Friday, November 27, 2015

Christmas, D-Day & Boots on the Ground

Many times, when we think of Jesus’ arrival at Christmas, we think of a little baby in a manger. That is good and important and definitely a part of the Christmas story. But, the baby Jesus marks the beginning of something bigger and far more dramatic than only the nativity.

Advent/Christmas and the birth of baby Jesus marks the arrival of God’s kingdom and God’s reign on earth. Later in the gospels, Jesus says as much: “Repent, the Kingdom of God is near.” So, just as much as Christmas marks the arrival of a baby, it also marks the arrival of God’s reign. Christmas is a heavenly D-day of sorts. In baby Jesus, God has boots on the ground and God’s invasion has begun.

As you celebrate the arrival of Jesus this Christmas, remember that God is invading our world through Christ Jesus. Invite the reign of God to define your Christmas. As you do, you will celebrate the reason for the season. You will also enjoy the presence of the God who has boots on the ground.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Giving Time Away

This time of year is often associated with generosity. With the holidays approaching, people think about charities they want to support. People wonder how they can help families in need. They think about gifts for loved ones. Giving is on peoples’ minds and (I think) it is a wonderful characteristic of the season.

Though our thoughts about generosity often center on money and material goods, there are other ways to be generous. There is more than check writing and gift giving.  According to the scriptures, God's people can be generous with their time.

In Paul’s epistle to the church in Ephesus, Paul writes, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time...” Paul instructs the church to use their time in a way that reflects Jesus’ redemptive work in their lives. That means there is a way that we can give generously of our time, in a way that honors God.

This is a great reminder when the holidays are in sight. Time is about to become scarce and, if we are not careful, time will fly by before we know it. We have to be intentional about reserving time so that we can be generous with it.

With that in mind, think and pray about how we might be more generous with your time this holiday season. Maybe say “no” to activities that suck up time while distracting us from Jesus. Say “yes” to activities that keep us focused on Jesus and the people Jesus loves. As you do, you will find blessings in the time of the holidays. You will also find that Christ is redeeming your time as you give it away.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Bad Bowling and the Truth of God

Last Sunday afternoon, members of Faith Center went bowling. We bowled to raise funds for our annual food drive. It was a great time that supported a great cause.

When I play sports (like bowling), I tend to exaggerate my abilities. I tell people I am pretty good. I exaggerate my scores in the past. I trash talk with other amateur bowlers who overestimate their abilities too. It is a goofy ritual.

The problem with such tall tales is the reality of the matter. I cannot bowl (or play most other sports) as well as I remember. Inevitably, people watch me bowl and notice I am not as good as my talk. I end up embarrassing myself.

God calls us away from such embarrassment. God tells us, “Thou Shalt Not Lie.”  In doing so, God graces us with the truth.

God doesn’t tell us to avoid lies because God intends to rob us of fun. God tells us to not lie in order to save us from the drama that surrounds lies. We don’t have to keep up facades, cover our tracks or face the embarrassment of being found out. The truth is a grace of God.

As you go through the coming week, embrace the truth. Speak the truth and find freedom in it. As you do, will find comfort and joy in who God made you to be. You also enjoy things like bowling (poorly) that much more.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Your Neighbor's Bowl

A while ago, I read a great story about a Dad trying to teach his little girl a valuable lesson. The man’s daughter asked for a Popsicle, but the father had none to give. The daughter started complaining, saying that another kid had gotten a Popsicle and she didn’t. She yelled: “That’s unfair!” The father told her to stop complaining and worry less about what others have. He said, “The only time you should look at your neighbor’s bowl is to see if they have enough. You don’t look at your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have as much as them.” That is good - downright Christian – advice.

The scriptures teach us to be grateful for what we have and to be concerned with the needs of others. In Acts 20, the Apostle Paul gives some parting words to the church in Ephesus. Paul says, “I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” In other words, Paul didn’t look at his neighbor’s bowl to see if he had as much as them. Paul looked at his neighbor’s bowl to make sure they had enough.

As you go through the coming week, appreciate all that God has given you. Remember all that Jesus has provided and praise the Lord for it. Then, look for those who are going without. See how you might use what you have been blessed with to help others. As you do, you will find great reasons to praise the Lord and incredible opportunities to serve His purposes.