Friday, December 24, 2010

Working the holiday

Yesterday we had three ‘Eve-of Christmas Eve’ Services. Today we’ll have seven more. All will be well attended; at a few we’ll be holding our breath to make sure everyone fits in the parking lots and our overflow rooms.

I love working and serving here on Christmas Eve. A few years ago I think I finally understood. I have the opportunity to serve in the most important institution ever; I play a part that is likely the most challenging and the same time rewarding of my entire adult life.

For those that know me, they will likely not understand as I’ve had some very challenging and rewarding job assignments in the past. However, for those that know me well, they will likely share my view that if Christ is truly Lord, and came just as the Bible teaches, then nothing else could be more important.

Just this past year, our Pastor read Ephesians 1:23. A verse that I’ve read before and appreciated but this time it was from the Message Bible and states: “The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.”

I love the local church. Christ is the hope of the world and the local church is the body of Christ, the physical representation of His Kingdom until He comes in glory.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Holiday Different

"The story of Christ's birth is a story of promise, hope, and a revolutionary love."

This is the beginning line of the "Advent Conspiracy", a website and a movement that has been advocating a different type of Christmas holiday the past two years.

Pastors and churches are being challenged to do Christmas different. To get back to the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas is all about God's grace. If you are looking for a good Christmas verse, here's one:
“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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.John 3:16–17 (NIV)
If we understand Christmas we understand the truth behind the teaching of Jesus that it is better to give than to receive.

Santa is likely a good cultural addition as long as we don't confuse Santa with Christ. The real gift at Christmas is the Christ-child. When our children were young, my wife and I decided to tell them the truth behind Santa. It was a great opportunity to celebrate a good man, a 4th. Century bishop who had a reputation for giving. While the fact that our children knew the truth horrified and shocked some of our friends, we felt our children were better off.

Our challenge continues to this day with our grandchildren. We want them to grow up knowing the story of Christ's birth. We will smile when they open their presents at Christmas and enjoy their toys as only children can. We will also encourage them as they grow to keep the story of promise, hope and revolutionary love close to their hearts.

"What is repentance and is it required for salvation?”

The concept of repentance is often misunderstood.  While repentance definitely means to feel sorry for a previous action, to decide ...