Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Eternal Jesus

By Jenny Glazebrook

I am embarrassed to admit I have been late putting up this blog post - life has once more become a battle, taking all my time and energy. And so, with little time, I am posting here the message I shared at the Omega Christian Writers' Conference last year - as much because I need to hear it again as to encourage you, also. Yes, it's long, but I hope you are blessed by it.

Jesus. He is our inspiration. The giver of life. The master story-teller. The one who understands us like no other person can. He is the grace and truth we have to share with the world. How well do you know Him?

Years ago, I was watching a show called Camera Trap. There was a guy baling people up in the market place, saying he was an art student and offering to sketch a 2 minute portrait of them for only $2.
Most people were hesitant but he’d beg them, ‘Please, just do it to help me, I’m a poor and needy art student.’
So one young couple posed for him, holding hands while he started sketching. Two minutes later he turned his portrait around for them to see.
It looked something like this:
Well, there were similarities.
I’m just wondering, what is your picture of Jesus Christ? How do you represent him to other people? Does it do Him any more justice than this picture did of that couple?

What was the first thing that came to your mind when I spoke Jesus’ name? Anything? Or was there a kind of emptiness there as it just slid past in a haze of familiarity?

My next question, is ‘How did you develop your picture of Christ?’
And more importantly, is it accurate? How well do you know Him?
As Christian writers, we represent Christ. How can we do that if we don’t have an accurate understanding of who He really is?

Is your picture of Christ developed from what people have told you,
from what you have read in His Word,
from what you imagined as a child and never quite grew out of?
I’ve heard it said that some people never let Jesus grow up. They have him in a manger all his life.
Well, I think some people also have Jesus on a cross forever.
And others leave him on earth forever.
Or just sitting on his heavenly throne doing what?
A school teacher I met was teaching year one. She asked them what Jesus was doing and one child piped up and said, ‘He’s sitting in heaven.’ Just sitting.
Is this what you imagine heaven will be like? You, standing around the throne forever singing, while Jesus is sitting? You might be a bit tired and like the idea of just sitting right now.

My Dad was a perfectionist. A few years ago he had just retired, and had a new home, but he was dying of cancer. Still, he set up his tools in his new sheds out the back yard; spanners, screwdrivers, everything in perfect rows, in height order …
Looking at those sheds I prayed, ‘Please Lord, just give Dad a few years to enjoy this.’
But I felt God said to me, ‘Jenny, I have so much more for him.’
And I know that He does. Dad is now in heaven with Jesus, a place that is so much more than we can imagine.

What is your picture of heaven? More importantly, what is your picture of Christ?
Do you know Him personally – the living Christ, the all-powerful one who shares His mission of reaching the world with you? Who walks with you, inspires you?

Can a baby in a manger connect with this broken world? 
Can a man hanging on a cross reach that deepest part inside us that is empty and hurting? 
Can a man who walked on earth healing peoples’ physical ailments help you with the sicknesses you are suffering today?
What about someone just sitting on a throne?
So who is this Christ who heals and binds up the broken hearted and sets the captive free? This Jesus who gave His life to give us eternal life if we only believe?

1 Corinthians 13:12 Paul says what we now see and understand of Christ with our human minds isn’t clear the way it will be when we reach heaven. He says:
‘Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.’

With four children, I know just how dirty mirrors can get. I also know how warped the image can be – how different we can appear. I was getting my hair cut recently and my 8 year old watched in the mirror and said, ‘Mum, you look a lot better in real life than you do in the mirror.’
Thank you. I think.

But the thing is, she knows me. The real me, not just the reflection in the mirror. But do you know the real Christ? Not just about Him? Do you talk with Him, walk with Him? He knows the real us – and He knows a lot more about us than we know about Him! We are so complex that even we can’t understand ourselves but Christ fully knows us. There are things about you that only He knows and understands because no other human has the ability to truly know you. If we as humans are that complex, how much more so Christ?

In Collin’s book, ‘Back to the Gospel’, there is this illustration:

The Gospel of Christ is a rich treasure. It is like a cave, which when you enter it you see sparkling jewels and diamonds like you have never known before. And as you venture further in, there is more and more to be found and claimed. Yet many are content to sit at the entrance to the cave and they never bother to venture any further in. They are content to know it is there; they feel no need to experience, to own the fullness of the wealth there is within.

