Hallelujah with a Christmas Twist

 

Thanks to Cloverton for this beautiful song.

Add comment Posted in  Uncategorized December 20, 2013

My Views on Christmas and Why They Changed

dec 25 photo

 (Originally published on Wineskins December 2011)

 

I have a confession. I was one of those Christians who wanted Jesus kept as far away from Christmas as possible.  I surely didn’t want anyone to ever think that I was caving to the huge myth that our Lord was actually born on December 25th.

I would never want anyone to assume that I was propagating any false doctrine or bowing to a pagan “holy day”.

I knew my Bible well and knew that it didn’t specify a certain date for the birth of Christ.  I knew that we are not commanded anywhere in Scripture to observe this day nor do we have any biblical example of any first century Christians celebrating the birth of our Lord.  I also realized that Christmas is a worldly tradition.

Rarely did I climb upon my soap box and broadcast my beliefs but it was what I had digested from childhood and it was what I passed down to my children.

Sadly, that truth came around and slapped me on the back of the head one day. I’ll never forget it.

It was during the Christmas season and I was shopping the local Dollar Store.  The place was busier than usual and with five children in tow; I was on a mission to get in and out as quickly as possible. But in the few minutes that we were there, my oldest child had a brief discussion with another shopper.

We were headed home before he informed me of his tale. He couldn’t have been more than twelve years old at the time but over the rack of nativity scenes he chastised another shopper for her belief.  He informed her that the Bible doesn’t say when Jesus was born. He made sure that she knew that no one knows the exact date.

I remember the pompous tone that drenched each of his words and the feeling that rushed through me at his admission.  It certainly wasn’t pride. My mind immediately raced to John 13:34-35. The words, “you will be known by your love” resonated in my ears and I was left feeling like I had failed. not only my children, but this poor lady.

Yes, we all know what the Bible says about Christmas. It doesn’t. It does, however, tell about the precious baby who was born in a manger. It reveals the heavenly host singing in all their majesty. It reports on the shepherds who couldn’t wait to find the Christ child.

At a time when my child could have started a conversation about the Savior of the world which might have led to another person’s salvation, he instead wanted to prove how right he was on a subject. A subject of love and grace. A subject that affects the entire world.  The only subject that really matters.

Shamefully, I have to admit that his actions that day were not the best way to witness to the world. And it was completely my fault.

I thought long and hard about what I believed and what I had taught my children. Why was I offended that humanity wanted to take a moment to celebrate my Savior? How could I stand on a pedestal and shout that Christ wasn’t born on December 25th to a world who needed him so desperately? Those days were over. I would no longer shake my head and point my finger at people who wanted to observe the birth of Jesus. In fact, I would thank my God that they cared enough to.

When December 25th rolls around, I would rather my children think of the man who loved them so much that he left his throne in Heaven, came to this earth, suffered, died, and rose again than the black Friday sale ads.

In fact, when they think of Black Friday at all, I’d much rather their minds race to that day at Calvary then the local shopping mall.

I would prefer my children discuss the love, grace, and mercy of a King born in a stable than a pepper-spray wielding shopper who wanted the best deals.

And I would much rather my children celebrate the incarnation instead of the greed induced frenzy mob scene that continually threatens to overcome the Christmas season.

When the world looks at his followers what will they see? An assembly with pointed fingers and haughty eyes telling them how wrong they are or someone who wants to tell them more about the baby in that manger. I’ve been in both camps and I apologize for the first one.

So I’m thankful my eyes were opened at a little Dollar Store in Western KY. I’m grateful that for one season the eyes of the world are on a little stable in Bethlehem. And I welcome the responsibility of knowing that if I live my life right and choose my words wisely, some of those same people will care about Him the rest of the year, too.

