I love Christmas time. This is a significant change in my life. I used to work at Long’s Drug where I was bombarded with all things Christmas from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve and I grew to resent all the things that surrounded Christmas.
Over the last several years though I have begun to appreciate Christmas in a whole new way. Several things have gone into this.
1) Having kids. Christmas is better when you have kids of your own. Their joy is contagious. The opportunities to build new traditions with them, the times we get to talk about Jesus, the time with extended family. All of these things are better with kids around.
2) Simplifying Christmas gift giving. Instead of having to buy gifts for everyone in our extended family we have been doing the whole name exchange thing where you draw a name and buy a gift for one person. It’s pretty awesome. Takes the pressure off financially, in regards to time spent shopping, and eliminates the pressure of finding “the perfect gift” because most of the time people are really happy with a gift card.
3) Christmas Missions Offering. Because we have simplified how much we spend on gifts we are able to be more generous with our Christmas Missions Offering. But Every year I am amazed by what God does through Creekside Church as we keep reaching after big goals that he puts on our heart and we get to see lives changed as we give our resources to helping people discover, trust and love Jesus Christ across the street and around the world. Awesome! When we take our eyes off of our selves and what we can get, and focus on Jesus and what he wants us to do Christmas gets way better.
4) Anticipation Activities. During December over the last several years I have been in the habit of watching the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Extended Edition). These movies came out in December and have always been find with getting me personally ready for Christmas. This year though I created a Christmas Movie Film Festival (Or Advent Calendar). Every night from Thanksgiving to Christmas we are going to be watching a different movie that is about Christmas, or takes place around Christmas time, i.e. Die Hard. It has been pretty fun so far. There are some movies to watch with the kids, some movies for grown ups. And instead of just watching boring television we can give a purpose to what we are doing and build anticipation around Christmas. Fun!
I’m writing this because I want to encourage you to not let Christmas just come and go and be filled with busy-ness. Simplify, slow down, enjoy Christmas for what it is and do what you can to build anticipation and have fun as Christmas gets closer.
Read this this morning:
12 I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; 14 and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.
15 Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. 16 These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; 17 the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. 18 What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.
This passage is sometimes hard for me to handle. Paul is writing while in prison rejoicing that Christ is being preached. The Gospel is going out with good motives as well as with bad motives and Paul is happy either way.
But Paul! Those other guys are wrong and your guys are right. Naha are you ok with the wrong guys preaching Jesus? Doesn’t that make it harder for the people with good hearts and motives? Doesn’t that hurt the message?
From a modern market perspective this could lead to “brand confusion” and people could get a bad perspective on the gospel.
Paul you should have a much bigger problem with these other guys.
But Paul rejoices. Why? Because the gospel of Jesus sets people free. And the gospel of Jesus is bigger than Paul and his team or the other guys and their team.
The gospel is bigger than our personal motives and more powerful than our attitudes towards other teams.
When I was a younger man I got really fired up over theological disagreements. I thought that the gospel was able to tell me who is in and who is wrong. And if people were doing it wrong I got mad. Things like the prosperity gospel were tremendous irritants for me. Because it felt like people were preaching Jesus with the wrong motive. This is still an irritant and I can find myself falling into worthless debates but then I remember that Jesus is bigger than the prosperity gospel.
If they are preaching Jesus as the provider of grace for sin and the only way to God the Father, then I can learn to overlook the prosperity gospel theology that I disagree with and focus on Jesus.
It’s really hard though to do that. Probably because my faith in Jesus has largely been a convenient thing. I’ve never lost a job or been imprisoned because of my faith. Paul has and when that happens it can either solidify your faith or push you away from faith. I want my faith in Jesus to be bigger than prison, bigger than persecution and bigger than the areas where I disagree with others.
This article from Wired made me tear up.
I saw the posts from different friends about San Francisco’s Batkid and I didn’t really have time to read the posts.
If you are facing your Monday morning with cynicism and dislike of your fellow humans. Read this article and remember we really can go nice things for each other.
This morning I was reading in Matthew 6 and Jesus told the people to not worry. I lean towards worry as my default position and I call it thinks like, planning ahead, troubleshooting, but for me those are just other words for worry.
My New Years resolution last year was to worry less. I stayed up many night concerned that I wasn’t going to make it.
Whenever I read this passage I remember the reader board that changed the way I think about worry. This is a major confession for me as I think reader boards are usually ridiculous. But this reader board said, “Worry is wasted use of the imagination.”
What a simple yet profound truth. Because when we worry we are just imagining what might go wrong but we can’t actually change anything by our worry.
What if instead of worrying we took that time to pray or to celebrate what Jesus has already done? How would that change the way we look at the future? Instead of worrying about tomorrow would it help you celebrate today and the future?
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 is a great movie.
I love these rainy fall days when we can go catch a movie as a family. Now that Kathy works fewer Fridays she gets to come too! All wins.
I went in to CWACOM2 with no expectations and they were greatly exceeded. The last matinee that I went to with no expectations was Arthur Christmas and that was a really fun family movie too. Probably top 5 in my favorite Christmas movies.