It’s too easy to become complacent and just sit at the entrance to the cave. To feel like we know enough, have experienced enough to last a lifetime. But if we truly understood Jesus we would never become bored with Him and the Gospel. We would reach further, seek harder, embrace Him with our whole hearts. Be so
overwhelmed and excited by Him we can’t help but share Him with others.

I wanted to share with you a picture of Christ which changed my life. It gave me an excitement, a new, refreshing awe and appreciation of who He really is and how much He loves us – how much he gave to connect with me – to connect with us humans.


Revelation 1: 2:20 
How does this picture compare with your picture of Christ?
John was so afraid and awed he fell at his feet as though dead. And yet this terrifying Jesus is filled with Compassion. See the way he reaches and places his hand on John, telling him not to be afraid. Awesome power mixed with love.

Together I want us to look at the most familiar picture of Christ – the earthly Christ - and compare it with this heavenly picture of Christ. 

Have you ever thought about the fact that what we read of the earthly Jesus in the
Gospels is a picture of what he was for merely thirty three years out of eternity – only thirty three years. Not that his time on earth wasn’t important - it was more than we can ever understand. But this same Jesus is the Jesus the angels worshipped before the world even began and still worship today.

It’s interesting that in my search for pictures of Jesus I found many thousands of him during his time on earth. And the heavenly picture? One that was almost accurate. And a couple of others. That’s it. So we have to use our imaginations – something we writers are good at doing.

I want to challenge us to look beyond all you have in your human minds, if that
is possible. To look into heaven with John and catch a glimpse of Christ as God rather than man. The creator, the saviour and the almighty God who is to be worshipped.

What would your response have been to the heavenly Jesus John saw?
This Jesus wearing a robe and gold sash, with hair white like wool,
eyes like blazing fire, feet like bronze, voice like rushing waters, holding seven stars, a sharp sword in his mouth and a face like the sun shining in all its brilliance?
What is your response? I have to confess, my first one was of disappointment. I
didn’t fall down in fear as though dead as John did - John who had seen Christ as man and God.
Why? Because I couldn’t connect. This Jesus was so out of my experience. I have grown to love the ‘earthly’ Jesus. The man so full of emotion, passion, compassion and strength of character. The one who gave His life for me. The one I feel to some extent that I know and understand. This awesome figure seen in heaven seems distant and unreachable somehow.
Yet this awesome, majestic figure is that same Jesus without His glory veiled. It is hard for us to understand.
But this just confirms why Christ came to earth as a human - because he wanted us to see His love, undistracted by His awesome glory. He wanted us to not fear Him... but to get to know Him. Yet despite His love, He was still this same Jesus. Fully and completely the almighty God.

Can you imagine how the angels, looking from a heavenly point of view struggled
to see this awesome God whom they worshipped become a man?

That robe we read about in v13 which reached down to his feet and had a golden
sash - they saw Jesus abandon these royal, priestly robes and instead wear earthly garments. And then they saw humans tear these garments and divide them amongst themselves as they called Jesus a blasphemer for daring to claim He was God.

That head and hair as white as wool... as white as snow. Jesus allowed His glory
to fade. He is the ancient of days, all wise and all knowing, yet He gave this up and
rather than having hair as white as wool, allowed Himself to become as gentle as a
lamb. He left the worship of the angels who day and night proclaimed Him holy,
Almighty, Author of Life and He became the son of man, Lamb of God.

Those eyes of blazing fire - all knowing, all perceiving which searched hearts and
minds were disguised so that all that could be seen was the love in His eyes.

The feet like bronze glowing in a furnace became flesh and walked in the dust
and filth of the earth wearing nothing but sandals. And rather than speaking the word and allowing angels to come and wash his tired, worn out feet, he reached out and washed the dirt off the feet of those humans He created. He whom angels served and worshipped day and night, had reduced Himself to a servant.

The voice which in heaven was so powerful it was the like the sound of rushing waters became gentle, caring and filled with love and compassion as Jesus cried out to His Father to forgive those who mocked Him, hurled insults at Him and despised Him.