9 comments Posted in  church of Christ ,Churches of Christ December 16, 2013

Detours

I came upon a detour recently and it reminded me of the trip I took to Southern Florida a few years ago. I had decided to drive down beautiful A1A instead of taking the Interstate.  As we made our way to the east coast from Orlando, we trusted the GPS to get us to the highway.
The longer we drove, the more desolate the landscape became. Where we had been seeing beautiful palm trees and homes we now were passing rows of fencing and fields of bushes.
The GPS showed that we were on the correct route to A1A. However, we began to have our doubts. 
Finally, we came to a gate. A man in military garb stood in front with a look that made me a bit nervous. After I informed him of our travel plans, he kindly explained that we were on restricted NASA property. Our route had come to a dead end and a major detour.
There are times in our lives when we think we may be on the right path, nevertheless that road can turn out to be a dead end. It can be surprising. It can be frustrating or it can be absolutely life shattering.
God has allowed us to witness the dead ends and detours of many of his children.
Joseph’s dead end was in a jail cell (Genesis 39:20). His detour led to second in command of Egypt (Genesis 41:40)
The Israelites’ escape came to a halting finish beside a beautiful sea. Their detour involved a powerful miracle and a deliverance they never could’ve imagined (Exodus 14:21).
The disciples at Calvary faced an end so shocking and heartbreaking it left them confused and terrified. But God offered a new beginning that would change the course of history and offer salvation to the world (Matthew 26 -28, Mark 15-16, Luke 22-24, John 18-21).
God can take your failures and broken hearts and turn them into joy and success so don’t allow yourself to get stuck at a dead end. Turn to Christ and hold on to your faith. Your darkest night may be the beginning of your greatest adventure.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness. Psalm 30:11 (ESV)

3 comments Posted in  Uncategorized September 3, 2013

Remind Me, Dear Lord

Every July in Western KY, dozens of churches come together for an area wide Gospel meeting. This year’s was at Paducah’s Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center. Looking around the colossal auditorium those nights, I saw friends from several congregations. Their precious faces brought back many memories and made the song “Remind Me, Dear Lord” that much sweeter.
I’m always excited to run into the folks from the little congregation where my dad preached. The news of where their children are now and what they’re doing is always interesting. Hearing stories about my father and knowing that godly people from my childhood are still striving for Christ is a highlight of being together.

I saw friends from the congregation where my grandfather preached, folks from the congregation where my uncle was a youth minister, and several from the church I attended as a young mother.

Seeing youthful faces from the camp where I spend a week each summer is also a blessing.
Each soul was an encouraging reminder of good times, faithful Christians, and an eternal home.
I love being reminded that a day is coming when we will all be together forever but there are other times when God’s promises don’t easily come to mind.
In times of frustration with others, dear Lord, remind me of those moments when you’ve been disappointed with me and how your mercy and forgiveness have always been in abundance. 
Lord, when I worry about the politics of this nation and those in the government, remind me that my citizenship lies in a place where crisis is not known, debt has already been paid, and Truth reigns supreme.
When I’m overly concerned about the evil in this world, remind me of your hope, love, and peace.
When I get discouraged at daily details, tell me again where I’ve been and where you’ve brought me from.
When I get aggravated at myself for consequences and failures, remind me that I am loved dearly and always will be.
When Satan whispers that all is futile, remind me once again of your power, comfort, and grace.
When this life seems filled with drama, heartache, and pain draw my thoughts to the manger, the miracles, and the cross. 
Father, you know I tend to forget too often your mercies. So when I start to slip back into the anxieties of this life, remind me, remind me dear Lord.
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;his mercies never come to an end; they are newevery morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

Add comment Posted in  Uncategorized August 25, 2013

Build Your Kingdom Here

Add comment Posted in  Uncategorized August 3, 2013

Wanted

We just all want to be wanted. The greatest feeling comes when we realize that we are!

Add comment Posted in  Uncategorized July 24, 2013

Jesus Didn’t Love Her?



Remember the woman in Matthew 15:21-28? The one from Canaan who came to Jesus because of her sick daughter? Can you recall the attitude of the those who followed him closest? Just send her away! Get rid of her. She’s Gentile scum. 


Remember how Jesus rebuked her, calling her a dog? He even said that he was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. 

If we read the Bible like many are doing today, we could stop there and proclaim that Jesus didn’t care about Gentiles. To him, they didn’t deserve the love, grace, and mercy he came to bring. We could ignore the countless other verses so plainly written that tell of how he came for all of us and we could preach this one. It is Biblical, you know….

Be careful not to fall into the trap of trying to prove a point and accept the Bible in it’s entirety. It might just surprise you.

