Thursday, December 30, 2010


I always get a little sad each year when we take down the Christmas tree and pack up the ornaments and decorations. Christmas is my favorite time of the year and saying goodbye to the Holiday season is bittersweet. It’s nice to reclaim my living room and to see an end to the chaos of Christmas, but it’s usually with a bit of melancholy that we return the seasonal trimmings to the attic.

Here’s the cool thing, though…as Christians, Christmas is really not a once a year thing. It’s not something that we spend a month celebrating and then put away for another year. Even though the world may have turned it into something else, the whole point of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Well, isn’t that something worth celebrating every day?

Christmas gifts are given to represent the gifts given to Jesus by the “wise men” and as a reminder that Christ is God’s gift to our dying world. But, shouldn’t we exchange gifts of our love and time all year long as a reflection of His love?

Then there are all of those festive Christmas carols, anthems rejoicing the coming of the newborn King. When you think about it, though, aren’t Christmas carols another version of praise and worship songs, not unlike those we sing along with at church and on the radio?

In December we appoint our homes with decorations, nativity scenes, lights and trees. But, our homes should be dedicated to the Lord and a beacon of his light throughout the year, shouldn’t they?

When the angel announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, he didn’t say. “I bring you good news of great joy that will be celebrated once a year on December 25.” No, the good news of his birth, life, death and resurrection should give us great joy all of the time.

These verses from Ephesians paint a pretty accurate picture of what celebrating Christmas every day looks like, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph 4:2-3).

If we will make an effort to live out these verses, treating each other with loving-kindness, we will carry the so-called “Spirit of the Season” with us all year long.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Keep It Simple Charlie Brown!

One of my favorite movies of all time is A Charlie Brown Christmas. I refuse to buy it on DVD, because being able to watch it just any time seems to take away from the “special-ness” of it. No, I wait patiently until it makes it’s once a year appearance on ABC. I sit there in my PJ’s sipping hot chocolate and munching popcorn, letting the warm feelings of Childhood take over for a precious half-an-hour.

The message in this movie is the best part!! Not just the message, but more importantly, the way it is delivered. I spoke with someone recently who said he grew up in the church, but it wasn’t until he saw “A Charlie Brown Christmas” that he really understood the Gospel. How can this be? How can a kid go to church week after week, listen to sermon after sermon and not understand the Gospel, but then watch a 30 minute cartoon and finally get it?

Here’s what I think. In the Gospel according to Linus, the “Good News” about Jesus is presented in it’s simplest and purest form. It is not clouded by church doctrine, denominational differences or a judgmental tone. Nope, Charlie Brown asks, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” and Linus lays it out for him. No visual aids, no 20 minute musical number, just a humble recitation of Luke Chapter 2, the story of the night Jesus was born.

Here’s my prayer. The next time a friend cries out, wanting to know the meaning of life…please help me follow Linus’ humble example. Help me to get out of the way of your truth! Help me to desire to be the moon, reflecting your light, not trying to generate a light of my own in vain.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Good Gifts

Have you ever gotten a gift that you were really excited about until someone else’s unkind remarks about the item dampened your enthusiasm?

For example, one year my son reeeally wanted a skateboard for Christmas and his Granny and Papa were more than happy to grant his 4-wheeled wish. He was so thrilled on Christmas eve when he opened their gift. His excitement lasted a few days until he showed the board to a few of his more skate-board savvy friends, who were less than impressed with it. They said his board wasn’t one of the name brands and it’s wheels and trucks were second rate. Andrew’s bubble was burst and the gift he once thought was awesome was now less than average.

Satan tries to steal my joy in the same way sometimes. Recently, I had a number of really wonderful blessings all happening within days of each other. At first, I was overjoyed by the wonderful gifts my Father was showering down on me. But then, I started to worry…what if something really bad was getting to happen and God was trying to buffer it with all of the good stuff. Pretty soon, my joy about the good things was being overshadowed by my anxiety over the bad things I had imagined might be lurking in my future.

How foolish! I was letting Satan steal my joy and diminish my appreciation for God’s gifts. But the Bible clearly tells us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17). In Nehemia, we’re told not to fear, but to let the joy of the Lord be our strength (Neh 8:10). And, in Philippians, our instruction is to rejoice in the Lord always, be anxious about nothing, pray about everything and in turn we’ll experience peace.

So, it’s pretty clear that the blessings we are given from God should be embraced with unreserved joy and thankfulness, not with fear. Cling to His truths and Satan will not be able to steal your joy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Through the Flames

There was a story in the news this week that just broke my heart. A Thomasville man named Jason Powers was killed Sunday night trying to rescue his young son from their home which had caught fire. When the fire began late Sunday night, the family escaped safely. But, when they got outside they realized that their 2 year old was missing. So, Jason did what I guess most parents would do, he ran back into the burning building to look for his son. After he had gone back into the home, the boy’s mother found their son safely outside. Unfortunately, Jason had to be pulled out of the home by a neighbor and did not survive his injuries.

What motivates a man to run back into the blazing building that he had just escaped? Love. Pure, undefiled, unconditional love. It’s that same kind of love, on a much grander, supernatural scale, that propelled Jesus from the majesty and perfection of the Heavenly realms, down to our hurting world…to die in order to rescue us, his children, from the flames of hell.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV)

It’s Christmas time, and there is no doubt that you and I will encounter several nativity scenes. This year as you are gazing at the precious, innocent newborn in the center of the scene, know that He represents the extreme, radical love that our Father God has for each one of us. That baby Jesus is God in flesh, running into the burning building to pull us out. How could we ever doubt his love?

On another note - you can be a part of spreading God’s radical love through the WBFJ Christmas Blessing! Head on-line to to find out how you can donate goods and services or make a financial contribution as WBFJ reaches out to 5 local families in need of a helping hand for the Holidays.

Merry Christmas!