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Archive for December, 2007

 

wisemen-seeking.jpgWhere is my Christmas Spirit?  What do I need to do to experience more of God in my life?  I’ll go to church next week so I can hear five more things I need to do to get this right…

With worthy motivation to preach practical sermons for their flock, many preachers are leading people to believe and feel that they need to get their “life in order” so that they can experience more of God in their lives and become “good Christians”.  Week after week, people are exhorted to “live out” a set of “life applications”.  Unfortunately, with only twenty five minutes (or less) allotted for the sermons, there is little time for a preacher to teach the deeper things of God.  People are given application, without the necessary orthodoxy and understanding to live it out. burden1.jpg

This shallow, application driven thinking, grows on people; as they receive more and more “encouragement,” it soon develops a life of its own.  Here are some “shoulds” that often beat us down as we synthesize what we hear in the pulpits…especially around this gift-driven, family-expectation laden, holiday; (more…)

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8337the-first-kiss-angels.jpgWe can make too big of a deal of angels…

We can make too little a deal about angels…

But I think we would be wise to stick with the biblical portrayal of them.

As I was walking around down town Chicago with my family last month, we were enjoying the beautiful way down town gets “dressed up” for Christmas.  As we were looking at a huge gorgeous manger scene, I was botherd by the statue that represented an angel.
little-girl-angel_light.jpg
Here is an example of an manger scene angel:
My thoughts:

The Bible portrays us in a spiritual war.

 

Certainly, Satan and all his evil warriors would have loved to kill Jesus while He was just a baby in that manger.

Something tells me that the angels guarding the baby Jesus were not tender and soft. (more…)

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I hear so many people try to articulate what it means to “have the Christmas spirit”. 

I find myself grinning when I hear very smart people try to find substance in the phrase while trying to leave God out of the equation.   

I grin because I believe that all truth leads to Jesus and it is never so obvious than it is at Christmas.lets-keep-complainging-l.jpg

Even though Christians walk around saying: “Don’t take Christ out of Christmas”, we can miss the Christmas Spirit too.

How sad that even one person, especially a Christian, would lose the Christmas Spirit.   

How do we lose the glorious Christmas Spirit?

  • Is it the shopping?
  • Is it the traffic?
  • Is it our attitude when someone just missed crashing into our car?
  • Is it our intermitent visiting grief (as we miss or “long for” a parent or child)?
  • Is it our impatience while we stand in line?
  • Is it our knowledge of our growing credit card debt?

Here is a test.   Sing: “Tis the season to be jolly, falalalalalalala…” Forget about the people around you, just try it.

Did you just notice a voice in your head that said something to the effect of: “That didn’t sound convincing. I should feel jolly right now”? 

Please rebuke that “should” right now- before it creeps in and spreads like a virus into your Spirit induced thankful heart.. Here are some more creepy enemies of the Christmas Spirit:

  • You should be happy at Christmas.
  • You should buy every gift with the right motive.
  • You should never think of how the person your buying for gave you something they bought at your garage sale.
  • You should never have to confront yourself or your children for acting materialistic.
  • You should be able to remember everyone you need to buy for.
  • You shouldn’t fight with your spouse at Christmas (even though you are both stressed out).

“Should, shouldn’t, ought and ought not” are usually  just verbs. But when you put them on yourself, you are relying on yourself instead of Christ. ”

…it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”  Gal. 2:20b.“

“Jesus you should make me happy.”  Would you really talk to Jesus in that way?  When you treat yourself with “shoulds”,  do you think you are letting Christ live in you?

“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”          Eph. 4:30 

We grieve Him who lives in us (Col. 1:27) when we do not “fight off” with our minds the Spirit of this world (1 Cor. 2:12).  This is more difficult than it sounds, especially when  the “spirit of the world” is dressed in Christmas clothes, plays Christmas carols and even hides in some churches.  I believe God wants us to think things through (even work hard at it), and choose to trust Him (biblical faith).  If you want a “should” in your life, I’ll give you that one. 

Maybe you should argue (in your head) with the sermon you heard last Sunday if it weighed you down with “ought” and “should” induced applications.  

 Chistmas is about what Jesus did for us!  “Should, shouldn’t, ought and ought not” are wonderful verbs when they are the consequence of what God does in us by grace, in response to our faith. 

If you don’t feel the Christmas Spirit, if you don’t feel thankful, fully alive, like spontaneously dancing or singing– my guess is that you havn’t fully recieved the grace of God.  Quite holding onto the false guilt and destructive shame.  Do you really believe that punishing yourself is going to change you?Our punishment has already been taken care of.  Jesus came to give us life and life to the fullest.  Why do you let your besetting sin cheat you.  You see, when you put yourself under law (even your own punishment), you are provoking your sin nature and withholding glory that rightfully belongs to the crucified One.  Jesus freed you from sin, guilt and shame- giving Him the glory with a thankful heart is only natural.

You are free!  How much do you believe that?  In that measure will you be free from the power of your sinful nature.  In that measure you will be free to experience life as God meant you to- especially at Christmas! 

FAITH” chooses to believe God and take Him at His Word- everyday, not just when you were “saved”.   

Are you feeling the Christmas Spirit now?  Go ahead…sing!  Sing in the mall, after you confront, after you “blew it”, after you found your own motives to be pathetic…  Sing!  Sing from your redeemed heart.”

Read the Pages (right tabs)  on Colosians to learn more or download sermons at www.vintage-faith.com

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I like the song, but there is something about this video that is very moving…  (thanks Marlene for sending this!) 

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colossians_title5.jpgINTRO:
I had a conversation this week with someone I respect a great deal… a very thoughtful and smart person. He/she asked me how grace theology changed anybody. It is great, is delivers people from guilt and shame that can destroy them. But how does it change anybody. How does knowing that your sins our blotted out and that your not under the law (though absolutely wonderful and amazingly beautiful), how does that change anyone.

How does God’s grace change us?

What is the major proof that Jesus rose from the dead? That the Bible is true? The world is full of doubters and skeptics, what is the number one reason they should give Christianity a serous looking into?

Does it really change people?

If our church grows to 10000 and no one is really changed for the better; no marriage is saved or strengthened; no teen is saved from suicide and has become a disciple; no GenX has been delivered from an addiction…

Read the verses noted above and Psalm 110.

 Click the tab “Colossians” at the right for more…

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