Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas, In the Year of our Lord 2013

Christmas 2013 is surrounded by controversy in America.  The nation seems to be going out of its way to ignore or decry the very reason for the celebration.  Public schools are changing the words to long sung Christmas songs, one school even went so far as to try to ban the colors red and green fearing that even the traditional colors would be reminiscent of the reason we celebrate.  Nativities scenes are being turned into displays of public mockery.  In Florida, in response to the beautiful nativity in the state rotunda, one group requested and received approval for a "Festivus Pole", a 6-foot pole made out of beer cans.  All of this controversy in America is an attempt to minimize Christmas to just another American federal holiday with no more or no less significance than any other federal holiday.

However, it is not.  You cannot even say the date, Christmas 2013, without pointing to the reason we celebrate, not just in America, but also worldwide.  Historical records indicate that this celebration has been going on since the first century, was originally know as Three Kings Day, and celebrated in early January.  It has since become known as Christmas, as Cristes-messe. It means "the Mass of Christ."  

The birth of Christ.  Everything since then has been measured by the birth of that one baby boy.  A baby born to two unknown parents, under controversial and unpleasant circumstances.  

Yet this was not just one baby boy.  This child was God himself, come down from heaven, in the form of man to testify to His very own existence.  In John 18:37 when challenged by Caesar as to who he was and why he was here Jesus replied, "You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." 

The truth is, Jesus is God and that statement, from the time of His birth until this day, is controversial.  But even that controversy draws people to him.

Merry Christmas

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Broken and Contrite Heart

I woke up with a heavy heart for our nation at 4:00 a.m. this morning.  I had an e-mail from my daughter who teaches school in Seoul Korean.  It was like I woke up just to read this.  She begins by sharing a post from a friend she met in college.  I have permission to share that here:

"I want to remind all my friends that I am hearing impaired with a condition that continues to get worse (BOTH of my children, my mother, my nephew also have this.) The new healthcare law has, buried within its 2,000 pages, a new tax on all medical devices. That tax is $400. I and my children must have hearing aids to be able to function on a social level, hold a job and have any quality of life in a world of sound. Someone who loves Obama tell me why my government gets to tax me every time I replace the hearing aids for my children? Explain to me why my President thought I had to carry the expense of everyone else's healthcare and pay extra because I have hearing aids. People who get diabetic pumps will also pay this, new heart valves, other medical devices. Obama is a complete Jackass. I used to have some respect for him even in disagreement. That is gone. I have no respect for the man or the office as long as he holds it. That's all."

Her question to me was this:

"Who exactly is supposed to be benefiting from this healthcare plan? The poor? The middle class? It's too frightening to even think about stepping foot on American soil."

This is heartbreaking for me to see our nation in this condition.  To see my own daughter who was raised to love this country and participate in the process frightened at the prospect of returning to it.  

I learned to ask these 4 questions when I see something happening in the culture:
  1. What is happening
  2. What is REALLY happening
  3. Why is this happening
  4. Why is this REALLY happening
  1. What is happening -- Government's answer is that they are helping the poor and uninsured get affordable health care
  2. What is REALLY happening -- Gov't take over of 1/6 of the economy, FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE in American business and culture. A dictate of every area of our lives.
  3. Why is this happening --  Gov't answer -- those mean greedy insurance companies and Republicans don't care if people hurt and people aren't really smart enough to take care of themselves.
  4. Why is this REALLY happening -- Spiritual depravity. Give Us A King! mentality in America. Culture has replaced God with Government thinking they will no long have to be accountable for their sin.  Power! Remember what Grandpa used to say, give a man a little power and he'll show you just how little he can be. The story of my daughters friend shows us that.

I am reminded this morning of two stories, two warnings actually, that are given to us in God's word.  The first is the story of Samson.  Samson had become so engaged in his culture, his own desires and lusts, that he gave away his most precious asset, the secret of his power. Delilah continually prodded him for the secret to his strength.  Samson at first refused to be taken captive by her ways until he could resist no longer.  He gave in, told her his secret and set his fate.  He had been warned, yet was blinded by his desire.  Judges 16:4-20 tells the story.  Verse 20 tells us of Samson's defeat, "Then she called, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" He awoke from his sleep and thought, "I'll go out as before and shake myself free. But he did not know that the LORD had left him."  It is that final line that grabs my attention; he did not know that the LORD had left him!  He was living his life, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and did not even notice he was now on his own.

The second story, or warning, is in the New Testament of the 10 virgins.  Jesus is telling the story in Matthew 25 of five wise and five foolish virgins waiting for their bridegroom.  The five wise were prepared, they paid attention, they knew their bridegroom could appear any time and they were ready.  The five foolish virgins lived for the moment.  At midnight the cry came out that the bridegroom was coming. Only the wise virgins had enough oil in their lamp, while the other five were left at the last minute, trying to prepare.  Matthew 25:13 tells us "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour."

Today we see the warnings.  The culture pulls at us continually.  We can be like Samson and the five foolish virgins and live life for the moment, fulfilling the desires of our flesh, and never even notice we have been left powerless and abandoned, or we can prepare, can keep watch and discern the times.  

I'm asking you to commit 10 minutes a day,  for the next 60 days, in earnest prayer for our nation. Pray that our country will have a broken and contrite heart regarding the character and word of God.   Pray for the boldness to speak the truth of God, in kindness, to those he puts in your path.  People are hurting and desperate.  They are looking for healing and hope.  You may be the only person they come across today that has that to offer to them