Beware Of Christmas Debt

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Years ago someone said, “It’s all right to save money, but too many are trying to save from people they owe it to.”  When I read that, I couldn’t help but think about the Christmas season.  It is during this time of year when we all are tempted to spend a little more than normal for presents.  Yet while we may have good intentions, we can rack up a lot of debt in a hurry.  With credit cards, layaways, and lines of credit we can get in over our head in debt.  And as followers of Christ, we are responsible to pay back what we have borrowed.  To rack up debt and then not pay it back is the same as stealing.  So we must all end the year with a little sense of caution.  Yes, it is fun the find the perfect gift, but paying the bill later isn’t so fun.  Be wise when you shop and remember, Christmas shouldn’t be about materialism; it should be about pointing others to the Christ Child, who after all is the greatest gift ever given.

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Use Your Bricks Wisely

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Someone wisely said, “There should be more men laying brick and fewer throwing them.” As Christians, we truly should be about the business of building connections instead of casting “bricks” of judgment.  What the world so desperately needs is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Yet we have a tendency to focus on people’s wicked behavior and not on their real need of saving grace.  If we truly want to see people come to Christ around us, then we need to build connections in order to have gospel conversations.  So let’s strive to be relationship builders and not relationship killers.

You Can’t Be Christian From A Distance

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It’s been said, “A girl is judged by the company she keeps at a distance.”  The more we grow in Christ, the more we understand the need for a pure character.  There are indeed certain places, activities, practices, and even certain people we should abstain from.  However, with all of this abstinence, we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into a holy bubble.  We must not become so separate from the world, that we make no impact on it for the gospel’s sake.  If we are going to reach people with the life-changing truth of Jesus, then we must go and interact with all people. Thus there is no room for prejudice in the Christian walk.  Yes, those who are lost will live, talk, and act lost.  This should not surprise us.  Jesus was called a glutton and a drunkard for the people he mingled with, yet those were the very people He had come to save through His death on the cross.  So as we continue to mature in our Christian walk, it is important that we not become too holy-minded that we forget those who desperately need to hear about the love of Jesus.

Choose Your Words Carefully

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Alfred A. Knopf once said, “An economist is a man who states the obvious in terms of the incomprehensible.”  As I read that quote, I couldn’t help but think how many Christians could be accused of doing the same thing.  Have you ever heard sermons, lectures, or speeches where the speaker uses such verbiage that while it is accurate, it has totally lost its meaning to the audience?  Sometimes we all can be guilty of doing that when it comes to speaking to unbelievers.  If we use Christian lingo to people who have never really been in a church, our words are going to fall on deaf ears.  Not because the unbeliever is being rude, but just simply, he doesn’t understand.  No, I’m not saying that we should get rid of great theological words like propitiation and sanctification, but what I am saying is that we need to understand our audience before we speak.  If we want to have maximum impact sharing the gospel, then we must follow the Holy Spirit leading and use the same vernacular as the hearers would use.

Why I don’t Celebrate Turkey Day

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Have you ever heard someone say, “Happy Turkey Day!”?  I can’t tell you how much I do not like that phrase.  Oh yes, I do love the festivities surrounding Thanksgiving.  There is always so much food that I usually eat until my eyes want to pop out.  I love all the special dishes, the family gatherings, the non-stop football, and of course the amazing delectable turkey.  There are always enough leftovers to last until Christmas.  And please hear me; these are all great things about the holiday.  BUT it is not Turkey Day.  It’s really not even about turkey at all.  It is a special day passed down from our nation’s forefathers to call for us all to do one thing…give thanks.  It’s in the name, Thanks-giving.  As Christians, we should truly relish this holiday.  While every day should be a day to be thankful for all our wonderful blessing, this particular holiday is special.  It collectively calls us all to stop at the beginning of the hustle and bustle of the season and reflect on the goodness of God.  I challenge each of us this Thanksgiving to stop and reflect on what has transpired since this time last year.  There were some pretty rotten times for all of us, but don’t let Enemy rob you of focusing on all of the good that took place as well.  Thank God for all those many blessings that He brought into your life.  Take time to thank Him for all the many things He spared you from, that you may not even realize.  And then most of all take time to thank Him for Jesus.  It is because of Him that all the things of this life pale in comparison to the wonderful future set before us.  So please remember, it’s not Turkey Day, it is Thanksgiving!

