Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

Do you like Holidays?

I love Christmas and I love New Years as they give beautiful fragrance to the wonderful sweet smelling offering of Grace through the finished work of Christ and magnifies what is written in the book of Revelation where Jesus says, "Behold I make all things new!"

Newness of life.

This is our only hope.

New life in Christ;

But there are some who do not like holidays. It is an enigma to me that so many of our founding fathers, mainly in the Puritan heritage, did not like to honor these days. In fact the Puritans outlawed Christmas. Of course we know however, that the Bible says that some honor the day to the Lord and some do not and in that regard we need to understand this.

Please understand that I am not trying to debase our American Godly Heritage, as there were many Godly men who loved the Lord, yet History records that there were still many who were trying to mingle the law with grace, and there were indeed Puritans that screamed horrible, blood curling screams at their deaths and many feel that they could never get over their fears and instead embraced and tried to mingle the law with grace, never fully accepting the love and forgiveness of God, but instead spending their lives trying to devote themselves to God through fear.

What is it that keeps us bound up in fear and never come to rest completely in the finished work of Christ alone?

I was contemplating this much over this past week, when my boss called me to ask me to do something close to impossible that would violate the law and I had to say no. He understood, but was very upset.

You see, the law states that wide loads are not to be on the road after 12 noon on New Years eve. The purpose is to protect citizens, but the customer as well as the shipping department wanted their wide loads there immediately and because of Christmas and New Years, we have gotten backed up and the cranes at the jobs are also waiting. I am thankful for the work load lately because of this, but God also calls for us to wait on Him and obey Him and trust Him. That is why grace can only accomplish this and give us the heart to obey Him, not because the law is there, but because He has been so good to us that we want to obey Him in His new life and as a result we will be sensitive to Him and not wooden, trying to obey through only a sense of duty which may actually help serve us to disobey him through duty and not love in sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

This holiday section in the law is there to protect other people who are traveling and as a truck driver who needs grace in my truck, I have to ask God to help me drive for others and not for myself. Please pray for me here.

I am told to obey my employers as well, so I was at a crossroads in this decision. I haven't always made the right ones, but as I bask more and more in God's acceptance it does help me make the right ones.

My boss wanted me to make two wide load runs by noon and it was simply too risky and would have required me to violate speed limits as well.

He stood behind me yesterday as I loaded up and began to curse me under his breath and then I sensed he tried to catch himself. He is under a lot of pressure.

I understood he was under pressure from his boss and so it was hard for him to release me, but thankfully, he took a breath and did the right thing as well, but as I left the yard that day he said to me, "I hate holidays!"

The escort who was with me that day also tried to talk me into this risk and he reiterated to me as well, that he hated holidays too.

Still, I was thankful, because we barely made it with this one load and as we took the trip a wind advisory came up that caused driving conditions to be more serious and once that happens the law requires you to get off the road with wide loads as well. I had a very little window of time. The holiday actually served to keep us all safer and to do the right thing, but the pressure to conform and not wait on God was all to real. Human nature wants God on their timeline and not us on His. Grace gives us strength and peace of mind to wait and learn to trust Him in what He wants to do and not what we think He should do.

The holiday releases us from our task masker. If I had his job, I am sure I would be tempted to do the same thing.

For now?

One job at a time and may I learn more and more to wait on Him.

Grace opens our cold dead hearts to trust in Christ. Grace means charity for the beggar. It has absolutely nothing to do with our efforts, will or merits. Grace must be received as a free gift or it is simply not grace.

If you add any other element at the door of salvation then you have frustrated the grace of God and if after you have been saved by this grace and are tempted to add another element because you feel you need to get God to not honor His holiday so that you can get done what you feel you need to get done, then you may possibly be sending others aways from His grace without realizing it. This is a very serious thing.

Grace is a holiday for our hearts and cold cold water in the middle of a desert of task maskers.

I have been working a second job lately and it has been hard work. As I worked cleaning out ditches the other day and listening to BBN while I did it: Amazing Grace came on the radio and a dear brother came on and continued talking about how self-righteousness finds no place in our salvation. In fact, grace gets under the skin of self righteousness and causes the human nature to fume against this holiday for our hearts.

