If we can just get a hold of Jesus (and not another list of man-made rules and regulations), He will personally make sure everything else is just as it needs to be. All we need is Jesus

‘All we need is Jesus’, A Belated Christmas Story

By —— Bio and Archives--January 14, 2018

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'All we need is Jesus', A Belated Christmas Story
This holiday season I was especially looking forward to Christmas, much due to the yearly reminder of the unconditional love and blessings that I need so badly and that I’ve been given in Jesus - coupled with the reunion of my beloved family members. It had been an extremely rough year for me. And I was looking to hide from some of my grief by just celebrating God’s unfailing love in the company of my beloved, visiting Christian children. My (now grown) babies are great gifts of unconditional love from my Heavenly Father. And they are this old man’s joy in the face of even life’s darkest moments.

As we prepared for the day, my wife sneaked down to the basement to get our Nativity scene. I love the reminder of Jesus’ birth that I’ve seen traditionally since I was a boy. And she knew that my seeing that all set up would brighten my day. Just as I realized she was missing, I heard a loud crash from beneath our living room floor. A few minutes after that, she reappeared and sadly told me that our beautiful, classic Nativity pieces were destroyed - all but the baby Jesus. She had dropped the box containing the fine porcelain figures , and its contents were shattered. I used that moment’s last bit of strength to assure her that it was ‘no big deal’. Nevertheless we were both really disappointed.

With only a few days left until Christmas, I searched the Internet for a decent replacement set. But nothing comparable to the quality of what we had lost was touchable for less than a third of the national debt. And what was suitable and still affordable would never have reached here in time. Feeling some shame for my self-pity in the face of the real problems I knew other people were enduring, I told God I would be happy to spend the holiday with an otherwise empty wooden manger housing only a cradle with the effigy of His baby son. What a ‘big sacrifice’ on my part, I thought. Nevertheless I was bummed all the same.

The next day my wife set out shopping locally for a replacement Creche or at least the figurines needed to repopulate the holy crowd around our lone, ‘surviving’ infant Savior. She found nothing ... until her last stop in a secondhand store. The woman said to her, “We do have one remaining bunch of Nativity figures - and very nice ones at that - but there is one big disqualifying problem. I’m sure you won’t want them.” She walked her to the back of the store and picked up a plastic bag filled with the beautiful little statuary - Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, the three wise men, some livestock. All the characters were pristine and even perfectly matched our old set. “But,” the woman sadly noted, ” ... It’s missing the most important piece! There is no baby Jesus!”

My wife looked at the woman and said, “Well, what do you know! God laid these aside just for us!” And then she took the opportunity to rehearse our little dilemma to the woman as she paid her the five bucks they were asking for the crucially ‘incomplete’ set of Nativity figures. And in that tiny story’s happy solution - which that kind saleslady had very much helped to remedy - God was entirely glorified.

The reason that I had to share this story with you, my good readers, is because that is the sort of relationship I have with the mighty God who made us all. He performs these ‘miracles’ - large and small - in my life and the lives of all my family in Christ, regularly and without hesitation. Truly, it is a portion of His ‘part’ in the ongoing conversation that never ceases between Him and His people. In my relationship with Christ, besides His saving my eternal soul, He has daily loaded me up with all sorts of benefits - from saving my physical life several times, to taking bountiful care of even the smallest details of the comparatively insignificant stuff that matters to me and to people who don’t even believe He exists. But His answers to my prayers alone amount to enough material to inspire several books.

One of the things that so frustrates me in this world is how so many (though not all) of the organizations that have set themselves up as God’s representatives, the various church outfits, have made Him so inaccessible. From the bottom of my heart, I don’t believe that God ever intended knowing Him to be as difficult as the devil and so much of the organized church has made it appear. And in explaining why I feel as I do, the following is a real brief ‘theology’ lesson that I hope you will benefit from knowing. If you can spare a few minutes, this might help in understanding the ‘religion’ that I see that God is really all about …

God made man and woman, and gave them the total freedom to choose Him or their own way. Just as you can’t force anyone to love you in this life, neither does God try to force anyone to love Him: God didn’t make us robots. He created free-willed mankind as the pinnacle of his creation. And when He did that, it infuriated a self-consumed, former archangel named Lucifer (who had already convinced himself that he was the pinnacle of all things). The moment his rebellion materialized, Lucifer (now aka the devil) was banished from heaven and cast down to earth, along with his rebellious angelic following. God has allowed him to reside here on earth and tempt mankind, in order to give us the opportunity to freely choose either our loving Creator or to join satan in our own selfish anarchy. Our perfect and sinless ‘prototype’ great great great great great … grandparents, Adam and Eve, sadly chose to join that rebellion and subsequently separated mankind from God whom they had disobeyed. And so the rest of us were born in that exile - infected, if you will, with that predisposition.

