Christmas Gift

The first Christmas I spent with my Dad and second Mom, she greeted me with “Christmas Gift.” It was a tradition in her family that this was the first greeting you gave a person on Christmas morning. I didn’t know what to think of it at first, but after spending a few moments thinking about the greeting; yes, I got it.

Jesus is and was the Christmas Gift. He is the one we celebrate today. What a Gift He is to the world and what wonderful gifts He brought with Him. Gifts like Peace, Love, Joy, Forgiveness, Eternal Life, Healing, Restoration and Renewal. 

And just like two thousand years ago, we need Him as much or more than the people of His generation. Our world is just as lost and broken as it was then. Thinking about how He came as a baby in a manger touches my heart. Even then, He came in a way that anyone could relate to. He broke societal barriers then and He is still breaking them today.

It doesn’t matter who you are, what you have done, or where you have come from: He is your Gift. All you have to do is reach out for Him. He is there waiting for you to ask Him into your heart and make you a new person. 

He is truly the “Christmas Gift.”

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3: 16

Image by Cheryl Holt. Courtesy of Pixabay

He Didn’t Have a Cell Phone

Have you ever thought about the influence that Jesus had? He was born in a small town in an occupied country. His family was not wealthy and had no elevated social standing. He only had a ministry for three years, and yet He had more influence on the world than anyone who ever lived.

We know that He was the Son of God and taught truths that went counter to the world He lived in. We know that He performed miracles and attracted thousands who came to hear Him and be touched by Him. He was The Ultimate Influencer and yet, he had no social media footprint.  He did not have a cell phone and was not on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. 

What He did have was right priorities. He knew that in order to influence others, He must spend quality time with the Father. We read in Scripture that He would go out to a lonely place to pray. There, He learned the Father’s will, heard the Father’s words and was filled and empowered by the Spirit of God.

He did not seek the attention of the crowds. He chose twelve men whom He could pour His life into and spent three years living with them and teaching them. He was not interested in the number of  His followers because He knew what was in men’s hearts. He knew they were fickle and would follow Him one day and be gone the next.

There’s a lesson here for those of us that wish to influence others towards a deeper relationship with Christ. We must do as He did. We must spend time, real time with the Father, and learn His will through reading His word. We must not focus on the number of followers we have but choose to invest our time, energy and words with those who are really interested in going deeper with Christ. Followers, as Jesus knew, will eventually come and go. We must  follow His example and seek to do the will of God, in the power of God, for the purposes of God, in order to have real meaningful influence in the world. 

Photo by Dorothee’ Quennesson. Courtesy of Pixabay

Adventus

Adventus is a Latin word meaning arrival or approach (Lexico.com). In Roman times, the population knew what this word meant and the ceremony attached to it. An Adventus was held when a conquering General or Emperor was welcomed into a city during a progress or the end of a military campaign (definitions.net).

Hence, the anglicized word Advent. Advent has been celebrated by the Christian church for about sixteen centuries. It was celebrated in Gaul and Spain during the fourth and fifth centuries as a time when those wishing to be baptized spent forty days in fasting, penance, and prayer. It was not linked to Christmas but to The Feast of the Magi. By the sixth century, Christians celebrating Advent were looking forward to Christ’s Second Coming. Later in the Middle Ages, Advent was linked to Christmas and to the first coming of Jesus (Christianity.com).

In the twenty-first century, many denominational churches still celebrate Advent. It occurs over four Sundays where both Christ’s first and second comings are celebrated. Most people (including myself for many years) do not really know that Advent is not just about remembering Christ’s first coming as a baby in Bethlehem. It is also about looking forward to the time when Christ shall come as a conquering King to the Earth. 

Why do I even mention this? Because most of us at Christmas think of Jesus as a baby laying in a manger. There is nothing wrong with this but we must remember a few things about Jesus:

He is no longer laying in a manger in Bethlehem.

He is no longer walking around Israel teaching and performing miracles.

He is no longer on a cross at Calvary being crucified as an atonement for our sins.

