Christmas started early this year. Seriously early. The malls turned red and green as soon as the orange and black goblins vacated. And as would be expected, people started complaining about it, saying it was just a commercial ploy to get people buying presents early.
Maybe it was. Probably it was. But as a Christian, what do I care? The more we celebrate Jesus, the happier I get.
Besides, I like red and green together. I love twinkling lights, golden garlands, angels, and guiding stars, too. And I especially love hearing all those songs about a God who’d be willing to be born as a destitute child in a third-world country if that’s what it took to rescue me.
And he did–rescue me, I mean. He rescued me from hopelessness, depression, loneliness, sickness, lack, and so much more. He turned my emptiness into fulfillment, my purposeless into mission. He transformed the water of my existence into wine.
So yeah, I’m into Christmas. Big time. Bring it on. And the longer it lasts the better. Because every time we deck a tree, string lights, or set up a crèche, we’re saying “Go Jesus! Save more folks the way you saved me.”Because face it. We live in a secular society these days. The only time most people hear about Gods’ love is during these last magical weeks of the year. So let’s go for it. Sing the songs. Light the lights. Let’s have Early Christmas every year.
*A giant Thank-You! to all who have helped us reach the world via our missionary outreaches this year! You are a gift from God ❤
**Also: Many of you might not realize our address has changed to: PO Box 764, Maineville, OH 45039. Please make a note…I’ve missed hearing from many of you!
***…and Big News!! I’ll be starting a podcast, “The Encouraging Word Podcast”, early next year. I’ll give you a heads-up when the first episode is uploaded, so you can be on the lookout!
As a Southern-California teenager, I’d haul my long green surfboard, dubbed The Pickle, to Newport Beach every weekend. I wasn’t much of a surfer, but I did loved the wind and the waves, and I still do.
It’d been a long time since I’d done that, so a few years back near the Mexican Coast, I asked one of my friends where I might take a some brush-up lessons.
A shocked expression washed over her face. “At your age?”
I shrugged. “Sorry. I didn’t know there was an ‘age’ for it.”
Fact is, I’ve never very age-conscious at any time in my life. Because age is a relative measurement, right? And if we Christians are going to live forever, then we’re really all still pretty young.
So why do we pigeon-hole ourselves into these groups? Is it because our moms used to say, “Act your age?” I don’t think that’s what she meant…
Norman Vincent Peal said, “Forget your age and live your life.” That’s what Moses did. He was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyesight was clear and he was as strong as ever – Deut. 34:7. And Caleb was 85 when he and his army drove the Canaanites out of Hebron. He told Joshua, “I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me” (at age 40). “As my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in” (Josh 14:11).
I know our bodies change, but could it be that some of those changes have to do with our own inactivity, i.e. “acting our ages”? Could be. But perhaps aging has more to do with attitude than anything else. I remember Lester Sumrall once saying, “I’ve seen fifteen-year-olds who are old, and eighty-year-olds who are young,” (He was one of them), “because being young is about having a future. It’s about having hopes and dreams.”
What I’m trying to do here is liberate you from the compulsion to live the way everyone does. Don’t feel compelled to squeeze yourself into your culture’s predetermined mold. Rise above it and be yourself – the self the Bible promises you can be. Because you’re not really young, you’re not middle-aged, and you’re not old. You are…ageless.
Christmas is about the supernatural, about guiding stars, mystic prophesies, and virgin birth. At Christmastime we gaze beyond the limitations of our earthly existence to a Power that supersedes mere natural law. Yes, Christmas reminds us that nothing is impossible, that any dream can materialize, any wish can come true, and that the impossible becomes likely when we believe.
But Christmas is about mercy, too. It’s about do-overs, no matter who you are or what you’ve done, since the quintessential story of the season involves the whole world getting a second chance.
And yes, Christmas is about presents, but most of all, a Present. It’s about God so loving that he that gave his very Best. Yes, Christmas is about the unworthy receiving unlikely favors – unwarranted miracles. It’s about Ebenezer Scrooge, George Bailey, and Scarlet Ribbons.
Do you need a help? Do you need mercy? Do you need a miracle? Then Christmastime is the time for you. Talk to God now. Hold nothing back. Ask for the unaskable, even if you don’t deserve it. For at this time of year, more than at any other, we’re reminded that God is able, merciful, and generous – and looking down on us with wonder-working love.