But God, not willing that any of us should perish, sacrificed his own Son to bring us - all who freely want to come - back to Him.

Tragically, so many Christians and churches don’t seem to want to teach you much of the above. But, even more tragically, they don’t appear interested in responsibly introducing people to the simple but HUGE differences between the Old and New Testaments in the Bible that tells us all about God. The Bible is pretty simple to understand, really, to anyone who is sincerely interested in discovering its messages. Having even a rudimentary knowledge of Scripture is very important since it can clear up a whole lot of mystery, especially for a lot of 21st century people who no longer take the time to do any homework or even much thinking for themselves.

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(1.) The Old Testament was lived out and written as God’s way of teaching fallen mankind about Himself and just how far and completely fatally we had fallen away from Him. Many of the Old Testament’s strict laws that make absolutely no sense to most of the world today - and the horrible consequences for breaking them - were God’s way of driving home our imperfection and THE IMPOSSIBILITY of even our best attempts at measuring up to His perfection or EVER earning His love. The penalty of death to serious lawbreakers and the sacrificing of innocent, living animals to cover certain sins was God’s painful way of showing us that sin (rebellion against God) is fatal in every respect. The devil has even used the Old Testament’s untempered severity as a way of portraying God as just a big mean tyrant with an appetite to condemn people when they mess up. And such a portrayal has been allowed to stand for thousands of years - because satan doesn’t want the whole story to be told. IN FACT, THE OLD TESTAMENT WAS NEVER MEANT TO BE A DESTINATION BUT RATHER AN ILLUSTRATIVE ROUTE TO THE GRACE OF GOD IN HIS SON, JESUS CHRIST. (See for example, Isaiah 53 - and think about Jesus while you are reading that.)
(2.) The New Testament (which completed all of the legal demands of the Old Testament) is our same VERY HOLY God’s introducing us to the fact (and GREAT NEWS) THAT HE, THROUGH HIS SON, KEPT ALL THE LAWS, RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT, PERFECTLY - FOR US! Before He ever created totally free-willed men and women, God (who lives outside of time) knew in advance that we would need saving. So Jesus, who was actually then called the ‘Word of God’, became one of us (that’s how much He loved us), and lived and died in order to save us all from being destroyed and punished.

[NOTE: Today, in an unbelieving world, we have lost nearly all understanding of grace and common sense, and many of us are no longer parented in the tutelage of God’s authority, His Lordship and His absolute right to expect certain things from His creation. The whole idea of our needing a Savior makes no sense at all to biblically-ignorant people. Add to that mindset the efforts of the real, aforementioned devil who works 24/7 (currently using pseudoscience, fake news and the most technologically advanced communication and entertainment venues to spread his lies) in order to discredit that tiny voice inside us known as our conscience. It is little wonder that so many people are today cynical regarding the life and work of Jesus. And it is therefore also completely logical that our world today is so insanely out-of-control and in the complete mess that it is.]

The above information is, I think, the very least that every human should be aware of when we begin to more closely examine our relationship with our Creator and discover exactly what He wants for and from each of us. Most people today see the Bible as just a big, black, mysterious and sometimes comical or scary book of ancient, superstitious folklore. And often none of God’s words - thanks to a devil-driven media/entertainment industry, churches who aren’t doing their jobs, and lazy and/or fearful uninformed Christians - are given any serious consideration until people are, one-by-one, faced with the fact of our inescapable mortality. And by the way, my good readers, no amount of entertainment or distraction will avert or forestall the date each of us has with death.

But the reason I started this story in the first place is because God has (to no credit of my own) brought me into a relationship with Him that amounts to a continual conversation. When my wife came home with exactly the Nativity pieces we needed, it was just one more in a daily series of moment-to-moment concerns that my LOVING Heavenly Father takes the time and trouble to address and remedy. He is not my ‘genie in the sky’. No, there are lots of things that I agonize over and through. And He is fatherly enough not to jump in and do everything for me. A lot of times He wants me to grow up enough that I stop making hasty decisions that can mature into full-blown disasters. And He wants me to learn not to replicate my mistakes.

