Thoughts on Keeping Christ in Christmas

Screenshot 2018-12-18 at 8.59.08 AMThere is no command in the New Testament to celebrate Christmas. Jesus is not disappointed over losing “his day” to Santa Claus or commercialism or anything else. He never asked for a day but rather we assigned him one. What Jesus wants is a place in your heart not a date on your calendar. He wants to bring each of us into a personal relationship with a loving God. He tells us to abide in him as he abides in the Father.

Suing the local government over the right to put up a nativity scene doesn’t “keep Christ in Christmas.” The secular society never had Christ to begin with so there’s no keeping him there. We as believers must keep Christ in our hearts, in our homes and in our church. And we must do so year round not just when Santa is at the mall. That’s not to say we can’t celebrate Christmas. We put up a tree in our home (after Thanksgiving), hang stockings, watch Rudolph on tv and put out milk and cookies for Santa. We also light the candles on the wreath as we keep the weeks of Advent. I can’t do anything Hallmark Channel showing Christmas movies in October but I have a great deal of control over what verses we read, hymns we sing and prayers said during our family devotions.

Don’t be surprised or offended that the world is not interested in Jesus. The manger reminds us that he came into the world. The cross reminds us that, for the most part, the world rejected him. Do good deeds, share good news. Badgering unbelievers with Christian images isn’t going to do anything for them. Show them Christ. Be salt and light. And like I said, that continues into January and beyond. If your Christianity can be stored in a box in the attic, maybe it’s time to revisit the Gospel.

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I Must Decrease

He must increase, but I must decrease. -John 3:30 

The ministry of John the Baptist preceded Jesus’ public ministry. People had speculated all kinds of things about John the Baptist but he was clear that another was coming after him that would be greater. John compared himself to a friend of the bridegroom. We might say today that his spotlight was fading and Jesus’ was coming up. His statement indicates that his popularity and even his ministry would be decreasing as Jesus’ ministry rose in prominence. It was his time. We sometimes apply this idea to our own lives. We must make less of ourselves and more of Jesus. I suggest there is more than one way to think about this. Continue reading

Happy Monday Commentary

Screenshot 2018-11-23 at 7.44.46 AMYesterday the weekly Happy Monday post invited everyone to begin celebrating Christmas. Just a couple of thoughts, I will try not to labor the issue.

1) Happy Monday is meant to be encouraging, uplifting and often times funny. Sometimes funny that teaches a lesson in the subtext, sometimes funny because smiling and laughing are good for us. Take everything with a grain of salt. Continue reading

How Long Will Heaven Last?

Screenshot 2018-11-16 at 10.10.38 AMI was thinking this morning about life being short. Find a person you think of as old – I’m not going to judge how many years that is – but ask a person older than you by some number of years if they would agree life is short. Even if they have lived 80 or 90 years I’m willing to wager they would at least agree it goes by quickly. I was thinking about the oldest member of our congregation; compared to eternity that person has lived but a moment. Consider though: how long will we live in Heaven? What is the time frame of eternity? Continue reading

Why Study the Bible?

Read the Bible and pray. Those are the basic instructions given to every new believer. What LifeWay Researched has determined, however, is that while Americans are very fond of the Bible they just don’t read it.

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Scott McConnell of LifeWay Research says that even among worship attendees less than half read the Bible daily. You can read his full report here. I have often observed that many Christians get their Bible reading at church on Sunday, i.e. in the Sunday School lesson or what the pastor reads from the pulpit. Continue reading

Why Preach the Gospel?

In my own denomination 75 churches each week close for good. The attrition rate among pastors is staggering. According to LifeWay research (link) it may not be 1,500 a month walking away from the ministry but on average 250 each month do. The culture we live in has changed. Just a generation or two ago a local politician, think city council or school board member, was expected to be active in a local church in order to be considered a member of the community. Church attendance is no longer looked to as a metric and being outspoken about one’s faith may be a strike against a candidate. The rights to religious expression are challenged with increasing frequency, not just in the public arena but in homes and other private property.

So why preach the Gospel? Continue reading

Christians Need the Gospel

Part 3 of Why Preach the Gospel?


 

There is a misunderstanding among some Christians of exactly what the Gospel is. I’ve read lengthy rants explaining that the Gospel is a presentation given to non-Christians: Our natural state is lostness, Jesus died to save sinners, hear the Gospel and repent. To them there is no such thing as living out the Gospel in front of others, sharing the Gospel without using words, etc. Because the Gospel is the words “Jesus died to save you from your sins” and nothing else beyond that. I call that a misunderstanding because repenting of sins and asking forgiveness is merely the beginning. Continue reading