Archive for December, 2010

So, I was listening to the song “Little Drummer Boy” on the radio the other day, and the scenario of LDB at the nativity began to play out in my mind. Here’s how I think it would have gone.

Mary: “Joseph, do you hear that? What is with that obnoxious “rum pum pum pum” sound? It’s 2:00 in the morning!”

Joseph: “I’m sorry, Dear, I’ll see if I can go talk to him”

Mary: “Forgive me if I’m pretty dang exhausted from delivering the Savior of the world and just want a little sleep! He’s going to wake up the baby!”

Little Drummer Boy: “Hey, how’s it going, guys? I heard you folks had a special little babe tonight, and I’m running a little tight on cash from all the drum gear, sooo…I thought instead of a real gift, I’d just bust out a little snare magic. It’ll be like a percussional gift to your ears from Yours Truly. Now, I know you’re probably wondering why I came here in the middle of the night when you’re completely worn out and still recovering, but I thought, ‘You know what? Mary can catch up on sleep any time, but this drum deal, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.'” So yeah, without any further introduction…”

Joseph: “Little Drummer Boy, thanks for the thought but we’d really rather…”

Little Drummer Boy: “Click me off, ox and lamb!”

Lamb: “Sorry, man, I don’t have any rhythm! Maybe the ox can help you out.”

Ox: “Yeah, are you forgetting he’s a white sheep? But, uh, yeah, I would love to, but I got some…treading…to do.”

Little Drummer Boy: “Really? You guys speak human but you can’t keep a tempo? Great. Oh well, here goes, anyway…”

RUM PUM PUM PUM
RUM PUM PUM PUM
RUM PUM PUM PUM

Joseph: “Hey, that’s cool that you can say “rum pum pum pum” over and over again. I mean, I can do that, too. But why don’t you get on with the actual drumming?”

Little Drummer Boy: “I’m getting there, Joe, hold your horses. Get it, your horses? Because we’re in a stable? Oh man, I wish I had a cymbal so I could do that ‘ba dum, chh’ thing right now. Ok, here we go.”

*Little Drummer Boy solos on the drum, waking up baby and causing a ruckus in the stable*

*Enter Wise Men*

Wise Man 1: “Hey, what’s all the commotion in here? We were following the star here since Mr. “Wiseman” 2 over here lost the Mapquest directions. If it weren’t from Drummer Boy here, we might not have found you guys. Thanks!”

Wise Man 2: “C’mon, man, you know that’s not fair. It’s freezing out there, so my hands were going numb, and you stuck me with carrying the block of gold the whole way here. Meanwhile it’s blowing like 100 miles an hour out there. And now I just stepped horse poop. Wonderful. I don’t even want to hear about the map right now!”

Joseph: “Alright guys, just calm down. We weren’t really expecting company tonight. Apparently this no-name barn had a neon arrow pointing down to it from the sky and now everyone and their sister thinks it’s cool to come chill at the cramped craphouse. But let’s not worry about all that right now, come on in.

Wise Man 3: “We were thinking it would be fun if, instead of the whole gift giving thing, we did like a White Elephant type of exchange. See, I saw this stuff at the market called Myrrh the other day, and I thought, “Who in the world would use that?” And then I thought, “You know what would be hilarious? If Wise Man 1 brings gold, I’ll take this junk and see who draws the low number! Wise Man 2 kind of copied me with the whole Frankincense thing. He thought it sounded like Frankenstein and we were doing the whole Frankenstein/Igor scene at the market until we realized everyone was staring. That being said, sorry for all the gag gifts, but maybe if you get lucky you’ll get to go last and keep the gold. It’ll be like in The Office when Michael brings a brand new iPod. Hopefully nobody gets ticked off.”

Wise Man 2: “Way to make cultural references two millennia ahead of your time. I don’t think they picked up on those, but don’t worry, I’m trackin’ with ya.”