Nevertheless, when I start relating stories like our little Nativity miracle, I am always amazed at the number of people I speak with who don’t experience the same sort of daily happenings in their own lives, or who are oblivious to them. And it’s mostly because they either don’t believe in God. Or, if they do believe in His existence, they don’t have a nodding acquaintance with His personality. God does have feelings. And He does have a very distinct and breathtakingly beautiful personality. And that fact right there is where so many churches and so many uninformed Christians seem to be dropping the ball. And in that ignorance (or, in some instances, perhaps deliberate deception) they’re doing God and mankind a most tragic disservice. Bear with me …

When Jesus died on the cross, when He had surrendered His Spirit to His Father and perished, immediately the huge, thick curtain protecting the most holy altar of all, in the Temple in Jerusalem, was ripped in half, right down the middle - by God Himself! Imagine a giant, heavy-duty carpet, about 4 inches thick - weighing in tonnage - being ripped completely in half without the help of the 300 priests it took to carry it! That curtain was kept in place in order to keep anyone except the most high priest out of God’s holiest place on earth. If you wanted to get close to God without dying from the experience, you had to do that through priests. But the Joe Average pedestrian ‘churchgoer’ of the Old Testament couldn’t just go to that altar, a mountaintop or even a church pew and strike up a conversation with God.

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God ripped open that curtain, or ‘veil’, because He wanted to finally get the priests out of the way! God ‘rent the curtain in twain’ because He could not wait for all His newly adopted children (adopted through their faith in His Son Jesus’ sacrifice) to get at Him, and He at them! But so much of the history of the Christian churches is cluttered with a priesthood/pastorate that is so obviously insistent upon restoring the veil between God and man! Some churches have, for example, throughout the Christian era, actually discouraged independent Bible reading. Also, organized religion has often imposed all sorts of burdens upon its adherents, and used their innocence and gullibility as simply a way into their pocketbooks. The list of abuses of the churches upon the masses is endless, as most people can easily see.

For centuries the altars of churches were even hidden by a “Rood Screen,” a lattice or curtain that was most probably taken from Judaism’s placing of the veil/curtain between the chancel and the nave - specifically it was placed between the clergy and the ‘common folk’. It certainly imposed an air of mystery, as most of the service/mass/communion was only barely witnessed by the Bible-ignorant attendants. Instead of participating in real, heartfelt worship, the groundlings were only allowed to hear the sound of bells, smell the incense, and listen to an unintelligible Latin liturgy. The estranged congregants were not at all welcomed into closer fellowship with God. And the clergy will still today often ‘hide’ behind robes and well tailored suits in their big business institutions. Effectively they still keep a “Rood Screen” between themselves and sheep-like followers who are starving for true spiritual revival.

So much could be said about how badly a largely self-serving, organized religion has failed in the job they claim to have. Instead of shepherding a dying world back to the One who made us all, they perform shows and fight to protect their positions of power, wealth and authority. And God, unlike His adversary, will not seduce anyone into a relationship. Instead, He is every moment and by all means powerfully convicting the world of sin, judgment and of righteousness - just as He said He would (John 16:8). He has completely opened the way, through Jesus, for ANYONE to easily find Him and know Him intimately! In the Old Testament He showed us His unattainable holiness. And, then, in the New Testament, He solved every problem that our fall had earned us. Jesus kept all the requirements necessary to find our way back to Him! And all in the world He requires from us is that we obediently believe, simply trust in Him, because He knows best. Indeed - so simple, any child can do it!

But the truth that isn’t being shouted loud enough is that God sent his only beloved little boy to be born in a cattle shed so everybody could have access to Him. The giant, unbelievably formidable God who built us and every bit of the world and universe - time and space we dwell in - always had it in mind to provide a way back for us after our inevitable fall. And, once we place our trust in his Savior/Son, Jesus Christ ... the huge, holy and formerly unknowable God who used to be our judge suddenly becomes our daddy! And that is where I have found myself.

I am not clever enough to discover some deep secret Bible code that isn’t shown to everyone. But I won’t wait for some robed priest, pope or preacher to dictate the methods or parameters of my relationship with the good Lord, the author and administrator of all life.

The God who indeed restored our little Nativity set to us has in like manner: restored my legs to me after paralysis, my heart after its total failure, and He has given me so much more than I could have ever imagined. I have many years of memories of miracles He has performed in my life in the process of the conversation we started back when I first met Him. The loud message He gave to me this year at Christmastime was that, again, all I need is Jesus. And He, because He knows everything, will faithfully provide everything else I need in this life and the next. And that is the sort of Christmas the whole world needs right now. If we can just get a hold of Jesus (and not another list of man-made rules and regulations), He will personally make sure everything else is just as it needs to be. All we need is Jesus.

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Dave Merrick -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Dave Merrick, Davemerrick.us is an internationally known and published artist whose works reach into the greatest diversity of audiences. Known primarily for his astoundingly lifelike portraiture, Merrick’s drawings and paintings grace the walls of an impressive array of well-known corporate and private clientele. Many of his published wildlife pieces have become some of America’s most popular animal imagery.

He has more original work in the Pro-Rodeo Hall of Fame than any other artist. His wildlife and Southwestern-theme work is distributed internationally through Joan Cawley Galleries of Scottsdale AZ.

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