Sunday, February 25, 2018

Grace on a Sunday Morning...

Sitting in church on a Sunday morning, watching people filter in, makes me wonder at the grace of God.

I’m a people watcher, a by-product of my naturally shy personality, and I do admit that I’m happiest when sitting off alone obscurely watching the world around me.  You can learn a lot by quietly watching the people that make up your world, and sometimes what I see amazes me.

People are funny creatures.  Some people amble in slowly, almost hesitant to find a seat, making a beeline for those lone seats set off in the corner.  Others barrel in like a tidal wave, full of themselves and determined to make a splash, grabbing everyone’s attention with their exuberant greetings and grand displays of affection.  There are those who prefer to hang out in the lobby until the last possible moment, squeezing in as late as they possibly can get away with.

The church welcomes all sorts of people…there are talkers and loners, exuberant children, mom’s and dad’s, friends and family members, those that are single and those who are not.  There are people who are grumpy by nature, those who are like a breath of fresh air, quiet people, loud people, and everyone in between.  People from all walks of life filter in to the house of God and take their places and I cannot help but marvel at the grace of God.

All of these people are different, unique beings created by God, each one with personalities and life experiences that are theirs alone.  They’ve faced trials and experienced blessings that I could never dream of, and yet we all share one thing in common.

We all come to church with one goal in mind.  When the music starts our voices will rise to give thanks to the One who loved us so much that He died for us.

And for a little while, just a little, all of these people who lead separate lives will become one.  No longer separate but the Church, the people of God, brothers and sisters in Christ, united by our love for God.  With one voice we will lift our voices to praise the God who not only created us, but saved us, and for that brief moment we will touch the throne of God together as a family, united by the grace that is God’s and God’s alone.

And I am thankful for the grace of God.

Love & Blessings,


Sunday, December 31, 2017

5 Words to Keep Your 2018 Resolutions Doable and Memorable

It’s the first day of the New Year and most bloggers will be writing about making resolutions, new beginnings, and things of that nature. And to be honest, I normally would be among them. But if you know me, or have read any of my past New Year’s blogs, you would know that I do not believe in making resolutions…mainly because, while well meaning, they usually serve no other purpose than to set a person up for failure.

Recently I came across a Bible Study that shed some new light on making the most of the New Year, and what it taught me is that as a Christian I should be more concerned with making my spiritual life more of a priority, rather than just physical comforts and mental fortitude. Resolutions are made to be broken, but what I am proposing is finding direction for our spiritual lives by living these five simple, but powerful, words.

Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice!”  I don’t know about you, but life can be pretty time consuming. And to be honest, finding time to actually pause and ‘rejoice in the Lord’ can seem pretty darn impossible, especially when you’re going through the ringer. But here’s the beauty of this verse, worship doesn’t have to be so difficult. The key is in the word, ‘always’.  When should we rejoice? Always. That means our worship should be a part of our lifestyle, a part of the fabric of who we are, we should live and breathe and walk in worship because God’s grace and love never end.

I’m not talking about remembering to take our medicine, or pay a bill, or what Aunt Flora said three years ago that made you mad. I’m not talking about ‘positive thinking’. What I’m talking about goes deeper, much deeper, than that. Our minds are bombarded every day by thoughts, some are good, some are bad, but doesn’t it seem like the bad ones linger the longest? Old memories of past sins we might’ve taken part of, regrets of bad decisions, and so on. But what a lot of Christian’s don’t realize is that allowing these thoughts to reign over our minds affects our spiritual lives. They taint us and can make it difficult to see God at work in our lives. We are what we think. That’s why Philippians 4: 8 says this…”In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.”

A new year can often bring fear and anxiety, because, quite frankly, we don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s tough to look into the future and realize that we have no control over anything that happens.  As Christian’s, we don’t have to buy into this mindset. Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Don't worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart.” We prepare for the New Year by simply putting our trust in God because He holds the future in His more than capable hands. There is no fear when we realize that God has our back!

The Christian life isn’t supposed to be withdrawn, an activity we do once a week tucked away in a building. As Christ followers our lives should be actively obedient and fully engaged in the world around us. It’s not enough to just pray and read our Bibles; we are called to live the Bible in our daily lives so that we can reach those around us with God’s loving mercy. The Bible was never meant to be a bookend, and our lives were never meant to be lived alone. Philippians 4:9 says “Put into practice what you learned and received from me, both from my words and from my actions. And the God who gives us peace will be with you.” To follow Jesus is to do the things He did.

