Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Believing at Christmas

So as I'm reading John and learning all about BELIEVING in Jesus...and how important that is. I'm not satisfied to just say..."Sure I believe in him." I want more. I want to believe more. I want my faith to increase. I want him to teach me more about him and about life. I want him to fill every void in me. I want him to help me make every decision. As I've been reading John and praying these prayers for more. I can't help but to feel convicted about my lack of focus on Jesus as Christmas approaches. We get so wrapped up in tradition, gifts, decorating, etc. We end up getting stressed out and worn down. I think this is the last thing God intended for the day of his son's birth. He gave us the gift of his son so we could be free and so we know how much we are loved by the one who created us.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

I want to be in awe of what God has done for me. I want to take it in and believe it.

One of my favorite quotes from Max Lucado is this:

Jesus humbled Himself. He went from commanding angels to sleeping in straw. From holding stars to clutching Mary’s finger. The palm that held the universe took the nail of a soldier—Why? Because that’s what love does.

So how do we celebrate Jesus on Christmas? I'd love to hear some ideas. We started reading the story of Jesus birth and will keep doing that every year with our kids first thing Christmas morning. Some families volunteer in soup kitchens, some invite the lonely over to spend Christmas with them. What does Christmas look like when we keep our focus on Jesus?

Our church this year has an amazing opportunity to reach out to it's community. On Christmas Eve we're inviting everyone for a free Christmas Event. It's at a beautiful theater in the city. This event is meant to reach people who wouldn't step foot in a church, the unloved, unwelcome and show them the love of Jesus. My initial instinct was to dress up and enjoy the show, because well, that's what you do on Christmas Eve, right? Then, I think...would a homeless or poor person feel comfortable walking into a place where everyone is dressed up fancy? Is this about me or them? Am I so stuck on tradition that I've lost the real true meaning of Christmas?

What about Santa?
I know this is a touchy topic among christians. Has Santa become an idol associated with Christmas for our kids? Have gifts become what we worship? Are your children asking you about Jesus or Santa? Do you put more effort into creating a fantasy that isn't real than teaching them the truth of how much God loves them? If you're doing both, why would they believe you about Jesus being real if you lied to them about Santa? There's a ton of stuff out there about Santa being from the devil, how rearranging the words spell Satan....etc etc. I don't know about all that. Frankly, I don't really care to research his origin or any more about him. All I know is this. Anything that takes our focus off of God, something we worship more than him, is an idol. God's clear about not worshipping idols. So for me, that's enough.

These two questions I can't get past:

How can I tell my kids to believe in Santa, and then expect them to believe me when I tell them about Jesus?

Should I teach my children to ask Santa for material things or to pray to Jesus for everything?

Children truly believe without doubt. They have pure hearts. Jesus said we are to be like them.

Matthew 18:3
And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus is talking about their faith. Their ability to believe. As parents I think we've got to protect that and cherish it and learn from them.

Matthew 19:14
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Are we hindering our children by our unbelief?

I've heard testimonies about children healing people in parts of Africa and other countries. They are able to heal because of their faith. They believe that Jesus can heal the deaf and blind. It is with that faith that God works through them. Why don't we see miracles? We don't believe God can do it. We don't even think we need him. Imagine what would happen if we believed?

I don't know it all. Far from it. I pray everyday, actually several times a day, for God to teach me how to raise Luke and Taylor. I pray that he teaches me as I am able to learn so my relationship with them would honor him in every way. I have a TON to learn. God works on me everyday. I KNOW I need his help. I can't possibly do anything right without him. I make mistakes, but his mercies are new every morning and I start over. I'm not writing this to judge anyone, I'm just sharing what God is sharing with me. I encourage you to pray and read your bible and ask God to reveal what he wants to teach you about this Christmas? Be open to what he may teach you and share it. Read John and underline every time you see the word believe. Meditate on his word.

John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

A friend of mine posted this little story and it ties in perfectly....

This morning I heard a story on the radio of a woman who was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at row after row of toys and everything else imaginable. And after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many shelves, she finally made it to the elevator with her two kids.

She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season time of the year. Overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming, taste all the holiday food and treats, getting that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list, making sure we don't forget anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card.

Finally the elevator doors opened and there was already a crowd in the car. She pushed her way into the car and dragged her two kids in with her and all the bags of stuff. When the doors closed she couldn't take it anymore and stated, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up and shot."

From the back of the car everyone heard a quiet calm voice respond, "Don't worry we already crucified him." For the rest of the trip down the elevator it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

Don't forget this year to keep the One who started this whole Christmas thing in your every thought, deed, purchase, and word. If we all did it, just think of how different this whole world would be.

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