Wise Man 1: “Seriously, guys? I put out like 3 months salary for this gold, and you guys picked up your ‘hilarious’ gifts at the dollar store? I’m telling Herod about this when we get back”

Joseph: “Can we just let this be a Silent Night?”

RUM PUM PUM PUM

Mary: “BE QUIET!”

Why So Downcast, O My Soul?

Posted: December 8, 2010 in Uncategorized

Matthew 26:31-35:

Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:

“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’[c]

But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

Matthew 26:69-75

Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.
But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

How heartbreaking is this story? I read this in my devotions tonight and I couldn’t move on from it. Peter’s story cuts so strongly because it connects with me just a little too strongly, like an odor that conjures distant memories you thought were vaulted away. How many times have you been in Peter’s place? Do you find yourself at times, like me, making promises to God as if you’re the one with the strength to sustain yourself? “Jesus, I will never deny you,” or, “I’ll never explode at my family again,” or “I’ll never fall into temptation with lust again,” or “Jesus, I’m done with slandering loved ones behind their backs, never again,” or “I’ll never do anything to completely ruin my reputation, credibility, and testimony!” You see, Peter’s response to Jesus’ prediction of his betrayal was not “Jesus, is it really so? Is there any way I can avoid this? What must I do to stay on guard? Pray for me that I might not fall into temptation, please. I don’t want to betray you, but it sickens me to hear this news, for I know I am capable of everything you say.” No, his response is self-sufficiency: “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” It’s a great sentiment, but it’s not grounded in the right place (or more accurately, the right person).

This self-sufficiency builds him up for failure, like a kindergarten boy who builds a Lego tower with pride, only to have it knocked to pieces by the bully he wasn’t paying attention to. Peter is not a man known for his restraint, caution, or cool-headedness. So, that night, when Jesus was captured, Peter’s mind got completely distracted from the betrayal warning as he tried to cut off a guard’s ear to protect Jesus. After that, Peter was probably running around trying to find any way he could to rescue Jesus, but to no avail. Now, Jesus is being tried and mocked by an infuriated mob of religious hypocrites, with no one there on his side. Peter likely saw the treatment and was scared to get himself involved in the mockery, torture, and the likely beatings and suffering he would endure. Suddenly, his promise of “Even if I must die with you” was exposed for the bravado it was, nothing more than high talk among friends. “Jesus, you know I got your back no matter what happens.” But now, Peter is faced with the “no matter what,” and he’s in such a petrified state that even the threat of a young servant girl connecting him with Jesus seems horrifying. How did he get to this moment?

Does that resonate with you? Maybe you’ve fallen and you find yourself saying, “God, I was finished with anger/lust/slander/discontentment/bitterness/jealousy, but now it has me completely entangled and I can’t see any way out! How did I get here? I was so determined, so convinced that I was strong enough to never get ensnared by that one again!” You hear the rooster crowing loudly, and he seems to be crowing right in your ear. The look of Jesus’ piercing gaze is burned into your mind, so that you’re unable to avoid the grip no matter where you turn your eyes. You go out and weep bitterly.

“God, why do I even bother any more? I’ve disappointed you with this so many times. I feel like it’s not even worth fighting anymore, because every time I get determined to overcome it, I just get defeated and demoralized by it again. Over and over, I’ve tried swimming against this current, but I’m exhausted and I’m further back from where I started. I just can’t deal with it anymore. No more promises, no more commitments, no more swimming, no more fighting. I’m done.”

Self-sufficiency is completely destroyed, leaving you broken. But that’s just the place you need to be so God can lift you up. I think God allowed Peter to be humbled so that he would be prepared for the work he was going to do in him. A good horse needs to be broken before he can be trained and useful. A good Christian needs to be broken for the same reason. We can’t pick ourselves up by our bootstraps, we need God to be merciful to us and pull us up from the pit.

Psalm 42:5-11

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

A couple months ago I posted about guys needing to step up and participate in the church. You can imagine how excited I was to see this video posted by a friend on Facebook.