Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Spirit of Christmas

It’s December and the spirit of Christmas is everywhere. This is the time of year when people are concerned about being “naughty or nice” and they try live out the one portion of scripture that no one seems to oppose, peace, good will toward men.

Lately, I have been reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. If you have ever read this Christian classic, then you know Lewis talks about a knowledge that is inherent. I believe it came as the result of sin. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, disobediently ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and their eyes were opened. Where they once knew only God and purity, they instantly had an understanding of good and evil, right and wrong. Now everyone born from Adam is born with a sin nature and this knowledge. (Rom. 5:12).

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Our Greatest and Priceless Gift
The race is on! We’re streaking toward the finish line of December 25th and I’m already starting to panic. My calendar is full, the hours left are short, and I’m not quite sure I will make it.

I started out really well, with plenty of time to spare. My daughter and I braved the howling storm and sea of people on “Black Friday”. We were among the midnight crazies at Walmart, doing the all-night shopping thing. Infused with caffeine and adrenalin, we sped from one end of the store to the other and got some decent deals. However, what seemed to be suitable gift ideas in the excitement and haste of early dawn, once home, turned out to be not-so-wise choices.

For one special item, I stood in a three-hour line that snaked through several aisles. While I waited, I had an opportunity to observe the people around me. Each person was cordial, courteous, pleasant, and helpful, but completely absorbed in their own shopping needs. They came from all walks of life with many different interests. Some more affluent than others, but all were doing the very same thing. In the wee hours of the morning, when Christmas bargains were uppermost in our minds, I pondered the question, “Can they tell I’m a Christian; that for me Christmas means much more than glitz, glitter, and gifts?”

Sadly, I knew they couldn’t. My fellow shoppers had no idea I personally knew the Baby born in Bethlehem, Who grew up to die on a cross for my sin and theirs, rising from death three days later and is alive forevermore. They were oblivious to the fact that at least one stood there among them who possessed eternal life and walked the narrow way, while they wander aimlessly down the broad. A thought flashed through my mind, “Should I engage someone in conversation about Jesus and the real meaning of Christmas?” Then just as quickly, the girl behind me asked a question and the thought was gone; never to return.

Thinking back to that night, I grieve, knowing the majority of people I encountered would probably say they believe in God or that God exists. They might even say they know the Christmas story about the Baby born in a manger. But, they have no real knowledge of who He is, nor do they desire it. They merrily go about their Christmas shopping in a joyous stupor, enveloped in the “giving” spirit and tradition.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas as much as anyone. I love the decorations, get-togethers, gift-giving and receiving, music, merriment, and laughter. But, there is a sadness for me when I see how many people do not recognize that Jesus, Immanuel, was and is God, come in the flesh. He dwelt among us for a time and then became our sacrifice, dying for our sin. Jesus was born to be the Greatest Gift of all. He is the “…eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us” (I John 1:2) giving us a chance to believe and receive this “… gift of God, which is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” For, “…God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 6:23; Rom. 5:8) This Greatest and Priceless Gift is the true meaning of Christmas.

But think about it, if I am sad because of all the people who still walk in darkness and desperately need to see that great light, Jesus is infinitely more. How His heart must break to see the “form of godliness…” their playing at being holy.  In Isaiah 65:2 God proclaims, “All day long I have held out My hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations-” (NIV)

Yes, I realize this passage was said to Israel, confirmed and repeated in Rom. 10:21. But, God’s word is for everyone. We all are warned to “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matt. 7:13-14)

So, my challenge for you this Christmas (like you have nothing else to do) is to help someone find The Greatest and Priceless Gift and enter through that narrow gate.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

For What Are You Thankful?
Are you thankful for your family, your home, your job, your health, or countless other items?

We have so much, and in this season of Thanksgiving, we do see “thankful” people. In fact, there was a TV program Thanksgiving night called “Thank You, America”, where Robin Roberts and Jimmy Kimmel, surprised ordinary citizens who have done much to help their community and those in need. I must admit, I did not watch it. I’m only going on the Network’s advertisements.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Learning The Secret of Abundant Life

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10 NKJV)

Do you live in the knowledge and understanding of life abundant? It’s easy to quote John 10:10, and say we live it. But do we really?

When our lives are so full of activity and crazy drama, it is hard to live and believe Jesus meant this for us. We know He said it and we try to believe, but sometimes it’s just easier to feel overwhelmed and depressed, than to think, somehow we missed it.

In the chaos, we long to withdraw to the refuge of our bed and pull the covers over our head until it all goes away.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Aromatherapy By God

It’s fall! I love fall! Like many of you, it is actually my favorite time of year. The harvest, the changing leaves, fall colors, football games, cheerleading, and marching bands. There’s just a different feel to this season and, in my opinion, a special fragrance to the crisp coolness of the air. I am exhilarated and energized, ready to prepare for the long winter ahead. This is what I would call God’s own aromatherapy.

Did you know God also enjoys certain aromas?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Gift of Friendship

It’s the time of year for parties, tailgating, and family get-togethers.

They can be large or small assemblies consisting of people with like interests, employment, age, or gender. Nevertheless, at most gatherings I’ve attended, small groupings emerge. In corners, around tables, standing or sitting, there are pockets of people, engaging in conversation. However, if the party is mixed company, I’ve noticed women seem to end up in one room, usually the kitchen, and men just naturally gravitate towards the living room, den, or man cave.

Why does this occur? It’s because, human relationships are important and friendship is a gift from God. He created us to need one another, and says through Solomon, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion…Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

When we have a decision to make, it’s nice to be able to talk it out or run it by a friend. They may
think of things we didn’t or ask questions that will make us reconsider. If we’re angry, a friend can help us see the truth of the situation and change our attitude. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” (Proverbs 27:17)

These characteristics are true whether the group is Christian or secular. However, as believers we have an advantage.

God gives us friends and places us in groups to enhance the talents and abilities He has given. The groups and relationships, who resist envy, recognize each person as uniquely designed by God, and placed within it for edification, are the groups that will mold into a cohesive cluster and grow in love. These will bear one another's burdens, and fulfill the law of Christ. As Christ’s disciples, they will have fervent love for one another, above all things, because love covers a multitude of sins.

Nevertheless, we cannot encapsulate love or keep to ourselves. Love must reach out to someone or else it is not love. This is why our God, who is love, chose to initiate a relationship with His creation saying, "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love... Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. (Jeremiah 31:3; John 15:13)

So, the next time you are with your friend or your group of friends, remember you are a unique creation. You bring something to this group no one else can and because of Jesus, they bring out the best in you. With these friends, you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel…and…[together] you put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. (Philippians 1:27; Colossians 3:14)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Is Your Wardrobe Changing?

Indian summer is one of the most beautiful times of the year. Hues of burnt orange, vibrant gold, and rustic red mixed with the last bits of deep green, inspire feelings of warmth and passion. Beginning preparation for the long winter, our thoughts naturally turn to fall harvest. The cool crisp foods of summer give way to pot roast, soup, and of course pumpkin pie. We sip apple cider, mulled or straight, as sweatshirts and fleece become part of our wardrobe. In a seemingly effortless transition, we move from swimming pools and bathing suits to football games and jackets.

Nevertheless, it’s not an effortless transition; it requires a conscious decision. We could stay in our bathing suits and freeze, but we don’t – we change with the seasons.