The “War on Christmas”- Almost Laughable!

I, like many, have been hearing a lot about this “war on Christmas” lately. It seems that for the past several years, this topic almost dominates the social and even political conversations that go on in our society. Everyone from the President of the United States to the fellas at the barber shop is talking about how there is a “war on Christmas”!

After searching though the search engines of the internet to see what might be being said about all of this, and you know that what is on the internet is always trustworthy, I found an enormous amount of political debate about the meaning of Christmas and what should and should not be acceptable forms of celebration during Christmas, often referred to know as the Winter Season or Winter Holidays.

Since I am a Christian and a Preacher, I suspect that most would expect this blog post to be the typical defense against the attack or “war on Christmas”. Well, I am quite sure that most will be disappointed by this post if that is the case.

The entire idea of a “war on Christmas” is almost laughable if you ask me. Especially when looked at from the perspective of the believer, those who call themselves Christian. The Christian is a person who is confident in the truth about Jesus being the Christ. The Christian is a person who is sold out to the absolute truth about the birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary for the purpose of giving Himself as the sacrifice for the sins of all.

For the Christian, the responsibility and expectation given to them as disciples of Jesus is to show the World what God has done in your life. This is how the Christian is to be the witness. Many times in the accounts of the Bible when a person was healed they went everywhere telling everyone about what Jesus did for them! This is what it means to be the witness to the world for the Kingdom of God!

It is not the Christian’s responsibility to prove that God exists. It is not the Christian’s responsibility to prove that Jesus is the Christ. God does not need our proof. It was Jesus Himself that provided evidence to Saul on the road to Damascus.

It was Jesus all throughout the gospel of John that provided proof of His Lordship to the Pharisees and the rest of the Jews. It was God who raised Jesus from the dead and proved to the entirety of existence that He Is!

No, the Christian’s role in the Kingdom of God is to bring glory to the King! We do that by being faithful to what we believe about Him and His plan of salvation to all who likewise believe! Love God and Love people. That is what is to be focused on!

For the Christian, loving God is all about worshiping Him and serving Him as ambassadors! Part of that is taking time to stop and acknowledge that thousands of years ago, a baby was born as a fulfillment of God’s promises! Acknowledging that without this baby, who was God in the flesh, there is no hope for humanity as far as any relationship with our Holy God!

Too many of us are spending all of our time trying to force others who are not believers to accept our ways or traditions at Christmas. I mean, really! Look at Daniel for example; here is a man who was taken from his home, culture, and even an attempt to change his religion/faith was attempted.

Did he put out a bunch of news flyers about a “war on Christianity”? No! He simply continued to be faithful to what he believed about his God. Sure, he was ready to “defend” his actions, although I would look at that as being prepared to give reason for your beliefs!

Where did this idea of a “war on Christmas” begin anyway. Surely the rest of the world is experiencing the same type of social and cultural debates about Christmas and even Christianity. Let me suggest that what is now called the “war on Christmas” is indeed the same as what is referred to as “the war on Christianity”. This has been happening since Adam and Eve were lied to and gave into temptation!

The enemy, Satan NOT PEOPLE, has always been trying to destroy God and the ones that He loves! A few headlines in the news are saying that Donald Trump is winning the war on Christmas, and that we are once again allowed to say “Merry Christmas”. Other articles and blogs show that Henry Ford began a campaign against Christmas in defense of Jewish and other religious holidays being left out back in the 50’s.

As long as we are pointing fingers, why don’t we say that the “war on Christmas” was started by King Herod during the time of Jesus’ birth found in Matthew chapter 2. Or we could blame the King of Egypt who sought to kill all the male babies which, had he been successful, been the end of God’s plan of salvation!

As long as we are blaming, we would have to look at every person who stood in the way of or tried to stand in the way of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus! This is why I say that this so-called “war on Christmas” is laughable. What is happening in society today is nothing new! God’s true enemies have been trying to stop His plans since the beginning of the world! It is a hopeless pursuit on their part.

Let me finish by pointing this out. The only real war that is going on is the war against the faith of human beings. The battle field is in the minds of each person, and the heart/soul be the spoils to the victor!

