The Light

Nope, perhaps not a video you’d expect to find on this blog, but I’ve been a lover of all kinds of music for my entire life.  Recently I was listening to some random songs and “The Light” by Disturbed came up in the playlist.  As I listened to the lyrics, I thought of how truthful these words truly are.

When you think all is forsaken,
Listen to me now
You need never feel broken again
Sometimes darkness can show you the light.

As we begin our celebrations of Christmas today, we are reminded of the birth of Jesus into a fallen, dark world.  Jesus, the one who brings us light and hope, shines brightly in the darkness.  In our own lives, think back to a dark time in your life, one where you walked away from God or where you didn’t know him yet.  Sometimes that darkness is what shows us need for the light of Jesus.

The truth is waiting there for you to find it
It’s not a blight, but a remedy,

In your dark times when you’re feeling lost, the truth is there just waiting for you to seek it out.  The darkness will amplify the light that shines in God’s love for us.   We often seek our own solutions to our problems, or when tragedy strikes, we can turn to hide our sorrows in drugs, alcohol or some other addiction.  Those, while seeming to be comforting at first, is never the answer we are looking for and often leads to further tragedy.

The answer isn’t where you think you’d find it
Prepare yourself for the reckoning

The birth of Jesus brought a light to this world.  His birth and life lead right to Easter, his death on the cross.

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock.  Then at that time Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  – Mark 15:33-34

Darkness literally fell across the world.  Through the darkness, we see the awesomeness of Jesus and his resurrection.

With the light of Jesus, now we never need to feel broken again.  The darkness has shown us the light and we never have to live in darkness again!

Merry Christmas!

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How to Change the World Today!

So many of us what to go out and change the world.

We find the perfect job, make plenty of money, move up in status and say…now we can go make a difference in the world by doing big things. Maybe we start a foundation or setup a movement to help some disadvantaged people. Or maybe we purely use our wealth and donate much to groups already in existence. All in all not a bad thing, but my question is Why Wait? What I’ve heard people say, myself included, well when I get financially stable, I can do this or that to make a difference. Or when I reach a certain status or level in my company, I’ll then have time to devote to this cause or that group. But will it ever be enough? Will we ever reach that point where we can say, “finally, I’m there…I can finally change the world!”

Or how about another scenario. We are on the other spectrum. We’ve spent our lives just trying to make ends meet, living paycheck to paycheck. We think, if only we had some stuff or didn’t have to work so many hours, then maybe we could finally make a difference. We feel we spend so much time just trying to change our own world, that we don’t or can’t make a difference anywhere else. Do we say, “If only I had a little more, then it would be enough…then I could finally change the world!”

Or how about a third scenario. We have good jobs, we’re not wealthy but we live comfortably in our small town. We provide for our families and while we don’t have much, we have enough. So we come home from work, eat dinner, and sit down to watch the news and we see the troubles around the world or even just in our own community and say, “If only there was something I could do…but I’m really no one important, so there’s not much for me to do.”

Well, if you haven’t watched the video above, watch it now. I’ve had all the excuses I listed above. Those have all been me at some point in my life. The last few weeks, I’ve been reevaluating how I’m trying to make a difference for God, but trying to find out what Jesus really means to me and what his plan for me really is. I’ve been slowly realizing that while I’ve felt that the only way to make a difference was to do something BIG, the way God tells me I can change the world now is by Going Small.

The other day when I was listening to some music on the way home from work, these lyrics from the Newsboys song “That’s How You Change the World” jumped out at me and really smacked me across the face.

It’s the prayer in an empty room
Little things we do when nobody’s around
A hand reaching out to a heart in doubt
It’s the smallest spark that can light the dark

That’s how you change the world!

You don’t know when God will use the small gesture, the smile, the simple “How you doing?” to change someone’s world. To make a difference in someone’s day, perhaps in their life.

Somewhat coincidentally (well God driven to be sure) I’m reading through the book “Go Small: Because God Doesn’t Care About Your Status, Size, or Success” and starting off in Chapter 1 is this little snippet, that I read just a day before God sent the Newsboys song my way.

There was a suicide note collected a few years ago that was written by an anonymous person as they made their way to the Golden Gate Bridge. The writer remarked that they were walking to the bridge with the intent of ending their life; but one sentence of the note immediately leapt out at me.

“If one person smiles at me on the way,” this person wrote, “I will not jump.”

They jumped.

It’s the small things that God can use in big ways to change the world. Go out and change the world today, I am.

God is with us!