Like most fly fishermen, I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to my hobby. For example, I inherited a split bamboo fly from my uncle when I was fourteen, taught myself the art of flycasting, and enjoyed that old rod thoroughly. There were fiberglass models everywhere at the time, but I refused to even consider buying one. Bamboo fly rods were classic. And as the country folks used to say: “Why fix it if it ain’t broke?”
Later came graphite. Space Age material. It was supposed to be lighter. Have faster action. Enable longer casts. But it wasn’t bamboo – what I was used to – and so I resisted. By then I was emotionally attached to my old stick anyway. It had always served me well…until it started coming apart earlier this week.
Forced by circumstance, I finally caved in and bought one of the newer graphite-composite rods. The UPS guy brought it to my house just the other day. I took it from the box, strung it up with line, and took it outside to test it out. Two casts and I was hooked. (Not literally; bad pun, I know…), but honestly, it was as if it opened up a whole new world of wonder. I felt like the legendary flycaster Lefty Kreh, throwing farther, more accurately, and with more finesse than I’d ever thought possible. I blurted aloud, “Graphite, where have you been all my life!?”
Oh wait, it had been there for decades. I’d just been too set in my ways to try it out.
The Pharisees were like this about Jesus. They weren’t interested in His newfangled message of love and grace, so to their detriment and loss, they resisted the Good News.
When God invades our lives, He offers change. Jesus said, “Follow Me,” and following implies movement. Movement from one place to another, for sure, but also from one way of thinking to another. “Be transformed by the renewal of your minds,” wrote the Apostle Paul. In other words, be open to new ideas, new methods; new ways of looking at the truths revealed in God’s Word. Always stay open to change, so God can change you. It can open up a whole new world of wonder 😉
Psalm 91:9-11–Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.
Matt. 17:20– So Jesus said to them…“if you have faith as a mustard seed…nothing will be impossible for you.”
We all face threats from time to time, but few of them are as menacing as one faced by a certain WW2 American soldier. Separated from his company and surrounded by Nazi troops, he took refuge in one of the small caverns scattered about the area. The enemy was close; he could hear them speaking to one another as they scoured the little hillside caves, killing any and all American soldiers they uncovered.
“Save me, Lord,” he prayed.
And yet no delivering army came to his rescue. He cowered in that cave for hours; exercising what little faith he had, as a tiny spider began spinning its frail web across the entrance. That’s nice, he thought, but it’s gonna take more than a spider’s web to protect me.
Soon the Nazis stood at the entrance to his hideout. As one of them began to crawl inside, another commented that no one could have gotten into that cave without disturbing that frail spiderweb. Agreeing, the enemy soldiers moved on, and the American’s life was saved.
I don’t know what kinds of threats or challenges you might be facing today, but I do know that your faith in God, no matter how weak and fragile it may seem, is still powerful enough to keep the enemy from harming you. Just remember that though your faith may be small, your God is great. You can count on Him to rescue you.
I recently read a Facebook post that went something like, “How can you guys believe in all these prophecies going out over social media. Do you really believe God could give a prophecy to everyone on Facebook at the same time? C’mon, people, get real.”
I understand this person’s skepticism, but my simple reply to their statement is two-fold:
1: Your God is too small. God can do anything He wants. Period. I think the parting of the Red Sea, Joshua’s stopping the Earth’s motion, and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead proves that.
2: Prophecies delivered via public venues are not, and have never been, for everyone who hears or reads them. Israel received some positive prophecies during Queen Jezebel’s reign, but they weren’t for Jezebel; she was eaten by dogs. Yuck – ‘nuff said.
You see, it was Jesus himself who said, “Let those who have ears to hear, hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Rev. 3:22). So what Jesus was saying to the churches wasn’t for everyone who would ever pick up a Bible and peruse the Book of Revelation, it was for those who might have ears to hear.
Do you ever read prophecies on social media that seem to ring like a bell in your heart? When you read them, do you think, “Yeah baby, that’s for me!”? Then guess what, it is for you, because you have ears to hear what God is saying to you and all the others like you. You have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to His church.