“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!
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Christmas in Heaven

Golden-Christmas-ornaments-christmas-22229833-904-768I see the countless Christmas trees
Around the world below,
With tiny lights like heaven’s stars
Reflecting in the snow.

The sight is so spectacular
please wipe away that tear
for I am spending CHRISTMAS
WITH JESUS CHRIST this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs
that people hold so dear
but the sound of music can’t compare
with the CHRISTMAS CHOIR up here.

I have no words to tell you
of the JOY their voices bring
for it is beyond description
to HEAR THE ANGELS SING.

I know how much you miss me,
I see the pain inside your heart
for I am spending CHRISTMAS
WITH JESUS CHRIST this year.

I can’t tell you of the SPLENDOR
or the PEACE here in this place
Can you just imagine CHRISTMAS
WITH OUR SAVIOR face to face?

I’ll ask him to lift your spirit
as I tell him of your love
so then PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER
as you lift your eyes above.

Please let your hearts be joyful
and let your spirit sing
for I am spending CHRISTMAS IN HEAVEN
and I’m walking WITH THE KING.

By Wanda Bencke

(Lysandra Kay Bencke was my thirteen year old handicapped daughter. On Christmas day 1997, Lysandra had a seizure and was in a coma for five days before she died. During those five days I wrote the poem “Christmas in Heaven”. I sent it out in a belated Christmas cards to friends and relatives that year. They also sent it on to other friends and relatives, thus the poem and the story behind it have been changed. )

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

What do you see? SHEEP!

Many people look at the people around them in their church and see:

often confused,

easily wandering,

mostly dirty, 

sometimes gullible,

always needing to be hand-fed,

SHEEP.

This is more like what I see…

1395930_10202785965315339_5908676_n

If all you see when you look at your brethren in Christ is their mistakes and missteps – then you are not looking at them as God looks at them; through the soul-cleansing blood of Christ.

From God’s perspective His children are clean, colorfully unique and on their way to heaven.  Not because of anything that we have done in order to earn heaven, but rather because of what God has done through His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ (see Acts 4:12; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 10:9-10; 1 John 5:10-13).

The Apostle Paul, speaking to and about the PEOPLE in Thessalonica, said: “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not YOU? For YOU are our glory and joy.” 1 Thess. 2:19 (emphasis added)

Are you kidding me, Paul?  People should be our glory and joy?

Yes.

The only thing we can take with us into eternity are other sinners – by grace alone, through faith alone (see Ephesians 2:8-10).

Elevate Your Christmas Focus

Christmas%20cross%20Wallpaper__yvt2Let the chaos begin. Do you remember the good-ole-days when we used to spend Thanksgiving Day together with our family? Everyone would gather at grandma’s house, we would share in a turkey feast, watch a little football, take a nap, and then completely lose our minds. The sun would go down and normal people would be transformed into shopping monsters to be unleashed at midnight.

For the record, I only did that once. I will never do that again. The so called “black Friday” shopping part that is. As for turkey and football – who am I to mess with tradition?!

The times have changed though. The shopping monsters couldn’t wait until midnight this year. They were loosed, restrained, re-loosed, and re-restrained on Thursday and then re-re-loosed at midnight for Friday’s blackness. Honestly, just thinking about it is making me tired and dizzy.

I want to make a radical suggestion. Take a few moments and stop the Christmas chaos in your life. Breathe. Now elevate your focus and yield your attention in worship and adoration as you consider this:

“He (Jesus Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:15-20)

“Though he (Jesus Christ) was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11).

“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us” (Romans 8:31-34).

Merry Christmas!