“War on Christmas”?

The lights are starting to flicker. Decorations are starting to appear. The shopping has begun. Favorite movies commemorating family, joy, and tradition are being advertised.  December is upon us!

Happy holidays!  Or, um, Merry X-mas!  Wait, what?  How about we enjoy a rich dark cup of coffee in a nondescript, red-paper-cup!

wpid-Photo-20151110062811890First: That whole Starbucks cup thing was, at best, a total misrepresentation of Christianity. At worst it was a holiday hoax perpetrated by anti-christian media.   Maybe, and I know I’m going out on a limb here, maybe Starbucks just has an incredible advertising and marketing team.

christmas-18Second: In the original language of the New Testament, Greek, the word for “Christ” is a word that begins with the Greek letter that is pretty much the exact same letter as the English letter X.  So originally, Xmas was simply an abbreviation of the word Christmas.  It was not a grand conspiracy to take Christ out of Christmas.

game-planThird: How about we develop a game-plan for having a wonderful, joyful, incredible, family holiday season?

Here are some suggestions to get you started…

  1. Forget about any supposed “war on Christmas”.  Just celebrate with your family.  Read the original story and rehearse the significance of Jesus’ birth together.
  2. Go ahead and wish people a very Merry Christmas. Even people whose nick-name may very well be “scrooge”.
  3. Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).  This is a great time of the year to share God’s love and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  4. Pray that Christians in general will focus on things that matter.  Pray that we would be peaceful warriors in the culture war!
Advertisements

Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Day!

fairfax-fare-egg-and-cheese-english-muffin-with-bacon-2Friday morning has become something of a special treat in our house.  It’s “Bacon, Egg, & Cheese (did I mention bacon?) Day”!  I did not intend for it to happen, but I have become the unofficial cook on Friday mornings.  Honestly, it just doesn’t get much better than a hot cup of coffee and sizzling bacon, so I’m not complaining!

On this particular morning however, three of our children are not feeling well, nobody in our house got much sleep, and everyone was exhausted.  Even my coffee seemed to be dragging its feet this morning.  It’s been a long week and nothing has really gone “as planned,” at all.

So there I was, bacon on the griddle, bread in the toaster, skillet warming, eggs ready and music playing in the background.  I even had Noah contentedly sitting in his bouncy seat so Jenny could take care of some laundry.  Picture perfect. Until…

The bacon wasn’t cooking, Caleb was coughing and begging, others were wandering around in the kitchen (in the way), a couple kids disappeared, and I even tripped over the baby’s seat, twice (he did not notice and he was not injured in any way).

Hannah let me know that I’d been turning the griddle down not up.  Grace informed me that she was “starving to death.”  The egg pan got too hot.  I burned the first round of toast.  Apparently there was even a lego controversy that morning; should the castle tower have a door or not?  Oh, and Caleb informed mommy that “daddy would not give him a drink of water.”

Eventually everyone did enjoy their, albeit crispy,“Bacon, Egg, & Cheese” breakfast.

Here is the point: Go and hug your wife (and your mom), tell her how amazing she is and how much you genuinely appreciate her.  Express your love and praise for her clearly and audibly.  Believe me, you do not do this enough.

Proverbs 31:28 “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”

By the way, you’re not Jesus.

authoritarian-parents-angry-father-scolding-boyRemember that time when your child (spouse or friend), sinned against you and you went to them with eloquent, pointed, correcting words, and they immediately saw their error, dropped to their knees, and apologized with repentant tears?

Wait!  That’s never happened to you either?  I have to correct my children for the same thing over and over and over.  Why don’t they get what I’m saying?  Maybe I need to say it differently, with more force, with more gentleness, with more scripture, with less scripture.  I just need to figure out the right combination of words, then they’ll get it.  Right?

OK, so, you may want to sit down at this point.  What I’m about to say may be hard to hear: We cannot change people.

One author put it like this: “Somewhere along the way, those of us gifted with words will receive a painful reminder that it is Jesus and not our explanations that can change a heart.  Words aren’t strings.  People aren’t puppets. Eloquent speech isn’t magic.”

Only Jesus can change a person’s heart.  We may have all the appropriate biblical ammunition, carefully crafted arguments, and even have righteousness on our side, but none of these things can change a person.

As a dad I can raise my voice, or slow down my words (as if I’m speaking to a foreigner), but none of these things will change my children.  My words don’t have the power to change their hearts.  Only Jesus can do that.

