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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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.

 

A Christmas Blessing

As I had my morning coffee this Christmas Eve, I was reading through some news sites and blogs and was amazed at what I saw, news about retailers sales figures this Christmas, the latest news about the A&E and Duck Dynasty controversy, Planned Parenthood releases a 12 days of contraception video (really???!).  I saw blog posts on why we should be buying this or that technology this Christmas, I saw videos that play at the heartstrings (Apple I’m calling you out here with your Misunderstood commercial) but still miss the point of this time of year.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a scrooge, I love this time of year — the gifts, the lights, the songs, the TV specials.  I love Santa Clause and all the goodness he represents.  I love all the fun and excitement the children have on Christmas morning.  But do we still remember why this exists?  I think it’s all about the blessings.  The blessings that we are to others when we give them a gift or simply our time.  The gift that God gave us in his Son, the greatest gift of all.  It’s about the blessings, not receiving, but giving.

St Nicholas

As I said, I love the idea of Santa Clause.  Looking back at the origins of Santa, we go back to St. Nicholas, a fourth century bishop famous for giving gifts to the poor.  In one legend, he gave bags of gold, in secret so as not to embarrass the recipients publicly for accepting charity, to three daughters who could not afford their dowry and would most likely become prostitutes.  St. Nicolas was a blessing to those he helped.  St. Nicolas devoted his live to Christ, he could help himself but to be a blessing to others.  

War on Christmas

I don’t like the term “War on Christmas”.  I don’t think it’s accurate.  I think what we have is a situation where we as Christians are neglecting the true meaning of Christmas.  We are falling into a trap where we are keeping the blessings to ourselves, being recipients of blessings, but not being a blessing to the world.  So what can we do today, in this age of commercialism and selfishness? 

  • Wake up each morning and ask yourself….Who Can I Bless Today?  God will show you.
  • Be forgiving.  Not just on Christmas or Thanksgiving, but year round.  Be difficult to offend.  Be quick to forgive those in your family and circles of influence.  Be giving and forgiving to those on the margins of society.
  • Change lives one day at a time.  Even a small contribution can add to a great difference in those that receive.
  • Reflect back on your life and count your blessings.  Be thankful for all that God has given us.  What if God only gave us what we thanked him for?

Small steps, but each reflect a blessing that you can be to others.  Who cares what the media says, what political correctness deems we can or can’t say or think, what those non-believers and cynics say we “must” believe…..if we take small steps, despite their efforts to squash the meaning of Christmas, we can be a Christmas blessing all year round.

God Bless all of you and Merry Christmas!

Experiencing God

This post was originally posted on another blog that I wrote back in 2008 that I no longer maintain.  It was posted Christmas morning of 2008 and while it talks about the birth of Christ, the message in the post applies year round.  I stumbled across this once again and thought I would share.

Experience God this Christmas

I’ve been reading through Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby the last few weeks and one of the things that you learn is the seven realities of experiencing God.  Number 3 on that list is, "God invites you to become involved with Him in His work."  Looking back over the Christmas story, we find that God was at work in a small manager in Bethlehem 2000 years ago to give us the greatest Christmas gift of all.  We see that the wise men were invited by God to become involved in that work.  The shepherds were invited to become involved in His work.  In fact, Mary and Joseph were invited to become involved in His work.  This Christmas season, as I search for places in my own life that God is working, I realize that God has invited us all to become involved in His work started 2000 years ago under that star.  The work he started 2000 years ago continues on to this day and we all can take part in this work.  This Christmas season we have the opportunity to take part in perhaps God’s greatest work since creation, the salvation that he provides us through Jesus Christ.  The angels spread the news 2000 years ago that a savior was born. 

Today I can share that news with anyone who reads this and can continue working with God in the great work he invited everyone of us to join in on.  God bless you all this fine Christmas day!