I have no doubt He could have called ten thousand angels to deliver Him from
them. He, the one who holds the seven stars - which are angels,(as we’re told in v20) in His right hand. And He was very aware that He could call upon them. In fact, I can imagine those angels waiting, hoping, desperately longing that Jesus would call them so they could wipe out these blasphemous, ignorant humans who couldn’t see who Jesus really was.
Fully prepared for battle, ready to go as soon as he uttered the command, those angels watched in grief as the one they worshipped and served was treated like the lowest of humans. A criminal - a common thief.

Rather than use His sharp, double edged sword and speak the word to begin
battle and destroy these people, Jesus chose not to use His power. He used no miracles to get Himself out of the situation. Instead he bore all the pain, the betrayal and rejection.

As a man by the name of Frederick Beuchner says, 

The miracle of the cross is that there was no miracle.’

Jesus, the all powerful, all knowing, majestic Holy one could have done anything
he wanted to. Yet He chose to lay His power to perform miracles aside so that He could connect with you.

The miracle of the cross is that there was no miracle. He could have called ten
thousand angels to take him from the earth and back to heaven. He could have slipped away from the authorities like the many times he had before. He could have convinced Pilate to keep him alive by his intelligent, unquestionable defence. He could have destroyed the earth like he did at the flood.

But instead, that face which for eternity had shone like the sun in all it’s
brilliance streamed with red - torn, bleeding and destroyed. That face was slapped and spat upon. Those angels would have washed His wounds and brought Him home, but Jesus continued to lay His miracles aside.
Why?

Michael Card puts it aptly when he says in his song, Why,: ‘He died on a cross for on a cross a thief was supposed to pay. And Jesus came into the world to steal every heart away.’
And he also asks, ‘Why did they nail His feet and hands when His love would
have held Him there?’
His love for us is the reason.
His desire to connect with us. So that we can call the almighty God our father,
and His son, our brother.

Do you know, I couldn’t bring myself to put a picture of Jesus with the crown of thorns up here. My horror was too great. It seemed so blasphemous. And it was.
What He did to connect with us, to make us His!

It makes me wonder, as writers, as God’s children, do we take all He has done for us for granted?
And if He gave up so much so that humans would connect with Him, to know Him, what do we do as Christian writers do to connect with our readers and connect them to God? How far do we go?

I know there are many here who have written at great cost to themselves in many ways. There are those who have been judged or scorned even by other Christians when what they write is not in line with what other believers think they should be writing.
Maybe what they write even seems blasphemous in the way they connect with everyday people.
But we, like Jesus on earth, sometimes need to use the same background so we can connect, but in that, we share a different message.
A message of grace and truth.
There are those here who have put their hearts on the line and have been trampled. There are wounded warriors reading this today.

Painting of Jesus by Akiarne Kramarik
But I want to encourage you. This all-powerful, all-loving, eternal Jesus is here. He sees you. He knows you. He knows all you are going through. How do I know?

If we look at Revelation 2:1, He is the God who today holds His church in His hand and walks amongst His people.
He is here with us right now.

John was given a message for each of the churches – for God’s people. He was told to write it down – God knows the value of writing!
And one message comes through in every single one. I believe this is the message Jesus has for us as His Christian writers today.

I encourage you to look at the letters to each of the churches. Do you see the pattern?

First he states his character and position as Almighty, Sovereign God. Then he says over and over again, He sees. He knows.

So what does He say to us today? His Australasian Christian writers?
This almighty God.
He is involved. He knows. He cares.
He sees everything you do for Him. He knows every intimate detail of our lives. He sees you battle over your writing, battle over marketing, struggle with which way to go, what to do. He sees the money you have put in, the time, your heart. He sees what it costs you.
And He cares.
But more than anything He wants you to do it with him. As worship to Him as you connect with Him and share this amazing, eternal Jesus. He will direct you as you share the truth with grace and humility and love.

And He knows the value of writing. He tells John to write what he sees. To preserve it in words so that it may bless many in future years.
We have inspiration like no other writer.

Another point I want to make, is that Jesus came to earth as a baby to connect with us. But for 30 years of his 33 years on earth, he was growing, learning, developing, growing closer to God. It was only in the last 3 years his ministry became public.
This is what it cost to connect with us.

Don't give up! You are not alone!
I’ve seen people who have a manuscript they believe is ready to be published. And then when they realise how much work needs to be done, they give up. They never come back, they never have their manuscript published.
But if Jesus – God himself in the flesh, took so long to learn to connect, to build connections, to be ready for public ministry, if he was willing to put in so much, shouldn’t we also expect it will take some work?