Merry_christmas_jesus-4
She will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel — ‘God is with us.’ – Isaiah 7:14

This is the time of year we mark with celebrations of the birth of Jesus.   When the angel came to Joseph, he was told that Mary would give birth to a son and they were to name him Jesus, which means “The Lord saves” and then proceeds to tell Joseph that this fulfills the prophecy from Isaiah 7.  So here we have two names for Jesus, his given name meaning “the Lord saves” and one of the titles that he will be known as, Immanuel, “God is with us”

When God is with us, who can come against us.  Many will try, but the Lord saves us.

The Lord saves us from our sins, because God is with us.

The Lord blesses us, so we can be a blessing to others.  Why?  Because God is with us!

The Lord comforts those in need.  How?  Well God is with them.

The Lord uses circumstances to teach us, to help us grow.  When?   Always, since God is with us.

The Lord gives us freedom when we walk with him.   How?  Well, because God is with us!

Remember this time of year that God is with us, always, that’s the promise that Jesus gives us.

Roaring like a lion

10407257_897267393625805_2613389422715980229_nThis past week has been a lesson in the meaning of this Christmas season and a show of the love of Christ.  Near a small town 30 minutes from my home, there is a small village instead another.  One made of tents and inhabited by those that are living on the margins of society.  God led my brother-in-law to visit them a week ago and opened his heart and many others of us, his family and friends, to open their hearts to the needs of these people.  Within a week, they went from wondering how to survive a winter, to having firewood, propane, clothes, blankets and fresh water….enough to last the winter and beyond.  My wife and I were able to give something of ourselves, some of the blessings that God bestowed on us, we were able to share with these kind people.

This week culminated in a Christmas party thrown in honor of the people of tent-city and in celebration of the birth of our savior.  While not everyone from tent-city attended a few did and were a blessing to all of us in attendance.

Let me quote one of the tent-city residents who expressed thanks to my brother-in-law and his family:

that day before you appeared into my life i contemplated and kept asking myself what am i good for. i do not have my babies and i am slowly dying. but dam i am in tears when i type this . dean you made me feel like a person and not some worthless piece of trash that will neve be anything.     ……   i just hope one day i can be back with my children and happy but dam i do not know how you done it but you saved my life the day you came down and for that thank you. so again . . i am happy and confident once again like i was prior to this situation.

The lives of my sister, my brother-in-law and all of us involved have been changed for all time with a prompting from God answered by a single person.

While thinking about the lives changed, I was listening to the song God’s Not Dead by the Newsboys and these lyrics jumped out at me.

Let love explode and bring the dead to life
A love so bold to see a revolution somehow.

God let his love explode and miracles happened.  His love flowed out and the blind could see, the crippled could walk again, and the dead rose from the grave.  With a simple act of love Jesus did all these things.   And by using us sinners, Jesus let his love flow and help these kind people living in tents in the cold.  None of these things would be possible without the love of Christ.

I feel emboldened now by the meaning of this time of year.  These events have helped me understand where God was leading me when I decided to live my life with abandon.

Now I’m lost in your freedom
In this world I’ll overcome.

Now the love of Christ has freed me to become who he has wanted me to be.  Based on the events of this past week, it’s been proven we can all loudly proclaim the chorus to that song.

My God’s not dead
He’s surely alive
He’s living on the inside
Roaring like a lion

lion-roar-roaring-teeth-mad-angry-

Jesus: A Name of Power

Great thoughts here…..power in the name!

the berg blog

Jesus Name

I love reading through the Christmas stories in the gospels each December, asking God to speak to me. God seems to reveal new subtle truths to me each year that amaze me in light of His plan of salvation through Jesus.

Recently, I was struck by what the name “Jesus” means. In Matthew 1, after contemplating divorcing Mary quietly, an angel visits Joseph telling him to take Mary as his wife because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. Then the angel says, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Upon further research I learned that “Jesus” is the Greek translation of the Hebrew name for “Joshua” and it means “the Lord is salvation.” Thus, the angel’s description of why the Messiah should be named “Jesus” is right on –…

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Is there room for Jesus in your life?

Jesus_in_manger_postcard_1910What a busy time of year this is.  From Thanksgiving to Christmas, our lives our filled with activities.  Christmas parties, school activities and programs, shopping, football playoffs and the beginning of bowl season.  So much to do, it’s amazing that we can cram it all in before the end of the month and still come out with our sanity.  We often cram so much in that we forget what the season is all about.  We forget that we are celebrating the birth of Christ.

