Wednesday, December 21, 2011

practical Christmas

Revelation 12

I thought Christmas was supposed to be about Jesus.

Brandi and I have been discussing how we are concerned that value of celebrating the birth of Christ may be severely clouded or even totally eclipsed by all of the social and media hype about Santa and presents.  Regardless of how the holiday of Christmas was initiated, the reality is that Christmas is a huge event in our American culture.  And while that culture continues to grow more and more secular (i.e., more and more about Santa and all of the stuff that you want him to give you), it seems to me that the Christmas holiday remains a powerful opportunity to focus on the gift of Christ for the salvation of the world.  And of course, it is impossible to disconnect His birth and life with His death and resurrection (i.e., Easter), but why not take advantage of the opportunity to focus on Christ and the joy and hope that His birth brings to the whole world?

So, with our children, we are planning on continuing to emphasize the celebration of Jesus's birthday.  Some people might think that a birthday party for Jesus is trite, but being the father of a two-year old, it seems to me like a birthday party would be valuable if it is helpful in synchronizing "Christmas" with "Jesus" in Beau's mind.  And while we don't want our children to be the ones that "spoil" the hoax of Santa for other children (especially our nieces and nephews), we want to reiterate the centrality of Jesus in Christmas by giving our children three gifts, as a reminder of Jesus receiving three gifts from the Wise Men.

Hopefully, through these practices, we will help our children focus on Jesus instead of getting caught up in the materialism of our society.

Heavenly Father, help us focus on Jesus.  Help us help our children to focus on Jesus.  Lord, please fill our hearts with joy and peace as we celebrate the birth of Christ.  And help us share this joy and peace with others.  I pray in the name of Jesus.

Monday, December 12, 2011

dining with Christ

Rev. 3

 2:7 "Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.

 2:17 "Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.

3:20 "Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

My Brother Mark pointed this out to me this morning: life with Christ is about constantly being in fellowship with Him and being filled with His life.  We need to be overcomers, faithfully walking with Him.  It is both active and passive; we actively pursue Him and obey Him, and we rely on His grace and rest in His salvation.

Heavenly Father, I want to be an overcomer.  I want to enjoy the hidden manna and the fruit from the tree of life.  I want to share a meal with Christ as friends.  Lord, please help me walk in fellowship with you today.  Please deliver me from discouragement and despair, an help me share your life with others around me.  I love you, Lord, and I need you to carry me.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

love one another

2 John

 5 I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning. 6 Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.

Moses taught it.  Jesus taught it.  This is not a new commandment.  So, why am I so lousy at loving one another?

Heavenly Father, please help me love people the way Jesus loves people.  Please pour your love through me.  I love you, and I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

love, sin, victory

1 John 5

I have been impressed the last few days about how much attention John gives to loving God and loving people (especially Brothers and Sisters in Christ).  I need to devote more attention to loving God and loving people, especially in my attitude towards people.

I have also been impressed with the repeating statements about children of God not sinning.  I need to take sin seriously.  It grieves God, it is not His character, and it is why Jesus died.

And this morning, I am impressed with the certainty of victory as we follow Him:

1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. 2 We know we love God's children if we love God and obey his commandments. 3 Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. 5 And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

Heavenly Father, I want to love you and love people.  Lord Jesus, I believe that you are the Christ and you are the Son of God.  I trust you, and I want to walk with you.  Lord, I need you.  Please grow your character in me.  Lord, I want to have the mind of Christ and live your victorious life in the Spirit.  I love you, and I devote myself to you.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

waiting for His return

2 Peter 3

9 The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise [of Christ's return], as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. ... 14 And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.

Last night, instead of having our home group, a few of us attended the worship service of a UTEP student organization called UNO U.  They have a student-led worship service in Spanish.  It was so refreshing to sing praises in Spanish and see the Lord working through students to share the hope of Christ at the university.  Sharing in praise and worship with them reminds me of when Brandi and I were members at Indiana Avenue when we were students.  When I participate in a worship service in a different language, it helps me see that Christ and His Kingdom transcend language, culture, space, and time.

I want to be living a holy, godly, pure, and blameless life to be pleasing in His sight.  I want to be connected and integrated with His global Body.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your patience and mercy.  Lord, please use me to help share the good news of Jesus Christ while there is still time.  Lord, thank you for your grace in my own life; please use me to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  I love you, Lord, and I want to serve you and worship you with my life.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.