He is no longer just risen out of a tomb after being there for three days.

He is no longer ascending into Heaven.

However, He is:

Sitting at the right hand of the Father, waiting for the time when He will return to Earth, His Adventus, and judge the nations. He will reign on the Earth for a thousand years and then judge the living and the dead…some will spend eternity with Him and others will spend it apart from Him in Hell.

Are we ready for the next arrival of Jesus? We can rest assured that it will surely come just as the first one did; according to God’s timetable and in fulfillment of prophecy. Let us prepare our hearts for it, so that we will not be ashamed at His Adventus!

Programmed

So this weekend, my husband and I sat down to watch some family-friendly Holiday movies. I was prepared to nonchalantly watch the movies not having to use my mind at all…strictly chill. To my surprise, I kept getting bombarded with PC messages in the movies and commercials. I mentioned this to some of my friends and they too noticed the same thing.

Gender Roles:  The commercials were full of men doing the laundry and taking care of the children. I have no problem with men doing laundry or taking care of children, but it is apparently not PC to show a woman doing these things in spite of the fact that most women still do the lion’s share of these tasks. 

Sexual Orientation: Sprinkled in a fair amount of the movies were gay married couples. I know gay married couples exist but the writers placed them in ever so carefully in several movies and commercials. They were explicit in their desire to mainstream the lifestyle and let us know how happy everyone is who lives this way.

The Chip: One person saw a cartoon explaining the chip. People had the chip placed in their hands and were able to buy and sell without having to use cash, checks or credit cards. It was portrayed as a positive change.

I have heard several people in the past say that we are being programmed but I haven’t particularly noticed it. This weekend it was beyond evident, it was totally obnoxious. Now, I know that a lot of social engineering is going on in our schools and in other arenas, and it is totally deliberate. This is also a deliberate attempt to passively program people to accept the current PC values and coming  societal changes while they are watching television.

Have you noticed it also? Tell me about it.

Image by Luis Wilker Perelo. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Democracy or Idiocracy?

The latest election is over and now we must live with the consequences of our choices. Some of the consequences will be good and others, not so much. Most of the pre-election coverage was on the presidential election, but we also voted for governors, mayors, and city councilmen.

We are impacted to a certain degree by the presidential election, but we are more personally impacted by the winners in the state and local races we have voted for. It is in these arenas that we must take a good hard look at what our votes did.

These democratically elected officials will either work for the common good or they will create an environment that most will find difficult to live in. For example, did we vote for city or county officials that will defund our police? That decision will make our city much less safe and we will be living in an Idiocracy.

“Idiocracy – government that is based on abstract theory.  definition.org

Did we vote for district attorneys that will not require cash bail? Will the criminals be free to roam our streets? Will the shoplifters return to loot and pillage small businesses within ten dollars of the amount required for a felony? Again, we will live in an Idiocracy.

Did we vote in city and county officials that will not properly deal with the homeless problem? Will they allow the homeless to live on our sidewalks and not help them move to more humane conditions? Again, as we make our way past human waste on the way to work, we will know we are living in an Idiocracy.

We can complain all we want but in the end, the choice is ours and we have no one to blame but ourselves when we have poor leadership. So now what do we do if we are stuck with poor leadership and living in an Idiocracy for the next two or four years?

We must pay close attention to the decisions our local officials are making and refuse to vote them in again. It does not matter which party they represent, we must not continue to vote in poor leadership that will not look out for the common good. Democracy or Idiocracy? It’s easy to tell the difference.

 “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” Proverbs 29:2

Informed, Conformed or Transformed?

When you think about your past, how does it make you feel? Recently, I heard David Jeremiah say that our past should inform us. He was saying we should learn the lessons it has to teach us and move on.

My thought was, “That’s true, but the past usually conforms us.” Our successes, our failures, the culmination of all of our experiences conform our personality and identity into a certain shape. We view ourselves a certain way and the world views us a certain way and it solidifies the conformation. “Conformation – the act of conforming or producing conformity.” Merriam Webster.

