One of the things that really concerns me is the “why” of things.
Since it’s the Christmas season I thought I’d explore the “why” of ensuring that society at large “keeps the Christ in Christmas”.
I saw that bumper sticker today while Christmas shopping with 2 million of my closest friends. The one with a manger scene and the words “Keep Christ in Christmas” over the top.
At the risk of sounding obnoxious or profane, I ask if Christ really has much to do with the way Christmas is celebrated in most of the world today?
I think most would agree that He does not. Read more…
Walking near you
Seems each step is eternity, knowing
Each step is a better step
Than the last step
Stepped in sand and stopped
Your hand jerked from mine
My eyes fell
My heart stuttered
In my soul I thirst
My God, my God, why?
Troubled within me
I’m heart broken for You
On the door of Your heart
My heart any heart
Let me in and come back
Your hand now under my chin
Lifting my heart with my eyes
See into lifetimes of Love
Weep from ducts that cried
For me and not because of me
You held on and cried in screeching sobs
You held on with a heartache
To crumble a million stars
You held on to me
To walk near me
Needing me wanting me
Your life for me
Your life for mine
Have you ever lost that spark for God? Have you ever looked up from your life and realized that what you once held so dear now seemed so far away?
Has anyone else struggled to find peace? It’s an issue I’ve wrestled with since junior high school.
I’ve never really had any.
I was always taught that being a Christian and knowing Jesus was supposed to make my life better. I’ve never bought into the whole, “I’m gonna be rich if I love Jesus” thing, but I really thought I should at least have some peace.
My life was never really any better.
I’m a thinker. I’m an over-thinker. I guess as a result of that I was never able to relax and enjoy any kind of peace.
I wasn’t praying enough. I wasn’t reading my Bible enough. I wasn’t helping at the church enough. It was never enough.
Recently, some things began to change for me. Oddly enough, it was while I was going through a time when I felt I was slipping away from God.
Like I said, I’m a thinker. I may not be the smartest person, but I don’t like taking everything at face value. I want to explore what I believe.
As I was wondering what was wrong with me and why my relationship with God seemed to be going the wrong way; some things began to jump out at me.
Actually, it was the whole of Romans chapter 8. I’d encourage you to read that if you haven’t, or read it again. Before you do, I want to give you another way of looking at it.
I’ve always read this chapter in the context of “I have to stop sinning”. Paul talks a lot about “the flesh”. If we live according to the flesh we’re going to die. That’s exactly what it says.
But I don’t think that’s what Paul meant, exactly.
I don’t think this chapter is a commentary on our performance so much as it is a commentary on our dependence.
Who are we dependent upon?
Because, I think Paul is referring not just to the bad things that we do in “the flesh”, but also the good things.
Any good thing that we do to earn favor, earn a blessing or earn our salvation is a work of the flesh. It is an outside-in action. Our salvation and all of the good things we do are an inside-out action.
By relying on ourselves to do the good we think is required of us we are relying on “the flesh”. Do you get that?
Helping the needy is no better for your spiritual health than smoking a big fat joint. It may make you feel better about yourself, but they are both dirty and moldy in the sight of God.
We are not good. We are lost and hopeless without a Savior.
It doesn’t matter how good we are.
We want to jump up and down and shout about how great God is, how powerful He is and the mighty things that He can do.
We stop short so many times though. We believe those things when we’re doing well. We believe those things when we’re praying for someone else.
When it comes to our own peace and standing; how often do we take that power from God and try to do it ourselves? How many times have you skipped a prayer time because you weren’t quite “right”?
I know I’m not the only one.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (Romans 5:1)
We are justified, not by our goodness, but by our faith.
Justification: an act of free grace by which God pardons the sinner and accepts him as righteous, on account of the atonement of Christ.
We’ve already been given the thing we so often try to earn and deserve.
That “thing” we want so bad but can’t always express is acceptance from God. Because of the blood of Jesus; we are not only accepted, but we are accepted as righteous.
That’s the peace I was looking for. We cannot earn that. Our peace comes from God and God alone. It’s the peace that passes all understanding.
It only comes through a spiritual life. It only comes through the realization that it’s not in our power to obtain. It is only by the grace of God that we will ever obtain it. It only comes when we are dependent upon God for our goodness.
