Tag Archives: Christmas

More than a Christmas Greeting

Don’t get me wrong, I love sending Christmas cards, but I’m often fatigued by the time I get to the last one. I don’t like to just sign my name and be done with it. To me the whole point of writing a letter or sending a card is to make someone feel loved and important.

In order to avoid greeting card burn out, I am starting my letters a bit early with the intention to not only mail a message, but to send up a prayer. Especially in a time when destruction and terror seem to be spreading globally, it is important to lift up our loved ones in prayer, not only for protection and peace but for salvation.

Whether you send cards, buy gifts or just make a phone call to those you love, send up a prayer before you do. As you bless them spiritually, you will find yourself blessed by peace rather than stress during this season of celebration. Gift giving, family gatherings and sending cards will become a response to your prayer and a labor of love.

This year lay down your burden and lift up a prayer for each and every loved one you encounter. You will see a difference when you do.

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The Last Fruit

You may have heard of the fruit of the Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-23, after describing the acts of flesh, Paul contrasts them with the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit is made up of 9 parts (or perhaps it’s 9 fruit) in either case they are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Now, just because Paul names self-control last definitely does not mean that it is least. In fact, during the holiday season this is one of the sourest fruits for many people.

Each Christmas Eve my dad and I ring the Salvation Army bell at his local Raley’s. In recent years we have been required to ring inside, which is hilarious because they have now rigged the bells to be much quieter. I call it the bell’s “inside voice.” This year we had to ring a couple weeks early because of my trip. Standing just inside the door of Raley’s I look out across the aisle of stuffing, potatoes, and frozen turkey, but before my eye can reach the foods of Christmas feast they are set on the rather large display of hard alcohol, beer and wine. I turn to my dad and say, “Wow! It must be difficult for alcoholics to go into stores like this during the holidays.” After making that statement I thought of all the other temptations that haunt us at this wonderful time of year. As we are welcoming in our newborn king, we are also over-indulging in food, drink and shopping. I doubt the baby Jesus would approve of our gluttony.

One thing that is not to be misunderstood in this verse is God is not saying we need to do it alone. Ironically self-control in this passage is really saying “give God control.” For an addict it can be nearly impossible to control one’s self, but through the Spirit we can all achieve self-control. It’s a matter of saying, “Hey God, I can’t do this. I need your help,” and like a perfect Father He will sweep you up from the “miry clay” of over-indulgence and plant your feet on solid ground.

If you are struggling with self-control as Him to help. You are never alone in your struggle.

On Earth Peace, Goodwill Toward Men

Tonight I attended Christmas Eve service with my family. As with any such service the story of the first Christmas was told from scripture. Luke 2:13-14 was read, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” I pondered this scripture throughout the service.
First, what are heavenly hosts? According to Wikipedia “heavenly hosts” are a large army of good angels. This makes sense because right before the verses above Scripture describes an angel giving the message of the King’s birth to the shepherds. After the angel had finished the heavenly hosts joined the angel to praise the Lord.
The second point I pondered was why were they saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men?” Of all the things they could say, why was this what they chose to say, that for which they praised God? Tonight’s sermon highlighted the message the angel brought, “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Of course the newborn King would bring good tidings of great joy. After all, He is our Savior, our Messiah, our Immanuel (God with us). As I think about the praise of the heavenly hosts I can see why they praise God for the King he sent; why they speak of the peace that will come over all the earth with the presence of this new King, for Jesus is the provider of peace that passes all understanding. But why do the heavenly hosts say, “goodwill toward men.” Perhaps the reason I didn’t understand is because I didn’t fully understand the definition of “goodwill.” Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “goodwill” as “a kindly feeling of approval and support : benevolent interest or concern.” God sent His son to be born fully human and fully God because he had a genuine interest and concern for His people. He was willing to give Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.
Because of these verses I have examined a bit of God’s character a little more deeply than before. He is a compassionate and generous giver of love, peace, grace, and mercy, and He NEVER desires for us to hold onto guilt and shame. Those things are from Satan and from our own misunderstanding. If he wanted us to struggle with guilt and shame He would have never sent his precious son. If there is a bit of guilt or shame, residue from past sins, and you have genuinely confessed and repented, remember that to deny His forgiveness is to say His sacrifice is not enough. Let the healing begin today because Christmas is about the peace and goodwill God provides which came in the form of a baby King.

Kutless: This is Christmas

As I listened to this song for the first time this evening I pondered the lyric “What is Christmas without Christ?” Logically we are left with “mas” if we take out the word “Christ.” And then it occurred to me. The Christmas holiday has become so commercialized that to many it has lost it’s meaning. I recently saw a meme that said something along the lines of “I don’t usually believe in Jesus except when there are presents.” So to answer the question the song asks, Christmas without Christ is just a “mass” of gifts, parties, responsibilities, a mass of gluttony. If Christmas were about gluttony do you think the baby Jesus would have been born in a barn and laid in a trough? Christmas is about a humble king without a crown, without a robe, who came to save you and I. As you listen to this song close your eyes and imagine the scene of Jesus’ virgin teenage mother and her faithful fiance making their way to a barn in Bethlehem for a census; Mary goes into labor in a cold, dark barn where she must lay her newborn baby in a feeding trough for a crib, barely knowing he was a king, the Son of God, the sacrificial Lamb, atonement for our sins, the Light of the World.

David Crowder Band: Go Tell it on the Mountain performed at K-Love studio

I love this version of the old classic I enjoyed as a child in Sunday School.

“Go Tell It on the Mountain” is an African-American spiritual song, compiled by John Wesley Work, Jr., dating back to at least 1865, that has been sung and recorded by many gospel and secular performers. It is considered a Christmas carol because its original lyric celebrates the Nativity of Jesus: “Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere; go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born.” – wikipedia