing less.
The Train Wreck:
Everytime I pick up Chuck Swindoll’s “Intimacy with the Almighty”, it’s a spiritual train wreck… but a wreck that needs to happen. This book first exposed me to Paul’s mission statement in the Amplified version. This is a translation I very rarely pick up, but it seems to tease out Paul’s greatest desire as also captured in other epistles:
[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]
That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body]. (Phil 3:10-11 AMP)
If you’re so inspired to do, read that again. Paul desires God – the whole package: good and bad. The bliss and that sanctifying affliction that leads to it.
Sounds like quite an awesome quest on a grander than “Fellowship of the Ring” scale, yes?
So, how do we get there?
Psalm 1 reads:
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of the sinner or
sit in the seat of mocker.
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and he meditates on his law day and night.”
4 Minutes, 4 Stages
Here’s a great key to that intimacy – meditating on the law of the Lord day and night. “Quiet time” or “time with the Lord” is often one of the places where languishing faith gets stuck in the mud. Many having never “learned” to have a quiet time simply find themselves wandering. Other times, I’ve found the tyranny of the urgent crowding out my time with God at precisely the time I should be leaning into it.
So, here’s a touch of structure a mentor once shared with me. I challenge you to try it first with a four minute block of time and see how fast it begins to grow to over an hour. Divide the time up into four stages and commit to using it in these four ways:
1. Read in Psalms or Proverbs
2. Praise and thank God
3. Listen silently
4. Present one BIG request before Him
Don’t aim for great length, rather consistency. If you find one of the stages getting longer (which you will), do everything you can to keep the others the same length as that longest one. You will find the time expanding rapidly. It’s okay, this is the work of the Spirit drawing you to the Father.
I have discovered my appetite for the word to be growing deeper and desire to be in His presence greater in just two times through this structure. I hope you will share this with someone who is in a dry season or stuck in second gear in their faith. But, most of all, I pray that He will catch you heart on fire for Him as Paul describes in Philippians.
in it with you,
For the past couple of years, I’ve had the honor of walking in Christ with Rory Martin – husband, father, Christ follower. Over the past month or so, he’s shared with me a seismic shift in his perception of who God is… and who he isn’t. About a week ago, Rory woke up with so much on his heart and mind, he just wrote it down as fast as his fingers could type, added my email address, and hit “send”. What he wrote was exciting to hear – a breakthrough in his walk with Jesus. We talked about it some more and with a little editing, I’m honored to present his thoughts as this week’s Monday Morning Momentum Minute… (More like 5 minutes, if you read like me.)
I hope you’ll find it worth a read and equally worth a “share”.
Does the lack of an immediate, resounding “yes” surprise you? I mean what about John 15:14-15?!
Yes, Jesus tells the disciples they are no longer servants, but friends. This is a big deal and I don’t want to minimize it. The short response is “it all depends on what your definition of ‘friend’ is.” But, let me explain further, so we’re really clear.
Growing up, I was taught to have a personal relationship with God. I did. But, it wasn’t the God of the Bible. Instead, it was a version of that God I’d created in my own image. I fell in love with Jesus. Not holy, holy, holy God, “Buddy, Jesus”.
Whenever I sinned, I would find this lesser, buddy god telling me “it’s okay, we’ll just keep working on this together”. My “main man” would give me a very nice comfortable pat on the back and nod of the head towards my sin.
I could not have been more wrong.
You see, there is a reason Christ refers to God throughout scriptures as Abba…or father…not “buddy”, “the dude”, “big guy”, or even “brother”. Even though as a Christian you could argue if any one person who’s been on this planet could refer to God as a peer he could. But, He didn’t. In fact, read Phil. 2.6:
“although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped…”
Why? Christ wanted to impart the parental relationship we have with our father…God is our father, we are his children. Not his buddies or peers.
If Not A Buddy, What about “Consultant”?
Remember Jiminy Cricket? “Always let your conscience be your guide!” He was that one friend who didn’t give into peer pressure, didn’t look at you with rose colored glasses, and told you right from wrong. But, Jiminy was a cricket. His advice was worth taking, but surely it had a loophole in it if you were young enough, smart enough, and fast enough to outrun danger, right? Consultants give opinions, not laws of life and death, right?