As I continued working and raking up debris and leaves with a rake and pitchfork; I came to a stopping point and as I began to look around and see what I accomplished, I began to take pride in what a good job that I felt I did. With one of my last runs to clear out these water ways, I raked up a dirty bloody bounty cloth. It sure gave me the heebie geebies and a cold chill of ambivalence went up my spine.

Blood was everywhere and I began to think of who would put something so gross like that there.

Then I began to think of my pride. How gross it must be to God when we boast in ourselves.

What foolishness!

In fact the book of Isaiah says that our righteousness is as filthy rags. I am told that the meaning in Hebrew is that of a bloody menstrual cloth. Yes, that is what our good deeds and hardest efforts look like in the sight of God. That is why the Bible says in the book of Romans, that it is not of him that willeth, but of God that showeth mercy. That is why the holiday God placed in the middle of the writing of the law got under the skin of the human nature that always seeks to lord it over the other. Consider how our human natures; rich in heart, boast against what is received poor in spirit. That is why our salvation is a free gift of charity for a beggar. There is something also about our human nature that despises beggars; isn't there? It feels like the other doesn't deserve charity and so it lords it over the other.

Here is the holiday that God knew many would despise, because He knew the holiday would cause us to release the captives.

"Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying. The seventh year, the year of release is at hand: and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee." Deuteronomy 15:9

In truth....when we receive the grace of God, we release ourselves into the love and presence of God. We hold ourselves captive when we don't receive this blessed truth.

Years ago, my father gave me a book from what is known as the green letters. It was extremely helpful to me and continues to be so today. Here is a small article from it on acceptance:

Acceptance

My how my heart is encouraged to obey God as I bask in how much he loves me and how much I forget about my pride and bloody rags.

I hope you are encouraged in this.

Every year we make resolutions which are good things for us that we want to do, but we often fall short of those self-sufficient dead runs that often end in failure. We look around and wonder how others have been able to do it and then learn years later that they failed later as well. It really only means that others can hold their breath longer in the end, but all of us need to breath the air of grace at some point and stop boasting against it. It is so hard for us to see this...especially for those who can hold their breath for a really long time.

This year, I pray that we all delight ourselves in this wonderful holiday and see this new year as a slave saw the year of jubilee and not how the master saw it.

Grace upon grace,

Brian

5 comments:

Shawn said...

Thanks Brian, I wish I could say I liked the holiday time more than I do, but I struggle with enjoying this time of year. It's not good, but I am thankful for your works.

Todd said...

Good thoughts Brian. With God's peace we can manage the holidays. As we know, if we sharpen ourselves daily, those hard days are much easier to get through. Hope you're off to a good start in this new year. On we press, closer to the Lord. Brotherly love, Todd

Bhedr said...

Hey Shawn and Todd! Good to hear from you both.

Just a side note:

I got tickled when I went into work this morning. Everyone else had the day off but me. The whole plant was shut down as well. It is the last day to hunt:-)

Perhaps hunting days don't count as holidays:-)

Esau and Nimrod were mighty hunters before the Lord.

Grace upon grace,

Brian

Joel B. said...

Great post, Brian! I don't have much time to comment, so I'll just say that among other things, this stood out to me:

"I have to ask God to help me drive for others and not for myself."

As a daily driver myself (for my job), this is my prayer as well.

Bhedr said...

Hey Joel. Good to see you. It is a good daily prayer for all of us then. More and more each day, drivers are paying less and less attention to the road...as a result they are making more laws and higher penalties, but as we know, that is not truly the answer, but it may work for a while anyway. Just the other day I got a $371 fine for not getting in the left lane when passing a state trooper. I told the trooper that two cars would not let me over, but he told me I did not flash my signal lights. I did slow down but not enough. Tougher laws out there now.

Grace seems to be leaving our nation and so the laws must get stricter in order for a nation that is losing sense of the sweet Spirit of the Lord, to survive.

Grace upon grace,

Brian