But our past and our experiences are not the only forces that are trying to conform us into a mold. We have all felt the pressure to fit in, to conform, to be like everyone else. Those forces want to tell us how we should view ourselves, what our value is, and how we should think and feel. 

Scripture calls these forces, “the world.” They are the totality of people, media, marketing and education that are trying to conform us into a predetermined shape. Make no mistake, these forces are real and without some real pushback we will end up spending our time trying to morph into a shape we were never intended to. 

What should we do if we are tired of trying to fit into the mold the world has made for us? Is there an alternative? Fortunately, there is… we can be transformed. “Transformed – a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.” Oxford Dictionaries. 

How does this transformation take place? Scripture tell us we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds. To be transformed we must make a concerted effort to spend time in God’s word. It will begin to change the way we view the world and how we view ourselves. We will learn the truth, the real truth about our identity and value. We will learn to appreciate our individuality and move away from the conformity of the world. Bit by bit, slowly but surely, we will be transformed into the person God created us to be. 

Informed, Conformed or Transformed…we have a choice. 

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12: 2

Image by Maestrosphere1. Courtesy of Pixabay

Coin of the Realm

“Coin of the Realm” is an 18th Century phrase that relates to what currency is used in a particular country. As anyone knows who travels from country to country, you must change your currency depending on which country you are in. In America, we use the dollar; go to Mexico, it is the peso… you know the drift.

Also, depending on which country you are in, there are  different denominations based on that currency. In America, we have the one dollar bill, the five dollar bill, the twenty, fifty, one hundred, the thousand and up it goes.

The same is true for the Kingdom of God. It has its own currency. Those who are Citizens of the Kingdom know it and use the currency regularly. This currency is legal tender for all transactions within the Kingdom. There are different denominations of course, and different uses for each.

To name a few:

Faith – “And without faith it is impossible to please God.” Hebrews 11: 6

Love – “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

Obedience – “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.” 1 Samuel 15: 22

Mercy – “Blessed are the merciful for they shall be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7

Holiness – “and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14

These are just some of the denominations used within the Kingdom but there are others such as: Righteousness, Peace, Hope,  and Faithfulness. All are valid currency within the Kingdom.

Some of the currency is used in person to person transactions as in the case of Love and Mercy. But other denominations are used in our transactions with the King, such as Faith and Obedience. Still others sit in our account and are evidence of our Citizenship in the Kingdom.

So the questions we ask ourselves today are, “How are we set with the Coin of the Realm? Are we rich or impoverished? Do we need to build our account up in any area?”

If the answer is yes to the last question, we need only to check with the King and talk to Him. We can also look in His Guidebook and find out about the Coin of the Realm. When it is our time to stand before the King, we don’t want to have a negative balance in our account!

Image by Stux – Courtesy of Pixabay!

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God Help Us

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As everyone knows, we have a Presidential election coming up in a few days. At this point in time, we are hearing dire predictions from pundits on both sides of the political spectrum about what will happen if the candidate on the other side wins. 

Not wanting you to think I am naive, I want you to know that I do think that this is an important election. Perhaps it is the most important election of our lifetime. However, when I hear that people are anxious, that they are not sleeping, that they are pinning their hope on one or the other politician; I want to say, “God help us.”

If we are placing our hope on a politician, let us remember that no matter who that politician is, he is still a man. Let me repeat that, the politician is still a man. That means he is just as frail, flawed and finite as we are. 

By all means, vote. But then step back, take a few deep breaths and relax. Let us remember that God, the Maker of heaven and earth, is on the throne. He is still “the Blessed Controller of all things,” the One “who puts up one king and takes down another.” 

No matter who wins, let us put our hope in God. He will take care of each and every one of us if we let Him. Let us pray for whoever our leader will be. After all, that person will surely need it. Because as I said previously, that person will be a man who is just as frail, flawed and finite as we are. 

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, and intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all those in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” 1 Timothy 2: 1-2

Image by Gerd Altman, courtesy of Pixabay.