Let’s see… Imagine you’re about to do something you know is wrong. Jiminy kindly reminds you “Hey, you know this is not good”. Sounds authoritative, but doesn’t have your knees knocking in holy fear. So, you do it anyway… Now, say you are in that same situation, but your dad is standing behind you. Fear factor up a little? Now, say you’re in that same situation and Adonai – owner of everything, Jehovah – relational and intimate God, Elohim – strong creator of everything, is standing behind you. Still feeling invincible?
God is near and intimate, unlike a servant and like a friend should be (1 John 3:1, Psalm 34:18, James 4:8). God freely gives the best wisdom like an advisor and conscience should (James 1:5). God’s truth speaks with great authority to those who can discern spiritual truth (John 10:27). But, there’s something far greater – holiness and love. May I illustrate?
After a serious error in judgment, one football player lies in a heap on the field, writhing in pain. You see his fist pound the turf, PT’s are surrounding him. You can sense the complete anguish in his face. His best friend Jiminy is in the stands thinking “Wow, buckaroo, that had to hurt! It’s okay, you’ll get better and we’ll work on this first thing tomorrow morning!”
But, in a crowd of 92,000 deathly quiet fans, there is another looking on… You can hear this one fan’s heart beating like a bass drum. This fan is the only one standing, eyes fixed on the player… so much so that the 92,000 have completely disappeared. He’s defining every second of movement, totally encompassed with the situation. With every ounce of his essence he is shouting inside…”GET UP!”… Dad.
Hate the Sin and the Sinner?
God is not Jiminy Cricket. He’s not your buddy. He personally invested Himself in your pain, your mistakes, failures, your sin. Contrary to popular belief and unlike the football player’s Dad, God hates the sin, but also hates the sinner:
Psalm 5:5 – “…you [God] hate all who do iniquity.”
It is only through Christ and our adoption to sonship that we can say “God is love”, our transfer from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light that we become beloved children of God, no longer hated by the master we’ve betrayed.
Today I challenge us (you and I), before we fall in our sin to don’t think “okay, the big guy knows I’m struggling with this”…but to know that our holy, wise, near, Heavenly Father is looking at us with the most passionate love and His heart is shouting…GET UP!
So, the good news is – God is holy. The bad news is we’re not. Outside of Christ, we’re dirty, awful, objects of wrath. The better news is, that’s why God sent Jesus – not to give us good advice, be our buddy, take away all our troubles, and give us comfy chairs to sit in as the Titanic leaves port. Jesus died to save us from the worst problem ever – indwelling sin, which cannot stand in the presence of a holy god. Our trust in His sacrifice grants us not only saving grace, but sustaining grace – the power to live a godly life. (Titus 2:12) His grace is not just a fact, it’s the empowering force that helps us to do the impossible: live the Christian life in a Genesis 3 world.
Thanks, Rory, for listening to the voice of the Lord. Thank you, Jesus, for your amazing sacrifice. Thank you, Father, for your incredible justice and for sending Christ in the first place. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for empowering us to do all you designed us to do and become all you designed us to be so that we can bring you more glory.
Ninety percent of the problems we have are the result of a lie we’ve believed – about God, ourselves, others, etc. Problems can’t be properly solved outside of God’s order. He is a god of order. When we violate His order or refuse to walk in His structures and statutes, things get… more complicated…
that relationship you can’t seem to break free from…
that deal you just closed, but weren’t completely honest about…
that interest only loan you signed before the market tanked…
As a result, many of us walk around unnecessarily feeling a bit empty, unfulfilled, bored, or even bitter. The reason behind these ridiculous and annoying feelings is one word:
What You and Satan Have in Common
God has called every one of us to a purpose so high that if we understood the enormity of it, we might shrink back in terror. We might also scoff at it as “too simple”. But, if we look at the history of the Great War going on around us through proper perspective, we might instead be inspired, refocused, realigned with our proper place on the battlefield. The short version of it is this: you were designed to do what Satan failed to do.
A Look at the Battle
Ron Dunn was kind enough to share with me his summary of God’s great moves and Satan’s weak, sleazy counter moves for some clearer perspective on the story already in progress (it’s a long list, but don’t be intimidated – crank up the theme to “Rocky” and read it out loud if it won’t get you kicked out of your office):
God created angels to bring Him glory
- Lucifer reacted in rebellion, jealousy, pride and selfishness and took 1/3 with him.
- God countered his rebellion by creating man a little lower than the angels to show what great things can happen when His creation serves Him.