Tomorrow is Vision Day for Creekside! What a big day as we gather our services together at the Lynnwood convention center to celebrate what Jesus has done this past year and look at what he’s leading us to do in 2014. Awesome! If you are part of Creekside I hope you can join us.
Also my Father-in-law’s book comes out tomorrow. We are having a book launch party after vision day at Creekside.
So much fun tomorrow at Creekside.
I used to really love music.
I used to pay attention to release schedules.
I used to buy new albums all the time.
I still love music but I just don’t have time to pay attention to release schedules and I don’t have the disposable income to buy new music all the time.
With the recent release of iTunes Radio I’m realizing that there are tons of bands that I’ve never heard of. And many of them are amazing. I’m remembering how great it feels to discover new music.
New music reminds me of a vacation that Kathy and I took before we had kids. We flew to San Francisco, and drove down Highway 1 to Los Angeles. It was one of the best vacations that we’ve ever been on and we still talk about that drive. We purchased two CDs in a Monterey Target store. The best was Jamie Cullum’s Twentysomething.
As we drove down the beautiful California Coast we saw some of the most amazing views and we have this soundtrack that reminds us of those moments of discovery.
Finding new music reminds of of those moments when we would turn a corner on the freeway and were greeted by a pristine beach. Or diving the mountainous road through Big Sur and seeing the amazing bridges connect cliffs.
I love those moments of surprise and discovery. And music is a great partner for that journey. When I listen to Jamie Cullum’s CD now I go right back to that trip. Thanks iTunes Radio.
Kathy and I watched the Jimmy Fallon sketch about Hashtags.
Brilliant. Hashtags on social media are getting #ridiculous. Even more ridiculous is when people use # in #EveryDayLife.
But I started thinking about the purpose of hashtags. They started to make it easy to find topics on social media and to see what topics were trending and what conversations were worth following.
Think about your day. What would be the hashtags for your conversations? #sarcasm, #snark, #arrogant, #selfcentered?
What about your thoughts? What about your actions? I think if I’m really honest with myself, I wouldn’t want to see my life in hashtags. Because my natural inclination is pretty selfish.
But what if we tried to change the conversation. What if we lived our lives in such a way that people would see some different hashtags.
What if we were marked by
Wouldn’t it be amazing if instead of using hash tags to promote our own agenda, we could see the values of Jesus in our life?
What’s your #hashtag?
This morning I was reading a book by someone I often disagree with.
It’s easy to dismiss a lot of what this guy says.
But as I was reading I found that he was saying so much that I agree with. A few years ago this would have been really troubling. I probably would have thought there was something wrong with me.
I have come to realize that I don’t have to agree with someone 100% of the time to find something of value in what they say.
I think one of the challenges in our culture is that it’s really easy to find the people you agree with 100% of the time, and never challenge yourself to learn something from people that you disagree with.
Maybe instead of disregarding everything from a particular source, take a minute and listen to what they are actually saying and not what you think they are saying.
Do you have to agree all the time? No. But there is also a possibility that you may be wrong. There is also a possibility that these people are asking questions that you haven’t asked yet.
We have been walking around the neighborhood in Salto. Every time we have passed by this car. we don’t know what it is or who made it. It kind of looks like a Volkswagen Thing but its not.
This morning we were doing a prayer walk and we passed this car again. I felt the Spirit say to me that this peculiar car is a metaphor for the church. We are called to be a peculiar people. We are called to be a little different, to stand out. In the States it’s really easy to just blend in but the church isn’t supposed to blend it. We are set apart. We are in the world but not of the world.
It’s a great metaphor for the church but an even better metaphor for the church and missions in Uruguay. The church has a very small footprint in this country. The government basically eliminated any church influence in the nation. For example people don’t have a common understanding of Christmas or Easter. They call those holidays Family Day and Tourism Day respectively.
Christians here in Uruguay are different by default here. In the States we have lost a lot of our particularity. How can we gain it back?
I’ve been thinking a lot about the doctrine of election. Mainly because I have been doing a lot of research in the Minor Prophets. The Prophets were addressing the nation of Israel, which was elected by God to be his nation among the many nations. The problem though was that even though they were an elect nation Israel was made up of a bunch of people who disobeyed God and were punished for their sin. How can individuals be elect and not obey God? This is a troubling place to be.
The doctrine of election as played out in traditional reformed (calvinist) theology makes election sound like God is electing individuals to salvation. But there are no individual examples of election to salvation for individuals. Election is always talked about corporately.
I am an individual who has placed my faith in Jesus’ saving work on the Cross. And I am saved. But am I elect?
If I’m reading scripture through a lens that says that election is corporate, then it changes from I am elect, to we, the Church, are elect. The Church is God’s chosen plan to carry out the mission of rescuing humans from sins and we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.
This underscores the notion that our job as Christians is not to just secure our individual salvation. Instead it is about trying to help as many people as possible receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to become part of the Community of Faith, through which we are encouraged and equipped to help others find grace and so on.
Is election a biblical idea? Yes. But instead of I am among the elect. It may be better to say, we are working in God’s elected plan to rescue humanity from sin.