I admit that after my first Christian writers meeting I was broken. I discovered my already published book was not what it seemed. My publisher was not traditional as I’d thought, as I’d had to pay out quite a significant sum of money. I had broken all the rules of good writing and I knew so little. All I had was the heart of a good story inspired by my relationship with the living God.
If you feel like that today, please don’t give up. Lay your manuscript before the Lord. Work on it with him. Listen to His voice. He is the master story-teller. He is your inspiration. He who gave you that brilliant idea can also direct you to those who can teach you. He can guide you, encourage you. He brought you here for a reason, to meet people, to learn, to connect.
It costs to connect with people. Expect it to be hard but also expect it to be more worthwhile than you ever dreamed! We have a living, eternal saviour, so worth sharing!

Another thing I want to encourage you with – if you’ve felt intimidated by all those who are further ahead in the journey than you are – know that every single one of them were beginners once too. You and your writing are not of any less value because you are not yet at the point another author is. And if they succeed in any way, that does not lessen your value. It increases it. We are a body of writers. We are Christ’s children. We are a family. If one is honoured, so are we all. I would encourage you not to see your writing as an individual thing but a team effort. Connect with each other, learn from each other. Lift one another up. We are the church of God’s writers here in Australia and NZ. What does He say to us?

He hears. He knows. He sees. He wants to connect with us as we connect with others. This almighty God who loves us more than His own life is our inspiration. What more can we need?

I pray that you will be strengthened, that you will connect with God and others through your writing. If there was a part of you that felt like it was dying, I pray it has been raised to life again by the power of this almighty, eternal Jesus. May we connect with Him as we never have before! May we enter further and further into the cave and find the riches He has there for us. And together, may we share those riches with the world!

Jenny Glazebrook lives in the country town of Gundagai with her husband, Rob and 4 children along with many pets. She is the published author of 7 novels, 1 traditionally published, and 6 self published. She writes because words burn within her. She is an experienced inspirational speaker and loves to encourage others to walk closer with God and hear His voice each day.  Jenny’s website is: www.jennyglazebrook.com



13 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing, my heart is greatly encouraged. Blessings xx

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to let me know, Keona. May you know God's presence with you as you use your gifts for Him!

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  2. I was greatly encouraged at the conference by your sharing. May the Lord encourage you through every day and give you the strength you need. Hugs from Taiwan.

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    1. Thanks Christine. I think that is the first hug I've ever received from Taiwan : ) May God continue to bless and use you in your amazing ministry for Him.

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  3. Beautiful post, Jenny :) I loved hearing you speak at conference and I'm glad you've shared your inspiring and encouraging words here with us.

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    1. Thanks Narelle. I'm thinking it's about time you and Carolyn and I got together in our part of the world for a writers' renunion. Hope all is going well for you and your family.

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    2. Yes, definitely! We should organise this soon. I just need to meet my novella deadline first. The family and I are doing well - thanks for asking. :)

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  4. This touched me at conference, and it touched me again when you sent it to me. Now it touches me again as I read it with the pictures. Thank you :)

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    1. Thanks Iola. I love that we can equally be a blessing to one another on our writing journeys. I am so grateful for all you do in helping Australasian Christian writers get their work to a standard of excellence.

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    2. And I can't wait to read your creative writing when it gets out there!

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  5. Hi Jenny, what a wonderful challenge for the new year. Actually challenge isn't quite the right world. It's more like a cross between a challenge and the warm encouragement many 'wounded warriors' need to face another year :) Since I see you shared it at conference, I'm so glad you shared it here too, for those of us who missed out.

    The Jesus paintings by Akiane have been very meaningful to my family lately, as I gave one to my Mum, along with the story of how the little girl saw the vision, and her painting was recognised by many others who have too, from all over the world. I hope 2018 is a blessed year for you and yours <3

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    1. Thanks Paula. Yes, Akiane's story is inspirational and touched me deeply as I looked more into her experiences and art works. (Just noticed I spelt her name wrong in the caption. Whoops - not sure how to change it.) I also loved the true story of Colton Burpo and how he recognised Jesus in Akiane's painting. May God bless and inspire you this year as you use your gifts for Him!

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  6. God bless you, Jenny! Thanks for sharing your strong heart for Jesus. You are a blessing! xx

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