Therefore, Christian, do not be fooled by the ways of the world as those ways broadcast some absurd propaganda intended to lead everyone to believe that any one person or group of people have the power to change any part of the absolute truth about Christ! NO! Christmas and your celebration of it, is totally up to you!

Our President, the President of the USA, can publicly give society permission to say “Merry Christmas” or some other person which the world gives authority can instruct society NOT to say, “Merry Christmas”. It will not change how I celebrate Christmas.

I personally do not hold ill feelings toward anyone who does not believe what I believe about God. Nor am I offended by anyone who even protests my faith. No, I feel compassion and concern for them. No, it is not that I have no concern about others being offended by my actions, yet when it comes to how I and my household love God and love people, yes, there is a limit to my participation in the manners in which society seems to demand of all of us.

“If it is disagreeable in you sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will sere: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”                                Joshua 24:15

Christian, do not let the world dictate what you are about at Christmas or any other time. The only way to truly have a Merry Christmas is to love God and love people in a way that honors God and brings glory to the Kingdom of God!

To Give or Not to Give- That is a Good Question

 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:35 (NASB)

Often times in bible studies and just casual conversation, I hear people bring up the topic of discerning when to give to those who ask. Usually this question refers to those who are seen on the street holding the cardboard sign which is intended to explain their situation. Other times, people will call or arrive at the church office wanting some assistance with something.

I personally believe that this “dilemma” is born out of a torn heart. Many Christians genuinely want to help those in need. I mean, if we are genuine Christians, then it would be in our hearts to show love and compassion for the needy. On the other hand, Christians are people and people don’t like to be taken advantage of. When it does happen, and it seems to happen often, it king of leaves a bad taste in our mouths.

Some respond by cutting off all benevolence to anyone, after all that would only be fair and safe, right? Others take the attitude that they will just give what they can always, leaving the receiver in God’s hands. Many leadership meetings at churches have been spent discussing this matter. Ultimately, churches and Christians alike really want to help those in need and minister to them, yet at the same time do not wish to be taken advantage of and allow some to steal from them.

As I address this issue, let me make it clear that I personally to not have a concrete, “this is what to do” answer. What follows is just my two cents. I pray that it is helpful.

First, we see in John 13:35, among many other places in Scripture that the Christian is one who loves others. In fact, that is how we are to be distinguished from the rest of the world. Jesus even taught that we are to love God and love others. I will submit that loving God and loving others is not something that the Christian strives to get better at and achieve, rather it is what is in us. It is who we are.

The Christian is one whom in the Holy Spirit has taken up residence. Even though the trinity cannot be explained completely, we can know that the three are one. Therefore, since God is love,

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.     1 John 4:7-8  (NASB)

and the Spirit of God is God, then we can conclude that love is in the believer. This is why the Christian has this “dilemma” in our hearts when it comes to showing love and compassion to those who present themselves in need. I think that the first point of focus would be with self. We Christians would do good to ask ourselves, who is making the decision as to whether or not a person is genuinely in need or not?

The question that we usually ask ourselves almost immediately is, does this person really need help? Or, is this person being honest, or are they just making up a story to get the help they are asking about? My not so favorite one that some have asked is, how do I know they won’t go buy drugs or alcohol with what I give them?

To 99% of the people in the world, it seems that those questions are legitimate questions. However, for the Christian, we must remember that since the Spirit of God is living in us, our approach may be different. I am not saying that it is wrong to think about those questions, however, I am saying that they should not be out guide to reach the conclusion to the “dilemma”.

Second point. I do not think that the Christian is “obligated” to give to everyone who presents a need. The scripture is clear that we are to help others when we have opportunity and the means. Along with that, I will submit that the Christian has a responsibility to be good stewards of that which God has entrusted in their care.

I do not believe that God desires for the Christian to be taken advantage of. Nor do I believe that God desires the Christian to be taken for a fool. After all, we are ambassadors for the Kingdom of God to this world. We must look at benevolence of any kind as an investment. An investment in the work of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus taught a lesson using a parable about a wealthy man leaving his wealth in the care of three men. Each having the same responsibility. Two were successful, the other failed. The two that succeeded increased the wealth of the Kingdom because they feared their master and thought to do what he would want them to do. The third, on the other hand, was more afraid of failure than the master. He did what he thought was best and did not consider what the master would have him do.