When Winning Is Really Losing

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Someone once said, “To be a gentleman is a worthy trait, but it is a great handicap in an argument.”  We are very familiar with our argumentative culture.  When differences of opinions arise, people become less courteous and more engaged in winning the battle of words.  Usually, tempers flare and harsh phrases and tone spew out.  Yet such hot-button reactions surely can’t be helpful.  Just because you verbally beat down someone else’s position, doesn’t make you a victor, even if your position is correct.  As followers of Jesus, we are supposed to love one another, but it is hard to find such love in screaming matches and snarky remarks. It doesn’t mean you are weak to remain a “gentleman” in this midst of a discussion.  Truth should be stood for and error should be corrected, but the manner in which we proclaim such truth and confront such errors reveals our true character.  If we have committed our lives to Christ, then we are to put on the behavior of Jesus.  Did Jesus call out wrong? Yes. Did Jesus confront false beliefs? Yes.  But was Jesus ever rude, snarky, or a hot head? The gospels clearly tell us no.  Jesus practiced righteous anger, which is to be angry and to not sin.  Yes, our Lord became quite angry and grieved over unjust actions, but what is quite interesting is that most of that righteous anger was flared towards hypocrisy.  Stop and think about that for a moment. Could we, by our own self-righteous endeavors to prove that we are “right”, actually be coming across as hypocritical?  When we square off with people of differing opinions, it is important for us to remember that the relationship matters more than the argument.  And our testimony matters even more than winning.

Better To Have One Than Oodles

casual cheerful daylight friendsYears ago it was said, “Friends are what you think you have oodles of until you happen to need just one.”  I believe that statement is still true today.  With the modern age of social media we believe that we have “oodles” of friends, but in reality, we only have multiple acquaintances.  Real friendships take time and sacrifice.  They are risky and they are actually hard to come by.  A real friend will stick with you through it all; they won’t be too busy or too inconvenienced to help you in your time of need.  However, we can’t wait around for such friendships to just spring up.  We must work hard to establish them.  We must ourselves be friendly and practice the principles that we want others to have towards us.  We must be ready for disappointments and the trials by fire that comes from seeking true friends.  People we thought we would have lifelong relationships with, will walk away from us.  Yet this is no reason to stop searching for that true person, that one who will truly connect with us.  So if you are currently enjoying that sweet spot of genuine friendships or if you are one of those who is still searching for that enjoyment, let me encourage you to not slack up.  Don’t take good friends for granted and don’t let the disappointment of others keep you from finding the joy of authentic relationships.  Just remember when it comes to great friendships, it is not about the amount, but the quality that matters most.

A Jesus Fanatic

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I read this statement the other day; “A fanatic can’t change his opinions and won’t change his mind.”  After reading that, I instantly thought of a few people who would fit that definition as sports fans.  Yet another thought entered my mind; “Am I that fanatic about Jesus?”  Could people say that about me?  Are my opinions and mindset like that for Him?  To be totally honest, they should be.  Since Jesus holds the position of Lord of my life and originator of my faith, shouldn’t my devotion to Him be labeled as fanatical to those outside of Christianity?  What a sobering thought and poignant challenge. Does my self-assessment, stir you as well?  As a follower of Jesus, do you wonder if your life is communicating to the world around you, that you are totally sold out to Jesus?  Don’t let these thoughts discourage or cause you to lose hope.  As long as we have breath, we have an opportunity to live out our faith. The Lord is so good to us and He gives us fresh opportunities every day to enjoy His grace and to live faithfully for Him.  So while some folks become immersed in their fanatics of sports, lets each find the joy of being unchangeably radical for Jesus.

Don’t Be Blinded By Pride

grumpy-1430634Someone once said, “The husband who boasts that he never made a mistake has a wife who did.” Have you ever met anyone like that husband?  Someone who is so prideful that they can’t acknowledge their own mistakes?  If we were, to be honest, we have all fallen for that trap before.  Pride is so intoxicating.  It lures and strokes that selfish streak in what the Bible calls our “flesh.”  Therefore we must fight pride’s gratifying assertions.  The Bible gives us a warning about pride that remains unchecked in a person life; “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18 ESV.  Thus, if pride is left to go its natural course, it will lead not to happiness and prestige, but to damage and a great fall.  Like walking around in a dark room, pride will blind us to our own destructive behaviors.  A proud attitude can and will ruin friendships, careers, ministries, marriages, families, and so much more.  So when you begin to self-evaluate, be sure you are looking in the mirror honestly.

A Relative Worth Choosing

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It’s been said, “Never judge a man by his relatives; he did not choose them.”  However, for the Christian, we have a relative we should be judged for.  We have a Brother who chose us and died for the right to be our supreme relative.  His name? Jesus!  We are given this wonderful promise in Romans 8:16-17: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs: heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified with Him.” – MEV.  Did you catch that?  As children of God, we are called “joint-heirs” with Christ. Thus Jesus is more than our Lord and Savior; He is also spiritually our Brother.  And because Jesus is our Brother we will receive the same wonderful inheritance He receives.  Thus, even though we will face suffering in this life, just as He did, we will experience great glory one day, just as He does! Now that is a relative worth being judged for.