Christmas In the Past; Life in the Present

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The build-up and anticipation of Christmas is unequaled in our country!  As is often said, “The preparation for Christmas seems to get earlier and earlier each year.”  Indeed, Christmas is a very special holiday and one that many folks prepare for throughout the whole year.  But, what about the days after?  Is there a let-down?  After all the planning and performing of cantatas as well as children’s plays, buying and wrapping gifts, preparing for company and meals,  taking family photos, and  celebrating firsts (marriage, children, house, job), is all over, how will you handle the days and the weeks after?

  1. Begin today in God’s Word reading it with the same passion as you did all the “Christmas passages.” Memorize other portions of the Word of God with the same fervor as you did to memorize Luke 2:1-20.  Read books about the life of Christ beyond the cradle with the same zeal as you did all the Christmas books.  Read them to your children, and make Christ’s life BIG to them every day!!
  2. Live with a daily anticipation of the next biggest day of your life as a believer—the Rapture & the Bema (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Titus 2:11-14; 12 Corinthians 5:10).
  3. Enjoy singing songs of praise and worship to our God all the other months of the year with gusto and joy on your face as you did the carols of this season (Psalm 96:1-9).
  4. Be a giver today as you were on Christmas (Acts 20:35).
  5. Open up your home for family and guests today and into next year (Romans 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9).
  6. Walk in the same grace today that was sufficient yesterday as you dealt with the “tug in your heart” over that special person that was not here this Christmas season (2 Corinthians 12:9).
  7. Be as energetic today about the gospel as you have been prior to December 25 (Philippians 1:27).

2 Peter 1:3-8

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Photo:  Steven Lawson)

A Parent’s Best Gift

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Let’s go back to the Sears Christmas Wish Book I mentioned yesterday.  So many memories..

Here’s a few of them:

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Wow! A banana seat bicycle!  Pop a wheelie!
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Can you taste it?
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This was serious right here!!

How many times I would pour over the pages of the catalog, mark what I wanted, then proceed to my mom and dad and say, “You know what I want for Christmas?”  And how many times did I hear them say, “We can’t afford that.”

What could they afford?  The same thing that every parent can afford—time.

When I survey Scripture, I see God’s instructions to parents taking time not money.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

  • To train, discipline (which is teaching, instructing, and correcting) and nurturing takes time.

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

  • Often children get into trouble because they are just crying out for someone to pay them some attention. They want to know where you will draw the line.  It takes time to teach what is right, what is wrong, what to do to stay right, and what will happen if we choose to go our own way.

Proverbs 13:24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

  • Please note again the meaning of discipline and the need to take time to be diligent to fulfill the complete picture of discipline/discipleship. If a child does need a spanking, it should not be a quick strike out of anger, but a time of loving correction and training.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9        And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

  • Once again, you cannot teach, train and disciple on the run. It is your lifestyle.  It takes time.

Parents, your greatest investment on this earth will be your children.  They don’t need you to buy them things to make up for where you have failed.  They need your love, attention, character-training, and fun times.  They need you to teach them the Word of God.  They need to hear how you came to salvation.  They need you to pray with them.  They need you to make spiritual applications of life with them throughout the day.  They need you to teach them how to work, how to eat, how to be hospitable, how to serve others, how to talk, how to be a blessing to others, how to make their beds, how to get up and make the day count, how to cook, how to do life in general by the grace of God.

They need you.  They need you every day.

Parents, this Christmas, rather than spending so much money, spend a lot of your time.  Give your children something that will eclipse that banana-seat bicycle.  Give them the best gift—your time; give them you.

I Want an iPad for Christmas

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Christmas is four days away?  Seriously?  It seems like just yesterday that we celebrated Christmas 2015!  Of course, the older you get, the faster time seems to slide by.  Also, retailers help us get cranked up for Christmas in August each year. So, here we are just days away!

My wife and I have always loved Christmas since our earliest recollections.  My, how I remember waiting for the mailman to deliver the Sears & Roebuck Christmas Wish Book.  By the time December 25th rolled around, it was well-worn with many dog-eared pages.

One of my all-time favorite gifts was in the fourth grade . . . an electric football set with the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.  The quarterback could even throw a felt football.  If you hit your receiver with the football, it was a completion!

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Another huge favorite was the seeming miles of Hot Wheel track, supped-up Hot Wheel cars and a Hot Wheel power house to send those cars tearing around the track.  I can still hear ‘em!

