Secret Santa

To the individual(s) who rang our doorbell at 10:30pm on Friday night and disappeared into the cold night leaving giant “santa sacks” full of gifts: only in heaven will you know how much joy you brought to the Watts home.

First of all, I want you to know that when the doorbell rang it took me a minute to get to the door because I had to put a shirt on (no one deserves to see me without a shirt at Christmas time, or any other time.)

After we brought everything in and read the note attached, me, Michelle & Macy just sat in the floor and cried (it was a good cry):). We felt like Jesus had been to our door.

What you could not have known is that, although we’d put our tree up a couple of weeks ago, we could not bring ourselves to put the ornaments on the tree since so many of them are directly connected to Jordan. With the help of some friends, we had finished (finally) putting the ornaments on our tree only minutes before the doorbell rang. The Lord’s timing was impeccable. We so needed a “touch” from Jesus at that moment. What He gave us was a huge “I AM here. I’ve got this.” We were on holy ground.

We opened the first gift (per the attached instructions) but actually waited on Kelsie to arrive last night to resume opening the gifts. We’re on schedule now. And it’s something we look forward to every evening.

I may be St. Nick. But you, whoever you are, are Jesus to us.

Merry Christmas, St. Nick

Angels in Bluejeans

Last night, my family experienced a “visitation”.

Angels. In Bluejeans.

Several of Jordan’s friends came by our house bearing a metric-ton of love (and our favorite Starbucks warm beverages.)

These are many of the same friends who had become like family. They don’t need to knock. They know alarm codes. You know…

These are many of the same friends who sat in our living room less than a week after Jordan died as we all grieved together.

Sure, we grieved some last night (“weeping may last for the night.”) But, this gathering was very different (“but joy comes in the morning.”) We laughed! We focused not on the pain, but on hope; not on death, but on life; not on the temporal, but on the eternal. In short, we focused on Jesus Christ.

Isn’t that what angels are biblically supposed to help us do?

Last night, my family experienced a “visitation”.

Angels. In Bluejeans.

nw

Angels Among Us – Part 2

Part 2 of a 2-Part Series on the topic of Angels.

 

Angelic activity in the life of Jesus:

1. After Jesus’ “wilderness temptation” in Matthew 4, we read that “angels came and attended Him.”

2. When Peter pulled his sword to “protect” Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus rebuked Peter by asking,

“Do you not think I cannot call on My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”

A single Roman legion numbered 6000. Twelve legions would total in excess of 72,000 angels. That’s scary when you consider a single angel slew 185,000 Assyrian soldiers.

 

What angels are:

1. Created beings. (Colossians 1:16)

2. Worshippers of God. (Revelation 5:11-12)

3. Extremely powerful [as an extension of God’s power.] C.S. Lewis astutely observed,

“In Scripture the visitation of an angel is always alarming; it has to begin by saying ‘Fear not.’ The Victorian angel looks as if it were saying, “There, there.”

That a single angel slew 185,000 Assyrians has been already mentioned.  In Matthew 28:2-4, a single angel rolled back the stone from the tomb. In Revelation 20:1-3, a single angel will throw Satan into the Abyss.

 

What angels are not:

1. They are not intermediaries between God and man. (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

2. They are not agents of “new revelation from God.”(Galatians 1:7-8)

3. They are not to be worshipped. (Revelation 22:8-9)

 

Do we have “Guardian Angels?”

Some believe that Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:10 suggest we each have our own guardian angel. 4th Century Bishop, St. Basil the Great said,

“Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.”

John Calvin wrote,

“Whether or not each believer has a single angel assigned to him for his defense, I dare not positively affirm.”

Some say yes. Most scholars agree that Scripture is inconclusive on the topic. Personally, it would not surprise me if we do.

angel guardian

Do people have “angelic encounters” today?

1. Of course. Why else would we be told in Hebrews 13,

“Be ready with a meal or a bed when it’s needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it!”

2. In 1914, Ernest Shackleton, along with 27 brave men, embarked on a daring exploration of the Antarctic. After their ship became trapped by the ice, Shackleton and two of his men traveled, by foot, across the treacherous, icy terrain of South Georgia Island, vulnerable to sudden blizzards and hurricane winds. The island’s inhabitants considered the journey impossible. Nevertheless, Shackleton and his two partners crossed in 36 hours. Shackleton’s diary provides an interesting perspective on the South Georgia Island crossing:

I know that during that long and racking march of 36 hours over the unnamed mountains of South Georgia, it seemed to me often that there were four, not three. I said nothing to my companions, but afterwards Worsley said to me, “Boss, I had a curious feeling that there was another person with us.”