The same is true here for the Christian. The Master, our Lord, has given us His valuables. We have the responsibility to be stewards of that wealth. That wealth, by the way, is His love, the gospel of Christ, Salvation. This should lead us to the question, why does the scripture teach us to give when we can give?

I often try to insert into those conversations about this matter the answer to that question. At least what I believe to be the answer. It is two-fold really. First, but not foremost, the scripture teaches us to give because that is what love is. If love resides in a person, then compassion will rise to the surface. Second, and foremost, the scripture tells us to give because of John 13:35. The world will know the Christian because of the way we love.

As far as knowing when not to give or be taken advantage of. I often think about Acts chapter 3.

“But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!”               Acts 3:6 (NASB)

Here Peter and John were presented with a man in need. It so happened that this man had a genuine need. However, they did not give the man what he asked for. Instead, they invested in the Kingdom of God by giving him what was most valuable. The result was that the crippled man encountered God and the world around them was impacted greatly by the witness! If you don’t believe me, go read it for yourself.

The point that I am getting at here is this. There are times to give and there are times not to give, that is when it comes to the things of this world. When it comes to giving the love of God, there is never a time not to give. For the Christian, the key is to seek guidance from the Master. “What would Jesus do?” even though that has become a cliché, it still rings true.

The letter to the Galatians instructs us to keep in step with the Spirit. That means that we are not making the decisions. I know, that is hard to accept, but it is the way the Master set in place. The Holy Spirit will guide us away from poor investments with the Master’s wealth, and make us aware of the good investment opportunities for the Kingdom of God.

I hope I have explained this well enough that you all can see that it is a matter of making disciples in everything we do. We help the needy in hopes that they will encounter God and His Kingdom, whether they are Christians or not. We help the Christians who are in need for the purpose of getting them back in the Kingdom work force, and we help those who are not Christians for the purpose of exposing them to the love of God! So, we must seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit when it comes to helping the needy in this world.

Oh, one last thing. God does not expect nor desire anyone to become needy for the sake of helping those in need. Give what you can, when you can. If you have not the means, seek the Lord for other ways to help. Peter and John told the crippled man, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give you.” Acts 3:6. If we genuinely have the Spirit of God living in us, then we always have something to give.

We should offer that whether it is received or not.

 

The Spirit of Christmas- is it really in the air?

““The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭1:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Over the generations that Christmas has been celebrated, many times the “Spirit of Christmas” has been mentioned, talked about, or even taught about. There have been stories and books written, even movies made about the “Spirit of Christmas”.

The question might be, what is the “Spirit of Christmas”? Furthermore, is it the same for everyone or is it something that means something different for every individual? I think you will find that there are many answers offered and opinions given, whether called for or not.

Since I am a Christian, it should be obvious that my answer to the general question would be that the “Spirit of Christmas” has to do with the presence of Jesus. After all, Matthew’s gospel points out that they called Him Immanuel, which means “God with us”. The presence of God is what every Christian should be experiencing even when it is not Christmas. For those who are not Christians, well let me just point out that God’s presence is always there, one only need to surrender to Him.

““Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We can see in the gospel of Luke as the Angels spoke to the Shepherds about the birth of Jesus. Notice that they are promised that on earth there will be peace to those on whom his favor rests. It is kind of an amazing thing to notice. The peace of Christ being given to those who will notice it. Those who believe that Jesus is the Christ and that His death and resurrection were sufficient for the sins of man!

If asked, there are not many people in this world who would say that they do not want peace. Since Christmas is about the birth of Jesus in the flesh, it makes sense that there would be a keen awareness of His peace or His Holy Spirit during the time of celebrating His birth. After all, it marked the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promise in chapter 3 of Genesis.

It seems that during Christmas time, after Black Friday, and the hustle and bustle of what the season has become in our society, on Christmas Day, everything seems to slow down. Most everything is closed up, many people are in their homes with their families and nothing else is happening but Christmas fellowship and eating stuff.

It is no wonder that many people feel an extra strong sense of the “Spirit of Christmas”! That Spirit of Christmas is simply the peace of Christ and the comfort in knowing that indeed there is a Savior provided by God! Only if we all could be so attentive to that Spirit those other 364 days of the year!

Now, I realize that not everyone believes what I believe to be the truth about Jesus and Christmas. I realize that Christmas for those, has some other meaning. I cannot possibly fathom what that could be or that it would have any real meaning for them. However, this is the case for many. I will say, the fact that there are people who do not believe that Jesus is the Christ and do not celebrate Christmas for what it truly is about, does not change the truth about God or Jesus born in the flesh. It certainly does not change the presence of God and His Kingdom in this world.

Maybe, the truth of the matter is that people all over the world are experiencing the presence of God , or the “Spirit of Christmas”, in a powerful way during the Christmas time, some realizing that it is God’s Holy Spirit and others completely oblivious or rejecting the truth. Either way, for the Christian, it is one of the best times to let the light of Christ shine brightly in our lives! After all, what a better time to be the witness than the time when many people are noticing what is referred to as the “Spirit of Christmas”!

Merry Christmas ya’ll!

“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:14-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Have an Offended Christmas or a Merry Christmas, Your Choice

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid,Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.”                                                                                                                                                 Luke 1:26-38

Christmas season is upon us and the birth of our Lord Jesus, the Christ, is the reason for the celebration. Every year it seems like time just goes right on by during this time of the year. We all are so busy with work and vacation schedules, planning for guests or traveling, and then there is all the shopping and wrapping to do. Each family do their very best to make memories and have the “best Christmas ever”!

Lately I have heard, as I do every year, others in conversation over singing certain Christmas songs based on whether they are theologically correct or not. What with the whole debate about the reason for Christmas going on throughout society and all the old family traditions which are always necessary, most people do not even think to consider anything like theologically correct Christmas songs or decorations.

When it comes to truly celebrating the birth of Jesus and the events that surround it, there is some importance to making sure that the truth is not watered down by fairy-tales and even family traditions. After all, it is the responsibility of the Christian to be the witness and continue to share the gospel throughout the world to anyone who will hear it. Therefore, it is imperative that the message be accurate.

Having said that, I will also say that legalism only leads to controversy and strife in any part of the Christian life. Obviously there is going to be some debate over just where that line is drawn between being theologically accurate and being free to worship and celebrate as one would desire. But what about that line?

Is there even a line that can be crossed? When it comes to the Christian faith, there is a line. I would suggest that when it comes to Christmas celebrations and family traditions, the line would be found at the point when God no longer is glorified in what is going on. Whether it is song, fellowship, meals, or even dress codes. What I mean is that if anything that is done during the celebration of Christmas actually takes away from what Christmas is about, then maybe it should not be done.

If any part of the Christmas celebration takes the mean of Christmas and makes it anything other than Jesus born in the flesh for the purpose of dying on the cross, well then maybe the Christian should re-think that part of their celebration. Many times the giving of gifts can become more important than what we are really celebrating and the purpose of the celebration is lost.

So as far as people being offended about Christmas songs, or even some Christians criticizing some Christmas songs because they are not theologically correct, I would suggest two solutions. First, to those who are offended by some of the Christmas songs, usually they are not Christian believers, so I would suggest that they learn about Christ and His birth. If those who are offended by Christmas would take the time to open their minds and hearts to what is happening, I believe that things would change for them. If not, well I guess they will just have to have an offended Christmas as opposed to a Merry Christmas.

Second, I would say to the Christians who are overly meticulous about the critique of every detail of the Christmas songs, or the nativity scenes, please continue to be diligent about your understanding of Christ and His birth! However, not everything in the Christian life will be “theologically correct”, there are some great Christmas songs which celebrate the time of year and the atmosphere that is created by the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

I will say however, that when at church in the middle of worship time, we should remember that we are there to worship God and therefore should be mindful about the Christmas songs we use for worship. So, I would say to the Christian song critique, you can have a legalistic Christmas or a Merry Christmas. Your choice.

The fact is that we all have our different ways of celebrating Christmas. As long as we keep Christ as the center of it all, it should be the Merriest of times for all. So, I say this to everyone, Merry Christmas and God bless you all!