Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What is Christmas?

What is Christmas?  Santa Claus.  Elves and presents.  Frosty the Snowman.  Good will to others.  We get caught up in so much activity at Christmas, we are asked to believe in so many things.  I went to four Christmas parties last week!  What is important this Christmas?

Christmas, truly, is about Jesus and His birth.  He came to allow each of us to be forgiven for our disobedience to God and thus truly know God.  In the Gospel of John chapter 11 Jesus said to a friend named Martha, after the death of her brother whom Jesus was about to raise back to life (although Martha didn’t know it),

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”  

What do I believe?  Christmas is incredibly special to me because I believe that God sent His only Son Jesus who would die as a sacrifice for our sins, our disobedience of God.  He died for my disobedience of God.  All I had to do was trust Jesus for forgiveness of my sins and I now have eternal life with the God the Father.  I did wrong.  I still do.  I deserve to be punished, to die for my disobedience of God, yet God gave His Son Jesus to die in my place.  How can I even understand God’s mercy?  It leaves me in absolute awe of God’s love for me, for all people everywhere who will trust Him with their lives and eternal destiny. 

Yes, Christmas is a time for families to be together, for friends to meet and celebrate together, but I am going to remember what we are really celebrating this Christmas.  I am celebrating Jesus.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

The other day I received a cute graphic with the words, Not my circus, not my monkeys.  The script beside the graphic said to not let yourself be pulled into other people’s dramas.  Do I do that?  Do I butt into people’s problems when I shouldn’t?

I began thinking about it.  As a Christian I do want to help people, but I realize that sometimes, maybe most of the time, my helping isn’t really helping.  Much of the time it is best to let people sort out their own problems and learn the important life lessons they need to learn.  Often we get so involved in fixing other people’s problems that they don’t really learn any lessons from what they are going through.  There is something about struggling with things yourself, being driven to Jesus in prayer, that brings not only resolution to problems but a new maturity we didn’t have before.  Yes, there are times when help is really needed, and we need to come alongside a friend and support them, but that probably isn’t nearly as often as we think.  A term I have come to use in the past is “benign neglect.”  Let the person struggle and solve their problem if possible.  They will come out far ahead if they do it themselves.

Over the past decade I have increasingly practised benign neglect, “Not my monkeys, not my circus.”  For the most part, hanging back, praying for someone, asking Jesus to teach them the lessons they need to learn, has worked.  When someone is in a truly difficult time then I am there for them, I’ll do anything I can for a friend, but a lot of the time I let them struggle a bit and learn  the life lessons they really need to learn.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Sweet Fragrance

We have a corn plant sitting in our kitchen.  It sits and looks pretty and green, but every once in a long while it blossoms.  This week is blossom time.  Beautiful flowers, spectacular sweet smelling flowers.  The aroma fills the kitchen then spills into the other rooms of the house.  The plant’s scientific name is “dracaena fragrans” the last part referring to the aroma of the blossoms.

The blossoms of the corn plant fill the house with a beautiful sweet aroma.  It flows over and around you, envelops you.  The sweet fragrance fills the house, but coming into the kitchen it overpowers everything else, a true joy.  The corn plant got me thinking about my life, especially my Christian life.  I am supposed to be a sweet smelling fragrance for the Lord, for Jesus.  My life is supposed to rise to him like incense.  I should be so submitted to Jesus that my life becomes a sweet fragrance, an offering to Him.  If I truly live for my Saviour the sweetness of my life should be noticeable and should bring glory to God.  The world should be a better place, a sweeter place, because of me and all others who are led by Jesus.

I love the sweet fragrance of the corn plant and will be sorry when it fades away.  But it is a gentle reminder to me that my life is lived for Jesus and I should be like a sweet fragrance which brings glory to Him.

Monday, April 21, 2014

An Empty Nest

We’re empty-nesters.  Our daughter Christy was married on Saturday and Sandra and I, plus Harley cat, are alone in the house.  Now it’s not a huge transition, Christy was out a lot, but still, we have the house to ourselves.  It is a transition.

Life is full of transitions.  Christy and her new husband Christian are in the transition of single to married.  We have other friends who are in transition because their spouse has passed away.  Still others have a first child, a first job or no job at all.  Transitions, change, that is life.  Things change, we change, life does not stand still.  As I have written before, I am so glad there is one unchangeable constant in all of life, in all of the universe.  God does not change.  My Saviour Jesus will not change.  He is with me forever, in my times of transition, when things are great or when things are very difficult.  Jesus is forever mine.  If you know Him as your Saviour then He is also forever yours.  That wonderful, marvellous, incredible fact is what brings comfort and infinite joy to all of life.  Jesus is always with those who are His.  He is the giver of joy.

We’re in transition.  We are empty-nesters, home alone for the first time in 28 years.  But we are not alone, not really, Jesus is with us always.  Our family is still nearby.  And this transition, gaining a new son-in-law, is a time of great joy.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Links in a Chain

Yesterday a friend told me an interesting story.  A young man and woman were arguing on the beach.  In exasperation the young man called out to a stranger passing by them, “What colour are my girlfriends socks?”  The stranger replied to him, “It doesn’t matter what colour they are, if you don’t know Jesus you’re going to hell!”

The story is true.  What a crazy thing to say to someone asking a simple question.  What came over the stranger?  Why would he say that?  What did the stranger think he would achieve by saying such a thing?  Well in this case the young man began to think about what the person said, searched the Bible, became a Christian, went to seminary and became a pastor.  All because someone said, “It doesn’t matter what colour they are, if you don’t know Jesus you’re going to hell!”  I don’t know a lot about the story, but I am sure God was working in the heart of the young man, preparing him for the words he heard.  I am also sure God was working in the heart of the passing stranger and prompted him to give the answer he did.  God uses many things, a chain of people and events, as He works in our lives. If we choose to do so, we can look back and see Him at work in our life.  God also desires to use us as the links in the chain which leads someone else to know Jesus as their Saviour.

The question each of us faces every day is whether or not we will obey God.  Some don’t believe God exists, but that won’t stop God from working in their life.  Others believe but won’t put their faith in Him.  Many people choose to follow God, asking Jesus to be their only Saviour, their key to forgiveness for wrong and entrance to heaven.  A chain of events and people led to that decision.  Each day I, we, must decide whether or not we will be obedient and let Jesus use us as the links in the chain which will lead others to know Jesus.