Archive for November, 2011
It’s awkward isn’t it? “Happy Thanksgiving” no longer applies. “Survive Black Friday” doesn’t seem appropriate because you did. And since it’s the last day of November it’s a bit early to say “Merry Christmas”. So we’re stuck with “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays”.
Historically the busiest day for buying Christmas presents is the Saturday before Christmas and the second is Christmas Eve. This year both of those fall on Saturday, December 24.
So my suggestion is that we greet each other with “Survive Christmas Frenzy time”.
It seems easy to lose Jesus amid the hurry and scurry of finding that perfect present and the varied activities of celebrating the season. It’s easy to reduce Him to a catch phrase, “the reason for the season!!”
Yet, He IS the reason for the season. His birth was heralded as welcome to the Savior of the world. And through Him we have the promise of life forever with God Almighty.
For there’s born to you this day in the city of David a savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you: You will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 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. Luke 2:11-14
So maybe we should say to each other, “Thank God for Jesus.”
So what do you think?
In the United States, we’re celebrating Thanksgiving this week. For most, it’s a pleasant time shared with family and friends. There are sporting events and parades. Lots of stores use this time to kick off the holiday shopping season. And there’s usually plenty to eat!
And once in a while, we even remember to be thankful.
There’s lots of reasons to give thanks. It doesn’t always seem that way, but if we put our mind to it, we can usually think of more reasons for being thankful than for complaining.
In the Bible, there’s a beautiful piece of Hebrew poetry that expresses one man’s thankfulness to God. The author talks about blessings like health, rescue from enemies and material goods. He also talks about spiritual blessings, like God’s justice in this world.
In my favorite section of this poem, the author talks about the greatest blessing of all:
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:8-12)
I love that imagery. “As far as the east is from the west.” All of my mistakes, all of my failings, all of my sin… God has taken it all away. So far away that it can never be connected with me again. “As far as the east is from the west.”
I don’t know what you’re thankful for this year. I’m thankful that God is slow to anger and quick to forgive. I’m thankful that He treats me with mercy, not harsh justice. I’m thankful that He forgives all of my sins, giving me a fresh start every day.
Be thankful for that as well. God’s forgiveness is available to you, just as it is to me, just as it was to that Hebrew poet so many years ago. Receive His forgiveness and be thankful. I’d love to tell you how.
All the houses in my neighborhood are getting new roofs. A recent hailstorm did significant damage and there have been scores of roofing companies working the area to get business. I spent many years in the roofing business so I enjoy watching the way roofers do their business. And I see a great many parallels to how Christians go about God’s business.
The best way to get a roofing job is by a good referral. I always counted on the quality of my work to get additional roofs. It works the same way for Christians. The way you live your life is your referral. Jesus has made all the difference in my life and it is easy to see that. As a Christ follower, I am the evidence of God’s workmanship.
The real test of a new roof is how it holds up during the first storm. The real test of a Christian is his testimony during the storms of life. I never promised that my roofs would not have any problems, but I did promise that I would fix any problems. That is exactly how Jesus has worked in my life. Christians are not exempt from life’s problems, but we are confident in the One who fixes our problems.
I even think some people approach their Christian life the way some people roof houses. Some just shingle over what is already there. This way is easy and cheaper than tearing off the old roof and replacing it with new shingles. But sometimes the old shingles cause problems for the new roof. That is the way some would live their Christian life. They want the easiest, cheapest way to follow Jesus. Trying to live a new life without getting rid of the old life is not going to work well. It cannot.
I have even known roofers to tear off the edges of the old roof and then put new shingles down. At first glance it seems right, but it is an illusion. They want it to appear as if the old roof has been removed but in reality it has not been. Some try that approach with Jesus. They want to look different while still clinging to their old life. It does not work.
The best way to have a new roof is to first remove the old one. Then replace it with new shingles. That is what Jesus wants to do for you. He wants to tear away the old life with its problems and pain and then replace it with a new life of hope, peace, joy, and purpose. Every time I see an old roof being torn off, I am reminded that my old life of bad choices and failures has been done away with. And the new roof reminds me that I am created new in Jesus.
How many people actually listen to the safety demonstration on an airplane? Nobody thinks that their plane is actually going to be involved in a crash. Besides, if you fly very often, you’ve heard the same spiel dozens of times. It almost seems like a waste of time.
Everybody knows how to fasten and unfasten their seatbelt, right? That seems like a pointless part of the demonstration. Maybe not; a study by the British Civil Aviation Authority revealed that an average of 6% of passengers get delayed by seatbelt problems during an evacuation.
Every safety demonstration discusses what to do if the plane has to make a water landing, but in the 2009 U.S. Airways landing on the Hudson River, only about half took a seat cushion for floatation and only 10 of 150 passengers thought to grab a life jacket. They’d heard the briefing, but hadn’t really listened.
Experts say that even a half-second delay in an emergency can mean the difference between life and death, yet few of us pay attention to the very information that can save our lives. We don’t value the information until we really need it.
I can’t help but feel that we treat God the same way. We’re vaguely aware that He’s there, we know that we really ought to learn more about Him, but we don’t take the trouble to do so.
Until we find ourselves in an emergency.
Then we wish we knew Him better. We wish we knew more about how to pray. We wish we were more confident about knowing what He expects of us and how we should behave towards Him.
My suggestion is not to wait until that crisis hits. Take the time to learn about God. Connect with people who know Him and can guide you. Learn the basics about Bible study, then make reading the Bible a part of your daily routine. Start talking to God on a regular basis… there’s no better way to learn about prayer than by doing it.
Connecting with God is easier than inflating a life vest or opening an emergency exit on a plane. And the rescue He offers lasts forever.