If you have believed, rest assured that you have obtained your acceptance as the righteous person you are trying so hard to be.
Seek God, not your goodness. That’s where the peace is.
I don’t think I’m the only one who has struggled with this. Am I? Have you ever struggled with trying to be good enough?
Let me start by saying that I’m really glad sanctification is a process.
I was going through some old sermons I had written and, unfortunately, had actually preached. Unfortunate for all who heard.
I was hoping that I could use some of them, chop them up and post them here. Not going to happen. It would take me longer to rewrite them than it would to write something new.
They were so far off base it’s not even funny. I’m in such a different place now that it’s almost embarrassing. I don’t plan on letting anyone see those anytime soon.
I think most of us can look back on our time with God and think of phases that we went through that are like a different person. I think we’ve all been off base and said some amazingly goofy things theologically.
This past weekend our little family went to the mall to get the kids picture taken with Santa. I know, the joy of 3 hours in line with a 5 and 3 year old.
As soon as we got in line I told my wife that a good idea was for one of us to stay in line with the kids while the other one went by themselves to get some drinks for everyone. So I left with the kids to get the drinks.
We stopped first at Starbucks. A grande wet cappuccino with 3 white sugars was definitely needed for what we were up against.
While waiting for my drink this woman told me how cute my kids were. “That is very true”, I told her. She then bent down and started talking to my son, who is 5.
Let me give you some history on this. My son has a condition called speech apraxia. Speech apraxia is a condition in which kids know what they want to say, but their tongues and mouth won’t cooperate. This makes it very difficult to understand them and makes it very difficult for them to communicate what they are thinking. My son is a very bright kid, but has had a hard time getting those thoughts to translate into words.
He’s been made fun of and called a baby by kids. Adults have looked at us with looks that said, “I have no idea what he’s trying to say.” There have been times when, if I’m honest, I wished people wouldn’t even talk to him. He hides his frustration with silliness and humor, but I could see the frustration and he couldn’t always hide it.
There were times that he would be in tears and he’d tell us “people don’t understand me.” That’s fine if he’s an abstract artist, but it’s a little heartbreaking when he’s trying to tell someone he wants to have a dinosaur birthday.
So the lady bends down to talk to him. My first thought was, “Please, don’t.” It was just basic questions like how old he was and what he wanted for Christmas. Being that there were 15 million people in the mall I couldn’t hear what all was said.
She finally stands up and looks at me. There is no way she could have known what she was about to say to me. She asked how old he was and then told me that he spoke very well for his age. What? She said most kids his age will mumble and look down when they speak but he spoke clearly and confidently.
I told her she really didn’t know what she had just told me. I gave her some of the back story and that he had been in speech therapy for a couple years. She said, “Well, his diction is excellent.” To make it even better, she was British and I love British accents.
I saw her a few minutes later while taking one of the kids to the restroom. I was a little surprised to see her again as I was sure she was an angel. Angels will never have American accents, unless you’re not from America.
I’ll just cut to the moral of this story.
Say nice things. You may have no idea what you’re doing for the person you’re speaking to. You just might be someone’s angel.
I included a poem I wrote after one particularly bad day for him. As a parent, it’s tough when you can’t fix it. Watching a little boy go through something that could reduce an adult to tears is hard sometimes.
My Little Man
You can laugh
And when you do
Laugh at me too
When he talks like a baby
Point at me too and correct me
Who knows how to speak
Like a big boy
Big boys like to laugh
At insecurities and inabilities
Lean forward wide eyed
Laughing expecting waiting
For a response
Always for a response
Like tears, anger, anything
To pounce on
With the devil’s own delight
Taking words like sticks
You hit and bruise
With words like rocks
You blister and splatter
Tears like blood
On the floor on shoes
Your feet will never fill
Of that little hand patting
A grieving mommy
That little face kissing a baby sister
Tormenting now with a sweetness
That will not retaliate
With blows but will
One day stand taller still
Than the big boys now
With wisdom and meaning
A purpose in life is
Better because of him
Because he is filled with strength
If not strong
Because he is filled with mercy
If not words
Because he is head and shoulders above
If not in stature
He’s my little boy
And I know what he’s saying
And I know what he’s made of
And I know what his heart and mind hold
More than mere big boys
He holds the kindness and dreams of a man among boys