A serious, but rather subtle anti-Christian sentiment has been inexorably creeping into our society. Our concern is that we all become better prepared. The preparation must include some form of emotional readiness.

Christ was born in a stable. You may remember this as our Christmas theme. That same stable reappears in this letter. A stable has real animals and real mess that accompany the animals.

ENCOUNTERING TWO TWIN BROTHERS

“Without oxen, the stable is clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest” (Proverbs 14:4). Production, plowing, harvest, and fruitfulness, are all directly due to the presence and strength of the ox. Spiritual progress, it seems, requires the ox to be present, creating the mess! The logic presents a viable and reasonable human choice: live with the mess or do without the ox!

Christ is born in that very stable with an ox being present! The purpose of which is to mitigate the sheer strength of the two twin brothers: arrogance and anger.

Recalcitrant personal sovereignty or intense self-will exhibits a kind of strength that is most difficult to counteract. Arrogance refuses to be embarrassed and reacts in anger. Do not ask how I seem to know that so absolutely! Failure or refusal to embrace the shame and embarrassment of the odor, the rumor-mill, and the presence of human failure, wrapped in overt spiritual incompetence, allows the return and added influence of the twin brothers. They are, after all, eager to show up.

For us to be able to effectively follow Him is to make an unqualified decision to embrace His wisdom, engage His Kingdom principles, and refuse to insist that the He maintain a clean stall. He is Lord, and we will respond to Him in His authority. It all appeared to me as some form of surrender that the Lord was asking of me/us in some personal manner.

As we seek to understand and apply Proverbs 14:4, we are
beginning to recognize that God the Father and Jesus our Lord are requesting that we recognize and embrace His shame. My understanding of embracing the ox goes something like this: Agape covers!

a. He identifies with me and willingly embraces my shame: “For which cause, he is not ashamed to call them his brothers” (Heb. 2:11). “God is not ashamed to be called their God” (Heb. 11:16).
b. He expects us, in turn, to eagerly and willingly, embrace His chosen method, the ox in the stable, to extend His purpose in the earth. Affirmed by Christ’s own birth.
c. Apart from the presence of necessary embarrassment, the twin brothers, arrogance and anger, are invigorated and allowed to return and take control. “They were counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name” (Acts 5:41).

As this was being downloaded into my person, it seemed as if the Lord was asking from me a calculated embrace of His shame that would set me free from the control and demand of the two twin brothers, allowing me to become the needed priest to those who are now lost and “coming short of His Glory.”

The implications seem to have come increasingly clear: He does ask for us to give Him our humanly created reputation, when He made Himself of no reputation.

We really do need the ox. Are we willing to say to the Lord: We will, with joy and gratitude, embrace the mess or embarrassment that the ox brings with him!

Agape,
Bob

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