No room at the inn

…and she gave birth to her first born, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.  -Luke 2:7

Luke says there was no room at the inn.  We are really given no indication of why the inn was so crowded other than perhaps people traveling back to Bethlehem to register as decreed by Caesar, but I can imagine an inn full of people.  And when people get together, they tend to eat and drink.  Essentially, I can imagine a party going on.  Old friends who hadn’t seen each other in a long time, family members who only came together at times like this.   Food and drink in abundance and people partaking of it until the wee hours of the morning; singing, dancing and making a ruckus….all supposition, but it sounds a lot like some of our Christmas parties we attend.

I can imagine (I have a good imagination sometimes) the scene playing out something like this.

A man and his very pregnant young wife who is very obviously in labor, walk through the front door of the inn while a huge celebration is going on.  Imagine everyone stopping and staring for a moment;  and then returning to whatever they were doing at the moment.  

The young man walks up to the guy that appears to be in charge and asks; “Please sir, my wife is about to give birth.  Do you have a room?”

The innkeeper, looking cautiously at Joseph asks, “What is your name?  Where are you from?”

Joseph replies, “I’m Joseph a carpenter from Nazareth, and this is my wife Mary.”

The innkeeper looking at them with a slight bit of disgust, “Nazareth, I’ve never heard of anything good coming from there.  We have no room for you here, but you can go to the stables and stay with the animals if you’d like.”

So that’s what they do.  Now of course, I’m not sure if this is exactly how it all went down, we’re never really told.  But, we know that Jesus was born in a manger, a lowly place, a place fit for animals.  But that’s where Jesus came into this world.

Do we send Jesus to the stables in our lives?

Are we rejecting Christ because our lives our too busy?  Are we telling Jesus to take a back seat in this season, because we have too many parties and get togethers to attend?  It’s all pretty ironic really considering, we wouldn’t even have a holiday like this if it wasn’t for the birth of Jesus, yet we tell him, “There’s no room here for you, you can go out back and stay there and I’ll check in on you when I get a chance.”

I think this is a time to celebrate.  It is a great time to get together with family and friends.  I just hope that I can remember who we are celebrating this time of year and invite him with me to the parties.  In fact, I hope He is the reason we are getting together and we can all remember that this season.  I for one can use this reminder this season as I can definitely get caught up in the lights, the color and the activities.  I will use this as a reminder, to invite Jesus in with me instead of sending him out to the manger of my life.

What does Christmas mean to you?

What does Christmas mean to you?  That’s a good question that is worthy of some time in thought these next few weeks.  We’ve just come off arguably the biggest shopping day of the year.  I admit, my wife and I did a little shopping on Friday.  No we didn’t shop at crazy hours and we didn’t cut into family time on Thanksgiving.  It was a matter of, we needed a few groceries (as a side-note, grocery stores are not that crowded the day after Thanksgiving…great day to go get some food if you need to)and while we were out, we stopped at a few places that were not very crowded.   After some more family time in the afternoon, my wife and I went to a charity Christmas auction that lasts until the wee-hours of the morning.  Didn’t buy much, but great time spent with her.  But is the shopping what epitomizes what Christmas means to me?

Christmas is about Christ!

Christmas remains for me a holiday about tradition, about family, about remembrance and about celebration of the birth of our Savior.  The shopping, the lights and colors, the commercialism is all at the bottom of priorities.  If we did nothing else than gather together on Christmas to share some simple gifts that were made or bought with love and to celebrate with some good food that would be enough.   Remembering the birth of Christ is what matters.  Without that, there would be no holiday, there would be no celebration, and honestly no hope beyond this life.

Christmas is about giving.

Christmas for me is a time for giving and being a blessing to others.  No, I don’t necessarily mean giving the best gifts, I mean giving of ourselves to those in need.  My regular readers you’ll know that I’m big on trying to be a blessing to others.  This can be as easy as a kind word or a simple service to someone else.  During the height of the “occupy” movement of protests around the country, I wrote a lengthy blog that I refer back to from time to time.  Occupy Charity at Christmas was a reflection on what it means to be a charitable and giving person (and nation for that matter).

With my goal of living a year of Thanksgiving, I’m announcing here in this post first that I’m in the planning stages of avenues for me to show my thanks to some local charities that I can in part be a blessing to my community that I live in.  Also in stretching myself spiritually and living with abandon, I am working on ways to have this blog and my other writings help me in this goal to be a blessing to others.   This is all still in the planning stages and the only reason I’m even mentioning it on here is so that my readers can lift this up in prayer that God guides me in the ways I can best serve his kingdom.  I hope over the coming weeks, I’ll be able to announce more concrete plans and thoughts here.

What does Christmas mean to you?

Ask yourself this question.  I think it is a personal question and the answer that I’ve come to above may not be the one that you arrive at.  But honestly ask yourself that question and reflect the direction that God leads you.