Daily Archives: December 25, 2011

Day 25: Keeping Christ

As I prepared for the holidays, I noticed something different this year. Retail stores always try to stock their stores with things they think will sell well. This year, they did something different. In years past, one could always find an aisle devoted to Nativity scenes, angels and things of that nature, including wrapping paper with words like Peace, Noel, et on them. Instead the shelves are stocked with color coordinated ornaments, colorful trees and LED lights. Wrapping paper has Santa and Frosty frolicking in the snow. What happened? Why are we taking Christ out of Christmas? Are we forgetting what Christmas is all about?

Christmas is not about the latest gaming system or the largest flat-screen TV ever made. Christmas is not about competing with your neighbor for the biggest and brightest light show on the block. It’s not even about colored trees, LED lights and coordinating ornaments. Christmas is about that baby in a manger. Christmas is not about the decorations, the food or the gifts. Christmas is about Christ, the ultimate gift of God’s love for all mankind.

“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. 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)

Isaiah foretold about this baby long before He entered the world.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV)

It’s easy to forget that as we rush around during the holidays. Our schedules get so busy with holiday functions, church fellowships, office parties and school performances. There’s much to be done: shopping, cooking, baking, decorating, etc. Yet, no matter how busy the season gets, take time each and every day to stop, pray and meditate on God’s Word and the real reason for the season. Keep Christ in Christmas and may you keep Him all year long.

A Resolution to Care

Note to reader: The following is the result of further study, research and reflection after reading a portion of The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, a book written upon the influence of the movie Courageous, which hit theaters nation-wide in September/October of 2011.

Look…! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days – you would not believe if you were told. Habakkuk 1:5 NASB

Have you ever wanted to turn away from a story pictured on the news? Or an episode of 48 hours? Or leave a classroom because the topic of the class did not jive with you? Made you uncomfortable? Or even turn off your Wednesday night run of Criminal Minds because of the horror displayed?

I have. Many times.

Let me ask you this: are you concerned with the hearts of those dear to you? How about the girl in the cubicle next to yours? Or the man who just lost his home to a fire? Or even a family member; a father; a mother? A sibling?

We live in a fallen world. We need to see pain to know that it’s real and to believe that God can do anything with a single touch or even you.

Shirer states that if God didn’t show us, our hearts would not be moved. If He simply told you what His plans were or how He was going to use you to solve them, you wouldn’t be able to grasp the full depth and height of the problem or what the touch of His supernatural care, kindness, and wisdom could accomplish through you. If He allowed you to turn your face away and remain unaware of the situation, you’d never know the outworking of compassion the Spirit of God is inviting and empowering you to experience.

God has decided to show us instead. He is preparing us to envision how stunning His work can be, even through ordinary people like you and me.

If we were truly concerned with helping others get to heaven, we’d better be equally concerned about the quality of their existence in the here and now.

I love the bridge to Hosanna by Hillsong; the part that goes like this: Break my heart for what breaks Yours :: Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause :: As I walk from earth into eternity.

The first time I heard those words, my heart fell to its knees. What kind of supernatural power are we choosing to avoid experiencing by not having a heart broken for the plights of those around us?

I needed to have a heart that was broken. We all do. We need to not only allow it to break, but ask God to break it. We need to be offended and heartsick over the same things that shatter His heart. We need to pray that He’ll break our hearts.

What example do we have? Jesus.

Scripture is full of the portrait of the Man who didn’t walk blindly down the dusty, ancient roads of His day, bypassing human devastation and need without a second glance. He paid close attention. He was moved with compassion. He stopped to care for those who were disenfranchised and distressed.

His heart was broken when He saw the hungry (Matthew 15:32).
…when He saw the sick (Matthew 14:14).
…when He saw the emotionally devastated (Luke 7:13, John 6:35).
…when He saw the lonely and spiritually lost (Matthew 9:36).

When He wasn’t extending compassion, He was talking about it. Showing mercy toward others was an important part of the gospel He came to offer. He didn’t turn a blind eye to people’s physical needs in order to get to the more important spiritual one.

He took His broken heart as a sign to do something; to act in accordance with the Father’s will.

He went.

He served.

He listened.

He healed.

Jesus didn’t just preach a gospel; He lived one.

He saved you for many reasons, but one of them is so that others can sense His compassion manifested toward them through you. Not just in words, but in action. You are His hands and feet – hands that are for more than writing personal checks, feet that are for more than walking to church aor to the mailbox so that someone else can be resourced to go.

Light is brightest against the backdrop of darkness. Be the light.

Diamonds are most brilliant against a backcloth of black velvet. Be the diamond.

Look. Again. Allow yourself to feel. Allow your heart to be broken.

Until what takes your breath away or breaks your heart is not the gravity of the problem but the power of God to heal it – one touch, one person at a time.