- Satan countered that move with 6 great lies and tempted Adam and Eve to disobey
- God countered that move by providing redemption and a way that man could restore relationship with God
- Satan countered that move by enticing Cain to kill Abel and cut off the Godly line
- God countered that move with the birth of Seth and man once again called in the name of the Lord
- Satan countered that move be enticing Nimrod who founded the Babylonians and Assyrians and built the tower of Babel establishing religion that replaces the worship of God.
- God countered that move by going to an heir of the Chaldeans and a man named Abraham who he called out to establish a nation that would worship the one true God.
- Satan countered that move by trapping them under slavery in Egypt.
- God countered that move by rising up Moses with a message from I AM to Pharaoh to “let My people go” and the entire world acknowledged the God of Israel as the true God.
- Entire OT is move counter move…sometimes not clear who is winning
- 400 years of silence between OT and NT then Matthew 1…the lineage is reviewed and Jesus is born to save His people from their sins.
- Satan counters by tempting
- Jesus counters with God’s Word
- Satan countered that with a crush move by enticing the local powers to crucify Him
- God countered that with the Big Move… the Resurrection. Life conquered death for us and the victory parade took place.
- That is our deciding move! No matter what is happening we must line up with and tie into that move.
- Satan is a defeated foe…but isn’t giving up.
- Until Christ returns He is active with schemes of deception
- God counters that by providing a Helper and Armor
Back to You and Satan
So, God created the angels to bring Him glory and Satan (Lucifer) as the Son of the Morning Star, to lead the angels in the greatest purpose: to worship God. How could there be any higher calling? In heaven right now around the throne are three angelic beasts swirling around the throne crying “Holy is the Lord, Holy is the Lord, Holy is the Lord”. Again, could there be ANY higher calling? Yet, when Satan was cast out of heaven, God’s counter move was to reach down into the dirt, blow air into the dust of the earth, and create a replacement worship leader out of mud. Do you get it? That’s you and me… We’re God’s “in your face” reply to Satan’s rebellion!
Five Take Aways
Satan – the original, fallen Rockstar – designed and commissioned to lead the angels in worship. You and I – the replacement worship leaders: the mud people brought to life by the breath of God and redeemed from sin by His own blood. If you were Satan and you heard the replacement band rehearsing next door for the ultimate worship party, wouldn’t you do all in your power to distract them? Cut their power off? Play louder to get them off tempo?
If you were that band and you knew that God did nothing to redeem Satan, but gave everything to redeem you as his replacement – would you sit idly by and allow Satan to distract you from your true calling?
Stay on track: Jesus warns that the “worries, riches and pleasures of life” are the very things that keep us from growing in maturity and fulfilling our purpose.
Fight the good fight: worship despite the distractions. You and I, especially here in contemporary American Christianity are being actively sold a bill of goods that allows us to believe it’s okay to be self absorbed with our own wounds, problems, offenses, that we miss the Big Purpose. Worship.
Be alert, be on your guard: There are many false prophets preaching in large pulpits to global audiences – that are selling Christianity as the answer to your problems, the deliverance from addictions, the “Best Life Now”, when all of such false gospels deliver far… too… little.
Remember the bigger picture: Our problem is bigger than addiction, discomfort, unemployment, the Falcons losing – it’s sin. Our position is worship. Our enemy is bitter and bent on distraction – to steal, kill, and destroy. What do you expect from a rejected mega-star?
Worship better than a rock star: We’re here to outworship Satan. Satan refused to worship God. Often, we worship smaller gods – football, career, status, personal disappointments, bitterness, etc. If we’re coming unglued about a football game and barely lifting our voice in church, we’re horribly distracted from our purpose. So, yes, musical worship is important. But, pride was the chief sin of Satan – being self absorbed in any way is a distraction. If we are to “do everything as unto the Lord” (Col. 3:23) then everything becomes worship. Work is worship, raising kids, caring for the sick, sharing the gospel, suffering persecution, standing in line for hours without being bitter… You and I are here to take the place of the one who failed to do his job – let’s be the best replacements ever.
NEED TO KNOW: ONE TH1NG will resume this Friday, Sept. 13th with a new series on Biblical Manhood “Broken Arrow”, led by Ron Dunn, from 7AM to 7:55 at The Cabernet on Windward Parkway and 400.