Sentinels For Christ :: The Christmas Jail

The Christmas Jail

Posted by jimgrier on December 23, 2015

This blog comes straight to your from Jail in Greeley Colorado.  I wanted to share it this December 23rd close to Christmas for two reasons.  One was I felt obligated to update the more than 200 of you who now follow what goes on at Sentinel-For-Christ.  Thank you for your support of this ministry and your encouraging words.  More importantly though, I wanted to share the Lord’s work in my heart and family that led to this extraordinary circumstance in our lives.  If any of you feel compelled to “get the scoop” on this journey, you can find it on the web site in the book “Why Men Kill” at Sentinel-For-Christ.com when the book will be launched in an e-book format in 2016. 

While in jail over the past 70 days (I’ll be released January 8, 2016) I’ve been impressed how difficult it is to discern Gods will as a follower of Christ and even as a seeker of God who hasn’t made the decision to embrace being a Christian.  Despite authentic and sincere prayers  “knowing the will of God” has never been a “concrete vision” or plan that presented itself with a straight line and was accompanied with unabashed confidence.  In fact my walk in Christ, now over 30 years of it has been filled with a lot more uncertainty than certainty! 

Well at least that’s been my experience anyway.  What I would give, to “feel” or hear the voice audibly of God saying “It will be all right” or “I want you to do this” sometimes when anything but seems to be the reality. 

Two millennia ago, God did something extraordinary by sending his Son, the full representation of Himself in the form of Jesus Christ to reach out to a turbulent world, to a seemingly lost people beyond hope who had very little to look forward to in their immediate circumstance.  God didn’t make a grand announcement like our presidential inaugurations or red carpet recognitions in Hollywood.  He didn’t draw attention to the fact with a bunch of fanfare and pomp.  Our Savoir and his human parents experienced the arrival of the world’s only remedy for our hearts, which is forgiveness and grace by the way, in object poverty out of the spotlight of what men hold dearest; power, admiration and recognition.  Have you ever wondered why the only invited guests to the birth of Christ Jesus where a bunch of animal famers, hired hands really, not even the owners of the live stock? 

When trying to discern the will of God for myself personally I’m struck by the continual struggle to perceive Gods movement in my life in actions and results that seem to make sense, or seem to flow logically as a result of some “godly action” or behavior I have just engaged in.  More than not the opposite has been true, when I thought I was doing something within God’s will it was in those times I received the least return.  One of the most concrete truths I can share about my experience in Christ is this: 

God does the unexpected regularly, spontaneously, often despite myself and my best intentions. Therefore I can’t claim to have rock solid clarity in most of my undertakings as its obvious one of the great struggles of faith and a relationship with Jesus involves this reality of me repeatedly struggling to discern God’s will and intention as I discover my intention (seemingly aligned with His word) is often in conflict with His desire which works its way out in a perfect direction and intent despite contrary circumstance. 

Welcome to real Christianity. 

There wasn’t a lot of confidence or security in the apparent circumstance of Joseph and Mary of their first born son Jesus.  The situation was scandalous as the eighth chapter of John implies for Jesus whole life the circumstances of his birth was marred with gossip and sensationalism when his audience that day (Jesus now around 30 years old) took a cheap shot when cornered in an argument about his divine origin. Their best comeback was to accuse Jesus of being produced of an illicit sexual relationship.  Read the 41st verse of John 8. 

I think the take away is that God understands the ways of human beings, all too well. 

God’s entrance into a world which loves darkness over light and illusion over truth, pleasure over justice is truly and absurd revelation in just how magnificent he truly is and reveals to us just how far removed God is from our conceptions of what constitutes the divine. 

Isaiah chapter 55 reads thus: 

            “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways” declares the Lord,

            “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your

             ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” 

In this verse I find the following truth when it relates to me trying to discern “God’s will or God’s direction” for my life.  The truth and intent of God is not “apprehended” or “appropriated” on my terms, it’s realized and completed in spite of myself as I simply hang on to what I know already about Christ.  I regularly overwhelmed with the realization of how much I still need him to complete the work he began.  This work to move forward runs parallel to a daily examination of the inner man/woman and copious and I mean copious amounts of healthy confession of my still sinful remarkably selfish self. The only reason I’m saved is because God himself took the form of a human lived perfectly so his own standards could be met and then he handed that perfect righteousness to me, For: 

            “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might

             become the righteousness of God in Him.”  2nd Corinthians 5:21. 

That’s the amazing gift of Christmas.  And it’s in this absurd grace and unmerited kindness offered by God to those of us all who’s rejection of him hung him on a cross and drove in the nails we find the will of God.  It’s the starting point and as I grow older in Christ I am more increasingly impressed with how this simple truth of profound gratefulness towards God must drive everything about who I am and what I do or else everything is simply rubbish and chaff in the wind. 

That’s the will of God and as this sets in as a profound reality in your relationship with God and realization of who He is in Jesus Christ we then begin to understand his will because we understand and know Jesus.  God’s will is not a linear time line of human plans and planning sessions although if you’re like me you regularly get caught up in this type of thinking.  God’s will is this profound grateful recognition of who He is and what He done which changes your life.  May I dare say if our life is not remarkably changed and we claim to know Jesus personally there is something drastically wrong with our faith. 

So sitting in jail this Christmas I’m thankful.  Thankful for all the goodness and provision God has given me, thankful profoundly for a wife who truly sharpens me like “iron sharpening iron,” thankful for men who are part of the Sentinels who have ministered to me and my family while the ordeal played out that have demonstrated the hands and feet and kindness of Jesus in a way I had resigned to believe didn’t exist in the Christian church for the most part, thankful for a church which isn’t pretentious but full of a bunch of flawed people like myself and yes even thankful for the adversities over these past couple years which birthed the idea of the Sentinel outreach and drove my family closer than ever before. I never really felt that comfortable with those who seems to have all the answers in the church or those who seem to have no problems.  I guess I never will but maybe that's just my journey.

Your ways Lord, truly are not my way.  I wouldn’t even fathom the journey nor accept it if I saw it beforehand that it would take to get me in the place of having an intimacy with you and a hope in eternal life that you will return and for each one of us who knows you, on that glorious day the whole world from times commencement will confess in the great company of the saints, all peoples and your angels in the presence of all authority and powers how much your Son Jesus loved me... and us. 

And for that I’m truly grateful.  Merry Christmas to you all this year from your Sentinel brothers and sisters on the inside and out! 

J.P. Grier

M.S. Counseling

J.P Grier is the founder and writer at SentinelforChrist com – Sentinel-For-Christ is a network of Christian men helping each other to press deeper in Christ.

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