Archive for December, 2013


so this past sunday, as the Advent Conspiracy continues, we worked around what it means to “give more”; that is, giving presence, your time, your humanity.  and no, we didn’t talk about a piece of the traditional “Christmas story”; instead we focused on an experience & a story from Jesus while at a banquet [luke14].

Jesus correctly reveals that party He’s attending is really a “privileged” party.  it’s for those that can afford to be there, that truly appreciate the finest of things & can invite you to their own “high society” party.  Jesus says this is no way to do things.  then Jesus tells a story of a man hosting a banquet & those that had received invitations simply were too busy to attend.  then those that were not on “the” list were invited & the party raged on.

what’s interesting & note-worthy here is the relational quality of the entire interaction.  He points out the depth of their relationships with one another & says it’s only about how you look to your friends & that’s no way to live.  part of the purpose of your life here on earth is the relationship you have with others & the way you point them toward Jesus.  so He’s inviting them to invest in the lives of others, not just in their own life.

AC_Give_ICON

that’s a hard thing to do during this season especially.  sure we have little trouble giving our spare change to the the bell ringers, and making sure that families that have enough for the season.  but what are we really doing?  are we truly investing in their lives?  or are these things a way to ease our minds with “well, at least i’m doing something.”

i do believe part of the challenge of this time of year is not to just “do a little more”.  i really think the challenge is to become the kind of people that God had created & called us to be.  to step into a place that we can truly give more.  to find new & better ways to give ourselves away.  and not just to our families.  there is a bit of an expectation to giving to our families.  but to give to those that aren’t expecting it.  to give to the ones that are easily overlooked.  give to those that don’t seem to “deserve it” – whatever that means.

so how ’bout it?  can we give more of ourselves away this year?  can we find ways to exemplify the life of Christ but giving more?

AC_Give_WORDmaybe, we’ll see when the bills show up in january.

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the revolution to spend less

first, a little latin…

religio: the state religion, connected to greek mythology in the 1st century.  participation was mandated

superstitio:  a provision made by the government to worship freely, anyone or thing you like, but hold to the state religion.

cesar agustus calls himself a god & uses god-like language, creates coins & has them stamped:

“salvation is to be found in none other than augustus”

 “there is no other name given to men by which men can be saved”

this is on a collision course with the followers of Christ

acts 4:12 – peter

“salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

peter sticks Jesus’ name in that phrase

important point:  people don’t get killed because of their superstitito

they get killed because they won’t participate in the religio

the people of “the way” were starting to say, “we’re not in”

in that, they were then beginning to undermine

the economy, the balance of power, and seen as unpatriotic to rome.

 

caesar agustus joked about herod, who is in charge of bethlhem at the time of Jesus birth.

“i’d rather be herod’s pig than his son”

herod: a moderately practicing jew, would never slaughter a pig, but had 2 of his sons killed.

herod wanted to keep his stuff, the control, the power.AC_Spend_ICON

so Jesus slips into this story

and begins a revolution

not the kind they were expecting

            but a revolution that is supposed to live through us today.

there are kings of a sort right now

the kind of kings that fight for our attention

especially during this season

and what if we rebelled against them

THE KINGDOM OF MORE

            this is where we live…

            …dissatisfaction guaranteed

the kingdom of more promises

            that you’ll be happier…

            you’ve gotta’ have this…

and it never tells you about the regret that can show up

the kingdom of more never tells you & i about the later-on emptiness

i’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t give gifts

and it don’t think it’s good to criticize those who spend more

 

BE AWARE

if you and i believe the lie

that a little is good, more is better & a lot is the best

contentment will always be just out of reach

luke 12:13 – 21

the man in Jesus’ story didn’t know why he had the extra

…he just knew he had it

and this, for Jesus, is THE problem

do you know why you have what you have?  are you aware of what God is asking of you in the midst of this season.

for some of us, the question isn’t about our generosity.  we’re generous, we sponsor families in need & we give away a lot.  but we’re still, ultimately, inward focused.  ultimately we end up giving gifts that the receiver doesn’t need; or want.  we just give it out of obligation; “well, it’s that time of year.”

 do you know why you’re doing what you’re doing?  do you have that conversation with yourself?  with your spouse?  with your kids?

god-alonerecently i was talking with a friend about  difficult situation they’re walking through & they confessed that they are carrying a lot of guilt.  guilt about how things have gone sideways & the affect it’s having on the family, etc.

now to be fair, when there are difficulties in relationships there is usually equal parts of blame to pass around.  it’s a rare circumstance when one person in a relationship just goes off the rails on their own…although that does happen.  that’s not what this post is about though.

here’s the gist of what i thought about later that night:

guilt is a powerful “prevent-er”.

as we move through this advent season, this week focusing on what it means to “worship fully” if we are carrying around guilt it prevents us from doing the things that we were made to do, the things that God is calling us to do, the things that we were made for.

when we carry around guilt it distracts us.

i wonder: “isn’t guilt a kind of motivator?  doesn’t guilt move us off of doing things that don’t please God?”

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

 –  2cor.7:10

the difference between what God does & what the world does is literally life & death
guilt keeps us from fully worshiping
guilt prevents us from seeing the future God has in mind
guilt keeps us in a state of sorrow & loss
guilt prevents restoration from taking place

make sure that this season isn’t over-run with guilt & a sorrow that you don’t need to be carrying around.  be willing to lay down the things that you were never meant to carry.  let go of the heavy burden of past mistakes, seek forgiveness, offer forgiveness, search out true repentance with God.

may the God of this season truly be the greatest thing you experience this Christmas.

as we launch into the Christmas season it’s so easy to misplace the object of [what should be] our greatest affection.

AC_Worship_ICONas a Christ-follower it IS something that we say without hesitation, “Jesus is the reason for the season!”  & “You can’t spell Christmas without Christ.”  and all of the rest of our somewhat mis-guided attempts to repaint the Christmas story.

is there a way to repaint the colors of Christmas in ways that will stick & not simply annoy people?

this year as a church we are engaging in the Advent Conspiracy more intentionally.  if you click the picture to the left you’ll be taken to the [AC] web-site & can learn of it’s genesis & it’s intention to return to Jesus as the primary focal point of the season.

this first week has had us focus on that object of our greatest affection – Jesus – and in turn find ourselves launched into full worship.

this past sun. we talked about 3 signs of the coming Messiah:

1 – the angel announcing the “better-good news” over the popular roman message of the “kind-of-good news”.  this announcement is for us as well as the 1st century folk.  the temptation is to believe what we already know & not trust the promise of something new.

2 – the star guiding the wise men to Jesus.  critical point here, God desires to guide us all.  not just when we get our lives figured out & cleaned up.  those wise men weren’t jewish, they didn’t know the God of israel, and yet God is trying to bring them close to Him.

3 – the manger, a highly unlikely place for a baby to be placed; and a king at that.  here we find God meeting us in a place of great venerability.  reminding us that He is with us.

so what should all this do for us?  is it all just a reminder of a story that we’re maybe “too” familiar with?  or is there more?AC_Worship_WORD

these things, and more, should remind us of the great, awesome & powerful nature of God & His desire for us.  and these realizations, reminders & wakening moments should cause great worship to erupt.

so how ’bout it…will you worship fully this season & not let the object of our greatest affection sit in the background?