When tension rises in a relationship, we’re immediately confronted with the fact that we are not Jesus.  We cannot cause people to be convicted of their sins, no matter how eloquently or forcefully we speak.  Only Jesus can convict a person of their sins.  Only Jesus can change a person’s heart.

We need to spend more time asking Him to work.  Yes, I mean praying.  He must change our children.  He must work in our spouse.  He must soften our friend.  Trying to do the work of Jesus in the heart of others is both exhausting and frustrating.  I know, I’ve tried many times and failed every time.  We need to (must) let Jesus do his work in his time.

[See: Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 14:10; 15:5]

My Old Bible

old_bible“Though the cover is worn,
And the pages are torn,
And though places bear traces of tears,
Yet more precious than gold
Is this Book worn and old,
That can shatter and scatter my fears.

This old Book is my guide,
’Tis a friend by my side,
It will lighten and brighten my way;
And each promise I find
Soothes and gladdens the mind,
As I read it and heed it each day.

To this Book I will cling,
Of its worth I will sing,
Though great losses and crosses be mine;
For I cannot despair,
Though surrounded by care,
While possessing this blessing Divine.”

~ Don Jennings

I counted gains…

love-world-graphic

I counted gains, while God counted losses.

I counted my worth, my things gained in store;

And He sized me up by the scars that I bore.

I counted honors and sought degrees,

He counted the hours I spent on my knees.

I never knew until one day by the grave

How vain are the things that we spend life to save.

Author Unknown

Lord, You are my everything

flat,550x550,075,fLord, You are my Comfort.
When hard times come my way,
Your presence never leaves me.
You are with me all the way.

Lord, You are my Strength.
When I grow weary in this land,
Never will I falter.
I’m upheld by Your right hand.

Lord, You are my Peace.
You are the calmer of my fears.
When worries overwhelm me,
Your love wipes away my tears.

Lord, You’re my Sustainer,
You hold me safely at Your side.
I will make it through the storms,
Because in You I will abide.

Lord, You are my Joy.
Amidst the trials and the pain,
I trust Your sovereign care.
I see the Son between the rain.

Lord, You are my Rock,
My firm foundation, solid ground.
You are mighty and unchanging,
You have no limits and no bounds.

Lord, You are my Everything,
Life with You is complete.
One day You’ll bring me home to You,
And I will worship at Your feet.

~ By Jackie Arnoldi

Praying for Pastors tonight…

pulpit_frontPraying tonight for those men who stand in the pulpit to give faithful exposition of the word of God… most of us will spend our lives in earthly anonymity.

That’s OK!

Tomorrow is Sunday. The Lord’s Day. The gathering of the brethren in order to feed on the word, to hear from the Lord, and to commune with one another. Most important of all they will gather in order to engage the heart, ready the mind, and prostrate the soul in worship of the living God.

Brothers: Preach so as to please God, not men!

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves.” (Matt. 10:16)

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober- minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:1-5

“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:1-2

Additional Food For Thought:

Isaiah 6:1-8; 2 Timothy 2:1-7; 15; Revelation 4:10-11; 5:8-10; 7:11

The wisdom of John Wayne

ed-clark-actor-john-wayne-as-marine-sgt-platoon-leader-in-scene-from-the-movie-sands-of-iwo-jima“Life is tough,

but it’s even tougher if your stupid.”

~ John Wayne (Sands of Iwo Jima)

“How Long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing and fools hate knowledge?”

Proverbs 1:22

Praise & Thanksgiving

sing-praise-thanksgiving-550x320“O My God,

Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects, my heart admires, adores, loves, thee, for my little vessel is as full as it can be, and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with thee

  • ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
  • ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
  • ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart, crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless thee for the soul thou hast created, for adorning it, sanctifying it, though it is fixed in barren soil;

  • for the body thou hast given me,
  • for preserving its strength and vigor,
  • for providing senses to enjoy delights,
  • for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
  • for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
  • for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
  • for a full table and overflowing cup,
  • for appetite, taste, sweetness,
  • for social joys of relatives and friends,
  • for ability to serve others,
  • for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
  • for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
  • for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
  • for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
  • for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.

I love thee above the powers of language to express, for what thou art to thy creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.”

~ The Valley of Vision

Go hug your wife.

How-To-Love-Your-WifeGentlemen: Your responsibility in your marriage is not contingent upon how well your wife fulfills hers.

Joy is loving and serving and delighting in your best friend – for the glory of God alone.

Go hug your wife.

“Let your clothes be white all the time, and let not oil be lacking in your head. Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 9:8-9