Archive for December, 2016

A Prayer for Christmas

December 20, 2016

Lord, it seems somehow selfish or greedy to ask you for a gift on Christmas.  After all, you have already given us everything you had when you came to earth as a man to live and die and redeem us.  But the gift I would ask honors you.  I would ask that you give a renewal of hearts to this earth for Christmas.  Warm our hearts with love for Jesus and each other.  Change us to be less about ourselves and more about you.  Give us insight into your heart’s desires, into what matters most to you, and let us model our lives around that.  Let their be conversions in high places this Christmas.  Let your spirit overshadow all the great ones of this earth.  Warm their hearts with love for you, and compassion for their fellow man.  Let these conversions be the kind that makes all take notice.  Drastically change the most unlikely of us–as the fictional character Ebeneezer Scrooge was forever changed by his night visions, yes, and even more like the apostle Paul was changed on the Damascus Road by an encounter with you.  We need these things so much, Lord, and ultimately they will bring you glory, when these people who live for self and not for you, change to transparently show love for you.  Let the warmth of love that brought us Christmas descend on this cold world like a blanket and warm all our hearts, Amen.

The Gravity of Christmas

December 19, 2016

Last week someone asked me why I thought the Old Testament was so harsh concerning the Law and Sin.  After a lot of thought, I believe it is so we will appreciate the age of grace which the New Testament reveals.   The Old Testament was so hard, it required the death penalty for some sins and animal sacrifice for others.  Many sins required blood atonement.  And we wonder, with the Age of Grace to come just a few centuries later, why was God so adamant about punishing sin severely.

Our culture doesn’t understand this because America and the West of the 21st century wink at sin.  We joke about adultery, other sexual sin, and our sexuality in general.  And yet, God considers sexuality, and particularly marriage and procreation to be his greatest masterpiece.  He considers marriage to most resemble his own heart.  Think about how we value our human artistic masterpieces.  They are surrounded to guards, alarms, and in some cases represented by replicas because the originals are locked away–considered too irreplaceable to even be displayed.  But what do we do with God’s Masterpiece of marriage and procreation?  It is like launching paintballs at the Mona Lisa and laughing while we do it.  We have lost so much sense of what is sacred and holy.  We have lost our ability to fathom the vastness, greatness and otherworldliness of God.

Only when we read in the Old Testament of God’s righteous indignation at the disastrous damage we do to his Holy Order, His Magnificence, His Beauty, do we even begin to appreciate all He did in restoring us, ransoming us from evil, and extending grace.  Otherwise His grace seems cheap to us and we fail Him all over again in not valuing the greatest of gifts.

How to have a Happy Christmas

December 18, 2016

  1.   Remember why you are celebrating.  Christmas celebrates God coming to earth in human form to be with us and to redeem us.  Without Christ, the reason to celebrate becomes obscure

  2. Be grateful.  There are so many things to be thankful for, from the beautiful gift of life itself to the people who make life worth living, the creature comforts we have, the abilities we have, and so on.  If we get nostalgic at Christmas, we can remember happy times of Christmas past and be grateful for those times.  Enjoy them again in memory.

  3. Remember people who are not happy or not blessed this Christmas.  Make it a project to do something special for someone else–an individual, a family, or be part of the Christmas plans of a church or social ministry.  Some people volunteer with the Salvation Army or go to a retirement community, a hospital or a shelter and bring some cheer.  You can even celebrate the 12 days of Christmas by doing an unexpected kindness or giving an unexpected gift to someone each day for 12 days.

  4. Remember happiness isn’t a goal, but happiness grows in the process of living your best life.

 

A Christmas Prayer 2

December 6, 2016

Lord, as I come before you today, I can’t help but think about what your becoming human means for me.  So many times prayer is pictured as an address to our Father who is on his throne in Heaven.  And that’s perfectly right and good.  Except when we pray that way, we hope our Father is paying attention to our situation, we hope he is listening and not attending to something else, and most of all we hope the God of Heaven understands what our situation is like for us.  By faith we believe He does understand, but how can someone so far above us, and so unlike us possibly feel with us what we feel?

But you didn’t stay in Heaven.  You came, and you became one of us–not like us, but one of us.  You came as a baby, totally helpless and dependent.  You experienced cold and hunger, pain, and as you grew, you experienced every emotion we feel.  You experienced the physical manifestations of emotions as well.  You loved, you wept, you were angry, you laughed.  And you experienced disappointment.  The only things you did not experience were fear and worry, but then, those are things you don’t want us to experience either.  All during your time walking this earth, you said ” Fear not” and “Do not worry”.  However, you did experience the cold, hunger, pain and danger we all experience that give rise to those feelings.  And so you do understand the root of even those things.

Because you became one of us and lived among us, we don’t have to wonder what God is like.  You, who acted with such love and compassion, told us that if we had seen you and known you, we also have seen the Father, for you are one.  This is such a marvelous mystery.  How could God remain God, Jesus be God, and yet they are one. You are greater than our minds can fathom.  You are beyond our thoughts and our ability to comprehend.  To  fully understand You and your mysteries, we would have to be God, and we will never be there.  As a 4 year old, no matter how gifted can’t comprehend the theories of quantum physics, its even a bigger chasm for us to comprehend You..  But its good we can’t, for then You dear God would be no bigger than we are–a very puny god indeed.

Thank you for coming to us.  Thank you for loving us that much.  Thank you for caring so much for us you would give up your glory and your home to come be one of us.  You gave all you had.  No greater gift can be.

A Prayer for Christmas 1

December 5, 2016

Lord, I come before you, in awe of what you did in coming to live among us.  As much as I have loved dogs, I have never wanted to be one—ever!  When I think of what you did in becoming human like us, the chasm was much wider and deeper than it would be for me to become a dog.  Yet, you left your home, your companionship with the Father and the angels of Heaven, and journeyed not only to a foreign place, but into a fallen world, not at all like the paradise you had planned for mankind.  You gave up your power, and even some of your knowledge.  You limited yourself, and even though you had powers far superior to ours, including power over nature, you gave up the glory of your godhood.  And you did this knowing you would eventually die as the price to be paid for our redemption and you did it knowing many, indeed perhaps most humans would reject you.  But for the love of those who would accept it, you gave up so very much.  What more could you have given?  Lord, in this Christmas season, help me realize the enormity of what this all means.  Amen.