There 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.
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.
I remember listening to missionaries tell stories and share slide shows – not Power Point projections, actual slides on carousels. They were from “the mission field” a place with terrible roads, lack of electricity and unsafe drinking water. They worked with people that looked, dressed and spoke differently than we did. What I knew about missions as a child is that they were far away, in difficult to reach places, and we needed to fund missionaries to print Bibles and build churches. I also hoped, at a young age mind you, that God didn’t call me to the mission field because I didn’t want to go. Continue reading →
The Supreme Court announced their decision regarding state issued bans on same-sex marriage on Friday morning. Social media came alive with reaction; supporters changed their profile image to the rainbow flag and used the hashtag #lovewins, some angry Christians expressed despair in the collapse of America and quoted verses from Leviticus. But what caught my attention were the Christians that calmly reminded us we live in and also apart from the culture we are immersed in.
I pastor a small SBC church in the deep South. Below is my Sunday morning sermon, directed to my own congregation with all Christians everywhere in mind. Whatever your initial reaction was to Friday’s news, please prayerfully consider this position:Continue reading →
First, a word about society. Our culture at large has pretty low expectations for behavior. Honesty, morality, decency and work ethic are no longer expected from most people. Slipping in a few minutes late, taking home a few office supplies, riding the clock a few minutes here or there is what employers and co-workers expect as normal these days. People will do what they can get away with, at school, at work, at red lights without cameras, filing their income taxes, etc. I’m not talking about embezzling corporate funds, I’m talking about the “little things” that supposedly everybody does, from running errands in the company car to flirting with the waitress.
Hopefully Christians – I said hopefully – attempt to rise above falling expectations. Continue reading →
I’ve written before on Christians fighting the culture war. It is certainly going on, but to what degree are we expected to change this culture we live in versus walk circumspectly of it? Paul was certainly aware of what went on in the public bath houses as he planted churches across Greece, but we don’t find him standing outside those bath houses carrying signs in the first century. He went on planting churches and training pastors, and as far was we know never once made a sandwich board about God hating fags. (Google Fred Phelps if that doesn’t make sense).
Many Christians, evangelicals in particular, have done a questionable job dealing with cultural issues like homosexuality. Can a homosexual also be a Christian? Please don’t answer that question, at least not here. Check out the conversation going on over at Life in Mordor. The Fellowship has grown to three, and as far as I know the door has not been closed. Joe Derbes wasted no time, and jumped right in with both feet on this issue.
This is what the ancient ruins of Corinth look like today. Special thanks to Joe for the image, who had the chance to visit this site last year.
The Apostle Paul spent most of his ministry in places like Greece and Rome, far away from the church at Jerusalem and God’s chosen people, the Hebrews. The Grecco-Roman world was populated by a pantheon of pagan gods and goddesses, whose stories of jelousy and betrayal make our soap operas look like children’s stories. It is probably safe to say most Greek adult men were bisexual (I was actually taught they all were.) A skilled craftsmen, for instance, would have had a wife and children at home, but also have been having sex with a younger apprentice who was studying the master’s trade. This was typical in the culture. The public bath houses were “meeting places” for leaders of the city and merchants to meet daily. The original Olympic games were held nude; and only men were allowed.
Paul would have been surrounded by it. There’s no way he missed the decadent and sinful way of life going on all around him. But we don’t see Paul marching through the streets of Corinth or Ephesus wearing a sandwich board sign declaring that “God hates fags,” Fred Phelps style. Continue reading →