Don’t Miss The Point of Xmas

 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Sdon't miss the point of Christmasince Adam and Eve, men and women had been longing for the arrival of the snake crusher. They had been yearning for a deliverer to rescue them from evil. Noah wasn’t able to did it. After the flood, he got drunk and embarrassed his whole family. One of his sons even got cursed because of Noah’s foolishness. Abraham couldn’t do it either, trusting lies and human ingenuity. Moses got mad and smashed the rock. Samson chased pretty girls. David was a murderer. All of the rescuers that God had sent to deliver his people ultimately failed. They had failed to give God’s people rest and peace. And when we come to Luke 2, the people of Israel don’t even have their own ruler. They are under the thumb of the Romans. Instead of liberty, they are captives, political slaves if you will. They needed a deliverer, a savior. And not just from Rome, but from their own hearts. For as Romans 6 says “the wages of sin is death.” This is setting of Christmas is story.  It is one of shattered hopes and never ending waiting.

And then boom, the door opens; the skies literally explode with the glory of God. His angels come with the message, “A Savior, who is Christ the Lord has been born.” The one who will crush the power of the serpent, the one who will liberate all his children from sin, the one who will restore peace has arrived. He bursts into the human story. He left the glories of heaven to come into the world as a little, lowly, baby. He fully identified with us in our sorrow, so that he could perfectly deliver us through his death on the cross. The Lord has come. Our savior has arrived.

Jesus. He is the point of Christmas. If we make Christmas about presents, about family, or about little elves and Santa, we miss the whole point of the holiday. We miss God.

 Jesus didn’t come so that we could have a nice holiday. He didn’t come to give of us earthly happiness. He came to give us peace with God. He came to be the perfect deliverer. He came so that we might be holy. Don’t forget about Jesus. Make time to tell your kids the Christmas story. Make time to worship the incarnate savior, the word become flesh. Don’t miss the point of Christmas! 

Christ the Lord is born today
He came from heaven’s throne
God is born a man today
To bring His children home
To bring His children home

It’s Hard to Keep Christ in Christmas

CHrist in Christmas BLogI spent many a Christmas morning squirming in my seat as my Dad read the Christmas story. Jesus was good and all but the gifts were right there across the way under the tree. Happiness was so close but still we had to wait. A few minutes later, the candles were lit, the songs were sung, and we were off to open presents.

Keeping a Christ centered focus is hard even at Christmas. We have to overcome our faulty perceptions of the world. We all long for heroes atop tall steeds, charging across the battlefield. We fawn over movie stars who earn millions on the Big Screen via the good looks and handsome charm. And we appeal to  credentialed Ph.D.’s for advice and counsel. We naturally want to follow the powerful, beautiful, and intelligent.

 Christ comes wrapped clothes and laid in a manger. He appeared lowly. He wasn’t even allowed in the inn. He humbled himself. And now he calls us to die to self and to put the needs of others before our own. We find this strange. We naturally reject the message of the nativity that calls us worship Christ. We love ourselves. We want the gifts of God that will magnify us and our ego.

And so this Christmas season, we must not be surprised to see the world get wrapped up with gifts, commercialism, and self-exaltation. We must not be surprised to see our kids value Christmas traditions more than Jesus. 

After all, Santa strokes the modern ego far more effectively than Christ. He gives gifts to good girls and boys. And we all like to think of ourselves as good. In fact, most of us can actually attain the Santa standard. Seen anyone get coal lately? The doctrine of self-forgetfulness is offensive to our nature even at Christmas. But is it true. And there is no life apart from it. To truly live, we must die to ourselves.

We must fight the world perceptions. We must seek to be lowly like our savior. We must seek to put others before ourselves. To keep Christ in Christmas, we must remember who are savior was. Then we must seek to be like him.

The Nativity Cures Holiday Blues

Christmas-Time-BlogEven though the tree up was up, the advent calendar was hung, and our outside lights were twinkling about the night air, my third-grade life was still rather drab. I had to plod along with school work. Chores had to be done. And Christmas specials on T.V. could only take me so far.

If anything, time seemed to slow down. Hours became days; days turned into weeks; and, weeks became almost unmeasurable. Oh for Christmas, new toys, and to have fun again. Would that happy day ever come?

Of course, the answer is, “yes.” Time doesn’t really slow down. And December 25 pops up like clockwork every year at exactly the same time.

But, the sentiment of futility doesn’t end with childhood. When we look around our world, it can be tempting to think, that no one cares. It can be tempting to think that God doesn’t care. We are just living life, doing our thing, and eating our cereal without any real purpose. Sadly, the holidays often highlight our loneliness and insignificance.

Thankfully, the Christmas story is the perfect antidote for holiday depression. Through the nativity, God reveals that all things work together for his glory and the good of his people. Everything has a divine purpose. And, we should trust the God who rules the universe.

Sometime around 6 B.C, the Emperor Augustus enacted the census the put Marry and Joseph on the road to Bethlehem. At the time, Augustus was focused on paying his armies, on defeating the rebellious Germanic tribes in northern Gaul (Modern Day France) and on keeping his daughter and grandsons from creating yet another family scandal. He barely mentioned the census in his memoirs. And his historians ignored it all together. In short, the census was not that important. And, the Emperor cared nothing about the little Jewish couple traversing Judea. And why would he?

But the king of kings did. Over 700 years earlier, God had declared that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Long before Augustus was born,  before Rome was founded, and before Adam and Eve sinned, God had a purpose for Rome. He established the empire in part so that His word would come true, so that the savior would be born in Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph

The first lesson of Luke 2 is that God cares about his people and their struggles. Despite appearances, nothing is insignificant, pointless or trivial in God’s sight. We do not wander aimlessly about for no reason. The Lord rules over, moves, and works everything for his glory and for the good of his people (Math 10:29-30). Even, “the authorities that exist have been established by God” (Rom. 31:1b). God uses everything in his power to bless his people through Jesus Christ.

Don’t lose heart this Christmas season even when life is hard. Eternal life and true joy are not dependent on our circumstances, stuff, or human relationships. Life and joy are dependent on the God who rules over our circumstances. If he can wield Rome for his glory, he can care for you. Trust him. After all, Christmas is coming!