Philippians 4:5 tells us, “Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near.” Did you catch the little phrase at the end? Just four little words that stir up such hope…The Lord is near! As we move into the New Year we need to remember that this world is not our home. Whatever happens to us, whether good or bad, is temporary because ‘The Lord is near’. His return is promised, and God doesn’t lie. Regardless of how long, or little, we may have to wait; it’s worth it to live expecting His return. Jesus is coming, and that gives us the hope we need to face the future.

A new year brings new beginnings. Have fun with making resolutions if you’d like, but as we look toward the future let us set ourselves up for success instead of failure. Making our spiritual life the focus will have profound, lasting effects on both our physical and mental lives as well.

Here’s a great New Year’s resolution for you…write down these five words we’ve discussed on a card, or maybe on separate cards, and include Philippians 4:4-9. Place them where you are sure to see them every day. Use them throughout the year as a guide to keeping your spiritual life focused on the One Who hold our future in His hands.

As a gift to you, I've created a Word List for you. Simply download it, print it out, and hang it up! (It's in PDF format.)

Have a Blessed New Year!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Should a Christian celebrate Halloween? What about Christmas? And if you do, does that make you less of a Christian?

So recently I became involved in a discussion on whether Christians should celebrate Halloween or not.

Without the usual mud-slinging you find on these types of social media discussions (thank you!!) it’s been rather enlightening to find out what other Christians believe on this subject. So much so, that I did something I normally do not do, I joined in the conversation!

My response was short, and simply mentioned that we don’t celebrate Halloween because it doesn’t glorify God. What we do instead is put up our Christmas decorations on October 1st, and celebrate Christmas for 3 months. That’s right, even now, as I write, my lights are twinkling on my Christmas tree in the living room…and it’s only October 15th!

When I logged back in the response I got to my comment suggested that I look up the history and origins of Christmas. On the surface the comment was benign and even helpful, but if you dig a little deeper the meaning was clear. How can I NOT celebrate Halloween and YET celebrate Christmas, knowing that they BOTH started from pagan holidays?

This, of course, is always the traditional response to someone declaring their intent to not celebrate one holiday for religious/spiritual reasons. Let’s face it, almost ALL holidays evolved from pagan festivals and celebrations, so what’s a Christian to do? Stick their head in the sand and refuse to do anything lest they face censure from other Christians? Or do we do the opposite, throw all caution to the wind and get our party hats on?

Well, here is my response…

The simple fact is that while Christmas has some associations with a secular holiday, I choose to celebrate it to remember the birth of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

To be honest, while most holidays do have their root in ancient pagan festivals, such as Easter and Christmas, these two no longer are associated with those pagan practices. The Roman church, in the 4th century, absorbed these practices and remade them to celebrate Christ. It was their answer to the dilemma of getting new believers to focus on Christ, not the pagan beliefs that were deeply entrenched in the traditions of their families and culture.

And for the most part, it worked. Oh sure, we still have to deal with Santa, but truthfully he does not have to be involved in Christmas if you don’t want him to. We raised our son without the ‘jolly old elf’ and he grew up just fine. Instead, we focused on baby Jesus. And who doesn’t love to walk into a secular store and hear music that glorifies and worships our Lord and Savior??

Halloween, however, has NOT undergone any such change. Instead, this holiday has encouraged and exploited the celebration of death, chaos, and satanic activity for centuries, simply sugarcoating it for easier consumption. But in essence, Halloween is, and has always been, and always will be, a demonically inspired pagan festival. There simply is NO redeeming quality in this holiday.

I can’t help but think of 1 Corinthians 10:31…“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 

I can find the glory of God in Christmas, but NOT in Halloween.

Of course, this is my opinion, and people are free to agree or disagree. I am at peace with celebrating Jesus’ birth through the Christmas holiday. I am also at peace with not celebrating Halloween. And here’s the best part, if you don’t agree with me, I’m at peace with that too!

I’m not the boss of you. And you’re not the boss of me. Every one of us has our own set of convictions, shaped and molded by God, our circumstances, and the interactions we daily come in contact with. As long as we agree on the basic tenets of Christianity, everything else is just fluff.

Whether you celebrate Halloween or not…whether you celebrate Christmas or not…that’s not my business, it’s a choice between you and God alone. It doesn’t make you less of a Christian, it just makes you accountable for your own decisions and choices.  

We are all members of the body of Christ. Each one of us has our own function and job to do, and yet, we all need each other to keep the body healthy. Our subtle differences and unique perspectives should strengthen the body of Christ, not tear it apart. Instead of attacking our differences, we should be embracing them, encouraging each other in our Faith walk.

God is okay with our differences, and to be honest, so should we.