Add comment Posted in  Uncategorized July 8, 2013

Seriously?

I was trying to explain an exercise to a Bible class of preteens recently. Each student was going to have a chance to tell something wonderful about one of their classmates, a great achievement, a talent, or something about their character.
I grouped them into pairs, and we got ready to begin when one student took a long, hard look at his partner, who just happened to be his sister and then blurted out, “Seriously? You want me to do that?”
It took us a few minutes to get going, but once we did it was great. They filled an entire white board with the positive attributes of their peers and siblings. It was one of the best classes we’ve had to date
How many times in the Bible do you think someone asked, “Seriously, God? You want me to do that?
Can’t you hear Moses on Mt. Horeb (Exodus 3)? You want me to go there and say what? Nobody is going to listen to me.

Don’t you know that the Israelites had to think to themselves, “March around Jericho how many times? Seriously?” (Joshua 6).

We know it crossed Jonah’s mind, as well. You want me to go to those people? Why would you want to show pagans your love and mercy?
At first, Naaman flat out refused to obey the word of the Lord (2 Kings 5). It didn’t make sense to him. Surely the prophet of God could have immediately healed him of his leprosy. Dipping yourself in a muddy river is crazy.
The rich young ruler just wanted to keep his possessions (Mark 10).
Love others the way Christ did and does? That might put me around people who make me feel uncomfortable. It might make me unpopular.
Forgive others? But I have scars that run deep and legal papers that say I don’t have to.
Go the extra mile? Do you realize how far that is?
Too often we want to tell Jesus how it’s going to be. We will follow, but don’t ask us to do that or go there. It’s easy to follow when we’re the one calling the shots. Right?
However, God’s ways aren’t ours. He sees the big picture. He understands the heart. He’s in control.
Following Christ might bring many of those, “You want me to do that?” moments because Jesus calls us out of the mundane. He beckons us into his story and out of our own selfishness.
This life is about Christ. Lord, help us to trust and obey even if we don’t always understand.

Add comment Posted in  Uncategorized July 5, 2013

Father’s Day

Growing up, I thought that every family on earth was perfect except for mine. I was certain that each of my friends had two problem-free parents who took their kids to Disney World every summer.  I just knew that I was the only kid in the world who had to keep quiet about what was really going on under her roof.
As an adult, I’ve learned that every family has their own struggles. And some are nothing more than strangers with the same last name. Dealing with family can be difficult and making conversation with those you’re related to can take great effort. Why else is social media so popular? It’s easy to be social without having to be around others.
Regardless of the complexity of any situation, God gives us the strength to endure. He calls us to commune with each other. He refuses to let us respond to difficult people and situations the way we want. And let’s be honest, that stinks sometimes. Some people just need a good telling off and some situations make you want to walk away and never look back. But the Father, who never leaves, disappoints, or abuses, uses His love and wisdom to guide us in all relationships. And if we desire peace, mercy, and grace, we’ll let Him determine our attitude and course of action.
As Father’s Day approaches and I think of my dad and the terminal disease that took his young life, I don’t see the days of doubt. Nor do I see the excessive bargaining he made with God or even the times he lashed out at those who cared for him. I’m not aware of any of those instances but I’m sure they took place because he was human. And humans, even those who love God with all their heart, when faced with their own demise, panic. It’s normal. Even expected.
But there are some who, after they’ve been knocked to their knees, stand, catch their breath, and move onward. Not beautifully. Not even courageously but onward, slowly limping to the feet of Jesus despite pain, grief, and the unknown.
I am thankful for an earthly father who continued to love God and preach the Christ until he had no voice because his voice lives on in the lives of his children.

Likewise, I’m thankful for a wise husband who continues to show me love and grace. God gave me a beautiful gift when he introduced me to him and I’m a better person because of it.


I’m also thankful for a fun, loving brother who spends his life in service to others. I’m proud of the husband and father he has become.

And I’m thankful for a Heavenly Father who continues to bless me with opportunities and adventures beyond my wildest imagination.   
Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful men who love their families the way Jesus does. 

Add comment Posted in  Uncategorized June 12, 2013

How You Forgive

Add comment Posted in  Uncategorized June 11, 2013

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