Oh how I loved the snowfalls of Christmas in southeast Ohio and West Virginia.  One Christmas in Bluefield, it snowed a foot by Christmas morning!  What a time we had building sled runs and just wearing it out!

Those were simple, innocent Christmases that are etched in my mind and thought of with great joy and thanksgiving.

This Christmas, I am fearful that many parents will unknowingly give their children and teens a gift that could turn simple, innocent Christmases and lives into sinful, indecent, regret-filled Christmases and lifestyles.  Please take time to read the following blog post and take heed.  I am begging you to do so!!

Please Do Not Give Them Porn for Christmas

Target, Starbucks and Happy Holidays

 

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Wow!  Now that’s a troubling, profane trio!

Really?

I like shopping at Target. They have spacious aisles, a quiet atmosphere, good product selection, and usually decent prices.

I love Starbucks.  The coffee is outstanding, the conversation around the tables is engaging, the staff is usually friendly, and it’s a genuine coffee shop.

I love the holidays.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are tops in my book right under Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.  And they are holidays filled with happiness and joy.

Now, I realize that my troubling, profane trio is a concern to thousands.  Then I read about Jesus in the following passages:

Matt. 9:10           And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house (Matthew’s), behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

Luke 14:1             One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully.

Jesus mixed and mingled among sinners, and as you read on in Luke 14, you see it was for the purpose of calling men and women to be His disciples.  His last command before ascending into Heaven was, Go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).  Indeed, Jesus renounced sin, but He called sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32).

I am greatly disturbed by some of the decisions of Target, Starbucks, and the general pushing of Christ out of Christmas.  I must say something and stand against unrighteousness. Nevertheless, there is a divine call that supersedes all of this—Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).  I have that same divine command upon me as do all disciples of Jesus Christ.  We have what the people in Target, Starbucks, and the whole world need (John 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 4:7).

Bottom line.  The greatest way to curtail sin, unrighteousness, and unholy living is the gospel.  As I say to our congregation so often, you do not go to the grocery story just to buy a gallon of milk.  You go with a heart for people, looking for the Lord to connect you with some precious soul that needs Him.

It is so wrong to condemn the world for living what they are, and then not sharing what they can be in Christ.

So, if your conscience does not condemn you, go ahead on over to Starbucks.  Get a cup of coffee, and don’t grumble about the price. Then, engage in conversation with someone to build a relationship that will lead to sharing the gospel that day or in the future.

As I have heard and repeated many times, the gospel changes everything.

Oh, and you’ll have a happy holidays, too.

 

“In other words what frees you to live radically for others in this world is the confidence that this world is not the main world.”

Tidings of Great Joy To All People!

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Christmas is a glorious time of the year here in the States to hear the celebrated proclamation of Christ’s coming to earth to be born to die and to rise again (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Philippians 2:6-8).  How interesting and blessed to enter into a secular arena (store, restaurant) and hear the songs of Christ’s incarnation and redemption as well as in local churches throughout our land.  Even though, sadly, America becomes more and more pagan and agnostic, the message of great joy which shall be to all people (Luke 2:10) is given during this season.

While in Spain, I met Iñaki,  who doesn’t wait for just the yuletide season to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ.  Every first and third Saturday, he, along with others, sets up a booth (pictured above) in the town square of Irun, a city of the Bidasoaldea region in the province of Gipuzkoa in the Basque Community.  Without shame or fear, Iñaki hands out tracts and booklets as well as personally shares the liberating, reconciling truth of salvation for sinful men through Christ alone.  His enthusiasm and commitment to announce the Good News is “off the charts” and contagious (Mark 16:15; Romans 1:16). Obviously, I could not understand him, but communicated with him through a faithful translator. I say that to say this, that if I had never understood a word, I would have fully grasped his passion via his countenance, tears, gestures, and pointing to the picture on the wall.  To say Iñaki was animated about it would be an understatement.  The disappointment was all over him because the Saturday before, rain prohibited him from his passion, but the anticipation of the next Saturday had already eclipsed the regret knowing that it is all in God’s hands anyway.

Inaki Moreno

In the spirit of this season, let’s unwrap the gift that is in us, this treasure in earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:5-7), and let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father which is in Heaven (Matthew 5:16).  Perhaps the Lord has not led you to set up a booth in the town square, but the whole world is out there for you to proclaim the tidings of great joy!   Just as you sing without fear “Joy to the World” or “O, Come All Ye Faithful,” speak to others about this marvelous gift of grace, a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).