3. I, myself, believe with all of my heart I had an encounter with an angel in December of 1983. I was about 20 years old, living in Abilene, TX, and attending HSU.  One very late night, when my father was extremely drunk and full of rage, I found myself in a most dangerous situation.  It was during this moment that I had an experience I, to this day, cannot explain.  It involved a “stranger” who appeared, cared for and protected me, then disappeared.  I’ll never forget it. Ever.

If you missed Part 1 of this series you can access it here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

Angels Among Us – Part 1

aliens-from-mars-could-be-depicted-as-fallen-angels-in-the-bible

“Stay on good terms with each other, held together by love. Be ready with a meal or a bed when it’s needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it!” (Hebrews 13:1-2, The Message)

There’s no other time of year angels are given more publicity than Christmas. They’re everywhere: Christmas Cards, yard décor, Christmas tree toppers, ornaments. How many times will you hear or sing, “Angels We Have Heard On High,” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” not to mention be reminded that “Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings?”

Angels. Who are they really? Do we have guardian angels? Do they really look like the pictures? Do they make appearances today? All great questions.

To begin with, they’re not the Precious Moments type of cherubs we see on Christmas cards and store shelves.  Far from it.  There’s a reason every time an angel shows up in scripture people are terrified, prompting the angel to usually begin with, “Fear not.”

Our world is intrigued with angels, in part, because they’re part of the mysterious, the metaphysical – the supernatural. Everyone has an opinion as to what they are.

The 16th Century Reformer, John Calvin, said,

“We would be wise to renounce vain babblings concerning the nature, ranks, and number of angels without any authority from the Word of God.”

Good advice. So to the Word of God we go.

Both the Old & New Testament words for angel are, in the English, translated “messenger.” One of our largest North American cities, Los Angeles, (The City of Angels) borrows from the Greek word, “angelos.”

Throughout Scripture, an angel’s purpose is to serve God by attending to the needs of His people. Author, John MacArthur, puts is plainly:

“Angels are to worship and serve God by attending to the care of His people.”

The following biblical facts are in no way exhaustive but, nonetheless, contain some interesting biblical facts about angels.

General facts from God’s Word regarding angels:

1. They’re first mentioned in Genesis 3:24. (Job 38:4-7, however, says they were present at the creation of the world.)

2. They’re last mentioned in Revelation 22:16.

3. Only three angels in Scripture are given names: Gabriel, Michael, and Lucifer/Satan.  NOTE:  Most modern translations rightly render the Hebrew text in Isaiah 14 “morning star” or “day star”.  The King James translation, for whatever reason, chose to include the word “Lucifer”, the Latin word for morning star or the planet Venus.  Hence, the name Lucifer became associated with the only proper name Jesus gave the devil:  Satan.

4. Each time Gabriel is mentioned he is delivering a message. Each time Michael is mentioned he is battling the enemy.

5. In heavenly form, two types of angels are mentioned: cherubim & seraphim. The cherubim are mentioned 70 times in the Old Testament, but only once in the New. The seraphim are mentioned only once in all the Bible: Isaiah, chapter 6.

6. When described in human form they are always male, and never described as having wings.

7. The Bible never once mentions the angels singing the night Jesus was born. Only two times in Scripture are angels described as singing: Job 38:7 & Rev. 5:8-10.

This is Part 1 of a 2-Part Series.  Part 2 answers questions such as, “Do we have guardian angels?”, and “Do we encounter angels today?”  You can read it here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

Angels Would Give Anything to Have This

Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation….Do you realize how fortunate you are? Angels would have given anything to be in on this! (1 Peter 1:9-12, The Message)

Intimacy with God through Christ. We have it. Angels don’t. They’d give anything, Peter wrote, to experience it.

Why do angels so long for this level of relationship with God? Could it be that they better understand just how much it cost God to offer it to us?

Pastor/author, Rick Warren, wrote, “When [Christ] paid for our sins on the cross, He became the door through which we can enter God’s presence at any time (Jn. 10:9). We now have a standing, open invitation to come into God’s presence and spend as much time with Him as we want. Now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God – all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.” (Romans 5:11, NLT) “Because of Jesus our friendship with God has been restored.”

Friendship….intimacy with God. We have it. Angels don’t. They’d give anything to experience it.

May we live a life of gratitude, never taking God’s “friendship” for granted.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick