The Champ is Here!

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Back in the day Cassius Clay aka Muhammad Ali would walk into rooms and make the announcement, “The Champ is Here!”  This would let onlookers know that he was in the building; not just as a person, but as THE Champ.  The one who defeated every opponent.  The one who was seemingly invincible.  The one who could not be touched.  The Champ.  He wanted his presence to be acknowledged and reverenced by all.  However, history would prove in fact that he could be touched;  not only in boxing, but in life. Now, the once flamboyant, boisterous icon has been silenced.

Silence is what Ancient Israel experienced for hundreds of years before that holy night when Heaven invaded earth and the Angel of the Lord proclaimed to a bunch of humble shepherds:

In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people:11 Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. 12 This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.” (Luke 2:8-12, emphasis mine)

In effect, the Angel of the Lord told a defeated, seemingly hopeless people, “The Champ is here!”

The One whom you have been waiting for.

Your hope.

Your God.

Your Savior.

He has come.  He is here!

That night the words of the prophet Isaiah had been fulfilled:

For a child will be born for us,
a son will be given to us,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
He will be named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Is. 9:6, emphasis mine)

The One Israel desperately needed and had been waiting for had come.  Little did they know He would be more than they could ever ask for.

The Apostle John would describe Him as having “Life” and penned these words:

4 Life was in Him,
and that life was the light of men.
That light shines in the darkness,
yet the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:4-5, emphasis mine)

No darkness, no obstacle, no Pharisee, no Scribe, no Disciple, no Devil could overcome Him.

Why?  Because he’s strong.  Because he’s mighty; and another meaning for the Hebrew word used in Isaiah 9 (gibbowr) is champion.

Jesus the Christ, born of a virgin, the Word made flesh, is Israel’s (and our) champion.  For this reason, no darkness, no obstacle, no mountain, no valley can measure stand against Him.

He conquers.

He reigns.

He wins.

He is victorious.

This Christmas, I invite you to not just see the baby in the manger as “Sweet Baby Jesus,” but that you would see Him for who He is; our Champion.

His advent secured our victory over:

1. Satan (1 John 3:8b)

2. Sin (1 Corinthians 15:56-57)

3. Death (1 Corinthians 15:55)

Let us worship Him. Let us reverence Him. The Champ is here!!!

O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Praising my Champ,

Terry

Check out this song from my friend Tavia Grubbs

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Embracing Overwhelmed-ness

First off, I’m not sure overwhelmed-ness is a real word but I am rolling with it.

Like most people I go through seasons where everything is going smoothly; work (auditing) isn’t too hectic, ministry is clicking on all cylinders (for lack of a better phrase), relationships aren’t too dysfunctional and I am tiptoeing through the tulips. Then there are times when I wonder why my employers even hired me? Why would God call me to Pastor? Why would these people let me Pastor them? Who decided down is up and up is down and left me out of the loop? Why aren’t there more hours in the day? Why is my metabolism working at a snail’s pace? Why is everyone enjoying relationships except me? Why am I so overwhelmed?

As of today, I’m not sure if I am going into the latter season or coming out of it, but I sense something. I may even be right in the middle of that season; in fact, I know I am. I am overwhelmed. Yes, I just full on processed my feelings in the middle of writing this.

So yesterday I drove from San Diego to La Mirada and back to San Diego in a matter of six hours for two of my jobs. I know that sounds crazy, but this is my life. I’ve done it plenty of times, but yesterday the thought of it made me feel anxious, slightly depressed and angry. I wasn’t so much upset at the fact that I have multiple jobs, but simply because it was just bad timing. There is so much going on – on one hand, and not so much on the other hand, but I’m still required to do both.   Yesterday, however, it really got to me and in my massive amounts of alone time in the car, I was reminded of one of my favorite passages:

“Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.

For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name. Thou wilt prolong the king’s life: and his years as many generations. He shall abide before God for ever: O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him. So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.” (Psalms 61:1-8 KJV)

For the sake of this post and for the rest of this post I want to draw attention to the first four verses which end at “Selah”.

This is a Psalm of David that focuses on having and finding security in God (as noted by the heading in the HCSB translation). My aim is not to fully exegete this text, but to share how it ministered to me yesterday. As I read it multiple times and read multiple translations I kept being drawn to the word “when” in verse two. I’m not so sure that David’s heart was overwhelmed or weary or faint (words used in the different translations) at the time he wrote this. I honestly believe that he was stating a fact that there were times in his life when that was his reality and when it was, he wanted to be pointed or led to or directed to the One that he could lean on. Yes, David knew and understood that sometimes life can happen in such a way that it causes one’s heart to become weary, faint, overwhelmed or just plain weak.

It happens. It is natural. This is mankind’s plight.

In a fallen, broken world, everything is not going to go smoothly all the time. Everything is not going to go as planned all the time. There are going to be times when we are rendered powerless and confronted with our finite-ness, and that is ok.

I realized yesterday that I was beating myself up because I allowed myself to become overwhelmed as if being overwhelmed is a bad thing, or, as if I have total control over my life. Pride is so deceitful. Often times when I am overwhelmed by either throw on my superman cape and try to do everything on my own, or I become paralyzed and do nothing until the storm blows over. Both of which are terrible responses because in each case I end up handling things my way, in my strength, using my logic. Instead of being proactive like David, often times I finally turn to God when I am burned out and/or the poop has hit the fan. That’s not a good way to live and that is not the life God wants for me.

So today, I am embracing the possibility and the reality of being overwhelmed. Instead of waiting until the last-minute I am praying that in this moment and in those moments, God would continue to draw me to Himself and that He would give me the courage to rely on Him, the One, the Rock who is higher than I.

I can do this because I know from past experience, as did David, that He always delivers. He always shelters. In Him there is security. He never fails.

Selah.

Leaning on Him,

Terry

Lead Me to the Rock

Ps.  I absolutely believe we can be overwhelmed by things that are foolish and unhealthy.  This post does not speak to those things although I do firmly believe that even in those situations God invites us to Himself.