Tag Archive: christmas


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just this past sun., and in fact the past couple of weeks have been difficult to get out what i’ve felt like God has placed inside me.  leaving me with a feeling of things unsaid.

yesterday, while putting the house together with Christmas decorations this thought hit me; as if saying, “this is what you were trying to say on sunday.”

john5 tells of Jesus walking to the pool of bethesda where the man crippled lay for 38 years.  in short, Jesus heals the man & does what Jesus does, He slips away only to return later.  the man is carrying his mat; which Jesus told him to do; and the keepers of the law [we could call them “good church-folk”] aren’t happy that he’s working on the sabbath.

by the time Jesus shows up on this particular day to do this particular work of God working on the sabbath had 39 different categories.  within those categories there were some specifics on what you could & couldn’t carry.  specifically you were not allowed to pick up & put down things in a manner that resembled work.  so what the man, who use’ta-couldn’t walk, was doing was way out of bounds.

the thing that hit me yesterday was that the religious people, who were very good at being good, rushed right past the miracle on the way to the ordinary.

i don’t mean to say that being a good person should just be put aside & not recognized.  but being good isn’t what God came here for; that you and i would be good people.

He comes to do the miraculous…

and then the question that should come to mind:  am i guilty of doing this?

in this season may we make sure that we’re not simply engaging in the ordinary, the usual, the common-place of the season

…as good & enjoyable as all that is;

only to miss out on the miraculous that God is desperately trying to unveil right before our eyes.

by the way, merry Christmas!

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.

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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.

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.

Holiday-Christmas-Gifts-Redknee-deep in the Christmas season, plans coming together, gifts being purchased & shipped; Christmas songs seemingly in every store.  i was in a store just the other day & there were 2 versions of songs i thought i knew but the tempo was all wrong & much too cheery for those particular songs.

oh wait, did i just say that something new was not so good, and i preferred the old??

…oh no!

SUBJECT CHANGE:

this season, i am again reminded about the 1st century conditions & climate of the world Jesus is born into; dirty, corrupt, loads of people in need, the gap between the “have’s & have-not’s” growing…anything sound familiar?

just the other night someone said, as we were having this very conversation about gifts & giving, that we tend to walk around with our yard stick &  measure up the lives or gifts of others based on our thoughts & presuppositions [our yard stick].  this is fraught with all kinds of problems from how much we spend [gifts] all the way down to how much we think we need a savior.

there is a growing trend, movement of people that are doing their best, in their corner of the world to return Christmas to Christ.  everything from give relational gifts, to reach into dark places & being Christ to some people.  just a brilliant approach to what we do with this season.

there can be a struggle in figuring out how to do this.  we’ve been so steeped in what Christmas has looked like that we’ve all drunk the kool-aid & simply don’t see a way out.

advent conspiracy has some wonderful ways to make the season memorable without going further into debt or simply over-spending.  on the right @ the bottom of their home page is the [AC calendar].  download the PDF & there you’ll find QR codes for every day of december.

sidebar…i don’t think it’s ok to say, “well, if i have it, isn’t it ok to spend it?”  the answer is “NO!, it’s not ok.”  i don’t believe that Jesus was sent so that we could, through our hard work & self-driven effort, have a great life.

the download from advent conspiracy, with QR codes, is about raising our awareness as Christ-followers.  i truly believe that the way the world changes is connected to our sense of compassion for those in need & the way God uses that compassion to move us into action.

so come on, download the PDF, print the poster, hang it in your house/office, and use your smart phone for something more than facebook & pintrest.  [not that those things are bad]

in the words of advent conspiracy: let’s find ways to worship fully, spend less, give more and love all

Americans Spend More in the Search for Happiness—And It’s Not Working – Lifestyle – GOOD.

this is a pretty interesting cultural realization, or at least it should be.  for all of our emptiness & struggle for meaning [our lives, the lives of people we care deeply for] we still mortgage our futures for the newest shiny thing in the window.

this has some pretty serious spiritual complications as well.

this compared with something my wife heard about, then we found on-line about the homeless middle-class.  more on that in a later post.  THAT is something that i’m truly wrestling with today!