December 19, 2010
There’s alot of talk about the celebration of Christmas, many Christians are rejecting the holidy outright, and understandably so considering all the materialism. To me, it seems that the question is not so much about whether we should celebrate the holiday, but rather HOW we should celebrate it. I think that we as Christians can have a bigger impact and witness by celebrating differently than by not celebrating at all.
I’m very thankful to a review I read about a book called the Advent Consiparcy which brought this point to my attention. The review pointed out that “the amount of money we spend on Christmas in America is 45 times the amount of money it would take to supply the entire world with clean water.” The authors go on to say “it is not enough to say ‘no’ to the way Christmas is celebrated by many . . . we need to say ‘yes’ to a different way of celebrating.” The reviewer writes “Every step we make towards consumerism is . . . one step farther from the path of Jesus the Liberating King.”
We have learned to worship with the wisemen, travelling across the world to bring the gift of ourselves–our presence, our labor, our money, our love–to the hungry, thirsty, sick people who need Jesus . . . . We can inhabit the story of a corrupt world, or we can enter the story of God through Christ.
I think the authors are right on! It seems that we can have the greatest impact by carefully choosing HOW we celebrate Christmas. What would happen if Christians across America began to use Christmas as a time for sacrificial giving, for giving to the poor, for denying themselves by leaving the warmth of the home for the heat of the battle, for forgoing traditions and precious time with family and opting for rewards that never fade instead? What would happen if Christians celebrated Christmas DIFFERENTLY? I’m still working on that one, and still applying this challenge to my own life.
November 19, 2010
According to David Platt:
[More than a billion people in the word] attempt to survive on less than a dollar per day . . . the same amount of money I spend on French fries for lunch.
When we pool our resources in our churches, what are our priorities? Each year in the United States, we spend more than $10 billion on church buildings. In America alone, the amount of real estate owned by institutional churches is worth over $230 billion. We have money and possessions, and we are building temples everywhere. Empires, really. Kingdoms. We call them houses of worship. But at the core, aren’t they too often outdated models of religion that wrongfully define worship according to a place and wastefully consume our time and money when God has called us to be a people who spend our lives for the sake of His glory among the needy people outside our gates?
David Platt, Radical, 118, 147.
November 1, 2010
There is so much joy in knowing that God wants to use me in simple ways to impact the lives of others. To be honest with you, there are many days where I do not feel like even the slightest tangible opportunity came my way. I simply go about my routine mindful of God’s presence, seeking to be faithful in my responsibilities, and willing to be used should God so choose. Saturday, however, was different. It was one of those days where it seemed God heaped opportunities in my lap.
Now, the surprising thing about God’s timing in all of this was that I was not doing anything different than usual on my end. In fact, I had been convicted about several things and had been asking for God’s forgiveness. So there I was, thanking God that his grace is greater than my depravity, when he saw fit to use me.
When I say that He used me, don’t think that I mean anything dramatic, as if I led a dozen people to the Lord, or performed some miracle. Instead, he provided me with open eyes and a willing heart to bless those around me through simple acts of service:
(1) I had the chance to pick up some extra food for a friend who is struggling to pay bills.
(2) On my way home from work Saturday night, there was a man walking along the side of the road with an arm full of groceries. I pulled over and asked if he needed a ride. He gladly got into the car. Driving the few miles to his home took just a few short minutes, but would have taken a couple of hours by foot and would have been somewhat difficult in the dark. We had no earth-shattering conversations as we drove, I simply said, “May the Lord bless you” as I dropped him off at his home. (Incidently, he asked me if I was in high school. I told him that I was done with high school, married, and with a kid on the way. I thought the beard was supposed to solve this problem by making me look older!)
(3) As soon as I pulled in the driveway, my neighbor came over and asked for a favor. He needed help lifting an engine he was rebuilding. I told him sure, and that since the job required brute strength, he came to the right person.
So there you have it. Simple opportunities, but joyful nonetheless. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Jesus Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10 NIV).
October 22, 2010
A buddy of mine posted this today on FB:
”God had one Son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering” – Augustine
July 23, 2010
“Every true Christian has the spirit of a martyr.”
-Edwards, Charity and its Fruits, 380.
February 20, 2010
These words impacted me today in my reading, “They would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue. For they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God” (Jn 12:42,43).
May we always have the boldness to confess His name, loving His glory more than that of man, despite ostracism or expulsion.
January 18, 2010
C.S. Lewis often spoke of the inner circle, or local ring. In fact, this was the theme of his December 1944 speech at King’s College. By “the inner ring,” he meant that circle of acceptance, the elite fellowship which everyone wants to be in but in which few actually belong. This circle, explained Lewis, exists in every imaginable sphere of human activity, in schools, businesses, governments, etc.
So in that December speech, Lewis said to enthusiastic students,
“In all men’s lives at certain periods…one of the most dominant elements is the desire to be inside the local ring and the terror of being left outside…This desire is one of the great permanent mainsprings of human action…Unless you take measures to prevent it, this desire is going to be one of the chief motives of your life, from the first day you enter your profession until the day you are too old to care” (Jacobs, 182).
Lewis refused to compromise by pleasing the inner ring at Oxford. While his peers wrote works about English literature, scholarly books and reviews (which are, of course, now forgotten and considered ‘outdated’), Lewis wrote children’s stories and apologetic works and reflections on Psalms and evangelistic works and imaginary demon conversations. He paid dearly for doing so; he was never promoted to the position of professor at Oxford (he served as a lowly don), and faced continual ridicule.
What lesson can we learn? All of us face the attraction of the inner ring. Even many believers, unwittingly, have allowed this temptation to decide how they interpret Scripture, what theological positions they hold, and what types of ministries they devote themselves to. I am convinced that we must not form theological conclusions based on the many influential giants in the past or present, but based on Scripture. Let us gaurd against the attractive allurements of the inner circle and “go to Him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.”
December 16, 2009
Here’s a thought that’s encouraged me today:
“God reconciled the world by dying a sinner’s death in the sinner’s place upon a sinner’s cross. Should not we live cross like lives as we proclaim such a message?”
November 30, 2009
I don’t want to be remembered
As a man of great riches,
But as a man who suffered
the loss of all things
and was rich towards God.
Read the rest of this entry »
November 17, 2009
This post is more of a confession than anything.
Yesterday I was busily typing in the Seminary computer lab. Many other students were also typing, giving the computer lab that rythmic whirring sound from the many keyboards. Suddenly our quiet solitude was rudely interupted. “HEY!” Shouted a student. “Does anyone know anything about computers? I need help!” I must admit, by the look on other faces, I was not the only one to feel slightly annoyed. Read the rest of this entry »